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as well as to the most contemptible of tyrants, superstition and religious imposture: while this remote country, anciently the jest and contempt of the polite Romans, is become the happy seat of liberty, plenty, and letters; flourishing in all the arts and refinements of civil life; yet running perhaps the same course which Rome itself had run before it, from virtuous industry to wealth; from wealth to luxury; from luxury to an impatience of discipline, and corruption of morals: till, by a total degeneracy and loss of virtue, being grown ripe for destruction, it fall a prey at last to some hardy oppressor, and, with the loss of liberty, losing every thing that is valuable, sinks gradually again into its original barbarism *."
And apostolic statues climb
To crush the imperial urn, whose ashes slept sublime. Stanza cx. lines 8 and 9. The column of Trajan is surmounted by St. Peter; that of Aurelius by St. Paul. See-Historical Illustrations of the IVth Canto, &c.
Still we Trajan's name adore.
Stanza cxi. line 9.
Trajan was proverbially the best of the Roman princes †; and it would be easier to find a sovereign uniting exactly the opposite characteristics, than one possessed of all the happy qualities ascribed to this emperor. "When he mounted the throne," says the historian Dion‡, he was
*The History of the Life of M. Tullius Cicero, sect. vi. voi. ii. p. 102. The contrast has been reversed in a late extraordinary instance. A gentleman was thrown into prison at Paris; efforts were made for his release. The French minister continued to detain him, under the pretext that he was not an Englishman, but only a Roman. See "Interesting Facts relating to Joachim Murat," pag. 139.
"Hujus tantùm memoriæ delatum est, ut, usque ad nostram ætatem non aliter in Senatu principibus acclamatur, nisi, FELICIOR. AVGVSTO. MELIOR. TRAJANO." Eutrop. Brev. Hist. Rom. lib. viii. cap. v.
† Τῷ τε γὰρ σώματι ἔῤῥωτο ......... καὶ τῇ ψυχῇ ἤκ
strong in body, he was vigorous in mind; age had impaired none of his faculties; he was altogether free from envy and from detraction; he honoured all the good, and he advanced them; and on this account they could not be the objects of his fear, or of his hate; he never listened to informers; he gave not way to his anger; he abstained equally from unfair exactions and unjust punishments; he had rather be loved as a man than honoured as a sovereign; he was affable with his people, respectful to the senate, and universally beloved by both; he inspired none with dread but the enemies of his country."
Stanza cxiv. line 5.
The name and exploits of Rienzi must be familiar to the reader of Gibbon. Some details and inedited manuscripts relative to this unhappy hero will be seen in the Illustrations of the IVth Canto.
Egeria! sweet creation of some heart
Which found no mortal resting-place so fair
Stanza cxv. lines 1, 2, and 3. The respectable authority of Flaminius Vacca would incline us to believe in the claims of the Egerian grotto*. He
μαζεν, ὡς μήθ' ὑπὸ γήρως ἀμβλύνεσθαι.... καὶ οὔτ ̓ ἐφθόνει οὔτε καθήρει τινὰ, ἀλλὰ καὶ πάνυ πάντας τοὺς ἀγαθοὺς ἐτίμα καὶ μεγάλυνε καὶ διὰ τοῦτο οὔτε ἐφοβεῖτό τινα αὐτῶν, οὔτε ἐμίσει .. διαβολαῖς τε ἥκιστα ἐπιστεύε, καὶ ὀργῆ ἤμιστα ἐδουλοῦτο· τῶν τε χρημάτων τῶν ἀλλωτρίων ἴσα καὶ φόνων τῶν ἀδίκων ἀπείχετο. · φιλούμενός τε οὖν ἐπ ̓ αὐτοῖς μᾶλλον ἢ τιμώμενος ἔχαιρε, καὶ τῷ τε δήμῳ μετ ̓ ἐπιείκειας συνεγίνετο, καὶ τῇ γηρουσίᾳ σεμνοπρεπῶς ὁμιλεῖ· ἀγαπητὸς μὲν πᾶσι· φοβερὸς δὲ μηδενὶ, πλὴν πολεμίοις ὢν Hist. Rom. lib. lxviii. cap. vi. et vii. tom. ii. p. 1123, 1124, edit. Hamb. 1750.
* "Poco lontano dal detto luogo si scende ad un casaletto, del qualen e sono Padroni li Cafarelli, che con questo nome è
assures us that he saw an inscription in the pavement, stating that the fountain was that of Egeria, dedicated to the nymphs. The inscription is not there at this day; but Montfaucon quotes two lines of Ovid from a stone in the Villa Giustiniani, which he seems to think had been brought from the same grotto.
This grotto and valley were formerly frequented in summer, and particularly the first Sunday in May, by the modern Romans, who attached a salubrious quality to the fountain which trickles from an orifice at the bottom of the vault, and, overflowing the little pools, creeps down the matted grass into the brook below. The brook is the Ovidian Almo, whose name and qualities are lost in the modern Aquataccio. The valley itself is called Valle di Caffarelli, from the dukes of that name who made over their fountain to the Pallavicini, with sixty rubbia of adjoining land.
There can be little doubt that this long dell is the Egerian valley of Juvenal, and the pausing place of Umbritius, notwithstanding the generality of his commentators have supposed the descent of the satirist and his friend to have been into the Arician grove, where the nymph met Hippolitus, and where she was more peculiarly worshipped.
The step from the Porta Capena to the Alban hill, fifteen miles distant, would be too considerable, unless we were to believe in the wild conjecture of Vossius, who makes that gate travel from its present station, where he pretends it was during the reign of the Kings, as far as the Arician grove, and then makes it recede to its old site with the
chiamato il luogo; vi è una fontana sotto una gran volta antica, che al presente si gode, e li Romani vi vanno l'estate a ricrearsi; nel pavimento di essa fonte si legge in un epitaffio essere quella la fonte di Egeria, dedicata alle ninfe, e questa, dice l'epitaffio, essere la medesima fonte in cui fu convertita." Memorie, &c. ap. Nardini, pag. 13. He does not give the inscription.
*In villa Justiniana extat ingens lapis quadratus solidus in quo sculpta hæc duo Ovidii carmina sunt:
Egeria est quæ præbet aquas dea grata Camœnis
Qui lapis videtur ex eodem Egeriæ fonte, aut ejus vicinia isthuc comportatus." Diarium Italic. p. 153.
shrinking city *. The tufo, or pumice, which the poet prefers to marble, is the substance composing the bank in which the grotto is sunk.
The modern topographers † find in the grotto the statue of the nymph and nine niches for the Muses, and a late traveller has discovered that the cave is restored to that simplicity which the poet regretted had been exchanged for injudicious ornament. But the headless statue is palpably rather a male than a nymph, and has none of the attributes ascribed to it at present visible. The nine Muses could hardly have stood in six niches; and Juvenal certainly does not allude to any individual cave §. Nothing can be collected from the satirist but that somewhere near the Porta Capena was a spot in which it was supposed Numa held nightly consultations with his nymph, and where there was a grove and a sacred fountain, and fanes once consecrated to the Muses; and that from this spot there was a descent into the valley of Egeria, where were several artificial caves. It is clear that the statues of the Muses made no part of the decoration which the satirist thought misplaced in these caves; for he expressly assigns other fanes (delubra) to these divinities above the valley, and moreover tells us that they had been ejected to make room for the Jews. In fact, the
*De Magnit. Vet. Rom. ap. Græv. Ant. Rom. tom. iv. p. .1507.
+ Echinard, Descrizione di Roma e dell' agro Romano, corretto dall' Abate Venuti, in Roma, 1750. They believe in the grotto and nymph. "Simulacro di questo fonte, essendovi sculpite le acque a pie di esso."
Classical Tour, chap. vi. p. 217. vol. ii.
little temple, now called that of Bacchus, was formerly thought to belong to the Muses, and Nardini * places them in a poplar grove, which was in his time above the valley.
It is probable, from the inscription and position, that the cave now shown may be one of the "artifical caverns," of which, indeed, there is another a little way higher up the valley, under a tuft of alder bushes: but a single grotto of Egeria is a mere modern invention, grafted upon the application of the epithet Egerian to these nymphea in general, and which might send us to look for the haunts of Numa upon the banks of the Thames.
Our English Juvenal was not seduced into mistranslation by his acquaintance with Pope: he carefully preserves the correct plural
"Thence slowly winding down the vale, we view The Egerian grots; oh, how unlike the true!"
The valley abounds with springs †, and over these springs, which the Muses might haunt from their neighbouring groves, Egeria presided: hence she was said to supply them with water; and she was the nymph of the grottos through which the fountains were taught to flow.
The whole of the monuments in the vicinity of the Egerian valley have received names at will, which have been changed at will. Venuti ‡ owns he can see no traces of the temples of Jove, Saturn, Juno, Venus, and Diana, which Nardini found, or hoped to find. The mutatorium of Caracalla's circus, the temple of Honour and Virtue, the temple of Bacchus, and, above all, the temple of the god Rediculus, are the antiquaries' despair.
The circus of Caracalla depends on a medal of that emperor cited by Fulvius Ursinus, of which the reverse shows a circus, supposed, however, by some to represent the Circus Maximus. It gives a very good idea of that place of exercise. The soil has been but little raised, if we may judge
*Lib. iii. cap. iii.
t Undique e solo aquæ scaturiunt." Nardini, lib. iii. cap.
Echinard, &c. Cic. cit. p. 297, 298.