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is not an even plain, like the Pezzo del Sangue, but it slopes away so gently from the river that it may be considered a plain. Hannibal then crosses the river nearer to Cannae, which he had probably left unoccupied that he might have the advantage of all his forces, and arranges his troops in order of battle. There are so many curves in the river, that it would not be difficult for the right wing of the Roman army to rest on the river, and still have their faces somewhat to the south. This was the cause of the ruin of the Romans, as the wind brought clouds of dust from the plains of Apulia, and blinded them. I inquired of my guide if he had ever seen this phenomenon, and he said that it is not uncommon in autumn, after the stubble has been burnt, and the land exposed to the air, for clouds of dust to be driven along the plain. The Romans were defeated; and then comes the account of those who escaped. Varro fled on horseback; and if he crossed to the north side, and made a slight détour to pass Hannibal's entrenched camp, he would have no difficulty in passing the river higher up, and pursuing the same course which I did to Venusia, but it was not necessary to cross the river in order to get away from Hannibal. Though the ground rises to the south of Cannae, it is by no means so hilly that seventy men on horseback could not pass it, and they would then get into another road in the direction of the small village Minervino, which I visited, and thereby reach Venusia without difficulty. According to Polybius, the ten thousand men left in the larger camp were many of them killed after the battle, and the rest taken prisoners. According to Livy, a portion of those in the smaller camp burst forth, and, fighting their way, joined their comrades in the larger camp. Thus united, they made their way to Canusium during the night, which they could easily do by a slight détour to avoid the entrenched camp of Hannibal on the north side. I am aware that this is a view of the precise locality of the battle which is now for the first time suggested, as it is usual to regard the Romans marching down the south or right side of the Aufidus from Canusium, and the battle is fixed at the isthmus of the small curve Pezzo del Sangue, made by the river opposite to Cannae. I do not believe that such large armies could have been placed on such a confined piece of ground, and if I am wrong in the idea I have formed, I do not think that we have yet got at the truth. I had no time to look for the site of the entrenched camps; I have no doubt they may still be visible, like the camp of Hannibal on the hill above Capua, which I have seen and traced distinctly. All the banks on both sides of the river for six or seven miles ought to be examined, and I trust that some future traveller will make a point to do so. We may then hope to arrive at something like the truth. I am aware that it will be said that there is no appearance of a stream falling into the Aufidus in the direction where I have placed the battle, and that there are such streams towards Canusium. To this I answer, that in August or even July, in whichever month the battle was fought, it is very unlikely that a drop of water would be found in these small mountain torrents, for they are nothing else. When I passed on my way to Venusia next day all the beds of these streams were dry, and at this time of the year they must invariably be so. Neither Polybius nor Liv allude to any such stream, called Vergellus by Florus (ii. 6) and Valerius Maximus (ix. 2), on whose statements little dependence can be placed. You may ask, why did not the Romans after their defeat, if the battle was fought lower down the Aufidus than Cannae, fly to some of the towns along the coast rather than to Canusium? These small towns had already shown signs of wavering, and, after such a serious defeat, there could be no doubt that they would adhere to the conqueror, as, in fact, they were found to do. The Roman troops, therefore, were aware that no safety was to be found there, and they wisely fled inland to Canusium and Venusia, in which direction they were resting on a wooded country, where the Carthaginians could less easily follow them. I lingered on the plains of Cannae till the sun had disappeared, and, taking farewell of my intelligent guide, who was under surveillance of the police for his liberal sentiments, I hastened forward over a very uneven road to Canosa, which was still six miles distant. The road, in fact, became at last so bad, that, as we were unable from the darkness to pick our steps, I preferred walking to the risk of being upset. I reached Canosa two hours after sunset, and, with two nights in an open boat, I need not say how ready I was for some repose. Yet, notwithstanding my fatigue, I was obliged to go in search of the police magistrate, who was particularly civil, and seemed to have no suspicions that I was on a political mission.
The locanda was good at Canosa, and, after a sound night's rest, I was on foot by daybreak to examine the ruins of the ancient Canusium. It must have been of large size, as the ruins extend in the plain upwards of a mile in all directions from the modern town, and the ancient walls may be traced for several miles. The remains of the amphitheatre are still visible, and show it to have been larger than that of Pompeii. A triumphal arch of brickwork, supposed to have been erected in honour of Trajan, though it seems more like a gateway, is nearly entire, and everywhere you see masses of brick, the remains of Roman edifices. At Sta. Chiara the inhabitants fix the palace of the Lady Busa, mentioned by Livy (xxii. 52, 54; Val. Max. iv. 8) as receiving the fugitive Romans so kindly after the defeat at Cannae. Numerous sepulchres are found cut in the soft rock; and towards the end of last century one was accidentally discovered full of beautiful vases, coins, and two brass lamps. There were, also, the skeletons of two figures clad in complete armour, which are still to be seen in the Royal Museum of Naples. I visited this tomb, which I found to be about twelve feet square, cut in the solid rock, with a bas-relief of a dog and boar on each side. It was discovered by the proprietor of the ground, while constructing wine vaults. The church of St. Sabinus, the patron saint of the city, contains six very fine pillars of verde-antique, and is supposed to have been erected on the site of the Temple of Jupiter. There is a curious old pulpit, and an episcopal chair sculptured in marble. In an adjoining court, under an octagonal cupola, is the tomb of Bohemond, son of Robert Guiscard, one of the firmest bulwarks of the Crusaders against the infidels. Tasso (Ger. Lib. iii. 63) thus speaks of him: Ma 'l gran nemico mio tra queste squadre Già riveder non posso ; epur viguato: I’ dico Boemondo, il micidiale Distruggitor del sangue mio reale.
But my proud foe that quite hath ruinate
It is of white marble, with bronze doors, covered with sculptures and inscriptions in Latin verse; and within is a marble sarcophagus, in which the body is deposited. . Whether he died here or at sea, on his way home from the first crusade, is a question which is undecided; but that he was buried here the inscription on these doors clearly states:
Guiscardi coniux, Aberarda, hac conditur arcă ;
“Aberarda, wife of Guiscard, is contained in this chest; if you ask for her son, Canusium contains him.” His death took place A.D. 1102. Horace complains of the bread of Canusium being full of sand (Sat. i. v. 89): Sed panis longe pulcherrimus, ultra Callidus ut soleat humeris portare viator: Nam Camusi lapidosus, aquae non ditior urnā: Quilocus a forti Diomede est conditus olim.
- Its bread most excellent;
I find that the traveller has still the same complaint to make, owing to the soft nature of the rock from which their millstones are made. Their maccaroni, my landlord told me, is sometimes so full of sandy particles that it can scarcely be eaten. It still makes good wine, if I may judge from what I tasted; as for its wool, from which a particular kind of cloth, prized for its durability, was formerly manufactured, they do not seem to pride themselves upon it. There are some remains of the aqueduct constructed by the munificence of Herodes Atticus to supply the city with water; it has long ceased to be of any use, and the inhabitants of Canosa again suffer from the same deficiency of water of which Horace complained. The modern city is built on the site of the ancient citadel, and contains upwards of five thousand inhabitants.
I had now seen all that was interesting in Canusium, and, ordering a mule, I started at once for Venusia, the birthplace of Horace, born B.c. 65, which I found to be about thirty miles distant in the interior. My road lay for several miles along the south bank of the Aufidus, which was at present confined within a narrow channel, though evidently wandering over a larger space of ground when swollen by the winter storms. Though comparatively small in the droughts of summer, it rises far in the Apennines, in the country of the ancient Hirpini, only twenty-five miles from Salerno, which was one of the first towns I mentioned to you on the bay, when I was crossing to Pastum. The town Venusia, towards which I was wending, is about ten miles from the Aufidus, though Horace calls himself “longe sonantem natus ad Aufidum” (Carm. iv. 9, 2); and frequently alludes to the impetuous character of the stream. Ijogged on for twenty miles over a country chiefly pastoral, though I observed few cattle or sheep, and passed through not a single village. We left the Aufidus and crossed the channel of several mountain torrents, which it would have been difficult to ford in winter. At present not a particle of water was to be seen. I had been so many days without hearing of brigands, that I had forgotten their existence, and had hoped that they were confined to Calabria. In this, however, I was disappointed, as my muleteer announced to me, as we entered the thick wood of Montemilone, that it was frequented by these gentlemen, and had numerous stories to confirm this report. The appearance of the gloomy wood, consisting of old oaks and elms, might well induce me to believe that he was correct in his statement; but no mere report could now frighten me, and on I went, in defiance of all the stories that my guide poured into my ears. We passed through the wood in safety without meeting a single individual, and, indeed, during the whole journey of thirty miles I had only met two shepherds. At the distance of a few miles Venusia appeared before us. It is surrounded on all sides by hills, which rise to a considerable height, particularly to the south-west. To the north-west rises Mount Vultur, a conical mountain like Vesuvius, and resembling it much in its form and appearance.
Venusia fell into the hands of the Romans B.c. 262, when, we are told, it was a populous and important town. At this time a large portion of its inhabitants were put to the sword, and a Roman colony was established there by order of the senate. From this time it adhered firmly to the Roman interests, and, with various vicissitudes, continued a city of considerable note. It was on the Appian Way, and it is mentioned more than once by Cicero as a customary halting-place between Rome and Brundisium. It appears, indeed, that the celebrated orator had a villa here, as one of his letters is dated “De Venusino” (ad Fam. xiv. 20). Before I proceeded to examine the ruins of Venosa, I found it necessary to take some refreshment, and while I was at dinner my window looked out on the ruins of a Roman edifice of reticulated structure, and this I found to be what the inhabitants called the Casa d'Orazio, “the House of Horace.” I fear that it had no right to any such name; but I did not examine minutely into the reasons of their belief, pleased with the idea that it was really the residence of Horace. The pigmy works of man might, indeed, pass away, but the grand features of nature still remain the same. There rose Mount Vultur as it was eighteen hundred years ago, and the country was still covered with the woods, the descendants of those trees which had shaded the poet. Observing two villages on the slopes of the hills to the west, I was told that they were called Acerenza and Forenza. The former is the celsae nidum Acherontiae, “the nest of the lofty Acerenza” (Carm. iii. 4, 14), and its position, as I looked upon it, justified the appellation of Horace. I was told that the approach to it was steep and difficult. The site of the present Forenza does not exactly suit the description given by Horace of Ferentum—arvum pingue humilis Ferenti—“the rich fields of the low-lying Ferentum”— as it is placed on a hill; but one of the intelligent inhabitants of Venosa assured me that the ruins of the old city are found down in the valley about seven miles from Venosa, two miles from Forenza. Venosa stands on the ridge of a hill; the ground falls to the south and west, and the eye rests on a well-wooded country. The saltus Bantini of Horace are still there, and an old abbey, Santa Maria di Banzi, the position of which was pointed out towards the sources of the river Bradanus, which I had crossed at Metapontum, still fixes the exact site of these woods. Of antiquities, Venosa” possesses not much. The church of La Trinità is adorned with some ancient pillars and sepulchral inscriptions. Its entrance is guarded by two stone lions; but the greatest curiosity it possesses is a single column, which, according to local superstition, has the power of binding those to lifelong friendship who walk hand in hand around it. The interior of the church is in sad neglect ; it contains the tombs of Robert Guiscard and of his first wife, Aberarda, the mother of Bohemond. The former, a plain marble sarcophagus, contains the bones of Guiscard, and of his brothers William Bras-de-fer, Drogo, who was murdered there on the feast of St. Lawrence, in A.D. 1051, and Humphrey, who succeeded him. Near this spot the Benedictines began in the thirteenth century a much larger church, which was never finished. The square stones of which it is built are said to have been taken from the ancient amphitheatre; but it is at present overgrown with vegetation. At the entrance you observe the mounds of the ancient fortress, and on the opposite side the ruins of a strong castle of the middle ages, which was erected in the fifteenth century by Piero del Balzo, Prince of Altamura and Venosa. The walls of the dungeons under ground are still covered with inscriptions by prisoners who had been confined in them. Venosa has so often suffered in the wars with which Italy has been afflicted, that little now remains of Roman origin. The road along which I am now passing reminds me of the brutal conduct of a young Roman nobleman, told in a speech of Caius Gracchus, quoted by Aulus Gellius (x. 3). It must have taken place about the year B. c. 130. He says: “A few years ago a young man was sent into Asia with the title of legatus. He was carried in a palanqueen. A herdsman of Venusia happened to meet it, and not knowing who was in it, jocularly inquired if they were carrying a corpse. On hearing this, the young man leaped out of the palanqueen, and with the straps which were used for fastening it he ordered the fellow to be beaten to death.”
* Since I visited Venosa, the city has suffered severely from an earthquake in 1851, and in 1853 some ancient catacombs cut in the limestone rock, like the sepulchre I saw at Canosa, have been discovered. . It has evidently been a Jewish necropolis, from the roughly painted or scratched inscriptions in Hebrew, Latin, or Greek. Twenty-four Hebrew inscriptions have been found, ornamented with the seven-branched candlestick and a pigeon with an olive-branch. The Latin and Greek inscriptions have been misspelt, but the Hebrew is much more correct. There are several corridors, the largest of which, in the centre, is about seven feet high and as many broad. There are cells of various sizes, ten on the right side and nine on the left, and, as far as it has been cleared, it is already nearly one hundred and forty yards long. The walls of these cells have numerous columbaria or niches of different sizes.
At what time the Jews occupied Venosa in such numbers is wholly unknown, but they were evidently in considerable force in Apulia and Calabria at a very early period. Some of the laws of the Emperor Honorius (A.D. 395-423) refer to them as being in this part of Italy. Vacillare per Apuliam et Calabriam plurimos ordines civitatum comperimus, quia Judaica, superstitionis sunt (Cod. Theodos. xii. 1, 158)—“We find that several classes of people are wavering in their allegiance because they are of the Jewish superstition.”