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Here, where the Roman million's blame or praise
When one gladiator wounded another, he shouted, "he has it," "hoc habet," or "habet." The wounded combatant dropped his weapon, and advancing to the edge of the arena, supplicated the spectators. If he had fought well, the people saved him; if otherwise, or as they happened to be inclined, they turned down their thumbs, and he was slain. They were occasionally so savage that they were impatient if a combat lasted longer than ordinary without wounds or death. The emperor's presence generally saved the vanquished: and it is recorded as an instance of Caracalla's ferocity, that he sent those who supplicated him for life, in a spectacle at Nicomedia, to ask the people; in other words, handed them over to be slain. A similar ceremony is observed at the Spanish bull-fights. The magistrate presides; and after the horsemen and piccadores have fought the bull, the matadore steps forward and bows to him for permission to kill the animal. If the bull has done his duty by killing two or three horses, or a man, which last is rare, the people interfere with shouts, the ladies wave their handkerchiefs, and the animal is saved. The wounds and death of the horses are accompanied with the loudest acclamations, and many gestures of delight, especially from the female portion of the audience, including those of the gentlest blood. Every thing depends on habit. The author of Childe Harold, the writer of this note, and one or two other Englishmen, who have certainly in other days borne the sight of a pitched battle, were, during the summer of 1809, in the governor's box at the great amphitheatre of Santa Maria, opposite to Cadiz. The death of one or two horses completely satisfied their curiosity. A gentleman present, observing them shudder and look pale, noticed that unusual reception of so delightful a sport to
bamur. Ubi robur, ubi tot per annos meditata sapientiæ studia? ubi ille animus qui possit dicere, si fractus illabatur orbis?" &c. ibid. lib. ii. cap. xxv. The prototype of Mr. Windham's panegyric on bull-baiting.
some young ladies, who stared and smiled, and continued their applauses as another horse fell bleeding to the ground. One bull killed three horses off his own horns. He was saved by acclamations, which were redoubled when it was known he belonged to a priest.
An Englishman, who can be much pleased with seeing two men beat themselves to pieces, cannot bear to look at a horse galloping round an arena with his bowels trailing on the ground, and turns from the spectacle and the spectators with horror and disgust.
Like laurels on the bald first Cæsar's head. Stanza cxliv. line 6. Suetonius informs us that Julius Cæsar was particularly gratified by that decree of the senate, which enabled him to wear a wreath of laurel on all occasions. He was anxious, not to show that he was the conqueror of the world, but to hide that he was bald. A stranger at Rome would hardly have guessed at the motive, nor should we without the help of the historian.
While stands the Coliseum, Rome shall stand.
This is quoted in the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; and a notice on the Coliseum may be seen in the Historical Illustrations to the IVth Canto of Childe Harold.
64. spared and blest by time. Stanza cxlvi. line 3.
"Though plundered of all its brass, except the ring which was necessary to preserve the aperture above; though exposed to repeated fires, though sometimes flooded by the river, and always open to the rain, no monument of equal antiquity is so well preserved as this rotundo. It passed with little alteration from the Pagan into the present worship; and so convenient were its niches for the Christian altar, that Michael Angelo, ever studious of ancient beauty, introduced their design as a model in the Catholic church."
Forsyth's Remarks, &c. on Italy, p. 137. sec. edit.
And they who feel for genius may repose Their eyes on honour'd forms, whose busts around them close. Stanza cxlvii. lines 8 and 9.
The Pantheon has been made a receptacle for the busts of modern great, or, at least, distinguished, men. The flood of light which once fell through the large orb above on the whole circle of divinities, now shines on a numerous assemblage of mortals, some one or two of whom have been almost deified by the veneration of their countrymen.
There is a dungeon, in whose dim drear light.
This and the three next stanzas allude to the story of the Roman daughter, which is recalled to the traveller by the site, or pretended site, of that adventure, now shown at the church of St. Nicholas in carcere. The difficulties attending the full belief of the tale are stated in Historical Illustrations, &c.
Turn to the Mole, which Hadrian rear'd on high.
The castle of St. Angelo. See-Historical Illustrations.
68. Stanza cliii.
This and the six next stanzas have a reference to the church of St. Peter's. For a measurement of the comparative length of this basilica, and the other great churches of Europe, see the pavement of St. Peter's, and the Classical Tour through Italy, vol. ii. pag. 125. et seq. chap. iv.
the strange fate Which tumbles mightiest sovereigns. Stanza clxxi. lines 6 and 7.
Mary died on the scaffold; Elizabeth of a broken heart; Charles V. a hermit; Louis XIV. a bankrupt in means and
glory; Cromwell of anxiety; and, "the greatest is behind," Napoleon lives a prisoner. To these sovereigns a long but superfluous list might be added of names equally illustrious and unhappy.
Lo, Nemi! navell'd in the woody hills.
The village of Nemi was near the Arician retreat of Egeria, and from the shades which embosomed the temple of Diana, has preserved to this day its distinctive appellation of The Grove. Nemi is but an evening's ride from the comfortable inn of Albano.
The Tiber winds, and the broad ocean laves
Stanza clxxiv. lines 2, 3, and 4.
The whole declivity of the Alban hill is of unrivalled beauty, and from the convent on the highest point, which has succeeded to the temple of the Latian Jupiter, the prospect embraces all the objects alluded to in the cited stanza; the Mediterranean; the whole scene of the latter half of the Æneid, and the coast from beyond the mouth of the Tiber to the headland of Circæum and the Cape of Terracina.
The site of Cicero's villa may be supposed either at the Grotta Ferrata, or at the Tusculum of Prince Lucien Buonaparte.
The former was thought some years ago the actual site, as may be seen from Middleton's Life of Cicero. At present it has lost something of its credit, except for the Domenichinos. Nine monks of the Greek order live there, and the adjoining villa is a cardinal's summer-house. The other villa, called Rufinella, is on the summit of the hill above 'rascati, and many rich remains of Tusculum have been und there, besides seventy-two statues of different merit and preservation, and seven busts.
From the same eminence are seen the Sabine hills, embosomed in which lies the long valley of Rustica. There are
several circumstances which tend to establish the identity of this valley with the "Ustica" of Horace; and it seems possible that the mosaic pavement which the peasants uncover by throwing up the earth of a vineyard may belong to his villa. Rustica is pronounced short, not according to our stress upon-" Usticæ cubantis."-It is more rational to think that we are wrong than that the inhabitants of this secluded valley have changed their tone in this word. The addition of the consonant prefixed is nothing: yet it is necessary to be aware that Rustica may be a modern name which the peasants may have caught from the antiquaries.
The villa, or the mosaic, is in a vineyard on a knoll covered with chestnut trees. A stream runs down the valley, and although it is not true, as said in the guide books, that this stream is called Licenza, yet there is a village on a rock at the head of the valley which is so denominated, and which may have taken its name from the Digentia. Licenza contains 700 inhabitants. On a peak a little way beyond is Civitella, containing 300. On the banks of the Anio, a little before you turn up into Valle Rustica, to the left, about an hour from the villa, is a town called Vicovaro, another favourable coincidence with the Varia of the poet. At the end of the valley, towards the Anio, there is a bare hill, crowned with a little town called Bardela. At the foot of this hill the rivulet of Licenza flows, and is almost absorbed in a wide sandy bed before it reaches the Anio. Nothing can be more fortunate for the lines of the poet, whether in a metaphorical or direct sense:
"Me quotiens reficit gelidus Digentia rivus,
The stream is clear high up the valley, but before it reaches the hill of Bardela looks green and yellow like a sulphur
Rocca Giovane, a ruined village in the hills, half an hour's walk from the vineyard where the pavement is shown, does seem to be the site of the fane of Vacuna, and an inscription found there tells that this temple of the Sabine Victory was