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Great Nemesis !
Stanza cxxxii. lines 2 and 3. We read in Suetonius that Augustus, from a warning received in a dream,' counterfeited, once a year, the beggar, sitting before the gate of his palace with his hand hollowed and stretched out for charity. A statue formerly in the Villa Borghese, and which should be now at Paris, represents the Emperor in that posture of supplication. The object of this self degradation was the appeasement of Nemesis, the perpetual attendant on good fortune, of whose power the Roman conquerors were also reminded by certain symbols attached to their cars of triumph. The symbols were the whip and the crotalo, which were discovered in the Nemesis of the Vatican. The attitude of beggary made the above statue pass for that of Belisarius : and until the criticism of Winkelmann? had rectified the mistake, one fiction was called in to support another. It was the same fear of the sudden termination of prosperity that made Amasis king of Egypt warn his friend Polycrates of Samos, that the gods loved those whose lives were chequered with good and evil fortunes. Nemesis was supposed to lie in wait particularly for the prudent; that is, for those whose caution rendered them accessible only to mere accidents: and her first altar was raised on the banks of the Phrygian Æsepus by Adrastus, probably the prince of that name who killed the son of Cræsus by mistake. Hence the goddess was called Adrastea. 3
i Sueton. in vit. Augusti. cap. 91. Casaubon, in the note, refers to Plutarch's Lives of Camillus and Æmilius Paulus, and also to his apophthegms, for the character of this deity. The hollowed hand was reckoned the last degree of degradation : and when the dead body of the præfect Rufinus was borne about in triumph by the people, the indignity was increased by putting his hand in that position.
2 Storia delle arti, &c. lib. xii. cap. iii. tom. ii. p. 422. Visconti calls the statue, however, a Cybele. It is given in the Museo Pio. Clement. tom. i. par. 40. The Abate Fea (Spiegazione dei Rami, Storia, &c. tom. iii. p. 513.) calls it a Chrisippus.
3 Dict. de Bayle, article Adrastea.
The Roman Nemesis was sacred and august: there was a temple to her in the Palatine under the name of Rhamnusia : so great indeed was the propensity of the ancients to trust to the revolution of events, and to believe in the divinity of Fortune, that in the same Palatine there was a temple to the Fortune of the day. This is the last superstition which retains its hold over the human heart; and from concentrating in one object the credulity so natural to man, has always appeared strongest in those unembarrassed by other articles of belief. The antiquaries have supposed this goddess to be synonymous with fortune and with fate : 3 but it was in her vindictive quality that she was worshipped under the name of Nemesis.
Stanza cxl. line 1. Whether the wonderful statue which suggested this image be a laquearian gladiator, which in spite of Winkelmann's criticism has been stoutly maintained, * or whether it be a Greek herald,
1 It is enumerated by the regionary Victor. ? Fortunæ hujusce diei. Cicero mentions her, de legib. lib. ij.
See Questiones Romanæ, &c. Ap. Græv. Antiq. Roman. tom. v. p. 942. See also Muratori. Nov. Thesaur. Inscrip. Vet. tom. i. p. 88, 89, where there are three Latin and one Greek inscription to Nemesis, and others to Fate.
4 By the Abate Bracci, dissertazione supra un clipeo votivo, &c. Preface, pag. 7. who accounts for the cord round the neck, but not for the horn, which it does not appear the gladiators themselves ever used. Note A, Storia delle arti, tom. ii. p. 205.
as that great antiquary positively asserted,' or whether it is to be thought a Spartan or barbarian shield-bearer, according to the opinion of his Italian editor, ? it must assuredly seem a copy of that masterpiece of Ctesilaus which represented a wounded man dying who perfectly expressed what there remained of life in him.”3 Montfaucon* and Maffeis thought it the identical statue ; but that statue was of bronze. The gladiator was once in the villa Ludovizi, and was bought by Clement XII. The right arm is an entire restoration of Michael Angelo.
He, their sire,
Stanza cxli. lines 6 and 7. Gladiators were of two kinds, compelled and voluntary; and were supplied from several conditions ; from slaves sold for that purpose ; from culprits; from barbarian captives either taken in war, and, after being led in triumph, set apart for the games, or those seized and condemned as rebels; also from free citizens, some fighting for hire (auctorati), others from a depraved ambition: at last even knights and senators were exhibited, a disgrace of which the first tyrant was naturally the first inventor.
1 Either Polifontes, herald of Laius, killed by Edipus; or Cepreas, herald of Euritheus, killed by the Athenians when he endeavoured to drag the Heraclidæ from the altar of mercy, and in whose honour they instituted annual games, continued to the time of Hadrian; or Anthemocritus, the Athenian herald, killed by the Megarenses, who never recovered the impiety. See Storia delle arti, &c. tom. ii. pag. 203, 204, 205, 206, 207, lib. ix. cap. ii.
2 Storia, &c. tom. ii. p. 207.
3 -6 Vulneratum deficientem fecit in quo possit intelligi quantum restat animæ." Plin. Nat. Hist. lib. xxxiv. cap. 8.
Antiq. tom. iii. par. 2. tab. 155. 5 Racc. stat. tab. 64. 6 Mus. Capitol. tom. iii. p. 154. edit. 1755.
7 Julius Cæsar, who rose by the fall of the aristocracy, brought Furius Leptinus and A. Calenus upon the arena.
In the end, dwarfs, and even women, fought; an enormity prohibited by Severus. Of these the most to be pitied undoubtedly were the barbarian captives; and to this species a Christian writer' justly applies the epithet “ innocent,” to distinguish them from the professional gladiators. Aurelian and Claudius supplied great numbers of these unfortunate victims; the one after his triump and the other on the pretext of a rebellion. ? No war, says-Lipsius, ' was ever so destructive to the human race as these sports. In spite of the laws of Constantine and Constans, gladiatorial shows survived the old established religion more than seventy years; but they owed their final extinction to the courage of a Christian. In the year 404, on the kalends of January, they were exhibiting the shows in the Flavian amphitheatre before the usual immense concourse of people. Almachius or Telemachus, an eastern monk, who had travelled to Rome intent on his holy purpose, rushed into the midst of the area, and endeavoured to separate the combatants. The prætor Alypius, a person incredibly attached to these games, * gave instant orders to the gladiators to slay him ; and Telemachus gained the crown of martyrdom, and the title of saint, which surely has never either before or since been awarded for a more noble exploit. Honorius immediately abolished the shows, which were never afterwards revived. The story is told by Theodorets and Cassiodorus, and seems worthy of credit not
| Tertullian, “certe quidem et innocentes gladiatores in ludum veniunt, at voluptatis publicæ hostiæ fiant." Just. Lips. Saturn. Sermon. lib. ii. cap. iii.
2 Vopiscus, in vit. Aurel. and, in vit. Claud. ibid.
3 - Credo imò scio nullum bellum tantam cladem vastitiemque generi humano intulisse, quam hos ad voluptatem ludos." Just. Lips. ibid. lib. i. cap. xii.
Augustinus, (lib. vi. confess. cap. viii.) “ Alypium suum gladiatrii spectaculi inhiatu incredibiliter abreptum,” scribit. ib. lib. i.
5 Hist. Eccles. cap. xxvi. lib. v.
Cassiod. Tripartita. l. x. c. xi.
Saturn. ib. ib.
withstanding its place in the Roman martyrology.' Besides the torrents of blood which flowed at the funerals, in the amphitheatres, the circus, the forums, and other public places, gladiators were introduced at feasts, and tore each other to pieces amidst the supper tables, to the great delight and applause of the guests. Yet Lipsius permits himself to suppose the loss of courage, and the evident degeneracy of mankind, to be nearly connected with the abolition of these bloody spectacles. ?
Stanza cxlii. lines 5 and 6. 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.
i Baronius. ad. ann. et in notis ad Martyrol. Rom. 1. Jan. See Marangoni delle memorie sacre e profane dell'Anfiteatro Flavio, p. 25. edit. 1746.
Quod ? non tu Lipsi momentum aliquod habuisse censes ad virtutem ? Magnum. Tempora nostra, nosque ipsos videamus. Oppidum ecce unum alterumve captum, direptum est; tumultus circa nos, non in nobis : et tamen concidimus et turbamur. 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.