In the year 64 the capital of the Roman Empire was, it is true, a large and splendid city and an "epitome of the world," but it had not yet reached either its zenith of splendour or its maximum, of size. Many of the largest and most sumptuous structures of which we possess the records, and in most cases the ruins, were not yet built or even contemplated. There was no Colosseum; there were no Baths of Trajan, Caracalla, or Diocletian. The Column of Trajan, still soaring in the Foro Traiano, and of Marcus Aurelius, now so conspicuous in the Piazza Colonna, are of a later date. So also are the three great triumphal arches which are still standing--those of Titus, Severus, and Constantine. The Mausoleum of Hadrian, now stripped of its outward magnificence of marble and sculpture, and known as the Castle of Sant' Angelo, was not built for two generations. On the Palatine Hill the palaces of the Caesars were wide and lofty, but not more than half so spacious and imposing as they became by the end of the following century.
Down in the Forum there stood no Basilica of Constantine; the place of several later temples and shrines was occupied by edifices of less dignity; many columns and statues, and much ornament of gilt or marble, were still to come. Beside and beyond the two embellished public places which had been added to the public comfort and convenience by Julius Caesar and Augustus, and which were known respectively as the Julian and the Augustan Forum, lay only the houses of citizens or streets of shops. Up from the Forum towards the later Arch of Titus and the Colosseum, the "Upper Sacred Way" ran as but a narrow road between buildings for the most part of ordinary character, principally shops catering for luxury. It was later by two centuries and a half that this street was converted into a broad avenue forming a worthy approach to the "hub of the universe."
In the ruins which lie on the Palatine Hill, or along the valley of the Forum below, or up the Sacred Slope towards the Colosseum, or across where the streets wind round from the "Roman" Forum through the Forum of Trajan to the Corso, the modern visitor to the Eternal City does not behold simply the remnants of the temples, halls, squares, and arches which actually existed in the days of Nero. We must not say of these places that St. Paul trod the very paving-stones or gazed on the very walls which we now find in their worn and broken state. In a few cases it may be so; in most it is certainly otherwise. Either the building was not there, or what we now behold is part of a reconstruction or an enlargement. Fire, flood, earthquake and the wear and tear of time called for many a rebuilding or restoration. In the very year upon which we have fixed, there swept over all this part of the city perhaps the most disastrous fire that it ever experienced. Another only a little less destructive occurred in A.D. 283, and when we say that the remains of the glory of ancient Rome are still visible in the excavated Forum, we must recognise that the glory which they represent is the glory of the place as restored after that year.
This does not mean that the general plan and appearance were markedly different under Nero, nor that there was any lack of magnificence; it is only meant by way of caution against a frequent misconception.
If there was no Arch of Severus in the Forum, there was an Arch of Augustus, near the Temple of Castor, surmounted by his statue in the four-horsed chariot of the conqueror, and there was an Arch of Tiberius near the temple of Saturn. If to the north there was as yet no bridge or "castle" of Sant' Angelo to celebrate the dead Hadrian, there was, on the near side of the Tiber, not far from the modern Piazza del Popolo, a splendid Mausoleum of the deified Augustus and his family. In the chief Forum the Temples of Vesta, of Julius Caesar, of Castor, Saturn, and Concord existed under Nero in the same spots and in much the same style as they did through all the remainder of Roman history. Above them towered the Capitoline Hill, with its resplendent Temple of Jupiter on the one summit and its great shrine of Juno on the other. Beyond, in the "Field of Mars"--the site of the densest part of modern Rome--was an almost continuous cluster of public buildings and resorts, of theatres, temples--including the first form of that incomparable edifice, the Pantheon, the only building of ancient Rome which still remains practically whole--of baths, porticoes, and enclosed promenades.
[Illustration: FIG. 16.--SOME REMAINS OF THE CLAUDIAN AQUEDUCT.]
Away in the opposite direction stretched the Appian Way, and in the year 64 the beautiful tomb of Caecilia Metella, which is so familiar in picture, stood as perhaps the noblest among the multitude of patrician tombs. The Apostle Paul certainly passed close by it on his way from Puteoli. The aqueduct, of which so many arches still meet the eye as you cross the Campagna, was the work of Nero's predecessor, Claudius, and it still bears his name--the Aqua Claudia. Where now you go out of the gate to St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls there stood--more free and visible than now--that pyramid of Cestius, close to whose shadow lie the graves of the English Shelley and Keats. There was no gate at this spot in the days of Nero, for the great wall, of which so many portions--more or less restored--are still conspicuous, had no existence till a much later date, when the empire was already tottering to its fall, and when Aurelian was driven to recognise that the heart of the empire, after remaining secure for centuries, must at last look to be assailed. There was, it is true, an inner wall of ancient date (to be seen upon the plan) which had enclosed the "Seven Hills" before Rome was mistress of more than her own small environment. But the city had long ago overflowed this boundary, and the newer quarters lay as open to the country as do our own modern cities.
How far the suburbs stretched, or precisely how far Rome proper extended, in the days of Nero, is no easy matter to decide. We shall in all probability be near the mark if we accept the line of the later wall of Aurelian as practically the limit of what might be included in the "Metropolitan Area." The total circumference of the whole city would be about twelve English miles, a circuit which fell somewhat short of that of Alexandria and probably of Antioch, although in actual importance these cities took but the second and third rank respectively.
Some parts within this line were thickly inhabited, in some the houses must have been but sparse. Particularly along the upper slopes of the hills--of the Pincian, Quirinal, Esquiline, Caelian, and Aventine--were the spacious houses and gardens of the wealthy. The Palatine was almost, though not completely, monopolised by the emperors' palaces and sundry temples. The Campus Martius was mostly a region of public buildings and grounds for promenade and exercise, although some of the finest shops stood very close to where they stand to-day, in that Flaminian Way which is now called the Corso of Humbert. On one side below the Palatine Hill, space was taken up by the vast Circus or racing-ground; on the other lay the public places known as the Fora. It was left for the poorer inhabitants to crowd themselves into the valleys of the town, either between the Forum and the spurs of the several hills which trend towards the centre--up under Quirinal, Viminal, Esquiline, or Caelian--to the left behind the buildings as you now go from the bottom of the Forum to the Colosseum; or between the Forum and the Tiber in the low-lying ground called the Velabrum and there-abouts; or else across the river in that "Transtiberine" region which still bears the name of Trastevere.
If, therefore, it is asked what may have been the Population of Neronian Rome, it need cause no surprise if the number should appear comparatively small to one who is accustomed to our huge modern towns. Rome had never been a seat of manufactures. Its wealth and luxury came almost wholly from its empire, and it was emphatically a city for the rich and ruling classes. In Nero's day it was still growing, and even in its fullest times it is doubtful if the population ever exceeded or even reached a million and a quarter. Perhaps for the year 64 we may most safely put it down at about 750,000.
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Now suppose yourself to be standing at F in the recognised centre of Roman life, the "Roman Forum." Here, before we begin our rapid exploration of the city, it is well to clear our minds of one false notion which too commonly prevails. Think of any modern town you please, and remember that, whatever may be the accumulation of architectural magnificence around any given spot, the people of that town treat it all with familiarity and without any waste of sentiment. They will set up their shops or stalls wherever they are allowed; they will carry on their traffic and their amusements; they will saunter and sit on steps and misbehave without feeling oppressed by any appreciable awe of their surroundings. So was it, and even more so, in ancient Rome. The fact that there were shrines or public buildings on all sides did not prevent the Romans from loitering and loafing in the Forum, from sitting on the steps of a temple or a basilica, or leaning against its columns or statues, or playing at a sort of draughts or of backgammon on its marble platforms--the lines to put the "men" upon are here and there still visible upon the pavements--or even scratching a name or a drawing on a pillar. In certain parts the Forum was alive with the bustle of financial business and, doubtless under certain limitations, with the traffic of the pedlar. Curiosities were exhibited, the crier shouted his advertisements, and, in short, the place was almost as freely used for the vulgar purposes of ordinary life as for the dignified gatherings and ceremonies which to our minds appear so much more appropriate to it. Though we are not yet dealing with the social life of Rome, whether indoor or outdoor, it seems advisable to make this observation before proceeding.
[Illustration: FIG. 17.--THE ROSTRA: BACK VIEW. (Probable restoration for A.D. 64.)]
Let us now stand at F and look about us toward the Capitol, noting only the chief features of the scene. The reader would do well to consider the plan along with the frontispiece to this book. We are upon an open space paved with marble slabs, round which stand sundry honorary statues and various minor monuments into which we need not now enquire. Facing us, toward the far end, is a platform about 80 feet long and 11 feet in height, with marble facing. A trellis-work rail, or pierced screen, runs along it at either side, and also extends along the front for one-third of the distance from either end. The one-third in the middle of the front is open. This platform is approached by a flight of steps at the back, while in the sheer face are set as ornaments rows of bronze "beaks" or "rams" cut from ships captured in war. From these "beaks" the platform obtains its name--the Rostra. It is the platform for harangues delivered to the Roman people--the Roman citizens who are politely assumed to be the body politic--and the open space on the front is the position for the orator. It is from this stand that important announcements are made to the people at large. An emperor or his nominee may speak from it; a magistrate may deliver some pronouncement; a political exhortation may be uttered; in the case of a public funeral, or even of the private obsequies in some eminent family, an oration over the deceased may be spoken with that finished and animated elocution which the Romans so zealously cultivated, and which the Italians still affect with no little success. It is not indeed the same platform as was used by Cicero and the orators of the republic: this stood elsewhere, and doubtless the substance of public speaking had declined deplorably since that day. Nevertheless many a torrent of rich and sonorous Latin must have streamed over the Forum from that noble standing-place, and it must still have been worth while for a Roman to develop both his speaking voice and his oratorical art. Still further back, to the right behind the Rostra, there stands the Temple of Concord, where the Senate in older times gathered on more than one occasion to listen to Cicero, and where the emperors have formed practically a gallery of works of art; to the left is the Temple of Saturn, long used as the Roman Treasury, of which eight pillars still remain as perhaps the most conspicuous feature among the existing ruins. Another object in the background to the left, at the rear of the Rostra, will be a stone pillar coated with gilded bronze, upon which the first emperor, Augustus, inscribed the names of the great roads leading out from Rome into the length and breadth of the empire, with a list of the chief towns to which those roads would take you, and their distances. The name of this pillar is the "Golden Milestone." Behind these objects, running along the high face of the Capitoline Hill, are visible the arcades of the Record Office, of which the greater portion still exists, though stripped of its architectural graces and built over and about in more modern times, in the state represented in FIG. 18. Still higher on the summit to the left, with its gilded tiles glistening in the sun--at least they were gilded within the next few years--rises the most sacred structure of all, the building most closely identified in the Roman mind with the eternity of the empire. This is the splendid temple of Jove, Supreme and Most Benign. Of this edifice nothing considerable except its platform now remains, its site being occupied by an object of which the existence would have been inconceivable to the ancient Roman--to wit, the German Embassy. On the other summit, a fortified citadel to your right stands the temple of the consort of Jupiter. In this shrine she was known as Juno Moneta, and since, attached to her temple in this citadel, was the office of the Roman coinage, her name Moneta has become familiar to modern mouths in the form of "the Mint." If you seek the place of this temple now, you must look for it under the Church of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli.
[Illustration: FIG. 18.--RUINS OF FORUM.]
[Illustration: Photo, Anderson. (Record Office in background with modern building above.)]
Next, instead of looking up at the hill, glance to your left, and you will see running along that side of the Forum, beside the Sacred Way, a spacious public building known as the Basilica of Julius, that is to say, of Julius Caesar. It is an edifice of a type familiar in cities of the Roman world. You mount the steps from the Sacred Way and find yourself under an outer two-storied arcade suitable for lounging or promenading while discussing business or gossip with your friends. Passing from this inwards you are in a building which consists of a covered colonnade, or nave, about 270 feet in length, with a row of pillars on either hand. On each side is a gallery, or upper floor, from which spectators may look down upon the interior, or, from the outer side, upon the open Forum. At the far end is a recess with a raised tribunal, shut off, if necessary, by railings. In other basilicas there may be an apse at this point, similarly enclosed. This serves as a court of justice, round which the curious may stand, or upon which listening spectators may gaze from the ends of the galleries above. Meanwhile up and down the open space of the nave all kinds of verbal business may be transacted by appointment, exactly as such business used to be carried on in old St. Paul's Cathedral in London or in churches elsewhere. In what may be called the inner side-aisle are situated offices of various kinds, including those of sundry public corporations, boards, or commissions. The whole of this great hall is paved with coloured marbles; its pillars are coated with marble; its ceiling is adorned with painting and gilt; it is embellished with statues; and it is lighted from above by a clerestory. Though the question has been debated, it is almost certain that it was mainly from buildings like this, or from rooms similarly constructed in palatial houses, that the early Church developed its basilicas--with their nave, aisles, and clerestory, and with their railed apse at the end, where was placed the chair of the bishop on its dais. Across the Forum on the opposite side, to your right, lies another structure of the same kind, in artistic respects more excellent. In this, the Basilica Aemilia, the chief business was that of the bankers and money-changers, although it served various other purposes according to convenience.
If you could see round the farther end of this basilica to the right, you would perceive the beginning of one of the busiest streets in Rome--the Argiletum--chiefly known to fame as a favourite quarter of the booksellers, who fasten on their door-posts, or on the pillars which support a balcony or upper floor, the lists of the newest or most popular publications to be bought within. And where that street enters the Forum, though standing back a little from your line of vision--perhaps you can catch sight of the top of it over the corner of the Basilica--is the temple-like Senate-House with its offices. Here is the meeting-place of the six hundred who nominally govern jointly with the emperor. If you visit Rome to-day you will find the greater part of the actual chamber, though miserably despoiled, bearing the name of the church of S. Adriano.
[Illustration: FIG. 19.--N.E. OF FORUM, A.D. 64. (Complementary to frontispiece.)
The little building, half arch, half shrine, which you observe standing free where the roads converge upon the Forum, is the famous sanctuary of Janus, of which the doors are never shut unless there is complete peace throughout the Roman world. So long as Rome is anywhere engaged in a great or little war, the open doors of Janus tell the fact to a people which might otherwise be unconscious of so slight or remote a circumstance.
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[Illustration: FIG. 20.--TEMPLE OF FORTUNA AUGUSTA. (Pompeii.)]
We need not describe in detail the temple of Castor, or rather of the "Twin Brethren," which stands immediately to your left, or that of the deified Julius Caesar, which is just behind you, on the spot where the body of the great dictator was burned. It is perhaps more interesting to note the ordinary--though not by any means the only--form of the Roman temple in general. Those who have seen the so-called Maison Carrée at Nimes will possess a fair notion of the commonest or most typical shape and arrangement. For the most part we have a rather lofty platform, mounted from one end by steps, which are flanked by walls or balustrades, often bearing at their extremities equestrian statues or other appropriate figures. Upon the platform stands the temple proper, consisting of a chamber containing the statue of the god. Where more than one deity are combined in the same temple--as in that of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill, where the supreme deity has Juno and Minerva to left and right of him--there may either be as many separate chambers or as many chapel-like bays as there are deities. The altar for sacrifice stands outside opposite the entrance, being placed either upon the top of the main platform or more commonly on a minor platform of its own in the middle of the steps. In most cases the chamber stands back behind a row, in some instances two rows, of columns, which support the characteristic entablature seen in the illustrations. In the case of the more grandiose temples a series of columns may run all round the building, carrying an extension of the roof, under which is thus formed a covered colonnade. More commonly the sides and back of the chamber have only what are known as "engaged" columns, as it were half-embedded in the wall. The roof is gabled and tiled, with ornaments along the eaves. The front has an embellished entablature, with its triangle of masonry called the "pediment," consisting of a cornice overhanging a sunken surface decorated with a sculptured group. Over each angle, right, left, and summit, is a base of stone supporting some conspicuous ornament, such as a statue, an eagle, or a figure in a chariot. In the middle of the front of the building, behind the columns of the portico, are double doors, commonly made of decorated bronze, with an open grating of the same metal above them. The whole is outwardly of marble, either all white or with colour in the pillars, but the core of at least the platform is commonly made of the immensely strong Roman concrete, or else of blocks of the less beautiful and costly kinds of stone.
In point of architectural style the Romans of this date--who in artistic matters were but imitators of the Greeks and far less certain in taste than their masters--affected the Corinthian, as being the most florid. Even this they could not leave in its native purity, but for the most part converted it into Graeco-Roman or composite varieties. A prime fault of the Roman taste was then, as it has always been, a love of gorgeousness, of excessive and obtrusive ornament. In almost any Roman church of to-day we find the walls and pillars stuck about with figures, slabs, and so-called decorations to such an extent that the finer lines and proportions are often ruined, The ancient Roman likewise was commonly under the impression that the more decoration you added, the more magnificent was the building. There were doubtless many buildings in simpler and purer taste, probably executed by Greek artists under the authority of some Roman who happened to possess a finer judgment or less self-assertiveness. Nevertheless the fault of over-elaboration is distinctly Roman.
[Illustration: FIG. 21.--SO-CALLED TEMPLE OF THE SIBYL AT TIVOLI.]
We must not omit to say that, besides temples of this typical rectangular form, there were others of a round shape, encircled by columns, like that graceful structure at Tivoli commonly, though mistakenly, known as the temple of the Sibyl, and that small building which still exists in an impoverished condition near the Tiber, and which used to bear the erroneous title of the temple of Vesta. Others again were simply round and domed, like the true temple of Vesta in the Forum, or the superb and impressive Pantheon in the Campus Martius. So far as the bare round was broken in these cases, it was either by a pillared portico, as with the Pantheon, or by engaged columns and ornament, as with the true temple of Vesta.
The mention of the temple of Vesta reminds us that it is time to face about, and, passing behind the temple of Julius, to look in the opposite direction, from V. Before us lies this circular shrine, a form gradually developed from the primitive round hut which once served as house to the prehistoric ancestors of the Roman stock. As it was the duty of the maiden daughters of that ancient tribe to keep alight the fire upon the domestic hearth, so through all the history of Rome it was the duty of certain chosen virgins to keep perpetually burning the hearth-fire of the city. The roof of the temple is open in the middle, and you may perhaps see the smoke issuing from it. But if you are a male, you may not enter. No man, except the chief Pontifex, may set foot inside the shrine of the virgin goddess, who is attended by virgin priestesses. Close behind the temple stands the house of these Vestals. They are in a large measure the ancient prototype of the modern nun, and their house is the prototype of the convent. Six nobly-born young women, sworn to chastity, and dressed in a ritual garb, live in an edifice of much magnificence under the rule of one who is the chief Vestal, a sort of Mother Superior. Many pedestals of the statues of such chief priestesses still remain, and we can clearly trace the arrangement of their abode, with its open court--once containing a garden and cool cisterns of pure water--its separate room for each Vestal, its baths, and its resources of considerable comfort and even luxury.
[Illustration: FIG. 22.--VESTAL VIRGIN]
If, as you face this way, you look up to your right, you will perceive the Palatine Hill rising steeply above you, with its summit crowned by the lofty palaces and gardens constructed by the Caesars. At the side and corner which look down upon the Forum stands the part built by Caligula, the epileptic who thought himself no less than a god, and who in consequence not only turned the temple of Castor into a lower vestibule to his own house, but also built a bridge across the valley over the temple of Augustus and the Basilica of Julius to the Capitoline Hill, so that he might visit and converse with Jupiter, his only compeer. From the top of the Basilica he occasionally threw money into the Forum to be scrambled for by people who crushed each other to death in the process. It would require too much space if we climbed the sloping road which leads on to the Palatine and examined the various structures upon that hill. As we now see it in its ruins it is perhaps the most mysteriously impressive place in the world. But many alterations and enlargements of the palaces were made after the date of Nero, and we cannot now be sure of the precise aspect of the hill-top in his day. Suffice it that, overlooking the Forum, overlooking the Velabrum Valley which leads from the Forum to the Tiber, and overlooking the middle of the valley where the vast Circus or race-ground separated the imperial hill from the Aventine, there were portions of the huge imperial abodes, rising in several stories gleaming with marble, and enjoying the purest air and the widest views obtainable within the city. Nero himself, it is true, was not content with such mere human housing. After the great fire of this year 64, he proceeded to make for himself what he called "a home fit for a man," and so built--though he never finished--that famous or infamous "Golden House," which ran from the Palatine all across the upper Sacred Way and the hollow now occupied by the Colosseum far on to the opposite hills--a house of countless chambers, with three miles of colonnade, enclosed gardens large enough to be called a park, and a statue of himself 120 feet in height. The epigram went that the people of Rome must migrate, inasmuch as what had once been a city was now but a private house. This, however, had not yet occurred, and we have rather to think of palaces and gardens rich indeed, but by no means occupying the whole of the Palatine Hill alone. There were, of course, numerous buildings more or less connected with the imperial establishment, among them being quarters for the officers and soldiers of the guard. There were also a number of temples, one of which, the magnificent shrine of Apollo, the god of light and learning, stood in a court marvellously enriched with sculptured masterpieces, while connected with it were libraries filled with Greek and Latin books and adorned with the busts and medallion-portraits or statues of great authors.
If we proceeded now to walk up the Sacred Way, along the narrow street edged by jewellers' and other shops, we should meet as yet with no Arch of Titus, nor in descending beyond should we see any Colosseum, but only a block of ordinary dwellings, to be swept away later in this year by the fire which made room here for the ornamental waters of Nero's Golden House. Turning to the right along the valley between the Palatine and Caelian Hills, we should not have to pass under any Arch of Constantine; but, after glancing up to the left at the great unfinished temple of Claudius and going under the Claudian aqueduct which carries water to the Palatine, we should proceed between private houses and gardens till we reached a famous gate in the ancient wall and found ourselves on that noted Appian Way, which would take us to Capua and thence over the Apennines to Brindisi and the East. Just outside the gate we should find the livery-stables, with their vehicles and horses or mules waiting to be hired for the stage which would carry us as far as the slope on the southern edge of the Alban Hills.
But we will not proceed in this direction. From our stand at V in front of the temple of Vesta we will turn back, walk over the Forum to the right of the Rostra, between the sanctuary of Janus and the front of the Senate-House. Thence we will cross an enclosed forum, or public place, erected by Julius Caesar, with its temple of "Venus the Mother" in the middle, and so enter the Forum of Augustus. This is worth a pause. As you pass to-day up the narrow Via Bonella and perceive near the Pantani Arch a few imposing columns and a patch of rather depressing bare wall, it requires much effort to realise that here was once a noble space enclosed by marble-covered walls 100 feet in height, and that those walls contained in a series of niches a gallery of statues of all the military heroes and patriots of Roman history from Aeneas downwards. Meanwhile the few columns at your side are the sole survivors of the number which surrounded the splendid temple of Mars the Avenger, the shrine which was identified in imperial times with the military power of Rome, and which received the standards captured from the enemy, just as captured flags are to be seen in many a modern church.
Leaving this Forum, we will not bear to the right to find ourselves amid the dense population of the Subura and its neighbourhood, but we will turn to the left and pass between the Capitoline and Quirinal Hills, which then met more steeply and closely than they did fifty years later, when Trajan had cut away the rising ground and levelled an open space which must have been an incalculable advantage to the convenience of the city. It is perhaps well to observe here that the piling up of fallen ruins and the deliberate levellings and gradings, both in ancient and modern times, have greatly altered the appearance of the often-mentioned hills of Rome, especially of the Quirinal, Viminal, and Esquiline.
[Illustration: FIG. 23.--TEMPLE OP MARS THE AVENGER IN FORUM OF AUGUSTUS. (After Ripostelli.)]
Emerging from this too narrow passage-way and proceeding a short distance, we enter that straight Flaminian Road which has been replaced by the modern Corso beginning at the Piazza Venezia. For the first part of its course it was also known as "Broadway." We are now in that more open part of Rome which lies outside the ancient wall, and which is commonly spoken of loosely as the Campus Martius. Here again, it is impossible to inspect all the various sights visible in the year 64. A few examples must suffice. As you walk along this straight thorough-fare--the commencement of the road which would eventually carry you to the North of Italy--you will find but few buildings of any note on your right. Lying to your left is a long and wide cloistered space which contains not only certain public offices and a pillared promenade, but also the richest shops in Rome, where are sold gold and silver work, objects of art, tapestries, and fine fabrics from Alexandria, Syria, and farther East. The place is, in fact, mainly a huge bazaar. Up the Flaminian Way beyond this enclosure we go under a triumphal arch erected by the late Emperor Claudius to record his conquest of Britain, where he subdued "eleven kings" without Roman loss. Keeping straight on we pass, this time on our right, another large enclosure surrounded by arcades, where is now the east side of the Piazza Colonna. In and about this locality are carried on not only promenades and saunterings but also various athletic exercises, including feats of horsemanship. Farther on still, and you will see to your left the Mausoleum of Augustus, rising some 220 feet into the air. Its base, coated with sculptured marble, contains one grand sepulchral chamber for Augustus himself, and fourteen smaller chambers for members of his family. Above this base towers a conical mound of earth planted with evergreen trees, and on the summit is a colossal statue of the first emperor. Close by is a paved space, where the bodies of the Caesars are cremated before their ashes are placed in the Mausoleum. From this spot a ready faith saw their immortal part carried up to heaven by the eagle, messenger of Jove.
Turning back and passing across the Campus we arrive at the public baths erected by Nero, and then at the Pantheon. This building, though shorn of many of its decorative splendours both within and without, still stands structurally intact, at least as it was restored and enlarged two generations later than our date. It is scarcely possible to say how far its shape was altered at its restoration under Hadrian, but we may provisionally treat the edifice as already belonging to our period. It is still, after all these centuries, an entirely noble pile, and forms a fit receptacle for the tomb, not only of Victor Emanuel, but of Raphael. Its form is that of a rotunda, with walls of concrete 20 feet in thickness and with a dome of concrete cast in a solid mass. The middle of the dome is open to the sky, and by that means the building is lighted in a manner most perfectly suited to it. Could we behold it fully restored and at its best, we should see above its portico, which is supported by huge marble pillars each made of a single stone, large bronze reliefs of gods and giants. To one side of the doors would be a colossal statue of Augustus; on the other a colossal statue of the builder Agrippa, the son-in-law of that emperor. Inside there is a series of niches for colossal effigies of Mars, Venus, and other deities connected with the Julian family. The marble pillars dividing the niches have capitals of fine bronze, and the coffered ceiling of the dome, now bare and colourless, shines with gilt on blue, like the sky lit up with stars. The doors, which have mysteriously remained entire, are also of noble bronze; the roof consists of tiles of bronze thinly plated with gold. The gold has naturally vanished, after passing into Saracen hands; of the bronze nearly half a million pounds weight has been stripped from the building, some to make cannon for the defence of the Castle of St. Angelo, some to form the twisted columns which now support the giant baldacchino under St. Peter's dome.
At a short distance behind this magnificent temple Agrippa--who was in charge of the aqueducts and water-supply--had also built the first great public baths. It would probably be incorrect to found any detailed description of them upon what we know of the stupendous structures of Caracalla and Diocletian, which were perhaps the most amazing exhibitions of public luxury ever seen in the world. Of these we know how huge and splendid were the halls, with their coloured marbles, their mosaic floors, their colossal masterpieces of statuary, their elaborate arrangements of baths--cold, tepid, hot and dry-sweating--their conversation-rooms and reading-rooms. But we cannot pretend to say how far the Agrippan and Neronian baths of the year 64 corresponded in magnificence to these. We shall be safer in simply assuming that, since the baths of Pompeii were in full swing in the year in question, Home must have possessed establishments of a similar kind but on a larger and more sumptuous scale.
[Illustration: FIG. 24.--EXTERIOR OP THEATRE OF MARCELLUS. (Present state.)]
Leaving without further mention the various temples of Minerva, Isis, Serapis, and other deities which might be found about the Campus Martius, we note an undistinguished stone amphitheatre, the only resort of the kind as yet possessed by the metropolis. In this were exhibited the sanguinary combats of gladiators with each other, and the fights with wild beasts performed by trained professionals or by criminals selling their lives as dearly as possible. Of these "sports" we have to treat in a later chapter. Coming nearer to the Tiber, while returning towards the city proper, we pass in succession the three great theatres, lofty semicircular constructions of stone and concrete faced with marble, one computed to hold 40,000 spectators, but probably accommodating not more than 25,000, and the others some 20,000 and 12,000 respectively. In these matters we must allow both for Roman exaggeration and Roman close-packing. The theatres rise in three stories, of which the outward sides consist of open arcades adorned with pillars in varied styles, while round their bases are shops for the sale of sweetmeats, beverages, perfumes, and other articles which the theatre-goer or the loitering public may require. What a theatrical Performance was like is a matter belonging to the question of spectacles and amusements. At the back of the largest theatre--that of Pompey--lies a large square surrounded by colonnades of a hundred pillars, where sycamores form avenues and fountains play, while statues of finished workmanship stand where they produce the best effect. Particularly grateful to the Roman lounger were the seats in the large semi-circular bays, so placed as to offer full protection from too hot a sun or too cold a wind.
[Illustration: FIG. 25.--THEATRE OF MARCELLUS. (Restored.)]
[Illustration: FIG. 27.--CIRCUS MAXIMUS (restored); Imperial Palaces on Palatine to left.]
By the time that we have passed the last theatre of the three we have arrived at the river end of the low valley leading into the Forum between the Capitoline Hill and the Palatine, a place which had once been a cattle-market but had now become an open place surrounded by dwellings of the humbler sort. It still, however, bore the name of "Cattle-Market." If from this point we followed the river bank, we should come to the wharves, to which the smaller ships bring up the Tiber the freights of grain transhipped from the larger vessels from Alexandria or Carthage, or of marble from the quarries of Numidia, Greece, and Phrygia, or of granite and porphyry from Upper Egypt. All along this bank are the offices and storehouses of such cargoes, and here too is performed much of the shaping of those blocks which Rome is using in such astonishing profusion. Along the river by the stone embankment the ships are moored, with their cables passed through huge stone corbels or sculptured lions' mouths. No busier part of Rome could be found than this, but we have no time to proceed further in this direction.
In front of us rises the Aventine Hill, another quarter of the wealthy, but otherwise chiefly distinguished by its temples of Juno the Queen and of Diana. Turning our eyes from the Aventine to the left we see lying in the valley between Aventine and Palatine--where now are the Jewish Cemetery and the grimy Gasworks--the vast Circus Maximus or Hippodrome. This structure, devoted chiefly to chariot-racing, is some 700 yards in length and 135 in width, and will at a pinch hold nearly a quarter of a million spectators. In all probability it would seat 150,000. It consists, as the illustration will show, of long tiers of seats sweeping down the sides and round the curved end of an oblong space. As with the theatres, its outside view presents three tiers of marble arches, and through the lowest tier are numerous staircases leading to the various sections of the seats within. Those seats themselves are laid upon large vaults of concrete; the lower rows are of marble, the upper ones are as yet of wood. How the chariot-races were run, and what is meant by the "sports of the circus," will naturally require a separate narration.
Coming back from the entrance of this mammoth place of amusement and turning up the Velabrum Valley, we pass by a temple of Augustus, to which is attached a public library, and issue by the temple of Castor into the Forum to our first standing-point at F.
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