Ergo sollicitae tu causa, pecunia, vitae es,
Per te immaturum mortis adimus iter,
Tu vitiis hominum crudelia pabula praebes; —Propertius
Omnis enim res,
Virtus, fama decus, divina humanaque, pulehris
Diviriis parent. —Horace
Creverunt et opes, et opum furiosa eupido;
Et cum possideant plurima, plura volunt. —Orid
Non quare et unde; quid habeas tantum rogant, —Senecea.
Avaritia et luxuria. Quaepestes omnia magna imperia everterunt. —Liey.
Nam divitiae, nomen, opes vacuae consilio et Vivendi atque alils imperandi modo, dedecoris plenaesunt et insoletis superbiae; nec ulla deformior species est civitatis, quam illa in quā opulentissimi optima putatntur. —Tacitus.
Odii immortals! Non intelligent hominess, quam magnum vectigal sit partsimonia. —Cicero.
When the first Greek colonists arrived in southern Italy, they found there peoples to whom they gave the name of Oenotrians, and lapygians, or Messapians, both as it seems of Pelasgic or ancient Hellenic origin. It was probably to the territory of the former that the word Italia was first applied, its derivation being traced to the italoi, or oxen, for which that district was famous. Not until many centuries later was the term used to signify the entire peninsula. As colonies spread and prospered, the country south of the river Silarus became known as Magna Gnaeci; in the center were various tribes and nations, chief among whom were the Etruscans, Umbrians, Sabines, Latins, Volscians, Aequians, and Oscans, while to the north were the Gauls, Ligurians, and Venetians. Though all were in turn subdued or consolidated in the Roman Empire, it was not until the days of Augustus that Rome, which administered the affairs of the world, established at home such a territorial organization as was needed for administrative purposes.
From the Etruscans Rome adopted many of her earlier political institutions; for long before the founding of the eternal city, they were a powerful and civilized nation, skilled in the arts and sciences, especially in vase and mural painting, in the goldsmith’s and jeweler’s crafts, and in the fashioning of figured mirrors and other useful and ornamental articles in bronze and terra cotta. Among others were Caere, the granary of Etruria, with an abundance of gold and silver deposited in the Delphic treasury, and Pyrgi, the seaport from whose temple Dionysius the tyrant carried away plunder valued at 1,500 talents.
Whence the Etruscans came we know not, for their origin is lost in obscurity; but certain it is that they were a far more civilized race than the Latian, or Latin, tribes among whom the lachrymose hero of the Aeneid cast in his lot, and being slain in battle ascended to heaven, where, let us hope, he was not confronted with his queenly hostess of Cartilage, whom he seduced and deserted.
After various other traditions comes the founding of Rome, itself in part a tradition, as were the reigns of its earlier and probably of all its kings. Even the date of its founding is uncertain, though as given by Varro, the third year of the sixth Olympiad, or 753 BC, is also the one adopted by modern historians.
The age of Romulus, son of Mars and the mythic and eponym founder of Rome—a word meaning strength, and especially brute strength—was one of violence and lawlessness. After despoiling the robber bands of Latium and distributing the booty among his shepherd following, he builds the first wall of the eternal city, for the scorning of which his brother is slain; and not long after his rape of the Sabine women ascends to heaven in a thunderstorm, there to be worshipped as Quirinus, the Sabine name for Mars. Thence he sends word, as Livy relates, that the Romans are destined to become the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world. Nomos, or law, is personified in his successor Numa, whose election points to a Sabine fusion and perhaps to a Sabine invasion. At this time the nation, if such it can be called, was divided into three tribes and thirty curiae, the former probably a clan division, and the latter consisting of associations bound together by civil duties and religious rites, with common hearth and hall, and with common priests and festivals.
During the reign of Tullus Hostilius, the destruction of Alba and the organization of its citizens as the basis of the plebs, largely increased the power of Rome. At the mouth of the Tiber is established the first Roman Colony, and the port of Ostia is built, together with salt works as a source of revenue to the state.
It is in the reign of Tarquinius Priscus that tradition begins to give way to history, great public works being undertaken in his reign, of which mention will presently be made. Tarquin was an Etruscan by birth, a man of wealth and influence, and as to the story of his life and reign many romantic incidents are related, which need not here detain us. Making war against the remnant of the Sabines and Latins he defeated both these ancient enemies of Rome, completing the conquest of Latium and returning with the spoils of many cities. In the triumph of with which he celebrated his victories was more of the glitter of wealth than had ever before been witnessed, the king appearing in a chariot drawn by four white horses and attired in a robe embroidered with flowers of gold. The story of Servius Tullius is also largely in the nature of a romance, except the public improvements and political reforms undertaken during his reign. Tullius was the Solon of the Romans, dividing the people into classes, with rights and privileges determined by property qualifications. In the first class were those whose possessions were valued at 100,000 ases, or $1,600, the amount decreasing until in the fifth or lowest class it was only 12,500 ases or about $200. Then there were the proletarii whose effects were so slender that they were exempt from tribute, paying only a poll-tax. Thus was wealth computed in Rome during the regal period, when the joint riches of the patrician order would not have furnished forth a single banquet for Nero or Caligula.
With the expulsion of Tarquin the Proud, the monarchy ends, and the republican era is inaugurated amid a general shrinkage of power and territory.
Rome, instead of ruling far and wide over Latium and Etruria, sinking into an almost insignificant state, surrounded with hostile and independent tribes. The wealth and splendor which characterized the rule of the Tarquins had been in striking contrast with the simplicity of the earlier kings. By Etruscan architects were erected monuments little inferior to those of the empire; on Rome were lavished by Etruscan lords all the riches and resources of their opulent and civilized nation, and through Etruscan ports her citizens were first brought into direct contact with the Greeks. In addition to the two sovereigns mentioned in Roman annals, it is probable that several Etruscan princes usurped or were elected to the throne, and of these the younger Tarquin was the last, ending his days at Cumae after thrice attempting in vain to recover his kingdom.
The history of the republican era consists almost entirely of the history of its wars, with which we are here but little concerned. The story of the capture of Veil by Camillus in 396 is probably a portion of a poetic legend resembling that of the Trojan war. The plunder, divided among the army, was very large, Camillus sending one-tenth of his share to the temple of Delphi in the shape of a golden bowl several talents in weight, and devoting the remainder to a splendid triumph which aroused the anger of the gods. There is probably more of truth in the sack and destruction of Rome by Brennus, and the ransom of its capitol for 100,000 pounds of gold. Nor can we accept the statement of Livy that, when the treasure was being weighed, Camillus appeared with his avenging host and put the Gauls to rout. Unfortunately for Roman pride, the coins which formed part of the ransom were extremely plentiful in Gaul for many a century afterward. The city was rebuilt within a single year, materials being furnished by the state, and each one allowed to build as he saw lit, on whatever spot he might select. In their dwellings there was neither beauty nor comfort; the streets were narrow and crooked, many of them crossed by open drains, and so not a few of them remained, with the added unsightliness of later artificers, until the great fire in the reign of Nero rendered them incapable of further deformity.
It was not until the middle of the third century, after further wars with the Gauls, the Etruscans, the Samnites, with other Italian tribes, and above all with Pyrrhus, that Rome became undisputed mistress of Italy, her authority acknowledged throughout the peninsula as the head of the Italian confederacy of states.
Except Hannibal, Pyrrhus was the most able leader that the Romans encountered, landing in Italy with 25,000 men and routing their legions in two engagements, mainly through the panic created by his elephants. But presently he was himself defeated, retiring on Tarentum, whose request for aid had been the pretext for his invasion, and thence to his home in Epirus. The final submission of Tarentum, one of the wealthiest of Graeco-Italian cities, was followed by a large acquisition of wealth, and thenceforth luxury began to appear among the Romans, but at first in minor degree. Not many years before a Roman senator had lost his seat because the censors showed, he possessed silver vessels ten pounds in weight; but now silver plate was plentiful on Roman tables; there were hired actors, dancers, and flute-players, and there were artists and works in art both Greek and Etruscan, 2,000 statues being carried to Rome from a single Etrurian town. With the influx of Pyrrhic and Tarentine spoils, the capital aside its village-like aspect; public buildings were on a grander scale; in the temples rich stores of treasure, and for the first time in the annals of the republic most of its citizens were comfortably housed and fed.
The first Punic war placed Rome in possession of Sicily after a severe and protracted struggle which completely emptied her treasury. It was during this war that the first regular fleet was built, 100 quinquiremes and 20 triremes being constructed within a few weeks after the timber had been cut from the wooded chain of the Apennines. The wreck of a Carthaginian quinquireme served as a model, and sailors and rowers were trained on scaffolds; for as yet there were no seafaring men among the people. But the Romans were unfortunate with their earlier armadas. After several brilliant victories, the first one was destroyed by storm; the second was defeated and most of it wrecked with great loss of treasure gathered from African cities. A third, built by the contributions of private citizens, was more successful, and in 241 its victory virtually ended the war, the Carthaginians paying as indemnity 2,300 talents.
A few years later Sardinia and Corsica were added to the Roman possessions, not without ineffectual protests from Carthage. Presently came the second of the Punic Wars, Hannibal crossing the Alps at the head of his slender force of 26,000 men, with which but for his delay at Capua, he would probably have realized the dream of his life—to lay waste with fire and sword the city against which he had sworn eternal vengeance. On the Ticino and the Trebia the Roman legions were defeated; at Thrasymene they were massacred, and the way seemed open to the conqueror who marching on Rome as was thought, bathed his horses' feet in the choicest vintages of Italy.
Then came the struggles with Philip V of Macedon and Antiochus III of Syria, the former succeeding in purchasing peace for 1,000 talents and the latter for 12,500, with surrender of fleet and territory. In vain did Perseus, son and successor of Philip, strive to rehabilitate the Macedonian Empire.
The Romans were intent on its destruction, and this they speedily accomplished, later reducing it to a province, while Perseus himself adorned the triumph of Aemilius Paulus, and ended his days in Italy where his son earned a scanty livelihood as a wood-turner.
A most ignoble use did Aemilius Paulus make of his victory at Pydna. Macedonia he plundered of its treasures, both in the precious metals and in art; the inhabitants he reduced to virtual slavery, forbidding them to fell timber for shipbuilding or to work their mines of gold and silver; yet exacting a heavy tribute from a people thus reduced to poverty and helplessness. Proceeding thence into Greece, he treated with equal severity those who had espoused the cause of Perseus and even of Pyrrhus a century before. The men of Epirus he ordered to deliver up all their silver and gold, under penalty of death, and this they did promptly enough, thinking to secure their safety. But at a given signal the cohorts fell upon them, and 15,000 Epirots were massacred or sold into slavery, while their towns to the number of seventy were blotted from the face of the earth. The spoils were enormous, and to them were added, not many years later, those which Mummius sent to Rome by shiploads after the sack of Corinth. The treasury was filled to overflowing, as were the pockets of those in charge of affairs, and to the spoliation of Macedonia and Greece was mainly due the enormous wealth of many citizens of the later republic, contrasting sharply with the sordid poverty of the poor; for in ancient Rome there was no middle class.
The simplicity of early days had now entirely disappeared, and with it the intense patriotism and strict integrity which marked the days of Brutus and his successors. Everything could be had for money, and there was no disgrace in crime or treachery so long as they yielded a profit, the corruption extending alike to senate and people, to the legions and their commanders. Especially was this apparent when Jugurtha, having murdered his rivals, usurped the throne of Numidia, bribing the Roman ambassadors, the Roman generals, and even the commissioners sent to investigate the charges preferred against him. The first Mithridatic war yielded 20,000 talents, most of which was appropriated by Sulla, after being wrung from the people at the point of the sword, completely exhausting the resources of the country. "From the days of Sulla,” remarks Sallust. "Roman soldiers began to rob temples, and to confound things sacred and profane." In Greece he gathered enormous spoils, and returning to Rome, where his triumph was one of the most magnificent pageants of the times, issued his famous proscription, followed by the reign of terror, the wholesale massacres and confiscations with which his name has ever been associated. During his dictatorship Sulla held absolute power over the lives and fortunes of every Roman citizen, being virtually emperor rather than dictator. Resigning in 79, he retired to Puteoli, where he ended his days, one of the wealthiest and most infamous, though unquestionably one of the most talented men of his age.
It was during the campaigns of Sulla that Pompey first came into notice, rising rapidly in favor, for he was an able and ambitious leader. Elected consul in 70, after his wars in Africa and Spain, the games which he celebrated, lasting an entire fortnight, were the most splendid thus far witnessed in Rome, not even excepting those where Sulla exhibited one hundred African lions in the arena. After his consulship he rid the Mediterranean of the pirate hordes which for many years had there held control. In addition to more than a thousand vessels, manned with bold and experienced seamen and thoroughly armed and equipped, they had fortresses and warehouses in which to deposit their booty. Not content with robbing merchant vessels, they pillaged the coasts of Italy, plundering towns and farms and sacking the country villas of the wealthy, even within sight of Rome. By the tribunes, vessels troops and money without limit were placed at Pompey’s command, and within a few weeks the freebooters were driven from the coasts of Spain and the Pillars of Hercules, from the shores of Italy and Sicily, far into the Cilician sea, where their fleet was exterminated. Submitting to the conqueror, they were treated with leniency; for most of them had been driven to piracy as the only means of earning a livelihood, and many were settled on the public lands, where they became the best of colonists. This was one of the most brilliant of Pompey’s exploits, and also one of the few that were entirely unselfish. From the third Mithridatic war and other Asiatic conquests he returned a few years later with additional spoils and tribute, including 6,000 talents from Mithridates himself. Vast sums were added to the public treasure; to every soldier who had fought in his legions were presented 4,500 sesterces, and at his own expense he erected the theater which bore his name, together with a temple to Minerva.
Marcus Licinius Crassus, surnamed the Rich, who with Pompey and Caius Julius Caesar formed the coalition known as the first triumvirate, was probably the wealthiest man in Rome, accumulating an enormous fortune by working silver mines and trafficking in slaves and real estate. Elected as Pompey's colleague in the consulship, he had striven to outbid him as a candidate for public favor, distributing corn in unlimited quantities and feasting the people at ten thousand tables. The triumvirs were all-powerful, doing exactly as they pleased, and dividing the empire among them for the better consummation of their desires.
Crassus selected Syria as his province, where as he thought he could gather at will the treasures of Asia. By way of a beginning he plundered the temple of Jerusalem of sacred vessels and ornaments valued at 2,000 talents; but invading Parthia, he was finally sated with gold; for being defeated and captured by Surena, molten gold was poured down his throat.
After the death of Marius Caesar was chosen as leader of his faction or rather, of its remnants; for most of them had fallen under the proscription of Sulla. He was a man of extravagant personal habits and still, more extravagant in providing for the entertainment of the people; so that when appointed praetor in 61 he found himself $5,000,000 in debt. Spain was his province; but he could not leave Rome without first settling with his creditors, and this he did with the aid of Crassus, though not until a charge of insolvency had been preferred against him. Returning from Spain with spoils sufficient to pay his debts and to indulge in further extravagances, he was elected to the consulship, enacting measures which pleased the people but of fended the senate, especially in his agrarian law, whereby lands in Campania and elsewhere were distributed among 20,000 needy citizens.
Caesar's campaigns in Gaul and Britain added more to the territorial possessions of Rome than to her glory or wealth; for they were undertaken against barbarians, whose lives were sacrificed by thousands, while on the survivors untold sufferings were inflicted. Yet when finally subdued the Gallic tribes were kindly treated and lived contentedly under the sway of the Romans, whose laws and civilization they were not slow to adopt. After the battle of Pharsalia, where Caesar secured all the treasures of Pompey’s camp, he fell a victim to Cleopatra's fascinations, a weakness which almost cost him his life; for an outbreak occurring in Alexandria, he was besieged in his palace, and escaped only by swimming to a ship anchored off the neighboring shore, leaving behind him his purple robe, which the Alexandrians hung as a trophy in their temple. Returning to Rome as dictator, he celebrated a four days’ triumph, among those who followed his car being Arsinoe, sister of Cleopatra, and Vercingetorix, prince of the Arverni, who for a time had caused his star to pale. Then came public feasting at the dictators expense, with liberal distributions of corn and money, followed by magnificent games such as never before had been held in Rome. After governing for less than two years the world which he had conquered, Caesar meets his fate at the hands of the republican nobles, leaving the bulk of his vast treasures and estates to his adopted son and heir Octavius, the emperor Augustus that was to be, and the world opens under new developments.
In the contentions which followed the death of Julius, Mark Antony was for a time the central figure. As consul in 44 he had been Caesar's colleague, and he it was who by his offer of the crown only a month before had unconsciously hastened the tragedy of the Ides of March. After the battle of Pharsalia he ruled almost as a despot, making a new partition of the provinces and pretending that he did everything in accordance with Caesar’s will. But presently Octavius returns to the capital, and though but nineteen years of age is hailed by the legions as successor to his granduncle, assuming the name of Caius Julius Caesar Octavianus. First he demands the treasure bequeathed him by will, together with that which was left as the people's inheritance, all of which had been entrusted to Antony’s keeping. But Antony has already squandered most of it in dissipation or in the payment of his enormous debts, and is unwilling to part with the remainder. Though finally compelled to do so, it is not until after a serious breach with Octavian, healed for a time by the alliance known as the second triumvirate, in which Lepidus was the third party, though little better than a figurehead. The breach between Octavian and Antony was renewed by the Cleopatra episode, and widened into open rupture when the latter put away his wife Octavia in favor of the Egyptian concubine on whom he had lavished his treasures and provinces. In Rome he was held in contempt; for after his legions had narrowly escaped destruction at the hands of the Parthians, he celebrated a magnificent triumph at Alexandria for some petty victory over the Armenians, and then became merely the slave of his mistress, giving himself up to oriental luxury and excess. War was declared against him, and at Actium came the trial of strength, with the result that all the world knows, Octavian, after settling the affairs of the east, returning to Rome with enormous stores of treasure to be distributed among the legions and the body of the people, together with large donations of land. While celebrating a threefold triumph, he soothed the pride of the nobles by maintaining the outward forms of consular government, himself for the fifth time holding office as consul, to which he was first elected at the age of twenty. Though long before saluted by the legions as imperator, he is presently invested with that title by the senate, and the days of republican Rome are ended.
When securely established on the throne with the authority of tribune for life, to which, after the death of Lepidus, was added that of pontifex maximus. Octavian presently assumed his title of Augustus, a word applied to Roman temples and rites and to all that was held most sacred and venerable. His reign was devoted to improving the condition of the people, in the provinces as well as in the capital, constructing roads and bridges, reclaiming lands, and erecting public buildings, all attended with a liberal but judicious expenditure. It was for the metropolis that Augustus reserved his munificence, rearing the most imposing and costly monuments of the empire and in such number that, as he declared, "he found Rome a city of brick and left it one of marble.” By Julius many of these works had been planned, and had he lived, would doubtless have been executed during his reign; for never before had public funds been so abundant. After presenting 20,000 sesterces to every soldier who had fought on his side in the civil war, with a liberal donation to Roman citizens and other large payments that need not here be specified, there remained in the national treasury 700,000,000 sesterces, and in his own 100,000,000, equivalent in all to $40,000,000, or ten times as much as had ever before been at the disposal of the republic. In addition to the spoils of conquered nations, the revenues had been largely increased by the taxes imposed on them, and by the forced loans, fines, and penalties exacted from wealthy individuals, certain African capitalists, for instance, being mulcted in 100,000,000 sesterces merely for siding with the opposition senate.
All this with later additions, was now at the disposal of Augustus, to be applied to the great works and monuments of his time, in the description of which will here be included those of earlier and later eras.
During the regal and consular periods, there were few imposing structures in Rome, chief among them being the wall of Servius, the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, the forum, the theatre of Pompey, the curia, and on the Appian way the dome of Caecilia Metella. To these may be added the aqueducts and the Cloaca Maxima, while the spacious and substantial roads converging on the capital from every portion of the empire, and of which not a few remain, were more remarkable than all the rest. "Three things." said Dionysius of Halicarnassus, "reveal the magnificence of Rome, her aqueducts, her roads, and her drains."
The principal roads, or viae stratae as they were termed, were constructed of blocks of basalt, carefully fitted together on beds resembling those which are used for mosaic pavements. Most famous of all was the Appia via, which Horace calls the regina viarum, or queen of roads, begun by the censor Appius Claudius, and later extended to Brundusium, with a total length of 350 miles. By Appius was also built the first of the great aqueducts which conducted to Rome the water of neighboring hills, the remainder, thirteen in number, being for the most part erected on triumphal arches, the ruins of which are among the most imposing in the Campagna. The largest of the aqueducts, begun by Caligula and completed by Claudius, after whom it was named, was 40 miles in length, and at such a level as to convey water to all the hills on which Rome was built. Its cost was 350,000,000 sesterces or $17,500,000, most of this amount being expended on the arches as the Romans knew but little of hydrostatics. The earliest of Roman bridges was the Pons Sublicius, so called from the subliciae or piles on which it was built.
It was a wooden drawbridge merely; for Rome was as yet by no means safe from attack, the Tiber being regarded as its strongest defense, and it was not until after the final overthrow of Hannibal put an end to all fear of invasion that the first stone bridge was erected—the Pons Lapidaeus or Pons Aemilius, the latter from the name of its founder. The Ponte Rotto now occupies its site, and still in use is the Pons Fabricius, a massive structure of tufa and peperino, faced with travertine, which about 60 BC first connected the city with the Insula Tiberina. Well preserved also are the Pons Cestius, spanning the river between the island and the Janiculan shore, and the Pons Aelius, now the Ponte Saint Angelo, which led from Hadrian's mausoleum to the Campus Martins.
By Servius Tullius were established the dimensions of Rome as they existed under the republic, the Viminal and Esquiline mounts being added to the five fortified hills which formed the inhabited portion, that is to say the Capitoline, Quirinal, Palatine, Aventine, and Coelian, thus completing what was termed the Sepimontium. Of all the remains of the regal period the most striking are those of what is commonly known as the wall of Servius, though portions of it belong to earlier and later dates. Starting from the Tiber, it extended in a straight line to the Capitoline and thence to the Quirinal and other hills, though not forming a complete circuit, for each of them had its own fortifications, which so far as possible were utilized for the work. It was built of tufa blocks, probably quarried on the spot, two Roman feet in thickness, and laid in alternate courses. The arched openings, the uses of which cannot be determined, were of harder material, with blocks of great length, beveled and set in mortar. In front were an agger and a foss 100 feet wide and 30 in depth, the wall being strengthened with massive buttresses to resist the pressure of the earth. In the days of Augustus the agger was converted into a public walk, and the foss filled in and afterward built upon, while the main structure was used for the back walls of houses some of which, still in existence, display thereupon the painted stucco work of the time of Hadrian.
Still in existence are considerable portions of the great walls of Aurelian, some twelve miles in circumference and enclosing the fourteen thickly populated regions or districts into which the city and its suburbs were divided by Augustus. The work was undertaken as a protection against the assaults of German and Gothic hordes, when the legions were required for distant portions of the empire. By Probus the walls were completed and by Arcadius and Honorius strengthened by gate-towers, Theodoric, Belisarius, and later the supreme pontiff’s restoring and preserving them throughout the Middle Ages. The circuit was broken by various buildings, and by the projection where was the Praetorian camp, of whose fortifications there are many remains, including one of its principal gates.
The tomb of Caecilia Metella "the stern round tower of other days,” as Byron terms it, was nearly 100 feet in diameter, and yet of such massive construction that the internal chamber was of Roman tombs barely twenty feet in width, and especially those of circular form, there are many striking remains, especially those of Hadrian's mausoleum, now converted into the castle of St. Angelo, where were the marble columns and domed roof of an edifice 170 feet square at the base. Cremation was common with the Romans, and among wealthy families the ashes of the deceased or the sarcophagus which contained his corpse, of which latter that of the Scipios is a familiar example, were enclosed in buildings of imposing structure and elegant design.
The Forum Homanum, or Forum Magnum as it was afterward called to distinguish it from the fora of the empire, lay in the valley, or rather the swamp between the Capitoline and Palatine mounts. It was roughly built and of quadrangular shape, its longer sides being flanked by butchers and tradesmen's stalls, while on the northern face were the quarters of the silversmiths. Here, after the marshy ground had been drained by cloacae, was the favorite site for commercial transactions, for political gatherings, and for scenic and gladiatorial exhibitions, for which a central space was reserved, though later inconveniently crowded with statues and monuments. The forum was for centuries the meeting-place of the comitia tributa, or plebs, and on the comitium adjoining, a level space on which the curia fronted, was the rendezvous of the patricians or comitia curiata. In the curia, or senate-house, founded, as was the forum, and probably completed by Servius Tullius, were usually held the sessions of the senate until its destruction by fire in 52 BC. During this and later periods, however, these sessions were frequently held in one of the temples, but never in the aedes sacrae, or sacred edifices devoted exclusively to religious purposes. The curia was several times rebuilt; first by the son of Sulla, who named it after his gens the curia Cornelia; then by Augustus who styled it the Curia Julia; a third time by Domitian and finally by Diocletian. By one of the supreme pontiffs it was converted into the church of Saint Adriano, and by Alexander VII its bronze doors were used for the nave of the Lateran basilica.
First among the five imperial fora was that which Julius Caesar founded to commemorate the battle of Pharsalia. Together with its central fane of Venus Genitrix, it was completed by Augustus, and was one of the most costly of Roman structures; for it was built in a crowded quarter, and as Cicero relates, 100,000,000 sesterces, or $5,000,000, was paid for the site alone. Adjoining it was the forum of Augustus, in which was a temple of Mars the avenger, erected in token of the vengeance inflicted on the assassins of his great-uncle. It was enclosed by a wall 100 feet in height, still the remains of which are among the most imposing ruins of ancient Rome, and still in existence are three of the marble Corinthian columns with their entablatures which formed a portion of the peristyle. Of the walls and arch of Vespasian's Forum Pacis, burned to the ground during the reign of Commodus and restored by Severus, there are also massive remains, and especially of the addition made by Maxentius in the shape of a circular structure fronting on the Sacra Via. The original building was probably used as a hall of records; and lure also was one of the finest Roman temples, in which was a large and valuable art collection, including statue by Phidias and Lysippus.
The forum of Nerva, usually called the Forum Palladium from its temple of Pallas, was lined with marble and adorned with rows of Corinthian pillars, on a remnant of whose entablature are represented in relief the industrial arts of which Minerva was the patron goddess. In the reign of Alexander Severus were grouped around it colossal statues of the emperors who had been deified, together with columns inscribed with their exploits. Largest among the imperia was that fora, and one of the finest in architectural design, on which were expended during the reign of Trajan seventeen years of time and an enormous sum of money. To make room for its site was cut away a large spur of hill that connected the Quirinal with the Capitoline mount. Its principal entrance was in the form of a triumphal arch, whose figures in relief were afterward used for the arch of Constantine, the sides of its peristyle and curved projections being lined with shops. Opposite are the column of Trajan, on which are represented his Dacian victories, and the remains of the Basilica Ulpia, with its handsome pavement of oriental marble where were two of the largest libraries in Rome. Finally there were, in addition to those already mentioned, the Forum Piscarium, Pistorium, and Olitorium; that is to say the fish, bread, and oil markets.
In Rome were many temples, and especially on the Capitoline hill, whose peaks, called the Capitolium and the Arx, with the valley that lay between, and in truth the entire mount, were crowded in the time of the empire with magnificent architectural and artistic monuments enriched with the spoils of the Hellenic world. Here was the triumphal arch in honor of Nero, with much statuary and other works of art. Here was the temple of Fides which Numa founded, and which, when rebuilt during the first of the Punic wars, was spacious enough for meetings of the senate, as also was the fane of Honos et Virtus, erected by Marius, that of Jupiter Tonans, reared by Augustus, being of smaller and more graceful dimensions.
By the first of the Tarquins was founded and by his son was built in the Etruscan style of architecture the vast triple edifice commonly known as the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, though dedicated also, as were other Etruscan fanes, to Juno and Minerva. It was in the basement or rather in a subterraneous cell of this temple that the Sibylline books were preserved, of which we have the familiar story of the sibyl and the king, the latter paying 300 pieces of gold for the three remaining books, after the sibyl, at first turned away in scorn, had burned six out of the nine offered for the same amount. Though on its construction were expended the rich spoils of the Volscian war and the taxes and enforced labor of Roman citizens, it was but a plain and almost unsightly building, with facades of painted and stuccoed peperino, wooden architraves, and statues of terra cotta. Burned to the ground some four centuries later, it was replaced by an imposing structure of marble, with Corinthian columns from the Athenian temple of Olympian Jove, erected by Sulla, Catulus, and Augustus the name of Catulus only, by whom it was completed and dedicated, appearing above its portal. Not many years later it was demolished by rioters and after being rebuilt by Vespasian was again destroyed during the reign of Titus, in the great conflagration of 79. This also is the date of the eruption which buried Herculaneum and Pompeii beneath the ashes and lava of Vesuvius, and it was while the emperor was viewing the scene of desolation and contributing generously to the relief of the distressed that the catastrophe occurred in Rome.
Finally, in the time of Domitian, the temple was once more rebuilt, and for centuries was acknowledged as one of the most striking of Roman monuments. Its peristyle, form of a double colonnade was of Pentelic marble, and on the gilding alone was expended, as Plutarch relates, $12,500,000, the gilt bronze tiles forming a portion of the spoils which fell to Genseric the Visigoth.
Another great temple was the one which Camillus erected on the Arx in honor of Juno Moneta, or Juno the Adviser. It was afterward converted into a mint, and hence it was as Livy opines, that the word moneta was used to signify money. On its site now stands the church of Ara Coeli, and on that of the fane of Jupiter Capitolinus, the Palazzo Cafarelli.
Elsewhere in Rome were numerous temples erected at various dates, though such as belong to the earlier period, as those of Janus and Vesta, had little to commend them either in structure or design. The former was in truth little more than a gateway near the forum, and the latter was but a plain circular edifice, though the most hallowed of Roman shrines, containing as it did the sacred fire and relics on which, as was supposed, the fate of the kingdom depended. It was several times destroyed, and finally rebuilt by Severus, with dome of Syracusan bronze symbolizing the canopy of heaven. Adjoining it was the Atrium Vestae, where dwelt the vestal virgins in small apartments fronting on the quadrangle, while the larger chambers were floored with mosaic work and lined with the rarest and most beautiful of polished marbles. The original structure was, however, of a more primitive character; for the home of the vestals, like the temple, was more than once demolished and restored. The last restoration was in the time of Hadrian, excavations made in 1883 disclosing many interesting remains, among them a vessel containing nearly a thousand English pennies of ninth and tenth century coinage—the Peters pence to Rome.
In the purest of Grecian style was the temple of Castor, rebuilt during the reign of Augustus on the site of the sorry looking structure erected five centuries before to commemorate the victory at Lake Regillus. Exceedingly graceful and delicate are the three Corinthian columns of Pentelic marble which form the most valuable among the remains. In the building itself is a striking example of the solidity of Roman architecture, massive walls of tufa eight feet in thickness, supporting the cellae and columns, while the podium is filled with concrete solid as a rock, its surface forming an elevated platform on which the superstructure is reared.
In the basement, as in other temples,—those of Saturn and Concord, for instance—were vaults in which money, jewelry, and plate were stored for safekeeping, a custom which the Romans appear to have adopted from the Greeks.
The temple of Concord, rebuilt by Tiberius and Drusus on the site of the structure which Camillus founded, was lined throughout with white and oriental marbles, its door-sill fashioned of huge marble blocks on which rested a bronze caduceus, emblem of peace. Within was a magnificent collection of paintings, statuary, engraved gems, and costly plate, for the most part the workmanship of Greek artists and workers in art. The tympanum was covered with sculptures; the portico was filled with statues, and of the rich Corinthian entablature many fragments are still preserved. Close at hand was the temple of Vespasian, also lined with marble, and with an internal range of Corinthian columns, as in the fane of Concord.
The largest of Roman temples was that of Venus Felix, on an outlying spur of the Palatine known as the Velia, near which are exposed for a height of 20 or 30 feet the foundations of the Golden House of Nero. Around it were Corinthian columns of Pentelic marble, and an outer colonnade with nearly 200 pillars of granite and porphyry, of which a few fragments still remain, together with portions of the cellae, where were colossal figures of the goddess. Designed by Hadrian and probably completed by Antoninus Pius, it was partially destroyed and in part restored in the reign of Maxentius, its restoration being continued by Constantine. For centuries its remains were utilized as a quarry, the marble being converted into lime in kilns constructed of broken pieces of porphyry, while the gilt bronze tiles which covered the roof were used by Pope Honorius I for the basilica of St Peter's.
Of all the great monuments of the empire the Pantheon of Agrippa in the Campus Martius is the best preserved, still remaining almost in its entirety. Though portions of it belonged to the system of thermae planned by Agrippa, the huge round structure which formed the Pantheon proper, its enormous dome, 142 feet in span resting on a podium 73 feet in height, and seemingly balanced in air, was consecrated to the gods from whom was traced the ancestry of the Caesars. The dome was lighted at the apex by an aperture so far above ground that in the most violent storm not a breath of wind was felt by those who stood beneath, the rain falling vertically upon the pavement, where it traced a circle 30 feet in diameter. For the covering of the dome and the ceiling of the portico, in rear of which stood colossal statues of Augustus and Agrippa, were used 450,000 pounds of Syracusan bronze, the ceiling being supported by massive girders, afterward melted and cast into cannon for the fortress of Saint Angelo. The walls were of tufa concrete, lined with brick and nearly 20 feet in thickness; the larger columns were of granite, with others of white marble and on the tympanum were figures in relief representing the conflict between the gods and giants. In the interior were oriental marbles and colored porphyries in great variety, some of them belonging to the restorations of Hadrian and Severus, and within recent years have been disclosed the remains of a grand hall with Corinthian pillars supporting a richly sculptured entablature, forming a part of the thermae which later became the pride of Rome.
The first of some forty triumphal arches were erected nearly two hundred years before the Christian era in the Circus Maximus and the Forum Boarium from the spoils which Stertinius gathered in Spain. In Domitian's arch of Titus and Vespasian on the Sacra Via, probably the earliest specimen of the composite order, is represented the triumphal procession held after the conquest of Judae, with Titus and his chariot carved in relief on the inner side, and on the exterior, soldiers bearing the trumpets, the golden candlestick, and other sacred articles taken from the temple at Jerusalem. Of the arch of Marcus Aurelius, which spanned what is now the Corso, some of its finest reliefs have been preserved in the Capitoline museum. Of existing arches, the one which Constantine erected near the Coliseum is perhaps the finest, though owing none of its beauties to this period of art degradation; for not only the entire design but the reliefs and other decorative features are taken from the structure which Trajan reared as an entrance way to his forum.
The marble pedestal of Antonine’s column, a granite monolith surmounted by a colossal gilt-bronze statue, is among the Vatican collection, as also is a fragment of the shaft, with an inscription stating that it was fashioned in the ninth year of Trajan's reign, the remainder of the material being used to repair the obelisk which Augustus erected in the Campus Martins. The Trajan and Aurelian columns were both more than 100 feet in height, the latter, which stood in front of the temple of Aurelius, also with its colossal statue and with spiral reliefs in twenty tiers representing the emperor’s victories in Germany.
The palace of Augustus, with the adjacent temple and libraries of Apollo, contained in the Area Apollinis, occupied the center of the Palatine hill, of which, as of Rome itself, this costly and magnificent group, stored with the choicest productions of Greek artists and art workers in gold and silver, in ivory, bronze, and marble, which stood on the was the chief architectural ornament. Of the palace itself, edge of the cliff, facing the Circus Maximus, but little is known except what Ovid tells us; for none of it is now above ground, though drawings still in existence show the results of excavations made in 1775. The temple, on the building of which were expended eight years of time and money without stint, was approached through propylae no less imposing than those of the Athenian Acropolis and through a portico with more than fifty fluted columns of Numidian and Grecian marble, between which were statues of the Danaids and their bridegrooms. In front was a shrine of Vesta and an altar surrounded with oxen in bronze, the latter the workmanship of Myron, one of the foremost sculptors of the school to which Phidias belonged. On the door was represented in ivory reliefs the death of the Niobids; around the walls were statues of the muses, and in the cella those of Apollo by Scopas and of Latona by Praxiteles, with others in gold and silver and a choice collection of precious stones presented by Marcellus. Of Augustus an inscription records that he sold eighty silver images of himself, presented by his admirers, and with the proceeds dedicated golden gifts to this fane which he reared to the glory of Apollo and of Augustus. Flanking the portico were the libraries, one containing works in Latin and the other in Greek, forming together what was then the best collection extant of classic literature.
Finally there was a spacious hall where at times the senate held its of which stood a colossal statue of the sessions, and in the center emperor fifty feet in height.
The palace of Caligula, while one of the largest and most costly, was also one of the most unsightly structures on the Palatine hill, where the mansions of many wealthy Romans, purchased at enormous cost, were all insufficient for this unwieldy edifice. Extended on lofty arches over the Clivus Victoriae, its substructures were of gigantic proportions, built probably for the purpose of raising the upper rooms to a level with the summit of the mount. Portions of the ground floor would appear to have been used as shops; for still may be traced the wide openings that contained the wooden fronts, then characteristic of Roman as now of eastern stores and warehouses. Above them were chambers lined with marble and rich in columnar and mosaic decorations, of which only the merest fragments remain.
The Flavian palace, with its imposing peristyle, its outer colonnades, its walls and floors all of the finest oriental marble, polished in brilliant hues, was filled with Greek statuary, of which many specimens, unearthed during the excavations ordered by the duke of Parma early in the eighteenth century, are still preserved in the museums of Naples. The choicest among them were in the throne-room and the basilica, the plan of the latter being afterward adopted in the Christian basilica, presently to be described. The entire building was used only for state occasions, the emperor himself residing in the palace of Caligula, with which it was connected by a subterranean passage.
By Hadrian was almost completed the Stadium Palatinum founded by Domitian and later altered by Severus. Adjoining it was the palace of Hadrian, with richly decorated chambers, one of which, overlooking the race course, is still in a fair state of preservation. As compared with other of the imperial mansions, it was neither a large nor costly building, though one of the most artistic and sightly structures on the Palatine hill Hadrian was himself an artist and a lover of art for its own sake as well as for the luster which it conferred on the empire, superintending in person the public monuments with which he adorned the capital and other portions of his domain. From the extensive remains of his villa near Tivoli, itself a work of art have been transferred to the Vatican, many beautiful specimens of ornamental sculpture and of statues and groups in marble, bronze, and granite, forming portions of a magnificent collection made during his progress through the provinces.
In height, as in superficial area, the palace of Severus was of enormous proportions, covering the southeastern angle of the Palatine and thence extending far into the valley of the Circus Maximus , the latter portion raised on substructures from the base to more than a hundred feet above the level of the mount.
Adjoining it were spacious bathrooms lined with marble and richly decorated with mosaics, water being supplied from the conduit which Nero built as an extension of the Claudian aqueduct. At the foot of the hill stood the Septizonium, a seven story building with elaborate ornamentation, which Severus dedicated to the sun and moon. During the pontificate of Sixtus V that which remained of it was destroyed its marble columns and other embellishments being used for the new basilica of St. Peter.
Until near the close of the consular period there were few costly and pretentious mansions in Rome; for as yet there was no great accumulation of riches. In the consulship of Lepidus, one of the wealthiest of Roman citizens there was not in the capital, as Pliny relates a finer residence than that of Lepidus himself; and yet within thirty years from that period there were at least a hundred that surpassed it in magnificence. “Let a person take into consideration,” says Pliny, "the vast masses of marble, the productions of painters, the regal treasures that must have been expended in bringing these hundred mansions to vie with one that had been in its day the most sumptuous and the most celebrated in all the city; then let him reflect that since that time these have again been far excelled by others without number.”
Though with many exceptions, the mansions of the wealthy and noble were for the most part of plain exterior, decorative effect being reserved for the internal portions. The chambers were of no great size and usually windowless, although the Romans understood the manufacture of glass, the best of them containing paintings, arabesques, and architectural ornamentations. The houses of the plebeians were of brick, fronting on narrow, irregular, and ill-paved streets, and often negligently built by speculative and dishonest contractors, with the result that the former were reduced to beggary and the latter became exceedingly rich. While towering above them were here and there a few pretentious structures, with porticos and perhaps with facades of marble, the boast of Augustus that he found Rome a city of brick and left it one of marble was true in the main only of its public buildings.
As a rule the man of wealth regarded his city residence merely as a place in which to eat and sleep and decently entertain his friends, expending his means on a costly villa either in the neighborhood of Rome or near some favorite resort. Cicero for instance had his Formian villa, and Sallust a country home which he loved even better than his famous gardens on the Quirinal, while Lucullus, whom Pompey named the Roman Xerxes, had his parks and mansions at Tusculum, where on a single banquet he would expend 200,000 sesterces. "In the domains of Tusculum and Tibur” says Mommsend, speaking of a somewhat later era, “on the shores of Tarracina and Baiae, where the old Latin and Italian farmers had sown and reaped, there now rose in barren splendor the villas of the Roman nobles some of which covered the space of a moderate sized town with their appurtenances of garden grounds and aqueducts, fresh and salt-water ponds for the preservation and breeding of river and marine fishes, nurseries of snails and slugs, game preserves for keeping hares, rabbits, stags, roes, and wild boars, and aviaries in which even cranes and peacocks were kept. But the luxury of a great city enriches also many an industrious hand, and supports more poor than philanthropy with its expenditure of alms. The aviaries and fish-ponds of the grandees were of course under ordinary circumstances a very costly indulgence; but this system was carried to such an extent that the stock of a pigeon house was valued at 100,000 sesterces.”
However beneficial this extravagance may have been to those whom the wealthy patronized or employed, it was not so with the masses of the people; for in the closing decades of the republic agriculture was simply crowded out of the land, while for want of skilled workmen there were few manufactures or other important industries. Thus it was that in Rome there were virtually only two classes—the rich who reveled in luxury and the poor who lived in abject poverty, depending on donations from the public treasury or from those whom their votes had helped to rob the treasury.
In this community of mendicants and millionaires there were more than 300,000 persons entitled to the distributions of food for which no payment was expected. For those who worked with their hands the daily wage did not average more than three sesterces or fifteen cents a day, thus driving many into the army for the sake of its pay and perquisites; for as in the days of Napoleon military service was the royal road to wealth. As for the rest, they formed the idle and criminal element, the rabble or proletariat of Rome.
While the possessions of wealthy Romans contrast somewhat feebly with those of modern millionaires, they were nevertheless considerable and somewhat widely distributed, at least two thousand citizens being accounted as wealthy. In the days of Marius an estate of 2,000,000 sesterces, or $100,000 was accounted as riches; but a few years later the standard was largely increased. Crassus, the richest of all the Romans, except perhaps Lucullus, began life with $350,000 and after distributing enormous sums in entertaining the people, died worth $8,500,000. The property left by Pompey was purchased for $3,500,000; Ahenobarbus, to whose family Nero belonged distributed allotments of land among 20,000 soldiers without impairing his estate; Aesop the actor, a contemporary of Roscius, was worth $1,000,000, and there were many who by farming traffic, and money-lending accumulated what were then considered as enormous sums. Others who afterward secured princely fortunes commenced their career with princely liabilities; Julius Caesar owing, as I have said, $1,000,000 to $1,250,000; Mark Antony $2,000,000, and the partisan leader Milo $3,500,000. Politics were then, as today, an expensive pastime, for all the higher offices were sold to the highest bidder, as much as $500,000 being paid for the consulship, which lasted but for a single year.
The highest price paid for a Roman mansion, so far as recorded, was $750,000; but there were probably few that cost more than half that amount. For country villas and their appurtenances $200,000 may be stated as an average outlay and of these at least two were maintained by the wealthier grandees; one in the mountains near Rome and another at Baiae, Puteoli, or elsewhere on the Campanian coast. Their furniture was of the most costly description, $50,000 being paid for a single table fashioned of African cyprus.
At their banquets quests reclined on lounges mounted in silver, and of silver were the shelves of the banqueting hall and even the kitchen utensils. The fashionable Roman dressed in purple attire, the folds of which were carefully adjusted before the mirror. Jewels and pearls had taken the place of simple golden ornaments, and these were in such profusion that at the triumph of Pompey his image was displayed entirely wrought in pearls.
In nothing did extravagance run to such excess as in the luxury of the table, the entire villa being arranged with a view to the feasts which were almost of daily occurrence. Land and sea were ransacked to provide new dainties and delicacies for the jaded appetites of Roman epicures and gourmands. From Chalcedon came tunny-fish; from Tarentum oysters, and from the straits of Gades purple shell-fish; there were grouse from Phrygia; peacocks from Samos, and cranes from the island of Melos, with chickens, ducks, and hares dressed in the highest style of culinary art, while Egypt and Spain furnished the choicest of fruits and nuts. Foreign wines only were drunk, especially those of Sicily, Chios, and Lesbos, of which enormous stocks were kept in the cellars of the rich, the orator Hortensius, for instance, whose forty years of practice had brought him enormous wealth, leaving to his heir 10,000 jars or more than 80,000 gallons of the choicest of Grecian and other vintages.
First of all the lessons learned by those who aspired to office in Rome was that the people must be amused and fed, both free of cost or nearly so. Thus in the earlier days of the empire, when the wealth of the world was concentrated in the imperial city, enormous sums were expended on the support and entertainment of the populace, distributions of money being frequent, while daily or weekly distributions of grain were regarded as a matter of course, and to these oil and wine were not infrequently added. Living as they did almost at the public expense, or rather at the expense of the emperors, the poorer citizens had much idle time on their hands, and this they were never at a loss how to spend. For a small copper coin they could enjoy all the luxury of the thermae or public baths, with their libraries, art galleries, and gymnasia. Without payment of any kind they might sit all day, as often they did, in the Circus Maximus, which to them was their home and temple, the very center and heart of Rome, as Rome was the center of the world. Long before dawn an impatient crowd was assembled, intent on securing places, and many there were who passed a sleepless night in the porticos adjacent. From morn till eve, heedless of summer heats or winter rains, spectators to the number of a quarter of a million or more remained in rapt attention, their gaze intent on horses and charioteers while alternating between hope and fear for the success of their favorite champions, as though the fate of the empire depended on the issue of a race.
The Circus Maximus was the most ancient structure of its kind in Rome; for the original building was erected, as is supposed, by the younger Tarquin, though it was not until the fourth century that horse and chariot racing was introduced.
After being many times altered and enlarged, and more than once partially destroyed by fire, it was finally completed by Constantine, with facade of marble and sloping tiers of marble seats, of which the lower rows were reserved for persons of rank. Long before his reign the combats of gladiators and of men with beasts had given place to chariot and other racing. The chariots passed seven times round the course, and to avoid the goal at either end—the meta fervidis evitata rotis, as Horace puts it—was the test of the driver's skill. They were usually drawn by two or four horses, and sometimes was combined with these exhibitions a race of riders who leaped from the back of one steed to another. Most of the drivers were slaves, and with the horses, equipage, and attendants, were furnished by wealthy owners of studs, who doubtless found their pastime as expensive as the horse-breeding and horse-racing of the present day. Among other Roman circi was that of Caligula and Nero in the gardens of Agrippina at the foot of the Vatican hill, where now stands the sacristy of St. Peter’s.
By the aedile Marcus Scaurus was erected, merely for temporary use, a theater which, Pliny terms the greatest work ever accomplished by the hands of man. It was of three stories, and supported on 360 columns, and between them brazen statues, 3,000 in number. The lowest story was walled with marble, the second with glass, and the third with gilded wood, seats being provided for 80,000 spectators.
Pompey’s theater, in which was the fanes of Venus Victrix and Roma Aeterna, and in front a portico of a hundred columns, was the first one built of stone; for in republican Rome there was a prejudice against the permanent temples of the drama which found favor with the Greeks. In close proximity was the curia of Pompey, where Caesar was assassinated. In the middle of the sixteenth century the colossal statue at the base of which he expired, now standing in the Palazzo Spada, was unearthed in the neighborhood of its site, as also, some fifty years ago, was the huge bronze statue of Hercules,—a third century work—whose present home is in the Vatican. After Caesar's death the theater was burned to the ground by order of the senate, and the spot where it stood declared forever accursed. It was restored, however, by Augustus, and after being twice again consumed was rebuilt by Titus with accommodation, as Pliny relates for 40,000 spectators. Some portions only of its foundations remain but of the theater of Marcellus, completed by his uncle Augustus, a well preserved remnant of the external arcade shows that it was mainly of the Ionic order and with architectural details of remarkable delicacy. As Pliny would have us believe, two contiguous theaters built of wood, placed back to back, and when filled with spectators revolving on pivots.
More probable is the story that Caesar placed at the disposal of his friend Aemilius Paulus 8,000,000 sesterces wherewith to build the Basilica Julia, completed by Augustus and containing innumerable pillars of the finest Phrygian marble.
By Julius was erected the first regular amphitheatre followed by those of Caligula and Nero, all of wood and used for wild beast and gladiatorial exhibitions. The first one of stone was the Coliseum, so called from the colossus or colossal statue in the porch of Nero’s Golden House, 120 feet in height, so altered by Vespasian as to resemble Apollo, and removed by Hadrian to the neighborhood of the great edifice whose ruins are still regarded with a feeling akin to awe. Built by Vespasian and Titus, and restored by Alexander Severus after being partially destroyed by fire, the Coliseum was elliptical in shape, with shorter 515 feet in length, and an arena about 2S0 by 170 feet, though the dimensions of the latter are variously stated. It was 180 feet in height; profusely decorated with Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian columns, and covered with an awning to protect from sun and rain the 110,000 spectators for whom seating and standing room was provided. The lowest of the ranges of seats, all of them concentric with the four stages of the external elevation, was called the podium, where sat the emperor, the senators, and the chief magistrates. Above were three galleries, of which the lowest was appropriated to the equestrian order, all being provided with passages, stairways, and covered corridors.
The arena, so called from the sand with which it was strewn, though some of the emperors used costly powders and even gold dust as a substitute, was enclosed with a wall of polished marble and a metal railing for protection against savage beasts. From hidden tubes a spray of scented liquids was scattered at times over the spectators, to neutralize, probably, the effect of imperfect ventilation and of the close, hot atmosphere breathed by the packed and sweltering multitude, protected only by an awning from the rays of a midsummer sun. In addition to the well-known entertainments, of which the massacre of Christians were most in favor, other attractions were produced, some of them difficult to explain, as the mimic fights between vessels of war that occasionally followed the regular exhibitions. Until the eighth century at least the Coliseum was still intact; but in common with other ancient buildings was later used as a quarry, Michael Angelo being one of its despoilers and freely using its materials for the building of a Roman palace. Elsewhere in Italy were other amphitheaters, many of them resembling the Coliseum in general features, though not of course in size. Among them was that of Fidenae, by the collapse of which, during the reign of Tiberius, 50,000 persons were killed or injured, and the one at Pompeii, pictured in the pages of Bulwer Lytton’s romance.
During the empire the accumulations of statues and paintings were on an enormous scale, those of the regal and republican periods being now regarded merely as of sacred or archaeological interest. Not only had the principal cities of Greece, of Magna Graecia, Sicily, and Asia Minor been despoiled of their choicest treasures, but from the hands of Greek artists residing in the capital were innumerable copies of the more valuable works, many of them now preserved in the Vatican and other museums. They were of all materials, hundreds being of gold and ivory and thousands of silver, while those of marble and bronze outnumbered all the rest. In the mansions of the wealthy there were many libraries, and for wealthy authors, of whom there were not a few, household slaves made copies of their works for distribution among their friends.
To return to the emperors; by Caligula were squandered the vast stores of wealth left by his predecessor Tiberius, who managed the finances of the empire with economy. While distributing large donations among the people, and amusing them with costly games, Caligula squandered enormous sums on himself, his vices and his whims sometimes in such wanton fashion, that men said his mind was affected. He ordered, for instance, a bridge to be built from Baiae to Puteoli, merely that he might boast of having walked three miles across the sea. His private estates he sold at auction; he levied unheard of taxes; and scrupled not at open robbery extortion, or other means however infamous so long as they brought him money. Yet he caused himself to be worshipped as a god, and it was this probably more than all else that led to his assassination. Matters were somewhat better in the reign of Claudius, who distributing large donations among the praetorian cohorts, introduced what became a regular custom at the accession of the emperors. Among his many public works were completed some from plans before regarded as impracticable, especially the famous aqueduct which bears his name.
In the year 64 AD, the tenth of Nero's reign, occurred the great fire which, beginning in the wooden booths adjoining the Circus Maximus, swept over the city, until after several days its course was finally stayed by the Tiber and by the Servian wall.
Of the fourteen districts into which Rome was divided, three were entirely obliterated and of seven others little remained but the lurid skeletons of palace and temple walls. Four of the quarters survived; but of the most splendid of Roman mansions of the most sacred of Roman fanes, of the trophies of Roman wars, and the monuments of Grecian art, nearly all were lost in the common destruction. By most authorities the conflagration was ascribed to Nero himself; but by Tacitus, whose verdict is probably worth all the rest, the emperor is acquitted of the crime and certain it is that his prompt and energetic measures for the relief of the sufferers do not consist with this charge of wholesale incendiarism. In the imperial gardens and the Campus Martins was afforded shelter for the homeless, while provisions were sold at extremely low rates and among the destitute distributed free of charge. The reconstruction of the city was at once begun, and no precautions were spared that might avert the recurrence of such a catastrophe. The buildings were mainly of stone, of limited height, and separated by open spaces, while narrow and tortuous alleys and lanes gave place to wide and regular streets, the new city arising in greater splendor than ever before, as is often the case with centers of wealth overtaken by similar disasters.
While the value of monuments and gems of art and architecture cannot be estimated in sesterces, the loss in money and the cost of rebuilding were probably larger than at any of the great conflagrations which have occurred before or since. More costly than all was the "golden house" which Nero erected as his palace, its walls adorned with masterpieces of Grecian art and ablaze with precious metals and precious stones; its grounds laid out in meadows, groves, and lakes, beyond which appeared in perspective some of the finest views near the city of the seven hills. Of all the emperor’s iniquities and extravagances none gave so much offence as the building of this mammoth edifice of the dimensions of which it need only be said that the Coliseum and the thermae of Titus later occupied only a small portion of its site. That it obstructed the public thoroughfares, and that to make room for it were demolished hundreds of buildings that had escaped destruction in one of the populous quarters of Rome, was to Nero a matter of no significance. It gratified his vanity, as also did the colossal bronze statue of himself which stood in one of the porticos. To defray the expense, says Tacitus, Italy and many of the provinces were ransacked, thus adding to the discontent in Rome the hatred of those who were now the mainstay of the empire.
After masquerading in Greece as a competitor in the arena and a worshipper of Hellenic art, neglecting meanwhile the affairs of the nation, sentence of death being pronounced against him by the senate, Nero took his own life to escape the public executioner, and with him ended the line of the Caesars, though the title was still retained. His statues were broken or defaced; his golden house was destroyed, and from all Roman and other monuments his name was erased.
Passing over the reigns of Galba, Otho, and Vitellius, we come to that of Vespasian, the first of the Flavian emperors but a man of humble origin, his father being a tax-gatherer and money-lender. Proving himself an able leader, he was proclaimed by a majority of the legions; for by the legions, after the death of Nero, emperors were made and unmade, the sanction of the senate being merely a matter of form. It was largely during his reign that Rome was rebuilt, including its Coliseum, its temple of Capitoline Jove, its temple of Peace, and its public library. The avarice with which he was charged by Tacitus and Suetonius would appear rather to have been a studied system of economy, absolutely necessary in the disorganized condition of Roman finances. On occasion he could be liberal enough, and many were the impoverished nobles and senators, the professors and men of letters on whom he bestowed pensions of several hundred thousand sesterces a year. Of his son and successor Titus it is said that he devoted nearly all his private fortune to the relief of those left homeless and destitute by the disaster which in 79 befell Herculaneum and Pompeii. By Nerva were remedied, so far as possible, the evils committed by his predecessor Domitian, especially in the recall of exiles and relief from excessive taxation. Trajan, the fourteenth Roman emperor was the first who was not an Italian by birth, though probably of Italian parentage. He was a thorough soldier, had seen hard service before assuming the purple, and was loved and respected by the legions; so that his election was readily confirmed throughout the empire. Entering Rome on foot some two years later, he gained at once the affections of the senate and people; for he lived among the latter as simply as he had lived among his soldiers, sharing their simple rations of bread and cheese, of salt pork and sour wine. For himself he discarded both power and pomp, proclaiming himself merely a citizen ruler, not above but subject to the laws. Presenting his sword to the commander of the praetorian guards, he exclaimed: "Use it for me if I do well, but against me if I do ill." His distributions of food and money were on a liberal scale, as also were his public works, and especially the fortifications which strengthened the great lines of defense between the Danube and the Nile. Returning in 106 laden with treasure from his Dacian campaigns, his triumph was of surpassing splendor, the games lasting four months as was said, while 10,000 beasts and almost as many gladiators contended in the arena.
To Hadrian the provinces were more his care than the imperial city itself, though in the latter he distributed large donations, remitting also the arrears of taxes for many years. None knew better than he that the time for conquest was over; that the limits of the empire as established by Augustus were not only ample in extent, but presented a frontier which could be readily defended, and that the aim should no longer be to enlarge but to consolidate and improve the condition of the regions already won. Hence his tours of the provinces accompanied by corps of architects and artisans, lasting for fifteen years and including all portions of his dominions.
Everywhere in the shape of temples, aqueducts, fortresses, or other public works he left the impress of his energy and liberality, and especially did he favor Athens, adding to it an entire quarter and completing the temple of the Olympian Zeus.
Of Antoninus Pius, adopted son and successor of Hadrian, it is related that instead of despoiling the provinces to minister to Roman luxury, he expended his private fortune in aiding the provinces. Living with his destined heir, Marcus Aurelius, most of their time was passed in the seaside villa of Laurium, the birthplace of Antoninus, where far from the vices and intrigues of Rome their lives were passed in study and in the simplest of pleasures and occupations. Aurelius has been called the crown and flower of Stoicism, and in his instruction was engaged such a body of teachers as for acquirements and character had never before been assembled even in Rome, where the most accomplished of Greek professors could be hired for 200 sesterces a year. During his reign occurred a series of disasters, flood, famine and earthquake, fire and pestilence following in quick succession, while revolts were frequent and in several quarters the empire was threatened by barbarian hordes. The brief intervals between his wars he devoted to study, the fruits of which are read today with even greater interest than the works of the classic masters. His Meditations come nearer to the teachings of the New Testament than those of any of the non-Christian philosophers, and yet, though the avowed apostle of moderation and temperance, he sanctioned a most cruel persecution of the Christians. They were written in the midst of public affairs, or perhaps on the eve of battles on which hung the fate of the empire, thus giving to them a fragmentary character, which does not, however, detract from their merit and charm. As some would have us believe, they were intended only for the use of his son Commodus; but if so they signally failed of their purpose; for of all the tyrants who wore the purple there were none more degraded than Commodus. The friends of his father were butchered merely because they were wealthy, learned, or men of honor and probity. As for himself he fairly wallowed in vice; maintaining three hundred concubines, indulging in the most shameless debaucheries, appearing as a gladiator in the circus, and associating with buffoons, of whom he was himself the chief.
From the days of Commodus the annals of Rome contain little more than a succession of wars and intrigues, of deeds of tyranny and baseness, of pitiful exhibitions of impotence and folly, and disgusting exhibitions of brutality and vice, such as even Gibbon tires of describing. Here and there was a special monster of wickedness like Caracalla, and there were some whose qualities shed luster for a time on the decadence of the empire; such men as Septimius Severus, Probus, and Constantine the Great. But it was only with the utmost difficulty that the vast fabric of imperial Rome was preserved from dissolution. In addition to foreign wars there was a series of desperate struggles between rival aspirants to the purple, more than a score of emperors who sat in the seat of Augustus during the third century meeting with a violent death six of them almost within as many months.
The weakness of the central authority was further increased by the establishment of provincial empires, first in Gaul under Postumus, and later in the East.
The Syrian governor Odaenathus, for instance, prince of Palmyra, assumed the independent sovereignty of many eastern provinces, and his titles and possessions were inherited by his son, though the real power was in the hands of his widow Zenobia, who declaring herself empress openly defied the power of Rome. After a hard-fought campaign won more by gold than strategy, Palmyra was taken in 272, and its queen led captive to adorn the triumph of Aurelian. The spoils were enormous; for Palmyra was now the mistress of the eastern world, the emporium of the rich traffic of India China and Arabia, Rome herself importing yearly her jewels and pearls, her silks and other costly fabrics to the value of hundreds of millions of sesterces. The city itself was spared; but only to be destroyed and its inhabitants massacred after the revolt of the following year.
It was during the third century that successive hordes of barbarians and semi-barbarians began to lay waste the provinces, crippling their resources and inflicting on their inhabitants the scourges of famine and pestilence. In the east were the Parthians, and in the north the Goths the Franks and Alemanni, all making the best use of the opportunities afforded by internal dissension and strife. After defeating the emperor Decius, the Goths compelled his successor Gallus to purchase peace by costly gifts, and a few years later, with a fleet of 500 sail, ravaged the coasts of Greece and Asia Minor, returning with the spoils of Athens, Argos, and Corinth.
In the reign of Diocletian, who associated with himself Maximian, and later several others, Constantius and Galerius, the empire was reorganized under a system which, without the sacrifice of unity, distributed among them the cares and responsibilities of government. The armies were also divided, each having its own imperator, and with this change disappeared the last traces of the republican and Augustan eras, with limited powers and definite prerogatives. Despotic open and undisguised, was further hedged about with as in the pomp and formalities of oriental royalty, the wearing of the diadem, of silk and golden garments, and in the genuflexions and prostrations which succeeded the former method of salutation. Finally Rome was reduced to a level with the provinces, and for the first time since the founding of the eternal city Roman citizenship ceased to be a privilege.
For a brief period under the reign of Constantine the empire was again united, though the building of the new capital of Byzantium separate senate and government, prepared the way for its final division under the rule of Valentinian.
After the death of Theodosius in 395 came further barbaric invasions, Alaric the Visigoth laying siege to the city a few years later, but retiring under promise of a ransom of 5,000 pounds of gold and 30,000 of silver. Returning in 410, he entered Rome by night, and for six days handed it over to pillage, with all the attendant horrors. Vast as were the treasures secured, they were to him of little benefit; for in the same year they were buried with him in the bed of a river whose channel was diverted for the purpose, the captives employed on the work being put to death that none might know of their whereabouts. About the middle of the fifth century Attila, “the scourge of God,” forces the Romans to purchase peace by the payment of a heavy tribute. As king of the Huns and other tribes north of the Danube and the Black sea, he was monarch of a mighty empire in northern and central Europe, defeating the Roman legions, laying waste the country around Byzantium, and dictating terms to the emperors of the east and west. In Gaul he appears in 451 with an army 700,000 strong, and though at first successful, is finally defeated at Chalons after one of the most desperate conflicts recorded in history. In the following summer he ravages northern Italy; but when Rome appeared to be in his grasp is induced to retire by an embassy from the supreme pontiff. Three years later comes the storming of the city by Genseric, king of the Vandals, followed by fourteen days and nights of pillage and plunder, with the violation of matrons and maids the whose chastity, nevertheless, the church declares inviolate. Among the spoils was nearly all that remained of public or private wealth, of treasures sacred or profane, including temple ornaments, and even the appendages of Jewish worship which Titus brought from Jerusalem, the golden table and the golden candlestick with seven branches, deposited in the Temple of Peace. The ornaments of the imperial palaces, with their costly furniture and wardrobes, their massive gold and silver plate, their jewelry and precious stones also contributed to the booty, whose total value amounted to several thousands of talents. Finally, in 476 AD Romulus Augustulus is deposed in favor of Odoacer the Rugian, and a barbarian monarch is seated on the throne of the Caesars.
As to the Rome of the middle ages little is known; for endless wars with their attendant pillagings and conflagrations left but few original documents on which to base the annals of the state.
After the partition of the empire its western Capital gradually became the religious rather than the political center of the world, though the bestowal of rich estates and benefices by the supreme pontiffs infused new blood into the aristocracy and gave to it at least a semblance of vitality. Many of the pontiffs were wealthy, and not a few were men of marked ability, possessing more worldly power than any European sovereign. Such a man, for example, was Gregory I, who administered with the greatest prudence the vast possessions and revenues of the church; so that the army being unpaid when the city was besieged by the Lombards, he supplied the funds first for the defense and then for the ransom of the city. Later the authority of the popes, after many struggles with Italian nobles and foreign potentates, was acknowledged even in matters temporal, almost throughout the civilized world.
The building of churches began in Rome during the reign of Constantine, before whose time the Christians must worship in their own houses or meet by stealth in the catacombs. Their earlier sanctuaries, of which those that remain have been altered beyond recognition, were of simple construction, rectangular in shape, with walls of concrete faced with brick, and plain windows of glass or translucent alabaster. In the interior were sculptured marble shafts of many designs, and in not a few were columns taken from the classic structures of the capitol. It was not until the fourteenth century that the erection of the papal palaces was begun, though before that date there were many beautiful compositions in marble enriched with mosaics, especially in the form of altars tombs and campaniles. The Lateran palace, of the original of which, built in the age of Nero and at least thrice as large as the present structure, the Capella Sancta Sanctorum is all that remains, was the favorite residence of the popes. Its present use, as rebuilt by order of Sixtus V nearly three centuries after its destruction by fire is for a museum of classic sculpture and Christian antiquities.
The Vatican palace as it now exists, the largest in the world and the abode of the pontiffs after their return from Avignon, was begun by Nicholas V in 1447, its enlargement completion, and decoration being due to several of the pontiffs, of whom Pius IX gave to it the finishing touches and supplied its grand flight of stairs.
It has twenty courts, hundreds of halls, salas, chapels, and thousands of apartments, only a few of which are devoted to the papal court. Here amid a vast assortment of Roman and Greco-Roman statuary are gems of pure Hellenic art, with a valuable collection of Greek vases and relics from Etruscan tombs. In the library, with its 27,000 Latin, Greek, and oriental manuscripts, its archives of the middle ages, its correspondence of the pontiffs, and registers of papal acts from the days of Innocent III, are beautiful specimens of medieval artwork in the form of plate and jewels. A picture gallery of moderate size is stored with works of more than average merit, among which are canvases by several of the great masters. On the ceiling of the Sistine chapel is some of the finest workmanship of Michael Angelo, and on the altar wall, blackened by the smoke of centuries, is his famous painting of "The Last Judgment."
The original church of St. Peter is said to have been founded by Constantine on the site of Nero’s circus, where the apostle suffered martyrdom. It was in the form of a basilica, with nave, transept, and double aisles divided by Corinthian colonnades, its apse, in the central curve of which was the pontifical chair, being screened by pillars of Parian marble taken, as was claimed, from Solomon’s temple. While the interior was profusely decorated with gold and mosaic work, it was externally less imposing than other Roman basilicas, especially those of Trajan and Maxentius, the latter usually known as the temple of Peace.
For the present cathedral of St. Peter the plans were drawn by Bramante, the greatest architect of the Florentine period, in the form of a Greek cross covered with a gigantic dome resembling that of the Pantheon. The foundation stone was laid in 1506; but after his death, a few years later, Bramante’s design was discarded, the completion of the work being entrusted to Raphael, Michael Angelo and others. In 1626 the building was consecrated by Urban VIII, costing with additions since that date, including the sacristy erected by Pius VI, more than $50,000,000. In size it is nearly twice as large as the cathedrals of Milan and St. Paul, covering nearly four acres of ground, 640 feet in length and 435 in height from the pavement to the summit of the cross, which surmounts a dome 630 feet in circumference.
The portico, flanked with equestrian statues of Charlemagne and Constantine, is handsomely decorated, and at the entrances are antique columns of African marble, with other embellishments in doubtful taste, especially in the panels representing Christian subjects bordered with scenes from classic mythology, as the rape of Europa by Jupiter in the form of a bull. While to the exterior exception may be taken, the internal effect is extremely impressive, the enormous dome with the arcades below, the great dome pillars, and the arms of the cross forming the most striking features of an architectural composition the vastness of which is concealed by harmony of proportion.
During the latter part of the fifteenth and the opening years of the sixteenth century Rome was enriched with many stately and beautiful structures, for the most part of Florentine architecture. Among them were the Palazzo di Venezia of Paul II, built as were others of travertine blocks from the Coliseum; the Palazzo della Cancelleria, one of Bramante's masterpieces, as also were the adjoining church of Saint Lorenzo in Damaso, and the Palazzo Giraud, the former residence of Cardinal Wolsey and of Raphael. By Raphael were designed the Palazzo Vidoni, where in 1536 Charles V was entertained as the guest of the Caffarelli, and the Palazzo Madama, the former residence of the grand-dukes of Tuscany and now the meeting-place of the Italian senate. The Palazzo Farnese, where are the quarters of the French embassy to the papal court, was designed in part by Michael Angelo, and ranks among the finest compositions of the renaissance. The small but exceedingly tasteful structure known as the Villa Farnesina was completed in 1511 for the banker of the supreme pontiffs, later passing by inheritance to Cardinal Farnese and his family, and thence to the king of Naples. On the ceiling of the entrance hall are illustrations of the myth of Psyche, designed by Raphael and in an adjoining chamber is another mythological study entirely of his own composition-Galatea crossing the sea in a shell surrounded with cupids nymphs and tritons.
With museums and art galleries, both public and private, Rome is plentifully supplied. In the Capitoline museum is a valuable collection of classic statuary bronzes and coins. In the Museo Kircheriano, founded in 1601 by the Jesuit teacher after whom it was named, are grouped among other antiquities most of the prehistoric specimens in stone and iron, pottery and bronze, discovered in Italy and the islands adjacent. The University of Rome has its geological cabinets, together with a large assortment of minerals, and of the marbles used in the building of the ancient city. In the Borghese, Corsini, Doria, and Barberini palaces are the most famous of private art galleries, though except for the first containing little above the level of mediocrity. In the Barberini library are several thousand manuscripts, many of them by Greek and Latin authors, and of public libraries the largest is the Biblioteca Vittorio Emanuele, with more than half a million volumes and manuscripts, to which additions are constantly made from the choicest of current literature.
Of other Italian cities mention must be of the briefest; for that Paris is France is not more true than that Italy is merged in the eternal city. Yet the population of Rome is far exceeded by that of Naples, the most densely peopled, and as to site the most beautiful of European capitals. Though originally a Greek settlement, there are many traces of Roman occupation, as in the tunnel constructed probably about 30 BC through the promontory of Posillipo, 2,200 feet in length and in places 70 in height. Long before that date it had become a Roman possession, and in the days of Cicero was a center of wealth and culture, though its inhabitants were noted as today they are, for their indolent and effeminate habits. During the empire, it was a favorite resort not only for the rich but for the emperors themselves, and it was here that Nero made his first appearance on the stage. In the Gothic and other wars, and especially from the Lombards, it suffered many disasters and many changes of government, enjoying but the briefest intervals of peace, until in 1861 it was absorbed in the kingdom of Italy, of which it is today, as under Roman rule, one of the most beautiful and opulent cities.
The buildings of modern Naples are more remarkable for size than taste, most of them five or more stories in height, flat-roofed, stucco covered, and flanking narrow but well-paved streets. In former ages the city was protected by the castle of St. Elmo, built in the fourteenth century by Robert the Wise, and reconstructed in the sixteenth by Charles V, with massive ramparts and fosses hewn through the solid rock Rich in medieval sculpture is the church San Domenico Maggiore, adjacent to which is the convent that contains the cell of Thomas Aquinas. Many of the Neapolitan churches and convents have been converted into museums, among them the Carthusian monastery, a richly decorated edifice with works of art by Guido, Ribera, and other masters.
The national museum, commonly termed the Museo Borbonico is a storehouse of Roman and Italian antiquities, including the Farnese collection, and all that was best worth preserving from the ruins of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Paestum, and other ancient cities. The Biblioteca Nazionale is the largest of Neapolitan libraries, containing some 400,000 volumes and 10,000 manuscripts, among them the collection of Cardinal Seripando and other valuable acquisitions of rare and curious works. The University of Naples, founded in 1224 by Frederick II, is the oldest in Italy, except those of Bologna and Padua, its muster-roll containing the names of more than 5,000 students. Among other institutions are the Royal society of Naples, the Royal College of music, and the Zoological station, one of the leading centers of modern research. Charitable establishments are numerous and handsomely endowed; the principal hospital has an income of $160,000 a year and accommodates 1,000 patients; the almshouse with its fine range of buildings has an annual revenue of $250,000. There are at least a score of theaters, of which the San Carlo opera-house is the largest in the world. It is liberally subsidized, and with it are intimately associated the names of Rossini, Donizetti, and others of the great composers.
On the bay of Naples and the gulf adjacent are several towns and villages whose sites are among the most beautiful in Europe, as Sorrento with its historic memories, Amalfi, on and Salerno with the capital of a great medieval republic, its white terraced houses its half-ruined Lombard castle, and its ancient cathedral, where Pope Hildebrand and Margaret of Anjou lie at rest.
But for the dramatic interest connected with its destruction, and for the discoveries brought to light by modern excavations, Pompeii, with its world-wide repute, would have been known, if known at all, merely as a provincial town. Toward the close of the republican era, however, and during the earlier empire it had become a favorite seaside resort for wealthy Romans, many of whom had here their villas.
Cicero, for instance, speaking with affection of his Pompeiian residence. In 63 AD it was partially destroyed by earthquake, and the inhabitants were still engaged in rebuilding their shattered edifices when overtaken by the catastrophe which a few years later buried the place beneath the ashes of Vesuvius. While by the same eruption Herculaneum was entombed under a solid mass of lava. Pompeii was covered only with scoriae and fragments of volcanic rock; but to a depth of fifteen or twenty feet, thus obliterating all traces of its buildings and streets, so that for nearly sixteen centuries even its site remained unknown.
As reproduced through explorations beginning as far back as 1755, the town was well laid out, with straight and well paved streets intersecting at right angles, but seldom more than 20 and never more than 30 feet in width. As in Rome, and nearly all Roman towns, the forum was the center of business activity and the resort of the lounger and politician. It was an elegant rather than an imposing structure, with a series of porticos on three of its sides, some of them arcaded and others supported on columns. Around it were the public buildings, the temples, the basilicas, the thermae , the theaters, and not far away an amphitheatre used for gladiatorial show; but neither in their design nor materials is there anything to indicate that Pompeii ranked higher than a second or third-class provincial town. As to works of art, while there are statuettes of finished and beautiful workmanship, the larger statues, both in marble and bronze, are surpassed by those of Herculaneum. In the paintings also there is little to commend from an artistic point of view, though many are valuable as illustrations of the lives and habits of the people.
Milan, almost in the center of the rich plain of Lombardy, is enclosed with a wall seven miles in circuit, within which are the homes of 450,000 people. The cathedral, begun in 1386, is the work of several centuries and of many architects; the finishing touches were given, it is said, under the instructions of Napoleon in 1805. In size it is one of the largest in the world, 480 feet in length by 180 in width, with a tower 360 feet in height. It is of cruciform shape and of Gothic design, though with features of the Romanesque.
The walls are cased in marble, and of white marble is the roof, supported on 50 pillars, with niches for statuary, of which there are in all 2,000 pieces. A more ancient church is the one named after its founder Saint Ambrose, and erected in the fourth century on the ruins of a temple of Dionysius. Among other structures worthy of note are the royal and archiepiscopal palaces, the town-hall erected early in the fifteenth century, the Great hospital completed a few years later, and the Scala Theater, one of the finest in Italy. As the former home of many celebrated painters, sculptors, and architects, Milan is rich in works of art. World-famous is the picture gallery of the Brera, with its studies by Raphael, by Paul Veronese and others of the Venetian school, while in the Brera library are 250,000 volumes and a collection of manuscripts second only to that of the Biblioteca Ambrosiana.
Turin, though at least as ancient as the days of Hannibal, by whom it was captured 218 BC, is in appearance one of moist modern of Italian cities, with spacious squares and wide and regular streets. Its cathedral of St. John the Baptist is of fifteenth century renaissance architecture, and behind its high altar is the chapel of the Sudario, the shroud with which Joseph of Arimathea is said to have covered the body of Christ. In the tower of the church of La Beata Vergine are Vela's famous statues of Maria Theresa and Maria Adelaide. The Madama palace, built as first it stood by William of Montferrat, and the royal palace, with its museum of mineralogy and zoology, are the finest of the secular buildings. In the Castello palace is a valuable collection of manuscripts and drawings, including sketches by Raphael and Michael Angelo.
Of Florence the first mention is in connection with the ancient Etruscan town of Faesulae, of which it was probably a suburb, attaining the rank of city after its colonization by Sulla. In the fifteenth century it had become one of the leading centers of wealth, as now it is of literature and art, its treasures ranking second only to those of the capital. Of its three large libraries the Nazionale, with its half million of volumes, is noted for its size; the Marucelliana for its drawings and works on art, and the Laurentian, of which Lorenzo de Medici was the founder, for its manuscripts and illuminated missals. Of Florentian galleries of art, as of the Pitti and Uffizi, with their masterpieces by Titian and Raphael, it is unnecessary here to speak; for their art, like their architecture is known to all the world. Palaces are numerous in Florence, as those of the Corsi, the Corsini, and the Strozi; but more interesting perhaps than all are the former homes of Dante, Machiavelli, and others whose classic works belong not to Italy alone but to the world.
Genoa, like Turin, played its part in the second Punic war, thereafter passing through many tribulations before it became worthy of its title of the Superb. It is a city of palaces, of elaborate and somewhat florid architecture, oldest among which, besides smaller ones, is the palace of the doges, now used by the prefecture, its adjacent tower and belfry dating from the fourteenth century. In the sixteenth century palace, erected for the dukes of Turin and later used for municipal purposes, are many curious relics, including the violin of Paganini and autograph letters by Columbus. To the same period belongs the palace of Victor Emanuel, built originally for the Durazzos, the owners of many mansions. Of nearly a hundred churches the oldest is that of St. Ambrose and St Peter, founded in the sixth century and restored by the Jesuits more than a thousand years later. Among its art treasures are Guido Reni's 'Assumption' and ‘Rubens' ' Circumcision' and St Ignatius. The cathedral of St. Lawrence was in the ninth century of metropolitan rank, though nothing remains of the original structure, the present building and its decorations being the work of many artists and artificers. Especially rich in columnar ornaments, in statuary and arabesques is its chapel of St. John the Baptist, where women may enter only once a year; for was he not the victim of a woman's malice? Museums, libraries, and institutions of learning are plentiful, a palace in the Via Balbi being set apart for the royal university; and nowhere in Italy are benevolent associations more richly endowed the duke of Galliera alone donating or bequeathing in charities thirty millions of francs.
It was not until early in the ninth century that any permanent settlement was made on the site of Venice, and for two or three centuries thereafter it consisted merely of a number of cabins clustered among the grassy islets that skirt the Venetian coast. Fishing was the chief occupation of the inhabitants; but presently came commerce and with commerce wealth; so that in the thirteenth century they had become the richest and most powerful community in the world, with large possessions on the mainland of Europe.
Modern Venice is built on 117 islands connected by the 400 bridges which span its 150 canals. Recent improvements have somewhat marred its beauty, especially the iron bridges across the Grand canal and the so-called omnibus steamers, and clumsy, dark-cabined gondolas that have taken the place of the sightly craft of former days, with their awnings of gold embroideries. In population it ranks eighth among Italian cities, with more than 150,000 inhabitants, and a considerable volume of commerce and manufactures, the latter remaining almost as they were in the middle ages, when from the Arabs they borrowed the decorative arts and from the Persians the art of weaving costly tissues.
Of other Italian cities, as Verona, with its cathedral, and Pisa, with its tower, it is unnecessary here to make other than passing mention. To a certain class of people a more interesting spot than any is Monaco, the smallest and probably the most densely populated of European principalities, nearly 15,000 people living on its eight square miles of territory. It has long been a resort for invalids as well as for gamesters, and nowhere on the Franco-Italian shore is there a more beautiful climate or a more sheltered coast. The first gambling saloon was here established in 1856, and later passed into the hands of a joint-stock company with a capital of $3,000,000. Monte Carlo gaming tables began to be fashionable in 1860, under the management of M. Blanc, a refugee from Homburg, and the casino afterward erected was never in want of patrons.
While Italy is essentially an agricultural country manufactures are on a considerable scale. As a silk-producing region it ranks second only to China, and next in order are cottons, chiefly in the form of coarse fabrics, while the weaving of flax and hemp, mainly by hand-looms, gives employment to 70,000 operatives. In the production of packing, blotting, and other papers are used more than 50,000 tons a year of linen rags. Of leather the annual output is valued at $25,000,000; the manufacture of iron and light machinery are thriving industries, and among articles of minor importance are sugar oils, and liquors. The ceramic arts, for which Italy was famous a century ago, have fallen into decadence; but jewelry and trinkets, fashioned principally in Rome, are largely exported or purchased by tourists, while Roman. Florentine, and Venetian mosaics are also in general favor.
Agriculture is for the most part in a primitive condition, with implements so far behind the age that the Roman plough described by Virgil is still in use. Cereals are raised in nearly all the provinces, and especially in the plain of Lombardy; but for many other products the available area is limited by climatic conditions.
Thus the coast lands around Genoa, between the Apennines and the sea, are among the most favored spots for olives and citrus fruits, neither of which can be raised in the region north of the mountains, where in places the winter climate is colder than that of Denmark. And so with central Italy, in whose upland valleys entire communities are debarred by heavy snowstorms from all communication with their neighbors. Yet almost within sight of them are districts where the orange and fig-tree thrive luxuriantly on the borders of the Adriatic. In Calabria the contrast is especially marked; sub-tropical fruits, the sugar-cane, and cotton-plant ripening to perfection on its shores, a few miles from which are ranges covered with the fir and pine. In southern Italy the climate resembles that of Greece, except for the malaria which has given over to desolation many of the fertile plains encircled in former ages by a girdle of opulent settlements. The vine is cultivated almost throughout the peninsula, the production of wine exceeding 500,000,000 gallons a year, most of it for local consumption. As market gardeners the Italians have no superiors, earning a fair livelihood in the neighborhood of cities on lands for which they pay a rental of $100 an acre. The supply of live-stock is sufficient to permit a considerable export, and the forestry department adds nearly $20,000,000 a year to the revenue of the state, the total value of all agricultural and forest products exceeding $1,200,000,000 a year. Of minerals sulfur and zinc are the most important, while the yield of the marble and other quarries is valued at $5,000,000 a year.
Since the unification of the Italian kingdom under Victor Emanuel, to whom his eldest son Humbert has proved no unworthy successor, the commerce of Italy has been largely developed, especially with the neighboring countries of Switzerland and France. For 1894 the total exports were estimated at $225,000,000, with imports of somewhat larger amount. Of the former silk is the principal item, and next are wines fruits olive-oil and provisions in various forms. Grain, raw cotton, and coal are the principal imports, foreign cereals to the amount of some $30,000,000 a year being required for the consumption of a people whose diet consists almost entirely of bread and thin rice soup. With her large extent of coast, her abundance of excellent harbors her central position on the Mediterranean seaboard, and the advantage of railroad communication with transalpine countries it is probable that Italy will erelong attain to the commercial position from which she has been debarred by many cycles of political disturbance.
Sicily, the wealthiest and most important of the Mediterranean islands, was for several centuries dominated by the Greeks, though subject at intervals to Carthaginian encroachments the native tribes, named Sikanoi, and the Sikeloi, originally an Italian race, which first appeared in Sicily about 1100 BC, being finally absorbed in the Hellenic settlements. During the seventh and sixth centuries these settlements became the most prosperous of the Grecian colonies, rivaling even Athens and Corinth in wealth and the luxuries that wealth can purchase, while in architectural monuments and works of art they were not greatly their inferiors. The reign of the tyrants, beginning with that of Phalaris of Agrigentum, whose holocaust of the brazen bull is probably a Phoenician tradition was in the main beneficial, for most of them were tyrants only in name and rather the champions than the oppressors of their country.
The praises of Hieron, for instance, were sung by Pindar, and Dionysius, his wars at an end, devoted himself to the planting of colonies.
In the Persian and Peloponnesian wars the nation suffered but little, though playing an important part in both, especially at the siege of Syracuse, where the destruction of the fleet and army of Nicias on which Athens had expended the last talent in her treasury, gave the death-blow to Athenian supremacy. During the first Punic war many cities were pillaged by the contending parties, Sicily becoming first an ally and then a province of Rome. It was frequently plundered during the later republic by Roman governors, and especially by Verres, who after bringing desolation on a contented and prosperous people, stripping them of their most valuable possessions, including treasures of art beyond all price, boasted that he had enough to maintain him in ease and luxury, though he should bribe a Roman jury with two-thirds of his spoils. A few centuries later the country became subject to Genseric the Vandal, and then in turn to the Goths, the Byzantine emperors the Saracens, the Normans, the Lombards, and others, finally, after many changes of dynasty, becoming a portion of the kingdom of Italy.
Syracuse, founded only a score of years after the founding of Rome, played an imperial part in the classic annals of Sicily. In the fifth century its citizens had become an exclusive and aristocratic body, owning large tracts of valuable land, this element developing first into a tyranny and then into a democracy, though whatever the form of government, the city increased in wealth and power until it passed under Roman rule. In 212 BC it surrendered, after an obstinate defense to Marcellus, who carried away its treasures of art and handed it over to pillage, Archimedes being one of those who lost their lives in the massacre which followed. Later it again became a stately and opulent city, with temples amphitheatres and other public buildings, some of them erected or restored by Caligula. In modern Syracuse there is little of interest except its cathedral, erected on the site of an ancient fane of Minerva. Of Agrigentum, once the center of Sicilian commerce luxury and wealth, nothing but its ruins remains. More even than Syracuse it was noted for its splendid architectural monuments, the remnants of which, especially those of the temple of Olympian Jove, attest its former greatness.
Most of the surface of Sicily lies several hundred feet above the sea, with mountain ranges several thousand feet in height, and above all the volcano of Etna, rising nearly 11,000 feet from its 400 square miles of base. In some of the valleys plains and plateaus there is an abundant yield of cereals and fruits, oranges and olives, of which there are continuous groves on the northern mountain slopes, being largely raised for export. Wheat is still the leading product of the country, as in the days of the Roman Empire, of which it was the principal granary. Commerce is of small amount; manufactures are few and unimportant, and as to minerals, sulfur, the deposits of which are estimated at 500,000,000, is the only one of economic value.
In minerals Sardinia is the richest of the Italian provinces, its mines being worked by the Carthaginians and Romans, while there are probably at least a hundred in operation at the present day, most of them in the province of Iglesias. Silver and argentiferous lead, zinc, and iron are worked with fair returns; there are also copper, antimony, arsenic, nickel, cobalt, and of coal an abundant supply, though as yet but little utilized.
Agriculture is in a backward condition, due rather to malaria than to lack of fertility; for in former ages Sardinia was second only to Sicily among the granaries of Rome. There are no manufactures worthy of the name; but commerce is steadily increasing, showing almost a three-fold gain within the last quarter of a century. Sassari is the largest town, and Cagliari, the capital, with its high-mounted castle, its viceregal palace, its cathedral, university, and mansions of the noble and wealthy is the principal seaport and railroad terminus. Here and elsewhere on the island are many remains of the period when Sardinia was a Carthaginian colony, and in the tombs have been discovered strong traces of Egyptian settlements.
Malta, though a British possession, belongs geographically to Italy. The island contains a large number of historic ruins of great interest, as the stone erections in Gozo, the great temple of Melkart, and the excavations of Hagiar Kim. The manufactures and commerce which attained great importance under the Phoenicians, continued through the Augustan age of Rome. The Knights of Malta received large sums from a grateful Christendom for the advancement of Valetta, "a city erected by gentlemen for gentlemen” as they termed it. The modern town is built along and across a ridge of rock, its streets ending toward the harbor in flights of stairs, and bordered with flat-roofed houses, many of them with covered balconies projecting from the windows, giving to the place a strong element of the picturesque.
Miscellany—Except for the remains of Roma Quadrata, the Tullianum is probably the most ancient monument of the regal period. As its name implies, its first use was probably as a cistern, the word tullius signifying a spring of water. Later it was converted into a dungeon—the barathron of Plutarch and the Mamertine prison of the middle ages. Into its loathsome cells, through a hole in the stone floor above its only aperture, Jugurtha, the Catiline conspirators, and other political offenders were lowered, some to be strangled and some to be starved to death. It has been said that St. Peter and St. Paul here suffered imprisonment.
Among the most striking specimens of Cyclopean architecture are the walls of the town of Norba on a declivity overlooking the Pontine Marshes. The town was burned to the ground by Sulla, but the walls are almost intact as also is the principal gate. Etruscan remains are numerous, and among them may be mentioned a conical mound called the Cucumella, 650 feet in circumference, where in a central crypt walled in with massive masonry, whose secret has never been disclosed, lie the remains of the Lucuno and his kin. On the summit were found the bases of crumbling towers, and in the cuttings winged sphinxes, lions, and other animals from which a restoration of the mysterious vault was possible.
To Servius Tullius is ascribed the introduction of coined money, its shape and standard of value probably borrowed from that of the Etruscans. The most ancient coin was the as, formed of the compound metal called aes, which may have been either brass or bronze, and named the as libralis from its weight of one liber or pound. At first the coins were oblong and afterward round in shape, the latter being stamped on one side with the double head of Janus and on the other with the prow of a ship. After the exhaustion of the treasury caused by the first Punic war the weight was reduced to two ounces, and in the reign of Severus to less than one-fifth of an ounce. The silver denarius was worth about 16 cents, and 25 of these were equal to a gold denarius. The sesterce was equal to somewhat less than five cents, and the sestertium, which represented 1,000 sesterces was a sum and not a coin. In the time of Augustus, while precious metals circulated by side, only silver was used for coinage, gold being paid and taken by weight.
It is more than probable that in the second Punic war Hannibal used gunpowder or some other form of explosive. Certain it is that Alpine rocks could not be eaten away with vinegar, as is the common story, and it is difficult to account for the overturning of huge masses of rock on the Roman legions in the defile skirting Lake Thrasimene, except by the use of explosives.
Maecenas, the patron of Horace and one of the wealthiest citizens of the Augustan era, was the first to erect public baths at his own expense. To ingratiate themselves with the people many of the emperors, and especially Nero, Titus, Domitian, Caracalla, and Diocletian, constructed thermae of vast extent, containing not only baths and suites of bathing apartments, but gymnasia, theaters, and libraries. Among the various chambers were the apodyterium where the bathers stripped, the unctuarium where they were anointed, and the caledarium and frigidarium where were hot and cold baths with others used for steam and plunge baths and for dressing rooms. In the thermae of Diocletian it is said, were 3,200 marble seats, and in those of Caracalla 1,600, a hall in the former being converted into a church of spacious dimensions, while the latter were more than a mile in circuit. For young men there was a place for playing ball and a stadium resembling though on a smaller scale, the one in the Circus Maximus, while for philosophers and men of letters there were open colonnades where they might discuss the news or read aloud their productions. In the more pretentious structures the walls were covered with mosaics in imitation of pictorial art; the galleries were lined with stately columns and with the choicest of statuary; in the chambers were the masterpieces of Phidias and Praxiteles, and from the mouths of lions fashioned of polished silver, streams of water were poured into silver basins. "Such is the luxury of our times," remarks Seneca, "that we are not content if we do not tread on gems in our bathrooms.” Of Apicius, an epicure who lived in the time of Tiberius, it is related that when he found he had but $400,000 left, after spending $4,000,000 on the delicacies of his table, he straightway went forth and hanged himself lest he should not be able to gratify his appetite.
Bewailing the use of gold rings, and remarking that "the worst crime committed against mankind was by him who first put a ring on his finger," Pliny mentions that the earlier Romans wore only those which were made of brass, as a token of warlike prowess. Yet the statement that after the battle of Cannae Hannibal sent to Carthage three modii of golden rings shows that they were in common use during the second Punic war and probably not restricted to the knights. Before and during the empire plain gold rings gave place to such as were engraved with various devices and set with gems of brilliant luster, "loading the fingers with entire revenues,” as Pliny puts it.
Of Herodes Attic us, an Athenian citizen of the time of Nerva, when Greece was a Roman province, it is related that his father having discovered a vast amount of treasure buried beneath his house, he offered it to the emperor Nerva, to whom, according to law, it belonged as treasure trove.
But the monarch refused to accept it, or any part of it, bidding Herodos use it as he saw fit. Still the Athenian insisted, stating that it was too much for one who was merely his Subject, and that he knew not what use to make of it. "Abuse it then," said the emperor, "for it is your own." Most of it he devoted to public works and buildings, erecting in Athens a stadium of white marble 600 feet in length and large enough for the entire population of the city.
In Vespasian's temple of Peace were many of the choicest works of art, and from its site has been unearthed a large quantity of valuable antiquities. Here, says Dion Cassius, was the favorite meeting place for artists and men of letters, the temple containing a library with many rare and costly works.
To Antinous, page to the emperor Hadrian, for whose sake, it is said, he sacrificed his life, most extravagant honors were paid. Cities were named after him: temples and monuments were erected, and festivals held in his memory, while oracles delivered their responses in his name, and finally the youth was worshipped as a god. One good result of these absurdities was to impart a strong impulse to the sculptor's art in the effort to reproduce the deified page in idealized form. In the Capitol, the Vatican, the Louvre, and elsewhere are statues busts, and bas-reliefs, with innumerable medals stamped with his effigy.
To Pacificus, archdeacon of Verona during the ninth century, is ascribed the invention of clocks, though in nowise resembling those in modern use. Among other ancient clocks or horologia was that which the sultan of Egypt presented to Frederick II in 1232, in which the celestial bodies, impelled by wheel and weights, pointed to the hour of day or night. One made by the abbot of St. Alban's, England, is said to have shown such astronomical phenomena as could not be illustrated by mechanism elsewhere in the world.
The casa Polo was one of the most notable palaces in Venice after Mark's famous journey to the orient during the thirteenth century. On returning from his travels, he had many wonderful stories to tell so wonderful indeed that to relate what he saw and heard the word millions was repeatedly used; millions of diamonds, millions of ducats, millions of islands and kingdoms and kings. Hence the wits of Venice gave him the nickname of II Milione, and the place where his house stood was called the corte del Milioni; but some say the name was given because he was a millionaire Ramusio tells us that on the return of Marco Polo to Venice his friends and family would not receive him, until with a sharp knife he ripped open the seams and welts of his old clothes, out of which fell rubies, emeralds, and other jewels, into which he had converted all his wealth on taking leave of the great khan—then they believed him.
It is estimated that on an average about $100,000,000 are annually expended in Italy by travelers, the majority of whom are citizens of England or the United States. At present the only means of local travel are omnibuses and horse-cars; but a concession was recently granted for the building of an electric line from the post-office to the principal railroad station.
One of the first acts of King Humbert's reign was to pay a portion of his father's debts, and this he did from his own private fortune, of which he contributed nearly $4,000,000. Humbert is one of the most economical of monarchs, though economy is forced upon him by the impoverished condition of his people, abolishing more than 160 offices of court in a single year.
By Barrett Browning was established in Asolo, opposite the house in which his father sojourned, a lace school where girls are taught how to reproduce old patterns of Venetian lace.
The debt of the Italian kingdom amounts to $2,375,000, or nearly $80 per capita, an enormous burden for a country where farm and other laborers can barely earn enough to keep body and soul together, and in some of whose cities, as in Venice, more than one-fourth of the people are supported by charity. Taxes are extremely heavy, though somewhat reduced within recent years, the estimated revenue for 1894-1895 being $336,000,000, and the expenditure $357,000,000. The debt of Italy is about 50 per cent more and the expenditure only 20 per cent less than that of the United States, with twice her population and probably ten times bet wealth.
Italy has about 9,500 miles of railways, belonging mainly to the state, though in 1885 their working was transferred under a 60 years lease to private companies. The telegraph system, with some 25,000 miles in operation, is a government monopoly.
In case of war more than 3,000,000 troops could be mustered into service; but only 270,000 are included in the regular army, the remainder consisting of mobile and territorial militia and men on unlimited leave. The navy ranks third among those of European powers, with 16 battle or port defense ships, 61 cruisers, and 150 torpedo boats.