ページの画像
PDF
ePub

sius.' But Faunus, in saying that it was at the Ficus Ruminalis by the Comitium, is only talking of its ancient position as recorded by Pliny; and even if he had been remarking where it was found, would not have alluded to the church of Saint Theodore, but to a very different place, near which it was then thought the Ficus Ruminalis had been, and also the Comitium; that is, the three columns by the church of Santa Maria Liberatrice, at the corner of the Palatine looking on the Forum.

It is, in fact, a mere conjecture where the image was actually dug up,' and perhaps, on the whole, the marks of the gilding, and of the lightning, are a better argument in favour of its being the Ciceronian wolf than any that can be adduced for the con. trary opinion. At any rate, it is reasonably selected in the text of the poem as one of the most interesting relics of the ancient city, and is certainly the figure, if not the very animal to which Virgil alludes in his beautiful verses :

o Geminos huic ubera circum
Ludere pendentes pueros et lambere matrem
Impavidos : illam teriti cervice reflexam
Mulcere alternos, et fingere corpora lingua." 4

1 Nardini, lib. v. cap. 11. convicts Pomponius Lætus crassi erroris, in putting the Ruminal fig-tree at the church of Saint Theodore: but as Livy says the wolf was at the Ficus Ruminalis, and Dionysius at the temple of Romulus, he is obliged (cap. iv.) to own that the two were close together, as well as the Lupercal cave, shaded, as it were, by the fig-tree.

2 « Ad comitium ficus olim Ruminalis germinabat, sub qua lupa rumam, hoc est, mammam, docente Varrone, suxerant olim Romulus et Remus; non procul a templo hodie D. Mariæ Liberatricis appellato ubi forsan inventa nobilis illa ænea statua lupæ geminos puerulos lactantis, quam hodie in capitolis videmus.” Olai Borrichii antiqua Urbis Romana facies, cap. x. See also cap. xii. Borrichius wrote after Nardini in 1687. Ap. Græv. Antiq. Rom. tom. iv. p. 1522. 3 Donatus, lib. xi. cap. 18. gives a medal representing on one side

in the same position as that in the Capitol; and in the reverse the wolf with the head not reverted. It is of the time of Antoninus Pius.

4 Æn. viii. 631. SeeDr. Middleton, in his Letter from Rome, who inclines to the Ciceronian wolf, but without examining the subject.

47.

For the Roman's mind
Was modelld in a less terrestrial mould.

Stanza xc. lines 3 and 4. It is possible to be a very great man and to be still very inferior to Julius Cæsar, the most complete character, so Lord Bacon thought, of all antiquity. Nature seems incapable of such extraordinary combinations as composed his versatile capacity, which was the wonder even of the Romans themselves. The first general—the only triumphant politician-inferior to none in eloquence—comparable to any in the attainments of wisdom, in an age made up of the greatest commanders, statesmen, orators and philosophers that ever appeared in the worldan author who composed a perfect specimen of military annals in his travelling carriage-at one time in a controversy with Cato, at another writing a treatise on punning, and collecting a set of good sayings-fighting and making love at the same moment, and willing to abandon both his empire and his mistress for a sight of the Fountains of the Nile. Such did Julius Cæsar appear to his cotemporaries and to those of the subsequent ages,

1 In his tenth book, Lucan shows him sprinkled with the blood of Pharsalia in the arms of Cleopatra,

Sanguine Thessalicæ cladis perfusus adulter

Admisit Venerem curis, et miscuit armis. After feasting with his mistress, he sits up all night to converse with the Ægyptian sages, and tells Achoreus,

Spes sit mihi certa videndi Niliacos fontes, bellum civile relinquam. " Sic velut in tuta securi pace trahebant

Noctis iter medium." Immediately afterwards, he is fighting again and defending every position.

“ Sed adest defensor ubique
Cæsar et hos aditus gladiis, hos ignibus arcet
. . . . . . . cæca nocte carinis
Insiluit Cæsar semper feliciter usus
Præcipiti cursu bellorum et tempore rapto."

who were the most inclined to deplore and execrate his fatal genius.

But we must not be so much dazzled with his surpassing glory or with his magnanimous, his amiable qualities, as to forget the decision of his impartial countrymen :

HE WAS JUSTLY SLAIN.'

48.
What from this barren being do we reap? .
Our senses narrow, and our reason frail.

Stanza xciii. lines 1 and 2. “.... omnes pene veteres ; qui nihil cognosci, nihil percepi, nihil sciri posse dixerunt; angustos sensus; imbecillos animos, brevia curricula vitæ; in profundo veritatem demersam ; opi. nionibus et institutis omnia teneri ; nihil veritati relinqui : deinceps omnia tenebris circumfusa esse dixerunt.”. The eighteen hundred years which have elapsed since Cicero wrote this, have not removed any of the imperfections of humanity : and the complaints of the ancient philosophers may, without injustice or affectation, be transcribed in a poem written yesterday.

49.
There is a stern round tower of other days.

Stanza xcix. line 1. Alluding to the tomb of Cecilia Metella, called Capo di Bove, in the Appian Way. See-Historical Illustrations of the IVth Canto of Childe Harold.

1 - Jure cæsus existemetur," says Suetonius after a fair estimation of his character, and making use of a phrase which was a formula in Livy's time. “ Melium jure cæsum pronuntiavit, etiam si regni crimine insons fuerit:" [lib. iv. cap. 48.] and which was continued in the legal judgments pronounced in justifiable homicides, such as killing housebreakers. See Sueton. in vit. C. J. Cæsar, with the commentary of Pitiscus, p. 184.

2 Academ. 1. 13.

50.

Prophetic of the doom
Heaven gives its favourites-early death.

Stanza cii. lines 5 and 6.
“ον οι θεοί φιλουσιν αποθνήσκει νέος
xop cayữ của Luxgày ảAA duc xuc vayữ. =>

Rich. Franc. Phil. Brunck. Poetæ Gnomici, p. 231, edit. 1784.

51.

Behold the Imperial Mount ! 'tis thus the mighty falls.

Stanza cvii. line 9. The Palatine is one mass of ruins, particularly on the side towards the Circus Maximus. The very soil is formed of crumbled brick-work. Nothing has been told, nothing can be told, to satisfy the belief of any but a Roman antiquary.See-Historical Illustrations, page 206.

52.
There is the moral of all human tales;
'Tis but the same rehearsal of the past,
First Freedom, and then Glory, fc.

Stanza cviii. lines 1, 2, and 3. The author of the Life of Cicero, speaking of the opinion entertained of Britain by that orator and his cotemporary Romans, has the following eloquent passage: “ From their railleries of this kind, on the barbarity and misery of our island, one cannot help reflecting on the surprising fate and revolutions of kingdoms, how Rome, once the mistress of the world, the seat of arts, empire, and glory, now lies sunk in sloth, ignorance, and poverty, enslaved to the most cruel 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.” 1

-53.

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.

54.
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

1 The History of the Life of M. Tullius Cicero, sect. vi. vol. 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.

« 前へ次へ »