A DISCOVERY made on the borderline between the Comitium and the Forum, on June 15, 1899, has set the archæological world astir, and given rise to a much debated controversy. To make the matter clear to the reader, I must go back to the very beginning of the present campaign of exploration, which will remain memorable forever in the archæological records of Rome.
The reason why the exploration has proved so successful must be found in the fact that former excavations—those included in which I have had a personal share, since 1871—have seldom reached the deepest levels. As soon as a paving-stone, or a brick or marble floor was found, whether imperial, or Byzantine, or mediæval, it did not matter, we were made to stop, without trying to ascertain whether older and more important relics were concealed in the lower strata. I do not mean to say that the surface ruins ought to be sacrificed to the requirements of a deeper exploration, because no archæologist in the world, however great his fame and his independence, has the right to break one single link in the chain of chronology of superposed structures, every one of which has an equal claim to existence: but there are gaps and free spaces enough between the surface ruins to allow occasionally the search to be carried down to the virgin soil.
When the space between the temples of Julius Cæsar and of Castor and Pollux was cleared away in 1882, we gave up the search at the level of the street pavements, dating from the sixth or the seventh century after Christ. Six years later Professor Otto Richter was enabled to discover the remains of the triumphal arch of Augustus, only nine inches below the line at which we had stopped in 1882.1
In 1879, when the new boulevard Principe Eugenio was laid open across the old Licinian Gardens, between the so-called Minerva Medica and the Porta Maggiore, we came across a section of the palace of Gallienus, which had been excavated by Piranesi, about a century before. Piranesi, and his associate Belardi, having reached the level of the drains, considered their task finished, and turned the spade to a more promising spot; and yet far below those drains lay buried nine columbaria, rich in cinerary urns, inscriptions, paintings, statuary, and objects of value, which I have illustrated in the “Bullettino archeol. comunale” for 1880.2
The present exploration of the Forum and neighboring sites has been undertaken, therefore, with the view of reaching the early imperial, the republican, the kingly, or even the prehistoric strata, wherever it was possible to do so without special injury to the later and higher structures. The results have been quite satisfactory, as I shall have occasion to prove more than once in the following pages. The one which comes within the scope of the present chapter is the discovery of the cenotaph (sepulcrum inane) and national monument (heroon) of Romulus, the founder of the City. It took place under the following circumstances:—
The area of the Comitium is, or rather was, separated from that of the Forum by a mediæval road leading up to the arch of Severus, so negligently paved with blocks of silex that the grooves of cart-wheels with which they are marked appear sometimes perpendicular to the line of the road. The embankment, moreover, on which they are laid is made up of loose earth and bricks and stumps of columns, and even inscribed pedestals, one of which, bearing the name of the emperor Constantius, and the date 356–359 A.D., was found September 1, 1803, “sub silicibus viæ stratæ per arcum Severi.”3 In trying to ascertain how far and how deep the area of the Comitium—which is paved, like that of the Forum, with slabs of travertine—extended under this late road, Commendatore Boni, who is in charge of the excavations, discovered on January 10, 1899, an enclosure twelve feet long, nine feet wide, screened by a marble parapet on three sides, and paved with slabs of the blackest kind of Tænarian marble.
In estimating the value of this discovery we must bear in mind two facts. The first is that the Forum, the Comitium, the Sacra Via, and the surrounding edifices were seriously injured or completely destroyed by the fire of Carinus, 283 A.D., the damages of which were made good by Diocletian, who rebuilt the Basilica Julia, the Forum Julium, the Græcostasis, and the Senate House; by Maxentius, who rebuilt the temple of Cæsar, the Regia, the Porticus Margaritaria, and the temple of Venus and Rome, and by the S.P.Q.R., which “(templum Saturni) incendio consumptum restituit,” as the inscription on the pronaos asserts. We therefore see the Forum and the Comitium not as they were seen and described by the classic writers of the Republic and of the early Empire, but as they were manipulated and rearranged by Diocletian and Maxentius after the disaster of 283.
Now, as among the many acres of public squares, or streets, or sacred enclosures, or courts laid bare at Rome, Ostia, Tusculum, Præneste, Tibur, Cures, Veii, not an inch of black flooring has ever been found, this small corner of the Comitium, “stratum lapide nigro,” unique in its kind, must have a special meaning. Considering, furthermore, that ancient writers mention the existence of a Black Stone in this identical spot, we cannot help connecting the find with their testimony, and we come to the conclusion that we actually behold one of the most famous relics of the early days of Rome. Of course we are not sure whether the black slabs are the identical ones set up in the Comitium at the time of the Kings; I believe they are not: but what we know for certain is that when Diocletian repaved the Comitium in 284, slightly raising its level, he thought it necessary to perpetuate the memory of the place by paving with Tænarian marble a small enclosure in front of the Senate House, making use probably of the same slabs which had marked the spot since the time of Augustus or Domitian.
So far so good. The difficulties begin when we endeavor to find out why the “lapis niger” was set up in the Comitium, and what its meaning was. Ancient writers agree on one point, that it was an enclosure sacred to the memory of the dead, but they vary as to its significance. Sextus Pompeius Festus, a Roman grammarian of the second century, whose treatise “De verborum significatione” is abridged from a greater work on the same subject by M. Verrius Flaccus, another celebrated etymologist of the time of Augustus, says: “The Black Stone in the Comitium marks a place of ill omen, destined as a grave to Romulus, although the hero was not actually buried there: others say that either Faustulus, the Palatine shepherd, or Hostilius, the grandfather of King Tullius,” lies buried there instead of Romulus. The text of M. Terentius Varro, whose vast and varied erudition in almost every department of literature earned for him the title of prince of the Roman men of letters, is lost, but what he thought about the Black Stone is told us by three commentators of Horace.4 Varro thought it marked the tomb of Romulus, the founder of the City, because, he says, “two stone lions have been erected to guard it, like that of a hero; and because funeral orations in honor of great men are still delivered from the Rostra close by.” Dionysius speaks of one lion as being still visible in his days. Lastly, we hear that those stones of ill omen marked the spot where Romulus had been cut to pieces (discerptus) by the mob. Speaking of this conflicting evidence, in the sitting of the Reale Accademia dei Lincei of January 22, 1899, I remarked that the fact of the enclosure and of the black floor having been reconstructed at so late an age, by Diocletian or Maxentius, in preference to many other landmarks of this famous district, shows how essential it was in the mind of the Romans to perpetuate the tradition. Considering, therefore, that the place has not been disturbed since the fall of the Empire, it was easy to ascertain, by tunnelling the ground at the proper level, whether anything remarkable was buried under that floor, like an earthen jar, a stone coffin, or some other relic from the prehistoric age.
Nearly five months elapsed before the exploration could be carried through: but we did not lose much by waiting. First to appear was a grave (fossa) once guarded by two great stone lions: the lions have disappeared, but their oblong pedestals are almost intact. A sacrificial stone is laid over the grave or cenotaph, while on the right side of the lions stand upright in their original position a conical pillar, and a pyramidal stone covered with Greek letters of archaic type. Back of this monumental group, the various parts of which are so intimately connected with one another, a raised platform was found, 3.44 metres long, 1.60 metres wide, so similar to the Argæan altars of the Cermalus and of S. Martino ai Monti, that it was undoubtedly intended for a similar use. I confess that in my long experience of Roman excavations I was never more impressed than at the sight of this venerable monument raised in honor of the founder of the City not long after his death, a simple and yet not inelegant work of an Etruscan stonecutter of the time of Servius Tullius. The various parts of the group, the lions, the pillar, the stele, and the altar have all been purposely injured and mutilated by the violence of man. The pillar and the stele are broken off at about one third of their original height; the plinth of the left lion is half destroyed, half moved out of place. The whole group was found imbedded in a layer of sacrificial remains, from fifteen to twenty inches thick, such as charred bones of victims (young bulls, sheep, goats, swine), small vases, clay disks representing cakes, figurines cast in metal or cut in bone, pieces of “æs rude,” and so forth. It has been said, but we have as yet no official confirmation of the fact, that the layer contained also two or three small chips of the black flooring itself, which must have been broken and split by the same hands by which the Comitium was reduced to a heap of smouldering ruins.
Whose hands were they? There seems to be but one answer to the query. We behold the palpable, the speaking evidence of the storming and sacking of Rome by the Gauls in 390 B.C. Whether the senators and the patricians, who had deemed it inconsistent with their dignity to abandon the City and their duties by an ignoble flight, were actually murdered here, as stated by Plutarch (Camill. 21), or in the vestibules of their houses, as stated by Livy (v. 40), or whether they were murdered at all, is still a matter of discussion; but the incident of the centurion, related by the same historian (v. 50), certainly refers to the place now excavated. While the senators were assembled on the site of the Curia Hostilia to discuss the proposal of emigrating to Veii, and the people crowded around to learn the result of their deliberations, a company of soldiers happened to cross the Comitium, and the centurion, whether by chance or by design, gave the command, “Ensign, fix the standard here: hic manebimus optime!” Senators and plebeians accepted the omen, and the emigration to Veii was unanimously negatived. Now one of their first thoughts in undertaking the reconstruction and the reorganization of the City was to purify it from the profanation it had suffered at the hands of the barbarians. “Senatus consultum factum,” Livy says, “fana omnia, quod ea hostis possedisset, restituerentur, terminarentur, expiarenturque: expiatio eorum per duumviros quæreretur.”5 The purification was the more necessary for the Curia and the Comitium, as they were both consecrated places.
It was suggested at first that the layer of votive offerings by which the Heroon is enveloped is not the result of sacrifices performed here for a certain number of years or of centuries, but the outcome of the purification made after the retreat of the Gauls. The analysis of the single objects, however, has proved that they are not contemporary, not even approximately so; but that the formation of the heap must have required several centuries.
In studying the group constituting, as it were, the national monument to the founder of the City, we must take into consideration its various parts, viz., the cenotaph guarded by the lions, the sacrificial stone, the pillar, the inscribed pyramid, the altar, and the wells or receptacles for votive offerings which are to be found by scores in the neighboring district.
First as to the tomb. In the early days of Rome, when the population was still dwelling within the limits of the Palatine hill, the mundus or round pit that marked the centre of the consecrated space was obviously in the centre of the hill itself, at the intersecting point of the two meridian lines, the cardo and the decumanus. Its location was indicated by a heap of stones, which in course of time took the shape of a square altar, named the Roma Quadrata, a venerable relic preserved through the lapse of centuries to the end of the Empire. Had the Latin element of the population determined to raise a memorial to its leader, apart from their neighbors, the Sabines and the Etruscans, they would no doubt have located it at their own mundus, viz., at the Roma Quadrata. The monument we have found, however, has a much higher signification: it is the joint offering of all the elements of the Roman population dwelling on the Septimontium, after their amalgamation into one body by Numa and Servius. Its site, therefore, was selected outside the boundaries of the Sabine, the Aboriginal, the Etruscan, and the Latin sections, occupying respectively the Quirinal, the Capitoline, the Cælian, and the Palatine hills; and the monument rose, as it were, on neutral or common ground, in the hollow space between those heights, where the bartering trade between the various tribes had already given rise to a rudimentary Forum.
According to the Roman legend, Romulus and Tatius, after the mediation of the Sabine women, met on the spot where the battle had been fought, and made peace and an alliance. The spot, a low, damp, grassy field, bordering on the marshes of the lesser Velabrum, and exposed to the floods of a local stream, named (probably) Spinon, took the name of Comitium, from the verb coire, to assemble. Other reasons justified the selection of the site. Here was the Volkanal, where business of state between the two kings, Romulus and Tatius, and their councillors had been transacted for a while; and here was the stone hall, or Curia, where the meetings of the Senate of the federal or amalgamated city were henceforth to take place. Here ran a stream of living water, with which, on the commemorative feast of the hero, the flamen could purify himself before offering the sacrifice. For this reason, and also because of the thought that life is like the water of a river that flows into the sea of eternity and disappears, memorials to heroes were raised in preference along the banks of rivers. Thus Æneas was buried on the river Numicius, at the foot of the hills of Lavinium. Romulus, on his part, had his memorial both on the river which ran through the heart of the Etrusco-Sabino-Latin Rome, and in the Agora or market-place, which, according to a tradition dating as far back as Theseus, was the place of honor in Argæan and Pelasgic cities. The location, in fact, was so happily selected that the centre, the ὀμϕαλὸς, the umbilicus Romœ, was never shifted from this spot, even when the population rose to one million, and the great city expanded miles away from the original nucleus on the Palatine.
The Heroon sacred to Romulus, the protecting genius of the City, became an object of popular worship, and propitiations were offered and sacrifices performed at its altar, especially in troubled or dangerous times. For this purpose a fossa or receptacle was always attached to the Heroon, to which the victim was brought, and where it was slain so that its blood might flow inside, and give joy and satisfaction to the spirit of the hero and appease his wrath. The mysterious and irresistible power of the same spirit was symbolized by one or two lions,—an Oriental conception which, from immemorial times, had been popular in the Ægean islands, in Greece, and in Italy. I need hardly quote the well known instance of Leonidas, in whose memory a lion was raised on the hillock in the pass of Thermopylæ, where he and his gallant followers had made their last stand. Varro, speaking of the lions of Romulus, uses the expression, “sicut in sepulchris videmus” (as we see in other [heroic] tombs).
I am not sure whether the sacrificial stone which we see still lying over the fossa, between the pedestals of the lions, is the original one, or whether it is a restoration after the invasion of the Gauls. In either case, it must certainly have witnessed some extraordinary and blood-curdling scenes. There is no doubt that the small figurines of clay, bone, bronze, and amber found in the layer of votive offerings are real ν εκρῶν ἀγάλματα—images of the dead—indicative of human sacrifices. They represent a stiff, naked human figure with the arms stretched close to the body, without any sign of life, very different, therefore, from the figurines found in or near the temples of the gods, which appear full of life and brightness.
It is true that only bones of young animals have been found in the sacrificial strata; but it is not improbable that—under exceptionally anxious circumstances—human victims were slain over this stone, and human blood was made to flow into the cenotaph below. We must not forget that Numa Pompilius, or whoever first organized Roman worship and dictated the code of Roman religion, was imbued with the dark and cruel principles of the Sabine belief, which Livy (i. 13) calls “sad and awe-inspiring.” If the great Æneas himself had endeavored to assuage the wrath of Pallas with human blood, the descendants of his race might equally well have resorted to the same means of propitiation when the interests, nay, the very safety of the Commonwealth were at stake. Roman writers assert, it is true, that Druidic rites were excluded from the national religious code after the time of the Kings, but we know that on more than one occasion cruel deeds were perpetrated. A man and a woman were immolated in the Forum Boarium after the battle of Cannæ; and although Livy gives the excuse that the immolation was against the law,—minime romano sacro,—still we have reason to suspect that exceptions to the rule were not infrequent. A Senatus-consultum was actually passed as late as 96 B.C. forbidding ne homo immolaretur. And to what purpose? Not speaking of what continued to take place in certain savage countries, nominally subjected to the Empire, like Armorica and the Cottian Alps, human blood was shed in the Campus Martins at the time of Cæsar, and human victims were slain at the old federal temple on Monte Cavo and in Diana's grove at Nemi, under the Empire. The Christian apologists, Justin, Tatian, Minucius Felix, Tertullian, Lactantius, and Prudentius are unanimous in attributing the deed to the pagans. Perhaps they exaggerate; perhaps their complaints have no more ground to stand upon than those which are repeated in our own days against the Russian or the Hungarian Jews; but I am not speaking of the third or fourth century after Christ. I am speaking of the early days of the City, when the people had not yet developed the wonderful practical sense of a later age, when little value was attached to human life, and when religion had not yet lost the ferocity common to uncivilized races. Why should we find in Rome so many substitutions for a regularly recurring human sacrifice if it had not been actually practised in bygone times? We find them in the ver sacrum when the firstborn of a tribe was devoted to a god, and sent out from the City; we find them in the Lupercalia when the young men were smeared with the victim's blood; we find them in the spilling of the blood of a gladiator at the feriœ Latinœ on the Alban hills. These rites were meant to perpetuate the cruel tradition in a mysterious and attenuated form. Every year, in the month of June, when the fishermen of the Tiber celebrated their gathering, live fishes were offered to Vulcan as substitutes for human souls (pro animis humanis). The Vulcanal was the scene of another strange performance on the feast day of Maia, the wife of Vulcan, when heads of garlic and of poppies were offered to her in substitution for infants, whose sacrifice, tolerated by the Kings, was only abolished by Brutus after the expulsion of the Tarquins. In the month of May rush-puppets resembling men, tied hand and foot, were cast into the Tiber from the Sublician bridge. As a last instance I quote the fate of Mettus Curtius, and his leaping into the chasm, the edges of which closed over him like the lid of a grave; because, considering the fact that the plague was raging in Rome at the time, his action must be interpreted as a human sacrifice, as a self-immolation.
Considering all these things, we cannot behold these figurines of men stiff in the rigidity of death, or wound up in bands like mummies, without a certain emotion, connected as they are with the severe and melancholy practices of early Sabino-Roman worship. The sacrificial layer of which they form part contains other objects of interest, which are now exhibited in a room on the Sacra Via, near the remains of the arch of Fabius.6 Numerous above all are the fragments of black ware which was never used for the necessities of life, but made expressly for funeral purposes. The goblets and cups are never whole, being represented, as a rule, by one single fragment, in accordance with another ritual practice significant of the end of the funeral banquet.
These vases are either of buccaro (black clay) or of local imitation of buccaro; a few other fragments belong to Greek pottery which must have been imported into Rome by the way of Etruria. The cut on page 19 represents a piece of a Chalcidian amphora, with the figure of Dionysos riding a donkey, and holding the drinking cup with the right hand, in a style which is peculiar and characteristic of the end of the seventh and of the beginning of the sixth century B.C. This piece was found nearer to the bottom than to the surface of the votive layer. Taking, therefore, the end of the seventh century as the beginning of the formation of the layer, we are sure that the hero-worship, in this rude primitive form, lasted for a long time, because other fragments of Attic pottery have been picked up near the surface which date from about 550 B.C. I do not mean to say that the practice of offering ex-votos was given up at that date; on the contrary, we have reason to believe that it was continued as late as the burning of Rome by the Gauls in 390 B.C., and even later, but the upper strata have disappeared in the general wreck of the Comitium, together with the lions and the upper portions of the pillar and the pyramid. When the damages of the wreck were made good, the Senate House rebuilt, the Comitium restored to its original design, its level raised by about three feet, and the Heroon concealed for the first time under a flooring of black stones, regular wells were provided all round, so that the votive offerings would no longer be cast loose and spread all over the place, but put down in regular and duly consecrated receptacles. The number of these votive wells known to us is constantly increasing: probably there were as many as there were tribes in Rome, viz., thirty-five. Some are diamond shaped, some trapezoid; but the majority are square and about four feet deep. Unfortunately they have been found empty, or, to speak more exactly, filled only with mud and fine earth, that had filtered through the interstices of the lid with which their openings were sealed when the Forum and the Comitium were raised to a still higher level. One of these sacred wells appears in the plan of the Heroon given above (p. 9).
The sacrificial layer contains a great variety of objects: some of personal wear, like fibulæ and clay beads; some connected with the pleasures of life, such as dice and astragaloi. No trace of coined metal has been found, but only bits of copper or bronze, the analysis of which has not been published yet. I believe that when the Forum was raised to its highest level, about the time of Sulla or of Cæsar, the contents of the wells were spread over and around the Heroon. No wonder, therefore, that the layer should contain objects pertaining to the last century of the Republic.
Pillars, according to Servius, are another characteristic mark of the graves of heroes. The one discovered near the pedestal of the west lion—overthrown by the Gauls so that only its lowest section is left standing to tell the tale—is slightly tapering in shape. Without borrowing from Greece and Sicily instances of this architectural device to honor and perpetuate the memory of great men, we find in the Forum itself parallel cases in the Columna Mænia, in the Columna Julia, in the grave of the Charioteer, and in the naval pillar of Duilius. The fate of the Charioteer is told by Dionysius. He was struck by lightning while racing in the Circus, and his remains were interred at the foot of the Janiculum; but mysterious events began to spread such terror in the neighborhood that the Senate ordered the body to be removed to the Vulcanal, where a column with the effigy of the deceased was raised over the grave.
When the partisans of Cæsar, the first deified Roman of historical times, determined to consecrate the spot where his body had been cremated, at the east end of the Forum (just as the opposite or west end was sacred to the memory of the founder of the City), they saw no better means of carrying out their design than the raising of a column of Numidian marble, twenty feet high, inscribed PARENTI PATRIÆ (to the Father of the country).
The pedestal of this column is still to be seen in a semicircular recess in front of the temple of Cæsar, as shown in the illustration below.
The interest of this beautiful chain of discoveries culminates in the inscribed stele or pyramid, still standing, after twenty-five centuries, on the identical site where one of the Kings had set it up, near the place of assembly of the Elders. The inscription was engraved by the stonecutter while the block lay horizontal, running first from the right to the left, and going on backwards and forwards like the plough in the wheatfield (βουστροϕηδόν). This very early style of palægraphy, not uncommon in Greece, was unknown to the Etruscans, Umbrians, Oscans, and also (we believed) to the Latins. It appears in a few inscriptions from Picenum and Marsica, lands inhabited by a rough and uncultured race, which followed early traditions and habits to a very late period. Considering that the βουστροϕηδόν was in use only during the seventh and sixth centuries B.C., and, furthermore, that the words of the inscription are separated by three vertical dots,—a mode of punctuation which dates also from the end of the seventh and the beginning of the sixth century,—we are entitled to believe that the stele must belong to the same age.
It seems that the primitive Romans became acquainted with the Greek (Doric-Corinthian) alphabet, not by the way of Cumæ, as was thought at first, but by the way of Cære. From Cære, likewise, came the alphabet in use at Veii, a splendid specimen of which was discovered in my presence at Formello in 1878, engraved on a buccaro vase7 now in the collection of Prince Chigi. In fact, the Romans borrowed from Cære not only the fifteen or sixteen letters of their early alphabet,8 but also their religious institutions (Cœremoniæ ceremonies). The stele of the Comitium leaves no doubt on this subject: it proves, moreover, how exact are early Roman annalists and historians—whose authority it has been the fashion to deny, and whose word it has been the fashion to disbelieve—when they speak of the laws of the Kings and of public treaties engraved on wood or stone in a language that could be understood no more. Polybius (iii. 22) mentions this fact apropos of the convention, signed Anno Urbis 245, between the Romans and the Carthaginians.
Dionysius (iv. 26) describes a bronze stele of the time of King Servius Tullius upon which archaic Greek letters were engraved. Livy (xl. 29) says that the volumes found in Numa's coffin in the field of L. Petillius were written in Greco-Latin characters. Pliny (xvi. 87) describes a venerable oak in the Vatican district, believed to be older than Rome itself, to which a label written in Etruscan letters was nailed, declaring the tree to be a sacred object. Tacitus himself compares the lettering of these ancient records to the oldest Hellenic specimens of handwriting.
All these invaluable documents perished in the Gaulish fire of 390 B.C. “Parvæ et raræ per eadem tempora literæ fuere,” Livy says, vi. 1, “quæ in commentariis pontificum aliisque publicis privatisque erant monumentis, incensa urbe (a Gallis) pleræque interiere.”9This rough block of stone, discovered June 15, 1899, is the only one, as far as we know, that partially escaped destruction in that great catastrophe. It contains a pontifical law, which is at the same time a royal law, specifying the ritual of certain public sacrifices, in the dialect spoken in Rome towards the end of the seventh century before Christ. It appears as if Livy must have had this stele before his eyes, or fresh in his memory, when he wrote the well-known passage (i. 20): “Numa Pompilius selected a high priest, and gave him a sacred code, in which the ritual of sacrifices was specified, what victims ought to be slain, on what days of the year, at what temples,” etc. The whole inscription of the stele is summarized in Livy's words: quibus hostiis (FORDAS, SORDAS) quibus diebus (EIDIASIAS, NOUNASIAS) ad quœ templa (SAKROS SESED, SAKROS SED).10 The document abounds in words—abounds, in comparison with the total—which do not appear in the Latin language: another proof of remote antiquity, because, as Horace expresses it, “words are formed and die out like the leaves of the tree,” but the years in the life of words are centuries!
Professor Ceci reads the inscription and supplies the missing words as follows:—
“Quoi ho(rdas veigead, veigetod) sakros sesed. Sor(das sakros sed. Eid)iasias regei lo(iba adferad ad rem d)evam. Quos re(x per mentore)m kalatorem hap(ead endo ada)giod, ioux menta capia(d) dota v(ovead. Ini)m ite ri k(oised nounasias i)m. Quoi havelod nequ(am sied dolod malo)d, diove estod. (Qu)oi voviod (sacer diove estod).”
“Whoever wants to immolate pregnant cows [fordas], he should do it by the shrine. Pregnant sows should be immolated away from the shrine. The ritual cakes used in sacrificing should be brought to the rex sacrorum at the time of the full moon.11 Whoever wants to immolate pregnant cows or sows, having obtained leave from the rex sacrorum through the kalator, must take the auspices, and present his votive offerings. The same rules must be followed when sacrifices are performed at the first quarter of the moon [the Nonæ of later times]. Whosoever disregards the sacred laws concerning the auspices and the votive offerings, let him be sacred to Jupiter” (which means that he may be killed with impunity).
Professor Ceci ends his report with this remarkable sentence: “I shall not say that the discovery of the stele marks the ‘bankruptcy’ of the modern hypercritical school, especially German, but one thing is certain: the discovery will shake the faith of the many who have sworn blindly by the word of Niebuhr and Ihne and will revive the hopes of the few who trust to the authority of Livy, and believe in the historical value of early Roman traditions.”
These words, the reader may well imagine, have occasioned a great outcry on either side of the Alps, for the hypercritical school counts many adepts in Italy, even more “negative” than their ultramontane teachers; they remind us of certain adepts of the Wagnerian school, who, in their attempt to follow in the wake of the great master, have gone to extremes unknown to him, and have produced lacerating sounds instead of harmony.
A just and impartial account of the controversy over Ceci's publication has been given by Giacomo Tropea, professor of ancient history in the University of Messina;12 another by Raffaele de Cara, in the last two volumes of the Civiltá Cattolica. We do not know whether Professor Ceci is right or wrong; but his interpretation of the stele has nothing to do with the main question at issue. The date of the monument does not depend exclusively upon the meaning of the words inscribed on it; but it can be determined from other points of view, such as that of its topographical surroundings and of its depth below the level of the republican and imperial fora. The Heroon occupies the level trodden by human feet in the valley of the Forum at the time of the Kings when the greater part of the space between the Capitoline and the Palatine hills was a swamp fed by the unruly river, which drained the valley of Quirinus, the Subura, the Carinæ and the Argiletum, and by copious local springs. Now the first thought of the dwellers on the Palatine, as soon as they had joined hands with the Sabines of the Quirinal, and made one city out of the various tribal settlements of the Septimontium, was to drain the land which they had selected for their market, and where they were wont to assemble on election days. The scheme, according to tradition, was carried into execution by the elder Tarquin, who lined the banks of the stream (Spinon?) with great square blocks of stone, leaving a channel about five feet wide so as to prevent the spreading of flood-water, and to provide the low-lying district with a permanent outlet. The increase of the population, the development of public and private constructions, the expansion of traffic soon made it necessary to cover the channel and make it run underground. This second step was taken under the rule of the second Tarquin, as described by Livy in chapters xxxviii. and lvi. of the first book. We need not, however, depend upon the testimony of ancient writers in ascertaining the chronology of these undertakings, so essential to the welfare, nay, to the very existence of a city, especially when the city occupied the centre of “a pestilential region.” That the Cloaca Maxima was built and vaulted over at the time of the Kings, before the middle of the third century of Rome, by Etruscan masons and Etruscan engineers, is a fact absolutely unquestioned in the mind of any one acquainted with the hydrography, geology, and archæology of Rome and Etruria. Now when the Heroon of Romulus was put up in the Comitium within a few feet of the Cloaca Maxima, this last was still an open channel without a roof! The level of the Heroon is three or four feet lower than the vaulted ceiling of the cloaca, which must have run in its turn two or three feet below the level of the ground.
The arguments which the hypercritics bring forth, in their attempt to break this chain of evidence, are rather vague and frail. They insist on the fact that the stele must have been inscribed and set up in the Comitium after the retreat of the Gauls, 390 B.C.; and that it is, therefore, a much later legend than that engraved on the votive vase of Dvenos,13 because the plinth of the lions and the sacrificial stone were cut by a workman acquainted with the value and the use of the Attic foot; and as this standard measure was unknown in Rome before the time of the Decemvirs (451–449 B.C.), the Heroon must be a work of that comparatively late period. This argument is a favorite one with the skeptical school, as it gives them the means of denying and upsetting not only the history but the topography of Rome for the first three centuries of its existence. In fact, the Romans being an ignorant, barbarous, wild race, the like of which, according to the skeptics, could hardly be found now in the central wilderness of New Guinea, how could they be supposed to have lived in a city built in harmony with the rules of civilization? Down, therefore, with the walls of the Palatine city, with those of Servius Tullius; down with the Prison of Ancus Marcius, with the Cloaca Maxima of Tarquinius Priscus, with the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus of Tarquinius Superbus! All these landmarks of the early days of Rome must be later than the Decemvirs, because their builders knew the existence of the Attic foot! And when I announced in 1882 the discovery of Antemnæ, as that of a settlement contemporary with the foundation of Rome, I must have been laboring under a delusion, because the stones with which the walls of that place are built measure exactly two feet in height!
It seems hardly credible that such theories can be advanced in the presence and in the light of so many discoveries by which the fundamental truth of Roman tradition is amply justified. From the earliest days the Romans borrowed masons and stonecutters from their immediate neighbors, the Etruscans of Veii,14 just as they had borrowed from the Etruscans of Cære their ceremonies and their alphabet, from the Etruscans of Vulci their vulcani or coppersmiths. If we find a similarity between the Attic, the Etruscan, and the Roman foot in those remote days, the reason is evident; the fundamental principles of their architecture and metrology descend from a common source. The prehistoric fortified villages, known by the name of Terramare, discovered by Pigorini in the valley of the Po and of its affluents, were also designed and built by engineers familiar with the principles of the “agrimetatio” on the basis of the foot (.297 metres). For all purposes let me repeat that the use of the Attic foot, as far as the Heroon Romuli is concerned, has been ascertained only in connection with the plinth of the pedestals of the lions (which measures .29 metres in height) and with the sacrificial stone (which is one foot thick, and two and a half feet long). All the rest seems to be cut at random.
This affair of the Attic measure finds its counterpart in another statement of the negative school, that the laws of the XII. Tables are also a product of the time of the Decemvirs, because we find used in them the word pœna, which must have been imported from Greece (ποινή) by the Decemvirs themselves!
To conclude. Since the discovery of the Heroon Romuli in the Comitium and of the archaic stele,—whatever the meaning of its legend may be,—the history of ancient Rome cannot longer be written in the distrustful spirit of the hypercritical school. The future rests with our conservative party, of which I was a convinced member even at a time when it required a certain amount of courage to be recognized as such and to meet the accusation of credulity, when a lecturer could not name the founder of the City as a man who had actually existed, without blushing before his audience. As Professor Otto Schmidt remarks in the “Neue Jahrbucher f. Deutsch. Liter.” (Leipzig, 1900, p. 52): “Whoever is conversant with recent German literature on the history of Rome will acknowledge that the conservative party is gaining ground every day. The future is in the hands of the conservatives.” It seems to me rather a good turn of fortune that while our opponents were proclaiming the Forum not older than 400 B.C., that dear old place should reveal to us the most convincing proof of its remote antiquity.
The tradition about the grave of Romulus never died out in Rome; it was kept alive in the Comitium by outward signs long after the original monument had been concealed from view under a flooring of black stones. In fact, we find it confirmed by imperial authority, in the most solemn form, at the beginning of the fourth century after Christ, when Maxentius raised, in front of the Senate House, the pedestal inscribed:—
MARTI • INVICTO • PATRI ET ÆTERNÆ VRBIS SVÆ CONDITORIBVS!
(“To Mars the invincible father, and to the founders of his eternal City!”) This pedestal, discovered November 12, 1899, dates probably from 312 A.D. It seems that at the beginning of that eventful year, Maxentius, having declared war against Constantine under the plea that he had caused the death of his father Maximianus, not only made elaborate preparations to stop the advance of Constantine's army, but endeavored also to propitiate the gods in his favor, those especially to whom the welfare of the City was entrusted. It is necessary to remember that when Diocletian divided the Roman empire into two parts and four sections, and gave them up to his colleagues, Maximian, Galerius, and Chlorus, besides his own leading share,—and when Nicomedia was chosen as the capital of the eastern, and Milan of the western empire, Rome, the glorious City which had ruled the world for centuries, was reduced to the rank of a provincial town.
After the abdication of Diocletian and Maximian, May, 305, Galerius and Chlorus became emperors (Augusti), while Severus and Daza were raised to the rank of Cæsars. The presence of so many barbarians at the head of the state exasperated the army; revolutions and civil wars broke out in Brittany, in northern Italy, and in the East, with the result that, three years later, in 308, the number of rulers had increased to six, the last comers being Constantine son of Chlorus, and Maxentius son of Maximian. Maxentius had a true Roman heart. In spite of the anxious political situation which gave him no peace and no rest, he tried to revive in Rome the tradition of its old greatness, and to emulate the Emperors of the golden days in the magnificence of his structures. I shall describe in the next chapter his reconstruction of the Clivus Sacræ Viæ, which he transformed from a narrow irregular lane into a great avenue sixty-seven feet wide, lining it on one side with the Porticus Margaritaria, on the other with the Heroon of his son Romulus and with the Basilica Nova. In the outskirts of the city he transformed the old Triopium of Herodes Atticus, described in “Pagan and Christian Rome,” p. 287, into an imperial suburban residence, adding to the accommodations of the place a circus, a palace, a basilica, and a family mausoleum. He considerably improved his own family estate at the fourteenth milestone of the Via Labicana, changing it from a farm into a villa. I visited this delightful corner of the Campagna, now called San Cesario, in the course of last winter. The villa rivals in extent that of the Quintilii on the Appian Way, while it surpasses it in natural beauty, with its well-wooded and well-watered dales, winding among vine-clad hills, with the mountains of Præneste for a background, shaded by olive groves, and crowned by the Pelasgic fortress of Castel S. Pietro. Here two pedestals were found in 1705, dedicated by Valerius Romulus, one to his father Maxentius “patri benignissimo pro amore caritatis eius,” one to his mother Valeria Maximilla “matri carissimæ pro amore adfectionis eius.” These terms of filial devotion and endearment were not dictated for appearance, nor intended to be read by outsiders; therefore they speak the truth, and give us a glimpse of the intimate life of the happy trio in their peaceful retreat on the Via Labicana, which they had enriched with a magnificent collection of works of art. The many specimens of statuary, and the set of portrait-busts found by the present owners of the estate, have just been sold to a dealer, and dispersed among various collectors on either side of the Atlantic.
If we add to the list of these works the restoration of the Appian Way from Rome to Brindisi, of the road to Laurentum, and of several aqueducts, we must admit that very few Emperors have done as much, in the space of four years, as Maxentius did between April 21, A.D. 308, the date of his accession to the throne, and October 27, 312, the day he was drowned in the Tiber while retreating from the battlefield of Saxa Rubra. The pedestal lately found in the Comitium testifies to the true Roman spirit of Maxentius, in his attempt to relieve the fortunes of his dear city. Another inscription found in the Forum, which begins with the words, “censuræ veteris, pietatisque singularis, domino nostro Maxentio,” seems to allude to this tenacity of purpose for the preservation of its historical greatness against the attempts of Diocletian and his colleagues.15 He raised the pedestal to Mars, to Romulus and Remus, because he knew that under the flooring of black stones, near by, there lay deep underground the cenotaph of the founder of the City, of the son of Mars and Rhea Silvia, whose name he had given to his own son. And to make the connection between the old and the new monuments more evident, he selected for the dedication of this last the anniversary day of the foundation of the City, the glorious Paliliæ, April 21: “Dedicata die XI Kal. Maias!”
In the legend of his coins Maxentius always addresses Rome as the “æterna urbs sua,” and speaks of himself as the “conservator urbis suæ.” These coins show on the reverse the figure of Rome seated on a throne in her own temple on the Summa Sacra Via, on the pediment of which we see the infant twins sucking the wolf. Even more interesting from the point of view of the last discoveries is a medal described by Eckhel,16 in which the figure of Mars appears in company with that of the wolf and her nurslings. These facts and these considerations give weight to the conjecture that the pedestal of Maxentius did not support a statue of Mars, but the bronze wolf now in the Capitoline museum.
The origin of this celebrated work of art is rather obscure. It seems that in the old days of Rome there was a statue of Atta Navius on the steps of the Curia on the left, marking the spot where the miracle-working augur, challenged by Tarquin, had cut the whetstone with a razor. A fig-tree close by was held in veneration, first, because it had been struck by lightning and made sacred, and again because it symbolized the Ruminal tree, under the shade of which the wolf had tendered maternal care to the twins. In fact, the people believed it to be the original one, transported from the Velabrum to the Comitium by a prodigy. It seems that two bronze images of the wolf had been placed under the fig-tree at different times: the first by Atta Navius himself, and this one probably perished in the Gaulish fire; the second in B.C. 295, by the brothers Cnæus and Quintus Ogulnii, who devoted to its casting the fines collected from the usurers. Ancient writers mention a third wolf, also cast in bronze and gilded, placed somewhere in the Capitol; and because this last was struck by lightning, under the consulship of Cotta and Torquatus, B.C. 64, many antiquarians have identified it with the one now exhibited in the Palazzo de' Conservatori, which shows the right hind leg split open as if by a stroke of some kind. However, this cannot be the case, because Cicero and Dion Cassius distinctly state that both the beast and the infants were wrenched from their stand and melted;17 and besides, the existing replica has never been gilded.
Can we then identify it with the original placed by the brothers Ogulnii in the Comitium? Helbig says no, and I beg leave to quote at length the statement he makes in vol. i p. 460 of his “Guide to the Collections of Classical Antiquities in Rome,” first ed., 1895. “The she-wolf of Rome was conceived of by ancient artists in two different ways. The usual mode represents her suckling the twins and turning her head to look at them. More rarely she is seen without the twins, and in a threatening attitude, as, for instance, on the denarii of Publius Satrienus [p. 37]. The Capitoline wolf reproduces the latter motive. With flashing eye and gnashing teeth she menaces an approaching foe. The terror-striking effect of the head was enhanced by the glittering enamel of the deeply incised pupils, a fragment of which still remains in the right eye. If we may assume that the development of early Roman art was parallel with that of Etruria, we may ascribe the execution of this work to the fifth century B.C. In any case, we must reject the hypothesis that it is identical with the she-wolf which the Ædiles Cnæus and Quintus Ogulnius erected by the Ficus Ruminalis in 295 B.C. with the money paid in fines. At that epoch the Romans were masters of Campania, and had there become familiar with both Hellenic and Hellenistic art, and hence it seems incredible that in the year 295 B.C. so archaic a work as the Capitoline wolf could have been publicly installed in Rome.” Helbig's difficulty may be obviated by supposing that the artist was commissioned by the Ogulnii to reproduce the lost original of Atta Navius, rather than to model a new figure.
Again, we cannot agree with Helbig as regards the origin, or rather the discovery, of the Capitoline bronze. “The basilica of St. John Lateran,” he says, “was entirely rebuilt under Pope Sergius III. (904–911) after its destruction by an earthquake in 896. It would appear quite natural that a desire should then have arisen to adorn the piazza in front of it with the emblem of Rome. As the sculptors of the time were incapable of producing a statue in any degree satisfactory, search was made for some ancient work of the kind. The she-wolf was then discovered, lying ruined and forgotten, perhaps in the cellars of some pagan temple, and was entrusted to a coppersmith near by, to be patched up for its position in front of the Lateran.”18 These conjectures would be acceptable if the wolf were the only work of art cast in metal collected by the Popes round their episcopal palace: but besides the wolf, there was the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius; the Camillus, known in the middle ages by the name of La Zingara or the Gypsy, from the supposition that the right hand was stretched forward for purposes of palmistry; the Boy extracting a thorn; the colossal head of Nero; the hand of another colossal statue; the bronze globe, etc., all of which were removed to the Conservatori palace at the time of Sixtus IV. (1471). All these celebrated bronzes cannot have been found “in the cellars of some pagan temple” at the time of Sergius III., viz., after Rome had been pillaged by the barbarians and by her own citizens a hundred times at least, and after even the roofs of old buildings had been stripped of the bronze tiles. The Lateran collection must have been formed long before the tenth century, when bronze works of art were still plentiful.
The wolf, at all events, is mentioned long before the time of Sergius III. Benedict of Mount Soracte speaks of the institution of a court of justice “in the Lateran palace, in the place called the Wolf, viz., the mother of the Romans,” as an event of the beginning of the ninth century. Trials and executions at the Wolf are recorded from time to time until 1438. The illustration on p. 39 refers to the cruel punishment of Capocciolo and Garofolo, on September 12 of that year, for having stolen certain precious stones from the busts of SS. Peter and Paul, which were then kept in the ciborium or canopy of Urban V. above the high altar of the Lateran. Capocciolo and Garofolo, who were beneficiaries of the chapter, had their right hands cut and nailed at the Wolf, before they were themselves nailed to the stakes and burnt alive. The scene of their execution, and that of their accomplice, Nicola da Valmontone, who as a canon of the same chapter was only hanged on a tree, was painted on the wall of the transept by order of Cardinal Angelotto de Foschi. The original was destroyed by Clement VIII. in 1587, but a copy is preserved in the archives of the chapter, from which my illustration is taken.
I have no doubt myself that the wolf, kept from immemorial times at the Lateran, is the very one that Maxentius replaced on the newly found pedestal, after the fire of Carinus, by which the Curia and the Comitium were so seriously damaged. But whether I am right or not in my belief, whether the wolf or any other image stood on that pedestal, its connection with the Heroon of Romulus is evident; and we cannot read without emotion this last appeal of a true and brave emperor to the founders of his dear city at the moment he was going to face Constantine on the field of battle. Really, between this unfortunate prince, Roman to the core, and his antagonist, who was going to abandon the glorious city for Constantinople, we cannot help siding with the first; we cannot help wishing that the battle of Saxa Rubra had had a different issue.
The grave of Romulus the founder of the City, at one end of the Forum, and the memorial of Romulus the son of Maxentius, at the other, mark the beginning and the end of the history of classic Rome.
The floor of the Comitium in front of the Senate House, a perspective view of which is reproduced (page 41), may be called an historical and topographical palimpsest. We can see at a glance several pavements at various levels, each one retaining traces of the special treatment to which the Comitium was subjected at that particular period of its history. Thus, in the last floor but one we perceive signs of a line of columns (A, A´) running parallel with the front of the Curia at the foot of the steps (B, B´), which were inclosed and separated from the public section of the Comitium by a bronze railing or transenna (C C´). A gutter (D D´) runs along the transenna, to carry off the rain-water from the enclosure. And when all these things were finally covered by a stone floor (E, E´), a beautiful fountain was set up in front of the main door of the Curia, and the gutter was utilized to lay the lead pipe which carried the water for the jet.
Nothing is left of the fountain except the lower basin (F F´), which collected the drippings from the tazza above, and the foundations of the octagonal pedestal which supported the tazza. The history of the tazza is at all events very interesting.
First of all, the setting up of this fountain in the last days of classic Rome belongs to a cycle of works carried on in the Senate House and its neighborhood at the beginning of the fifth century, when the principal hall was restored by the prefect Næratius, and the Secretary's offices by the prefect Flavius Annius Eucharius. Both edifices must have been damaged by the Goths of Alaric in 410. The fountain was not made for use here, but was removed to the Comitium from some other place. Its mouldings are too graceful, and the cutting of the slabs too neat to be attributed to a stonecutter of the fifth century. It seems, in fact, that when the basin was lifted to its new level or moved to its new place, the workmen marked its eight marble segments with the first eight letters of the alphabet so as to avoid any difficulty in rejoining them. The B and the F can still be seen at the joints of the second and sixth segments.
The fountain lasted for a long period, probably until the cutting of the aqueducts by Vitiges, for the surface of the basin was worn out by the dripping of the tazza, and a thick line of lime deposit was formed around the rim. At all events, this was not the only fountain of the Comitium: there was another into which the water flowed from the urn of a recumbent River-god known, since the early middle ages, by the name of Marforio (Martis forum).
This loquacious and sarcastic River-god has had the fortune, in common with the Nile and the Tiber now in the Piazza del Campidoglio, of having never been buried and removed from sight since the downfall of Rome. We can follow his career before and after the Norman pillage of 1084, which marks the first disappearance of the Forum and the Comitium under a bed of rubbish. The so-called Anonymus of Einsiedeln saw it near the church of S. Martina (the Secretarium Senatus) before the pillage; and it is constantly mentioned in the Guide-books for pilgrims, or Mirabilia, of a later date. When Giovanni Ruccellai visited Rome in the Jubilee of 1450 he was struck at the sight of the colossal figure of Marforio, and so was Nicholas Müffel of Nuremberg, who followed Frederick III. in his visit to Nicholas V. in 1452. They both speak with admiration of the “gran simulacro a giacere,” and they both mention the tazza of granite into which he used once to pour water. This feeling of admiration lasted all through the sixteenth century. Speaking of Michelangelo's David, Vasari says: “It stands foremost among all ancient and modern works of statuary, and neither the Marforio, nor the Tiber and Nile of Belvedere, nor the Horse-tamers of the Quirinal can bear comparison with it.” The same genial biographer relates of Baccio Bandinelli, that finding himself one morning in the workshop of Girolamo del Buda, while the adjoining Piazza di S. Apollinare was covered with a sheet of snow, the young artist modelled with it a Marforio, eight cubits long, which was a marvel to behold.
The original statue was removed from the site of the Comitium at the time of Gregory XIII., and after many wanderings was given a resting-place in the Piazza del Campidoglio, on the side facing the Palazzo dei Conservatori, where the Museo Capitolino now stands, and while old Marforio was thus joining company with the Tiber and the Nile, which Michelangelo had already located on the south side of the same piazza against the steps of the Palazzo del Senatore, the granite tazza was left abandoned near S. Martina until 1593. On October 22 of that year the city magistrates obtained from Cardinal Alessandro Farnese a piece of ground near the “three columns” of Castor's temple, where the basin was set up and furnished with three jets of the Felice water which Pope Sixtus V. had just gathered from the springs of Pantano. It was finally removed to its present site, between the Horse-tamers in the Piazza del Quirinale, by Pius VII. in 1817. (See page 49.)
Marforio's position amongst the loquacious statues of Rome is not prominent like that of Pasquino, his duty being confined to answering his friend's sallies, not to originating them. However, “a neat repartee maketh glad the heart of the utterer.” We have seen what the career of the River-god was, after the water ceased to flow, from the urn on which his elbow rests, into the fountain of the Comitium. Pasquino's origin is altogether obscure. This battered torso, this mutilated fragment of a group considered to represent Menelaus supporting the dead body of Patroclus, seems to have been discovered by Francesco Orsini while building his palace in the region of Parione; and when the palace—demolished by Pius VI. to make room for his own Palazzo Braschi—was rented by Cardinal Oliviero Caraffa, towards the end of the fifteenth century, the torso was set upon a pedestal with the inscription: “I owe my existence to Oliver Caraffa: A.D. 1501.” How was it, then, that the almost shapeless fragment became the greatest object of curiosity in Rome? According to Castelvetro's version, it derived name and notoriety from a sharp-tongued and witty tailor named Pasquino, who kept a shop opposite the Orsini palace, and whose sallies against the Pope, the Cardinals, and the Court were widely circulated and vastly appreciated in Rome. Others substitute for the tailor a barber gifted with the same satirical propensities. We owe to Count Domenico Gnoli the revelation of the truth.19
On April 25 of each year, being the feast day of St. Mark the Evangelist, a procession used to start from the church of S. Lorenzo in Damaso and pass in front of the Pasquino and the Orsini palace, where the officiating priests rested on a certain stone bench, decked for the occasion with tapestries and evergreens. Cardinal Caraffa, considering that Pasquino was not fit to witness such a holy scene in his battered condition, caused him to be restored in plaster and dressed up for the occasion, the type and the costume changing every year. Thus between 1501 and 1507 he became in turn Saturn, Jupiter, Minerva, Apollo, Mars, Mercury, and Neptune; he became Arpokras in 1508, Janus in 1509, Hercules in 1510, “Mourning” in 1511, and so on. The disguises were chosen in connection with the greatest or latest event of the year; for instance, “Mourning” in 1511, on account of Cardinal Caraffa's death; Hercules killing the Hydra in 1510, on account of Julius II.'s victories over the Venetians, etc.
The care of arranging Pasquino's disguises was entrusted by Cardinal Caraffa to a certain Donato Poli, a lecturer on geography in the university or “studio,” as it was then called; a man deformed in appearance, surnamed by his pupils “Diciamo, diciamo” (Let us say, let us say), because he repeated these words with every utterance; but otherwise a good and serviceable friend, with longing aspirations for the heights of Parnassus. Donato took advantage of the festival of St. Mark to promote emulation among his pupils, causing them to compose Latin or Italian elegies, epigrams, and mottoes which were pasted on Pasquino's pedestal. The custom met with such favor, first with the students, later on with the many poets of the court of Leo X., that the number of verses rose from a few scores in 1501 to three thousand in 1509. Jacopo Mazochio, the enterprising manager of the university press, at once saw his chance of making a profit out of this competition; but, as the show lasted only a few hours, because the papers were removed as soon as the procession had passed, and as many fought for the privilege of reading and copying the epigrams, Mazochio's reporters had a difficult time in accomplishing their task. His pamphlets, published year by year under the title, “Carmina quæ ad Pasquillum fuerunt posita in anno—,” have become exceedingly rare, only the editions of 1509–1514, 1521, and 1525 having come down to us. The others were probably lost in the Sacco di Roma.
A perusal of these pasquinades show them to be mostly the work of inexperienced and silly boys; they never deal with politics or religion. Those, therefore, who have spoken of Pasquino as waging a fierce war against the Popes, as being imbued with a spirit of rebellion and reform, and thrusting the darts of satire against the members of the Curia, are altogether mistaken. The only strokes of license to be noticed in these early pasquinades are directed against professors of the university obnoxious to students, such as Augusto Baldo from Padua, and his assistant Basilio Calcondila, who occupied the chair of Greek. The celebrations were interrupted in 1517 by the sad end of their founder, Donato Poli, who was killed with a hammer by his own valet for the sake of the few florins he had saved out of a scanty salary of 150 florins a year. The place of protector of Pasquino had been taken by Cardinal Antonio del Monte after the death of Caraffa, and the directorship of the competition was given to Decio Sillano da Spoleto after the murder of Donato. The institution collapsed altogether with the Sacco di Roma. As long as Pasquino was left free to speak, no harm was done; but when the reaction against the reform broke out under Adrian VI. and Paul IV., Pasquino became in some measure the anonymous organ of public opinion, and part of the social system of Rome. It is related that Adrian VI. attempted to stop his career by ordering the statue to be burnt and thrown into the Tiber, but one of the courtiers, Ludovico Suessano, saved him by suggesting that his ashes would turn into frogs and croak more audaciously than ever.
Pasquino was not the only statue patronizing poetry in Rome. There was another one quite celebrated at the time, now almost lost in oblivion, the Sant' Anna of Jacopo Sansovino, classed by Vasari amongst the masterpieces of Italian art. The statue, which stands now in the church of S. Agostino, on the second altar at the left, had been originally set up against the third pilaster of the nave on the same side of the church, below Raphael's fresco representing the prophet Isaiah and two angels holding a tablet. Both painting and statue had been made at the expense of Johann Goritz of Luxembourg, the Coricius of contemporary humanists, whose garden, on the slope of the Capitoline hill towards Trajan's forum, planted with lemon-trees and full of antiques, was the rendezvous of the learned men of the age. Every year, on the feast day of Sant' Anna, Coricius's friends would place by the statue in S. Agostino, or hang to the lemon-trees of the garden, odes and sonnets in praise of their kind host, which he collected and brought home for remembrance. In the tenth year after the first keeping of Sant' Anna's day, the bundle of MSS. was stolen by Blosio Palladio, while Coricius was asleep, and printed as a surprise to him (1524) under the title of “Coryciana.” It contains contributions from one hundred and thirty poets; among the names I notice that of Ulrich von Hutten, the author of the incendiary epigrams to Rubiano on the state of Papal Rome, who afterwards became one of the leaders of the Reformation in Germany.
Poor old Coricius! His end was nearly as cruel as that of Donato Poli. During the fearful sack of 1527 he saw his house and his dear garden wrecked by the lansquenets, and his money stolen, while he was nearly beaten to death. Fleeing from the accursed city towards his native land, he died at Mantua from grief and exhaustion.
Richter, Mittheil. d. arch. Inst. vol. iii. (1888), p. 99; Antike Denkmäler, 1888, p. 14; Bull. arch. comunale, 1888, p. 167; Thédenat, Le Forum romain, p. 180.
Page 51, pl. 2, 3. Compare Corpus Inscr. vol. vi. part ii. p. 976.
Corpus Inscr. vol. vi. n. 1161: “under the paving-stones of the road which passes through the arch of Severus.”
Porphyrion in Horace, Epod. xvi. 13; the Scholiast of Cruyg, ibid., and the anonym of Cod. Parisin. 7975.
“It was decreed by the Senate that all sacred places which had been occupied [and profaned] by the enemy should be rebuilt, purified, and their limits marked out; and that special magistrates should be selected to carry out the decree.”
A special museum for the antiquities of the Forum will shortly be established in the ex-convent of S. Francesca Romana, by the Temple of Venus and Rome.
Moulded in black clay, dull, not shiny.
According to Iginus, Carmenta transferred to Latium only fifteen letters, while Plutarch asserts that sixteen were in use at the earliest epoch. Compare Bréal, Sur les rapports de l'alphabet étrusque avec l'alphabet latin, in Mém. Société Linguistique, Paris, viii., 1889, pp. 129–134. Lenormaut, Mélanges d'archéol. et d'hist., 1883, p. 302.
“Literature was then in its infancy: the rare and simple documents of those early days, such as the pontifical records, and public and private deeds, were lost, save a few exceptions, in the Gaulish fire.”
Compare Livy, v. 52, where Camillus speaks of the sacred laws, stating the days as well as the places chosen for the performing of sacrifices. Dionysius (ii. 73, 74) says that Numa's legislation on religions matters was collected in eight volumes, as many as there were priestly colleges.
The Idus, in the later sense of the word, indicates the 13th day of the month, except in March, May, July, and October, when it fell on the 15th; but originally it indicated the full moon, from the Etruscan verb “iduare,” to divide, because the full moon divides the lunar months.
La stele arcaica del foro romano: Cronaca della scoperta e della discussione, May to December, 1899. Messina, D' Amico. Compare, also, Von Duhn, Fundumstände und Fundort der ältesten lateinischen Steininschrift am Forum Romanum, a reprint from the Neue Heidelberger Jahrbücher, July, 1899.
The votive vase of Dvenos, with its remarkable archaic inscription, was discovered in 1880 in the foundations of the Villa Huffer, on the south slope of the Quirinal, near the church of S. Vitale. No satisfactory interpretation of the text—edited first by Heinrich Dressel in Annal. Instit., 1880, p. 158—has been given yet. At all events, it was the oldest known Latin inscription before the discovery of the stele.
The connection between the two cities was so close that the bank of the Tiber, opposite the Palatine hill, was named RIPA VEIENTANA.
Corpus Inscr. Latin. vi. 1220, 31394.
Doctrina numm. viii. p. 56. Cohen, Monn, imper. vi. 28.
Cicero, Catilin. iii. 7; De divinat. i. 13; ii. 20. Dion Cassius, xxxvii. 9.
Helbig thinks that the wolf “has been most barbarously treated by a stupid restorer.”
Gnoli, Domenico, “Le origini di Maestro Pasquino” in Nuova Antologia, January, 1890.