In the Church of San Pietro in Vinculo, so called from its having been erected to preserve the chain which bound St. Peter at Jerusalem (Acts xii. 5-7), stands the renowned statue of Moses, one of the most exalted creations of Michael Angelo’s mighty brain. Its position is so unfortunate that it is impossible to realize the grand design of the artist. In 1503, when that lover of art, Pope Julius II., summoned Michael Angelo to Rome, it was for the purpose of erecting a tomb so magnificent in design, and so gigantic in its structure, that it should surpass all sepulchral monuments extant; but the artist quarrelled with his patron, the sculptor ceased from his labors, and though partially completed, the original intention was abandoned. When Michael Angelo died he had completed this great statue of Moses, which was set not in the place originally intended, but in its present cramped position, where its true beauty and expression are completely lost. Various are the criticisms upon this statue. Lübke, the great German authority on art, says, —
"It is not the circumspect chief, the wise lawgiver, whom we see, but the stormy zealot, dashing asunder the tables of the law, in furious anger at the idolatry of his people. He seems to have just witnessed the worship of the golden calf. His head, with his flashing eye, is turned threateningly to the left; his beard, disturbed by internal emotion, flows down over his breast ; his right hand is resting on the tables of the law, and with his left he is pressing his waist, as if to restrain the violent outburst: but the forward position of the right foot and the receding of the left betray to us that, in the next moment, the mighty figure will arise and pour forth its unbridled annihilating anger on the recreants. This mighty, Titanic expression, the agitating character of the moment chosen, combined with a masterly perfection of technical execution, do not, nevertheless, conceal the fact that the form of the head is in no wise noble, and that it expresses rather physical power and passion than intellectual greatness."
The following criticism is from Gregorovius:
"The eye does not know where to rest in this the masterpiece of sculpture since the time of the Greeks. It seems to be as much an incarnation of the genius of Michael Angelo as a suitable allegory of Pope Julius. Like Moses, he was at once lawgiver, priest, and warrior. The figure is seated in the central niche, with long flowing beard descending to the waist, with horned head and deep-sunk eyes, which blaze, as it were, with the light of the burning bush. All that is positive and all that is negative in him is equally dreadful. If he were to rise up, it seems as if he would shout forth laws which no human intellect, could fathom, and which, instead of improving the world, would drive it back into chaos. His voice, like that of the gods of Homer, would thunder forth in tones too awful for the ear of man to support. Yes, there is something infinite which lies in the Moses of Michael Angelo. Nor is his countenance softened by the twilight of sadness which is stealing from his forehead over his eyes. It is the same deep sadness which clouded the countenance of Michael Angelo himself. But here it is less touching than terrible. The Greeks could not have endured a glance from such a Moses, and the artist would certainly have been blamed because he had thrown no softening touch over his gigantic picture. That which we have is the archetype of a terrible and quite unapproachable sublimity. This statue might take its place in the cell of a colossal temple, as that of Jupiter Ammon; but the tomb where it is placed is so little suited to it, that, even if regarded only as a frame, it is too small."
The figures to the right and left of Moses, representing Rachel and Leah, are both the work of Angelo. In the corresponding niches above are the Prophet and the Sibyl, and between these is seen the figure of Pope Julius II. His face rests upon his hand. Directly above him, the lower portion of which is alone visible in our engraving, is the Madonna and the Holy Child.
The Baths of Caracalla, in their ruined grandeur, serve to recall the past luxury of Rome; and yet the word Baths is a misnomer, for ablution was only one of the uses to which these popular resorts were put. It was an ancient custom of the rulers of Rome to see that the vast population of that city were amused. The Emperor who ascended the throne well knew that, next to military glory, his chief title to hold peaceably the imperial sceptre consisted in his ability to furnish pleasure to the Roman populace. Concurrently with the degeneration of a people their love of pleasure increases; and it must have been a subject of deep thought to devise succession of new and varied pastimes suitable to a people who had already been surfeited with sensual delights. The various baths of Rome, the remains of which lie scattered throughout the city, show to what an enormous extent the pursuit of pleasure was carried. The luxurious Roman of a former day could here find baths tempered exactly to his wish, in magnificent halls, warmed at different temperatures; he could recline on luxurious couches, surrounded by his friends, and waited upon by slaves. Should his taste incline to literature, there were libraries connected with the baths, and reading-rooms, where were arranged the works of the scholars of antiquity, or the lighter reading of the day. The Roman dandy could find the latest style in fashions, and purchase his toga of the most approved pattern. Scent shops were there, where the newest perfume and the best oil could be obtained. At stated seasons theatrical performances were given, races were run, stalls and kitchens were erected, where the palate of the most dainty Roman could be satisfied. The artist might rove at will through vast galleries filled with the paintings of the first artists, or cumbered with ancient statues. However varying the taste of the frequenter, somewhere in these vast thermæ he could find that which ministered to pleasure, either of mind or body.
But among all the baths of ancient Rome the Baths of Caracalla stand preeminent. They are the most perfect in their preservation, the most magnificent in their ruin. Resting on a level plain between the north-eastern slope of the Aventine and the Appian Way, the Baths of Caracalla occupy a space nearly a mile in circumference. The baths themselves were nearly in the centre of the enclosure, and were surrounded by porticoes, gardens, and an artificial lake, formed by the waters of the Antonine Aqueduct, brought hither by Claudius, Over the Arch of Drusus, and the ruins of which may still be seen crossing the Campagna. It is said that sixteen hundred bathers could be accommodated at one time in these extensive baths. The floors and ceilings were inlaid with costly marbles, in various colors, and to-day the visitor treads upon mosaic work of intricate and varied designs. Many fine statues have been found in these ruins; among the most celebrated are the Farnese Hercules, the Two Gladiators, the Flora, and the Toro Farnese, which is so conspicuous an object of interest, at the Museum in Naples: others of less flame have been discovered, and the person in charge showed the writer several bass-reliefs, fragments of ancient sculpture, cameos, and intaglios.
Should the visitor desire to obtain a magnificent view of the Roman Campagna, let him ascend the winding staircase that leads to the top. Here, amid the rich flora that covers these magnificent ruins, he can see the broad expanse of the surrounding Campagna, clothed with its crumbling towers and dilapidated arches, while in the distance rises the blue form of the Alban Hills. It was on this spot that Shelley wrote "Prometheus Unbound." His description is unequalled.
" This poem was chiefly written upon the mountainous ruins of the Baths of Caracalla, among the flowering glades and thickets of odoriferous blossoming trees, which are extended in ever-winding labyrinths, upon its immense platforms and dizzy arches, suspended in the air. The bright blue sky of Rome, and the effect, of the vigorous awakening spring in that divinest climate, and the new life with which it drenches the spirits even to intoxication, were the inspiration of the drama."
The view which we present to our readers is that portion of the baths known as the Calidarium — the most magnificent of all the halls of the baths. During the sixth century, when these ruins are supposed to have still retained their original splendor, this hall was surrounded by stately columns of gray granite. One by one these columns have been removed, and in the sixteenth century Cosmo di Medici transported the last one to Florence, to support the statue of Justice in the Piazza di Sta. Trinita.
But now all this glory has disappeared: the mosaics have fallen from the roof, the delicate frescoes have been obliterated by the ruthless hand of Time. Winter snows and summer suns have crumbled the works of sculptors, artists, and masons, and to-day flowers and vines cluster around these relics of the past. Shafts of columns lie half buried in rubbish, and the rank grass grows from the high arches, beneath whose cooling shade the denizens of ancient Rome, plebeians and patricians, loitered away their days, or in the indulgence of gross and vulgar sensuality, spent the long hours of the night.
The Palatine! The very name brings up a host of images of the past. We recall the days when we went to school, and read the story of Romulus, marking out, by a furrow drawn around this hill, the site of his city. We recall the great names who have lived upon the Palatine — Cicero, Catiline, Marc Antony, and Augustus, the mother of the Gracchi and hut jewels. We call to mind the magnificent mansions that were here erected by the highest nobility of ancient Rome. The Palace of the Cæsars, the temples of the gods, all seem to rise before us. As we stand upon this historic height the words of Byron, in Childe Harold, come with new force to our minds: —
"Cypress and ivy, weed and wall-flower grown
Here were erected the palaces of the aristocracy, decorated with the most brilliant frescoes, and adorned with statues that might have rivalled those of Praxiteles. The floors of the palaces were inlaid with marble, and pillars of the same, delicately colored, supported the roof; gems and precious stones were lavished in the ornamentation of the halls and chambers, and all the wealth that foreign lands could bestow was poured into the lap of the Roman nobility. But far out shining the residences of private men, there rose upon this bill a gorgeous succession of imperial palaces. Here resided in succession Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula and Claudius; and around these costly dwellings rose successively temples dedicated to the gods and to distinguished men. But in course of time Constantine carried away much of the accumulated treasure of the city to enrich his new city, Constantinople; the towers and the inscriptions over the gates were torn down, and their bronze portals transported afar in the plunder train; and what the Goths and Vandals did not destroy, has crumbled beneath the hand of Time, and now all that was once so grand and magnificent lies covered with the dust of a thousand years!
We have selected the view from the Palatine Hill, looking towards the Cœlian, as one which combines the finest effects of art and nature. In the foreground we are surrounded by the luxurious foliage of this almost tropical climate; the ruined arches near us are alive with shrubs and flowers. From the ancient highway at our feet the emerald grass sprouts amid the interstices of the pavement, and the air is laden with the perfume of many flowers. At the right of the picture we see a small archway, which was probably a portion of some underground passage, while in the distance the vast walls of the Coliseum rise like a stone barrier against the horizon. Nearer and lower down we behold the Arch of Constantine. We also present a view of the Ruins of the Palace of Tiberius, which was situated on the Palatine, and which recent excavations have rendered the most curious and considerable discovery upon the whole hill. Here the Emperor Tiberius resided in the early part of his reign. It was here that his son, Drusus, was poisoned by Lavilla and her favorite, Sejanus. In this palace died also Livia, widow of Augustus, after having acquired, says Merivale, “ every object she could desire in the career of female ambition.” The row of arches which are visible are those of the soldiers’ quarters. Some of these arches are defaced with graffite (an ancient practice, which corresponds with our modern custom of schoolboy scribbling on walls and fences), which gives one an insight into some of the ancient Roman customs. Inscriptions, quotations, and caricatures, drawn with the point of a knife, are found upon these exhumed arches.
On the terrace above these arches has recently been discovered the remains of a fish-pond, and the chambers of a building richly adorned with frescoes, which is supposed to have belonged to the house of Drusus before mentioned. The frescoes in the various rooms are peculiarly rich and ornate, and display street scenes in ancient Rome with females going to a sacrifice. In some pictures the noble ladies of antiquity are seen engaged in the mysteries of the toilet, while in others, scenes from ancient mythology are depicted, and Mercury and Argus stand in opposing places with Galatea and Polyphemus.
The Clivus Victoriæ commemorates, by its name, the Temple of Victory. Tradition asserts that it was founded by the Sabine aborigines long anterior to the time when the Tiber threw upon its shores the cradle of the infant Romulus. Clivus denotes a paved street or road, with an ascent, however gentle; and by the ancient pavement we are enabled to trace the way which formerly led to the Forum. Recent excavations have disinterred the gate from the accumulated rubbish, and the Clivus Victoriæ may now be ascended from the corner of the hill near St. Maria Liberatrice. The gate, as seen in our picture, presents a high and narrow arch of travertine, supporting a mass of ruins, and leads to a passage underneath the arches built by Caligula to support the new buildings which he added to the Imperial Palace. As we wander through these subterranean passages, far from every sound and sight of man, and surrounded on every hand by monuments of ancient art, we cannot but feel that the realization of romantic scenes in the past comes more fully upon us as we stand upon the identical spot where the events took place: it seems to intensify our interest in the history of bygone days.
Caius was passing through this vaulted passage, on his way to preside at the games of the Circus, when he was brutally assassinated, and died hacked with thirty wounds. By friendly hands his remains were borne to the pleasure-grounds of the Lamian Palace, and thrust into a narrow tomb. In the confusion which followed, the pretorian guards threw themselves into the deserted palace, and began to ransack its glittering chambers. One of the inmates, half hidden behind a curtain in an obscure corner, was with brutal violence dragged from his hiding-place, and, to the astonishment of all, he proved to be the long-despised and neglected Claudius, uncle of the slain emperor. The soldiers supported his terrified form, and hailed him, half in jest, half in earnest, as Imperator; and Claudius became, by the military strength of the pretorian guards, Emperor of Rome.
In the palace above, Claudius was feasting when he was told that his hitherto idolized wife, Messalina, was dead. He did not inquire whether she perished by her own hand or not. Desiring his servant to pour out more wine, he went on with his dinner; and in this very palace this same man devoured his last and fatal supper of poisoned mushrooms, which Agrippina had prepared for him, to make way for her son Nero.
It is the intention of the editor of this work not only to present views of beautiful and picturesque scenery, but also to scatter throughout the book, types of the people. The peasant women, who live in the small villages on the hills that skirt the Roman Campagna, come to the city on market days, and their pretty faces and gayly-colored attire at once attract, the attention of the stranger in Rome. The accompanying picture represents a young peasant girl, wearing as a head dress a broad linen napkin, or towel, gracefully folded. Upon her head she carries a jar of water; her bodice fits the form well, and is tastefully embroidered with threads of gold. Her ears are adorned with the ancient gold rings which have descended from one generation to another, and which show by their antique workmanship, and by the consumption of the gold which long wear and friction have occasioned, that they have not been made in our days, but have been worn by those who have long been dead and forgotten.
Towards evening, on a summer day, when the mind is surfeited with pictures and statues, and when the dread of to-morrow's sight-seeing falls over one like a pall, let the tourist drive out at the gate of St. Pancrus, and he will soon enter the most charming villa on the southerly side of Rome. It is called the Villa Pamfili Doria. The grounds are very extensive, and are laid out in gardens and terraces. Fountains and cascades, in the style of two centuries ago greet the visitor, and lofty pines add a charm to this rural retreat. Deeply—shaded avenues lead in various directions, and cool walks, under overarching trees, conduct the visitor to new and ever-varying views.
Standing in front of the terrace, fringed with ilex, a fine view is obtained of St. Peter's, — the finest flank view. This enormous church looms high up against the horizon, its massive dome seeming to touch the clouds above, while beyond glimpses of the broad Campagna appear, and still farther on and higher up we see the peak of the blue Soracte, and the purple of the Sabine Mountains. But it is the greater pleasure to throw aside even fine views of the surrounding country, and to recline on the green lawns, watching the sparkling of the water as the light of the sun falls upon it, or following the motion of the graceful swans, as they swim over the miniature lake. Silver pheasants stalk proudly along the avenues, and mingle their rich colors with the beauty of the parterres of flowers. It is a lovely place to rest when one is weary, —and one does get fearfully weary in Rome. The Romans call this beautiful garden Belrespiro, which probably refers more to the beauty of the grounds than to the salubrity of the atmosphere. This villa was presented by Leo X. to Olimpia Maidalchini, in 1650. The grounds were planned and laid out by Antinori and Algardi. In 1849, the republican troops, under Garibaldi, occupied these gardens from which they were finally driven by the French Emperor.
The Prince Doria has erected a beautiful monument, in memory of the French troops who fell in the battle, around this villa, and their names have been inscribed on its pedestal.
A quarter of a mile beyond the Porta S. Lorenzo, we come in sight of the Church and Monastery of S. Lorenzo. It is a picturesque building, gray with reverend dignity: beyond and behind one the Campagna, bounded by the blue mountains of Tivoli. The Old Church is one in which painters would delight to wander, and sketch its intricacies of light and shade. The interior is adorned with some fine frescoes, illustrative of the life of St. Laurence. The roof is painted in beautiful patterns, and there are numerous interesting relics within the building.
Adjoining the Church is the very picturesque Cloister of the Monastery, built in 1190 by Cistercian monks, but assigned as a residence for any Patriarchs of Jerusalem that might visit Rome. It contains numerous fragments of sculptures and inscriptions built into its walls, principal among which is the lid of a sarcophagus adorned with a triumphal procession of Cybele. The view which we present shows the beautiful contrast of light and shadow, as the sun strikes the arches of these fine old cloisters of the eleventh century; and we almost envy the modern monk, as he cultivates his little garden, or smokes his pipe, surrounded by such architectural beauty.
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