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THE FORUM, AT ROME. THE Forum Romanum, of all the ascertained localities of ancient Rome, presents the most deplorable contrast in its present appearance to its former magnificence. Even by its modern name of Campo Vaccino (Cow's Field), expressive as it is of degradation and desolation, no adequate idea is conveyed of the utter devastation which has overwhelmed the Forum, obliterated its every lineament and feature, made even its exact boundaries a problem, and reduced it from being the grand central nucleus of the splendour and beauty of the most magnificent, powerful, and populous city that ever existed, to become an unsightly, shapeless, barren field-a very waste and wilderness. The tourist whose intimate acquaintance with classical literature and history enables him to picture vividly to his mind the Forum as the centre of the excessive and turbulent vitality of ancient Rome in the days of Cicero, of Cæsar, and of Pompey, and of the more placid but equally intense spirit of life which pervaded its thronged thoroughfares in the time of Augustus, can alone fully estimate how vast is the desolation of the Campo Vaccino.
On entering at the north-western or upper end the irregular oblong area which bears that name, a piece of waste ground lies before the view stretching towards the south-east in the direction of the Colosseum, with some stunted trees growing in the centre, and fragments of ruins scattered through it, some in close neighbourhood to each other, the rest more apart or intermingled with modern erections. A casual passenger, or curious tourist, or perhaps a peasant with his cart and clumsily yoked oxen, are all the indications of life to be met with in this once famous arena of eloquent debate and political deliberation. The whole space open to view comprehends a much larger area than was occupied by the Forum, the exact limits and extent of which have been a vexed question with antiquarians.
To the left of our engraving is seen the Arch of Septimus Severus, who was Emperor, A.D. 193—211. It was built about the eleventh year of his reign, as a monument of honor to himself and his sons, Caracalla and Geta, as appears from the inscription which it bears. The structure, of the same character and form as the Arch of Constantine, is pierced by a large central and two small side arches, which communicate with each other by cross openings also arched, the entablature being sustained by fluted columns and pilasters, resting upon sculptured pedestals. The attic is plain, and bears only the inscription, but the interstices of the columns are decorated with bas-reliefs. Originally, the summit, to which there is access by a flight of steps, bore a triumphal car, containing statues of the Emperor and his sons. At the foot of the arch, a portion of an ancient paved way that led to the Capitol is laid bare.
The eight Ionic columns, to the extreme right, next claim attention. They are now ascertained to be the remains of the Temple of Saturn, which was originally founded nearly 500 years B. C., and was used as the Roman Treasury, and the receptacle of the public records and registers, among which were the Libri Elephantini, or great ivory tablets, containing the lists of the tribes, and the plans of the public accounts. The columns, which are about forty feet high, support a part of the marble entablature and the angles of a pediment. The original temple was burnt down in the time of the Empire, and was restored at the public expense, as set forth in the inscription on the façade.
The three fluted Corinthian columns of white marble, with
the fragment of entablature in the back ground, belonged to the Temple of Vespasian.
An elevated platform covered with a broken tesselated marble pavement, constituting the foundation and floor of the cella, is now all that remains of the Temple of Concord, which was first built about four centuries before Christ, on the election of Consuls after the dictatorship of Camillus, and as it was the monument of the reconciliation of the Patricians and Plebeians, the senate held its meetings there more frequently than in its other places of assembly. It was rebuilt with much magnificence by the Emperor Tiberius. The ruin was discovered in the year 1817.
Not far from this excavation there is another which contains an isolated column that is now ascertained to be the Column of Phocas, from the inscription on its pedestal. The shaft is between thirty and forty feet high, of white marble, fluted, and of the Corinthian order, and is planted upon an ill-constructed pedestal and basement of common stone, some fifteen or twenty feet in height; and the whole erection exhibits that want of harmony which marks the fallen state of the arts in the seventh century, the shaft having evidently belonged to some ancient edifice or monument, from which it was taken to serve the purpose of its present existence. It was erected in the year 608 by Smaragdus, the Exarch of Italy to the Emperor of the East, Phocas, who reigned A. D. 602-610. Close to its base three other pedestals of brickwork were also found, which are supposed to have sustained other similar columns.
The most beautiful relic of antiquity in the Forum remains to be noticed. It stands in the foreground of the picture, opposite the façade of the church of Santa Maria Liberatrice, which is close to the north angle of the Palatine Hill, and consists of three Corinthian columns of white marble. about thirty-five feet high, extending across the Forum, and surmounted by a portion of their richly-wrought entablature; the whole constituting, from the elegant proportions, exquisite finish, and style of the work, the most beautiful specimen of the Corinthian order in the city, and forming a most conspicuous object in the centre of the Campo Vaccino. Up to a recent period this graceful ruin was supposed to have belonged
to the Grecostasis, or Hall of Audience, where the foreign ambassadors accredited to Rome were received; but more correct investigation has assigned it to the Curia Giula, which Augustus rebuilt with great magnificence after its destruction by fire on the occasion of the burning of the dead body of Clodius, when the people tore up the seats to make a funeral pile. The Senate sometimes sat in the Curia Giulia, and justice was also administered there.—Illustrated London News.
SUNBEAMS. RAIN poured in torrents, while little Charles stood at the window, amusing himself with watching the various contrivances of passengers to shelter themselves from the pitiless flood. It was not a very enlivening scene, as he looked down the wide street and noted the filling gutters and rapidly accumulating mud, as omnibuses and coaches, carts and wagons, proceeded at steady pace; the drivers clad in water-proof coats, comfortable travelling rugs or old sacks thrown across their shoulders, whence peeped out a modicum of face, all somewhat gloomy from the dismal weather. Now and then a poor beggar toiled bare-foot past, or little household drudge, denominated in country phrase, “the girl," sped across the street, with a jug or plate in her hand, and an old shawl in lieu of umbrella, to shelter her much-worn bonnet, the clattering of her pattens adding a doleful sound, well suited to the general gloomy aspect of the day.
“What a comfort it is to have a nice house, and not be obliged to go out in this rain, aunt Alice,” remarked Charles at length; "even the old rooks keep at home, instead of cawing on the church tower. I hope the little rooks are not very hungry. And oh! hark, there is the bell tolling, and here comes the funeral! Dear me, that is sad in this weather!"
."Perhaps the mourners feel the gloom almost more congenial with their feelings, than a bright sunshiny day, my dear," replied aunt Alice.
“I hope so: at any rate, the rain has made the churchyard look much prettier; it was so parched and brown before, and already it is getting green. I wonder when it will leave off