Project Gutenberg's Ruins of Ancient Cities (Vol. II of II), by Charles Bucke

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Title: Ruins of Ancient Cities (Vol. II of II)
       With General and Particular Accounts of Their Rise, Fall,
              and Present Condition

Author: Charles Bucke

Release Date: December 16, 2013 [EBook #44449]

Language: English

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Fallen, fallen, a silent heap; their heroes all
Sunk in their urns:—Behold the pride of pomp,
The throne of nations fallen; obscured in dust
Even yet majestical.—The solemn scene
Elates the soul!




[Pg vii]


[Pg viii]XXIII. SAIS308

[Pg 1]



Pausanias1 appears to have had great interest in the history of the Messenians; for his history of their wars is more minute and animated than any other part of his narrative. His account of the city gives us a grand idea of what it must once have been; and the present splendid remains produce a conviction of his veracity.

The walls of Messene2, built of hewn stone, crowned with battlements, and flanked with towers, were stronger and higher than those of Byzantium, Rhodes, and the other cities of Greece. They included within their circuit Mount Ithome. It had a large public square or forum, ornamented with temples, statues, and a splendid fountain. Beautiful edifices were on every side.

The Messenians had several wars with the Lacedæmonians; and at one time were so unfortunate as to be reduced to the condition of the Helots. They were at length, however, reinstated by the Thebans, who took their city from the Spartans, who had possessed it a long time, after having expelled all [Pg 2]its inhabitants. Those who were dispersed in different regions of Greece, Italy, and Sicily, on the first notice given them, returned with incredible joy: animated by the love of their country, natural to all men, and almost as much by their hatred of the Spartans, which length of time had only increased. They built themselves a city, which, from the ancient name, was called Messene.

After their return they fell out with the Achaians, and having worsted their celebrated general, Philopœmen, they had the meanness and atrocity to put him to death. His history is thus related by Rollin:—

“Dinocrates, the Messenian, had drawn off Messene from the Achaian league; and was meditating how he might best seize upon a considerable post near that city. Philopœmen, then seventy years of age, and generalissimo of the Achaians for the eighth time, lay sick. However, the instant the news of this was brought him, he set out, notwithstanding his indisposition, made a counter-march, and advanced towards Messene with a small body of forces. Dinocrates, who had marched out against him, was soon put to flight; but five hundred troopers, who guarded the open country of Messene, happening to come up and reinforce him, he faced about and routed Philopœmen. This general, who was solicitous of nothing but to save the gallant youths who had followed him in this expedition, performed the most extraordinary acts of bravery; but happening to fall from his horse, and receiving a deep wound in the head, he was taken prisoner by the enemy, who carried him to Messene.

“Upon the arrival of the news that Philopœmen was taken prisoner, and on his way to the city, the Messenians ran to the gates; not being able to persuade themselves of the truth of what they heard, [Pg 3] till they saw him themselves; so greatly improbable did this relation appear to them. To satisfy the violent curiosity of the inhabitants, many of whom had not yet been able to get a sight of him, they were forced to show the illustrious prisoner on the theatre. When they beheld Philopœmen, dragged along in chains, most of the spectators were so moved to compassion, that the tears trickled from their eyes. There even was heard a murmur among the people, which resulted from humanity, and a very laudable gratitude; “That the Messenians ought to call to mind the great services done by Philopœmen, and his preserving the liberty of Achaia, by the defeat of Nabis the tyrant.” But the magistrates did not suffer him to be long exhibited in this manner, lest the pity of the people should be attended with ill consequences. They therefore took him away on a sudden; and, after consulting together, caused him to be conveyed to a place called the Treasury. This was a subterraneous place, whither neither light nor air entered from without, and had no door to it, but was shut with a huge stone that was rolled over the entrance of it. In this dungeon they imprisoned Philopœmen, and posted a guard round every part of it.

“As soon as it was night, and all the people were withdrawn, Dinocrates caused the stone to be rolled away, and the executioner to descend into the dungeon with a dose of poison to Philopœmen, commanding him not to stir till he had swallowed it. The moment the illustrious Megalopolitan perceived the first glimmerings of light, and saw the man advance towards him, with a lamp in one hand and a sword in the other, he raised himself with the utmost difficulty, for he was very weak, sat down, and then taking the cup, he inquired of the executioner, whether he could tell what was become of the young Megalopolitans his followers, particularly Lycortas? [Pg 4] The executioner answering, that he heard almost all had saved themselves by flight, Philopœmen thanked him by a nod, and looking kindly on him,—“You bring me,” says he, “good news; and I find we are not entirely unfortunate;” after which, without breathing the least complaint, he swallowed the deadly dose, and laid himself again on his cloak. The poison was very speedy in its effects; for Philopœmen, being extremely weak and feeble, expired in a moment.

“When the news of his death spread among the Achaians, all their cities were inexpressibly afflicted. Immediately all their young men who were of age to bear arms, and all their magistrates, came to Megalopolis. Here a grand council being summoned, it was unanimously resolved not to delay a moment the revenge of so horrid a deed; and, accordingly, having elected on the spot Lycortas for their general, they advanced with the utmost fury into Messene, and filled every part of it with blood and slaughter. The Messenians having now no refuge left, and being unable to defend themselves by force of arms, sent a deputation to the Achaians, to desire that an end might be put to the war, and to beg pardon for their past faults. Lycortas, moved at their intreaties, did not think it advisable to treat them as their furious and insolent revolt seemed to deserve. He told them that there was no other way for them to expect a peace, but by delivering up the authors of the revolt, and of the death of Philopœmen; to submit all their affairs to the disposal of the Achaians, and to receive a garrison into their citadel. These conditions were accepted, and executed immediately. Dinocrates, to prevent the ignominy of dying by an executioner, laid violent hands on himself, in which he was imitated by all those who had advised the putting Philopœmen to death.”

[Pg 5]

A mere village3 now occupies the site of Messene, and this is situated on its ruins, about three quarters of a mile from the great gate, which, of its kind, is the most magnificent ruin in Greece.

A circular wall, composed of large regular blocks, incloses an area of sixty-two feet diameter. In this wall are two gates, one facing Cyparissaii, and the other looking towards Laconia. The architraves have fallen; but that which belonged to the Laconian gate remains entire, with one end on the ground, and the other leaning against the wall.

There are the remains, also, of a stadium, and of a theatre, one of the smallest in Greece. Several other traces, masses of fine walls, and heaps of stones, that are scattered about the place, are overgrown or nearly concealed by large trees and luxuriant shrubs4.


This city was the capital of Agamemnon, who was the commander-in-chief of the assembled Greeks, before the walls of Troy. This event took place, B. C. 1184; and the present ruins are supposed to be the ruins of the city before that event.

Perseus translated the seat of his kingdom from Argos to Mycenæ. The kings who reigned at Mycenæ, after Perseus, were Erectryon, Sthenelus, and Eurystheus. The last, after the death of Hercules, declared open war against his descendants, apprehending they might some time or other attempt to dethrone him; which, as it happened, was done by the Heraclidæ; for, having killed Eurystheus in battle, they entered victorious into Peloponnesus; and made themselves masters of the country. But a plague obliged them to quit the country. Three [Pg 6]years after this, being deceived by the ambiguous expression of the oracle, they made a second attempt, which likewise proved fruitless. This was about twenty years before the taking of Troy.

Atreus, the son of Pelops, uncle by the mother’s side to Eurystheus, was the latter’s successor. And in this manner the crown came to the descendants of Pelops, from whom Peloponnesus, which before was called Apia, derived its name. The bloody hatred of the two brothers, Atreus and Thyestes, is known to all the world.

Plisthenes, the son of Atreus, succeeded his father in the kingdom of Mycenæ, which he left to his son Agamemnon, who was succeeded by his son Orestes.

The kingdom of Mycenæ was filled with enormous and horrible crimes, from the time it came into the family of Pelops.

Tisamenes and Penthilus, sons of Orestes, reigned after their father, and were at last driven out by the Heraclidæ.

The length of the Acropolis of Mycenæ, is about four hundred yards,5 and its breadth about two hundred. The whole circuit of this citadel can still be made out; and, in some places, the walls remain to the height of fifteen or twenty feet. They are constructed of huge stones, and belong to that style of building commonly called Cyclopean. This description of wall building is recognised by its massy materials, and by a certain style of rudeness; in which, however, different epochs are easily distinguished. The oldest part of the walls of Mycenæ, resembles the Cyclopean walls of Tiryns, a place to the south, about seven miles distant, which are apparently nothing more than huge masses of unwrought stone, placed one above another, with the interstices filled up by smaller materials.

[Pg 7]

The citadel of Mycenæ is of an irregular oblong form, and is now chiefly an object of curiosity for the gate, or great entrance, to the north and west angle. The approach to this gate is by a passage of fifty feet long, and thirty wide, formed by two parallel and projecting walls, which was a part of the fortification, and were obviously designed to command the entrance, and annoy any enemy who might venture to attack the place. The door is formed of three stones, two upright, and a cross-stone, forming a soffit. This last is fifteen feet long, four wide, and six feet seven inches thick in the middle, but diminishes towards each end. On this stone stands another of a triangular shape, which is twelve feet long, ten high, and two thick. Two lions are cut in relief on the face of this stone, standing on their hind legs, on opposite sides of a round pillar, on which their forepaws rest.

The kingdom of the Argives6 was divided into two portions, by Acrisius and his brother Prœtus. Argos and Mycenæ were their capitals. These, as belonging to the same family, and distant only about six miles and a quarter from each other, had one tutelary deity, Juno; and were, jointly, proprietors of her temple, the Heræum. This renowned temple was adorned with curious sculpture, and numerous statues. The image was very large, made by Polycletus, of gold and ivory, sitting on a throne. Among the offerings was a shield, taken by Menelaus, from Euphorbus, at Ilium; an altar of silver, on which the marriage of Hebe with Hercules was represented; a golden crown and purple robe, given by Nero; and a peacock of gold, set with precious stones, dedicated by Hadrian.

Near it were the remains of a more ancient temple, [Pg 8] which had been burned; a taper setting some garlands on fire, while the priestess was sleeping.

The cause of the destruction of Mycenæ is said to have been this:—Eighty of its heroes accompanied the Spartans to the defile of Thermopylæ, and shared with them the glory of their immortal deed. This is said so to have excited the jealousy of their sister city, Argos, that it was never afterwards forgiven. The Argives, stung by the recollection of the opportunity they had thus lost of signalising themselves, and unable to endure the superior fame of their neighbours, made war against Mycenæ, and destroyed it. This event happened about five centuries before Christ. We cannot, however, believe that the Argives, who were an exceedingly mild and benevolent people, could have done such an act of atrocity as this.

Strabo could not imagine where Mycenæ could have stood. He says, that not a single vestige remained. Pausanias, however, who lived at a much later period, found its colossal ruins, and described them as they are seen at this very day.

“It is not,” says Dr. Clarke, “merely the circumstance of seeing the architecture and the sculpture of the heroic ages, which renders a view of Mycenæ one of the highest gratifications a literary traveller can experience; the consideration of its remaining at this time, exactly as Pausanias saw it in the second century, and in such a state of preservation, that an alto-relievo, described by him, yet exists in the identical position he has assigned for it, adds greatly to the interest excited by these remarkable ruins: indeed, so singularly does the whole scene correspond with his account of the place, that, in comparing them together, it might be supposed, a single hour had not elapsed since he was himself upon the spot.”

[Pg 9]

Everything7 conspires to render these ruins pre-eminently interesting; whether we consider their venerable age, the allusions made to them in such distant periods, when they were visited by Sophocles, Euripides and other poets and historians of Greece, as the classical antiquities of their country; or the indisputable examples they afford of the architecture, sculpture, mythology and customs of the heroic ages.

The walls consist of huge unhewn masses of stone, so fitted and adapted to each other, as to have given rise to an opinion, that the power of man was inadequate to the labour necessary in building them.

One of the first things that is noticed is a tumulus of an immense size. This has been opened, and the entrance is no longer concealed. This sepulchre has been erroneously called the “treasury of Atreus;” and the “monument of Agamemnon.” “That this sepulchre,” says Clarke, “could not have been the treasury of Atreus, is evident from Pausanias‘s description, because it was without the walls of the Acropolis; and that it cannot be the monument of Agamemnon, because it was within the citadel.”

In regard to the tomb of Agamemnon, the following account has been given by Mr. Turner: “I entered by a subterraneous passage, opened by Lord Elgin, and was surprised to find myself in an immense dome, about ninety feet high, and fifty round the bottom. It had two doors, one into the open air, and another into an interior chamber, which was thoroughly dark, and, I was told, very small. It was built of immense stones, and was in excellent preservation. The tomb being subterraneous, there are no traces above-ground, and you might walk over it for years, without suspecting that you were walking over so interesting a ruin.”

The other antiquities must remain for the more [Pg 10]attentive examination of future travellers; who, as it is hoped, will visit the ruins provided with the necessary implements for making researches, where, with the slightest precaution, they will be little liable8 to interruption, the place being as destitute of inhabitants, and almost as little known, as it was in the time of Strabo; when it was believed that not a vestige could be found9.


This celebrated city was the capital of Ionia, situated, in the time of Pausanias, ten stadia from the mouth of the Meander; but that river accumulated its deposit, afterwards, so closely, that the town was removed, in process of time, more than three miles within the land. Of its origin there are two accounts: some ascribing it to a colony from Crete, under the conduct of Miletus; some to Sarpedon; and others to Neleus, the son of Codrus, king of Athens, who died there, and whose tomb was in existence for many ages.

“Alyattes, king of Sardis, made war upon the Milesians in the following manner,” says Herodotus. “As the time of harvest approached, he marched an army into their country to the sound of the pastoral pipe, harp, and flutes, played upon by women as well as men. On his arrival in their territories, he neither hunted, nor in any respect injured their edifices, which stood in the fields; but he totally destroyed the produce of their lands, and then returned. As the Milesians were securely situated near the sea, all attacks upon their city would probably have proved ineffectual. His motive for not destroying their buildings was, that they might be induced again to cultivate their lands, and that on every repetition of his excursions, he might be secure of plunder.”

[Pg 11]

In this manner the war was protracted during a period of eleven years; the Milesians receiving no succour from any of their neighbours, except the natives of Chios. In the twelfth year of the war the enemy again set fire to the corn, and a sudden wind springing up, the flames caught the temple of Minerva and burnt it to the ground. Alyattes, supposing that the Milesians must be destitute of corn from these repeated conflagrations, sent word that an ambassador would be at Miletus to make a truce, until he had rebuilt the temple. When Thrasybulus, king of Miletus, heard this, he directed all the corn that could be in any way collected, to be brought into the public market-place; and at an appointed time ordered the Milesians to commence a scene of feasting and dances. When Alyattes heard of this festivity, convinced that he had been mistaken as to the hope of starving the Milesians out, he not only immediately offered peace, but entered into a strict alliance with them, and forthwith erected two temples to Minerva instead of one.

The Ionians having been drawn into revolt through the intrigues and ambitious views of two persons, Aristagoras and Hysteius, the Persians, having routed the Ionians, laid siege to Miletus, both by sea and land. They not only undermined the walls, but applied every species of military machines against it. The oracle had declared:—

And thou, Miletus, versed in ill too long, Shalt be the prey and plunder of the strong: Your wives shall stoop to wash a long-hair’d train, And others guard our Didymæan fane.

This prophecy was fulfilled. The city was taken and utterly destroyed. The greater part of the Milesians were slain by the Persians, who at that time wore long hair; and their wives and children were carried into slavery. Those who survived, were[Pg 12] sent to Susa; Darius treating them with great humanity.

The Milesians, continues Herodotus, on suffering these calamities from the Persians, did not meet with the return from the people of Sybaris, which they might justly have expected. When Sybaris was taken by the Crotoniati, the Milesians had shaved their heads, and discovered every testimony of sorrow; for betwixt these two cities a strict hospitality prevailed. And here we must give room for a beautiful instance of sensibility on the part of the Athenians. When they heard of the destruction of Miletus, they gave way to many indications of sorrow; and some years after the capture of Miletus, a drama, written by Phrynicus, being represented at Athens, the whole audience melted into tears. The poet, for thus reminding them of so terrible a calamity, was fined a thousand drachmæ, and the piece forbidden to be played in future.

A bloody battle was fought under the walls of the town, between the Athenians and Argives on one side, and the Peloponnesians assisted by the Persians and the revolted Milesians on the other. The fortune of the day turned to the side of the Athenians; and they would have entered the city and recovered their authority, had not a fleet of fifty-five sail, belonging to the enemy, compelled them to draw off their forces and retire.

B. C. 41210. In this year the inhabitants of Miletus joined the Lacedæmonian party against Athens. When the Athenians heard of this, they voted the expenditure of a thousand talents, which, in more prosperous times, they had deposited in the citadel, under the sanction of a decree of the senate and people, to reserve it for an occasion of the utmost danger. This enabled them to recruit their [Pg 13] fleet; and having secured the fidelity of the Lesbians, they endeavoured to recover their authority in Miletus.

Lysander of Lacedæmon acted a great atrocity at Miletus. Apprehending that those who were then at the head of the people, would escape his revenge, he swore that he would do them no harm. These chiefs, giving credit to his oath, appeared therefore in public; but no sooner had they done so, than the treacherous Lysander gave leave to the nobles of the town to put them all to death, which they immediately did, although the number amounted to no less than eight hundred! He caused, also, an incredible number of persons, who were of the party opposed to him, to be massacred; and this he did not only to gratify his own malice and revenge, but to serve the enmity, malice, and avarice of his friends, whom he took delight in supporting in the gratification of their passions by the death of their enemies.

The Milesians, when free from a foreign yoke, were often reduced to a state of vassalage by domestic tyrants, who governed them with absolute sway, and made them feel all the evils of a foreign subjection. In the time of Antiochus II., for instance, we read of one Timarchus, who, reigning in Miletus, and practising all manner of cruelties, was driven out by that prince, and rewarded by the citizens with the title of Theos.

When Alexander left Ephesus, he marched to Miletus. But the city, expecting succours from the Persians, closed its gates against him. Memnon, one of the most valiant commanders of Darius, who had shut himself up in the fortress, determined to make as stout a defence as possible. The Macedonian, however, attacked him skilfully and vigorously, sending fresh troops to supply the places of those that were wearied; yet finding his troops still [Pg 14] repulsed in all directions, the garrison being well supplied with every thing necessary for a siege, he planted all his machines against the walls, made a great number of breaches, and attempted new scalados wherever they were attached. At length the besieged, after many brave efforts, fearful of being taken by storm, capitulated. When he had succeeded, Alexander acted in a manner much more noble and generous than he had done before, or did after in many cases;—he treated the Milesians with great humanity. The foreigners, however, that had taken part with them, he sold as slaves.

Miletus is thus described in the pages of Barthelemy, whose Travels of Anacharsis, as we have before observed, have all the authority of an ancient author:—“When at Miletus, we surveyed with admiration its temples, festivals, manufactures, harbours, and the innumerable concourse of ships, mariners, and workmen, there perpetually in motion. This city is an abode of opulence, learning, and pleasure;—it is the Athens of Ionia. Within the walls the city is adorned by the productions of art; and without, embellished by the riches of nature. How often have we directed our steps to the banks of the Mæander, which, after having received a multitude of rivers, and bathed the walls of various cities, rolls its waters in innumerable windings through the plain which is honoured by bearing its name, and proudly ornaments its course with the plenty it creates! How often, seated on the turf, which borders its flowery margin, surrounded on all sides with the most delightful prospects, and unable to satiate our senses with the purity and serene splendour of the air and sky, have we not felt a delicious languor insinuate into our souls, and throw us, if I may so speak, into the intoxication of happiness! Such is the influence of the climate of Ionia: and as moral causes, far from correcting, have only tended to [Pg 15] increase it, the Ionians have become the most effeminate, but, at the same time, are to be numbered among the most amiable people, of Asiatic Greece. In their ideas, sentiments, and manners, a certain softness prevails, which constitute the charm of society; and in their music and dancing is a liberty, which at first offends, and then seduces. They have added new charms to pleasure, and enriched their luxury by inventions. Numerous festivals occupy them at home, or attract them to the neighbouring cities, where the men appear in magnificent habits, and the women in all the elegance of female ornament, and with all the desire of pleasing.”

St. Paul, in his way from Corinth to Jerusalem, passed through Miletus; and as he went by sea, and would not take Ephesus in his way, he caused the priests and bishops of the church of Ephesus to come to Miletus11.

Miletus fell under subjection to the Romans, and became a considerable place under the Greek emperors. Then it fell under the scourge of the Turks; one of the sultans of which (A. D. 1175) sent twenty thousand men, with orders to lay waste the Roman imperial provinces, and bring him sand, water, and an [Pg 16] oar. All the cities on the Mæander were then ruined: since which, little of the history of Miletus has been known.

The Milesians early applied themselves to navigation; in the spirit of which they, in the process of time, planted not less than eighty colonies, in different parts of the world; and as we are ourselves so largely engaged in colonisation, perhaps an account of the colonies, sent out by the Milesians, may not be deemed uninteresting.

Cyzicum } Islands in the Propontis.
Miletopolis, in Mysia.
Priapus. Pæsus. Arisba.
Coloniæ. Lampsacus. Limnæ.
Parium. Gargetta. Percote.
Zaleia, at the foot of Mount Ida.
Scepsis, on that mountain.
Iasus. Latmos. Heraclea.
Icaria. Leros.
Heraclea. Sinope. Amisus.
Chersonesus. Cotyorus. Cerasus.
Tium. Sesamus. Trapezus.
Phasis and Dioscorias.
Anthia. Thynius. Pactyes.
Anchialus. Phinopolis. Cardia.
Apollonia. Andrica. Deultum.
Odessus. Calatis. Tyras.
Cruni. Touri. Borythranis.

Phanagoria. Hermonassa. Cephi.
Tanais in Sarmatia; Salamis in Cyprus; Naucratis, Chemis,
Paralia in Egypt; Ampe on the Tigris; Clauda, on the Euphrates.

From this list we may imagine to what a height of power and civilisation this city must have once attained. Babylon stands in a wilderness and a desert by its side.

Miletus was adorned with superb edifices; and was greatly celebrated for its trade, sciences, and arts. It gave birth also to many eminent persons; amongst whom may be particularly mentioned, Thales12, Anaximenes13, Anaximander14, Hecatæus15, Timotheus16, also the celebrated Aspasia, the wife of Pericles. It was also famous for its excellent wool, with which were made stuffs and garments, held in the highest reputation both for softness, elegance, and beauty.

It had a temple dedicated to Apollo Didymæus, which was burnt by Xerxes. The Milesians, however, soon after rebuilt it, and upon so large a scale, that Strabo describes it as having been equal in extent to a village; so large indeed was it, that it could never be covered. It stood in a thick grove. With what magnificence and prodigious spirit this edifice [Pg 18]was designed, may in some measure be collected from the present remains. Strabo called it the “greatest of all temples;” adding that it continued without a roof on account of its bigness; Pausanias mentions it as unfinished, but as one of the wonders peculiar to Ionia; and Vitruvius mentions this among the four temples, which have raised their architects to the summit of renown17.

There was a magnificent theatre also built of stone, but cased with marble, and greatly enriched with sculptures. There was also one temple of Venus in this town, and another in the neighbourhood.

Miletus is now called Palatskia (the palaces). Notwithstanding its title, and the splendour of its ancient condition, it is but a mean place now. The principal relic of its former magnificence is a ruined theatre, measuring in length four hundred and fifty-seven feet. The external face of this vast fabric is marble. The front has been removed. A few seats only remain, and those, as usual, ranged on the slope of a hill. The vaults which supported the extremities, with the arches or avenues of the two wings, are constructed with such solidity, that they will not easily be demolished. The entrance of the vault is nearly filled up with rubbish; but when Dr. Chandler crept into it, led by an Armenian, with a candle in a long paper lantern, innumerable bats began flitting about them; and the stench was intolerable.

The town was spread with rubbish and overgrown with thickets. The vestiges of “the heathen city,” are pieces of wall, broken arches, and a few scattered pedestals and inscriptions, a square marble urn, and many wells. One of the pedestals has belonged to a statue of the Emperor Hadrian, who was a friend to the Milesians, as appears from the titles of Saviour and Benefactor, bestowed upon him. Another has [Pg 19]supported the Emperor Severus, and has a long inscription, with this preamble: “The senate and people of the city of the Milesians, the first settled in Ionia, and the mother of many and great cities both in Pontus and Egypt, and in various other parts of the world.” This lies among the bushes behind the theatre.

Several piers of an aqueduct are standing. Near the ferry is a large couchant lion, of white marble; and in a Turkish burying-ground another; and traces remain of an old fortress. Besides these, there are a considerable number of forsaken mosques; and among the ruins are several fragments of ancient churches.

Wheler says, that in his time, there were many inscriptions, most of them defaced by time and weather; some upon single stones, others upon very large tombs. On one of them were carved two women hunting, with three dogs; the foremost holding a hare in its mouth.

“Miletus,” says Dr. Chandler, from whom we have borrowed several passages in this article, “was once powerful and illustrious. The early navigators extended its commerce to remote regions; the whole Euxine Sea, the Propontis, Egypt, and other countries, were frequented by its ships, and settled by its colonies. It withstood Darius, and refused to admit Alexander. It has been styled the metropolis and head of Ionia; the bulwark of Asia; chief in war and peace; mighty by sea; the fertile mother, which had poured forth her sons to every quarter. It afterwards fell so low as to furnish a proverbial saying, ‘The Milesians were once great;’ but if we compare its ancient glory, and its subsequent humiliation, with its present state, we may justly exclaim, ‘Miletus, how much lower art thou now fallen18!’”

[Pg 20]


This town, now called Napoli di Romania, is situated along the foot of the rocky promontory, which projects into the sea, at the head of the gulf of Napoli. Its walls were built by the Venetians.

Ancient Nauplia, which is said to have been built by Nauplius, absurdly called the son of Neptune, became the chief naval arsenal of the Argives. Even so early as the time of Pausanias, however, it had become desolate; only a few remains of a temple, and of the walls, then existing. Its modern history is rather interesting.

The Venetians obtained possession in 1460. In 1495 it surrendered to Bajazet, but was again taken by the Venetians, under Morozini, in 1586, after a month’s siege, and became the head-quarters of that nation, in the Morea. In 1714, it was treacherously given up to Ali Coumourgi, and was the seat of Turkish government, and residence of the Pasha of the Morea; till Tripolizzi was selected as being more central; when it became subject to the Bey of Argos. The crescent remained uninterruptedly flying on this fortress, till the 12th of December 1822, when it surrendered to the Greeks, after a long and tedious blockade; the Turkish garrison having been reduced to such a state of starvation, as to feed on the corpses of their companions. In 1825, Ibrahim Pasha made a fruitless attempt to surprise the place; and it has been the strong-hold of the Greeks in their struggle for liberty. In April, 1826, the commission of government held their sittings here; but were obliged to retire to Ægina, on account of civil dissentions, and two of the revolted chiefs being in possession of the Palamadi. During the presidency of Capo [Pg 21] d’Istrias, who always resided, and was assassinated in the town, it again became the seat of government; and on the 31st of January, 1833, Otho, Prince of Bavaria, arrived here, as first king of restored Greece.

The strength of Napoli is the citadel, which is called the Palamadi, over whose turreted walls a few cypresses raise their sombre heads. It stands on the easternmost and highest elevation of the promontory, and completely overhangs and commands the town. To all appearance it is impregnable, and, from its situation and aspect, has been termed the Gibraltar of Greece. It is seven hundred and twenty feet above the sea; and has only one assailable point, where a narrow isthmus connects it with the main land; and this is overlooked by a rocky precipice.

Mr. Dodwell made fruitless inquiries in respect to the caves and labyrinths near Nauplia, which are said to have been formed by the Cyclops; but a minute examination is neither a safe nor easy undertaking. “The remains that are yet unknown,” says he, “will be brought to light, when the reciprocal jealousy of the European powers permits the Greeks to break their chains,19 and to chase from their outraged territory that host of dull oppressors, who have spread the shades of ignorance over the land that was once illuminated by science, and who unconsciously trample on the venerable dust of the Pelopidæ and the Atridæ.”

Nauplia is a miserable village; the houses have nothing peculiar about them, but are built in the common form of the lowest habitations of the villages of France and Savoy. The inhabitants are indolent. “The indolence of the Napolitans,” says M. La Martine, “is mild, serene, and gay—the carelessness [Pg 22] of happiness; while that of the Greek is heavy, morose, and sombre; it is a vice, which punishes itself.”20


A town of Argolis, greatly distinguished by the games once celebrated there. These games (called the Nemean games) were originally instituted by the Argives in honour of Archemorus, who died from the bite of a serpent; and, afterwards, renewed in honour of Hercules, who in that neighbourhood is said to have destroyed a lion by squeezing him to death.

These games consisted of foot and horse races, and chariot races; boxing, wrestling, and contests of every kind, both gymnastic and equestrian. They were celebrated on the 12th of our August, on the 1st and 3rd of every Olympiad; and continued long after those of Olympia were abolished.

In the neighbouring mountains is still shown the den of the lion, said to have been slain by Hercules; near which stand the remains of a considerable temple, dedicated to Jupiter Nemeus and Cleomenes, formerly surrounded by a grove of cypresses.

Of this temple three columns only are remaining. These columns, two of which belonging to the space between antæ, support their architrave. These columns are four feet six inches and a half in diameter, and thirty-one feet ten inches and a half in height, exclusive of the capitals. The single column is five feet three inches diameter, and belongs to the peristyle. The temple was hexastyle and peripteral, and is supposed to have had fourteen columns on the sides. The general intercolumniation is seven feet and a half, and those at the angles five feet eleven inches and a quarter. It stands upon [Pg 23] three steps, each of which is one foot two inches in height. The capital of the exterior column has been shaken out of its place, and will probably ere long fall to the ground. “I have not seen in Greece,” continues Mr. Dodwell, “any Doric temple, the columns of which are of such slender proportions as those of Nemea. The epistylia are thin and meagre, and the capitals too small for the height of the columns. It is constructed of a soft calcareous stone, which is an aggregate of sand and small petrified shells, and the columns are coated with a fine stucco. Pausanias praises the beauty of the temple; but, even in his time, the roof had fallen, and not a single statue was left.”

No fragments of marble are found amongst the ruins, but an excavation would probably be well repaid, as the temple was evidently thrown down at one moment, and if it contained any sculptured marbles, they are still concealed by the ruins.

Near the temple are several blocks of stones, some fluted Doric frusta, and a capital of small dimensions. This is supposed to have formed part of the sepulchre of Archemorus. Mr. Dodwell, however, found no traces of the tumulus of Lycurgus, his father, king of Nemea, mentioned by Pausanias, nor any traces of the theatre and stadium.

Beyond the temple is a remarkable summit, the top of which is flat, and visible in the gulf of Corinth. On one side is a ruinous church, with some rubbish; perhaps where Osspaltes and his father are said to have been buried. Near it is a very large fig-tree. To this a goatherd repaired daily before noon with his flock, which huddled together in the shade until the extreme heat was over, and then proceeded orderly to feed in the cool upon the mountain.

“Nemea,” continues Mr. Dodwell, “is more [Pg 24] characterised by gloom than most of the places I have seen. The splendour of religious pomp, and the long animation of gymnastic and equestrian exercises, have been succeeded by the dreary vacancy of a death-like solitude. We saw no living creatures but a ploughman and his oxen, in a spot which was once exhilarated by the gaiety of thousands, and resounded with the shouts of a crowded population21.”


Of Nineveh, the mighty city of old, How like a star she fell and pass’d away! Atherstone.

The Assyrian empire was founded by Ashur, the son of Shem, according to some writers; but according to others, by Nimrod; and to others, by Ninus.

Ninus, according to Diodorus Siculus, is to be esteemed the most ancient of the Assyrian kings. Being of a warlike disposition, and ambitious of that glory which results from courage, says he, he armed a considerable number of young men, that were brave and vigorous like himself; trained them up in laborious exercises and hardships, and by that means accustomed them to bear the fatigues of war patiently, and to face dangers with intrepidity. What Diodorus states of Ninus, however, is much more applicable to his father, Nimrod, the son of Cush, grandson of Cham, and great-grandson of Noah; he who is signalised in scripture as having been “a mighty hunter before the Lord;” a distinction which he gained from having delivered Assyria from the fury and dread of wild animals; and from having, also, by this exercise of hunting, trained up his followers to the use of arms, that he might make use of them for other purposes more serious and extensive.

[Pg 25]

The next king of Assyria was Ninus, the son of Nimrod. This prince prepared a large army, and in the course of seventeen years conquered a vast extent of country; extending to Egypt on one side, and to India and Bactriana on the other. On his return he resolved on building the largest and noblest city in the world; so extensive and magnificent, as to leave it in the power of none, that should come after him, to build such another. It is probable, however, that Nimrod laid the foundations of this city, and that Ninus completed it: for the ancient writers often gave the name of founder to persons, who were only entitled to the appellation of restorer or improver.

This city was called Nineveh. Its form and extent are thus related by Diodorus, who states that he took his account from Ctesias the Gnidian:—“It was of a long form; for on both sides it ran out about twenty-three miles. The two lesser angles, however, were only ninety furlongs a-piece; so that the circumference of the whole was about seventy-four miles. The walls were one hundred feet in height; and so broad, that three chariots might be driven together upon it abreast; and on these walls were fifteen hundred turrets, each of which was two hundred feet high.”

When the improver had finished the city, he appointed it to be inhabited by the richest Assyrians; but gave leave, at the same time, to people of other nations (as many as would) to dwell there; and, moreover, allowed to the citizens at large a considerable territory next adjoining them.

Having finished the city, Ninus marched into Bactria; his army consisting of one million seven hundred thousand men, two hundred thousand horse, and sixteen thousand chariots armed with scythes. This number is, doubtless, greatly exaggerated. With so large a force, he could do no otherwise than conquer[Pg 26] a great number of cities. But having, at last, laid siege to Bactria, the capital of the country, it is said that he would probably have failed in his enterprise against that city, had he not been assisted by the counsel of Semiramis, wife to one of his officers, who directed him in what manner to attack the citadel. By her means he entered the city, and becoming entire master of it, he got possession of an immense treasure. He soon after married Semiramis; her husband having destroyed himself, to prevent the effects of some threats that Ninus had thrown out against him. By Semiramis, Ninus had one son, whom he named Ninyas; and dying not long after, Semiramis became queen: who, to honour his memory, erected a magnificent monument, which is said to have remained a long time after the destruction of the city.

The history of this queen is so well known,22 that we shall not enlarge upon it; we having already done so in our account of Babylon; for she was one of the enlargers of that mighty city.

There is a very great difference of opinion, in regard to the time in which Semiramis lived. According to

A. C.
Sanchoniathon, she lived1200
Archbishop Usher1215

Alexander’s opinion of this celebrated woman may be gathered from the following passage of his speech to his army:—“You wish to enjoy me long; and even, if it were possible, for ever; but, as to myself, I compute [Pg 27]the length of my existence, not by years, but by glory. I might have confined my ambition within the narrow limits of Macedonia; and, contented with the kingdom my ancestors left me, have waited, in the midst of pleasures and indolence, an inglorious old age. I own that if my victories, not my years, are computed, I shall seem to have lived long; but can you imagine, that after having made Europe and Asia but one empire, after having conquered the two noblest parts of the world, in the tenth year of my reign and the thirtieth of my age, that it will become me to stop in the midst of so exalted a career, and discontinue the pursuit of glory to which I have entirely devoted myself? Know, that this glory ennobles all things, and gives a true and solid grandeur to whatever appears insignificant. In what place soever I may fight, I shall fancy myself upon the stage of the world, and in presence of all mankind. I confess that I have achieved mighty things hitherto; but the country we are now in reproaches me that a woman has done still greater. It is Semiramis I mean. How many nations did she conquer! How many cities were built by her! What magnificent and stupendous works did she finish! How shameful is it, that I should not yet have attained to so high a pitch of glory! Do but second my ardour, and I will soon surpass her. Defend me only from secret cabals and domestic treasons, by which most princes lose their lives; I take the rest upon myself, and will be answerable to you for all the events of the war.”

“This speech,” says Rollin, “gives us a perfect idea of Alexander’s character. He had no notion of true glory. He did not know either the principle, the rule, or end of it. He certainly placed it where it was not. He was strongly prejudiced in vulgar error, and cherished it. He fancied himself born merely for glory; and that none could be acquired[Pg 28] but by unbounded, unjust, and irregular conduct. In his impetuous sallies after a mistaken glory, he followed neither reason, virtue, nor humanity; and as if his ambitious caprice ought to have been a rule and standard to all other men, he was surprised that neither his officers nor soldiers would enter into his views, and that they lent themselves very unwillingly to support his ridiculous enterprises.” These remarks are well worthy the distinguished historian who makes them.

Semiramis was succeeded by her son Ninyas; a weak and effeminate prince, who shut himself up in the city, and, seldom engaging in affairs, naturally became an object of contempt to all the inhabitants. His successors are said to have followed his example; and some of them even went beyond him in luxury and indolence. Of their history no trace remains.

At length we come to Pull, supposed to be the father of Sardanapalus; in whose reign Jonah is believed to have lived. “The word of the Lord,” says the Hebrew scripture, “came unto Jonah, the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.” Jonah, instead of acting as he was commanded, went to Joppa, and thence to Tarshish. He was overtaken by a storm, swallowed by a whale, and thrown up again. Being commanded again, he arose and went to Nineveh, “an exceedingly great city of three days’ journey;” where, having warned the inhabitants, that in forty days their city should be overthrown, the people put on sackcloth, “from the greatest of them even to the least.” The king sat in ashes, and proclaimed a fast. “Let neither man nor beast,” said the edict, “herd nor flock, taste any thing; let them not feed, nor drink water; but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth; and cry mightily unto God; yea, let them turn every one[Pg 29] from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?”

On the king’s issuing this edict, the people did as they were commanded, and the ruin was delayed. On finding this, the prophet acted in a very unworthy manner. To have failed as a prophet gave him great concern; insomuch, that he desired death. “Take, I beseech thee, O Lord, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.” “Shall I not spare Nineveh,” answered the Lord, “that great city, wherein are more than six-score thousand persons, that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?”

Sardanapalus was, beyond all other sovereigns recorded in history, the most effeminate and voluptuous; the most perfect specimen of sloth, luxury, cowardice, crime, and elaborate folly, that was, perhaps, ever before exhibited to the detestation of mankind. He clothed himself in women’s attire, and spun fine wool and purple amongst throngs of concubines. He painted likewise his face, and decked his whole body with other allurements. He imitated, also, a woman’s voice; and in a thousand respects disgraced his nature by the most unbounded licentiousness and depravity. He even wished to immortalise his impurities; selecting for his epitaph the following lines:—

Hæc habeo quæ edi, quæque exsaturata libido Hausit; at illa jacent multa et præclara relicta.

“This epitaph,” says Aristotle, “is only fit for a hog.”23

[Pg 30]

Through all the city sounds the voice of joy, And tipsy merriment. On the spacious walls, That, like huge sea-cliffs, gird the city in, Myriads of wanton feet go to and fro; Gay garments rustle in the scented breeze; Crimson and azure, purple, green, and gold; Laugh, jest, and passing whisper are heard there; Timbrel and lute, and dulcimer and song; And many feet that tread the dance are seen, And arms unflung, and swaying head-plumes crown’d: So is that city steep’d in revelry24.

In this dishonourable state Sardanapalus lived several years. At length the governor of Media, having gained admittance into his palace, and seen with his own eyes a king guilty of such criminal excesses; enraged at the spectacle, and not able to endure that so many brave men should be subject to a prince more soft and effeminate than the women themselves, immediately resolved to put an end to his dominion. He therefore formed a conspiracy against him; and in this he was joined by Belesis, governor of Babylon, and several others. Supporting each other for the same end, the one stirred up the Medes and Persians; the other inflamed the inhabitants of

[Pg 31]

Babylon. They gained over, also, the king of Arabia. Several battles, however, were fought, in all of which the rebels were repulsed and defeated. They became, therefore, so greatly disheartened, that at length the commanders resolved every one to return to their respective countries; and they had done so, had not Belesis entertained great faith in an astrological prediction. He was continually consulting the stars; and at length solemnly assured the confederated troops, that in five days they would be aided by a support, they were at present unable to imagine or anticipate;—the gods having given to him a decided intimation of so desirable an interference. Just as he had predicted, so it happened; for before the time he mentioned had expired, news came that the Bactrians, breaking the fetters of servitude, had sprung into the field, and were hastening to their assistance.

Sardanapalus, not knowing any thing of the revolt of the Bactrians, and puffed up by former successes, was still indulging in sloth and idleness, and preparing beasts for sacrifice, plenty of wine, and other things necessary wherewith to feast and entertain his soldiers. While the army was thus indulging itself, Arbaces, receiving intelligence, by some deserters, of the security and intemperance of the enemy, fell in upon them in the night on a sudden; and being in due order and discipline, and setting upon such as were in confusion, he being before prepared, and the other altogether unprovided, they easily broke into their camp, and made a great slaughter of some, forcing the rest into the city. Upon this, Sardanapalus committed the charge of his whole army to his wife’s brother, (Salamenes,) and took upon himself the defence of the city. But the rebels twice defeated the king’s forces; once in the open field, and the second time before the walls of the city; in which last[Pg 32] engagement Salamenes was killed, and almost all his army lost; some being cut off in the pursuit, and the rest (save a very few) being interrupted, and prevented from entering into the city, were driven headlong into the Euphrates; and so great was the number destroyed, that the river became dyed with the blood, and retained that colour for a great distance and a long course together.

Sardanapalus, now perceiving that his kingdom was like to be lost, sent away his three sons and his three daughters, with a great deal of treasure, into Paphlagonia, to Cotta, the governor there, his most entire friend; and sent posts into all the provinces of the kingdom, in order to raise soldiers, and to make all other preparations necessary to endure a siege; being greatly encouraged to do this from an acquaintance with an ancient prophecy; viz.—that Nineveh could never be taken by force, till the river should become a foe to the city.

The enemy, on the other hand, grown more courageous by their successes, eagerly urged on the siege. They made, nevertheless, but little impression on the besieged, by reason of the strength of the walls; for balistæ to cast stones, testudos to cast up mounts, and battering-rams, were not known in those ages. The city was also well supplied with every thing needful. The siege, therefore, lasted two years: during which time nothing to any purpose was done, save that the walls were sometimes assaulted, and the besieged penned up in the city. At length, in the third year, an unfortunate circumstance took place. This was no other than the overflowing of the Euphrates, and from continual rains, coming up into a part of the city, and tearing down thirty furlongs of the walls in length.

When the king found this—conceiving it to be no other than a fulfilment of the prophecy, on the [Pg 33]improbability of which he had so strongly relied—he gave himself up to despair; caused a large pile of wood to be made in one of the courts of his palace; heaped together all his gold, silver, and wearing apparel; and inclosing his eunuchs and concubines in an apartment within the pile, caused it to be set on fire; when all perished in the flames in common with himself.

When the revolters heard of this, they entered through several breaches made in the walls, and took the city. They clothed Arbaces with a royal robe, proclaimed him king, and invested him with despotic authority: in gratitude for which Arbaces rewarded every one according to his deserts. He showed great clemency, also, to the inhabitants of Nineveh; for though he dispersed them into several villages, he restored every one to his estate. He, nevertheless, razed the city to the ground. The sum, found in the palace and elsewhere, appears to be incredible: for it is stated to have been no less than equivalent to 25,000,000,000 of pounds sterling. The fire lasted more than fifteen days. Thus, after a continuance of thirty generations, the Assyrian empire was overturned, in the year of the world, 3080; and before Christ 868. Thus far Diodorus; but Usher, and many other historians, amongst whom may be mentioned Herodotus, state, that the Assyrian empire, from Ninus, lasted only 520 years.

Several kings reigned after this, under what is called the second Assyrian empire. For on the fall of the former, three considerable kingdoms were generated, viz:—that of the Medes, which Arbaces, on the fall of Nineveh, restored to its liberty; that of the Assyrians of Babylon, which was given to Belesis, governor of that city; and that of the Assyrians of Nineveh.

The first king that reigned in Nineveh, after the[Pg 34] death of Sardanapalus, is called in Scripture Tiglath-Pileser25; the second Salmanaser, in whose reign, Tobit, with Anna his wife, and his son Tobias, was carried captive into Assyria, where he became one of Salmanaser’s principal officers. That king having died after a reign of fourteen years, he was succeeded by his son Sennacherib; he, whose army was cut off in one night before the walls of Jerusalem. He had laid siege to that city some time before, but had marched against Egypt, which country having subdued, he once more sat down before the sacred city: “And it came to pass, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and four score and five thousand; and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses26.” After so terrible a blow, the pretended king of kings, as he presumed to call himself, “this triumpher over nations, and conqueror of gods,” returned to his own country, where “it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch, his god, that he was struck by his two sons27, who smote him with the sword: and Esarhaddon, his youngest son, reigned in his stead28.” The destruction that fell upon his army, has been thus described by a celebrated poet of modern times.

THE DESTRUCTION OF SENNACHERIB. I. “The Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold, And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold; And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea, When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee. II. “Like the leaves of the forest when summer is green, That host with their banners at sunset were seen; Like the leaves of the forest when autumn hath blown, That host on the morrow lay withered and strown. [Pg 35] III. “For the angel of death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed; And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still. IV. “And there lay the steed, with his nostril all wide, But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride; And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf, And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf. V. “And there lay the rider distorted and pale, With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail; And the tents were all silent, the banners alone, The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown. VI. “And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail; And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal; And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword, Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord.”

Esarhaddon was succeeded by Nebuchadnezzar the First, in whose reign Tobit died29. Perceiving his end approaching, that good old man called his children to him, and advised them to lose no time, after they had buried him and their mother, but to quit the city, before its ruin came on. “The ruin of Nineveh,” said he, “is at hand; the wickedness of the city will occasion its ruin.”

Nahum represents the wickedness of this city, too, in terms exceedingly vivid30: “Woe to the bloody city! It is all full of lies and robbery.” “It shall come to pass, that all they that look upon thee shall flee from thee, and say, Nineveh is laid waste; who will bemoan her?” “The gates of thy land shall be set wide open unto thine enemies; the fire shall devour thy bars.” “The sword shall cut thee off; it shall eat thee up like the canker-worm.” “Thy nobles shall dwell in the dust; thy people be scattered upon the mountains, and no man shall gather them.”

[Pg 36]

Zephaniah, also, issued similar denunciations31. “The Lord will make Nineveh a desolation, and dry like a wilderness: and flocks shall lie down in the midst of her; both the cormorant and the bittern shall lodge in it; their voice shall sing in the windows; desolation shall be in the thresholds.” “This is the rejoicing city, that dwelt carelessly, that said in her heart, ‘I am, and there is none beside me.’ How shall she become a desolation; a place for beasts to lie down in! every one that passes by shall hiss and wag his hand.”

The ruin, predicted, came in the reign of Saracus. Cyaxares, king of the Medes, entering into an alliance with the king of Babylon, they joined their forces together, laid siege to the city, took it, slew their king, and utterly destroyed it.

“God,” says the historian, “had foretold by his prophets, that he would bring vengeance upon that impious city, for the blood of his servants, wherewith the kings thereof had gorged themselves, like ravenous lions; that he himself would march at the head of the troops that should come to besiege it; that he would cause consternation and terror to go before him; that he would deliver the old men, the mothers, and their children, into the merciless hands of the soldiers; and that all the treasures of the city should fall into the hands of rapacious and insatiable plunderers; and that the city itself should be so totally destroyed, that not so much as a footstep of it should be left; and that the people should ask hereafter, Where did the proud city of Nineveh stand?”32

[Pg 37]

This prophecy has been fulfilled only in part; the absolute completion of it remains still to be fulfilled. In the time of Hadrian, the ruins of it still existed; and at a subsequent period a great battle was fought on the space left among the ruins, between Heraclius, Emperor of Constantinople, and Rhazates, general to Chosroes, king of Persia. On that memorable day, Heraclius, on his horse Phallas, surpassed the bravest of his warriors; his hip was wounded with a spear; the steed was wounded in the thigh; but he carried his master safe and victorious through the triple phalanx of the enemy. In the heat of the action, three valiant chiefs were successively slain by the sword and lance of the emperor; amongst whom was Rhazates himself. He fell like a soldier: but the sight of his head scattered grief and despair through the fainting ranks of the Persians. In this battle, which was fiercely fought from day-break to the eleventh hour, twenty-eight standards, besides those which might be torn or broken, were taken from the Persians; the greatest part of their army was cut to pieces, and the victors, concealing their own loss, passed the night on the field. They acknowledged that on this occasion it was less difficult to kill than to discomfit the soldiers of Chosroes. The conquerors recovered three hundred Roman standards, as well as a great number of captives, of Edessa and Alexandria.[Pg 38] Soon after this battle, Chosroes felt compelled to fly: he was afterwards deposed, thrown into a dungeon, where he was insulted, famished, tortured, and at length murdered by one of his own sons.

We have given an account of its ancient size and splendour: we must now give some account of the ruins which still remain: for though some writers insist, that even the dust of this vast city has disappeared, it is certain that some of its walls still subsist, beside the city of Mosul.

Mosul was visited by Captain Kinneir, in the years 1813-14. “About a mile before we entered Mosul,” says he, “we passed two artificial tumuli, and extensive ramparts, supposed to be the ruins of the ancient Nineveh. The first tumulus is about three quarters of a mile in circumference. It has the same appearance, and is of about the same height, as those we saw at Susa. The circumference of the other is not so considerable; but its elevation is greater, and on the top stands the tomb of Jonah, the prophet, round which has been erected a village, called Nunia.”

Captain Kinneir proceeds to state, that the Jews go in pilgrimage to this tomb; which is a small and insignificant building, crowned with a cupola. The rampart is esteemed, by some, to have been thrown up by Nadir Shah, when he besieged Mosul. Captain Kinneir, however, had no doubt that this opinion is founded in error, since they in no way resembled the field-works which an army, such as that of Nadir Shah, was likely to erect. “I cannot doubt, therefore,” says he, “that they are the vestiges of some ancient city, probably Nineveh; or that Larissa, described by Xenophon.” In regard to Mosul, he describes it as a sombre-looking town, fast dwindling into insignificance.

[Pg 39]

These ruins were subsequently visited by Mr. Rich, the East India Company’s resident at Bagdat. They lie on the eastern banks of the Tigris33. To the north are the Gara mountains, on the chain of which snow is said to lie in clefts and sheltered situations from one year to another. The Tigris is here about four hundred feet broad, its depth, for the most part, about two fathoms; and near the bridge was fought the celebrated battle between Chosroes’ troops and those of Heraclius, to which we have just now alluded. On the eastern side of this bridge many remains of antiquity have been found, consisting, for the most part, of bricks, some of which are whole and some in fragments, and pieces of gypsum, some of which are covered with inscriptions, in cruciform character34. There are also narrow ancient passages, with apertures or doors, opening one into the other, dark, narrow, and vaulted, appearing as if designed as vaults for the reception of dead bodies.

Mr. Rich afterwards rode through the area of Nineveh to the first wall of the inclosure. He found it a line of earth and gravel, out of which large hewn stones are frequently dug, as out of all the walls of the area. Beyond was a ditch still very regular; beyond which was a wall, and beyond that another wall larger than any. “The area of Nineveh,” says Mr. Rich, “is, on a rough guess, about one and a half to two miles broad, and four miles long. On the river on the west side there are only remains of one wall; and I observed the same at the north and south extremities; but on the east side there are the remains of three walls. The west one appears to have run a little in front of Nebbi Yunus. Between it and the river the ground is subject to frequent [Pg 40]inundations and changes; but it has not interfered with the area.”

Mr. Rich did not observe at the angles of the walls any traces of towers, bastions, or any works of that kind. These walls are not more than from ten to fifteen feet high. Large masses of hewn stone are frequently dug up, and bricks are ploughed up perpetually. There is also a piece of grey stone, shaped like the capital of a column, such as at this day surmounts the wooden pillars or posts of Turkish, or rather Persian, verandahs; but there was no carving on it. Pottery, too, is often found, and other Babylonian fragments; also bits of brick adhering to them. These are found near a mound, called the Mount of Koyunjuk, the height of which is about forty-three feet, and its circumference 7691 feet. Its sides are very steep, and its top nearly flat.

Some years ago, a very large bas-relief was dug up among the ruins, representing men and animals, covering a grey stone about ten or eleven feet in height. All the town of Mosul left their houses to go and see this remarkable specimen of antiquity; but not one had the taste to endeavour to preserve it. It was in a few days, therefore, cut up or broken to pieces.

One day, as Mr. Rich was riding along on the outside of the walls, his attention was directed to an object of great antiquity. “Some people had been digging for stones,” says he, “and had dug a hole in the ground, from which they had turned up many large hewn stones with bitumen adhering to them. I examined the excavation, which was about ten feet deep, and found it consisted of huge stones, laid in layers of bitumen and lime-mortar. I brought away some specimens of them sticking together. I also saw some layers of red clay, which were very thick, and had become as indurated as burnt brick;[Pg 41] but there was not the least appearance of reeds or straw having been used. This mass appeared to have been a foundation or superstructure. We found among the rubbish some pieces of coarse unglazed pottery. It would not have been possible to tell, from the appearance of the surface of the ground, that there had been building beneath—a watercourse full of pebbles had even passed over it. It is, therefore, very difficult to say to what extent vestiges of building may exist outside the inclosures, the area of which may have been the royal quarter; but certainly was never sufficient for the city of Nineveh.”

“Except the ruins of some large and lofty turrets,” says Mr. Morier, “like that of Babel or Belus, the cities of Babylon and Nineveh are so completely crumbled into dust, as to be wholly undistinguishable, but by a few inequalities of the surface on which they once stood. The humble tent of the Arab now occupies the spot formerly adorned with the palaces of kings; and his flocks procure but a scanty pittance of food, amidst fallen fragments of ancient magnificence. The banks of the Euphrates and Tigris, once so prolific, are now, for the most part, covered with impenetrable brushwood; and the interior of the province, which was traversed and fertilised with innumerable canals, is destitute of either inhabitants or vegetation.”

Among the ruins is a wall, and on the borders of that the peasants of the neighbourhood assemble every year, and sacrifice a sheep, with music and other festivities; a superstition far anterior to the religion they now possess. “One thing is sufficiently obvious,” says Mr. Rich, “to the most careless observer, and that is, the equality of age of all the vestiges discovered here. Whether they belonged to Nineveh or some other city, is[Pg 42] another question; but that they are all of the same age and character does not admit of a doubt.”

Mr. Rich took measurements of the mounds, that still exist among these ruins, and did not neglect to cut her name on the wall of what is called Thisbe’s Well. “Some traveller in after times,” says he, with an agreeable enthusiasm, “when her remembrance has long been swept away by the torrent of time, may wonder, on reading the name of Mary Rich35, who the adventurous female was, who had visited the ruins of Nineveh. He will not be aware, that had her name been inscribed at every spot she had visited in the course of her weary pilgrimage, it would be found in places, compared with which, Mousul is the centre of civilisation.”

From the circumstance that from all the mounds large stones, sometimes with bitumen adhering to them, are frequently dug out, Mr. Rich was inclined to believe, that but few bricks were used in the building of this once vast city. There is, however, not much certainty as to this, or in regard to what kind of architecture it was, for the most, or, indeed, any part constructed; for though its walls may be traced in a multitude of directions, nothing now remains beside a few mounds, some bricks, and large stones, hewn into a shape which evidently prove, that they once formed the houses or the temples of a city36.


This city stood near the river Douro; out of the ruins of which has arisen the town of Soria. According to Strabo, it was the capital of Celtiberia.

Strong by nature and art, and by the number of its inhabitants, it was built upon a hill, difficult of [Pg 43]access, and on three sides surrounded by mountains. Its extent was, also, so great, that it had within its circuit pasture for cattle. It was unprotected by walls or towers; yet it bravely maintained itself, for a considerable time, against the power of the Romans. The cruelty and injustice of the Romans during this war is justly stigmatised, as being altogether unworthy a great and powerful people. The inhabitants at first gained some advantages over the Roman forces, till Scipio Africanus was commanded to finish the war, and to destroy Numantia altogether. With an army of sixty thousand men he began the siege. He was opposed by the inhabitants with great skill and courage, though their force did not exceed four thousand men. Finding themselves, however, greatly pressed, the Numantians gave themselves up,—first to despair, and then to fury. Their provisions, too, at length began to fail; and they were constrained to feed upon the flesh of horses; then on that of their slain companions; and, lastly, they drew lots to kill and devour each other. After a multitude of misfortunes, they signified a desire to capitulate; but Scipio having demanded, that they should surrender unconditionally on the next day, the Numantians refused; and when they obtained a longer time, instead of surrendering, they retired and set fire to their houses, and destroyed themselves; so that not even one remained to grace the triumph of the conqueror. This, however, has been denied by some writers, who insist, that a number of Numantines delivered themselves into the hands of Scipio, and that fifty of them were drawn in triumph at Rome, and that the rest were sold as slaves. This occurred in the year of Rome 629.

Not a vestige remains, but a few traces at a place called Puente Gavay, a spot difficult of access37.

[Pg 44]


This city, known likewise by the name of Pisa, was situated on the right bank of the Alpheus, at the foot of an eminence called the Mount of Saturn. It is peculiarly worthy of attention; since it was near its walls that the most celebrated games, from the institution of which all occurrences were dated in Greece38, were held.

For nearly the whole of what follows, in regard to the games, we are indebted to Rollin; ours being an abstract.

There were four kinds of games solemnised in Greece. The Olympic, so called from Olympia, near which they were celebrated after the expiration of every four years, in honour of Jupiter Olympicus. The Pythic, sacred to Apollo Pythius, also celebrated every four years. The Nemean, which took their name from Nemea, a city and forest of Peleponnesus, instituted by Hercules, solemnised every two years. And lastly, the Isthmian; celebrated upon the isthmus of Corinth, from four years to four years, in honour of Neptune. That persons might be present at these public sports with greater quiet and security, there was a general suspension of arms and cessation of hostilities, throughout all Greece, during the time of their celebration.

The Greeks thought nothing comparable to a victory in these games. They looked upon it as the perfection of glory, and did not believe it permitted to mortals to desire any thing beyond it. Cicero assures us, that with them it was no less honourable [Pg 45]than the consular dignity, in its original splendour with the ancient Romans.

We shall confine ourselves to the Olympic games, which continued five days.

The combats, which had the greatest share in the solemnity of the public games, were boxing, wrestling, the pancratium, the discus or quoit, and racing. To these may be added the exercises of leaping, throwing the dart, and that of the trochus or wheel; but as these were neither important, nor of any great reputation, we shall content ourselves with having only mentioned them.

Of the Athletæ, or combatants.—The term athletæ was given to those who exercised themselves with design to dispute the prizes in the public games. The art, by which they formed themselves for these encounters, was called gymnastic, from the athletæ’s practising naked.

Those who were designed for this profession frequented, from their most tender age, the gymnasia or palæstræ, which were a kind of academies maintained for that purpose at the public expense. In these places, such young people were under the direction of different masters, who employed the most effectual methods to inure their bodies for the fatigues of the public games, and to form them for the combats. The regimen they were under was very severe. At first they had no other nourishment but dried figs, nuts, soft cheese, and a gross heavy sort of bread. They were absolutely forbid the use of wine, and enjoined continence.

Who, in the Olympic race, the prize would gain, Has borne from early youth fatigue and pain, Excess of heat and cold has often tried, Love’s softness banish’d, and the glass denied.

The athletæ, before their exercises, were rubbed with oils and ointments, to make their bodies more[Pg 46] supple and vigorous. At first they made use of a belt, with an apron or scarf fastened to it, for their more decent appearance in the combats; but one of the combatants happening to lose the victory by this covering’s falling off, that accident was the occasion of sacrificing modesty to convenience, and retrenching the apron for the future. The athletæ were only naked in some exercises, as wrestling, boxing, the pancratium, and the foot-race.

It was necessary that their morals should be unexceptionable, and their condition free. No stranger was admitted to combat in the Olympic games; and when Alexander, the son of Amyntas, king of Macedon, presented himself to dispute the prize, his competitors, without any regard to the royal dignity, opposed his reception as a Macedonian, and consequently a barbarian and a stranger; nor could the judge be prevailed upon to admit him till he had proved, in due form, that his family was originally descended from the Argives.

They were made to take an oath, that they would religiously observe the several laws prescribed in each kind of combat, and do nothing contrary to the established orders and regulations of the games. Fraud, artifice, and excessive violence, were absolutely prohibited; and the maxim so generally received elsewhere, that it is indifferent whether an enemy is conquered by deceit or valour, was banished from these combats.

It is time to bring our champions to blows, and to run over the different kinds of combats in which they exercised themselves.

Wrestling is one of the most ancient exercises of which we have any knowledge, having been practised in the time of the patriarchs, as the wrestling of the angel with Jacob proves39.

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Wrestling among the Greeks, as well as other nations, was practised at first with simplicity, little art, and in a natural manner; the weight of the body, and the strength of the muscles, having more share of it, than address or skill.

The wrestlers, before they began their combats, were rubbed all over in a rough manner, and afterwards anointed with oils, which added to the strength and flexibility of their limbs. But as this unction, in making the skin too slippery, rendered it difficult for them to take hold of each other, they remedied that inconvenience, sometimes by rolling themselves in the dust of the palæstræ, sometimes by throwing a fine sand upon each other, kept for that purpose in the porticoes of the gymnasia.

Thus prepared, the wrestlers began their combat. They were matched two against two, and sometimes several couples contended at the same time.

Of Boxing, or the Cestus.—The combatants covered their fists with a kind of offensive arms called cestus, and their heads with a sort of leather cap, to defend their temples and ears, which were most exposed to blows, and to deaden their violence. The cestus was a kind of gauntlet or glove, made of straps of leather, and plated with brass, lead, or iron, inside. Their use was to strengthen the hands of the combatants, and to add violence to their blows.

Boxing was one of the rudest and most dangerous of the gymnastic combats; because, besides the danger of being crippled, the combatants ran the hazard of losing their lives. They sometimes fell down dead, or dying, upon the sand; though that seldom happened, except the vanquished person persisted too long in not acknowledging his defeat: yet it was common for them to quit the fight with a countenance so disfigured, that it was not easy to know them afterwards.

[Pg 48]

Of the Pancratium.—The Pancratium was so called from two Greek words40 which signify that the whole force of the body was necessary for succeeding in it. It united boxing and wrestling in the same fight, borrowing from one its manner of struggling and throwing, and from the other, the art of dealing blows, and of avoiding them with success.

Of the Discus, or quoit.—The discus was a kind of quoit of a round form, made sometimes of wood, but more frequently of stone, lead, or other metal, as iron or brass. Those who used this exercise were called Discoboli; that is, flingers of the discus.

The athletæ, in hurling the discus, put themselves into the best posture they could, to add force to their cast. He that flung the discus farthest was the victor.

The most famous painters and sculptors of antiquity, in their endeavours to represent naturally the attitudes of the discoboli, have left posterity many masterpieces in their several arts. Quintilian exceedingly extols a statue of this kind, which had been finished with infinite care and application by the celebrated Myron41.

Of the Pentathlum.—The Greeks gave this name to an exercise composed of five others:—wrestling, running, leaping, throwing the dart, and the discus. It is believed that this sort of combat was decided in one day, and sometimes the same morning; and that the prize, which was single, could not be given but to the victor in all those exercises.

Of Races.—Of all the exercises which the athletæ cultivated with so much pains and industry, for their appearance in the public games, running was in the highest estimation, and held the foremost rank.

The place where the athletæ exercised themselves [Pg 49]in running, was generally called the Stadium by the Greeks; as was that wherein they disputed in earnest for the prize. Under that denomination was included not only the space in which the athletæ ran, but also that which contained the spectators of the gymnastic games.

The middle of the Stadium was remarkable only by the circumstance of having the prizes allotted to the victors set up there. St. Chrysostom draws a fine comparison from this custom. “As the judges,” says he, “in the races and other games, expose in the midst of the Stadium, to the view of the champions, the crowns which they are to receive; in like manner the Lord, by the mouth of his prophets, has placed the prizes in the midst of the course, which he designs for those who have the courage to contend for them.”

There were three kinds of races, the chariot, the horse, and the foot-race.

1. Of the Foot-race.—The runners, of whatever number they were, ranged themselves in a line, after having drawn lots for their places. Whilst they waited the signal to start, they practised, by way of prelude, various motions to awaken their activity, and to keep their limbs pliable and in a right temper. They kept themselves breathing by small leaps, and making little excursions, which were a kind of trial of their speed and agility. Upon the signal’s being given, they flew towards the goal, with a rapidity scarcely to be followed by the eye, which was solely to decide the victory; for the Agnostic laws prohibited, upon the penalty of infamy, the attaining it by any foul method.

2. Of the Horse-races.—The race of a single horse with a rider was less celebrated by the ancients; yet it had its favourers amongst the most considerable persons, even kings themselves, and was attended with uncommon glory to the victor.

[Pg 50]

3. Of the Chariot-races.—This kind of race was the most renowned of all the exercises used in the games of the ancients, and that from whence most honour redounded to the victors. It is plain they were derived from the constant custom of princes, heroes and great men, of fighting in battle upon chariots. Homer has an infinity of examples of this kind. All those, who presented themselves in the Olympic games to dispute the prize in the chariot races, were persons considerable either for their riches, their birth, their employments, or great actions. Kings themselves aspired passionately to this glory, from the belief that the title of victor in these games was scarcely inferior to that of conqueror, and that the Olympic palm added new dignity to the splendours of a throne.

The chariots were generally drawn by two or four horses. Sometimes mules supplied the place of horses. These chariots, upon a signal given, started together. Their places were regulated by lot, which was not an indifferent circumstance as to the victory; for being to turn round a boundary, the chariot on the left was nearer than those on the right, which in consequence had a greater compass to take. They ran twelve times round the Stadium. He that came in first the twelfth round was victor. The chief art consisted in taking the best ground at the turning of the boundary; for if the charioteer drove too near it, he was in danger of dashing the chariot to pieces; and if he kept too wide of it, his nearest antagonist might get foremost.

To avoid such danger, Nestor gave the following directions to his son Antilochus, who was going to dispute the prize in the chariot races. “My son,” says he, “drive your horses as near as possible to the turning; for which reason, always inclining your body over your chariot, get the left of your competitors; and[Pg 51] encouraging the horse on the right, give him the rein, whilst the near-horse, hard held, turns the boundary so close to it, that the nave of the wheel seems to graze upon it; but have a care of running against the stone, lest you wound your horses, and dash the chariot in pieces.”

It was not required, that those who disputed the victory should enter the lists, and drive their chariots in person. Their being spectators of the games, or sending their horses thither, was sufficient.

No one ever carried the ambition of making a great figure in the public games of Greece so far as Alcibiades, in which he distinguished himself in the most splendid manner, by the great number of horses and chariots, which he kept only for the races. It is not easy to comprehend, how the wealth of a private person should suffice to so enormous an expense: but Antisthenes, the scholar of Socrates, who relates what he saw, informs us, that many cities of the allies, in a kind of emulation with each other, supplied Alcibiades with all things necessary for the support of such magnificence. Equipages, horses, tents, sacrifices, the most exquisite provisions, the most delicate wines; in a word, all that was necessary to the support of his table or train.

We must not omit, in speaking of the Olympic games, to notice that ladies were admitted to dispute the prize in them as well as the men, which many of them obtained. Cynisca, sister of Agesilaus, king of Sparta, first opened this new path of glory to her sex, and was proclaimed victrix in the race of chariots with four horses. This victory, which till then had no example, did not fail of being celebrated with all possible splendour.—A magnificent monument was erected in Sparta in honour of Cynisca; and the Lacedæmonians, though otherwise very[Pg 52] little sensible to the charms of poetry, appointed a poet to transmit this new triumph to posterity, and to immortalize its memory by an inscription in verse.

Of the honours and rewards granted to the victors.—These honours and rewards were of several kinds. The spectators’ acclamations in honour of the victors were only a prelude to the rewards designed them. These rewards were different wreaths of wild olive, pine, parsley, or laurel, according to the different places where the games were celebrated. Those crowns were always attended with branches of palm, that the victors carried in their right hands. As he might be victor more than once in the same games, and sometimes on the same day, he might also receive several crowns and palms.

When the victor had received the crown and palm, a herald, preceded by a trumpeter, conducted him through the Stadium, and proclaimed aloud his name and country.

When he returned to his own country, the people came out in a body to meet him, and conducted him into the city, adorned with all the marks of his victory, and riding upon a chariot drawn by four horses. He made his entry not through the gates, but through a breach purposely made in the walls. Lighted torches were carried before him, and a numerous train followed, to do honour to the procession.

One of the most honourable privileges granted to the athletic victors, was the right of taking place at the public games. At Sparta it was a custom for the king to take them with him in military expeditions, to fight near his person, and to be his guard; which, with reason, was judged very honourable.[Pg 53] Another privilege, in which the useful united with the honourable, was that of being maintained for the rest of their lives at the expense of their country. They were also exempted from all civil offices and employments.

The praises of the victorious athlete were, amongst the Greeks, one of the principal subjects of their lyric poetry. We find, that all the odes of the four books of Pindar turn upon it, each of which takes its title from the games, in which the combatants signalised themselves, whose victories those poems celebrate.

Sculpture united with poetry to perpetuate the fame of the champions. Statues were erected to the victors, in the very place where they had been crowned, and sometimes in that of their birth also, which was commonly done at the expense of their country. Amongst the statues which adorned Olympia, were those of several children of ten or twelve years old, who had obtained the prize at that age in the Olympic games. They did not only raise such monuments to the champions, but to the very horses to whose swiftness they were indebted for the Agonistic crown: and Pausanias mentions one, which was erected in honour of a mare, called Aura, whose history is worth repeating. Phidolas, her rider, having fallen off in the beginning of the race, the mare continued to run in the same manner as if he had been upon her back. She outstripped all the rest, and upon the sound of the trumpets, which was usual toward the end of the race to animate the competitors, she redoubled her vigour and courage, turned round the goal, and, as if she had been sensible of the victory, presented herself before the judges of the games.

Nor did the entertainments finish here. There[Pg 54] was another kind of competition; and that, too, which does not at all depend upon the strength, activity, and address of the body, and may be called, with reason, the combat of the mind; wherein the orators, historians, and poets, made trial of their capacities, and submitted their productions to the judgment of the public.

It was a great honour, and, at the same time, a most sensible pleasure for writers, who are generally fond of fame and applause, to have known how to reconcile the voices in their favour of so numerous and select an assembly as that of the Olympic games, in which were present all the finest geniuses of Greece, and all the best judges of the excellence of a work. This theatre was equally open to history, eloquence, and poetry.

Herodotus read his history in the Olympic games to all Greece, assembled at them, and was heard with such applause, that the names of the nine Muses were given to the nine books which compose his work, and the people cried out wherever he passed, “That is he, who has written our history, and celebrated our glorious successes against the Barbarians.”

Anciently, Olympia was surrounded by walls; it had two temples,—one dedicated to Jupiter, and another to Juno; a senate-house, a theatre, and many other beautiful edifices, and also an innumerable multitude of statues.

The temple of Jupiter was built with the spoils, taken from certain states which had revolted; it was of the Doric order; sixty-eight feet high, two hundred and thirty long, and ninety-five broad. This edifice was built by an able architect, named Libon; and it was adorned by two sculptors of equal skill, who enriched the pediments of the principal[Pg 55] front with elaborate and elegant ornaments. The statue of the god, the work of Phidias, was of gold and ivory, fifty cubits high. On the one pediment, [Oe]nomaus and Peleus were disputing the prize of the race in the presence of Jupiter; on the other was the battle of the Centaurs and the Lapithæ. On the summit of each pediment was a Victory, of gilt brass; and at each angle a large vase of the same metal.

This statue was the finest the world ever saw. “Indeed,” says Mr. Dodwell; and he is borne out by the authorities of all those ancient writers who have written of it, “it appears to have united all the beauty of form, and all the splendour of effect, that are produced by the highest excellence of the statuary and the painter.”

The altar in this temple42 was composed of ashes from the thighs of the victims, which were carried up and consumed on the top with wood of the white poplar-tree. The ashes, also, of the Prytanæum, in which a perpetual fire was kept on a hearth, were removed annually, on a fixed day, and spread on it, being first mingled with water from the Alpheus. The people of Elis sacrificed daily, and private persons as often as they chose.

Olympia43 preserved, much longer than Delphi, and with less diminution, the sacred property, of which it was a similar repository. Some images were removed by Tiberius Nero. His successor, Caius Caligula, who honoured Jupiter with the familiar appellation of brother, commanded that his image should be transported to Rome; but the architects declared it was impossible, without destroying the work.

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The god, in the time of Pausanias, retained his original splendour. The native offerings of crowns and chariots, and of charioteers, and horses, and oxen, in brass, the precious images of gold, ivory, or amber, and the curiosities consecrated in the temples, the treasuries, and other edifices, could not be viewed without astonishment. The number of statues within the grove, was itself an amazing spectacle. Many were the works of Myron, Lysippus, and the prime artists of Greece. Here kings and emperors were assembled; and Jupiter towered in brass from twelve to thirty feet high! Let the reader peruse the detail given by Pausanias, and imagine, if he can, the entertainment which Olympia must then have afforded to the antiquary, the connoisseur, and historian.

Of all splendour, the temple of Juno alone can be ascertained with any degree of certainty. The soil, which has been considerably elevated, covers the greater part of the ruin. The walls of the cella rise only two feet from the ground. “We employed,” says Mr. Dodwell, “some Turks to excavate; and we discovered some frusta of the Doric order, of which the flutings were thirteen inches wide, and the diameter of the whole column seven feet three inches. We found, also, part of a small column of Parian marble, which the intervals of the flutings show to have been of the Ionic or the Corinthian order. The work of ruin, however, is constantly going on; and lately the people of Lalla (a town in the neighbourhood) have even rooted up some of the foundations of this once celebrated sanctuary, in order to use the materials in the construction of their houses44”.

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A maritime city of Campania, between Baiæ and Naples. It was founded by a colony from Cumæ. It was, in the first instance, called Dicæarchia, (“Just Power45,”) and afterwards Puteoli, from the great number of wells that were in the neighbourhood.

It was delightfully situated on a point projecting into the sea, nearly in the centre of the bay of Puzzuoli. It was the sea-port of the inhabitants of Cannæ; and a rendezvous for merchants from Greece, Sicily, and all parts of Italy. The attractions of the town, also, on account of its hot baths and mineral waters, allured the more opulent citizens of Rome to its vicinity.

In the square of the town stands a beautiful marble pedestal, covered with bas-reliefs, representing the fourteen towns of Asia Minor, destroyed by an earthquake, and rebuilt by Tiberius. It supported a statue of that emperor, erected by the same cities as a monument of gratitude. The cathedral stands on the ruins of a temple, and is built chiefly of ancient materials.

A temple of Serapis offers many subjects of observation. Half of its buildings, however, are still buried under the earth thrown upon it by volcanic commotions, or accumulated by the windings of the hill. The inclosure is square, environed by buildings for priests, and baths for votaries; in the centre remains a circular platform, with four flights of steps up to it; vases for fire, a central altar, rings for victims,[Pg 58] and other appendages of sacrifice, entire and not displaced; but the columns that held its roof have been removed to the new palace of Caserta. The temple itself was not discovered till A. D. 1750, on the removal of some rubbish and bushes, which had, till then, partly concealed it from observation.

Behind this place of worship, stand three pillars without capitals, part of the pronaos of a large temple. These are of Cipoline marble, and at the middle of their height, are full of holes eaten in them by the file-fish46.

In the neighbourhood of Puteoli are many relics of ancient grandeur, of which none deserves more attention than the Campanian Way, paved with lava, and lined on each side with venerable tombs, the repositories of the dead, which are richly adorned with stucco in the inside. This road was made in the most solid, expensive manner, by order of Domitian, and is frequently the subject of encomium in the poems of Statius.

One of the most striking monuments of the city is the remains of the mole that formed the ancient part. Several of its piers still stand unbroken; they are sunk in the water, and once supported arches (to the number of twenty-five,) part of which remain above the water.

At the end of this mole began the bridge of Caligula, which extended across part of the bay to Baiæ, no less than half a mile in length in a straight line. This structure has long since been swept away.

On the hill behind the town are the remains of an amphitheatre, called, after that at Rome, the Coliseum. It was of considerable magnitude. The [Pg 59]gates, and a large portion of the vault and under apartments, remain. One of these apartments, or rather dungeons, in which St. Januarius, the patron saint of Naples, was confined, is now turned into a damp and gloomy chapel; the arena is a garden; vines, fig-trees, and pomegranates, have gradually crept up the circumference, and now cover the slope, and run over the ruin47.

It is easy to guess what the animation and splendour of Puteoli must have been, at the time when the riches of the East were poured into its bosom; and when its climate, wit, and beauty, allured the most opulent Romans to its vicinity.

Cicero had a marine villa here, called Puteolanum. Pliny relates that it was on the shore, and adorned with a portico, which seems to have been remarkable for its beauty. He adds that Cicero erected here a monument, and that, shortly after his death, a fountain of warm water, very wholesome for the eyes, burst forth, and gave occasion to an epigram, which the philosopher quotes with applause48. The portico is fallen, the groves are withered, the fountain dried up, and not a vestige of the retreat left behind to mark its situation. The verses remain, and perpetuate the glory of the orator, the fame of the fountain, the beauty of the villa, and what is more honourable than all united, the gratitude of Cicero’s freed-man, Tullius.

St. Paul landed here in his way from Rhegium to Rome; and found Christians even in that early age. In the museum of Portici is a picture presenting a view of ancient Puteoli, supposed to have been painted before St. Paul landed there. “The picture,” says Mr. Williams, “is of course very different from the present state of the city; but still [Pg 60]a likeness may be traced, if we keep in view the site of the various temples, and other objects, the foundations of which are still visible.”

On the sea shore, near Puzzuoli, are also found seals, coins, cornelians, and agates; bearing impressions of corn, grapes, and vine-branches, ants, eagles, and other animals. These are thrown up by the waves, after violent storms; and commemorate the magnificence of a city, now forming part of the Mediterranean bed49.


“As patience is the greatest of friends to the unfortunate, so is time the greatest of friends to the lovers of landscape. It resolves the noblest works of art into the most affecting ornaments of created things. The fall of empires, with which the death of great characters is so immediately associated, possesses a prescriptive title, as it were, to all our sympathy; forming at once a magnificent, yet melancholy spectacle; and awakening in the mind all the grandeur of solitude. Who would not be delighted to make a pilgrimage to the East to see the columns of Persepolis, and the still more magnificent ruins of Palmyra? Where awe springs, as it were, personified from the fragments, and proclaims instructive lessons from the vicissitudes of fortune. Palmyra, once a paradise in the centre of inhospitable deserts, the pride of Solomon, the capital of Zenobia, and the wonder and admiration of all the East, now lies ‘majestic though in ruins!’ Its glory withered, time has cast over it a sacred grandeur, softened into grace. History, by its silence, mourns its melancholy destiny; while immense masses and stupendous columns denote the spot, where once the splendid city of the desert reared her proud and matchless towers. Ruins are the only legacy the destroyer left to posterity.”—Harmonies of Nature.

This city was the capital of Palmyrene, a country on the eastern boundaries of Syria. Its origin is uncertain; but a portion of its history is exceedingly interesting; and its vast assemblage of ruins are beheld with astonishment and rapture by the curious, the learned, and the elegant.


[Pg 61]

It was situated in the midst of a large plain, surrounded on three sides by a long chain of mountains. It stands in a desert, in the pachalic of Damascus, about forty-eight leagues from Aleppo, and about the same distance from Damascus, eighty-five miles west from the Euphrates, and about one hundred and seventeen from the shores of the Mediterranean.

History is, for the most part, silent in regard to the early history of this city. It is said to have been built by Solomon, after he had conquered the king of Hamathzoba, within whose dominion the country lay, in which the city was afterwards erected. He called it Tadmor50, which some have construed as the place of Palms51; and sometimes “Tadmor in the Wilderness.”

We are assured by Josephus, that this was the city which the Greeks and Romans afterwards called Palmyra. His words are:—“Now, Solomon went in the desert above Syria, and possessed himself of it; and built there a very great city, which was distant two days’ journey from the upper Syria, and one day’s journey from the Euphrates, and six long days’ journey from Babylon the great. Now the reason why this city lay so remote from those [Pg 62]parts of Syria, that are inhabited, is this: that below there is no water to be had; and that it is in that place only that there are springs and pits of water. When, therefore, he had built that city, and encompassed it with very strong walls, he gave it the name of Tadmor; and that is the name it is still called by at this day among the Syrians52: but the Greeks name it Palmyra.”

That the city was built by Solomon is most probable; but that the present ruins have any relation to buildings of his erection is very improbable: indeed we must assume it as certain that they are not; they being entirely those of the Greek orders. With the exception of four Ionic half-columns in the Temple of the Sun, and two in one of the mausoleums, the whole architecture of Palmyra is Corinthian. Neither history nor even tradition, moreover, speaks of any other architect than Solomon.

Some have been disposed to give it an earlier existence53. The Arabic translator of Chronicles makes Palmyra older than Solomon; John of Antioch, surnamed Melala, says, that he built it on the spot where David slew Goliah, in memory of that action; and Abul-Farai mentions in what year, with the particulars. These and other accounts of the early state of Palmyra, which might be collected from the Arabic authors, bear such evident marks of fable and wild conjecture, that we shall pass them over.

Notwithstanding this, we assume the city to have been founded by the celebrated king to whom the [Pg 63]honour is given: who built the temples is totally unknown.

The motives which tempted Solomon to build a city in a plain, now altogether a desert, we copy from Mr. Addison’s Travels to Damascus:—“The astonishment that takes hold of the mind at the strange position of this magnificent city, at one time the capital of the East, on the edge of the great desert, and surrounded for several days’ journey on all sides by naked solitary wilds, is removed by marking well the peculiarity of its geographical position. The great caravans coming to Europe, laden with the rich merchandise of India, would naturally come along the Persian gulf, through the south of Persia, to the Euphrates, the direct line; their object then would be to strike across the great Syrian desert as early as possible, to reach the large markets and ports of Syria. With more than 600 miles of desert without water, between the mouth of the Euphrates and Syria, they would naturally be obliged to keep along the banks of that river, until the extent of desert country became diminished. They would then find the copious springs of Tadmor the nearest and most convenient to make for; and in their direct route from the north of India along the Euphrates. These springs would then immediately become most important, and would naturally attract the attention of a wise prince like Solomon, who would ‘fence them with strong walls.’ Here the caravans would rest and take in water; here would congregate the merchants from adjacent countries and Europe; and from hence the great caravan would be divided into numerous branches, to the north, south, and west54. A large mart for the exchange of commodities would be established, and an important city [Pg 64]would quickly arise. The choice of this spot by Solomon, we may naturally consider founded on a policy of enriching himself by drawing the commerce of India through his dominions, from which commerce, probably, he derived the wealth for which he is so celebrated. In the chapter, succeeding that in which Solomon is mentioned to have built Tadmor in the wilderness, we read that ‘the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year, was six hundred three score and six talents of gold55; besides that he had of the merchantmen, and of the traffic of the spice-merchants, and of all the kings of Arabia, and of the governors of the country.’”

The city which Solomon built was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar; but who rebuilt it is entirely unknown. It is not mentioned by Xenophon, in his history of the expedition of Cyrus the younger, though he gives a very accurate account of the desert, and must have left this place not a great way to the right in his march towards Babylon. Nor is it once alluded to by Diodorus, nor Plutarch, nor Arrian, nor Quintus Curtius, nor, indeed, by any of the biographers or historians of Alexander; although he marched through this desert to Thapsacus.

Nor is it taken any notice of as being in existence even in the time of Seleucus Nicator, he who built so many cities in Syria; nor is it once mentioned in the history of his successor. It is not even mentioned so lately as the time in which Pompey the Great conquered the country in which it is situated. No notice is taken in Roman history of its being in any way existing, till the time of Mark Antony; who, after the battle at Philippi, marched against it, as we are told by Appian, with a view of plundering it; but the inhabitants escaped with their effects [Pg 65]over the Euphrates. This very circumstance proves it to have been at that time no very large place; added to which, it seems to be certain, that none of these temples, &c., could have been in existence; for the Romans had, for some time, been alive to the benefits of works of art; especially paintings, sculpture, and architecture. His sole object, in going thither, was to plunder the Palmyrene merchants, who were supposed to have acquired considerable wealth, by selling the commodities of India and Arabia.

Added to all this, Strabo, the best and most accurate geographer of ancient times, does not once speak of its name. The first description of this now celebrated place is by Pliny; and it runs thus:—“Palmyra is remarkable for situation, a rich soil, and pleasant streams. It is surrounded on all sides by a vast sandy desert, which totally separates it from the rest of the world, and has preserved its independence between the two great empires of Rome and Parthia, whose first care, when at war, is to engage it in their interest. It is distant from Seleucia three hundred and thirty-seven miles; from the Mediterranean two hundred and three; and from Damascus one hundred and seventy-six.”

These distances are not quite accurate, being too great. Palmyra is also mentioned by Ptolemy, who makes it the capital of sixteen cities in Syria Palmyrena. Trajan and Hadrian made expeditions into the East, and must have passed through this city, or near it. Nothing, however, is said of it. Had the temples been there at that time, Hadrian, who was so great a patron of the elegant arts, would, there can be no doubt, have valued them. Some, indeed, insist that he repaired the city; and that it was thence called Hadrianopolis.

The Palmyrenes submitted to that emperor about the year 130. Hadrian, then, making a tour through[Pg 66] Syria into Egypt, delighted with the situation and native strength of the place, is said to have determined on furnishing it with various splendid edifices and ornaments; and it is probable, that he then conferred upon it the privileges of “Colonia Juris Italici,” which, as we learn from Ulpian, it actually enjoyed, and the inhabitants were thence induced by gratitude to call themselves “Hadrianopolitæ.” It is supposed that many of its marble pillars, particularly those of the long porticoes, were the gift of this emperor. It must, nevertheless, be borne in mind, that all this is little better than conjecture. Mr. Halifax, however, says, “that as the most ancient inscription, he met with at Palmyra, was dated the three hundred and fourteenth year from the death of Alexander, that is, ten years before Christ, and another, dated between twenty and thirty years before Hadrian, consequently before the Romans got footing there, he concluded, that the sumptuous structures he saw there were not raised by the Romans.”

From an inscription on the shaft of a column in the long portico, where all the inscriptions seem to have been under statues, it appears that, in the reign of Alexander Severus, they joined that emperor in his expedition against the Persians.

From this time to the reign of Gallienus, no mention is made of this city: but then it became so conspicuous, that its history will be a subject of interest to all succeeding times.

The following is an abstract of the history of this period, presented to us in the pages of Gibbon, Mr. Wood, and other writers. A place possessed of such singular advantages, and situated at a convenient distance from the gulf of Persia, and the Mediterranean, was soon frequented by the caravans, which conveyed to the nations of Europe a considerable part of the rich commodities of India. Palmyra[Pg 67] insensibly increased into an opulent and independent city; and, connecting the Roman and Parthian empire by the mutual benefits of commerce, was suffered to observe an humble neutrality; till at length, after the victories of Trajan, the little republic sank into the bosom of Rome, and flourished more than one hundred and fifty years in the subordinate yet honourable rank of a colony; and it is during this period of peace, Mr. Gibbon is disposed to believe, that the wealthy Palmyrians constructed those temples, palaces and porticoes of Grecian architecture, the ruins of which in modern times have excited so much admiration and wonder.

The Roman affairs in the East had been for some time in a very deplorable condition, when Odenatus, a Palmyrene, but of what family or rank originally in the state is not agreed56, made so judicious a use of his situation between the two rival powers of Rome and Persia, as to succeed in getting the balance of power into his hands. It appears, that he declared in favour of different interests, as alterations of affairs rendered necessary. At length he joined the shattered remains of the Roman army in Syria, routed Sapor, the Persian king, and advanced as far as Ctesiphon, the capital of his empire. He returned from this expedition in great glory; and hence Gallienus, emperor of Rome, was induced to declare him Augustus and co-partner of his empire.

This elevation,—which he enjoyed jointly with his celebrated consort, Zenobia,—appeared to reflect a new splendour on their country, and Palmyra for a while stood upon an equality with Rome. The competition, [Pg 68]however, was fatal; and ages of prosperity were sacrificed to a moment of glory.

The last public action of Odenatus was his relieving Asia from the Goths, who had over-run several of its provinces, committing great ravages; but retired upon his approach: in pursuing them, however, Odenatus was assassinated by an officer of his own guard, named Mæonius, who was also his kinsman; and who, having taken the son off also, became for a short time sovereign. He, too, shared the fate of those he had betrayed, and Zenobia became sovereign queen in his stead.

All that is known of Zenobia’s extraction is, that she claimed a descent from the Ptolemies of Egypt57; and that she boasted of having Cleopatra for an ancestress. She was a woman of very great beauty58; and of very extraordinary enterprise. We cannot enter into her history so fully as we could wish. She conquered Syria and Mesopotamia; she subdued Egypt; and added the greater part of Asia Minor to her dominions. Thus a small territory in the desert, under the government of a woman, made the great kingdoms of the Ptolemies and the Seleucidæ part of the dominions of a single city, whose name we look in vain for in their history; and Zenobia, lately confined to the barren plain of Palmyra, ruled from the [Pg 69]south of Egypt to the Bosphorus and the Black Sea.

At length Aurelian, the Roman emperor, entered the field against her; and the loss of two great battles, the former near Antioch, the latter at Emesa, reduced her to the necessity of taking shelter within the walls of her own capital. Aurelian besieged her there; but the enterprise was exceedingly difficult. “The Roman people,” said Aurelian, “speak with contempt of the war, which I am waging against a woman. They are ignorant both of the character and power of Zenobia. It is impossible to enumerate her warlike preparations, of stones, of arrows, and of every species of missile weapons. Every part of the walls is provided with two or three balistæ59, and artificial fires are thrown from her military engines. The fear of punishment has armed her with a desperate courage. Yet I still trust to the protecting deities of Rome, who have hitherto been favourable to all my undertakings.”

In another letter he writes to the senate in the following terms:—“I hear, Conscript Fathers, that it hath been urged against me, that I have not accomplished a manly task, in not triumphing over Zenobia. But my very blamers themselves would not know how to praise me enough, if they knew that woman; her firmness of purpose; the dignity she preserves towards her army; her munificence when circumstances require it; her severity, when to be severe is to be just. I may say, that the victory of Odenatus over the Persians, and his putting Sapor to flight, and his reaching Ctesiphon, were due to her. I can assert that such was the dread entertained of this woman among the nations of the East and of Egypt, that she [Pg 70]kept in check the Arabians, the Saracens, and the Armenians; nor would I have preserved her life, if I had not thought she would much benefit the Roman state.” This was written after her defeat.

Tired of making unsuccessful attempts, Aurelian determined to try the effects of negotiation, and accordingly wrote to Zenobia. The style he adopted, however, rather commanded terms than proposed them:—

Aurelian, emperor of the Roman world, to Zenobia, and the others united together in hostile alliance.

“You ought to do that of your own accord, which is commanded by my letters. I charge you to surrender, on your lives being spared; and you, Zenobia, may pass your life in some spot where I shall place you, in pursuance of the distinguished sentence of the senate; your gems, silver, gold, silk, horses, and camels, being given up to the Roman treasury. The laws and institutions of the Palmyrenes shall be respected.”

To this letter Zenobia returned the following answer:—

Zenobia, Queen of the East, to the Roman Emperor, Aurelian.

“Never was such an unreasonable demand proposed, or such rigorous terms offered, by any but yourself! Remember, Aurelian, that in war, whatever is done should be done by valour. You imperiously command me to surrender: but can you forget, that Cleopatra chose rather to die with the title of queen, than to live in any inferior dignity? We expect succours from Persia; the Saracens are arming in our cause; even the Syrian banditti have already defeated your army. Judge what you are to expect from the junction of these forces. You shall be compelled to abate that pride with which, as if[Pg 71] you were absolute lord of the universe, you command me to become your captive.”

When Aurelian read this letter, says Vopiscus, he blushed; not so much with shame, as with indignation.

Her answer inflamed the emperor to the highest pitch. He pressed the siege, therefore, with redoubled vigour; and the city was reduced to such extremities, that her council advised her to send for succour to the Persians. Thus counselled, she determined on going to the king of Persia in person. She set out, therefore, on the fleetest of her dromedaries, and had already reached the banks of the Euphrates (about sixty miles from Palmyra), when she was overtaken by Aurelian’s light horse, and brought back, captive, to the feet of Aurelian. We are told, that the sight of the queen gave the Roman emperor infinite pleasure; but that his ambition suffered some humiliation, when he considered that posterity would always look upon this only as the conquest of a woman60. The city surrendered soon after, and was treated with great lenity.

Aurelian now went to Emesa; on arriving at which place, he questioned the queen as to her motives, and the persons who had advised her to make so obstinate a defence. He sternly asked her, how she had presumed to rise in arms against the emperors of Rome? “Because,” answered Zenobia, “I disdained to consider as Roman emperors an Aureolus or a Gallienus. You alone I acknowledge as my conqueror and my sovereign; and this I do, because you know how to conquer.”

[Pg 72]

When, however, the soldiers demanded her immediate execution, her fortitude forsook her. She confessed by whose counsel she had been guided. She purchased a dishonourable life at the expense of her friends. They were immediately led to execution; herself was reserved to grace the conqueror’s triumph.

Among those of her friends, whose names she had betrayed, was the illustrious Longinus, author of that noble Treatise on the Sublime, which is so well known and appreciated by every scholar. He it was, she confessed, who had drawn up the letter. “Her councillors,” she said, “were to be blamed, and not herself. What could a weak, short-sighted, woman do? especially when beset by artful and ambitious men, who made her subservient to all their schemes? She never had aimed at empire, had they not placed it before her eyes in all its allurements. The letter which affronted Aurelian was not her own—Longinus wrote it; the insolence was his.”

When Aurelian heard this, he directed all his fury against the unfortunate Longinus. That illustrious person was immediately led to execution. Far from lamenting his fate, however, he condoled with his friends, pitied Zenobia, and expressed his joy; looking upon death as a blessing, since it would rescue his body from slavery, and give his soul to that freedom he the most desired. “This world,” said he, with his expiring breath, “is nothing but a prison; happy, therefore, is he who gets soonest out of it, and gains his liberty.”

A modern poet has very finely alluded to this in his poem on Palmyra.

On the hushed plain, where sullen horror broods, And darkest frown the Syrian solitudes; Where morn’s soft steps no balmy fragrance leave, And parched and dewless is the couch of eve; [Pg 73] Thy form, pale city of the waste, appears Like some faint vision of departed years; In massy clusters still a giant train, Thy sculptured fabrics whiten on the plain. Still stretch thy columned vistas far away, The shadowed dimness of their long array. But where the stirring crowd, the voice of strife, The glow of action and the thrill of life? Hear the loud crash of yon huge fragments fall, The pealing answer of each desert hall; The night-bird shrieking from her secret cell, The hollow winds, the tale of ruin tell. See, fondly lingering, Mithra’s parting rays Gild the proud towers, once vocal with his praise: But the cold altars clasping weeds entwine, And Moslems worship at the godless shrine. Yet here slow pausing memory loves to pour Her magic influence o’er this pensive hour: And yet, as yon recesses deep prolong The echoed sweetness of the Arab song, Recalls that scene, when wisdom’s sceptred child, First broke the stillness of the lonely wild. From air, from ocean, from earth’s utmost clime, The summoned genii heard the muttered rhyme; The tasking spell their airy hands obeyed, And Tadmor glittered in the palmy shade. So to her feet the tide of ages brings The wealth of nations and the pomp of kings, And for her warrior queen, from Parthia’s plain To the dark Ethiop, spreads her ample reign: Vain boast, ev’n she who winds the field along, Waked fiercer frenzy in the patriot throng; And sternly beauteous in the meteor’s light, Shot through the tempest of Emesa’s fight. While trembling captives round the victor wait, Hang on his eye, and catch the word of fate, Zenobia’s self must quail beneath his nod, A kneeling suppliant to the mimic god. But one there stood amid that abject throng, In truth triumphant, and in virtue strong; Beamed on his brow the soul which, undismayed. Smiled at the rod, and scorned the uplifted blade. O’er thee, Palmyra, darkness seems to lower The boding terrors of that fearful hour; Far from thy glade indignant freedom fled, And hope too withered as Longinus bled61.

[Pg 74]

Palmyra, having become subject to a foreign yoke, bore the burthen with impatience. The inhabitants cut off the Roman garrison. On which Aurelian instantly returned, took the town, destroyed it, and put to death most of its population, without distinction of age or sex. The slaughter was so extensive, that none were left to plough the adjacent lands.

Aurelian soon repented of his severity. He wrote to Bassus:—“You must now sheathe the sword; the Palmyrenes have been sufficiently slaughtered. We have not spared women; we have slain children; we have strangled old men; we have destroyed the husbandmen. To whom, then, shall we leave the land? To whom shall we leave the city? We must spare those who remain; for we think, that the few there are now existing, will take warning from the punishment of the many who have been destroyed.”

The emperor then goes on to desire his lieutenant to rebuild the Temple of the Sun as magnificently as it had been in times past; to expend 300 pounds weight of gold, which he had found in the coffers of Zenobia, beside 1800 pounds weight of silver, which was raised from the sale of the people’s goods; together with the crown jewels, all which he ordered to be sold, to make money to beautify the temple; while he himself promises to write to the Senate, to send a priest from Rome to dedicate it. But, in the language of Gibbon, it is easier to destroy than it is to restore.

Zenobia was now to be led to the conqueror’s triumph. This triumph was celebrated with extraordinary magnificence. It was opened by twenty elephants, four royal tigers, and above two hundred of the most curious animals from every climate of the known world. Ambassadors from Æthiopia, Arabia, Persia, Bactriana, India, and China, attended the[Pg 75] triumph; and a long train of captives,—Goths, Vandals, Sarmatians, Alemanni, Franks, Gauls, Syrians, and Egyptians. Amongst these, Zenobia. She was confined in fetters of gold; a slave supported the gold chain which encircled her neck, and she almost fainted under the weight of her jewels. She did not ride, but walk! preceded by the chariot in which she had once indulged the vain hope of entering Rome as empress62.

The Palmyrenes63, says Zosimus, had several declarations from the gods, which portended the overthrow of their empire; and, among others, having consulted the temple of Apollo, at Seleucia in Cilicia, to know if they should ever obtain the empire of the East, they got the following unceremonious answer:

Avoid my temple, cursed, treacherous nation! You even put the gods themselves in passion.

The religion of the Palmyrenes, it is evident, was pagan; their government, for the most part, republican; but their laws are entirely lost; nor can anything be known in respect to their polity, but what may be gathered from the inscriptions. Their chief deity was the Sun.

In regard to their knowledge of art, they have left the finest specimens in the ruins that now remain; and, doubtless, Longinus’ work on the Sublime was written within its walls. “From these [Pg 76]hints we may see,” says Mr. Wood, “that this people copied after great models in their manners, their vices, and their virtues. Their funeral customs were from Egypt, their luxury was Persian, and their letters and arts were from the Greeks. Their situation in the midst of these three great nations makes it reasonable to suppose, that they adopted most of their customs and manners. But to say more on that head from such scanty materials, would be to indulge too much in mere conjecture, which seems rather the privilege of the reader than of the writer.”

Some years after this, we find Diocletian erecting several buildings here; but what they were is not stated. Justinian, also, repaired Palmyra, which, according to Procopius, had been almost entirely deserted. These repairs, however, are supposed to have reference rather to strength than to ornament; and this is the last mention of Palmyra in Roman history.

The various fortunes of Palmyra, to and from the time of Mahomet’s appearance, are scarcely known, except that it was considered as a place of great strength; and that in the twelfth century, A. D. 1171, there were, according to Benjamin of Tudela, who visited the spot in that year, two thousand Jews in it.

Palmyra, according to the Arabs, once occupied an area nearly ten miles in circumference, and is supposed to have been reduced to its present confined and ruined state by the quantities of sand64 driven on it by whirlwinds.

The walls of the city were flanked by square towers. They were three miles in circumference, and it is [Pg 77]imagined that they included the great temple. What remains there are of the wall, do not look, according to Mr. Wood, unlike the work of Justinian; and may be part of the repairs mentioned by Procopius; and the highest antiquity anything else can claim is the time of the Mamelukes.

(From Sellerus).
Anno Pers.
Jul. 3720.
Mund. 3010.

Palmyra, built by Solomon after he had finished the temple of Jerusalem.

P. J. 4125.
M. 3415.
Destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, before he laid siege to Jerusalem.
P. J. 4673.
M. 3963.
V. C. Varr.
713, ante
Christ 41.
Pillaged by Mark Antony.
Anno Christi. 122.

Hadrian, Imp. 6, went into the East, and is supposed to have rebuilt Palmyra; in consequence of which it assumed the name of Hadrianople. At this period Malenthon was a second time secretary of the city.


Odenathus, having roused the Persians, is declared Augustus by Gallienus.


Odenathus, with his son Herodianus, slain by Mæonius, who assumes the sovereignty of Palmyra; but is himself slain a few days after. Then Zenobia assumes the empire in her own name, and those of her sons.

Circa 216.

Palmyra made a Roman colony by Caracalla, in his expedition into Parthia.


The republic assisted Alexander Severus against Artaxerxes, king of Persia; Zenobia being their general.


The republic assisted Gordian against the Persians.


Valerian taken prisoner by Sapor, king of Persia.

[Pg 78]A. D. 267/8.

Zenobia routed Gallienus’s general, Herodianus. Vabellathus assumes the empire.


Claudius chosen emperor of Rome.


Zenobia conquers Egypt by her general Zabdas.


Palmyra taken by Aurelian.


Zenobia follows in the triumph of Aurelian at Rome.


Hierocles, governor of Palmyra, under Dioclesian.


Justinian repairs and fortifies Palmyra.


Palmyra subjected by the Mahometans; Jabala, the son of Al Ilum, being then lord of Tadmor, and king of Gassan.


The battle of Tadmor, between Datracus and Adis.


Solyman, the pseudo-caliph, beaten by Merwan, fled to Tadmor.


Palmyra visited by Benjamin of Tudela.


Palmyra visited by some English merchants, attended by forty servants and muleteers, who first informed Europe, that such splendid ruins as those of Tadmor were in existence. At this time Melbam was Emir.


The English merchants visit Palmyra a second time; the Emir being Hassine.


Dôr, Emir of Palmyra65.

We shall now give place to accounts in respect to the first impressions, made by these ruins on the minds of different travellers.

Mr. Halifax says66, “the city itself appears to have been of a large extent by the space now taken up by the ruins;” but that there are no footsteps of any walls remaining, nor is it possible to judge of the ancient figure of the place. The present inhabitants, as they are poor, miserable, dirty people, so they have shut themselves up, to the number of about thirty or forty families,[Pg 79] in little huts made of dirt, within the walls of a spacious court, which inclosed a most magnificent heathen temple: thereinto also Mr. Halifax’s party entered, the whole village being gathered together at the door; whether to stand upon their defence in case the strangers proved enemies (for some of them had guns in their hands), or out of mere curiosity to gaze, he knew not. However the guide, who was an Arab whom Assyne their king had sent to conduct them through the village, being a man known among them, they had an easy admittance; and, with a great many welcomes in their language, were led to the sheik’s house, with whom they took up their abode. “And to mention here what the place at first view represented, certainly the world itself could not afford the like mixture of remains of greatest state and magnificence, together with the extremity of poverty and wretchedness.” The nearest parallel Mr. Halifax could think of, was that of the temple of Baal, destroyed by Jehu, and converted into a draught-house.

“We had scarce passed the sepulchres,” says Mr. Wood, “when the hills opening discovered to us all at once the greatest quantity of ruins we had ever seen, all of white marble; and beyond them, towards the Euphrates, a flat waste as far as the eye could reach, without any object that showed either life or motion.”

When Mr. Wood’s party arrived, they were conducted to one of the huts, of which there were about thirty, in the court of the great temple. The inhabitants of both sexes were well-shaped, and the women, though very swarthy, had good features. They were veiled; but did not so scrupulously conceal their faces as the Eastern women generally do. They paint the ends of their fingers red, their lips blue, and their eyebrows and eyelashes black67.

[Pg 80]

They had large rings of gold or brass in their ears and nostrils, and appeared to be healthy and robust.

The ruins were next visited by Mr. Bruce:—“When we arrived at the top of the hill,” says he, “there opened before us, the most astonishing, stupendous, sight, that perhaps ever appeared to mortal sight. The whole plain below, which was very extensive, was covered so thick with magnificent ruins, as the one seemed to touch the other, all of fine proportions, all of agreeable forms, all composed of white stone, which, at that distance, appeared like marble. At the end of it stood the Palace of the Sun, a building worthy so magnificent a scene.”

The effect on the imagination of Mr. Addison appears to have been equally lively:—“At the end of the sandy plain,” says he, “the eye rests upon the lofty columns of the Temple of the Sun, encompassed by a dark elevated mass of ruined buildings; and beyond, all around, and right and left towards the Euphrates, as far as the eye can reach, extends the vast level naked flat of the great desert, over which the eye runs in every direction, piercing the boundless horizon, without discovering a human being or a trace of man. Naked, solitary, unlimited space extends around, where man never breathes under the shade, or rests his limbs under the cover of a dwelling. A deep blue tint spreads along its surface, here and there shaded with a cast of brown; the distant outline of the horizon is clear and sharply defined; not an eminence rises to break the monotonous flat, and along the edge extends a large district covered with salt, distinguished from the rest by its peculiar colour.

“There is something grand and awe-inspiring in its boundless immensity. Like the first view of the ocean, it inspires emotions, never before experienced, unearthly in appearance, and out of character with the[Pg 81] general fair face of nature. The eye shrinks from contemplating the empty, cheerless solitude, and we turn away in quest of some object to remove the scenes of utter loneliness, that its gloomy aspect is calculated to inspire.”

From these pages we turn with satisfaction to those of an American:—“I have stood before the Parthenon, and have almost worshipped that divine achievement of the immortal Phidias. I have been at Milan, at Ephesus, at Alexandria, at Antioch; but in none of these renowned cities I have beheld any thing, that I can allow to approach in united extent, grandeur, and most consummate beauty, this almost more than work of man. On each side of this, the central point, there rose upward slender pyramids—pointed obelisks—domes of the most graceful proportions, columns, arches, and lofty towers, for number and for form, beyond my power to describe. These buildings, as well as the walls of the city, being all either of white marble, or of some stone as white, and being everywhere in their whole extent interspersed, as I have already said, with multitudes of overshadowing palm trees, perfectly filled and satisfied my sense of beauty, and made me feel, for the moment, as if in such a scene I should love to dwell, and there end my days.”

Burckhardt speaks thus of Palmyra and Balbec:—“Having seen the ruins of Tadmor, a comparison between these two renowned remains of antiquity naturally offered itself to my mind. The temple of the Sun at Tadmor, is upon a grander scale than that of Balbec, but it is choked with Arab houses, which admit only a view of the building in detail. The architecture of Balbec is richer than that of Tadmor.”

In respect to the ruins, we must content ourselves with giving a very general account, as it would be[Pg 82] impossible to render a minute description intelligible without the aid of plates.68 Our account will be a compilation from those given by Mr. Halifax, Mr. Wood, Mr. Bruce, Mr. Addison, and other writers, who have been there.

The entire number of distinct buildings, which may still be traced, are from forty to fifty. To the northward of the valley of the tombs, on the highest eminence in the immediate vicinity, towers the ruined Turkish or Saracenic castle. It is seated on the very summit of the mountain, and surrounded by a deep ditch, cut out of the solid rock. It is said by the Arabs to have been built by Man Ogle, a prince of the Druses; its deserted chambers and passages partake of the universal solitude and silence; there is not a living thing about it; it seems to be deserted even by the bats.

From this castle is seen an extensive view round about: you see Tadmor under you, inclosed on three sides with long ridges of mountains, which open towards the east gradually, to the distance of about an hour’s riding; but to the east stretches a vast plain beyond the reach of the eye. In this plain you see a large valley of salt, lying about an hour’s distance from the city69.

[Pg 83]

It is imagined by the Persians that this castle, as well as the edifices at Balbec, were built by genii, for the purposes of hiding in their subterranean caverns immense treasures, which still remain there70. “All these things,” said one of the Arabs to Mr. Wood, “were done by Solyman ebn Doud, (Solomon, the son of David,) by the assistance of spirits.”

But of all the monuments of art and magnificence, the most considerable is the Temple of the Sun.

This temple, says Bruce, is very much ruined; of its peristyle there only remains70 a few columns entire, Corinthian, fluted and very elegant, though apparently of slenderer proportions than ten diameters. Their capitals are quite destroyed. The ornament of the outer gate are, some of them, of great beauty, both as to execution and design.

Within the court are the remains of two rows of very noble marble pillars, thirty-seven feet high. The temple was encompassed with another row of pillars, fifty feet high; but the temple itself was only thirty-three yards in length, and thirteen or fourteen in breadth. This is now converted into a mosque, and ornamented after the Turkish manner.

North of this place is an OBELISK, consisting of seven large stones, besides its capital, and the wreathed work above it, about fifty feet high, and just above the pedestal twelve in circumference. Upon this was probably a statue, which the Turks have destroyed.

On the west side is a most magnificent arch, on [Pg 84]the remains of which are some vines and clusters of grapes, carved in the boldest imitation of nature that can be conceived.

Just over the door are discerned a pair of wings, which extend its whole breadth; the body to which they belong is totally destroyed, and it cannot now certainly be known, whether it was that of an eagle or of a cherub, several representations of both being visible on other fragments of the building.

The north end of the building is adorned with a curious fret-work and bas-relief; and in the middle there is a dome or cupola, about ten feet in diameter, which appears to have been either hewn out of the rock, or moulded of some composition, which, by time, is grown equally hard.

At about the distance of a mile from the OBELISK are two others, besides the fragment of a third; hence it has been reasonably suggested, that they were a continued row.

Every spot of ground intervening between the walls and columns, is laid out in plantations of corn and olives, inclosed by mud walls.

In the direction of the mountains lie fragments of stone, here and there columns stand erect, and clumps of broken pillars are met with at intervals. All this space seems to have been covered with small temples and ornamental buildings, approached by colonnades.

Next to the temple, the most remarkable structure is the long portico, which commences about two thousand two hundred feet to the north-west of the temple, and extends for nearly four thousand feet further in the same direction. “It is a remark worthy the observation of historians,” says Volney, “that the front of the portico has twelve pillars like that at Balbec; but what artists will esteem still more curious is that these two fronts resemble the gallery of the house built by Perrault, long before the[Pg 85] existence of the drawing which made us acquainted with them. The only difference is, that the columns of the Louvre are double, whereas those of Palmyra are detached.”

About one hundred paces from the middle obelisk, straight forward, is a magnificent entry to a piazza, which is forty feet broad and more than half a mile in length, inclosed with two rows of marble pillars, twenty-six feet high, and eight or nine feet in compass. Of these there still remain one hundred and twenty-nine; and, by a moderate computation, there could not, originally, have been less than five hundred and sixty. The upper end of the piazza was shut in by a row of pillars, standing somewhat closer than those on each side.

A little to the left are the ruins of a stately building, which appears to have been a banqueting-house. It is built of better marble, and is finished with greater elegance, than the piazza. The pillars which supported it were one entire stone, which is so strong that one of them, which has fallen down, has received no injury. It measures twenty-two feet in length, and in compass eight feet nine inches.

In the west side of the piazza are several apertures for gates, into the court of the palace. Each of these is adorned with four porphyry pillars; not standing in a line with those of the wall, but placed by couples in the front of the gate facing the palace, on each side. Two of these only remain, and but one standing in its place. These are thirty feet long, and nine in circumference.

“We sometimes find a palace,” says Volney, “of which nothing remains but the courts and walls; sometimes a temple, whose peristyle is half thrown down; and now a portico, a gallery, or a triumphant arch. Here stand groups of columns, whose symmetry is destroyed by the fall of many of them;[Pg 86] these we see ranged in rows of such length, that, similar to rows of trees, they deceive the sight, and assume the appearance of continued walls. On which side soever we look, the earth is strewed with vast stones, half buried, with broken entablatures, damaged capitals, mutilated friezes, disfigured reliefs, effaced sculptures, violated tombs, and altars defiled with mud.”

“In their ruined courts,” says another traveller, “and amid the crumbling walls of their cottages, may be seen, here and there, portions of the ancient pavement of the area; while all around the inclosure extend groups of columns, with pedestals for statues, and walls ornamented with handsome architectural decorations, the ruins of the majestic portico and double colonnade, which once inclosed the whole of the vast area. Portions of a frieze, or the fragments of a cornice, upon whose decoration was expended the labour of years, are now used by the poor villagers to bake their bread upon, or are hollowed out as hand-mills, in which to grind their corn.”

Among the walls and rubbish are a vast number of lizards and serpents; and that circumstance led to the celebrated poetic picture painted by Darwin.

Lo! where Palmyra, ‘mid her wasted plains, Her shattered aqueducts, and prostrate fanes, As the bright orb of breezy midnight pours Long threads of silver through her gaping towers, O’er mouldering tombs, and tottering columns gleams, And frosts her deserts with diffusive beams, Sad o’er the mighty wreck in silence bends, Lifts her wet eyes, her tremulous hands extends. If from lone cliffs a bursting rill expands Its transient course, and sinks into the sands; O’er the moist rock the fell hyena prowls, The serpent hisses, and the panther growls; On quivering wings the famished vulture screams, Dips his dry beak, and sweeps the gushing streams. With foaming jaws beneath, and sanguine tongue, Laps the lean wolf, and pants, and runs along; [Pg 87] Stern stalks the lion, on the rustling brinks Hears the dread snake, and trembles as he drinks. Quick darts the scaly monster o’er the plain, Fold after fold his undulating train; And, bending o’er the lake his crested brow, Starts at the crocodile that gapes below.—Darwin.

On the eastern side of the area of the Temple of the Sun, there is a curious doorway of one solid block of stone, which commands a fine view of the desert. “As we looked out of this narrow gateway,” says Mr. Addison, “we fancied, that Zenobia herself might have often stood at the same spot, anxiously surveying the operations of Aurelian and his blockading army. From hence the eye wanders over the level waste, across which the unfortunate queen fled on her swift dromedary to the Euphrates; and here, the morning after her departure, doubtless congregated her anxious friends, to see if she was pursued in her flight; and from hence she was probably first descried, being brought back a captive and a prisoner in the hands of the Roman horsemen.”

On the east side of the Piazza, stands a great number of marble pillars: some perfect, but the greater part mutilated. In one place eleven are ranged together in a square; the space, which they inclose, is paved with broad flat stones; but there are no remains of a roof.

At a little distance are the remains of a small temple, which is also without a roof; and the walls are much defaced; but from the door is enjoyed the magnificent coup-d’œil of all the ruins, and of the vast desert beyond. Before the entry, which looks to the south, is a piazza, supported by six pillars, two on each side of the door, and one at each end. The pedestals of those in front have been filled with inscriptions in the Greek and Palmyrene languages, which are become totally illegible.

Among these ruins there are many Sepulchres.[Pg 88] They are ranged on each side of a hollow way, towards the north part of the city, and extend more than a mile. They are all square towers, four or five stories high. But though they are alike in form, they differ greatly in magnificence. The outside is of common stone; but the floors and partitions of each story are marble. There is a walk across the whole building, just in the middle; and the space on each hand is subdivided into six partitions by thick walls. The space between the partitions is wide enough to receive the largest corpse; and in these niches there are six or seven piled one upon another.

“As great a curiosity as any,” says Mr. Halifax, “were these sepulchres, being square towers four or five stories high, and standing on both sides of a hollow way, towards the north part of the city. They stretched out in length the space of a mile, and perhaps formerly might extend a great way further. At our first view of them, some thought them the steeples of ruined churches, and were in hopes we should have found some steps of churches here; others took them to have been bastions, and part of the old fortifications, though there is not so much as any foundation of a wall to be seen. But when we came, a day or two after, more curiously to inquire into them, we quickly found their use. They were all of the same form, but of different splendour and greatness, according to the circumstances of their founders. The first we viewed was entirely marble, but is now wholly in ruins; and we found nothing but a heap of stones, amongst which we found two statues; one of a man; another of a woman, cut in sitting, or rather leaning, posture, and the heads and part of the arms being broken off; but their bodies remaining pretty entire; so that we had the advantage of seeing their habits, which appeared very noble; but more approaching the European fashion, than what is now in use in the[Pg 89] East, which inclined me to think they might be Roman. Upon broken pieces of stone, tumbled here and there, we found some broken inscriptions, but, not affording any perfect sense, they are not worth the transcribing.”

These are the most interesting of all the ruins. As you wind up a narrow valley between the mountain range, you have them on your right and left, topping the hills, or descending to the border of the valley: some presenting heaps of rubbish, and some half fallen, expose their shattered chambers, and one or two still exist in almost an entire state of preservation. They are seen from a great distance, and have a striking effect in this desert solitude.

The ruins of Palmyra and Balbec are very different. “No comparison can be instituted between them,” says Mr. Addison. “The ruins of Balbec consist merely of two magnificent temples, inclosed in a sort of citadel; while here, over an immense area, we wander through the ruins of long porticoes leading up to ruined temples and unknown buildings. Now we see a circular colonnade sweeping round with its ruined gateway, at either end; now we come to the prostrate walls, or ruined chambers of a temple or palace; anon we explore the recesses of a bath, or the ruins of an aqueduct; then we mount the solitary staircase, and wander through the silent chambers of the tombs, ornamented with busts, inscriptions, and niches for the coffins, stored with mouldering bones; and from the summits of funereal towers, five stories in height, we look down upon this mysterious assemblage of past magnificence; and beyond them, upon the vast level surface of the desert, silent and solitary; stretching away like the vast ocean, till it is lost in the distance, far as the eye can reach. The dwelling of man is not visible. The vastness and immensity of space strikes us with awe, and the mouldering monuments[Pg 90] of human pride, that extend around, teach us a sad lesson of the instability of all human greatness.”

Though antiquity has left nothing either in Greece or Italy, in any way to be compared with the magnificence of the ruins of Palmyra, Mr. Wood observes, that there is a greater sameness in the architecture of Palmyra than at Rome, Athens, and other great cities, whose ruins evidently point out different ages of decay. But, except four half-columns in the Temple of the Sun, and two in one of the mausoleums, the whole architecture is Corinthian, richly ornamented with some very striking beauties and some as visible faults.

Through the valley of the tombs may be traced remnants of a ruined aqueduct, which formerly conducted water to the town from, at present, an unknown source; it consists of a vaulted passage running underground, covered with a fine hard stucco. In regard to the present supply, there are two rivers, the waters of which, when judiciously distributed, must have conduced greatly to the subsistence and comfort of the ancient inhabitants; but these are now allowed to lose themselves in the sand.

Mr. Wood says that all the inscriptions he saw were in Greek or Palmyrene, except one, which was in Latin. Many attempts have been made to explain the Palmyrene inscriptions. They were generally supposed to be Syriac. Gruter, having seen an inscription at Rome, gave it as his opinion that the characters were Arabic. Scaliger, speaking of the same inscription, gave the subject up in despair. Some have thought they were Greek, translated from the Palmyrene. Upon this hint M. Barthelemy examined the inscriptions copied into Mr. Wood’s work, and came to the conclusion, that Syriac was the living language of the inhabitants of Palmyra, at[Pg 91] the time those monuments were erected; and that the greatest part, if not all the characters, are the same as those made use of in writing Hebrew at this day, although they have a different appearance.

We shall now give a few specimens:—“This splendid and durable monument, Jamblichus, the son of Mocimus, the son of Acaleises, the son of Malichus, erected for himself, his children, and his posterity, in the month of April, year 314.

There is another to the same purport, erected in the same month, one hundred years after:—“This monument, Elabælus Manæus Cocchæus Malachus, the son of Waballathus, the son of Manæus, the son of Elabælus, built for himself and family in the month of April, year 414.

Another inscription implies that “Septimius Odenathus, the most excellent senator, had erected this monument for himself and his posterity, to preserve their name for ever.”

Another contains an epitaph erected by Soræchus, to his wife Martha, in the reign of Marcus Antoninus, A. D. 178.

A third is of the same nature; appropriated by Malchus, to himself and his children, though built by his ancestors.

Besides sepulchral monuments there are others, erected by order of the senate and people of the commonwealth of Tadmor, to the honour of those citizens who had deserved well of the republic. Among these is one in honour of Alilamenes; another in honour of Julius Aurelius Zenobius; another in honour of Jarisbolus; and others in honour of Septimius Orodes. The last of these was a great benefactor to the public and private institutions of Palmyra. He had been an officer in his younger days, and had greatly distinguished himself under his prince, Odenathus, against the Parthians; during the year[Pg 92] in which this monument was erected, he exercised the office of symposiarch, in the festival dedicated to their Patron God, Jupiter Belus. That in honour of Alilamenes runs thus:—“The senate and the people have placed this in honour of Alilamenes, the son of Panas, the son of Mocimus, the son of Æranes, devoted lovers of their country, and in every respect deserving well of their country, and of the immortal Gods, in the year 450, and the 30th day of the month of April.”

There are, also, monuments erected by private persons to the memory of their friends. The finest of these contains the grateful remembrance which the Palmyrene merchants, trading to Vologesias71, retained of the great services which Julius Zobeidas did them in that expedition.

Another inscription commemorates the virtues of a person named Malenthon, secretary to the republic of Palmyra, when “the God Hadrian” arrived in the city (A. D. 122). He is remembered for having contributed to the adornment of the temple of Belus, and for having given a largess to the public baths, of oil for the use, not only of the citizens, but of strangers.

The monument erected to Jamblichus seems to be the oldest, and the work of Domitian the latest; taking in about three hundred years between them. The other rich and extensive buildings were, Mr. Wood supposes, erected before the last of these dates, and probably after the first; perhaps about the time Elabælus built his monument.

It is rather remarkable, that there is no monument in memory of, nor any inscription in honour of Zenobia; for which Dr. Halley accounts on the supposition, that the Romans were so much irritated [Pg 93]and ashamed, that they destroyed and defaced everything that might be erected in honour of her.

The decay of Palmyra has been accounted for from its peculiar situation. A country without land, if the expression may be allowed, could only exist by commerce: their industry had no other channel to operate in; and when loss of their liberty was followed by that of trade, they were reduced to live idly on as much of their capital as had been spared by Aurelian. When that was spent, necessity compelled them to desert the town.

Time has partially preserved the peristyles, the intercolumniations, and entablatures; the elegance of the designs of which equal throughout the richness of the materials. These being, in many respects, the greatest and most entire, is attributed to there having been, for so long a time, few inhabitants to deface them, to a dry climate, and their distance from any city which might apply the materials to other uses. These ruins present a sad contrast with the hovels of the wild Arabs, now the only inhabitants of a city which, in former times, emulated Rome. “Of all the contrasts of past magnificence with present meanness,” says Mr. Addison, “of the wealth and genius of by-gone times with the poverty and ignorance of the present day, no more striking instance, perhaps, can be found than is presented in the present poor Arab village of Tadmor. You there see a few poverty-stricken inhabitants living in square hovels of mud mixed with chopped straw, roofed with earth, leaves, and dry sticks, congregated round the magnificent Temple of the Sun of yore; despoiled of its ornaments by one of the haughtiest and most powerful of the Roman emperors, who came with his victorious troops from the distant provinces of Gaul and of Britain, to rend asunder the dominion of which this spot, in the midst of[Pg 94] desert solitudes, had rendered itself the head.” Mr. Addison then goes on to state that the “village of Tadmor consists, altogether, of about a dozen or fifteen families, and there can be hardly more than twenty able-bodied males in the whole place. This little community possesses a few herds of goats and dromedaries, which, together with the poultry, form the chief wealth of the villagers. These poor people are not, however, sufficiently advanced in the desert to be without the reach of the Syrian government; they all pay a capitation tax to Ibrahim Pasha. The portion of cultivated land on this spot is very small; there are merely a few scanty gardens, which produce roots, vegetables, and a miserable supply of corn. There are one or two palm-trees along the banks of the stream, and a few shrubs of the thorny acacia.”

These ruins were, some years ago, visited by a lady who has made a great noise in Syria—Lady Hester Stanhope. During her residence there she gave a kind of fête to the Bedouins. “The great sheikh,” says Mr. Carne, in his letters from the East, “and some of his officers constantly reside at the ruins. Their habitations are fixed near the great temple; they are all well-disposed and civil in their manners, and their young women are remarkable above all the other tribes for their beauty. It was a lovely day, and the youth of both sexes, dressed in their gayest habiliments, were seated in rows on the fragments of the pillars, friezes, and other ruins with which the ground was covered. Her ladyship, in her Eastern dress, walked among them, addressed them with the utmost affability, and ordered a dollar to be given to each. As she stood with all that Arab array amidst the columns of the great Temple of the Sun, the sight was picturesque and imposing, and the Bedouins hailed her with the utmost enthusiasm ‘queen of Palmyra,’ ‘queen of[Pg 95] the desert;’ and, in their enthusiasm, would have proceeded to confer more decided marks of sovereignty; but they were declined.”

This fête was afterwards described to Mr. Buckingham by an Arab, who had been present, in the following hyperbolical style:—“As soon as it was known in the desert that the princess intended to journey to Tadmor, all the tribes were in motion; war was changed to universal peace, and every sheik, or chief, was eager to have the honour of leading the escort. Councils and assemblies were held at Horis and at Hamak, at Sham, and at Thaleb, Damascus, and Aleppo; messengers were sent in every direction, and nothing was neglected that might serve to make the way full of pleasure. When money was talked of, every one rejected it with indignation, and exclaimed, ‘Shall we not serve the princess for honour?’ Every thing being settled, the party set out, preceded by horsemen in front, dromedaries of observation on the right and the left, and camels laden with provisions in the rear. As they passed along, the parched sands of the desert became verdant plains; the burning wells became crystal streams; rich carpets of grass welcomed them at every place where they stopped for repose, and the trees under which they pitched their tents, expanded to twice their size to cover them with shade. When they reached the broken city (the ruins), the princess was taken to the greatest of all the palaces (the Temple of the Sun), and there gold and jewels were bound round her temples, and all the people did homage to her as a queen, by bowing their heads to the dust. On that day Tadmor was richer than Damascus, and more peopled than Constantinople; and if the princess had only remained, it would soon have become the greatest of all the cities of the earth: for men were pouring into it from all quarters; horsemen and[Pg 96] chiefs, merchants and munugemein (astrologers and learned men who consult the stars); the fame of her beauty and benevolence having reached to Bagdad and Isfahan, to Bokhara and Samarcand; the greatest men of the East being desirous of beholding it for themselves.” The Arab, who firmly believed all this, narrated the return from Palmyra in the same romantic strains; and ended by repeating his regret at the misfortune of not having been one of the happy multitude, assembled on that occasion; he having been then on some business with another tribe to the south of the Dead Sea72.

Lady Hester is now dead. The following account is taken from a paper published originally at Smyrna: “We announced in our last number the death of Lady Hester Stanhope. Our readers will no doubt be glad to have a brief sketch of the principal circumstances of that extraordinary woman’s life. It was at Djouni, in Syria, that Lady Hester died, after a long illness, at the age of sixty-four. That reader must be indifferent, who reverts not with interest to his recollections of a woman, who has expired on the borders of the desert, amidst the Druses and Turkomans, over whom that noble daughter of the Infidels once exercised so strange and so marvellous a sway. The destiny of Lady Stanhope presents one of those features of which not another instance could, perhaps, be found in the annals of the East. Only imagine forty thousand Arabs suddenly assembled upon the ruins of Palmyra, and these wandering, savage, and indomitable tribes surrounding, in silent astonishment and admiration, a foreign woman, and proclaiming her Sovereign of the Desert and Queen of Palmyra! Convey yourself in thought to the scene of this incredible triumph, and you will then conceive what woman that must have been, who imposed [Pg 97]silence on Mussulman fanaticism, and created for herself, as it were, by magic, a sovereignty in the domains of Mohammed. ‘Lady Hester Stanhope,’ says M. de Lamartine, in his admirable work, ‘was a niece of Mr. Pitt. On the death of her uncle, she left England, and visited various parts of Europe. Young, handsome, and rich, she was everywhere received with the attention and interest due to her rank, fortune, mind, and beauty; but she constantly refused to unite her fate to that of her worthiest admirers; and, after spending some years in the principal capitals of Europe, embarked with a numerous suite for Constantinople. The real cause of this expatriation has never been known. Some have ascribed it to the death of a young English officer, who was killed at that period in Spain, and whom an eternal regret rendered for ever present in Lady Hester’s heart: others have imputed her voluntary banishment to a mere love of adventure in a young person of an enterprising and courageous character. However this might be, she departed, spent some years at Constantinople, and then sailed for Syria in an English vessel, which carried also the larger part of her fortune, as well as jewellery, trinkets, and presents of all sorts, of very considerable value.’ The vessel encountered a storm in the gulf of Macri, on the road to Caramania; the ship was wrecked, Lady Hester Stanhope’s property was all lost, and it was as much as she could do to save her own life. Nothing, however, could shake her resolution. She returned to England, gathered the remainder of her fortune, sailed again for Syria, and landed at Latakia, the ancient Laodicea. She had at first thought of fixing her abode at Broussa, at the foot of the Olympus; but Broussa is a commercial city, situate on the avenues to the Ottoman capital, and reckoning not less than sixty thousand inhabitants; and Lady[Pg 98] Hester sought the independence and solitude of the desert. She therefore selected the wilderness of Mount Lebanon, whose extreme ramifications lose themselves in the sands. Ruined Palmyra—Zenobia’s ancient capital—suited her fancy. The noble exile took up her residence at Djouni, prepared for every vicissitude. ‘Europe,’ said she, ‘is a monotonous residence; its nations are unworthy of freedom, and endless revolution are their only prospects.’ She applied herself to the study of the Arabic language, and strove to obtain a thorough acquaintance with the character and manners of the Syrian people. One day, dressed in the costume of the Osmanlis, she set out for Jerusalem, Damascus, Aleppo, and the desert; she advanced amidst a caravan loaded with wealth, tents, and presents for the Scheiks, and was soon surrounded by all the tribes, who knelt to her, and submitted to her supremacy. It was not solely by her magnificence, that Lady Hester had excited the admiration of the Arabs: her courage had been proved on more than one occasion; and she had always faced peril with a boldness and energy which the tribes well remembered. Lady Hester Stanhope knew also how to flatter the Mahomedan prejudices. She held no intercourse with Christians and Jews; she spent whole days in the grotto of a santon, who explained the Koran to her; and never appeared in public without that mien of majestic and grave inspiration, which was always unto oriental nations the characteristic of prophets. With her, however, this conduct was not so much the result of design, as of a decided proneness to every species of excitement and originality. Lady Hester Stanhope’s first abode was but a monastery. It was soon transformed into an oriental palace, with pavilions, orange-gardens and myrtles, over which spread the foliage of the cedar, such as it grows in the mountains of Lebanon. The[Pg 99] traveller, to whom Lady Hester opened this sanctuary, would behold her clad in oriental garments. Her head was covered with a turban made of red and white cashmere. She wore a long tunic, with open loose sleeves; large Turkish trousers, the folds of which hung over yellow morocco boots, embroidered with silk. Her shoulders were covered with a sort of burnous, and a yataghan hung to her waist. Lady Hester Stanhope had a serious and imposing countenance; her noble and mild features had a majestic expression, which her high stature and the dignity of her movements enhanced. The day came when all this préstige, so expensively kept up, suddenly vanished. Lady Hester’s fortune rapidly declined; her income yearly decreased; in short, the substantial resources, which had, at one time, sustained the magic of her extraordinary domination, were daily forsaking her. The Queen of Palmyra then fell back into the rank of mere mortals, and she who had signed absolute firmans, enabling the traveller to visit in security the regions of Palmyra—she, whose authority the Sublime Porte had tacitly acknowledged—soon saw her people disown her omnipotency. She was left the title of queen, but it was but an empty name, a mere recollection; and again the monastery’s silence ruled over the solitude of Djouni. A queen, stripped of her glory of a day, Lady Hester Stanhope has expired, the sport of fate, at the moment the East is convulsed. She has expired in obscurity and loneliness, without even mingling her name with the great events of which it is now the theatre.”

All this, if no exaggeration had been employed, might have served to the excitation of a smile: but the matter did not rest there. Lady Hester, or the Princess, as she was styled, having given to the Sheik an absurd paper of authority, no one is permitted to visit Palmyra without paying a thousand piastres! “The[Pg 100] consequence of which is,” says Mr. Carne, “several travellers have left Syria without seeing the finest ruins in the world73.”


“Night overtook us,” says Mr. Williams, “before we reached Patras, anciently called Patræ. But such a night! the moon was in full splendour; and while we travelled among the mysterious scenes, we were often tempted to pause and ask what could be those shadowy towers, that were perpetually arresting our attention? Nothing could be more pleasing or more romantic, than the winding of our cavalry among the projecting rocks and dismal hollows, when first a gleam of light prevailed, and then a solemn darkness veiled and softened all in sweet composure. The glow-worms, peeping from the bushes, seemed like fairies’ eyes; fireflies glanced in thousands, like the sun’s bright rays stealing on rippling waters in ebon shade; and how divine the evening star appeared, tipping the dark chain of Mount Olonos! The blackbird, too, with its train of dear associations, awakened our peculiar interest. All seemed, by their look of delight to say, ‘Sing on, sweet bird! and tell us of our absent friends and beloved country!’”

Patræ was a town of Peloponnesus, anciently called Aroe.

Diana had a temple there, and a statue formed of ivory and gold, which was considered a masterpiece. Apollo also had a temple, in which was a statue of the god, raised by Icadius.

In the time of Pausanias, Patræ was also adorned with porticoes, a theatre, and an odéum; the last of [Pg 101]which was superior to any in Greece, with one exception, viz. that of Herodes Atticus at Athens. In the lower part of the city was a temple of Bacchus, in which was an image preserved in a chest. There was also one of Ceres, with a pleasant grove and a prophetic fountain, which determined the events of illness. After supplicating the goddess with incense, the sick person is said to have appeared, living or dead, in a mirror suspended so as to touch the surface of the water74.

Patræ was selected by Augustus as a place in which to settle some of those, who had fought with him at Actium. Some of the cities of Achaia were made tributary to the Patrenses, and they continued long to flourish after the decay of the neighbouring states.

They were rich in the monuments of art. Pausanias enumerates nineteen or twenty temples, besides statues, altars, and marble sepulchres, existing in his time in the city, the port, and the sacred groves.

Patras, though it has now recovered the destruction, was wholly destroyed by the Turks in 1770. We must, however, first state, that in 1447 it made the best defence against the Turks of any place in the Peloponnesus. In 1532 it was taken and ransacked by Doria. But of all its distresses the last was the most terrible; this was in 1770. It had lately been freed by the temporary success of Greek insurgents from the yoke of the Turks; but the appearance of the Athenians, who rushed through the passes of the isthmus to the assistance of the Mahometans, soon decided the fate of the place. An army of ten thousand, both horse and foot, entered the town through every avenue. It was not a contest, but a carnage: not a Greek capable of [Pg 102]bearing arms was spared, and the houses were all burned to the ground75.

In forty years, Patras recovered this calamity, and is now said to be a flourishing place; but Mr. Dodwell describes it as being composed, like all other Turkish cities, of dirty and narrow streets; with houses built of earth, baked in the sun; with eaves overhanging the streets.

The few remains, which are in Patras, are of Roman construction; and those neither grand, interesting, nor well preserved. In the castle, however, there are said to be several beautiful forms of female statues: and here we have to state an instance of barbarism, strikingly illustrative of the character of the more ignorant portion of the Turks. Some marble columns and mutilated statues having been found, a few years ago, in the garden of a Turk, he immediately broke them to pieces!

There are several large fissures in the walls of the castle, occasioned by an earthquake, about forty years ago; in which forty persons were killed in the town, and thirteen crushed by the falling of one of the turrets.

“Nothing can be,” says Mr. Hobhouse, “more pleasant than the immediate vicinity of this town; which is one blooming garden of orange and lemon plantations, of olive groves, and currant grounds. The temple and the statues, the theatre, the columns and the marble porch, have disappeared: but the valleys and the mountains, and some, not frequent, fragments, of more value than all the costly monuments of barbaric labour,—these still remain, and remind the traveller, that he treads the ground once trod by the heroes and sages of antiquity. To traverse the native country of those, whose deeds and whose wisdom have been proposed to all [Pg 103]the polished nations of every succeeding age, as the models which they should endeavour to imitate, but must never hope to equal, with no other emotions than would arise in passing through regions never civilised, is unnatural; is impossible! No one would roam with the same indifference through the sad solitudes of Greece, and the savage wilds of America; nor is the expression of feelings, which it is the object and end of all liberal education to instil and encourage, to be derided as the unprofitable effusion of folly and affectation.”76


It was a long time before the Greeks had any regard to Macedonia. The kings, living retired in woods and mountains, it seemed not to be considered as a part of Greece.

Pella was the capital of the kings of Macedon. There Philip lived and reigned, and here Alexander was born. After his death the kingdom of Macedon frequently changed masters. Philip Aridæus was succeeded by Cassander, who left three sons. Philip, the eldest, died presently after his father. The other two contended for the crown, without enjoying it; both dying soon after without issue.

Demetrius Poliorcetes, Pyrrhus, and Lysimachus, made themselves masters of all, or the greatest part of Macedonia, sometimes in conjunction, and at other times separately.

After the death of Lysimachus, Seleucus possessed himself of Macedonia, but did not long enjoy it.

Ptolemy Ceraunus having slain the preceding prince, seized the kingdom, and possessed it alone but a very short time; having lost his life in a battle [Pg 104] with the Gauls, who had made an irruption into that country.

Sosthenes, who defeated the Gauls, reigned also but a short time.

Antigonus Gonatus, the son of Demetrius Poliorcetes, obtained peaceable possession of the kingdom of Macedonia, and transmitted these dominions to his descendants, after he had reigned thirty-four years.

He was succeeded by his son, Demetrius, who reigned ten years, and then died; leaving a son, named Philip, who was but two years old.

Antigonus Doson, reigned twelve years, in the quality of guardian to the young prince.

Philip, after the death of Antigonus, ascended the throne, at the age of fourteen years. After him, Perseus; who was defeated and taken prisoner by Paulus Æmilius; and Macedonia, in consequence of that victory, was added to the provinces of the Roman empire, B. C. 160.

For this success Paulus Æmilius was honoured with a triumph; and as a description of that ceremony will serve to diversify our pages in a very agreeable manner, we adopt the account afforded us by Plutarch. “The people erected scaffolds in the Forum and Circus, and all other parts of the city where they could best behold the pomp. The spectators were clad in white garments; all the temples were open and full of garlands and perfumes; the ways cleared and cleansed by a great many officers and tipstaffs, that drove away such as thronged the passage, or straggled up and down. This triumph lasted three days. On the first, which was scarce long enough for the sight, were to be seen the statues, pictures, and images, of an extraordinary bigness, which were taken from the enemy, drawn upon seven hundred and fifty chariots. On the second, was carried, in a[Pg 105] great many wains, the fairest and the richest armour of the Macedonians, both of brass and steel, all newly furbished and glittering; which, although piled up with the greatest art and order, yet seemed to be tumbled on heaps carelessly and by chance; helmets were thrown on shields, coats of mail upon greaves, Cretan targets, and Thracian bucklers and quivers of arrows lay huddled among the horses’ bits; and through these appeared the points of naked swords, intermixed with long spears. All these arms were tied together in a way, that they knocked against one another as they were drawn along, and made a harsh and terrible noise; so that the very spoils of the conquered could not be beheld without dread. After these waggons loaden with armour, there followed three thousand men, who carried the silver that was coined, in seven hundred and fifty vessels, each of which weighed three talents, and was carried by four men. Others brought silver bowls, and goblets, and cups, all disposed in such order as to make the best show, and all valuable, as well for their bigness, as the thickness of their engraved work. On the third day, early in the morning, first came the trumpeters, who did not sound as they were wont in a procession or solemn entry; but such a charge as the Romans use when they encourage their soldiers to fight. Next followed young men, girt about with girdles curiously wrought, which led to the sacrifice of hundred and twenty stalled oxen, with their horns gilded, and their heads adorned with ribands and garlands; and with these were boys that carried platters of silver and gold. After this was brought the gold coin, which was divided into vessels that weighed three talents, like to those that contained the silver; they were in number fourscore wanting three. These were followed by those that brought the consecrated bowl, which[Pg 106] Æmilius caused to be made, that weighed ten talents, and was all beset with precious stones. Then were exposed to view the cups of Antigonus and Seleucus, and such as were made after the fashion invented by Thericles, and all the gold plate that was used at Perseus’s table. Next to these came Perseus’s chariot, in which his armour was placed, and on that his diadem. And after a little intermission, the king’s children were led captives, and with them a train of nurses, masters, and governors, who all wept, and stretched forth their hands to the spectators, and taught the little infants to beg and entreat their compassion. There were two sons and a daughter, who, by reason of their tender age, were altogether insensible of the greatness of their misery; which insensibility of their condition rendered it much more deplorable; insomuch, that Perseus himself was scarce regarded as he went along, whilst pity had fixed the eyes of the Romans upon the infants, and many of them could not forbear tears; all beheld the sight with a mixture of sorrow and joy, until the children were past. After his children and their attendants, came Perseus himself, clad all in black, and wearing slippers, after the fashion of his country. He looked like one altogether astonished and deprived of reason, through the greatness of his misfortunes. Next followed a great company of his friends and familiars, whose countenances were disfigured with grief, and who testified to all that beheld them by their tears, and their continual looking upon Perseus, that it was his hard fortune they so much lamented, that they were regardless of their own. After these were carried four hundred crowns all made of gold, and sent from the cities by their respective ambassadors to Æmilius, as a reward due to his valour. Then he himself came seated on a chariot magnificently adorned (a man worthy to be[Pg 107] beheld, even without these ensigns of power): he was clad in a garment of purple interwoven with gold, and held out a laurel branch in his right hand. All the army, in like manner, with boughs of laurel in their hands, and divided into bands and companies, followed the chariot of their commander; some singing odes (according to the usual custom) mingled with raillery; others, songs of triumph, and the praises of Æmilius’s deeds, who was admired and accounted happy by all men; yet unenvied by every one that was good.”

“The ancient capital of the kings of Macedon,” says Monsieur de Pouqueville, “does not announce itself in its desolation to the eye of the stranger, as at Athens and Corinth, by the display of the remains of its ancient splendour. Its vestiges are found on an eminence sloping to the south-west, and surrounded by marshes. In vain, however, does the traveller look for the walls of the city, for the citadel, for the dykes constructed to defend from inundation the temples, buildings, and the monuments of its grandeur. The barbarians from the North, the Romans, and the succession of ages, have destroyed even the ruins. The once powerful city of Pella is now sunk down into fragments of tombs, masses of brick and tile, and about threescore huts, inhabited by Bulgarians, with a tower garrisoned by about a dozen Albanians. Such are the present edifices, population, and military establishment of Pella, once the powerful capital of Alexander and Perseus! A low Mahommedan now commands, whip in hand, in the city where Alexander first saw the light; and the paternal seat of that monarch, whose dominions extended from the Adriatic to the Indus, was, some years ago, the property of Achmet, son of Ismael, Bey of Serres77.”

[Pg 108]


This was a city of Great Mysia, in Asia Minor, the capital of the kingdom of Pergamus, which was founded by a eunuch, named Philatera, who had been a servant to Docima, a commander of the troops of Antigonus.

Pergamus was assaulted by Philip, king of Macedon, in his war against Attalus the First, who had taken part with the Romans. All his efforts, however, being unavailing, he turned his rage and fury against the gods; and, not satisfied with burning their temples, he demolished statues, broke to pieces their altars, and even pulled up the stones from their foundations, that not the least footsteps of them might remain.

At the death of Attalus, his son Eumenes the Second succeeded; and it was during his reign and under his inspiration,—if such an expression may be allowed—that the celebrated library was collected78, which makes such a figure in literary history.

The kingdom ceased to exist at the death of Attalus the Third; since that prince left it to the Roman people.

As this event was very important to the city as well as kingdom of Pergamus, we may, with propriety, enter a little into the character of the prince, who made so extraordinary a bequeathment. Historians relate, that he was scarcely on the throne before he stained it with the blood of his nearest relatives. He caused almost all those, who had served his father and his uncle with extreme fidelity, to have their throats cut; under pretence that some of them had killed his mother, who died of a disease in a very advanced age, and others his wife, who died of an incurable distemper. He caused the destruction also of wives, children, and whole families. Having committed [Pg 109] all these enormities, he appeared no more in the city, and ate no longer in public. He put on old clothes, let his beard grow, and did every thing which persons, accused of capital crimes, used to do in those days; as if he intended thereby to acknowledge the extent of his own atrocity. From hence he proceeded to other species of folly and iniquity. He renounced the cares of state, and retired into his garden, and applied to digging the ground himself, and sowing all sorts of poisonous as well as wholesome herbs; then poisoning the good with the juice of the bad, he sent them in that manner as presents to his friends. At length he took it into his head to practise the trade of a brass-founder; and formed the model of a monument of brass to be erected to his mother. As he was casting the metal for this purpose, one hot summer’s day, he was seized with a fever, which in a few days carried him off. The principal clause in his will was expressed in these terms:—“Let the people of Rome inherit all my fortunes.” This will having been carried to Rome, the city and kingdom of Pergamus, as we have already stated, passed into a Roman province.

Pergamus gave birth to Apollodorus, the preceptor of Augustus; and Galen, next to Hippocrates the greatest physician that ever adorned the annals of medical science. It is also remarkable for having been alluded to by Tiberius, in one of his hypocritical speeches to the Roman senate, as reported in Tacitus. “I know very well,” said he, “that many men will condemn me for suffering Asia to build me a temple, as Spain at present would do: but I will give you a reason for what I have done, and declare my resolution for the future. The divine Augustus, whose actions and words are so many inviolable laws to me, having consented that the people of Pergamus should dedicate a temple to him and the city of Rome, I[Pg 110] thought I might follow so great an example; so much the rather, since the honour, intended me, was joined with the veneration paid to the senate. But as on the one hand it might have been too great a piece of severity to have denied it for once; so on the other, doubtless, it would be too great a vanity and folly, to suffer one’s self to be adored as a God, through all the provinces of the empire. Besides, it cannot but be a great diminution to the glory of Augustus, to communicate it indifferently to all the world. For my own part, I am mortal, and subject to human infirmities; I am contented with being a prince here, without being raised to the throne of a God. I protest to you, I desire this testimony may be given of me to posterity. It will be glory enough for me to be thought worthy of my ancestors; a vigilant prince, one who is insensible of fear, when the commonwealth is in danger. These are the temples and monuments which I desire to erect in your breasts: for works of marble and brass, raised to the glory of princes, are contemned by posterity as so many naked sepulchres, when their memory is condemned. I entreat heaven to give me a serenity of mind, and a spirit to discern and judge uprightly of the laws of God and man; and after my decease, I confide, my fellow-citizens and allies will preserve my memory with their blessings and praises.”

Mr. Turner found several ancient inscriptions at Pergamus. He ascended the ancient Acropolis, which is built on a mount of about two hundred feet height, overhanging the town: on the top are extensive remains of the walls both of the Roman and Venetian city. Part of the walls are built with large fluted columns, laid length-ways. Among the Roman ruins are several immense arched caves under ground, about sixty feet deep. At the top of the hill lay a large Corinthian capital, and half way down the hill[Pg 111] a small marble column, on which is a Greek inscription, now illegible.

In a valley west of the Acropolis are considerable remains of a large Roman amphitheatre; near which is a gate with part of a wall. The arch of the gate is curiously inclined, being unequal; the only instance of such an irregularity Mr. Turner ever saw in an ancient building. There are also ruins of several Roman baths; in one of which was found a vase, which has excited a great deal of admiration. Mr. Turner thus describes it:—“It is of fine marble, and in good preservation, being only a little broken round the rim. The shape of it is a flattened globe; on the outside round the circumference of the centre are fifteen equestrian figures in high-relief; nine of these have their heads much broken, nine have their arms extended; the horses are all at full speed, and a race is probably the subject represented, as none of the figures bear arms. Five of the figures are clinging to their horses, and one appears to be falling. Nothing,” continues Mr. Turner, “can exceed the spirit of the execution; the very horses seem to breathe; above and below the figures a band, on which is engraved the pattern of a laurel leaf, surrounds the vase: a very correct engraving of which is given in the work of Choiseul-Gouffier. There are said to have been seven of these vases at Pergamus; six of which were taken to Constantinople.”

There are also in the neighbourhood of Bergamo, the present ruins of this city, six tumuli; three large and three small79.

[Pg 112]


“——I know The wealth,” she cries, “of every urn, In which unnumbered rubies burn, Beneath the pillars of Chilminar.” Moore;—Lalla Rookh.

This city is supposed to have been founded by the famous Jemsheed, from whom it is to this day called Tuklit-e-Jemsheed;—the throne of Jemsheed; a prince, to whom Persian authors attribute the invention of many useful arts80; and to whom they refer the first great reform in the manners and usages of their countrymen. He, also, introduced the solar year; and ordered the first day of it, when the sun entered Aries, to be celebrated as a festival81.

An old Persian author has left the following description of Persepolis:—“Jemsheed built a fortified palace [Pg 113]at the foot of a hill, which bounds the fine plain of Murdasht to the north-west. The platform, on which it was built, has three faces to the plain, and one to the mountain. It is formed of hard, black granite. The elevation from the plain is ninety feet; and every stone, used in this building, is from nine to twelve feet long, and broad in proportion. There are two great flights of stairs to this palace, so easy of ascent, that a man can ride up on horseback; and on the platform a palace has been erected, part of which still remains in its original state, and part is in ruins. The palace of Jemsheed is that, now called the Chesel-Setoon, or Forty Pillars. Each pillar is formed of a carved stone, is sixty feet high, and is ornamented in a manner so delicate, that it would seem to rival upon hard granite the sculpture of a carving upon the softest wood. There is no granite like that, of which these pillars are made, to be now found in Persia: and it is unknown from whence it is brought. Some most beautiful and extraordinary figures ornament this palace; and all the pillars, which once supported the roof (for that has fallen) are composed of three pieces of stone, joined in so exquisite a manner, as to make the beholder believe, that the whole shaft is one piece. There are several figures of Jemsheed in the sculpture; in one he has an urn in his hand, in which he burns benjamin, while he stands adoring the sun; in another, he is represented as seizing the mane of a lion with one hand, while he stabs him with another.”

The remains of this city stands in one of the finest plains of Persia; being eighteen or nineteen leagues in length, and in some places two, in some four, and in others six leagues in breadth. It is watered by the great river Araxes, and by a multitude of rivers beside. Within the compass of this plain there are between one thousand and one thousand five hundred[Pg 114] villages, without reckoning those in the mountains, all adorned with pleasant gardens, and planted with trees. The entrance of this plain, on the west side, has received as much grandeur from nature, as the city it covered could do from industry or art.

Some authors say, that to attempt any guess of the period when the city first rose from the plain, would be useless, and that the only means, now remaining, of forming any satisfactory conjectures, in regard to its origin, can only reach to the probable era of the different remaining ruins. When in Persia, however, Mr. Francklin met with a short account of the building this palace, in MS., being part of a work, called Rouzut al Sefa, or the Garden of Purity; of which he gives this as a translation:—“It is related by historians, that King Jemsheed removed the seat of government, which was formerly in the province of Sejestaun, to Fars; and that in the neighbourhood of Shirauz, having taken in a spot of ground, of twelve furlongs in length (forty-eight English miles), he there erected such a palace, that in the seven kingdoms of the world there was nothing that could equal it. The remains of that palace, and many of the pillars of it, are visible to this day; and he caused the palace to be called Chehul Minar, or Forty Pillars. Moreover, when the sun, quitting the sign Pisces in the heavens, had entered Aries, Jemsheed, having assembled all the princes, nobles, and great men of his empire, at the foot of his imperial throne, did on that day institute a grand and solemn festival; and this day was henceforth called Noo Roze, or first day of the new year (when the foundation of Persepolis was laid), at which period he commanded, from all parts of the empire, the attendance of the peasants, husbandmen, soldiers, and others, in order to prosecute the design; requesting that all, with joyful hearts and willing hands, should[Pg 115] lend their assistance in completing the work. This numerous assembly obeyed the command of their monarch, and the building was finished with all signs of mirth and festivity.”

To this account the Persians add, that Queen Homaie, who flourished about eight hundred years after Jemsheed, added a thousand columns.

Diodorus gives some account of the workmen, that were employed in building this palace. “Cambyses, the son of Cyrus,” says he, “conquered Egypt in the third year of the seventy-third olympiad, when he pillaged the country and burnt the temples, the treasures of which the Persians carried off into Asia; and they, also, led away with them the workmen and architects of Egypt, whom they caused to build the famous palace of Persepolis, and of several other cities.” This account appears the more probable, since, as M. le Comte de Caylus is justly of opinion, they cannot be attributed to the Persians before Cyrus; since Herodotus describes the Persians of that age as a people of great simplicity; having neither temples nor altars, but worshipping Jupiter on the summits of mountains. The account, here given, is sufficient to account for the Egyptian appearance of Persepolis. There are appearances of five different buildings united in one; and each, apparently, of a different age, after the manner of the Egyptians.

Though there are doubts as to the origin of Persepolis, there are none as to the circumstance of its being destroyed by Alexander.

As the conqueror drew near the city82, he perceived a large body of men, who presented a most lamentable picture. These were about four thousand Greeks, greatly advanced in years, who, having been taken prisoners of war, had suffered all the torments which Persian tyranny could invent. The hands of [Pg 116]some had been cut off, the feet of others; and others again had lost their noses and ears; after which, having impressed by fire barbarous characters on their faces, the Persians had the inhumanity to keep them as so many laughing-stocks, with which they sported perpetually. They appeared like so many shadows rather than men. Alexander could not refrain from tears at this sight; and as they unanimously besought him to commiserate their condition, he bade them, with the utmost tenderness, not to despond, and assured them that they should again see their country. This, however, the Greeks did not desire; being unwilling to be seen by their former companions in the dreadful state in which they were. They prayed the king, therefore, to let them remain where they were, but to relieve their awful condition. This Alexander did; but he was so enraged at what he had seen, that he set the city on fire soon after. The other account is, that the conqueror called his generals together, and represented to them that no city in the world had been more fatal to the Greeks than Persepolis, the ancient residence of the Persian monarchs, and capital of their empire. For that it was from thence all those mighty armies poured, which had overflowed Greece; and whence Darius, and afterwards Xerxes, had carried the fire-brand of the most accursed war which had laid waste the best part of Europe; and therefore it was incumbent on them to revenge the manes of their ancestors.

Animated by this, the soldiers force their way into the city, put all the men to the sword, and rifle and carry away every man’s goods and estate; amongst which was abundance of rich and costly furniture and ornaments of all sorts. There were hurried away, here and there, vast quantities of silver, and no less of gold, great numbers of rich garments, some of purple, and others embroidered with gold; all of[Pg 117] which, says Diodorus, became a plentiful prey to the ravenous soldiers. For though every place was full of rich spoil, yet the covetousness of the Macedonians was insatiable. They were even so eager in plundering, that they fought one another with drawn swords; and many, who were conceived to have got a larger share than the rest, were killed in the quarrel. Some things, which were of extraordinary value, they divided with their swords, and each took a share. Others, in a rage, cut off the hands of such as laid hold of a thing that was in dispute. They first ravished the women as they were in their jewels and rich attire, and then sold them for slaves. The riches are said to have amounted to no less than eighteen millions sterling!

Such is the account left us by Diodorus. He then goes on to describe the destruction of the temple or palace, burned down by Alexander. “Alexander,” says he, “made a great feast for the entertainment of his friends in commemoration of his victory, and offered magnificent sacrifices to the gods. At this feast were entertained women, who prostituted their bodies for hire; when the cups went so high to drunkenness and debauchery, that many were drunk and mad. Among the rest there was a courtesan, named Thais, an Athenian, then mistress to Ptolemy, afterwards king of Egypt, who said in a gay tone of voice, ‘That it would be a matter of inexpressible joy to her, were she permitted, masked as she then was, and in order to end the festival nobly, to burn the magnificent palace of Xerxes, who had burned Athens; and so set it on fire with her own hand, in order that it might be said in all parts of the world, that the women, who had followed Alexander in his expedition to Asia, had taken much better revenge on the Persians, for the many calamities they had brought upon the Grecians,[Pg 118] than all the generals who had fought for them both by sea and land.’

“This spreading abroad, and coming to the ears of the young men, presently one cries out, ‘Come on; bring firebrands!’ and so incites the rest to fire the citadel, to revenge that impiety the Persians had committed in destroying the temples of the Grecians. At this, others with joy set up a shout; but said that so brave an exploit belonged only to Alexander himself to perform. The king, stirred up at these words, embraced the proposition; upon which, as many as were present left their cups and leaped upon the table, and said that they would now celebrate a victorious festival to Bacchus. Thereupon, multitudes of firebrands were presently got together; and all the women that played on musical instruments, which were at the feast, were called for; and then the king, with songs, pipes, and flutes, led the way to this expedition, contrived and managed by this courtesan, Thais, who, next after the king, threw the first firebrand into the palace. This precedent was presently followed by the rest. The fire once raised, there was no stopping it; but Alexander soon repented what was doing, and gave orders for extinguishing it; but this being too late, the palace was burned, and remains now nearly in the same state it was left at the conclusion of the fire.”

According to Arrian, Alexander burned the palace of the Persian king much against the will of Parmenio, who exhorted him to leave it untouched. To which Alexander answered, that he was resolved to revenge the ancient injuries, Greece had received from the Persians; who, when they marched into Greece, burned its temples, and committed many other barbarous devastations.

This, we think, is one reason why the building burned must have been a temple, and not a palace.[Pg 119] The Persians had burned the temples of Greece, therefore Alexander burned the temple of the Persians. Besides, as the feast was held in the palace, it is not very likely that the master of the feast should have burned the place, in which he was not only then feasting, but in which he was to sleep on the very night of the conflagration; and that it was not destroyed is evident from the circumstance, recorded by Strabo and Arrian—that Alexander inhabited the royal palace at Persepolis after his return from India. Added to which, it is certain that there is, at this time, no appearance or marks of fire on any part of the ruins.

In respect to these ruins, it has been well observed, that magnificent columns, portals, and other architectural decorations, mark this spot as the site of a splendid “palace;” while the style of the sculptures and the inscriptions, many of them in the single-headed character, found only at this place, Nineveh, Babylon, Susa, and Ván, proves them to be of a very high antiquity. Mr. Kinneir, however, says they are generally admitted to be the remains of the “palace,” destroyed by Alexander; and the striking resemblance of the building, as it exists, to the account given of Persepolis by Diodorus, is, in his opinion, sufficient to remove any doubt, that may exist upon the subject. We confess that such is not our impression.

Those who regard the ruins as being the remains of a Persian temple, insist that the sculptured subjects, as well as the style of architecture, resemble, in many particulars, those of Egypt: among which may be mentioned the figures, divided by trees, the sphinxes, the vases and chains, the domes and architraves, the subterranean passages in the tombs, the sarcophagi and urns, and the well, twenty-five feet deep and fifteen square. The sculpture at Persepolis[Pg 120] was also painted mostly in blue, a favourite colour in Egypt; but sometimes in black and in yellow. For these remarks we are indebted to Mr. Buckingham.

According to Arrian, it was the castle of Persepolis which Alexander burned. In Mr. Buckingham’s opinion, however, the ruins now seen correspond neither with those of a palace, nor of a castle; they were, therefore, according to him, not those of the edifice burned by Alexander at all; for on all these remains, as we have before stated, no mark of fire is to be traced, which could not be the case if this had been the principal agent used in its destruction.

The opinion, that these ruins are the remains of the palace, is not on the authority of all history, but on the assertion merely of Quintus, Curtius and Diodorus. The whole story as to the burning, is said to have been copied from a Greek writer, named Clitarchus83.

Though there are no remains of a city now at Persepolis, nor in any part of the plain in which it is situated; certain it is, that the city was not destroyed by Alexander; for it was a very important place for many centuries after.

Curtius, therefore, is guilty of an error in saying that the city was so far from being rebuilt, that unless the river Araxes ran near it, there are no signs to guess where it stood; for neither Arrian nor Strabo, nor even Diodorus, whom Curtius commonly copies, acquaint us with any thing but the burning of the palace.

The first book of Maccabees says that there was a rich temple at Persepolis; and, the second, that Antiochus Epiphanes determined to pillage it. Alexander, [Pg 121] therefore, could not have destroyed it; for it is highly improbable, from the history of those times, that so laboured and magnificent a work should have been rebuilt and restored in the short period between Alexander and the Syrian king; viz.—160 years. That prince formed the design of pillaging both “a temple,” and the city.

Though Persepolis long survived the palace of Jemsheed, its inhabitants are said to have regarded with unextinguishable hatred the people by whom they were conquered; and, as if inspired by those fragments of former glory, with which they were surrounded, they maintained a character for pride and courage, that was not entirely subdued, till several centuries after the Arabians first overran Persia.

Its subsequent history has been summed up by Mr. Fraser. “It was among the earliest conquests of Ardeshir Babegan; Shepoor II. made it his residence; Yesdigird I. held his court there; and Hoormuz II., who reigned at the close of the sixth century, passed two months every year in it. In the succeeding age, however, it ceased to be a royal residence; for Khoosroo Purveez bestowed the government on one of his favourites; and it was here that the last of the Sassanian kings lay concealed, when called to the throne, A. D. 632. Twelve years afterwards, it capitulated to the Mohammedans; but the people, having slain their foreign governor, were all put to the sword. The city was ultimately destroyed by Sumcaneah-u-Dowlan, and the fanatical Arabs, A. D. 982. Such,” concludes Mr. Fraser, “is the sketch of the latter days of Istakhar84, (the only name by [Pg 122]which the city is recognised by the native Persian historians); but the question, who was its founder? and who raised the mighty fabrics, of which the ruins still astonish the traveller? yet remain unanswered.”

The authors who have described these ruins are, Garcias de Silva Figueroa, Pietra de la Valle, Sir John Chardin, Le Brun, Francklin, Niebuhr, Morier, Buckingham, Porter, Ouseley, and Fraser.

It has been truly said, that we cannot proceed a step in Persia, without encountering some monument of the cruelty of conquerors and of human vicissitudes. These ruins have been variously described; insomuch that, had travellers not agreed in respect to the latitude and longitude, one would be tempted to suspect, that they had visited different ruins. Our account will therefore be desultory: for to give a full and regular one would, without drawings, be of little available use.

“It is very difficult to give any detailed account of the ruins of this celebrated place,” says Mr. Buckingham. “There is no temple, as at Thebes, at Palmyra, or at Balbec, sufficiently predominant over all other surrounding objects to attract the chief attention, and furnish of itself sufficient matter for description and observation. Here, all is broken and detached fragments, extremely numerous, and each worthy of attention; but so scattered and disjointed, as to give no perfect idea of the whole. Its principal feature is, that it presents an assemblage of tall, slender, and isolated pillars, and separate door-ways and sanctuaries, spread over a large platform, elevated, like a fortification, from the level of the surrounding plain.”

“The works of different travellers, describing these [Pg 123]ruins,” says Sir William Ouseley, “furnish many instances of extraordinary variation. But this discordance is not peculiar to those, who have written accounts of Persepolis. We find that, concerning the same visible and tangible objects, two, three, and even four, travellers in other countries have disagreed;—all men of considerable ingenuity, and none intending to deceive.” Sir William then refers to a passage in Sir Thomas Herbert’s Travels. “Forasmuch as the remaining figures, or images, are many and different, and so many, as in two days I was there it was impossible I could take the full of what I am assured an expert limner may very well spend twice two months in, ere he can make a fancy draught; for, to say the truth, this is a work much fitter for the pencil than the pen; the rather for that I observe how that travellers, taking a view of some rare piece together, from the variety of their fancy, they usually differ in those observations: so that when they think their notes are exact, they shall pretermit something that a third will light upon.” These observations were made by Sir Thomas among the ruins of the city, of which we now are treating.

“Nothing,” says Mr. Fraser, “can be more striking, than the appearance of those ruins on approaching them from the south-west. Placed at the base of a rugged mountain, on a terrace of mason-work that might vie with the structures of Egypt, it overlooks an immense plain, inclosed on all sides by distant but dark cliffs, and watered by the Kour Ab, which once supplied a thousand aqueducts. But the water-courses are dried up; the plain is a morass or a wilderness; for the great city, which once poured its population over the wide expanse of Merdusht, has disappeared, and the grey columns rise in solitary grandeur, to remind us, that mighty deeds were done in the days of old.”

[Pg 124]

The last account of this place we have by an Eastern writer, is that given by Mirza Jan, in the account he gives of a journey he made from Shirauz to Isfahan. “Beyond the village of Kenarch, about half a parasang, is a mountain, and at the foot of it an extraordinary place, wherein are columns and marbles, sculptured with strange devices and inscriptions, so that most persons imagine this edifice to have been constructed before the creation of man.” This is very curious; since the sculptures themselves give positive evidence of his existence.

The following account of these ruins is taken from Mr. Francklin. “They are about two days’ journey from Shiraz, on a rising ground, in a plain, surrounded by an amphitheatre of mountains. They occupy a circumference of one thousand four hundred square yards. The front is six hundred paces from north to south, and three hundred and ninety from east to west, and the height of the foundation from forty to fifty feet.

“The columns are ascended by a grand staircase of blue stone, about fifty feet high, the sides embellished with two immense sphinxes, dressed out with bead-work. At a small distance from these portals you ascend another flight of steps leading to the grand hall of columns. The sides of these stairs are charged with reliefs of figures holding vessels in their hands, camels, triumphal cars, horses, oxen, and rams. At the head of the stair is a relief of a lion seizing a bull. This stair leads to the great hall of forty or fifty pillars, in nine rows, of six each; of which fifteen remain entire, from seventy to eighty feet high; the diameter at the base twelve feet, and distance between the columns twenty-two. Their pedestals are curiously wrought, and little injured, the shafts fluted to the top, and the capitals adorned with a profusion of fret-work. East of this, are[Pg 125] remains of a square building, entered by a door of granite; most of the doors and windows standing of black marble, highly polished. On the sides of the doors, at entering, are bas-reliefs of two figures, representing a man stabbing a goat; a common device all over the palace. Over another door of the same apartment are two men, and a domestic behind them, with an umbrella. At the south-west entrance of this apartment are two large stone pillars, carved with four figures in long garments, holding spears ten feet long. Exclusive of the ancient inscriptions, in unknown characters, interspersed over these ruins, there are others, accurately described by Niebuhr. Behind the hall of the pillars, and close under the mountains, are remains of a very large building, with two principal entrances from north-east, and south-west; the wall divided into several partitions, ornamented with sculpture, and over its twelve doors the relief of the lion and bull, as before: and besides the usual figures, one of a man in long garments, with a cap turret-formed, seated on a pillar, holding in his hand a small vessel, and wearing a girdle round his waist, projecting beyond his clothes, and under him several lions. Behind this ruin, a considerable way to the north, up the mountain Rehumut, are remains of two buildings, of three sides, cut out of the rock, forty feet high, ascended to by steps, now destroyed. Two of the sides are loaded with carvings, as of some religious ceremony, including the figure last mentioned. Former travellers have supposed these tombs to be of the kings of Persia; the natives call it Mujilis Jemsheed, or the Assembly of king Jemsheed, who resorted hither with his nobles. Under these reliefs several openings lead to a dark subterranean passage, of six feet by four, into the rock. At the foot of this mountain, to the south, are the remains of windows, like those in other parts[Pg 126] of the palace; and, a little westward from it, a stone staircase, leading to a magnificent square court, with pediments, and corners of pillars, and on those ancient inscriptions. In several parts of the palace are stone aqueducts. These venerable ruins have suffered from time, weather, and earthquakes; and are half buried in sand, washed down from the mountains. Persian writers ascribe it to King Jemsheed; and the addition of one thousand columns more, to Queen Homaie, eight hundred years after; but there is no epoch assigned.”

This account is from Mr. Francklin; we now turn to Mr. Morier. “Tavernier and Des Ferrières-Sauvebœuf, are the only persons who have spoken slightingly of these ruins; but there is no small reason to believe, that the latter never saw the ruins he speaks of; and that the former merely wrote from the dubious information of a capuchin, who resided for some years at Isfahan.”

Besides the inscriptions, above alluded to, there are others in Arabic, Persian, and Greek. Dr. Hyde observes, that the inscriptions are very rude and clumsy; and that some, if not all, are in praise of Alexander; and therefore, they must be later than that conqueror.

The Persepolitan capitals convey the idea of rich silks and feathers having been tied round the upper part of tall wooden posts; and rich silks, feathers, and precious stones, have always been the materials with which Eastern monarchs form their most gorgeous decorations.

These ruins bear incontrovertible evidence of antiquity; and although in some things they resemble Egyptian, and in others Indian edifices, they, especially in the palace, possess leading features, sufficiently distinct to entitle them to be considered as of a separate school. Yet, being, amongst numerous palaces,[Pg 127] the only vestiges of lofty stone columns and numerous sculptures, and being traced immediately subsequent to the Egyptian expedition under Cambyses, they afford strong grounds for believing, that Thebaid influence, by example, or workmen, or both, led to these works, so unlike what had formerly been practised in Persia. That the style was not spread over the empire, may be accounted for from its immediate subjugation by the Greeks. In latter times the use of the Gothic arches, and Turkish domes, highly ornamented, have been, throughout all Persia, extensively introduced in their palaces, mosques, and tombs. The hand of the Musselman has likewise reached the remotest quarters of India85.

The materials, of which the palace is composed, are chiefly hard blue stone; but the doors and windows are of black marble, and so beautifully polished, that they reflect objects like a mirror. This high polish is agreeably alluded to in the account, given by Mr. Murray, in his historical account of travels in Asia, where he mentions that those ruins were visited by Garcias de Sylva in 1621. “The ambassador came to the spot called Cilminar, celebrated for the mighty ruins which cover its site—the remains of the ancient Persepolis. They were diligently surveyed by our author, who describes them with an enthusiasm, which perhaps betrays him into some degree of exaggeration. He dwells on the superb range of columns, particularly those called the Forty Minarets; the magnificent stairs by which they are ascended; the vast interior square, four hundred and thirty feet by three hundred and ten, and the huge pieces of marble, without any apparent juncture. The sculptures were innumerable, and are conceived by him to represent the actions of a race of men prior to any now known, even to the ancient Babylonians and Persians. Yet, [Pg 128]though ascending to this vast antiquity, they are so entire, that, with the exception of a few fragments broken off, they might seem to have been recently finished. In comparing these with the monuments of other nations, he observes, that the pyramids are mere artificial mountains; while the temples of Greece are in ruins; here only art and grandeur are united in pristine perfection. The high polish of the marble was amusingly shown by a mastiff, who, seeing his own figure reflected on the walls, was worked up to fury, which was always increased by the view of the corresponding gestures in the reflected image; till the scene being repeated whenever they came, they were at length obliged to chain and send him off.”

“In some places,” says Mr. Fraser, “the number of sculptures is so great, that they bewilder the eye. Those figures, which are disposed in groups to suit the compartments, are variously habited and employed. Some resemble royal guards and attendants, clothed in long robes, with brogue-like buskins, and fluted flat-topped caps, bearing bows and quivers, shields and spears. Others are placed in long rows, and appear to represent a procession of many nations, being differently dressed and appointed. They bear gifts and offerings, and lead animals of various sorts. Animals stand on a pedestal, which elevates them five feet. Their heads are so mutilated, that it is impossible to say what they were meant to represent; their necks are decorated with collars of roses; short curled hair covers the chest, back, and ribs; and the workmanship is singularly correct and delicate.

“Almost every one in this procession holds in his hand a figure like the lotos; a flower full of meaning to the ancients. That the Persians offered horses to the sun, and oxen to the moon, is fully shown by this procession.”

“Though, at first sight,” says Sir Robert Porter,[Pg 129] “I acknowledge that a general similitude to the Egyptian contour strikes the mind; yet the impression gradually wears away when the details are examined; the finishing of the parts, and the grace and truth of the bas-reliefs, every where proclaiming the refined taste and master chisels of Greece. When comparing the colossal proportions of the structure, and its gigantic sculptures, with the delicacy, beauty, and perfection of the execution of its ornaments, I might say, with the poet, ‘Here the Loves play on the bosom of Hercules.’”

Sir Robert Porter supposes that these works of art were designed to perpetuate the memory of the grand religious procession of Cyrus the Great, described by Xenophon; or, probably, that of Darius, at the festival of the Noo Roz, or vernal equinox, receiving presents from the numerous nations of his vast empire.

“The numerous basso-relievos,” says a celebrated French geographer, “are highly valuable, as illustrating the ancient costumes and manners of the Persians. Those carved on the walls of the staircase are numerous, exhibiting trains of Persian subjects from the different parts of the kingdom, bringing presents to the sovereign, led forward in small parties by officers of the court, acting as masters of the ceremonies. In other parts are figures of the king on his throne; and over him a symbolical representation of him in the form of a genius, or celestial type of the earthly potentate; conformable to the views inculcated by the ancient Persian religion. Guards of different descriptions are also delineated; and animals, partly exaggerated and symbolical, and partly fair representations of nature, contribute to the effect of lively and extended ornament. Battles, single combats, and other incidents in the Persian history, are here, as well as in the other Persian relics[Pg 130] of antiquity, represented sometimes by symbols, and sometimes according to nature.”

Mr. Morier says, that though Le Brun and Chardin have given only one line of figures on the right of the staircase, he thought it was evident that there must have been the same number on the left as there are on the right. He, therefore, hired some labourers from the surrounding villages to dig; when, to his great delight, a second row of figures was discovered, highly preserved, the details of whose faces, hair, dresses, arms, and general character, seemed but as the work of yesterday. There is this distinction, however, between the two rows:—the faces of all the figures to the right of the staircase are mutilated; those of the newly-discovered ones are quite perfect; and this shows that they must have been covered before the invasion of the Saracens: for to that people is attributed the mutilation of all the figures.

Le Brun counted one thousand three hundred figures of men and animals, the half of which were as large as life, without including those on the tombs; and he counted the fragments of no less than two hundred and five columns. Destruction, however, is going on very rapidly. In one part of the remains there were twenty-five pillars standing, where now there are only thirteen. Thus,

Della Valle, in 1621, saw 25 pillars standing.
Herbert, in 1627 } 19
Olearius, in 1638
Kæmpfer, in 1696 } 17 pillars standing.
Niebuhr, in 1765
Franklin, in 1796 } 15
Morier, &c.
Lieut. Alexander, in 1826   1386

Mr. Morier says, that on comparing Le Brun’s, Chardin’s, [Pg 131] and Niebuhr’s drawings with the sculptures, he found them in general correct in outline, but imperfect in details of dress, arms, &c.; and that although the figures are in themselves ill-proportioned, inelegant, and deficient in anatomical drawing, they are exceedingly interesting in general character, and have not been done justice to in the works of these travellers. They, moreover, furnish the best models of what were the nations, that invaded Greece with Xerxes, and that were subdued by Alexander.

The Hall of Pillars appears to have been detached from the rest of the palace, and to have had a communication with the other parts by hollow galleries of stone. It is situated on an eminence, commanding an extensive view of the plain of Merdusht. It is strikingly grand, and conveys to the beholder the idea of a hall of audience of a powerful and warlike monarch.

The Palace of Forty Pillars (called Shehel Setoon) was the favourite residence of the latter Sophi kings. The front is entirely open to the garden, and it is sustained by a double range of columns, upwards of forty feet high, each column shooting up from the united backs of four lions of white marble. The exhaustless profusion of the splendid materials, of which this palace is internally formed, which reflect their own golden or crystal lights on each other, along with all the variegated colours of the garden, give the appearance of an entire surface, formed of polished silver and mother-of-pearl set with precious stones; a scene well fitted for an Eastern poet’s dream, or some magic vision in the tales of an Arabian Night.

This hall, travellers suppose to be the precise part, which formed the banqueting-hall where Alexander displayed his triumph; the place where the kings of Persia received the homage of their subjects, displayed [Pg 132] their magnificence, and issued their beneficent orders; also the private palace which was appropriated to the domestic intercourse of the members of the royal family.

Sir Robert Porter says that he gazed at the ruins with wonder and delight. “Besides the admiration which the general elegance of their form, and the exquisite workmanship of their parts excited,” says he, “I never was made so sensible of the impression of perfect symmetry, comprising also in itself that of perfect beauty.”

Mr. Morier says, that on one of the highest columns is the remains of the sphinx, so common in all the ornaments of Persepolis; that he could distinguish on the summit of every one a something quite unconnected with the capitals; so that the high columns have, strictly speaking, no capitals whatever, being each a long shaft to the very summit on which the sphinx rests. The capitals, he continues, of the lower columns are of a complicated order, composed of many pieces. There are also three distinct species of base.

Deslandes imagined, that these columns never supported a roof, but idols: on which Porter says, “I am not aware of a precedent in any idolatrous country, for such a wilderness of gods as we should have found assembled here in effigy; and, least of all, could we expect to find such extravagant proofs of polytheism in a palace, that appears to have owed its origin to the immediate ancestors of Cyrus, the simple worshippers of Mithra, or the sun; and the proudest decorations of which may be dated from Darius, the follower of the philosophic Zoroaster, whose image, the god of his idolatry, is nothing grosser than the element of fire. To suppose these pillars to have been the supports of commemorating statues to the honour of the heroes of Persia, seems[Pg 133] equally untenable; for it is not in absolute monarchies, as in republics, or in commonwealths, where kings form only one great member of the body politic, that the eminent warriors and worthies of the land have such monuments erected to them. In Persia we find the bas-reliefs of its kings and their attendants on the walls of its palaces; in Rome we find the statues of Brutus, and Cato, and Cicero, under the ruins of the forum.”

In regard to the magnificent colonnade, which occupies the terrace, “the imagination,” says Mr. Fraser, “cannot picture a sight more imposing than those vast, solitary, mutilated pillars, which, founded in an age beyond the reach of tradition, have witnessed the lapse of countless generations, and seen dynasties and empires rise, flourish, and decay, while they still rear their grey heads unchanged.”

“On ascending the platform, on which the palace of Chehelminar once stood,” says Porter, “nothing can be more striking than the view of its ruins: so vast and magnificent, so fallen, mutilated and silent; the court of Cyrus, and the scene of his bounties; the pavilion of Alexander’s triumph, and, alas! the awful memorial of the wantonness of his power. But every object, when I saw it, was beautiful as desolate; amidst the pleasing memories of the past, awakening poignant regret, that such noble works of ingenuity should be left to the desert alone; that the pile of indefatigable labour should be destined, from the vicissitudes of revolution, and the caprice, ignorance, or fanaticism of succeeding times, to be left in total neglect; or, when noticed, doomed to the predatory mallet, and every other attack of unreflecting destruction.”

One of the most remarkable features of these ruins are the beds of aqueducts which are cut into the solid rock. The great aqueduct is discovered among[Pg 134] a confused heap of stones, almost adjoining to the ruined staircase. In some places it is so narrow, that a man is obliged to crawl through; in others it enlarges, so that he can stand upright in it.

Sir William Ouseley says, that he did not perceive among these monuments of antiquity, which the Takht exhibits: 1, any object appearing to be a vestige of the Arsacidan kings; 2, nor any vestige of the Sassanian dynasty, except two inscriptions; 3, nor any representation of a crooked sword; 4, nor any human figure with a full face; 5, nor any human figure mounted on horseback; 6, nor any figure of a woman; 7, nor any sculpture representing ships, or alluding to naval or marine affairs; 8, nor any arches; 9, nor any human figure sitting cross-legged, or resting on the knees and heels, according to modern usage in Persia; 10, nor any human figure in a state of nudity; 11, nor any vestiges either of wood or of brick; 12, nor any remains of gilding; 13, nor any insulated statue, or sculptured figure, separated from the general mass of marble, and showing in full relief the entire form of any object. Nor did he see any figure, that has ever actually been an object of idolatrous veneration. “The reader will easily believe,” says Sir William, “this catalogue of negative remarks might have been considerably augmented, when he considers the great extent of these stupendous ruins; the seeming anomalies of their plan; the extraordinary style of their architecture; the labyrinths or narrow passages, which have been excavated with much art in the adjacent mountains, and of which no traveller has yet ascertained either the termination or the mysterious design; the multiplicity of ornamental devices in the ruins; and, above all, of the human figures which their sculptures exhibit.

“That I have not exaggerated the wonders of[Pg 135] Jemsheed’s throne,” continues this accomplished traveller and scholar, “will be evident, on a reference to the accounts, given by most respectable persons of various countries, who, in different ages, have visited its ruins. Not only youthful travellers, glowing with lively imaginations; but those of sober judgment, matured by the experience of many years, seem, as they approach the venerable monuments, to be inspired by the genius of Eastern romance; and their respective languages scarcely furnish epithets capable of expressing with adequate energy the astonishment and admiration, excited by such a stupendous object.” The learning, which Sir William has expended upon Persepolis and other cities of the East, is astonishing.

In regard to a portion of a platform, another traveller says:—“To me it seemed to tell its own story; lying like the buried body of the last Darius under the ruins of his capital, and speaking with a voice from the grave; crying, in the words of Euripides over the like desolation; ‘Oh woe, woe, woe! my country lost! and thou, boast of my noble ancestors, how art thou shrunk;—how art thou vanished!’”

There are no appearances now either of a city, or a citadel, in any direction, about Persepolis. Three quarters of a mile from Persepolis is the tomb of the Persian hero, Rustum;—four chambers hollowed out in the rock, adorned with the altar of fire, the sun, and a mystic figure. Under the sculpture of the second chamber is a gigantic equestrian figure, very perfect, with others kneeling before him, and seeming to seize his hand. On one side of this is an inscription in ancient characters, different from those at Persepolis.

A little to the north, at the foot of the rock, are two more figures of horsemen contending for a[Pg 136] ring, and under the horses’ feet two human heads, besides other attendants. Both these horses are called Rustum, whose tomb is shown near the foot of the rock,—a square building, of blue stone, twenty feet high, with windows and niches.

In part of the rock to the east is a mutilated equestrian figure, with a horn on the left side of his forehead, called Iskunder zu el Kemeen, or Alexander, Lord of horns87.

In regard to the excavations, Mr. Kinneir is disposed to believe, that they could have been applied to no other use than as receptacles for the dead. The city continued to rank among the first cities of the empire, until the Mahomedan conquest, and was the burial place of many of the Sassanian kings.

The body of Yesdigird, the last of that powerful race, was transported from the distant province of Khorassan, to be interred at Persepolis, or rather, perhaps, in the cavities of Nuckshi Rustum.

“Our first, and, indeed, lasting impressions,” says Mr. Morier, “were astonishment at the immensity, and admiration at the beauties, of the ruins. Although there was nothing in the architecture of the buildings, or in the sculptures and reliefs on the rocks, which could bear a critical comparison with the delicate proportions and perfect statuary of the Greeks; yet, without trying Persepolis by a standard to which it never was amenable, we yielded at once to emotions the most lively and the most enraptured88.”

Wady Mousa

[Pg 137]


The whole land of Idumea, now a mountainous rocky desert, was vaguely known to be full of remains of ancient grandeur and magnificence; but the country is inhabited by fierce and intractable tribes of Arabs, who seem to have inherited the spirit of their forefathers, and to proclaim to approaching travellers, as the Edomites did to the children of Israel—“Thou shall not pass.”

“The evidence,” says Mons. De la Borde, “collected by Volney distinctly shows, that the Idumeans were a populous and powerful nation, long posterior to the delivery of the remarkable prophecies concerning them, recorded in Scripture; that they possessed a settled government; that Idumea contained many cities; that these cities have long been absolutely deserted; that Idumea was eminent as a commercial nation; and that it offered a much shorter route to India from the Mediterranean, than the one ordinarily adopted.”

Petra lies almost in a line between the Dead Sea and the gulf of Akaba, at the head of the Red Sea. “At what period of time it was founded it is impossible to determine89. From the mention of its inhabitants, the Edomites or Idumeans, in scriptural history, as well as from the character of its monuments, it is evident, however, that the city must be of immense antiquity. The Edomites had command of ports on the Red Sea, which put the commerce of India and Ethiopia into their hands, and was the source, both at an early period of their history and in the time of the Roman empire, of all their greatness. Petra was the centre point where the caravans rested between the Asiatic seas and the Mediterranean. [Pg 138] The book of Job, a work of great antiquity, proves distinctly the great prosperity of his countrymen, the Edomites, and their acquaintance with many civilised arts. From it we learn that they wrought mines, manufactured wire-brass, and coined money; that they possessed mirrors, used scales and the weaver’s shuttle, and had many musical instruments; and, finally, that they were well advanced in astronomy and natural history, and had correct notions of a Deity and a future state. They also cut inscriptions on tablets, and their rich men built splendid tombs. All these things betokened no mean degree of civilisation in the land of Edom at a very early date, and confirm the supposition that portions of the remains of Petra are among the oldest, if not really the oldest, existing monuments of man’s hands.”

Dr. Vincent90 says, “Petra is the capital of Edom, or Seir, the Idumea, or Arabia Petræa of the Greeks, the Nabotæa, considered by geographers, historians, and poets, as the source of all the precious commodities of the East.” The whole commerce of the East, indeed, originally passed through Arabia Petræa to Phœnicia, Tyre, and Egypt. “Notwithstanding,” continues Dr. Vincent, “that the caravans decreased in proportion to the advance of navigation, still Petra was a capital of consideration in the age of the Periplus; there was still a proportion of the trade passed from Leukè Komè (the white village) to this city, and its princes maintained a rank similar to that of Herod in Judæa. In all the subsequent fluctuations of power, some commercial transactions are discoverable in this province; and if Egypt should ever be under a civilised government again, Petræa would be no longer a desert.”

“The Nabatæi,” says Pliny, “inhabited a city [Pg 139]called Petra, in a hollow somewhat less than two miles in circumference, surrounded by inaccessible mountains, with a stream running through it. It is distant from the town of Gaza, on the coast, six hundred miles, and from the Persian Gulf, one hundred and twenty-two.”

Strabo says, “the capital of the Nabatæi is called Petra; it lies in a spot, which is itself level and plain, but fortified all round with a barrier of rocks and precipices; within, furnished with a spring of excellent quality, for the supply of water, and the irrigation of gardens; without the circuit, the country is in a great measure desert, especially towards Judæa.”

Such are the ancient accounts of a city, which, for many centuries, has been to Europe as if it did not exist. According to this geographer it was a great and flourishing city, standing on a high rock in a plain, hemmed in and fortified all round with a barrier of rocks and precipices; and from this position it derived its name.

Very little is known of the history of this remarkable city, and of this little we have only space for a few incidents.

When Antigonus had got possession of Syria and Judæa, he sent one of his generals (Athenæus) against the people of Petra, because they had made several inroads into the country, and carried away a large booty. Athenæus succeeded so far, that he got possession of the town and likewise all the spoils deposited in it; but in his retreat the Arabs defeated his troops, regained all the spoils, and then took repossession of their city. When they had done this, they wrote a letter to Antigonus, complaining of the injustice with which Athenæus had treated them. At first Antigonus affected to disapprove of Athenæus’ proceedings; but the moment he could assemble a[Pg 140] sufficient number of troops, he despatched his son, Demetrius, into Arabia, with orders to chastise the Petræans with the utmost severity. This, however, was easier to be said than done. Demetrius marched thither, it is true; but as he could not succeed in taking their city, he found himself compelled to make the best treaty he could, and march back again. A further account is given, by another writer:—“When Demetrius91, by order of his father Antigonus, sate down before Petra with an army, and began an attack upon it, an Arab accosted him after the following manner:—‘King Demetrius: what is it you would have? What madness can have induced you to invade a people, inhabiting a wilderness, where neither corn, nor wine, nor any other thing, you can subsist upon, are to be found? We inhabit these desolate plains for the sake of liberty; and submit to such inconveniences as no other people can bear in order to enjoy it. You can never force us to change our sentiments, nor way of life; therefore, we desire you to retire out of our country, as we have never injured you; to accept some presents from us; and to prevail with your father to rank us among his friends.’ Upon hearing this, Demetrius accepted their presents, and raised the siege.”

The city was, in the time of Augustus, the residence of a monarch, and considered the capital of Arabia Petræa. The country was conquered by Trajan, and annexed by him to the province of Palestine. In more recent times, Baldwin I. king of Jerusalem, having made himself also master of Petra, gave it the name of the Royal Mountain.

The probability that the ruins of Wady Mousa are those of ancient Petra, is thus stated by Colonel Leake:—“The country of the Nabatæi, of which Petra was the chief town, is well characterised by [Pg 141] Diodorus as containing some fruitful spots, but as being, for the most part, desert and waterless. With equal accuracy, the combined information of Eratosthenes, Strabo, and Pliny, describes Petra as falling in a line drawn from the head of the Arabian gulf (Suez) to Babylon; as being at the distance of three or four days from Jericho, and of four or five from Phœnicon, which was a place now called Moyeleh, on the Nabatæan coast, near the entrance of the Ælanitic Gulf; and as situated in a valley of about two miles in length, surrounded with deserts, inclosed within precipices, and watered by a river. The latitude of 30° 20´, ascribed by Ptolemy to Petra, agrees moreover very accurately with that, which is the result of the geographical information of Burckhardt. The vestiges of opulence, and the apparent date of the architecture at Wady Mousa, are equally conformable with the remains of the history of Petra found in Strabo, from whom it appears that, previous to the reign of Augustus, or under the latter Ptolemies, a very large portion of the commerce of Arabia and India passed through Petra to the Mediterranean, and that armies of camels were required to convey the merchandise from Leuce Come [Leukè Komè], on the Red Sea, through Petra, to Rhinocolura, now El Arish. But among the ancient authorities regarding Petra, none are more curious than those of Josephus, Eusebius, and Jerome, all persons well acquainted with these countries, and who agree in proving that the sepulchre of Aaron in Mount Hor was near Petra. From hence it seems evident that the present object of Mussulman devotion, under the name of the tomb of Haroun, stands upon the same spot which has always been regarded as the burying-place of Aaron; and there remains little doubt, therefore, that the mountain to the west of Petra is the Mount Hor of the Scriptures; Mousa being, perhaps,[Pg 142] an Arabic corruption of Movra, where Aaron is said to have died.”

Till within these few years, these ruins have been to Europeans, as if they did not exist. In 1807, M. Seetzen, travelling under the name of Morse, made an excursion into Arabia Petræa, as far as what he calls the frontiers of Idumea, but he did not approach the ruins of the capital92. The first traveller, who gave to modern Europe any knowledge of this city, was Burckhardt. In this journey, made in the summer of 1812, he encountered many dangers and difficulties; not so much from the inaccessible nature of the country, as from the rapacity and prejudices of the Arabs, who conceive that their ruined towns are all filled with hidden treasures; and that European visitors come for the sole purpose of carrying these away. “I see now clearly,” said his guide, “that you are an infidel, who have some particular business among the ruins of the city of our forefathers; but, depend upon it, we shall not suffer you to take out a single para of all the treasures hidden therein; for they are in our territory, and belong to us.” With these difficulties, Burckhardt had little opportunity of doing more than merely ascertaining, that such ruins as those of Petra did actually exist. “I was particularly anxious,” says he, in his journal, under date of August 22, “of visiting Wady Mousa, of the antiquities of which I had heard the country people speak in terms of great admiration; and from thence I had hoped to cross the desert in a straight line to Cairo; but my guide was afraid of the hazards of a journey through the desert. I therefore pretended to have made a vow to slaughter a goat in honour of Haroun (Aaron), whose tomb I knew was situated at the extremity of the valley; and by this stratagem I thought that I should have [Pg 143]the means of seeing the valley in my way to the tomb. To this my guide had nothing to oppose; the dread of drawing upon himself, by resistance, the wrath of Haroun, completely silenced him.” Farther on, speaking of the antiquities of Wady Mousa, the same traveller says, “Of these I regret that I am not able to give a very complete account. I well knew the character of the people around me. I was without protection in the midst of a desert, where no traveller had ever before been seen; and a close examination of these works of the infidels, as they are called, would have excited suspicions that I was a magician in search of treasures. I should at least have been detained, and prevented from prosecuting my journey to Egypt, and in all probability should have been stripped of the little money which I possessed, and, what was infinitely more valuable to me, of my journal-book. Future travellers may visit the spot under the protection of an armed force; the inhabitants will become more accustomed to the researches of strangers, and the antiquities of Wady Mousa will then be found to rank amongst the most curious remains of ancient art.”

We shall now give some account of the travels of Mr. Banks, and the party by whom he was accompanied.93 Having quitted the tents of the Bedouins, with whom they had sojourned for a few days, they passed into the valley of Ellasar, where they noticed some relics of antiquity, which they conjectured were of Roman origin. Here they rested with a tribe of Arabs. The next day they pursued their journey, partly over a road paved with lava, and which, by its appearance, was evidently a Roman work, and stopped that evening at Shuback, a fortress in a commanding situation; but incapable, by decay, of any effectual defence against European tactics.

[Pg 144]

In the neighbourhood of this place they encountered some difficulties from the Arabs, but which, by their spirit and firmness, they overcame, and proceeded unmolested till they reached the tents of a chieftain called Eben Raschib, who took them under his protection. This encampment was situated on the edge of a precipice, from which they had a magnificent view of Mount Gebel-Nebe-Haroun, the hill of the prophet Aaron (Mount Hor); and a distant prospect of Gebel-Tour (Mount Sinai), was also pointed out to them. In the fore-ground, on the plain below, they saw the tents of the hostile Arabs, who were determined to oppose their passage to Wady Mousa, the ruins of which were also in sight.

Perceiving themselves thus as it were waylaid, they sent a messenger to the chief, requesting permission to pass; but he returned for answer, that they should neither cross his lands, nor taste his water. They were in fact in the land of Edom, to the king of which Moses sent messengers from Kadish. “Let us pass,” said he, “I pray thee, through thy country: we will not pass through the fields, or through the vineyards; neither will we drink of the waters of the well: we will go by the king’s highway; we will not turn to the right hand nor to the left, until we have passed thy borders.” But Edom said unto him, “Thou shalt not pass by me, lest I come out against thee with the sword.”—Numbers xx. 17, 18.

The travellers, after some captious negotiation, at last obtained permission to pass; but not to drink the waters. They did not, however, very faithfully observe this stipulation; for on reaching the borders of a clear bright sparkling rivulet, their horse would taste the cooling freshness of its waters; and Eben Raschib, their protector, insisted also that the horses should be[Pg 145] gratified. On crossing this stream they entered on the wonders of Wady Mousa.

The first object that attracted their attention was a mausoleum, at the entrance of which stood two colossal animals; but whether lions or sphinxes they could not ascertain, as they were much defaced and mutilated. They then, advancing towards the principal ruins, entered a narrow pass, varying from fifteen to twenty feet in width, overhung by precipices, which rose to the general height of two hundred, sometimes reaching five hundred feet, and darkening the path by their projecting ledges. In some places niches were sculptured in the sides of this stupendous gallery, and here and there rude masses stood forward, that bore a remote and mysterious resemblance to the figures of living things, but over which, time and oblivion had drawn an inscrutable and everlasting veil. About a mile within this pass, they rode under an arch, which connected the two sides together; and they noticed several earthen pipes, which had formerly distributed water.

Having continued to explore the gloomy windings of this awful corridor for about two miles, the front of a superb temple burst on their view. A statue of Victory, with wings, filled the centre of an aperture in the upper part, and groups of colossal figures, representing a centaur, and a young man, stood on each side of the lofty portico. This magnificent structure is entirely excavated from the solid rock, and preserved from the ravages of the weather by the projections of the overhanging precipices. About three hundred yards beyond this temple, they met with other astonishing excavations; and, on reaching the termination of the rock on their left, they found an amphitheatre, which had also been excavated, with the exception of the proscenium; and[Pg 146] this had fallen into ruins. On all sides the rocks were hollowed into innumerable chambers and sepulchres; and a silent waste of desolated palaces, and the remains of constructed edifices, filled the area to which the pass led.

Since this, Captains Irby and Mangles, who accompanied Mr. Banks, have published an account of their journey:—“Our defile brought us directly down into the valley of Wady Mousa, whose name had become so familiar to us. It is, at the point where we entered it, a stony but cultivated valley, of moderate size, without much character or beauty, running in a direction from east to west. A lesser hollow, sloping down to it from the southward, meets it at an angle. At the upper end of the latter valley is the village seen over stages of hanging fruit-grounds, which are watered by a spring. * * Some hundred yards below this spring begin the outskirts of the vast necropolis of Petra. * * As we advanced, the natural features of the defile grew more and more imposing at every step, and the excavations and sculpture more frequent on both sides, till it presented at last a continued street of tombs, beyond which the rocks, gradually approaching each other, seemed all at once to close without any outlet. There is, however, one frightful chasm for the passage of the stream, which furnishes, as it did anciently, the only avenue to Petra on this side (the eastern).

“It is impossible,” continues Captain Irby, “to conceive any thing more awful and sublime than the eastern approach to Petra. The width is not more than just sufficient for the passage of two horsemen abreast; the sides are in all parts perpendicular, varying from four hundred to seven hundred feet in height; and they often overhang to such a degree, that, without their absolutely meeting, the sky is intercepted, and completely shut out for one hundred[Pg 147] yards together, and there is little more light than in a cavern.” This half subterranean passage is more than two miles in length, and retains throughout the same extraordinary character.

“After passing the Khasne, the defile becomes contracted again for three hundred yards, when suddenly the ruins of the city burst on the view in their full grandeur, shut in on the opposite side by barren craggy precipices, from which numerous ravines and valleys, like those we had passed, branch out in all directions. (All of these ravines, however, that were explored, were found to terminate in a wall of rock, admitting of no passage outwards or inwards.) The sides of the mountains, covered with an endless variety of excavated tombs and private dwellings, presented altogether the most singular scene we ever beheld. We must despair to give the reader an idea of the peculiar effect of the rocks, tinted with most extraordinary hues, whose summits present us with Nature in her most savage and romantic form; whilst their bases are worked out in all the symmetry and regularity of art, with colonnades and pediments, and ranges of corridors adhering to the perpendicular surface.”

The next party that visited Petra were Messrs. Laborde and Linant. After traversing Wada Araba, they entered the Wady Mousa, the “mysterious valley of Petra.” Laborde confesses that, notwithstanding the perfect good feeling which existed between the travellers and their conductors, he felt an indefinable kind of fear that the grand object of their journey—the minute investigation of Petra—might, after all, be defeated. The “Fellahs of Wady Mousa” were yet to be reconciled to their plan of operations.

It is a common belief amongst the Arabs, that immense treasures are buried beneath the ruins that[Pg 148] strew the rocky desert of Idumea; and it is, of course, a natural inference, that the object of Europeans in visiting the country is, by magic or superior craft, to obtain access to those treasures, the possession of which belongs to the lords of the soil. But in drawing near to the city, a danger, says M. Laborde, on which the travellers had not reckoned, proved a cause of their security. The plague had been brought from the shores of the Mediterranean into the secluded Wady Mousa, and the Fellahs had fled from its violence. The travellers, during their inspection of the city, were comparatively free from annoyance: but they would have staid longer if their Arab conductors, who were afraid of the plague, had not teased them to return; and the fact of their residence in Petra was beginning to spread.

Messrs. Laborde and Linant arrived in Petra from the south; and on reaching a point from which they could see the extent of the town, they were struck with amazement at the immense mass of ruins strewed around, and the extensive circle of rocks inclosing the place, pierced with an innumerable quantity of excavations. In fact, words are inadequate to convey a clear idea of the ruins of Petra.

In Laborde’s plan of Petra, the town is exhibited as completely encircled by huge rocks. These rocks are excavated in every variety of form. The only entrance to the town is from the south-west, by the windings of a narrow ravine, through which flows the river, or rather stream, of Wady Mousa94.

“We wound round a peak,” says M. Laborde, “surmounted by a single tree. The view from this point exhibited a vast frightful desert; a chaotic sea, the waves of which were petrified. Following the beaten road, we saw before us Mount Hor, crowned [Pg 149]by the tomb of the prophet, if we are to credit the ancient tradition, preserved by the people of that country. Several large and ruinous excavations, which are seen in the way, may arrest the attention of a traveller who is interested by such objects, and has no notion of those, still concealed from his view by the curtain of rocks which extends before him; but at length the rock leads him to the heights above one more ravine; whence he discovers within his horizon the most singular spectacle, the most enchanting picture, which Nature has wrought in her grandest mood of creation; which men, influenced by the vainest dreams of ambition, have yet bequeathed to the generations that were to follow them. At Palmyra, Nature renders the works of man insignificant by her own immensity and her boundless horizon, within which some hundreds of columns seem entirely lost. Here, on the contrary, she seems delighted to set, in her most noble frame-work, his productions, which aspire, and not unsuccessfully, to harmonize with her own majestic, yet fantastic, appearance. The spectator hesitates for a moment, as to which of the two he is the more impelled to admire; whether he is to accord the preference to Nature, who invites his attention to her matchless girdle of rocks, wondrous as well for their colour as their forms; or to the men who feared not to mingle the works of their genius with such splendid efforts of creative power.”

We now give an abstract of what has been written of this city, mainly taken from a very intelligent periodical journal, published at Edinburgh (Chambers’s Journal).

Nearly at the spot where the defile opens into the site of the city, one excavation in the site of the pass arrests the attention of the traveller. This is a vast circular theatre hewn out of the solid rock, consisting[Pg 150] of thirty-three seats of stone sloping upwards, and surmounted, and in some degree sheltered, by the rocks above. The countless tombs in the immediate vicinity of this ruined edifice led M. Laborde to remark on the extraordinary taste of the people of Petra, in selecting a place of amusement, encircled on all sides by the mansions and memorials of death!

It is unnecessary to enter into a minute description of the excavated tombs and sepulchres, studding the rocky walls around Petra. The basis of the architecture, in almost all cases, is Grecian, mingled with Roman; though in many instances a style is apparent, which must be regarded as Egyptian, or rather the native style of Petra. Many of the chambers within the tombs are so immense, that their real character might be doubted; were it not for the recesses they contain, destined, it is plain, for the reception of bodies. How enormous must have been the labour and expense, necessary for the excavation of these sepulchres, some of which are large enough to stable the horses of a whole tribe of Arabs! It is impossible to conceive that such resting-places could have been appropriated to any other persons than rulers or rich men, and great, indeed, as Mr. Burckhardt remarks, “must have been the opulence of a city, which could dedicate such monuments to the memory of its rulers.” Some of the finest mausoleums, as we have already seen, are not in the main valley, but in the ravines leading from it, where their multiplicity is beyond conception. In a ravine on the north-west, M. Laborde beheld one, called by the natives El-Deir, or the Convent, of much larger dimensions than the Khasne, and, like it, sculptured out of the rock, though not in a style so perfect.

As the visitor advances into the area, he beholds in front of him one of the most splendid and beautiful objects in or around Petra, and what may justly[Pg 151] be called one of the wonders of antiquity. This is the front of a great temple, nearly sixty-five feet in height, excavated from the solid rock, and embellished with the richest architectural decorations, all in the finest state of preservation. Six pillars, thirty-five feet high, with Corinthian capitals, support an ornamented pediment, above which stand six smaller pillars, the centre pair crowned by a vase, and surrounded by statues and other ornaments. Mere description can do no justice to this building. Near it stands a magnificent triumphal arch.

This temple is termed by the Arabs “Khasne Pharaon,”—Pharaoh’s treasure; from their supposition that here are hidden those stores which they have vainly sought for elsewhere. In the sarcastic words of M. Laborde, “It was quite in accordance with their character, after having fruitlessly spoiled the monuments inclosed in the tombs, to seek the spot where the constructor of such magnificent edifices had deposited his treasure. That spot they supposed they had found at last—it was the urn which may be distinguished on the top of the monument. This must contain all the riches of the great king;—but, unhappily, it is out of their reach, and only taunts their desire. Consequently, each time that they pass through the ravine, they stop an instant, fire at the urn, and endeavour to break it, in the hope of bringing it down and securing the treasure. Their efforts are fruitless; and they retire murmuring against the king of Giants, who has so adroitly placed his treasure 120 feet above their reach.”

The temple is hewn in an enormous and compact block of freestone, which is lightly coloured with oxide of iron. Its high state of preservation is owing to the shelter which the surrounding rocks afford it against the wind, and also in preserving the roof from the rain. The only traces of deterioration are in the[Pg 152] statues at the base of the column, which has been produced by the humidity undermining the parts most in relief, or nearest to the ground. To the same cause may be attributed the fall of one of the columns which was attached to the front. Had the structure been built instead of being hewn, the fall of this column would have dragged down the entire building. As it is, it merely occasions a void, which does not destroy the effect of the whole. “It has even been useful,” says M. Laborde, “in so far as it enabled us, by taking its dimensions, to ascertain the probable height of the temple, which it would otherwise have been impossible to do with precision.” He calls the temple “one of the wonders of antiquity,” and apologises for the expression in the following manner:—“We are apt, doubtless, to charge the traveller with exaggeration who endeavours, by high-sounding eulogiums, to enhance the merit of his fatigues, or the value of his labours: but here, at least, plates designed with care will establish the truth of a description which might otherwise appear extravagant.”

The interior of the temple does not fulfil the expectations, created by the magnificence of the exterior. Several steps conduct to a room, the door of which is perceived under the peristyle. “Although the chamber is hewn regularly, and is in good proportion, the walls are rough, its doors lead to nothing, and the entire appears to have been abandoned while the work was yet in progress. There are two lateral chambers, one of which is irregular, and the other presents two apertures, which seem to have been hewn for two coffins.”

Captain Irby speaks of this temple in the following manner: “The position is one of the most beautiful that could be imagined for the front of a great temple, the richness and exquisite finish of whose decorations offer a most remarkable contrast to[Pg 153] the savage scenery that surrounds it. It is of a very lofty proportion, the elevation comprising two stories. The taste is not exactly to be commended; but many of the details and ornaments, and the size and proportion of the great doorway especially, to which there are five steps of ascent from the portico, are very noble. No part is built, the whole being purely a work of excavation; and its minutest embellishments, wherever the hand of man has not purposely effaced and obliterated them, are so perfect, that it may be doubted whether any work of the ancients, excepting, perhaps, some on the banks of the Nile, have come down to our time so little injured by the lapse of ages. There is, in fact, scarcely a building of forty years’ standing in England so well preserved in the greater part of its architectural decorations. Of the larger members of the architecture nothing is deficient, excepting a single column of the portico; the statues are numerous and colossal.”

The brook of Wady Mousa, after leaving the eastern defile by which it entered, passes directly across the valley, and makes its exit by a rocky ravine on the west, almost impassable by the foot of man. On the banks of this stream are situated the principal ruins of the city. There, at least, are found those in chief preservation—for, properly speaking, the whole valley may be said to be covered with ruins.

The remains of paved-ways, bridges, and other structures, may still be seen among the other ruins of the valley. Not the least interesting object, observable in the vale, is the aqueduct which is continued from the eastern approach along the face of the rocks constituting the eastern wall of this city. This aqueduct is partly hewn and partly built, and is yet in a very perfect condition.

The only inscriptions, hitherto discovered at Petra, are two which M. Laborde met with on tombs. One[Pg 154] of these, in Greek characters, was so much mutilated as to be unreadable, and the other, a Latin one, notified that a certain Roman consul died at Petra, when governor of Arabia.

The only living being found residing in the immediate neighbourhood of the ruins, with the exception of the reptiles that infest the excavations, was a decrepit old man, who had lived for forty years on the top of Mount Hor, an eminence at the west of Petra, where a tomb, said to be that of Aaron, is seen. The wandering Arabs, who revere the Jewish traditions, hold this place as sacred, and support its old guardian by occasional pilgrimages and contributions95.

[Pg 155]

For want of space we must here close our account; referring for a more enlarged knowledge of this celebrated “city of the desert,” to the travels of Burckhardt, Captains Irby and Mangles, and MM. Laborde and Linant. The following references lead to some of [Pg 156]the passages, in which the fate of this city was foretold by the sacred writers96.

“I will stretch out mine hand upon Edom, and will cut off man and beast from it, and I will make it desolate from Teman; and they of Dedan shall fall by the sword. And I will lay my vengeance upon Edom by the hand of my people Israel, and they shall do in Edom according to mine anger, and according to my fury, and they shall know my vengeance, saith the Lord God.”—Ezekiel, xxv. 13, 14.

“Say unto it, thus saith the Lord God, behold, O Mount Seir, I am against thee, and I will stretch out mine hand against thee, and I will make thee most desolate, I will lay thy cities waste, and thou shalt be desolate, and thou shalt know that I am the Lord. Because thou hast had a perpetual hatred, and hast shed the blood of the children of Israel, by the force of the sword, in the time of their calamity.”—Ezekiel, xxxv. 3, 4.

“The cormorant and the bittern shall possess it, the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it, and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness. The thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof, and it shall be an habitation of dragons, and a court for owls.”—Isaiah, xxxiv. 11, 13.

“And Edom shall be a desolation; every one, that goeth by it, shall be astonished, and shall hiss at the plagues thereof.”—Jeremiah, xlix. 17.

“And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them, and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau.”—Obadiah, 18.


This was a town of Arcadia, called after Phigalus. Bacchus and Diana had each a temple there, and the public places were adorned with the statues of illustrious natives. “In the forum,” says Anacharsis, “is a statue which might serve for the history of the arts. The feet are almost joined, and the pendant hands are fastened close to the sides and thighs; for in this manner were statues formerly sculptured in Greece, and thus they are still in [Pg 157] Egypt. It was erected for the athlete Arrhacion, who gained one of the prizes in the 52nd, 53rd, and 54th Olympiads. We may hence conclude that, two centuries before our time, many statuaries still servilely followed the Egyptian taste.”

This town was situated on a high and craggy rock, near Megalopolis. Being the key, as it were, of Arcadia, the Lacedemonians laid siege to it and took it 659 B. C. In order to regain the city, the inhabitants consulted the oracle of Delphos, who directed them to select one hundred men from Orestasium to assist them. These brave persons perished; but the Orestasians, in concert with the Phigalians, attacked their enemies and routed them. The Phigalians afterwards erected a monument in honour of the one hundred men who had fallen.

There was one temple dedicated to Diana Conservatrix, in which was her statue, and another dedicated to Apollo the Deliverer.

Chandler relates, that M. Joachim Bocher, an architect of Paris, was desirous of examining a building near Caritena. He was still remote from that place, when he perceived a ruin, two hours from Verrizza, which prevented him from going further. This ruin stands on an eminence, sheltered by lofty mountains. The temple, it is supposed, was that of Apollo Epicurius, near Phigalia. It was of the Doric order, and had six columns in front. The number which ranged round the cella was thirty-eight. Two at the angles are fallen; the rest are entire, in good preservation, and support their architraves. Within them lies a confused heap. The stone inclines to grey, with reddish veins. To its beauty is added great precision in the workmanship. These remains had their effect, striking equally the mind and the eye of the beholder.

The walls of Phigalia alone remain; they were[Pg 158] flanked with towers, both square and circular. One gate towards the east is yet covered by blocks, which approach each other like the underside of a staircase. There has been a temple, of fine limestone, of the Doric order, on which is an inscription.

Pausanias describes Phigalia as surrounded by mountains, of which one named Cotylium was distant about forty stadia, or five miles. The temple of Apollo stood on this, at a place called Bassæ.

Under the ruins of this temple, the Baron Von Stachelberg discovered, in 1812, some curious bas-reliefs, which are now in the British Museum. They were executed in the time of Pericles, the temple having been built by Ictinus, the architect of the Parthenon.

These bas-reliefs, representing the battle of the Centaurs and Lapithæ, and the combat between the Greeks and Amazons, composed the frieze in the interior of the cella, in the temple of Apollo the Deliverer. The battle of the Centaurs and Lapithæ is sculptured on eleven slabs of marble; that of the Greeks and Amazons occupies twelve.

Besides these there are other fragments from the same temple:—1. A fragment of a Doric capital of one of the columns of the peristyle. 2. A fragment of an Ionic temple of one of the columns of the cella. 3. Two fragments of the tiles, which surmounted the pediments, and formed the superior moulding. 4. Fragments of metopes, found in the porticos.

The following observations lately appeared in the Times newspaper:—“In the saloon of the British Museum are the celebrated bas-reliefs, found at Mount Cobylus, near the ancient city of Phigalia, in Arcadia. They represent the battles of the Greeks and Amazons, and those of Theseus and the Lapithæ against the Centaurs. According to Pausanias, they were the[Pg 159] work of Ictinus, a contemporary of Phidias. The grandeur of conception displayed in their composition, the variety of attitude and action shown, is not surpassed by those in the Elgin saloon, though their execution may be inferior. The combat of the Greeks and Amazons occupies twelve slabs of marble, and that of the Centaurs eleven. Both the history of the Amazons and the battle, here represented, are obscure. The origin of the name is derived from two words, ‘Ama’ or ‘Ma,’ which in all old languages signifies ‘mother’—its ubiquity is proof of its antiquity—and the ancient name of the sun, as found in the Temple of Heliopolis, in Egypt, is ‘On,’ ‘Ton,’ or ‘Zoan;’ but that any nation of Amazons, in the vulgar acceptation of the word, ever existed, is more than problematical. Faber says that those nations, who worshipped the female principle of the world, such as the Iberians, the Cimmerians, the Mootæ, the Atalantians of Mauritania, and the Ionians, were Amazons, and a celebrated invasion of Attica by them is mentioned. We are told that Eumolphus, an Egyptian, was the leader; and Pausanias mentions an Attic victory or trophy, called an Amazonium, erected to their manes. According to Arrian, the Queen of the Amazons, on the borders of the Caspian Sea, sent ambassadors with defiance to Alexander. In the time of Pompey, they were still supposed to exist; and Dion Cassius says, that in the Mithridatic war buskins and boots were found by the Roman soldiers, undoubtedly Amazonian. The worship of the male and female deities in Greece caused peace between the sects, and the origin of their quarrel and their name was forgotten in Europe. In Asia the Persians and the Jews seem still to have formed an exception. Cambyses, in his invasion, destroyed in Egypt everything [Pg 160] connected with the female worship; he overturned the sphinxes, but he left the obelisks untouched. The scene of the combat, depicted on these tablets, is drawn with great force and spirit: some of the Amazons have long tunics, others short vestments, only reaching to the knee; one on horseback has trousers, and loose sleeves reaching to the wrist; on the head of some is the Archaic helmet, and those without have the hair fastened in a knot on the top; they all but one wear boots, which reach to the knees; their robes are fastened with a zone; some have two belts crossed between the breasts; their arms are swords, and the double-headed Scythian battle-axe, as also spears, bows, and arrows. None of these last are preserved, they being probably of bronze, as the holes remain, and added afterwards, as was the custom with ancient sculpture; the shields are small, and of the lunar form, opening at top. The Athenian warriors have cloaks, or tunics, fastened round the neck, and tightened about the waist by a belt; it reaches no lower than the knee; the right arm is bare. In one group a fierce warrior has seized a mounted Amazon by the hair; he is dragging her from the horse, which is rearing. The action of the female figure is very fine: she firmly maintains her seat, till relieved by another; who, with uplifted axe and shield to protect her from the flying arrows, shall have brained her antagonist. The 18th slab has five figures and two horses; in one the horse has fallen, and an Athenian warrior has his right hand fixed on the throat of the Amazon, while, with the other hand, he has grasped her foot, and drags her, who seems to have lost all recollection, from the horse’s back. The position of the centre figure is very fine: he is within the guard of the shield of the Amazon, and is striking a deadly blow[Pg 161] with his hand, in which has been a sword. In another group an Athenian has fallen; he rests on his left hand, and extends his right in supplication to the female warriors who surround him, and is in the act of surrendering, while behind him an Amazon is striking him with her battle-axe. In the sculptures of the Lapithæ and Centaurs all the warriors, with the exception of Theseus, are armed with swords, who, as an imitator of Hercules, has a club. The shields are large and circular; they have a broad border round the circumference, and resemble those of the Ephibi of Athens. Of the helmets there are four kinds—one which fits the head closely, without either crest or vizor; another with a crest, and one with guards for the ears, and a fourth with a pointed vizor. In one of the sculptures Theseus is seen attacking a Centaur; he has the head of the monster under his left arm, and with the right, which probably held a club of bronze, as the hole remains, he is destroying him. He appears to have arrived just in time to save Hippodomia, whom the Centaur has disrobed, and who is clinging to the statue of Diana. From the tiara behind, and the lion’s skin, this figure is supposed to be Theseus; the Centaur is Eurytion; a female figure is also seen pleading on her behalf, and, in the distance, a Goddess is hastening in a car drawn by stags to the rescue; this probably is Diana, as the temple was dedicated to Apollo.”

The city of Phigalia is now become a mere village, known by the name of Paolitza97.


This city has long been famous; for it was in a plain near to it that was fought the celebrated battle between the Greeks and Persians98. On the evening [Pg 162]previous to the engagement, the Grecians held a council of war, in which it was resolved, that they should decamp from the place they were in, and march to another more conveniently situated for water. Night being come on, and the officers endeavouring at the head of their corps to make more haste than ordinary to the camp marked out for them, great confusion happened among the troops, some going one way and some another, without observing any order or regularity in their march. At last they halted near the little city of Platæa.

On the first news of the Grecians being decamped, Mardonius drew his army into order of battle, and pursued them with hideous shouting and bawling of his barbarian forces, who thought they were advancing not so much in order of battle, as to strip and plunder a flying enemy; and their general likewise, making himself sure of victory, proudly insulted Artabazus; reproaching him with his fearful and cowardly prudence, and with the false notion, he had conceived of the Lacedæmonians, who never fled, as he pretended, before an enemy; whereas here was an instance of the contrary. But the general found quickly this was no false or ill-grounded notion. He happened to fall in with the Lacedæmonians, who were alone and separated from the body of the Grecian army, to the number of fifty thousand men, together with three thousand of the Tegeatæ. The encounter was exceedingly fierce and resolute on both sides; the men fought with the courage of lions, and the barbarians perceived that they had to do with soldiers, who were determined to conquer or die on the field. The Athenian troops, to whom Pausanias sent an officer, were already upon their march to their aid; but the Greeks who had taken part with the Persians, to the number of fifty thousand men, went out to meet them on their way, and hindered them[Pg 163] from proceeding any farther. Aristides, with his little body of men, bore up firmly against them, and withstood their attack, telling them how insignificant a superiority of numbers is against true courage and bravery. The battle being thus divided, and fought in two different places, the Spartans were the first who broke in upon the Persian forces, and put them in disorder. Mardonius, their general, falling dead of a wound he had received in the engagement, all his army betook themselves to flight; and those Greeks, who were engaged against Aristides, did the same thing as soon as they understood the barbarians were defeated. The latter ran away to their former camp which they had quitted, where they were sheltered and fortified with an inclosure of wood.

The manner, in which the Lacedæmonians treated the Platæans some time after, is, also, not unworthy of remembrance. About the end of the campaign, which is that wherein Mitylene was taken, the Platæans, being in absolute want of provisions, and unable to make the least defence, surrendered, upon condition that they should not be punished till they had been tried and judged in form of justice. Five commissioners came for that purpose from Lacedæmon; and these, without charging them for any crime, barely asked them, Whether they had done any service to the Lacedæmonians and the allies in war? The Platæans were much surprised as well as puzzled at this question, and were sensible that it had been suggested by the Thebans, their professed enemies, who had vowed their destruction. They therefore put the Lacedæmonians in mind of the services, they had done to Greece in general; both at the battle of Artemesium, and that of Platæa, and particularly in Lacedæmonia, at the time of the earthquake, which was followed by the revolt of their slaves. The only reason, they declared, of their[Pg 164] having joined the Athenians afterwards, was to defend themselves from the hostilities of the Thebans, against whom they had implored the assistance of the Lacedæmonians to no purpose: that if that was imputed to them as a crime, which was only their misfortune, it ought not however entirely to obliterate the remembrance of their former services. “Cast your eyes,” said they, “on the monuments of your ancestors, which you see here, to whom we annually pay all the honours, which can be rendered to the manes of the dead. You thought fit to entrust their bodies with us, as we were eye-witnesses of their bravery; and yet you will now give up their ashes to their murderers, in abandoning us to the Thebans, who fought against us at the battle of Platæa. Will you enslave a province where Greece recovered its liberty? Will you destroy the temples of those gods to whom you owe the victory? Will you abolish the memory of their founders, who contributed so greatly to your safety? On this occasion, we may venture to say, our interest is inseparable from your glory; and you cannot deliver up your ancient friends and benefactors to the unjust hatred of the Thebans, without eternal infamy to yourselves.”

One would conclude, that these just remonstrances would have made some impression on the Lacedæmonians; but they were biassed more by the answer the Thebans made, and which was expressed in the most bitter and haughty terms against the Platæans, and, besides, they had brought their instructions from Lacedæmon. They stood, therefore, to their first question, “Whether the Platæans had done them any service during the war?” And making them pass one after another, as they severally answered “No,” each was immediately butchered, and not one escaped. About two hundred were killed in this manner; and twenty-five Athenians, who were among them, met[Pg 165] the same unhappy fate. Their wives, who were taken prisoners, were made slaves. The Thebans afterwards peopled their city with exiles from Megara and Platæa; but, the year after, they demolished the latter entirely. It was in this manner the Lacedæmonians, in the hopes of reaping great advantages from the Thebans, sacrificed the Platæans to their animosity, ninety-three years after their first alliance with the Athenians.

Herodotus relates, that cenotaphs, composed of heaps of earth, were raised near the town; but no vestige of these remain; nor are there any traces of the sepulchres of those who fell at Platæa. These are mentioned by Plutarch, who says, that at the anniversary of those who were killed at Platæa, the Archon crossed the city to go to the sepulchres, and drawing water from the fountain in a vase, washed the columns of the tombs, and made libations of wine, oil, milk, and perfumes.

Here was a temple of Minerva, in which Polygnotus executed a group of the return of Ulysses; and a statue of the goddess of great size, of gilt wood; but the face, hands, and feet, were of ivory. Also a temple of Diana, in which was a monument of Euchidas, a citizen of Platæa, to commemorate his having run from Platæa to Delphos, and returned before sunset: he expired a few minutes after. The distance was thirty-seven leagues and a half.

Mr. Dodwell says, he could find no certain traces of this temple, nor of one dedicated to Ceres, unless several heaps of large stones might be regarded as such. Neither could he find any remains of a stadium. He saw, however, a frieze of white marble, enriched with Ionic ornaments.

Dr. Clarke says, that the upper part of the promontory is covered with ruins; amidst which he found some pieces of serpentine porphyry; and the[Pg 166] peasants, he says, in ploughing the soil in the neighbourhood, find their labours frequently obstructed by large blocks of stone, and earth, filled with broken remains of terra cottas. The ground-plot and foundations of temples are visible among the vestiges of the citadel, and remains of towers are conspicuous upon the walls.

The walls form a triangle of about three thousand three hundred yards in compass. In some parts they are in a high state of preservation, and extremely interesting; since they were rebuilt in the reign of Alexander, after having been destroyed by the Persians. They are of regular masonry, eight feet in thickness, and fortified by towers, most of which are square.99

The view from the ruins is extremely interesting and beautiful. “When we look towards Thebes,” says Mr. Dodwell, “we behold the Asopos, and the other small streams, winding through this memorable plain, which, towards the west, is separated by a low range of hills from the equally celebrated field of Leuctra; while the distant view is terminated by the two pointed summits of Helicon, and the snow-topped heights of Parnassus.”—“What must this city have been, in all its pride and glory!” exclaims Mr. Williams. “The remains now appear grey as twilight; but without a charm of returning day. Time is modelling now, instead of art. Miles of ancient pottery and tiles, hardly allowing the blades of corn to grow among the ruins; sheep-tracks among the massive foundations; asses loaded with brush-wood, from shrubs growing in the courts of ancient palaces and temples; shepherds with their flocks, the bells of the goats heard from among the rocks; tombs and sarcophagi of ancient heroes, covered with moss, some broken and some entire; fragments, and ornaments, [Pg 167]and stones containing mutilated inscriptions;—these are the objects, which Platæa now presents. But who, that stands there, with a recollection of its ancient glory, and having Parnassus full in view, can quit the spot without regret?100


Wreck of the mighty—relics of the dead— Who may remove the veil o’er Pæstum spread, Who pierce the clouds that rest upon your name, Or from oblivion’s eddies snatch your fame?— Yet as she stands within your mould’ring walls, Fancy—the days of former pride recalls; And at her bidding—lo! the Tyrrhene shore, Swarms with its countless multitude once more; And bright pavilions rise;—her magic art Peoples thy streets, and throngs thy busy mart. In quick succession her creative power Restores the splendour of Phœnicia’s hour, Revives the Sybarite’s unbless’d repose, Toss’d on the foldings of the Pæstum rose, Lucania’s thraldom—Rome’s imperial sway, The Vandal’s triumph—and the robber’s prey.   But truth beholds thee now, a dreary waste; Where solitude usurps the realms of taste. Where once thy doubly blooming roses smiled, The nettle riots, and the thorn runs wild; Primeval silence broods upon thy plain, And ruin holds her desolate domain: Save where, in massive pride, three temples stand Colossal fragments of a mighty land. Sepulchral monuments of fame, that tower In proud derision of barbarian power; That still survive and mock, with front sublime, The spoiler’s vengeance, and the strifes of time. Rogers.

When the president Dupaty first beheld Pæstum, he expressed his admiration in the following manner:—“No; [Pg 168] I am not at Pæstum, in a city of the Sybarites! Never did the Sybarites choose for their habitation so horrible a desert; never did they build a city in the midst of weeds, on a parched soil, on a spot where the little water to be met with is stagnant and dirty. Lead me to one of those groves of roses, which still bloom in the poetry of Virgil.102 Show me some baths of alabaster; some palaces of marble; show me on all sides voluptuousness, and you will indeed make me believe I am at Pæstum. It is true, nevertheless, that it was the Sybarites who built these three temples, in one of which I write this letter, seated on the ruins of a pediment, which has withstood the ravages of two thousand years. How strange! Sybarites and works that have endured two thousand years! How could Sybarites imagine and erect so prodigious a number of columns of such vile materials, of such uncouth workmanship, of so heavy a mass, and such a sameness of form? It is not the character of Grecian columns to crush the earth; they lightly mounted into the air; these, on the contrary, weigh ponderously on the earth; they fall. The Grecian columns had an elegant and slender shape, around which the eye continually glided; these have a wide and clumsy form, around which it is impossible for the eye to turn: our pencils and our graving-tools, which flatter every monument, have endeavoured in vain to beautify them. I am of the opinion of those, who think that these temples were the earliest essays of the Grecian architecture, and not its master-pieces. The Greeks, when they erected these pillars, were searching for the column. It must be admitted, however, that, notwithstanding their rusticity, these temples do possess beauties; they present at least simplicity, unity, and a whole, which constitute the first of [Pg 169]beauties: the imagination may supply almost all the others, but it never can supply these. It is impossible to visit these places without emotion. I proceed across desert fields, along a frightful road, far from all human traces, at the foot of rugged mountains, on shores where there is nothing but the sea; and suddenly I behold a temple, then a second, then a third: I make my way through grass and weeds; I mount on the socle of a column, or on the ruins of a pediment: a cloud of ravens take their flight; cows low in the bottom of a sanctuary; the adder, basking between the column and the weeds, hisses and makes his escape; a young shepherd, however, carelessly leaning on an ancient cornice, stands serenading with his reedy pipe the vast silence of this desert.” Such was the language of Dupaty, when he entered these celebrated ruins; nor was his enthusiasm in any way misplaced.

Pæstum was a town of Lucania, called by the Greeks Posidonia and Neptunia, from its being situated in the bay. It was then called Sinus Pæstanus; now the Gulf of Salerno.

Obscurity hangs not only over the origin, but over the general history of this city. The mere outlines have been sketched, perhaps, with accuracy; but the details are, doubtless, obliterated for ever.

In scenery Pæstum yields not only to Baiæ, but to many other towns in the vicinity of Vesuvius; yet, in noble and well-preserved monuments of antiquity, it surpasses any city in Italy; the immortal capital alone excepted.

The origin of the city may be safely referred to remote antiquity; but those are probably in the right, who would fix the period at which the existing temples were erected, as a little posterior to the building of the Parthenon at Athens. But even this calculation leaves them the venerable age of twenty-two centuries; [Pg 170] and so firm and strong are they still, that, except in the case of extraordinary convulsions of nature, two thousand two hundred and many more years may pass over their mighty columns and architraves, and they remain, as they now are,—the object of the world’s admiration.

Whatever age we may ascribe to the temples, certain it is that the city cannot be less than two thousand five hundred years old.

It was founded by a colony of the Dorians, who called it Posetan; a Phœnician name for the God of the Sea, to whom it was dedicated. Those settlers were driven out by the Sybarites, who extended the name to Posidonia. The Sybarites were expelled by the Lucanians; and these, in turn, were expelled by the Romans, who took possession of it (A.C. 480). From this time the poets alone are found to speak of it. It was, nevertheless, the first city of Southern Italy, that embraced the Christian doctrine. In 840, the Saracens, having subdued Sicily, surprised the city, and took possession. The question now arises, to whom was Pæsium indebted for its temples? To this it has been answered, that, as the ruins seem to exhibit the oldest specimens of Greek architecture now in existence, the probability is, that they were erected by the Dorians.

“In beholding them,” says Mr. Eustace, “and contemplating their solidity, bordering upon heaviness, we are tempted to consider them as an intermediate link between the Egyptian and Grecian monuments; and the first attempt to pass from the immense masses of the former, to the graceful proportions of the latter.”

“On entering the walls,” says Mr. Forsyth, “I felt the religion of the place. I stood as on sacred ground. I stood amazed at the long obscurity of its mighty ruins. They can be descried with a glass[Pg 171] from Salerno; the high road of Calabria commands a distant view; the city of Capaccio looks down upon them, and a few wretches have always lived on the spot; yet they remain unnoticed by the best Neapolitan antiquaries.”

The first temple103 that presents itself, to the traveller from Naples, is the smallest. It consists of six pillars at each end, and thirteen on each side. The cella occupied more than one-third of the length, and had a portico of two rows of columns, the shafts and capitals of which, now overgrown with grass and weeds, encumber the pavement, and almost fill the area of the temple:—

———The serpent sleeps, and the she-wolf Suckles her young.

The columns of this temple are thick in proportion to their elevation, and much closer to each other than they are generally found to be in Greek temples; “and this,” says Mr. Forsyth, “crowds them advantageously on the eye, enlarges our idea of the space, and gives a grand and heroic air to a monument of very moderate dimensions.”

In the open space104 between the first and second temples, were two other large buildings, built of the same sort of stone, and nearly of the same size. Their substructions still remain, encumbered with fragments of the columns of the entablatures; and so overgrown with brambles, nettles, and weeds, as scarcely to admit a near inspection.

The second105, or the Temple of Neptune, is not the largest, but by far the most massy and imposing of the three: it has six columns in front and fourteen in length; the angular column to the west, with its capital, has been struck and partially shivered by lightning. It once threatened to fall and ruin the symmetry of one of the most perfect monuments now [Pg 172]in existence, but it has been secured by iron cramps. An inner peristyle of much smaller columns rises in the cella, in two stories, with only an architrave, which has neither frieze nor cornice between the columns, which thus almost seem standing, the one on the capital of the other—a defect in architecture, which is, however, justified by Vitruvius and the example of the Parthenon. The light pillars of this interior peristyle, of which some have fallen, rise a few feet above the exterior cornice and the massy columns of the temple. Whether you gaze at this wonderful edifice from without or from within, as you stand on the floor of the cella, which is much encumbered with heaps of fallen stones and rubbish, the effect is awfully grand. The utter solitude, and the silence, never broken save by the flight and screams of the crows and birds of prey, which, your approach may scare from the cornices and architraves, where they roost in great numbers, add to the solemn impression, produced by those firm-set and eternal-looking columns.

The third edifice is the largest106. It has nine pillars at the end and eighteen on the sides. Its size is not its only distinction; a row of pillars, extending from the middle pillar at one end to the middle pillar on the other, divides it into equal parts, and it is considered that though it is now called a temple, it was not one originally. Some imagine it to have been a Curia, others a Basilica, and others an Exchange.

These relics stand on the edge of a vast and desolate plain107, that extends from the neighbourhood of Salerno nearly to the confines of Calabria. The approach to them is exceedingly impressive. For miles scarcely a human habitation is seen, or any living creature, save herds of buffaloes. And when you [Pg 173]are within the lines of the ancient walls of the town—of the once opulent and magnificent Pæstum—only a miserable little taverna, or house of entertainment, a barn, and a mean modern edifice, belonging to the nominal bishop of the place, and nearly always uninhabited, meet your eye. But there the three ancient edifices rise before you in the most imposing and sublime manner—they can hardly be called ruins, they have still such a character of firmness and entireness. Their columns seem to be rooted in the earth, or to have grown from it!

“Accustomed as we were108 to the ancient and modern magnificence of Rome,” says Stuart, “in regard to the Parthenon, and, by what we had heard and read, impressed with an advantageous opinion of what we were to see, we found the image our fancy had preconceived greatly inferior to the real object.” Yet Wheler, who upon such a subject cannot be considered as of equal authority with Stuart, says of the monuments of antiquity yet remaining at Athens,—“I dare prefer them before any place in the world, Rome only excepted.” “If,” continues Dr. Clarke, “there be upon earth any buildings, which may be fairly brought into a comparison with the Parthenon, they are the temples of Pæstum in Lucania. But even these can only be so with reference to their superior antiquity, to their severe simplicity, and to the perfection of design visible in their structure. In graceful proportion, in magnificence, in costliness of materials, in splendid decoration, and in every thing that may denote the highest degree of improvement to which the Doric style of architecture ever attained, they are vastly inferior.” This is, at least, that author’s opinion. Lusieri, however, entertained different sentiments. Lusieri had resided at Pæstum; and had dedicated [Pg 174]to those buildings a degree of study which, added to his knowledge of the arts, well qualified him to decide upon a question as to the relative merits of the Athenian and Posidonian specimens of Grecian architecture. His opinion is very remarkable. He considered the temples at Pæstum as examples of a pure style, or, as he termed it, of a more correct and classical taste. “In these buildings,” said he, “the Doric order attained a pre-eminence beyond which it never passed; not a stone has been there placed without some evident and important design; every part of the structure bespeaks its own essential utility109.”

“Can there be any doubt,” says Mr. Williams, “that in the temple of Neptune at Pæstum, the very forms have something within themselves, calculated to fill the mind with the impression which belongs to the sublime; whilst, in the temple of Theseus (at Athens), the simple preservation of its form bespeaks that species of admiration, that peculiar feeling, which beauty is calculated to draw forth? It required not age to constitute the one sublime, or the other beautiful. In truth, their respective characters must have been much more deeply impressed upon them in their most perfect state, than in the mutilated form in which they now stand; surrounded by the adventitious attributes with which antiquity invests every monument of human art.”

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Several medals110 have been found at Pæstum; but they denote a degeneracy from Grecian skill and elegance, being more clumsily designed and executed than most coins of Magna Græcia.

The private habitations111 were unable to resist the dilapidations of so many ages; but the town wall is almost entire, and incloses an area of three miles in circumference. In many places it is of the original height, and built with oblong stones, dug out of the adjacent fields. They are a red tavertino, formed by a sediment of sulphureous water, of which a strong stream washes the foot of the walls. It comes from the mountains, and, spreading itself over a flat, forms pools, where buffaloes are in summer continually wallowing up to their noses.

These walls are built of huge polyhedric stones112, which afford some idea of what has been lately thought the Cyclopean construction. Their materials, however, are a grey stone, without any mixture of the marble, granite, and lava, which are held essential to their construction. They are five, at least113, and, in some places, twelve feet high. They are formed of solid blocks of stone, with towers at intervals; the archway of one gate only, however, stands entire. Considering the materials and the extent of this rampart, which incloses a space of nearly four miles round, with the many towers that rose at intervals, and its elevation of more than forty feet, it must be acknowledged that it was, on the whole, a work not only of great strength, but of great magnificence.

The material, of which they are built, is the same throughout each of the temples and common to all. It is an exceedingly hard, but porous and brittle stone, of a sober brownish-grey colour. It is a [Pg 176]curious fact, that not only the ignorant people on the spot, but Neapolitan antiquaries also, wonder whence the ancients brought these masses of curious stone: and yet few things are more certain, than that they found them on the spot.

The stone of these edifices114 was probably formed at Pæstum itself, by the brackish water of the Salso acting on vegetable earth, roots, and plants; for you can distinguish their petrified tubes in every column:—and Mr. Macfarlane, who passed a considerable time on the spot, adds, “The brackish water of the river Salso that runs by the wall of the town, and in different branches across the plain, has so strong a petrifying virtue that you can almost follow the operation with the eye. The waters of the neighbouring Sele (a considerable river—the ancient Silarus) have in all ages been remarkable for the same quality. In many places where the soil had been removed, we perceived strata of stone similar to the stones which compose the temples; and I could almost venture to say that the substratum of all the plain, from the Sele to Acropoli, is of the like substance. Curious petrifactions of leaves, pieces of wood, insects, and other vegetable and animal matters, are observed in the materials of columns, walls, &c.”

Taking these wonderful objects into view115, their immemorial antiquity, their astonishing preservation, their grandeur, or rather grandiosity, their bold columnar elevation, at once massive and open, their severe simplicity of design, that simplicity in which art gradually begins, and to which, after a thousand revolutions of ornament, it again returns, taking, says Mr. Forsyth, all into one view, “I do not hesitate to call these the most impressive monuments I ever beheld on earth.”

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Within116 those walls, that once encircled a populous and splendid city, now rise one cottage, two farm-houses, a villa, and a church. The remaining space is covered with thick, matted grass, overgrown with brambles, spreading over the ruins, or buried under yellow, undulating corn; a few rose-bushes flourish neglected here and there, and still blossom twice a year;—in May and December. They are remarkable for their fragrance. Amid these objects and scenes, rural and ordinary, rise the three temples, like the mausoleums of the ruined city, dark, silent, and majestic117.

“Majestic fanes of deities unknown! Ages have roll’d since here ye stood—alone;— Since your walls echoed to the sacred choir, Or blazed your altars sacrificial fire. And now—the wandering classic pilgrim sees The wild bird nestling in the sculptured frieze; Each fluted shaft by desert weeds embraced, Triglyphs, obscured entablatures defaced; Sees ill-timed verdure clothe each awful pile, While Nature lends her melancholy smile; And misplaced garniture of flowers that shed Their sweets, as if in mockery of the dead.”—Rogers.



This city is said to have been built by Hercules; and so called, because the hero there exhibited a long procession (Pompa) of the captives, he had taken in Spain, and the head of Geryon, which he had obtained by conquest.

The Oscans, Cumæans, Etruscans, and Samnites, seem to have been successive possessors of the district in which the city stood.

Although evidently of Grecian origin, nothing certain is known of its early history. With many other [Pg 178]cities, it underwent various reverses during the Punic and Social wars of the Romans. It was besieged by Sylla; and, about the age of Augustus, became a colony; when its history merges in the more important annals of the Roman Empire.

Pompeii shared the fate of Herculaneum118.

In the month of February, A. D. 63, the Pompeians were surprised by an earthquake and eruption, which caused considerable damage. As soon, however, as the inhabitants had recovered their consternation, they began to clear away the ruins, and to repair the damage sustained by the edifices.

After an interval of sixteen years, during which period several shocks were experienced, on the night of the 29th of August, A. D. 79, a volume of smoke and ashes issued from the mouth of the crater of Vesuvius with a tremendous explosion. After rising to a certain height, it extended itself like a lofty pine; and, assuming a variety of colours, fell and covered the surrounding country with desolation and dismay.

The inhabitants, terrified by repeated shocks, and breathing an atmosphere no longer fit to support life, sought refuge in flight; but were suffocated by the ashes, oppressed by flames of fire, or overwhelmed by the falling edifices. In this awful time, Pliny the Elder lost his life.

Pompeii, notwithstanding this, once more rose from its ashes; but was again overwhelmed in A. D. 471119.

It would be difficult to decide upon the relative magnitude of Pompeii and Herculaneum: yet, from the lead it takes in ancient authors, the former must, in all probability, have been the most populous. Its walls were once washed by the waves: but the sea has since retired to some distance. The chief approach from Rome to Pompeii was through Naples [Pg 179]and Herculaneum, along a branch of the Appian way120.

As you walk round the city walls121, and see how the volcanic matter is piled upon it in one heap, it looks as though the hand of man had purposely buried it, by carrying and throwing over it the volcanic matter. This matter does not spread in any direction beyond the town, over the fine plain which gently declines towards the bay of Naples. The volcanic eruption was so confined in its course or its fall, as [Pg 180]to bury Pompeii, and only Pompeii:—for the showers of ashes and pumice-stone, which descended in the immediate neighbourhood, certainly made but a slight difference in the elevation of the plain. When a town has been buried by lava, like Herculaneum, the process is easily traced. You can follow the black, hardened lava from the cone of the mountain to the sea, whose waters it invaded for “many a rood;” and those who have seen the lava in its liquid state, when it flows on like a river of molten iron, can conceive at once how it would bury every thing it found in its way. There is often a confusion of ideas, among those who have not had the advantage of visiting these interesting places, as to the matter which covers Pompeii and Herculaneum. They fancy they were both buried by lava. Herculaneum was so, and the work of excavating there was like digging in a quarry of very hard stone. The descent into the places, cleared, is like the descent into a quarry or mine, and you are always under ground, lighted by torches. But Pompeii122 was covered by loose mud, pumice-stone, and ashes; over which, in the course of centuries, there collected vegetable soil. Beneath this shallow soil, the whole is very crumbly and easy to dig,—in few spots more difficult than one of our common gravel-pits. The matter excavated is carried off in carts, and thrown outside the town; and at times when the labour is carried on with activity, as cart after cart withdraws with the earth that covered them, you see houses entire, except their roofs, which have nearly all fallen in, make their appearance; and, by degrees, a whole street opens to the sunshine or the shower, just like the streets of any inhabited neighbouring town. It is curious to observe, as the volcanic matter is removed, that the houses are built principally of lava, the more ancient product of the same Vesuvius, [Pg 181]whose latter result buried and concealed Pompeii for so many ages.

It is certainly surprising123, that this most interesting city should have remained undiscovered till so late a period, and that antiquaries and learned men should have so long and materially erred about its situation. In many places, masses of ruins, portions of the buried theatres, temples, and houses, were not two feet below the surface of the soil. The country people were continually digging up pieces of worked marble, and other antique objects. In several spots they had even laid open the outer walls of the town; and yet men did not find out what it was that the peculiar isolated mound of cinders and ashes, earth and pumice-stone, covered. There is another circumstance which increases the wonder of Pompeii being so long concealed. A subterranean canal, cut from the river Sarno, traverses the city, and is seen darkly and silently gliding under the temple of Isis. This is said to have been cut towards the middle of the fifteenth century, to supply the contiguous town of Torre dell’ Annunziata with fresh water; it probably ran anciently in the same channel; but cutting it, or clearing it, workmen must have crossed under Pompeii from one side to the other.

In a work, so limited in extent as this, it is utterly impossible to give any thing like a representation of the various objects to be seen in the exceedingly curious ruins of this city. We can, therefore, only give a general outline, and refer the reader to the very beautiful illustrations, published by Sir William Gell, in 1817 and 1819; and more especially to those published by the same accomplished antiquary in 1832. Never was there any thing equal, or in any way assimilating to them, in the world before! The former work contains all that was excavated up to those years; the latter the topography, edifices, and [Pg 182]ornaments of Pompeii, the result of excavation since 1819.

“Pompeii,” writes Mr. Taylor to M. Ch. Nodier, “has passed near twenty centuries in the bowels of the earth; nations have trodden above its site, while its monuments still remained standing, and all their ornaments untouched. A cotemporary of Augustus, could he return hither, might say, ‘I greet thee, O my country! my dwelling is the only spot upon the earth which has preserved its form; an immunity extending even to the smallest objects of my affection. Here is my couch; there are my favourite authors. My paintings, also, are still fresh, as when the ingenious artist spread them over my walls. Come, let us traverse the town; let us visit the theatre; I recognise the spot where I joined, for the first time, in the plaudits given to the fine scenes of Terence and Euripides. Rome is but one vast museum;—Pompeii is a living antiquity.’”

The houses of Pompeii are upon a small scale; generally of one, sometimes of two stories. The principal apartments are always behind, inclosing a court, with a portico round it, and a marble cistern in the middle. The pavements are all mosaic, and the walls are stained with agreeable colours; the decorations are basso-relievos in stucco, and paintings in medallion. Marble seems to have been common.

On both sides of the street124 the houses stand quite in contact with each other, as in modern times. They are nearly of the same height and dimensions, being similarly paved and painted. The houses, as we have before stated, are on a small scale. The principal apartments are always behind, surrounding a court, with a small piazza about it, and having a cistern of marble in its centre.

An edifice, supposed to be Sallust’s house, has an unusually showy appearance. The rooms are painted [Pg 183]with the figures of gods and goddesses, and the floors decorated with marbles and mosaic pavements.

The gates of the city, now visible, are five in number. These are known by the names of Herculaneum or Naples, Vesuvius, Nola, Sarno, and Stabiæ125. The city was surrounded with walls, the greater portion of which have also been traced. Its greatest length is little more than half a mile, and its circuit nearly two miles. It occupied an area of about one hundred and sixty-one acres. The general figure of the city is something like that of an egg. There have been excavated about eighty houses, an immense number of small shops, the public baths, two theatres, two basilicæ, eight temples, the prison, the amphitheatre, with other public buildings of less note; and also fountains and tombs. The streets are paved with large irregular pieces of lava, neatly dovetailed into each other. This pavement is rutted with the chariot wheels, sometimes to the depth of one inch and a half. In general, the streets are so narrow, that they may be crossed at one stride; where they are of greater breadth, a stepping-stone was placed in the middle for the convenience of foot passengers. On each side of the street there is a footpath, the sides of which are provided with curbs, varying from one foot to eighteen inches high, to prevent the encroachments of the chariots.

It is well known126, that amongst the Romans bathing formed part of every day’s occupation. In the year 1824, the baths of Pompeii were excavated. They are admirably arranged, spacious, highly decorated, and superior to any thing of the kind in modern cities. They are, fortunately, in good preservation, and throw considerable light on what the ancients have written upon the subject. Various circumstances prove, that the completion of the baths only a short while preceded the destruction of the city.

[Pg 184]

They occupy a considerable space, and are divided into three separate apartments. One of these was set apart for the fire-places and the accommodation of the servants, and the other two were each occupied by a set of baths, one of which was appropriated to the men, and the other to the women. The apartments and passages are paved with white marble in mosaic, or alternate white and black squares. The chambers are ornamented with various devices, and highly finished. Above one thousand lamps were discovered during the excavation.

There have been two theatres excavated, a large and a small one; both of which display the remains of considerable magnificence. They are constructed after the usual plan of a Roman theatre. The theatre is formed upon the side of a hill, the corridor being the highest part, so that the audience, on entering, descended at once to their seats. There is space to contain about five thousand persons. This theatre appears to have been entirely covered with marble, although only a few fragments remain.

The smaller theatre nearly resembles the larger one in plan and disposition of parts; but there is this remarkable difference;—it appears from an inscription to have been permanently roofed. It has been computed that it accommodated one thousand five hundred persons.

The amphitheatre of Pompeii does not differ in any particular from other Roman buildings of the same kind. Its form is oval; its length is four hundred and thirty feet; and its greatest breadth three hundred and thirty-five feet. There were paintings in fresco—one, representing a tigress fighting with a wild boar; another, a stag chased by a lioness; another, a battle between a bull and a bear. There were other representations besides these; but the whole disappeared upon exposure to the atmosphere127.

[Pg 185]

Adjoining to the theatre128, a building has been excavated, called, from the style of its architecture, the Greek temple; otherwise, the temple of Hercules. The date of its erection some have supposed to be as far back as eight hundred years before the Christian era. It is in a very dilapidated state. Before the steps in front there is an inclosure, supposed to have been a pen to contain victims for the sacrifice; and by its side there are two altars.

The temple of Isis129 is one of the most perfect examples, now existing, of the parts and disposition of an ancient temple. The skeleton of a priest was found in one of the rooms. Near his remains lay an axe, from which it would appear, that he had delayed his departure till the door was closed up, and so attempted to break through the walls with his axe. He had already forced his way through two; but before he could pass the third, was suffocated by the vapour. Within the sacred precincts, doubtless, lay a number of skeletons; probably those of the priests, who, reposing a vain confidence in their deity, would not desert her temple, until escape was hopeless. Several paintings of the priests of Isis, and the ceremonies of their worship, were found, together with a statue of the deity herself.

One of the buildings, surrounding the forum, has received the appellation of the Pantheon, from there having been found in the centre of its area an altar encircled with twelve pedestals; on which, it has been supposed, stood the statues of the mythological deities. The area is one hundred and twenty feet in length, by ninety in breadth. Numerous cells, attached to this building, have been found; these, in all probability, were for the accommodation of priests. Near to this place were discovered statues of Nero and Messalina, and ninety-three brass coins.

[Pg 186]

Adjoining to the Pantheon130 is a building, supposed to have been a place for the meeting of the senate or town-council. In the centre is an altar, and on each side of this, in two large recesses, stand two pedestals, which most likely supported effigies of the gods to whom the place was sacred. Near this is a small temple, elevated on a basement. On the altar there is an unfinished bas-relief, representing a sacrifice. In the cells attached to the building were found a number of vessels in which wine was kept.

Adjoining to this is a large building, which, from various inscriptions, appears to have been erected at the expense of a lady named Eumachia, for the benefit of the public. Amongst other relics found, was a statue of this lady, five feet four inches high.

The forum of Pompeii131 is situated at the northeast corner of the city, and is entered by a flight of steps, leading downwards through an arch in a brick wall, still partly covered with stucco. Upon entering, the spectator finds himself in a large area, surrounded by columns, the ruins of temples, triumphal arches, and other public erections. There are, also, a number of pedestals for the support of statues.

There is a subterranean wine-vault132 near the city gates, which has been examined with great attention. It is very extensive, and contains the earthen vessels and bottles wherein the wine had been kept. They were arranged in the same precise order as previous to the awful eruption which desolated the city. The interior of this place much resembles cloisters, the roof being arched with strong stones. It was in these vaults where the unhappy inhabitants sought refuge from the sudden and overwhelming shower of fire and ashes.

After such an amazing lapse of time133, liquids have been found approaching to a fluid state—an instance [Pg 187]of which cannot be sufficiently admired, in a phial of oil, conceived to be that of olives. It is white, greasy to the touch, and emits the smell of rancid oil. An earthen vase was found, in the cellars, containing wine, which now resembles a lump of porous dark violet-coloured glass. Eggs, also, have been found, whole and empty.

On the north side134 of the Pantheon, there runs a street, named the Street of Dried Fruits, from the quantity of fruits of various kinds, preserved in glass vases, which have been found. Scales, money, moulds for pastry and bread, were discovered in the shops, and a bronze statue of Fame, small and well executed; having bright bracelets of gold upon the arms. In the entrance which conducts from this street to the Pantheon a box was found, containing a gold ring with an engraved stone in it; also, forty-one silver, and one thousand and thirty-six brass, coins.

On the walls are representations of Cupid making bread. The mill stands in the centre of the picture, with an ass on each side; from which it has been inferred, that these animals were employed in grinding corn. Besides these, there are in this building a great number of very beautiful paintings.

Three bakers’ shops135 at least have been found, all in a tolerable state of preservation. The mills, the oven, the kneading-troughs, the vessels for containing water, flour, and leaven, have all been discovered, and seem to leave nothing wanting to our knowledge. In some vessels the very flour remained, still capable of being identified, though reduced almost to a cinder. One of these shops was attached to the house of Sallust; the other to that of Pansa. The third seems to have belonged to a sort of capitalist: for instead of renting a mere dependency in another [Pg 188]man’s house, he lived in a tolerably good house of his own, of which the bakery forms a part.

Beneath the oven is an ash-pit. To the right is a large room, which is conjectured to be a stable. The jaw of an ass, and some other fragments of a skeleton, were found in it. There is a reservoir for water at the farther end, which passes through the wall, and is common both to this room and the next, so that it could be filled without going into the stable.

In another place136 there is an oil-mill; in a third, supposed to have been a prison, stocks were found; and in a fourth were pieces of armour, whence it has been called the Guard-room. In this quarter of the city a bronze helmet was found, enriched with bas-reliefs, relating to the principal events of the capture of Troy. Another helmet found represents the Triumph of Rome; greaves of bronze, highly ornamented, also were found.

Contiguous to the little theatre, the house of a sculptor has been cleared. There were found statues; some half finished; others just begun: with blocks of marble, and all the tools required by the sculptor.

The walls, in the interior of the buildings, are generally adorned with fresco paintings, the colours of which are in a state of perfect preservation, and have all the freshness of recent finishing. The shells, also, which decorate some of the public fountains, have sustained no injury from the lapse of ages, or the volcanic products in which they were buried.

During the progress of excavation,137 at Pompeii, a painting was found in the Casa Carolina, which scarcely held together to be copied, and fell to pieces upon the first rain. It was of grotesque character, and [Pg 189]represented a pigmy painter, whose only covering was a tunic. He is at work upon the portrait of another pigmy, clothed in a manner to indicate a person of distinction. The artist is sitting opposite to his sitter, at an awful distance from the picture, which is placed under an easel, similar in construction to ours. By the side of the artist stands his palette, which is a little table with four feet, and by it is a pot to wash his pencils in. He therefore was working with gum, or some sort of water-colours: but he did not confine himself to this branch of the arts; for to the right we see his colour-grinder, who prepares, in a vessel placed over some hot coals, colours mixed with wax and oil. Two amateurs enter the studio, and appear to be conversing with respect to the picture. On the noise occasioned by their entrance, a scholar, seated in the distance, turns round to look at them. It is difficult to explain the presence of the bird in the painting-room. The picture is not complete: a second bird, and, at the opposite side, a child playing with a dog, had perished before Mazois (an artist who has preserved some of the most valuable remains at Pompeii) copied it. This picture is very curious, since it shows how few things, in the mechanical practice of painting, have changed during two thousand years.

There is another picture138 preserved at Pompeii, representing a female, employed in making a copy of a bearded Bacchus. She is dressed in a light green tunic, without sleeves, over which she wears a dark red mantle. Beside her is a box, such, as we are told by Varro, as painters used, divided into compartments, into which she dips her brush.

Among the recent discoveries at Pompeii139, may also be enumerated a bronze vase, encrusted with silver, the size and form of which have been much [Pg 190]admired, and a bronze statue of Apollo, of admirable workmanship. The deity is represented as sacrificing, with his avenging arm, the family of Niobe; and the beauty of its form, and the life of the figure, are so fine, that it is said to be the finest statue in the Bourbon Museum. “As to the furniture,” says Mr. Mathews, “they illustrate Solomon’s apophthegm, that there is nothing new under the sun; for there is much, that, with a little scouring, would scarcely appear old-fashioned at the present day.”

“It was a source of great amusement,” says Mr. Blunt, “to observe the doors of café-keepers, barbers, tailors, tradesmen, in short, of every description, surmounted by very tolerable pictures, indicating their respective occupations. Thus, at a surgeon and apothecary’s, for instance, I have seen a series of paintings displaying a variety of cases, to which the doctor is applying his healing hand. In one he is extracting a tooth; in another applying an emetic; in a third bandaging an arm or a leg.” In 1819, several surgical instruments were discovered in the ruins of a house near the gate adjoining to the burial-ground140.

In a street, which conducts to the Forum, called the Street of Fortune, an immense number of utensils have been found. Amongst other articles, were vases, basins with handles, bells, elastic springs, hinges, buckles for harness, a lock, an inkstand, gold ear-rings, a silver spoon, an oval caldron, a saucepan, a mould for pastry, and a weight of alabaster used in spinning, with its ivory axis remaining; a number of lamps, three boxes, in one of which were found several coins of Titus, Vespasian, Domitian, &c. Among the most curious things found, were seven glazed plates, packed in straw; a pair of scales and steelyard were also discovered.

Fishing-nets141, some of them quite entire, have been [Pg 191]found in great numbers in Herculaneum as well as in Pompeii. Linen, also, with the texture well defined. In the shop of a baker a loaf was found, still retaining its form, with the baker’s name stamped upon it, and which, to satisfy the curiosity of modern professors of the art, we shall give: it was “Eleris J. Crani Riser.” On the counter of an apothecary’s shop was a box of pills; and by the side of it, a small cylindrical roll, evidently ready for cutting up.

Along the south-side of another building runs a broad street, which, from various articles of jewellery being found there, is called the Street of the Silversmiths. On the walls of the shops several inscriptions appear, one of which has been thus translated: “The Scribe Issus beseeches Marcus Cerrinius Vatia, the Ædile, to patronise him; he is deserving.”

Near to the small theatre, a large angular inclosure has been excavated, which has been called the Provision Market by some, by others the Soldiers’ Quarters. It contains a number of small chambers, supposed to have been occupied by butchers, and vendors of meats, liquors, &c. In one of these was discovered utensils for the manufacture of soap.

If we again fancy for a moment the furniture142, implements, and utensils, which would be brought to light in our own houses and shops, supposing them to be overwhelmed, and thus laid open some centuries hence, we might conjecture that many of the same description must have belonged to those of a nation so civilised as the Romans; but still it is pleasing to ascertain, from a testimony that cannot deceive us, the evidence of the relics themselves, that they had scales very little different from our own; silver spoons, knives (but no forks), gridirons, spits, frying-pans, scissars, needles, instruments of surgery, syringes, saws, and many more, all made of fine brass; [Pg 192]that they had hammers, and picks, and compasses, and iron crows, all of which were met with in a statuary’s shop; and that they had stamps which they used, as well for other purposes, as for impressing the name of its owner on bread before it was sent to the oven. Thus on a loaf, still preserved, is legible: Siligo C. Glanii:—This is Caius Glanius’ loaf.

Many of their seals were preserved in this manner; consisting of an oblong piece of metal, stamped with letters of the motto; instruments very similar to those used in England for marking linen. Thus possessed of types and of ink, how little were the Romans removed from the discovery of the art and advantages of printing!

At the end of one of the streets143, was discovered a skeleton of a Pompeian, who, apparently for the sake of sixty coins, a small plate, and a saucepan of silver, had remained in the house till the street was already half filled with volcanic matter. From the situation in which he was found, he had apparently been arrested in the act of escaping from the window. Two others were also found in the same street.

Only sixty skeletons144 have been discovered in all; it is, therefore, clear, that the greater part of the inhabitants had found time to escape. There were found in the vault of a house in the suburbs, the skeletons of seventeen individuals, who appear to have sought refuge there from the showers of ashes which poured from the sky. There was also preserved, in the same place145, a sketch of a woman, supposed to have been the mistress of the house, with an infant locked in her arms. Her form was imprinted upon the work, which formed her sepulchre; but only the bones remained. To these a chain of gold was suspended; and rings, with jewels, were upon her fingers. The remains of a soldier, also, were found in a niche, [Pg 193]where, in all probability, he was performing the office of sentinel. His hand still grasped a lance, and the usual military accoutrements were also found there.

In one of the baths146, as we have before stated, was found the skeleton of a female, whose arms and neck were covered with jewels. In addition to gold bracelets, was a necklace; the workmanship of which is marvellous. Our most skilful jewellers could make nothing more elegant, or of a better taste. It has all the beautiful finish of the Moorish jewels of Granada, and of the same designs which are to be found in the dresses of the Moorish women, and of the Jewesses of Tetuan, on the coast of Africa.

It is generally supposed, that the destruction of this city was sudden and unexpected; and it is even recorded, that the people were surprised and overwhelmed at once by the volcanic storm, while in the theatre. (Dionys. of Hal.) But to this opinion many objections may be raised, amongst which this; that the number of skeletons in Pompeii does not amount to sixty; and ten times this number would be inconsiderable, when compared with the extent and population of the city.

The most perfect and most curious object, however, that has yet been discovered, is a villa at a little distance from the town. It consists of three courts; in the third and largest is a pond, and in the centre a small temple. There are numerous apartments of every description, paved in mosaic, coloured and adorned with various paintings on the walls; all in a very beautiful style. This villa is supposed to have belonged to Cicero.

“The ruins of Pompeii,” says Mr. Eustace, “possess a secret power, that captivates and melts the soul! In other times, and in other places, one single [Pg 194]edifice, a temple, a theatre, a tomb, that had escaped the wreck of ages, would have enchanted us; nay, an arch, the remnant of a wall, even one solitary column, was beheld with veneration; but to discover a single ancient house, the abode of a Roman in his privacy, the scene of his domestic hours, was an object of fond, but hopeless longing. Here, not a temple, nor a theatre, nor a house, but a whole city rises before us, untouched, unaltered—the very same as it was eighteen hundred years ago, when inhabited by Romans. We range through the same streets; tread the very same pavement; behold the same walls; enter the same doors; and repose in the same apartments. We are surrounded by the same objects; and out of the same windows we contemplate the same scenery. In the midst of all this, not a voice is heard—not even the sound of a foot—to disturb the loneliness of the place, or to interrupt his reflections. All around is silence; not the silence of solitude and repose, but of death and devastation:—the silence of a great city without one single inhabitant:

‘Horror ubique animos, simul ipsa silentia terrent.’

“Perhaps the whole world does not exhibit so awful a spectacle as Pompeii; and when it was first discovered, when skeletons were found heaped together in the streets and houses, when all the utensils, and even the very bread, of the poor suffocated inhabitants, were discernible, what a speculation must this ill-fated city have furnished to a thinking mind! To visit it even now, is absolutely to live with the ancient Romans; and when we see houses, shops, furniture, fountains, streets, carriages, and implements of husbandry, exactly similar to those of the present day, we are apt to conclude, that customs and manners have undergone but little alteration for the last two thousand years.”

“In walking through this city of the dead,” says[Pg 195] Chateaubriand, “one idea has pursued me. As the labourers clear the different edifices, they remove whatever they discover,—household utensils, implements of divers trades, pieces of furniture, statues, MSS., &c., all of which are promiscuously carried to the Portici Museum. In my opinion, people might have employed their time better. Why not have left these things as they found them, and where they found them? Instead of their removal, they should have preserved them on the spot;—roofs, ceilings, floors, and windows, should have been carefully restored, in order to prevent the destruction of the walls and paintings. The ancient inclosure of the town should be rebuilt, the gates repaired, and a guard of soldiers stationed there, together with some individuals well versed in the arts. Would not this have been the most interesting museum in the world? A Roman town preserved quite entire, as if its inhabitants had issued forth but a quarter of an hour before!”

“I am filled with astonishment,” says Dupaty, “in walking from house to house, from temple to temple, from street to street, in a city built two thousand years ago, inhabited by the Romans, dug out by a king of Naples, and in perfect preservation. I speak of Pompeii.

“The inhabitants of this city were asleep, when suddenly an impetuous wind arose, and, detaching a portion of the cinders which covered the summit of Vesuvius, hurried them in whirlwinds through the air over Pompeii, and within a quarter of an hour entirely overwhelmed it, together with Herculaneum, Sorento, a multitude of towns and villages, thousands of men and women, and the elder Pliny. What a dreadful awakening for the inhabitants? Imprudent men! Why did you build Pompeii at the foot of Vesuvius, on its lava, and on its ashes? In fact, mankind resemble ants, which, after an accident has[Pg 196] destroyed one of their hillocks, set about repairing it the next moment. Pompeii was covered with ashes. The descendants of those very men, who perished under those ashes, planted vineyards, mulberry, fig, and poplar trees on them; the roofs of this city were become fields and orchards. One day, while some peasants were digging, the spade penetrated a little deeper than usual; something was found to resist. It was a city. It was Pompeii. I entered several of the rooms, and found in one of them a mill, with which the soldiers ground their corn for bread; in another an oil-mill, in which they crushed the olives. The first resembles our coffee-mills; the second is formed of two mill-stones, which were moved by the hand, in a vast mortar, round an iron centre. In another of these rooms I saw chains still fastened to the leg of a criminal; in a second, heaps of human bones; and in a third, a golden necklace.

“What is become of all the inhabitants? We see nobody in the shops! not a creature in the streets! all the houses are open! Let us begin by visiting the houses on the right. This is not a private house; that prodigious number of chirurgical instruments prove this edifice must have had some relation to the art in which they are used. This was surely a school for surgery. These houses are very small; they are exceedingly ill contrived; all the apartments are detached; but then what neatness! what elegance! In each of them is an inner portico, a mosaic pavement, a square colonnade, and in the middle a cistern, to collect the water falling from the roof. In each of them are hot-baths, and stoves, and everywhere paintings in fresco, in the best taste, and on the most pleasing grounds. Has Raffaele been here to copy his arabesques?

“Let us pass over to the other side of the street. These houses are three stories high; their foundation[Pg 197] is on the lava, which has formed here a sort of hill, on the declivity of which they are built. From above, in the third story, the windows look into the street; and from the first story, into a garden.

“But what do I perceive in that chamber. They are ten death’s-heads. The unfortunate wretches saved themselves here, where they could not be saved. This is the head of a little child: its father and mother then are there! Let us go up stairs again; the heart feels not at ease here. Suppose we take a step into this temple for a moment, since it is left open. What deity do I perceive in the bottom of that niche? It is the god of Silence, who makes a sign with his finger, to command silence, and points to the goddess Isis, in the further recess of the sacrarium.

“In the front of the porch there are three altars. Here the victims were slaughtered, and the blood, flowing along this gutter into the middle of that basin, fell from thence upon the head of the priests. This little chamber, near the altar, was undoubtedly the sacristy. The priests purified themselves in this bathing-place.

“Here are some inscriptions: ‘Popidi ambleati, Cornelia celsa.’ This is a monument erected to the memory of those who have been benefactors to Isis; that is to say, to her priests.

“I cannot be far from the country-house of Aufidius; for there are the gates of the city. Here is the tomb of the family of Diomedes. Let us rest a moment under these porticoes, where the philosophers used to sit.

“I am not mistaken. The country-house of Aufidius is charming; the paintings in fresco are delicious. What an excellent effect have those blue grounds! With what propriety, and consequently with what taste, are the figures distributed in the[Pg 198] panels! Flora herself has woven that garland. But who has painted this Venus? this Adonis? this youthful Narcissus, in that bath? And here again, this charming Mercury? It is surely not a week since they were painted.

“I like this portico round the garden; and this square covered cellar round the portico. Do these amphoræ contain the true Falernian? How many consulates has this wine been kept?

“But it is late. It was about this time the play began. Let us go to the covered theatre: it is shut. Let us go to the uncovered theatre; that too is shut.

“I know not how far I have succeeded in this attempt to give you an idea of Pompeii.” Excellently147.


Rama is supposed to have been built with materials, furnished by the ruins of Lydda, three miles distant; and it is the spot in which our titular saint, St. George, is said to have suffered martyrdom; although, according to most authors, his remains repose in a magnificent temple at Lydda.

Notwithstanding the present desolate condition of Rama, it was, when the army of the Crusaders arrived, a magnificent city, filled with wealth, and abundance of all the luxuries of the East. It was exceedingly populous, adorned with stately buildings, and well fortified with walls and towers.

The Musselmans here reverence the tomb of Locman, the wise; also the sepulchres of seventy prophets, who are believed to have been buried here.

[Pg 199]

Rama is situated about thirty miles from Jerusalem, in the middle of an extensive and fertile plain, which is part of the great field of Sharon. “It makes,” says Dr. Clarke, “a considerable figure at a distance; but we found nothing within the place except traces of devastation and death. It exhibited one scene of ruin: houses, fallen or deserted, appeared on every side; and instead of inhabitants, we beheld only the skeletons or putrifying carcasses of horses and camels. A plague, or rather murrain, during the preceding year, had committed such ravages, that not only men, women, and children, but cattle of all kinds, and every thing that had life, became its victims. Few of the inhabitants of Europe can have been aware of the state of suffering, to which all the coast of Palestine and Syria was exposed. It followed, and in part accompanied, the dreadful ravages, caused by the march of the French army. From the accounts we received, it seemed as if the exterminating hand of Providence was exercised in sweeping from the earth every trace of ancient existence. ‘In Rama148 there was a voice heard; lamentation and weeping, and great mourning; Rachel weeping for her children, and could not be comforted, because they were not.’”149

[Pg 200]


To seek for Rome, vain stranger, art thou come, And find’st no mark, within Rome’s walls, of Rome? See here the craggy walls, the towers defaced, And piles that frighten more than once they pleased: See the vast theatres, a shapeless load, And sights more tragic than they ever show’d. This, this is Rome! Her haughty carcass spread Still awes in ruin, and commands when dead. The subject world first took from her their fate; And when she only stood unconquer’d yet, Herself she last subdued, to make the work complete. But ah! so dear the fatal triumph cost, That conquering Rome is in the conquer’d lost. Yet rolling Tiber still maintains his stream, Swell’d with the glories of the Roman name. Strange power of fate! unshaken moles must waste; While things that ever move, for ever last.—Vitalis.

As the plan of this work does not admit of our giving any thing like a history of the various trials and fortunes of Rome; we must confine ourselves, almost entirely, to a few particulars relative to its origin, summit of glory and empire, its decay, and ultimate ruin.

There is no unquestionable narrative of facts, on which any writer can build the primitive history of this vast city and empire; but in its place we have a mass of popular traditions and fabulous records. On the taking of Troy, Æneas, a prince of that city, quitted his native land, and after a long period, spent in encountering a variety of vicissitudes, he arrived on the coast of Italy, was received with hospitality by the King of Latium, whose name was Latinus, and afterwards obtained his throne, from the circumstance of having married his daughter.

Æneas after this built the city of Lavinium, and, thirty years after, his son founded that of Alba Longa, which then became the capital of Latium. Three hundred years after, Romulus founded Rome.


[Pg 201]

Though Livy has given a very circumstantial account of the origin of this city, sufficient data have been afforded, since his history was written, to justify our doubting many of his statements. The first author in modern times, that led Europe to these doubts, was, we believe, Dr. Taylor; who, in a work written about sixty years ago, entitled Elements of Civil Law, has the following passage:—“It was not peculiar to this people, to have the dawn of their history wrapped up in fable and mythology, or set in with something that looked like marvellous and preternatural. There is scarce a nation, that we are acquainted with, but has this foible in a greater or lesser degree, and almost pleads a right to be indulged in it. “Datur hæc venia antiquitati, ut miscendo humana divinis primordia urbium augustiora faciat.” (Liv. I. Præf.) Indeed the Romans themselves had some suspicion of their own history. They generally dated their periods not AB U. C. but began their æra from their consuls, by whom they always reckoned. The records of Rome were burned at the irruption of the Gauls: they had nothing for it but tradition before that period. Nor was there an author extant of that age, or near it, at the time that Livy compiled his history. Diocles Peparethius (the father of Roman history, since Fabius Pictor, the first historian that Rome produced, and all his followers, copied him implicitly) was a writer of no very great credit. The birth and education of Romulus, is the exact counter-part of that of another founder of a great empire; and Romulus, I am satisfied, could not resemble more his brother Remus, than his brother Cyrus. The expedient of Tarquin’s conveying advice to his son, by striking off the heads of flowers, is given with the minutest difference, by Aristotle to Periander of Corinth, and by Herodotus to Thrasybulus. Which similarity is very ill accounted for by[Pg 202] Camerarius. This was one of those ambulatory stories which (Plutarch in his Greek and Roman Parallels will furnish us with many such) seem confined to no one age, race, or country; but have been adopted in their turn, at several periods of time, and by several very different people, and are perhaps, at least some of them, true of none. And, lastly, one would imagine, that the history of the seven kings, which has such an air of romance in it, was made on purpose for Florus to be ingenious upon in his recapitulation of the regal state of Rome.”

The truth of this subject we leave to abler hands; proceeding at once to the manner in which the ceremonies are recorded to have been adopted at the first laying down the foundations of the city. Romulus, having sent for some of the Tuscans, to instruct him in the ceremonies that ought to be observed in laying the foundations, and they having instructed him according to his desire, his work began in the following manner:—First, he dug a trench, and threw into it the first-fruits of all things, either good by custom, or necessary by nature; and every man taking a small turf of earth of the country from which he came, they all cast them in promiscuously together. Making their trench their centre, they described the city in a circle round it. Then the founder fitted to a plough a brazen plough-share; and yoking together a bull and a cow, drew a deep line or furrow round the bounds; those that followed after, taking care that the clods fell inwards towards the city. They built the wall upon this line, which they called Pomœrium, from pone mœnia. Though the phrase of Pomœrium proferre be commonly used in authors, to signify the enlarging of the city, it is, nevertheless, certain that the city might be enlarged without that ceremony. For Tacitus and Gellius declare no person to have had a right of extending the Pomœrium,[Pg 203] but such a one as had taken away some part of an enemy’s country in war; whereby, it is manifest, that several great men, who never obtained the honour, increased the buildings with considerable additions. It is remarkable that the same ceremony with which the foundations of their cities were first laid, they used, too, in destroying and rasing places taken from the enemy; which we find was begun by the chief commander’s turning up some of the walls with a plough.

We do not, as we have before stated, propose to give even a slight history of this celebrated city. It is sufficient for our purpose to state, that it was first governed by kings, and then by consuls, up to the time when the Gauls took the city, under their commander Brennus. This was the first calamity that Rome experienced at the hands of an enemy; and this occurred in the three hundred and sixty-fifth year after its foundation.

The city of Veii had just surrendered to Camillus after a ten years’ siege, when the Gauls made an irruption into Italy, and had begun to besiege Clusium, a Tuscan city; at which time a deputation arrived at Rome with an entreaty from the Clusians, that the Romans would interfere in their behalf, through the medium of ambassadors. This request was immediately complied with; and three of the Fabii, persons of the highest rank, were despatched to the Gallic camp. The Gauls, out of respect to the name of Rome, received these ambassadors with all imaginable civility; but they could not be induced to raise the siege. Upon this, the ambassadors going into the town, and encouraging the Clusians to a sally, one of them was seen personally engaged in the action. This, being contrary to the generally received law of nations, was resented in so high a manner by the enemy, that, breaking up from before Clusium, their whole army marched directly against[Pg 204] Rome. At about eleven miles from the city, they met with the Roman army, commanded by the military tribunes; who, engaging without any order or discipline, received an entire defeat. Upon the arrival of this ill news at Rome, the greatest part of the inhabitants immediately fled. Those that resolved to stay, however, fortified themselves in the Capitol. The Gauls soon appeared at the city gates; and, destroying all with fire and sword, carried on the siege of the Capitol with all imaginable fury. At last, resolving on a general assault, they were discovered by the cackling of geese; and as many as had climbed the ramparts were driven down by Manlius; when Camillus, setting upon them in the rear with twenty thousand men he had got together about the country, gave them a total overthrow.

The city, however, had been set on fire by the barbarians, and so entirely demolished, that, upon the return of the people, they resolved upon abandoning the ruins, and seeking a more eligible abode in the recently conquered city of Veii, a town already built and well provided with all things. But this being opposed by Camillus, they set to work with such extraordinary diligence, that the vacant space of the old city was quickly covered with new buildings, and the whole finished within the short space of one year. The Romans, however, on this occasion, were in too great a hurry to think of either order or regularity. The city was, therefore, rebuilt without any reference to order; no care being taken to form the streets in straight lines.

In this conflagration, all the public records were burned; but there is no reason to believe, that it was accompanied by any losses, which a lover of the arts should mourn for. As many writers have remarked, the Romans were not naturally a people of taste.[Pg 205] They never excelled in the fine arts; and even their own writers invariably allow, that they were indebted for every thing that was elegant in the arts to the people of Greece150.

It is possible that, during the three hundred and fifty years, which elapsed from the Gallic invasion till the reign of Augustus, many magnificent buildings may have been erected; but we have no evidence that such was the case; and the few facts, which we are enabled to glean from the pages of ancient writers, are scarcely favourable to the supposition. The commencement of the age of Roman luxury is generally dated from the year 146 B. C., when the fall of Carthage and of Corinth elevated the power of the republic to a conspicuous height. Yet, more than fifty years afterwards, no marble columns had been introduced into any public buildings; and the example of using them as decorations of private houses was set by the orator Crassus, in the beginning of the first century before the Christian era.

The architectural splendour of the city must be dated from the age of Augustus. “I found it of brick,” he was accustomed to say; “I shall leave it of marble.” Nor was he content with his own [Pg 206]labours; at his instigation many private individuals contributed to the embellishment of the capital. The Pantheon, one of the noblest structures of Rome, and several others, were the works of his chief minister, Agrippa.

Tiberius and Caligula betrayed no wish to imitate their predecessor; but several works of utility and magnitude were completed under Claudius. Then came, however, the emperor Nero; with whose reign is associated that memorable conflagration, which malice attributed to the Christians, and which raged beyond all example of former ages. This fire left, of the fourteen regions into which Augustus had divided the city, only four parts untouched. It was, therefore, fatal to many of the most venerable fanes and trophies of the earlier ages. This conflagration lasted from six to nine days. In the time of Titus, too, another fire ravaged the city for three days and nights; and in that of Trajan, another conflagration consumed part of the Forum, and the Golden House of Nero; after which few remains of the ancient city were left; the rest being, to use the language of Tacitus, “scanty relics, lacerated and half-burned.”

The city, nevertheless, soon rose with fresh grandeur and beauty from its ashes. Trajan performed his part; and Hadrian followed with redoubled assiduity. They were followed by the Antonines; and so effective was the example they set, that most of the more opulent senators of Rome deemed it an honour, and almost an obligation, to contribute to the glory and external splendour of their native city. These monuments of architecture were adorned with the finest and most beautiful productions of sculpture and painting. Every quarter of Rome was filled with temples, theatres, amphitheatres, porticoes, triumphal arches, and aqueducts; with baths, and other[Pg 207] buildings, conducive to the health and pleasure, not of the noble citizens only, but of the meanest.

The principal conquests of the Romans, were achieved under the republic; and the emperors, for the most part, were satisfied with preserving those dominions which had been acquired by the policy of the senate, the active emulation of the senators, and the martial enthusiasm of the people. The seven first centuries were filled with a rapid succession of triumphs; but it was for Augustus, to relinquish the ambitious design of subduing the whole earth, and to introduce moderation into the public councils. He bequeathed a valuable legacy to his successors, the advice of confining the empire within those limits which nature seemed to have placed as its permanent bulwarks and boundaries:—on the west the Atlantic ocean; the Rhine and Danube on the north; the Euphrates on the east; and towards the south the deserts of Africa and Arabia.

The first exception to this policy was the conquest of Britain; the second the conquests of Trajan. It was, however, revived by Hadrian; nearly the first measure of whose reign was the resignation of all that emperor’s eastern conquests.

The Roman empire, in the time of the Antonines, was about two thousand miles in breadth, from the wall of Antoninus and the northern limits of Dacia, to Mount Atlas and the tropic of Cancer. It extended, in length, more than three thousand miles, from the Western Ocean to the Euphrates; it was situated in the finest part of the temperate zone, between the twenty-fourth and fifty-sixth degrees of northern latitude; and it was supposed to contain above sixteen hundred thousand square miles, for the most part of fertile and well cultivated land.

Pius studied the defence of the empire rather than[Pg 208] the enlargement of it—a line of policy, which rendered him more serviceable to the commonwealth than the greatest conqueror. Marcus and Lucius (Antonini) made the first division of the empire. At length it was put up to public sale and sold to the highest bidder. It was afterwards arrested in its ruin by Alexander Severus. The fortunes of the empire, after the progress of several successive tyrants, was again restored by the courage, conduct, and extraordinary virtues of Claudius the Second; to whom has been attributed, with every probability of truth, the courage of Trajan, the moderation of Augustus, and the piety of Antoninus.

Then followed Aurelian, Tacitus, and Probus; and Rome felt redeemed from the ruin that awaited her: but Constantine laid the inevitable groundwork of its destruction, by removing the imperial throne to Byzantium. Rome became an easy prey to her barbarian enemies; by whom she was several times sacked, pillaged, and partially burned. The most powerful of these enemies was Alaric:—the people he had to conquer and take advantage of, are thus described by Ammianus Marcellinus:—“Their long robes of silk purple float in the wind, and as they are agitated, by art or accident, they occasionally discover the under-garments, the rich tunics, embroidered with the figures of various animals. Followed by a train of fifty servants, and tearing up the pavement, they move along the street with the same impetuous speed, as if they had travelled with post-horses; and the example of the senators is boldly imitated by the matrons and ladies, whose covered-carriages are continually driving round the immense space of the city and suburbs. Whenever these persons of high distinction condescend to visit the public baths, they assume, on their entrance, a tone of loud and insolent command, and appropriate[Pg 209] to their own use the conveniences which were designed for the Roman people. As soon as they have indulged themselves in the refreshments of the bath, they resume their rings, and the other ensigns of their dignity; select from their private wardrobe of the finest linen, such as might suffice for a dozen persons, the garments the most agreeable to their fancy, and maintain till their departure the same haughty demeanour, which, perhaps, might have been excused in the great Marcellus, after the conquest of Syracuse.

“Sometimes, indeed, these heroes undertake more arduous achievements; they visit their estates in Italy, and procure themselves, by the toil of servile hands, the amusements of the chase. If at any time, but more especially on a hot day, they have courage to sail in their painted galleys, from the Lucrine Lake to their elegant villas on the sea-coast of Puteoli and Cajeta, they compare their own expeditions to the marches of Cæsar and Alexander. Yet, should a fly presume to settle on the silken folds of their gilded umbrellas; should a sun-beam penetrate through some unregarded and imperceptible chink they deplore their intolerable hardships, and lament, in affected language, that they were not born in the land of the Cimmerians, the regions of eternal darkness.”

Such was the character of the nobles of Rome at the period in which their city was taken possession of by Alaric. As soon as the barbarian had got possession of the Roman port, he summoned the city to surrender at discretion; and his demands were enforced by the positive declaration, that a refusal, or even a delay, should be instantly followed by the destruction of the magazines, on which the life of the Roman people depended. The clamours of that people, and the terror of famine, subdued the pride of the senate. They listened without reluctance to[Pg 210] the proposing of a new emperor on the throne of Honorius; and the suffrage of the Gothic conqueror bestowed the purple on Attalus, the præfect of the city. Attalus was created emperor by the Goths and Romans; he was, however, soon degraded by Alaric, and Rome subjected to a general sack. The conqueror no longer dissembled his appetite for plunder. The trembling senate, without any hopes of relief, prepared, by a desperate resistance, to delay the ruin of their country. But they were unable to guard against the secret conspiracy of their slaves and domestics. At the hour of midnight, the Salarian gate was opened, and the inhabitants were awakened by the tremendous sound of the Gothic trumpet. Eleven hundred and sixty-three years after the foundation of Rome, the imperial city, which had subdued and civilised so considerable a part of mankind, was delivered to the licentious fury of the tribes of Scythia and Germany. A cruel slaughter was made of the Romans; the streets of the city were filled with dead bodies, which, during the consternation, remained unburied. The despair of the inhabitants was sometimes converted into fury; and whenever the barbarians were provoked by opposition, they extended the promiscuous massacre to the feeble, the innocent, and the helpless. The private revenge of 40,000 slaves was exercised without pity or remorse; and the ignominious lashes, which they had formerly received, were washed away in the blood of the guilty, or obnoxious families. The matrons and virgins of Rome were exposed to injuries more dreadful, in the apprehension of chastity, than death itself.

When the portable riches had been seized, the palaces were rudely stripped of their splendid and costly furniture; the side-boards of massy plate, and the variegated wardrobes of silk and purple, were[Pg 211] irregularly piled in the wagons, that always followed the march of a Gothic army. The most exquisite works of art were roughly handled, or wantonly destroyed; many a statue was melted for the sake of the precious materials; and many a vase, in the division of the spoil, was shivered into fragments by the stroke of the battle-axe. The sack lasted six days.

The edifices, too, of Rome received no small injury from the violence of the Goths; but those injuries appear to have been somewhat exaggerated. At their entrance they fired a multitude of houses; and the ruins of the palace of Sallust remained, in the age of Justinian, a stately monument of the Gothic conflagration. Procopius confines the fire to one peculiar quarter; but adds, that the Goths ravaged the whole city. Cassiodorus says, that many of the “wonders of Rome,” were burned; and Olympiodorus speaks of the infinite quantity of wealth, which Alaric carried away. We collect, also, how great the disaster was, when he tells us, that, on the retreat of the Goths, 14,000 returned in one day.

The injury done by Genseric (A. D. 455), is said to have been not so great as that, perpetrated by the Goths; yet most writers record that the Vandals and Moors emptied Rome of most of her wealth. They revenged the injuries of Carthage. The pillage lasted fourteen days and nights; and all that yet remained of public or private wealth, of sacred or profane treasure, were transported to the vessels of Genseric. Among the spoils, the splendid relics of two temples, or rather of two religions, exhibited the remarkable example of the vicissitude of human things. Since the abolition of Paganism, the capital had been violated and abandoned; yet the statues of the gods and heroes were still respected, and the curious roof of gilt bronze was reserved for the rapacious hands of Genseric. The holy instruments of the Jewish worship [Pg 212] had been ostentatiously displayed to the Roman people, in the triumph of Titus. They were afterwards deposited in the temple of Peace; and, at the end of four hundred years, the spoils of Jerusalem were transferred to Carthage, by a barbarian who derived his origin from the shores of the Baltic. It was difficult either to escape or to satisfy the avarice of a conqueror, who possessed leisure to collect, and ships to transport, the wealth of the capital. The imperial ornaments of the palace, the magnificent furniture and wardrobe, the sideboards of massy plate, were accumulated with disorderly rapine; the gold and silver amounted to several thousand talents; yet even the brass and copper were laboriously removed. The empress was rudely stripped of her jewels, and, with her two daughters, the only surviving remains of the great Theodosius, was compelled, as a captive, to follow the haughty Vandal; who immediately hoisted sail, and returned, with a prosperous navigation, to the port of Carthage. Many thousand Romans of both sexes, chosen for some useful or agreeable qualifications, reluctantly embarked on board the fleet of Genseric; and their distress was aggravated by the unfeeling barbarian, who, in the division of the booty, separated the wives from their husbands, and the children from their parents.

The consequences of this Vandal invasion, to the public and private buildings, are thus regarded by the same authority (Gibbon):—“The spectator, who casts a mournful view over the ruins of ancient Rome, is tempted to accuse the memory of the Goths and Vandals, for the mischief which they had neither the leisure, nor power, nor perhaps the inclination, to perpetrate. The tempests of war might strike some lofty turrets to the ground; but the destruction which undermined the foundations of those massy fabrics, was prosecuted, slowly and silently, during a period[Pg 213] of ten centuries. The decay of the city had gradually impaired the value of the public works. The circus and theatres might still excite, but they seldom gratified, the desires of the people; the temples, which had escaped the zeal of the Christians, were no longer inhabited, either by gods or men; the diminished crowds of the Romans were lost in the immense space of their baths and porticoes; and the stately libraries and halls of justice became useless to an indolent generation, whose repose was seldom disturbed, either by study or business. The monuments of consular or imperial greatness were no longer revered as the immortal glory of the capital; they were only esteemed as an inexhaustible mine of materials, cheaper and more convenient than the distant quarry. Specious petitions were addressed to the easy magistrates of Rome, which stated the want of bricks or stones for some necessary service; the fairest forms of architecture were rudely defaced for the sake of some paltry or pretended repairs; and the degenerate Romans, who converted the spoil to their own emolument, demolished, with sacrilegious hands, the labours of their ancestors.”

In 472 the city was sacked by Ricimer, who enjoyed power under cover of the name of the Emperor Libius Severus. His victorious troops, breaking down every barrier, rushed with irresistible violence into the heart of the city, and Rome was subverted. The unfortunate emperor (Anthemius) was dragged from his concealment, and inhumanly massacred by the command of Ricimer his son-in-law; who thus added a third, or perhaps a fourth, emperor to the number of his victims. The soldiers, who united the rage of factious citizens with the savage manners of barbarians, were indulged, without control, in the licence of rapine and murder; the crowd of slaves and plebeians, who were unconcerned[Pg 214] in the event, could only gain by the indiscriminate pillage; and the face of the city exhibited the strange contrast of stern cruelty and dissolute intemperance. The sack of Rome by Ricimer is generally overlooked by the apologists of the early invaders; but it must not be forgotten, that they were indulged in the plunder of all but two regions of the city.

To Vitiges (about A. D. 540) must be ascribed the destruction of the aqueducts, which rendered the thermæ useless; and as these appear never to have been frequented afterwards, their dilapidation must be partially, but only partially, ascribed to the Goths.

Vitiges burned every thing without the walls, and commenced the desolation of the Campagna.

The last emperor of Rome was Augustulus. Odoacer, king of the Heruli, entered Italy with a vast multitude of barbarians, and having ravaged it, at length approached Rome itself. The city made no resistance; he therefore deposed Augustulus, and took the dignity of empire on himself. From this period the Romans lost all command in Italy.

A. D. 479. Five centuries elapsed from the age of Trajan and the Antonines, to the total extinction of the Roman empire in the west. At that unhappy period, the Saxons fiercely struggled with the natives for the possession of Britain. Gaul and Spain were divided between the powerful monarchies of the Franks and Visigoths; and the dependent kingdoms of the Suevi and Burgundians in Africa were exposed to the cruel persecution of the Vandals, and the savage insults of the Moors. Rome and Italy, as far as the banks of the Danube, were afflicted by an army of barbarian mercenaries, whose lawless tyranny was succeeded by the reign of Theodoric, the Ostrogoth. All the subjects of the empire, who,[Pg 215] by the use of the Latin language, more particularly deserved the name and privileges of Romans, were oppressed by the disgrace and calamities of foreign conquest; and the victorious nations of Germany established a new system of manners and government in the western countries of Europe.

That Rome, however, did not always suffer from the Goths, is evident from a passage in one of the letters written by Cassiodorus, at one time minister to Theodoric:—“The care of the Roman city is a subject to which our thoughts are ever awake. For what is there which it behoves us to provide for, more worthy than the keeping up the repair of a city which, it is evident, contains the ornaments of our republic? therefore, let your illustrious highness know, that we have appointed a notable person, on account of its splendid Cloacæ, which are productive of so much astonishment to beholders, that they may well be said to surpass the wonders of other cities. There thou mayest see flowing rivers, inclosed, as it were, in hollow mountains. There thou mayest see the rapid waters navigated by vessels, not without some anxiety lest they should suffer shipwreck in the precipitate torrent. Hence, O matchless Rome! it may be inferred what greatness is in thee. For what city may dare to contend with thy lofty superstructures, when even thy lowest recesses can find no parallel?”

In 546, Rome was besieged by Totila the Goth. Having reduced, by force or treaty, the towns of inferior note in the midland provinces of Italy, Totila proceeded to besiege Rome. He took it December 17th of the same year. On the loss of the city, several persons,—some say five hundred,—took, refuge in the church of St. Peter. As soon as the daylight had displayed the victory of[Pg 216] the Goths, their monarch visited the tomb of the prince of the apostles; but while he prayed at the altar, twenty-five soldiers and sixty citizens were put to the sword in the vestibule of the temple. The arch-deacon Pelagius stood before him with the gospels in his hand.—“O Lord, be merciful to your servant.” “Pelagius,” said Totila, with an insulting smile, “your pride now condescends to become a suppliant.” “I am a suppliant,” replied the prudent arch-deacon; “God has now made us your subjects, and, as your subjects, we are entitled to your clemency.” At his humble prayer, the lives of the Romans were spared; and the chastity of the maids and matrons was preserved inviolate from the passions of the hungry soldiers. But they were rewarded by the freedom of pillage. The houses of the senators were plentifully stored with gold and silver. The sons and daughters of Roman consuls tasted the misery which they had spurned or relieved, wandered in tattered garments through the streets of the city, and begged their bread before the gates of their hereditary mansions.

Against the city he appeared inexorable. One third of the walls was demolished by his command; fire and engines prepared to consume or subvert the most stately works of antiquity; and the world was astonished by the fatal decree, that Rome should be changed into “a pasture for cattle!” Belisarius, hearing of this, wrote him a letter, in which he observed, “That if Totila conquered, he ought, for his own sake, to preserve a city, which would then be his own by right of conquest, and would, at the same time, be the most beautiful city in his dominions. That it would be his own loss, if he destroyed it, and redound to his utter dishonour. For Rome, having been raised to so great a grandeur and majesty [Pg 217] by the virtue and industry of former ages, posterity would consider him as a common enemy of mankind, in depriving them of an example and living representation of their ancestors.”

In consequence of this letter, Totila permitting his resolution to be diverted, signified to the ambassadors of Belisarius, that he should spare the city; and he stationed his army at the distance of one hundred and twenty furlongs, to observe the motions of the Roman general. With the remainder of his forces, he occupied, on the summit of Gargarus, one of the camps of Hannibal. The senators were dragged in his train, and afterwards confined in the fortresses of Campagna. The citizens, with their wives and children, were dispersed in exile; and, during forty days, Rome was abandoned to desolate and dreary solitude.

Totila is known to have destroyed a third part of the walls; and although he desisted from his meditated destruction of every monument, the extent of the injury inflicted by that conqueror may have been greater than is usually supposed. Procopius affirms, that he did burn “not a small portion of the city,” especially beyond the Tiber. One of the authors of the Chronicles records a fire, and the total abandonment of the city for more than forty days; and it must be mentioned, that there is no certain trace of the palace of the Cæsars having survived the irruption of Totila.

With Totila, the dilapidation of Rome by the barbarians is generally allowed to terminate.

The incursion of the Lombards in 578 and 593 completed the desolation of the Campagna; but did not affect the city itself.

Their king Luitprand (in 741) has been absolved from a supposed violence; but Astolphus (in 754) did assault the city violently; and whatever structures [Pg 218] were near the walls must be supposed to have suffered from the attack.

From that period, Rome was not forcibly entered, that is not after a siege, until the fall of the Carlovingian race, when it was defended in the name of the emperor Lambert; and assaulted and taken by barbarians, commanded by Arnulphus, son of Carloman of Bavaria (A. D. 896).

It would exceed our limits were we to enter into a detail of the various causes, which were so long at work in effecting the ruin of the ancient monuments of Rome. If we except the Pantheon, the ancient remains have been so mutilated and destroyed, that even the name is, in many cases, doubtful. If a person, says Dr. Burton, expects to find at Rome such magnificent remains, as he has read of in Athens, he will be grievously disappointed. It is highly necessary to know, that whatever exists at Rome as a monument of ancient times has suffered from various calamities.

Gibbon states four causes of decay:—The injuries of time and nature; the hostile attacks of the barbarians and christians; the use and abuse of the materials; and the domestic quarrels of the Romans. There is great truth in Pope’s remark—

Some felt the silent strokes of mouldering age; Some hostile fury; some religious rage; Barbarian blindness, Christian zeal conspire, And Papal piety, and Gothic fire.

The injuries done by the Christian clergy to the architectural beauty of Rome, may be divided into two kinds: those, which were commanded, or connived at, by the Romans, for useful repairs or constructions; and those, which were encouraged or permitted from motives of fanaticism.

In the year 426, during the reign of Theodosius the Younger, there was a great destruction of the[Pg 219] temples and fanes. “The destruction of the idolatrous fanes,” says an ecclesiastical writer, “was from the foundation; and so complete, that we cannot perceive a vestige of the former superstition. Their temples are so destroyed, that the appearance of their form no longer remains; nor can those of our times recognise the shape of their altars. As for their materials, they are dedicated to the fanes of the martyrs. Temples are not found among the wonders admired by Theodoric, except the half-stripped Capitoline fane is to be enumerated; and Procopius confines his notices to the Temple of Peace, and to the Temple of Janus. In the reign of Justinian, the temples were partly in private hands, and, therefore, not universally protected as public edifices. Pagan structures would naturally suffer more at the first triumph of Christianity than afterwards, when the rage and the merit of destruction must have diminished. It is not then rash to believe, that many temples were destroyed or despoiled, and the materials employed to the honour of the new religion. Du Barga asserts that there were marks on the obelisks of their having been all overthrown, with the exception of one, which was not dedicated to any of the false gods of antiquity.”

The destruction of the baths are attributed to the same piety, and those of Diocletian and Caracalla showed, in the eighth century, evident marks of human violence. Pope Gregory III. employed nine columns of some ancient building for the church of St. Peter. The rebuilding of the city walls by four popes, in the same century, was a useful but a destructive operation. Pope Hadrian I. threw down an immense structure of Tiburtine stone to enlarge the church of St. Maria in Cosmedin. Donus I. had before (A. D. 676) stripped the marble from a large pyramid, generally known by the name of Scipio’s[Pg 220] Tomb. Paul II. employed the stones of the Coliseum to build a palace. Sixtus IV. took down the Temple of Hercules, and destroyed the remains of an ancient bridge to make four hundred cannon-balls for the castle of St. Angelo. Paul III. and his nephews laboured incessantly at the quarry of the Coliseum. He devastated, also, many other buildings. Sixtus V. threw down several statues still remaining in the capital. Urban VIII. took off the bronze from the portico of the Pantheon, and some of the base of the sepulchre of Cecilia Metella; and Paul V. removed the entablature and pediment of a structure in the Forum of Nerva, and also the remaining column of the Temple of Peace. Lastly, Alexander VII. took down the arch called “di Portogallo,” in order to widen the Corso. The inferior clergy, too, were great depredators; insomuch that a volume of no inconsiderable size has been composed by one of their own order to enumerate the Pagan materials applied to the use of the church.

It is difficult to say where this system of depredation would have stopped, had not Benedict XIV. erected a cross in the centre of the arena, and declared the place sacred, out of respect to the blood of the many martyrs who had been butchered there during the persecution. This declaration, if issued two or three centuries before, would have preserved the Coliseum entire; it can now only protect its remains, and transmit them in their present state to posterity.

Conflagrations, also, contributed to the destruction of the city. In 312 the temple of Fortuna was burned down. The palaces of Symmachus and Lampadius, with the baths of Constantine, suffered by the same cause.

Nor must the destruction be confined to one element. The Tiber rose, not unfrequently, to the walls,[Pg 221] and many inundations are recorded. Indeed, even so early as the second siege of the city by Totila, there was so much uncultivated land within the walls, that Diogenes, the governor, thought the corn, he had sown, would be sufficient to supply the garrison and citizens in a protracted defence.

It is impossible to assign a precise date to the total destruction of the greater portion of the ancient site; but the calamities of the seventh and eighth centuries must have contributed to, if they did not complete, the change. A scarcity in the year 604, a violent earthquake a few years afterwards, a pestilence in or about the year 678, five great inundations of the Tiber from 680 to 797, a second famine in the pontificate of Pope Constantine, which lasted thirty-six months, a pestilence in the last year of the seventh century, and the assault of the Lombards for three months in 755;—these are the events which compose the Roman history of this unhappy period.

Added to all this, the importance of the new city accelerated the ruin of the old; and great was the destruction during the periods in which separate parties fought their battles in the public streets, after the restoration of the empire of the West; in which we must record the ruin, caused by Robert Guiscard, which proved more injurious to the remains of Rome, from 1082 to 1084, than all the preceding barbarians of every age: for the Normans and Saracens of his army, with the papal faction, burned the town from the Flaminian gate to the Antonine column, and laid waste the sides of the Esquiline to the Lateran; thence he set fire to the region from that church to the Coliseum and the Capitol. He attacked the Coliseum for several days, and finished the ruin of the Capitol.

A cotemporary writer says, that all the regions of[Pg 222] the city were ruined; and another spectator, who was in Rome twelve years afterwards, laments that although what remained could not be equalled—what was ruined, could never be repaired.

Thou stranger which for Rome in Rome here seekest, And nought of Rome in Rome perceiv’st at all, These same old walls, old arches, which thou seest, Old palaces, is that which Rome men call. Behold what wreck, what ruin, and what waste, And how that she which with her mighty power Tamed all the world, hath tamed herself at last, The prey of Time, which all things doth devour. Rome now of Rome is the only funeral, And only Rome, of Rome hath victory; Ne ought save Tyber, hastening to his fall Remains of all: O World’s inconstancy! That which is firm, doth flit and fall away; And that is flitting, doth abide and stay. Spenser’s Ruins of Rome.

In the annals for 1167, we find that the German Barbarossa assaulted the Vatican for a week, and that the Pope saved himself in the Capitol. The Colonna were driven from the mausoleum of Augustus. After the Popes had begun to yield in the unequal contest with the senators and people, and had ceased to be constantly in the capital, the field was left open for the wars of the senators; that is, of the nobles themselves. The Colonna and Ursini then appear among the destroyers of the city. In 1291, a civil war occurred, which lasted six months; the issue of which was, according to a spectator, that Rome was reduced to the condition of a town “besieged, bombarded and burned.”

At the period in which Henry VII. was crowned Emperor, battles were fought in every quarter of the city. The fall of houses, indeed, the fire, the slaughter, the ringing of the bells from the churches, the shouts of the combatants, and the clanging of arms, the Roman people rushing from all quarters towards[Pg 223] the Capitol; this universal uproar attended the coronation of the new Cæsar, and the Cardinals apprehended the total destruction of the city.

The absence of the Popes, also, from the year 1360 to 1376, has been esteemed peculiarly calamitous to the ancient fabrics. Petrarch was overwhelmed with regret. He complained that the ruins were in danger of perishing; that the nobles were the rivals of time and the ancient Barbarians; and that the columns and precious marbles of Rome were devoted to the decoration of the slothful metropolis of their Neapolitan rivals. Yet, it appears that these columns and marbles were taken from palaces comparatively modern, from the thresholds of churches, from the shrines of sepulchres, from structures to which they had been conveyed from their original state, and finally, from ruins actually fallen. The solid masses of antiquity are not said to have suffered from this spoliation; and the edifices, whose impending ruin affected Petrarch, were the sacred basilicas, then converted into fortresses.

The great earthquake of 1349 operated, also, in a very destructive manner; several ancient ornaments being thrown down; and an inundation of the Tiber is recorded among the afflictions of the times. The summits of the hills alone were above the water; and the lower grounds were for eight days converted into a lake.

The return of the Popes was the signal of renewed violence. The Colonna and Ursini, the people and the church, fought for the Capitol and towers; and the forces of the Popes repeatedly bombarded the town.

During the great schism of the West, the hostile entries of Ladislaus of Naples, and the tumultuous government of the famous Perugian, Braccio Montone,[Pg 224] despoiled the tomb of Hadrian, and doubtless other monuments. Yet that violence is supposed to have been less pernicious than the peaceful spoliation which succeeded the extinction of the schism of Martin V, in 1417; and the suppression of the last revolt of the Romans by his successor Eugenius IV, in 1434: for from that epoch is dated the consumption of such marble or travertine, as might either be stripped with facility from the stone monuments, or be found in isolated fragments.

We now give place to a description of what remained in the time of Poggio Bracciolini. Besides a bridge, an arch, a sepulchre, and the pyramid of Cestius, he could discern, of the age of the republic, 1, a double row of vaults, in the salt-office of the Capitol, which were inscribed with the name and munificence of Catullus. 2, Eleven temples were visible, in some degree, from the perfect form of the Pantheon to the three arches and a marble column of the temple of Peace, which Vespasian erected after the civil wars and the Jewish triumph. 3, Of the public baths, none were sufficiently entire to represent the use and distribution of the several parts; but those of Diocletian and Caracalla still retained the titles of the founders, and astonished the curious spectator; who, in observing their solidity and extent, the variety of marbles, the size and multitude of the columns, compared the labour and expense with the use and the importance. Of the baths of Constantine, of Alexander, of Domitian, or rather of Titus, some vestige might yet be found. 4, The triumphal arches of Titus, Severus, and Constantine were entire, both the structures and the inscriptions; a falling fragment was honoured with the name of Trajan; and two arches were still extant in the Flaminian way. 5, After the wonder, of the Coliseum, Poggio might have overlooked a small amphitheatre of brick, most probably[Pg 225] for the use of the Prætorian camp: the theatres of Marcellus and Pompey were occupied, in a great measure, by public and private buildings; and in the Circus Agonalis and Maximus, little more than the situation and the form could be investigated. 6, The columns of Trajan and Antonine were still erect; but the Egyptian obelisks were broken or buried. A people of gods and heroes, the workmanship of art, was reduced to one equestrian figure of gilt brass, and to five marble statues, of which the most conspicuous were the two horses of Phidias and Praxiteles. 7, The two mausoleums or sepulchres of Augustus and Hadrian could not totally be lost; but the former was visible only as a mound of earth; and the latter, the castle of St. Angelo, had acquired the name and appearance of a modern fortress. With the addition of some separate and nameless columns, such were the remains of the ancient city.

In the intervals between the two visits of Poggio to Rome, the cell, and part of the Temple of Concord, and the base of the tomb of Metella, were ground to lime; also a portico near the Minerva. Poggio’s description of the ruins, it may be observed, is not sufficiently minute or correct to supply the deficiency of his contemporary Blondus; but we may distinctly mark, that the site of ancient Rome had arrived at the desolation in which it is seen at the present day. The Rome of the lower and middle ages was a mass of irregular lanes, built upon or amongst ruins, and surmounted by brick towers, many of them on ancient basements. The streets were so narrow, that two horsemen could ride abreast. Two hundred houses, three towers, and three churches, choked up the forum of Trajan. The reformation of Sixtus IV., and the embellishments of his successors, have obliterated this town, and that[Pg 226] which is now seen is a capital, which can only date from the end of the fifteenth century.

Not long before the imperialists carried Rome, the Colonnas, in 1526, sacked it, as it were; and that was followed by that of the Abate di Farfa, and the peasantry of the Orsini family151.

Rome was assaulted by the Bourbon, May 5, 1527; and the imperialists left it February 17, 1528.

No sooner was the Bourbon in sight of Rome, than he harangued his troops, and pointed to the end of all their sufferings. Being destitute of artillery, with which he might batter the walls, he instantly made his dispositions for an assault; and having discovered a breach, he planted, with his own hands, a ladder against the rampart, and prepared to mount it, followed by his German bands. But, at that instant, a shot, discharged from the first arquebuse which was fired, terminated at once his life and his misfortunes. Much fruitless inquiry has been made to ascertain the author of his death, which is commonly attributed to a priest; but Benvenuto Cellini, so well known by his extraordinary adventures and writings, lays claim to the merit of killing this hero. By whatever hand he fell he preserved, even in the act of expiring, all his presence as well as greatness of mind. He no sooner felt himself wounded, than he ordered a Gascon captain, named Jonas, to cover him with a cloak, in order to conceal his death, lest it should damp the courage of his soldiers. Jonas executed his commands with punctuality. The Constable [Pg 227] still continued to breathe when the city was taken. He was, therefore, carried thither, and there expired, May 5, 1527, at thirty-eight years of age.

Philipart, prince of Orange, contrived to keep the troops in ignorance of their commander’s death, till they were masters of Rome; and then, to render them inaccessible to pity, he revealed to them the fate of Bourbon. No language can express the fury with which they were animated at this sad intelligence. They rent the air with the cries of “Carné, carné! Sangre, sangre! Bourbon, Bourbon!”

The imagination is appalled at the bare recital of the wanton outrages on human nature, which were committed by Bourbon’s army, during the time that they remained masters of Rome. The pillage lasted, without any interruption, for two months.

Never had that proud city suffered from her barbarian conquerors, in the decline of the Roman empire,—from Alaric, from Genseric, or from Odoacer,—the same merciless treatment as she underwent from the rage of the imperial troops;—the subjects, or the soldiers of a Catholic king! Rapacity, lust, and impiety, were exhausted by these men. Roman ladies of the noblest extraction were submitted to the basest and vilest prostitution. The sacred ornaments of the sacerdotal, and even of the pontifical dignity, were converted to purposes of ridicule and buffoonery. Priests, nay even bishops and cardinals, were degraded to the brutal passions of the soldiery; and after having suffered every ignominy of blows, mutilation, and personal contumely, were massacred in pastime. Exorbitant ransoms were exacted repeatedly from the same persons; and when they had no longer wherewithal to purchase life, they were butchered without mercy. Nuns, virgins, matrons, were publicly devoted to the infamous appetites of[Pg 228] the soldiers; who first violated, and then stabbed, the victims of their pleasures. The streets were strewed with the dead; and it is said that eight thousand young women, of all ranks and conditions, were found to be pregnant within five months from the sack of the unfortunate city.

Three years after the sack by Bourbon, that is in 1530, an inundation of the Tiber ruined a multitude of edifices both public and private, and was almost equally calamitous with the sack of Rome. Simond, writing from Rome in January 1818, says: “The Tiber has been very high, and the lower parts of the town under water; yet this is nothing compared with the inundations recorded on two pillars at the port of Ripetta, a sort of landing-place. The mark on one of them is full eighteen feet above the level of the adjoining streets; and, considering the rapidity of the stream, a great part of the city must then have been in imminent danger of being swept away.” In 1819 the Pantheon was flooded; but this is not an uncommon event, as it stands near the river, and the drain, which should carry off the rain-water that falls through the aperture in the top, communicates with the stream. The inundations of the Tiber, indeed, are one of the causes, which combined to destroy so many of the monuments of Rome during the middle ages. There is one recorded in 1345, among the afflictions of the times, when only the summits of the hills were above the water, and the lower grounds were converted into a lake for the space of eight days. Several floods are mentioned by the ancient writers; and Tacitus speaks of a project which was debated in the senate, A. D. 15, for diverting some of the streams running into the Tiber, but which was not carried into execution in consequence of the petitions of various towns, who sent deputies[Pg 229] to oppose it; partly on the ground of their local interests being affected, and partly from a feeling of superstition, which emboldened them to urge that “Nature had assigned to rivers their proper courses,” and other reasons of a similar nature.

Aurelian endeavoured to put an effectual stop to the calamities which sprang from the lawless river, by raising its banks and clearing its channel. However, the deposits resulting from these frequent inundations have contributed greatly to that vast accumulation of soil, which has raised the surface of modern Rome so many feet above the ancient level; and thus the evil itself has occasioned a remedy to a partial extent.

We must now close this portion of our imperfect account, and proceed to give our readers some idea in respect to the present condition of Rome’s ancient remains; gleaned, for the most part, from the pages of writers who have recently been sojourners in “the Eternal City:” but in doing this we by no means wish our readers to expect the full and minute particulars, which they may find in works entirely dedicated to the subject; for Rome, even in its antiquities, would require a volume for itself.

When Poggio Bracciolini visited Rome in the fifteenth century, he complained that nothing of old Rome subsisted entire, and that few monuments of the free city remained; and many writers of more recent times have made the same complaint. “The artist,” says Sir John Hobhouse, “may be comparatively indifferent to the date and history, and regard chiefly the architectural merit of a structure; but the Rome which the Florentine republican regretted, and which an Englishman would wish to find, is not that of Augustus and his successors, but of those greater and better men, of whose heroic actions his earliest impressions are composed.” To which, however, [Pg 230] may be added what Dr. Burton questions, viz., Whether, in his expectations, the traveller may not betray his ignorance of real history. “The works of the Romans, in the early ages of their nation, were remarkable for their solidity and strength; but there seems no reason to suppose that much taste or elegance was displayed in them. But then, again, if we wish to confine ourselves to the republic, there is surely no need of monuments of brick and stone to awaken our recollections of such a period. If we must have visible objects on which to fix our attention, we have the ground itself on which the Romans trod; we have the Seven Hills; we have the Campus Martius, the Forum,—all places familiar to us from history, and in which we can assign the precise spot where some memorable action was performed. Those who feel a gratification, by placing their footsteps where Cicero or Cæsar did before them, in the consciousness of standing upon the same hill which Manlius defended, and in all those associations which bring the actors themselves upon the scene, may have all their enthusiasm satisfied, and need not complain that there are no monuments of the time of the republic.”

The remains of ancient Rome may be classed in three different periods. Of the first, the works of the kings, embracing a period of two hundred and forty-four years, from the foundation of the city by Romulus to the expulsion of Tarquin, very little have escaped the ravages of time; the Tullian walls and prison, with the Cloaca Maxima, being the only identified remains. Of the works of the republic, which lasted four hundred and sixty-one years, although the city, during that period, was more than once besieged, burned, and sacked, many works are yet extant:—the military ways and aqueducts, and[Pg 231] some small temples and tombs. But it was during the third period, that of the emperors, that Rome attained the meridian of her glory. For three centuries all the known world was either subject to her, or bound by commercial treaties; and the taste and magnificence of the Romans were displayed in the erection of temples to the gods, triumphal arches and pillars to conquerors, amphitheatres, palaces, and other works of ostentation and luxury, for which architecture was made to exhaust her treasures, and no expense was spared to decorate.

Architecture was unknown to the Romans until Tarquin came down from Etruria. Hence the few works of the kings, which still remain, were built in the Etruscan style, with large uncemented, but regular blocks. In the gardens of the convent Giovanni a S. Paolo is a ruin of the Curia Hostilia, called the Rostrum of Cicero; and some few fragments, also, remain of a bridge, erected by Ancus Martius. On this bridge (Pons Sublicius) Horatius Cocles opposed singly the army of Porsenna; and from it, in subsequent times, the bodies of Commodus and Heliogabalus were thrown into the Tiber. In the pontificate of Nicholas V. it was destroyed by an inundation. There are also the remains of a large brick edifice, supposed to have been the Curia, erected by Tullus Hostilius, which was destroyed by fire when the populace burned in it the corpse of Clodius. Julius Cæsar commenced its restoration; and Augustus finished it, and gave it the name of Curia Julia, in honour of his father by adoption.

In regard to the form and size of the city, we must follow the direction of the seven hills upon which it was built. 1. Of these Mons Palatinus has always had the preference. It was in this place that Romulus laid the foundation of the city, in a quadrangular [Pg 232] form; and here the same king and Tullus Hostilius kept their courts, as did Augustus afterwards, and all the succeeding emperors. This hill was in compass 1200 paces. 2. Mons Tarpeius, took its name from Tarpeia, a Roman virgin, who in this place betrayed the city to the Sabines. It had afterwards the denomination of Capitolinus, from the head of a man, casually found here in digging for the foundation of the temple of Jupiter. This hill was added to the city by Titus Tatius, king of the Sabines; when, having been first overcome in the field by Romulus, he and his subjects were permitted to incorporate with the Romans. 3. Mons Esquilinus was taken in by Servius Tullius, who had here his royal seat. 4. Mons Viminalis derived its name from the osiers that grew very plentifully upon it. This hill was taken in by Servius Tullus. 5. Mons Cœlius owes its name to Cœlius, or Cœles, a Tuscan general greatly celebrated in his time, who pitched his tents here when he came to the assistance of Romulus against the Sabines. Its having been taken into the city is attributed to Tullus Hostilius, by Livy and Dionysius; but by Strabo, to Ancus Martius. 6. Collis Quirinalis was so called from the temple of Quirinus, another name of Romulus; or from the Curetes, a people that removed hither from a Sabine city, called Cures. It afterwards changed its name to Caballus, Mons Caballi, and Caballinus, from the two marble horses, with each a man holding him, which are set up here. They are still standing, and, if the inscription on the pilasters be true, were the work of Phidias and Praxiteles; made by those masters to represent Alexander and his horse Bucephalus, and sent to Nero as a present by Tiridates king of Armenia. 7. Mons Aventinus derived its name from Aventinus, an Alban king,[Pg 233] from the river Avens, or from (ab Avibus) the birds, that used to flock there from the Tiber. Gellius affirms, that this hill was not enclosed within the bounds of the city, till the time of Claudius; but Eutropius expressly states that it was taken into it even so early as that of Ancus Martius.

As to the extent of the whole city, the greatest, recorded in history, was in the reign of Valerian, who enlarged the walls to such a degree, as to surround a space of fifty miles. The number of inhabitants, in its flourishing state, is computed by Lipsius at four millions. The present extent of the walls is about thirteen miles. Sir John Hobhouse walked round them in three hours, thirty-three minutes and three quarters; and Dr. Burton did the same in three hours and ten minutes.

This circuit will bring into view specimens of every construction, from the days of Servius Tullius down to the present. Aurelian took into his walls whatever he found standing in their line, and they now include some remains of the Tullian walls, the walls of the Prætorian barracks, the facing of a tank, aqueducts, sepulchral monuments, a menagerie, an amphitheatre, a pyramid, &c. Thus do they exhibit the uncemented blocks of the Etruscan style, the reticular work of the republic, the travertine preferred by the first emperors, the alternate tufa and bricks employed by their successors, and that poverty of materials which marks the declining empire. Since the first breach, made by Totila, the walls have been often and variously repaired; sometimes by a case of brick-work, filled up with shattered marbles, rubble, shard, and mortar. In some parts, the cementitious work is unfaced; here you find stones and tufa mixed; there tufa alone, laid in the Saracenic manner: the latter repairs have the brick revêtement of modern fortification.

[Pg 234]

The gates of Rome, at the present day, are sixteen in number, of which only twelve are open. The wall of Romulus had but three or four; and there has been much discussion among antiquaries, as to their position. That of Servius had seven; but in the time of Pliny, (in the middle of the first century) there were no less than thirty-seven gates to the city. The twelve gates at present in use correspond to some of the principal gates of former times.

Modern Rome, however, can scarcely be said to rest upon the ancient base. Scarcely two-thirds of the space within the walls are now inhabited, and the most thickly peopled district is comprised within what was anciently the open plain of the Campus Martius. On the other hand the most populous part of the ancient Rome is now but a landscape; it would almost seem, indeed, as if the city had slipped off its seven hills into the plain beneath. A remarkable change, too, has taken place in the surface of the site itself. In the valleys the ground has been raised not less than fourteen or fifteen feet. This is strikingly observable in the Forum, where there has been a great rise above the ancient level, owing partly to the accumulation of soil and rubbish brought down by the rains; but chiefly, as there is reason to believe, to that occasioned by the demolition of ancient buildings, and the practice which prevailed of erecting new structures upon the prostrate ruins.

The Tiber, too, still remains; but its present appearance has been variously estimated. “The Tiber,” says Dr. Burton, “is a stream of which classical recollections are apt to raise too favourable anticipations. When we think of the fleets of the capital of the world sailing up it, and pouring in their[Pg 235] treasures of tributary kingdoms, we are likely to attach to it ideas of grandeur and magnificence. But if we come to the Tiber with such expectations, our disappointment will be great.”

Sir John Hobhouse speaks differently: “Arrived at the bank of the Tiber,” he says, speaking of the traveller’s approach to Rome from the north, across the Ponte Molle, “he does not find the muddy insignificant stream, which the disappointments of overheated imaginations have described it; but one of the finest rivers of Europe, now rolling through a vale of gardens, and now sweeping the base of swelling acclivities, clothed with wood, and crowned with villas, and their evergreen shrubberies.” Notwithstanding this, the Tiber can be by no means called a large river, and it is scarcely navigable even below Rome, owing to the frequent shoals which impede its course. A steam-boat, which plies between the capital and Fiumicino, a distance of about sixteen miles, is generally five or six hours in making the passage. Ordinary vessels are three days in making their way up the Tiber to Rome; being towed up always by buffaloes. The velocity of its current may be estimated from the fact, that it deposits its coarser gravel thirty miles from the city, and its finer at twelve; it hence pursues its course to the sea, charged only with a fine yellowish sand, imparting to its waters that peculiar colour, which poets call golden, and travellers muddy. Yet these waters enjoyed, at one time, a high reputation for sweetness and salubrious qualities. Pope Paul the Third invariably carried a supply of the water of the Tiber with him on his longest journeys; and his predecessor, Clement the Seventh, was similarly provided, by order of his physician, when he repaired to Marseilles, to celebrate the marriage of his niece,[Pg 236] Catherine de Medici, with the brother of the Dauphin, afterwards Henry the Second of France.

Both within and without the walls of Rome, fragments of aqueducts may be seen. Of these “some,” says Mr. Woods, “are of stone, others of brick-work, but the former cannot be traced for any continuance; and while two or three are sometimes supported on a range of arches, in other places almost every one seems to have a range to itself. It is curious to trace these repairs, executed, perhaps, fifteen centuries ago. The execution of the brick-work, in most instances, or perhaps in all, shows them to be decidedly prior to the age of Constantine; and the principal restorations, in all probability, took place when the upper water-courses were added. They generally consist of brick arches, built within the ancient stone ones; sometimes resting on the old piers, but more often carried down to the ground; and, in some cases, the whole arch has been filled up, or only a mere door-way left at the bottom. Sometimes this internal work has been wholly, or partially, destroyed; and sometimes the original stone-work has disappeared, as the owner of the ground happened to want bricks, or squared stones. In one place the ancient piers have been entirely buried in the more recent brick-work; but the brick-work has been broken, and the original stone-work taken away: presenting a very singular, and, at first sight, wholly unaccountable appearance. In other parts, the whole has fallen, apparently without having had these brick additions; for a range of parallel mounds mark the situation of the prostrated piers.”

“I do not know any thing more striking,” says Simond, “than these endless arches of Roman aqueducts, pursuing, with great strides, their irregular[Pg 237] course over the desert. They suggest the idea of immensity, of durability, of simplicity, of boundless power, reckless of cost and labour, all for a useful purpose, and regardless of beauty. A river in mid-air, which had been flowing on ceaselessly for fifteen or eighteen hundred, or two thousand years, poured its cataracts in the streets and public squares of Rome, when she was mistress, and also when she was the slave of nations; and quenched the thirst of Attila, and of Genseric, as it had before quenched that of Brutus and Cæsar, and as it has since quenched that of beggars and of popes. During those ages of desolation and darkness, when Rome had almost ceased to be a city, this artificial river ran to waste among the ruins; but now fills again the numerous and magnificent fountains of the modern city. Only three out of eleven of these ancient aqueducts remain entire, and in a state to conduct water; what, then, must have been the profusion of water to ancient Rome?”

The Tarpeian rock still exists; but has little in its appearance to gratify the associations of a classic traveller. Seneca describes it as it existed in his time thus:—“A lofty and precipitous mass rises up, rugged with many rocks, which either bruise the body to death, or hurry one down still more violently. The points projecting from the sides, and the gloomy prospect of its vast height, are truly horrid. This place is chosen in particular, that the criminals may not require to be thrown down more than once.”

Poggio Bracciolini gives a melancholy picture of what, in his time, was the state of this celebrated rock. “This Tarpeian rock was a savage and solitary thicket. In the time of the poet it was covered with the golden roofs of a temple; the temple is overthrown, the gold has been pillaged, the wheel of fortune has accomplished her revolution, and the[Pg 238] sacred ground is again disfigured with thorns and brambles. The hill of the Capitol, on which we sit, was formerly the head of the Roman empire, the citadel of the earth, the terror of kings; illustrated by the footsteps of so many triumphs, enriched with the spoils and attributes of so many nations. This spectacle of the world, how is it fallen! how changed! how defaced! The path of victory is obliterated by vines, and the benches of the senators are concealed by a dunghill.”

“Like the modern Tiber, the modern Tarpeian,” says an elegant traveller, “is little able to bear the weight of its ancient reputation.” “The only precipice that remains,” says another traveller (Mathews) “is one about thirty feet from the point of a wall, where you might leap down on the dung, mixed in the fold below, without any fear of breaking your bones.”

The Aqueducts were, beyond all question, some of the noblest designs of the Romans. Frontinus, a Roman author, and a person of consular dignity, who compiled a treatise on this subject, affirms them to be the clearest token of the grandeur of the empire. The first invention of them is attributed to Appius Claudius, A. U. C. 441, who brought water into the city by a channel eleven miles in length. But this was very inconsiderable compared to those that were afterwards carried on by the emperors and other persons; several of which were cut through the mountains, and all other impediments, for above forty miles together; and of such height, that a man on horseback, as Procopius informs us, might ride through them without the least difficulty. This, however, is meant only of the constant course of the channel; for the vaults and arches were, in some places, 109 feet high.

Procopius makes the Aqueducts only fourteen; but Aurelius Victor has enlarged the number to[Pg 239] twenty. The Claudian Aqueduct conveyed 800,000 tons of water each day into the city.

The Forums of Rome were of two kinds; one a place of popular assembly, both for business, and pleasure; serving at once the purposes of what we call an Exchange, certain courts of justice, and of hustings for the election of public functionaries: the other consisted of market-places. The chief forum was emphatically called the Roman, or the Great Forum.

The second forum, built in Rome, was erected by Julius Cæsar. The third was called sometimes the Augustan, from its having been formed by Augustus; and sometimes the Forum of Mars from the temple of that god, erected by him. Some remains are still in existence. The fourth forum was begun by Domitian, but being finished by Nerva, it was called after his name. A fifth forum was built by the emperor Trajan; said to have been the most celebrated work of the kind in the city. It was built with the spoils he had taken in his wars. The roof was of brass.

Ammianus Marcellinus, in his description of Constantine’s triumphal entrance into Rome, when he has brought him, with no ordinary admiration, by the Baths, the Pantheon, the Capitol, and other noble structures, as soon as ever he gives him a sight of the Forum of Trajan, he puts him into an ecstacy, and cannot forbear making a harangue upon the matter. We meet in the same place with a very smart repartee, which Constantine received at the time from Ormisdas, a Persian prince. The emperor, as he greatly admired everything belonging to this noble pile, so he had a particular fancy for the statue of Trajan’s horse, which stood on the top of it, and expressed his desire of doing as much for his own beast. “Pray, sir,” says the prince, “before[Pg 240] you talk of getting such a horse, will you be pleased to build such a stable to put him in?”

Besides these there was another. This was situated not in the city, but in its neighbourhood. It was called the Forum Populi, which is frequently mentioned in the history of the republic; and which interests us as being the popular and commercial resort of a free people. At stated periods, the Romans, and their friends and allies, used to meet at that spot, and celebrate the Latinæ Feriæ; on which many holidays and religious ceremonies were accompanied by renewals of treaties of amity, by the interchange of commodities, and by manly sports and pastimes. While the Roman citizens came from the Tiber, the free confederates descended from their mountains, or wended their way from the fertile plains beyond the river. Sir William Gell thinks he can fix this interesting spot. The habitations around the temple of Jupiter Latialis, on Mont Albano, are supposed to have constituted the village called Forum Populi. It is probable that the meeting of the Latin confederates upon the mountain, and the fair held there, led to its erection. Here the consuls had a house where they sometimes lodged, which Dio Cassius (lib. iii.) says was struck with lightning.

We now return to the Great Forum.

... It was once, And long the centre of their universe, The Forum,—whence a mandate, eagle-winged, Went to the ends of the earth. Let us descend Slowly. At every step much may be lost. The very dust we tread stirs as with life; And not a breath but from the ground sends up Something of human grandeur.   ... We are come:— And now where once the mightiest spirits met In terrible conflict; this, while Rome was free, The noblest theatre on this side heaven!—Rogers.

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The Forum152 was an entirely open space; it had public buildings in it, as well as around it; we even read of streets passing through it. The Curia, or Senate-house, stood near the foot of the Palatine hill, in about the middle of the eastern side of the Forum. It was built originally by Tullus Hostilius, the third king of Rome; and, after having been repaired by Sylla, was destroyed by fire in the year 53 B. C., when the body of Clodius, who had been murdered by Milo, was carried into it by a tumultuous multitude, and there burnt on a funeral pile, formed of benches of the senators, the tables, the archives, and such other materials as the place afforded. Sylla’s son rebuilt it; but under the false pretence of erecting a temple to “Felicity.” It was again restored by Julius Cæsar.

Vitruvius says, that the Greek Forum was square, with ambulatories in the upper story; the Roman was oblong, with porticos, and shops for bankers, and with galleries in the upper floor, adapted for the management of the public revenues. The Roman forum also included many other edifices of a different nature; as the basilicæ, prison, curiæ, and were enriched with colonnades and sculpture. That of Trajan was entered by four triumphal arches, and had his magnificent column in the centre of it.

A few words will describe the present state of this celebrated spot:—

Now all is changed! and here, as in the wild, The day is silent, dreary as the night; None stirring, save the herdsman and his herd, Savage alike; or they that would explore, Discuss and learnedly; or they that come (And there are many who have crossed the earth) That they may give the hours to meditation, And wander, often saying to themselves, “This was the Roman Forum.”

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The list of edifices in the Forum would be tedious; nor could even learned antiquaries now make it correct; but among them we may mention the temple of the Penates, or household gods, the temple of Concord, the temple of Jupiter Stator, the temple of Castor and Pollux153, the temple of Vesta, the temple of Victory, the temple of Julius Cæsar, and the arches of Fabian, Tiberius, and Severus. All these, however, and in most cases even the traces of them, have disappeared,—the few objects remaining being a puzzle to such persons as take an interest in them, and examine the matters on the spot.

“The glories of the Forum are now fled forever,” says Mr. Eustace. Its temples are fallen; its sanctuaries are crumbled into dust; its colonnades encumber pavements, now buried under their remains. The walls of the rostra, stripped of their ornaments, and doomed to eternal silence; a few shattered porticos, and here and there an insulated column standing in the midst of broken shafts, vast fragments of marble capitals and cornices heaped together in masses, remind the traveller that the field which he now traverses was once the Roman forum154. It is reduced, indeed, not to the pasture-ground for cattle, which Virgil has described, but to the market-place for pigs, sheep, and oxen; being now the Smithfield of [Pg 243] Rome. The hills, the rivers, the roads and bridges, in this mother of cities, mostly go by their ancient Latin names, slightly altered in Italian, but the Forum has not even retained its name; it is now called Campo Vaccino, or the Field of Cows!

This scene155, though now so desolate and degraded, was once the great centre of all the business, power, and splendour of Rome. Here, as long as the Romans were a free people, all the affairs of the state were debated in the most public manner; and from the rostra, elevated in the midst of the square, and with their eyes fixed on the capitol, which immediately faced them, and which was suited to fill their minds with patriotism, whilst the Tarpeian rock reminded them of the fate reserved for treason and corruption, the noblest of orators “wielded at will” the fierce democracy, or filled the souls of gathered thousands with one object, one wish, one passion—the freedom and glory of the Roman race;—a freedom which would have been more enduring had the glory been less.

“Yes; in yon field below, A thousand years of silenced factions sleep— The Forum, where the immortal accents glow, And still the eloquent air breathes, burns, of Cicero!   “The field of freedom, faction, fame, and blood. Here a proud people’s passions were exhaled, From the first hour of empire in the bud, To that when further worlds to conquer fail’d; But long before had Freedom’s face been veil’d, And Anarchy assumed her attributes; Till every lawless soldier who assail’d Trod on the trembling senate’s slavish mutes, Or raised the venal voice of baser prostitutes.”

Here the orators of the people brought their accusations against public men, or pronounced eulogies on such as had died for their country; and here, also, [Pg 244]were exhibited the bleeding heads or lifeless bodies of traitors, or, as it but too often happened, of men unjustly deemed so by an overbearing faction. The Forum was the court of justice, and in homely days of the early republic, civil and criminal causes were tried and decided by simple laws in the open air, or in very plain sheds built in this square. The humble schools for the republican children (for even these old Romans had places of public instruction for the poor people) stood round the Forum, which seems to have been intermixed with shops, shambles, stalls, lowly temples, and altars.

No object within the walls of Rome, according to Dr. Burton, is so melancholy as the Forum. “We may lament,” says he, “the ruin of a temple or a palace, but our interest in the remaining fragments is frequently diminished by our either not knowing with certainty to what building they belonged, or because history has not stamped them with any peculiar recollections. But standing upon the hill of the Capitol, and looking down upon the Forum, we contemplate a scene with which we fancy ourselves familiar, and we seem suddenly to have quitted the habitations of living men. Not only is its former grandeur utterly annihilated, but the ground has not been applied to any other purpose. When we descend into it, we find that many of the ancient buildings are buried under irregular heaps of soil. A warm imagination might fancy that some spell hung over the spot, forbidding it to be profaned by the ordinary occupations of inhabited cities. What Virgil says of its appearance before the Trojan settlers arrived, is singularly true at the present moment:

“There oxen strolled where palaces are raised, And bellowing herds in the proud Forum grazed156.”

Where the Roman people saw temples erected to [Pg 245]perpetuate their exploits; and where the Roman nobles vied with each other in the magnificence of their dwellings, we see now a few isolated pillars standing amongst some broken arches. Or if the curiosity of foreigners has investigated what the natives neither think nor care about, we may, perhaps, see the remnant of a statue, or a column, extracted from the rubbish. Where the Comitia were held, where Cicero harangued, and where the triumphal processions passed, we have now no animated beings, except strangers, attracted by curiosity; the convicts who are employed in excavating, as a punishment, and those more harmless animals, who find a scanty pasture, and a shelter from the sun under a grove of trees. If we look to the boundaries of this desolation, the prospect is equally mournful. At one end we have the hill of the Capitol; on the summit of which, instead of the temple of Jupiter, the wonder of the world, we have the palace of the solitary senator. [Pg 246] If we wish to ascend this eminence, we have, on one side, the most ancient structure in Rome, and that a prison; on the other, the ruins of a temple, which seems to have been amongst the finest in the city, and the name of which is not known. If we turn from the capital, we have, on our right, the Palatine hill, which once contained the whole Roman people, and which was afterwards insufficient for the house of one emperor, and is now occupied by a few gardens, and a convent. On the left, there is a range of churches, formed out of ancient temples; and in front, we discover at a considerable distance, through the branches of trees, and the ruins of buildings, the mouldering arches of the Colosseum.

The Mausoleo Adriano was erected by Adrian, in the gardens of Domitian. It is two stories high; the lower square, the upper round. It was formerly covered with Parian marble, and encircled by a concentric portico, and surmounted by a cupola. The Pons Ælius was the approach to it; during the middle ages, it was used as a fortress; and the upper works, of brick, were added to it by Alexander VI.; when it became the citadel of Rome. This castle was of great service to Pope Clement VII., when the city was surprised (A. D. 1527) by the imperial army. The castle was formerly the burial-place of the Roman emperors, which, after Augustus’s mausoleum on the side of the Tiber was filled with arms, Adrian built for himself and his successors; hence it acquired the name of Moles Hadriani. The large round tower in the centre of the edifice was formerly adorned with a considerable number of small pillars and statues; but most of them were broken to pieces by the Romans themselves, who made use of them to defend themselves against the Goths, when they assaulted the city; as may be read at large in Procopius and Baronius. On the top of it stood the Pigna, since in[Pg 247] the Belvidere Gardens. It received its name of St. Angelo, from the supposed appearance of an angel, at the time of a pestilence, during the reign of Gregory the Great. It was fortified by Pope Urban VII., with five regular bastions, ramparts, moats, &c. The hall is adorned with gildings, fine paintings, and Adrian’s statue, whose bust, with that of Augustus, is to be seen on the castle wall.

The Mamertine prisons157 are supposed to be the oldest monuments of antiquity in Rome. Livy speaks of them as the work of Ancus Martius. “The state having undergone a vast increase,” says the historian, “and secret villanies being perpetrated, from the distinction between right and wrong being confounded, in so great a multitude of men, a prison was built in the middle of the city, overhanging the Forum, as a terror to the increasing boldness. These prisons are supposed to be called after their founder, Martius. They were enlarged by Servius Tullus; and the part which he added bore the name of Tullian. The front of this prison is open to the street; but above, and resting on it, is built the church of San Giuseppe Falegnani. It has an appearance of great solidity, being composed of immense masses of stone, put together without cement; almost every one of the blocks is upwards of nine feet long, and in height nearly three feet. The length of the front is forty-three feet; but its height does not exceed seventeen; along the upper part runs an inscription, intimating, that Caius Vibius Rufinus and Marcus Cocceius Nerva (who were consuls in the year 23), by a decree of the senate, repaired, enlarged, or did something to the prison. The traveller descends, by the aid of stairs, into the upper cell. Nearly in the middle of the vaulted roof he may perceive an aperture large enough to admit the passage of a man’s body; and directly under it, in the [Pg 248]floor of the cell, he will see another opening of a similar character. This affords a direct communication with the lower prison; but he descends at another point by a second flight of steps, modern like the former. The second cell is of much smaller dimensions than the other, being only nineteen feet in length, by nine in breadth, and about six in height.” “It is faced,” says the Rev. Mr. Burgess, “with the same material as the upper one; and it is worthy of remark, as a proof of its high antiquity, that the stones are not disposed with that regularity which the rules of good masonry require; the joinings often coincide, or nearly so, instead of reposing over the middle of the interior block respectively.”

Dr. Burton says, “that a more horrible place for the confinement of a human being than these prisons, can scarcely be imagined. Their condition in ancient times must have been still worse than it now is. The expressions ‘cell of groans,’ ‘house of sadness,’ ‘black prison,’ ‘cave of darkness,’ ‘place darkened with perpetual night;’ and many others, which are to be met with in the pages of the later Latin writers, sufficiently attest the character they bore in ancient times.”

Quintus Pleminius, who had done good service to the republic in the second Punic war, but who afterwards had been sent in chains to Rome, on account of the enormities which he had practised in the government of the town of Locri, was incarcerated in this prison. In the year 194 B. C. certain games were being performed in the city; and while the minds of all were taken up with the sight of them, Quintus Pleminius procured persons to agree to set the city on fire, at night, in several places at once, so that in the consternation of a nocturnal tumult, the prison might be broken open. The matter, however, was disclosed by persons privy thereto, and[Pg 249] communicated to the senate; and Pleminius was immediately put to death in the lower cell. The accomplices of Catiline, too, expiated their guilt in this prison. The celebrated African king, Jugurtha, also, in the same place closed his last days. His melancholy end is thus described by Plutarch:—

“Marius, bringing back his army from Africa into Italy, took possession of the consulship the first day of January, and also entered Rome in triumph, showing the Romans what they had never expected to see; this was the king Jugurtha prisoner, who was a man so wary, and who knew so well to accommodate himself to fortune, and who united so much courage to his craft and cunning, that none of his enemies ever thought that they would have him alive. When he had been led in the procession he became deranged, as they say, in his understanding; and, after the triumph, he was thrown into prison; when, as they were stripping him of his tunic by force, and striving in eager haste to take from him his golden ear-ring, they tore it off, together with the lower part of his ear. Being then thrust naked into the deep cavern, he said, full of trouble, and smiling bitterly, ‘Hercules! how cold is this bath of yours!’ Having struggled, however, for six days, with hunger, waiting in suspense till the last hour, from his passionate desire to live, he met with the just rewards of his wicked deeds.” In this prison, also, Perseus, the captive king of Macedonia, lingered many years in hopeless misery; and in one of its cells, also, St. Peter was imprisoned nine years.

Next to the Mamertine prisons, in point of antiquity, but greatly above them as a work of labour and art, was the Cloaca Maxima. The first sewers in Rome were constructed by Tarquinius Priscus. The Cloaca Maxima was the work of Tarquin the Proud.

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Pliny says that Agrippa, in his ædileship, made no less than seven streams meet together underground in one main channel, with such a rapid current as to carry all before them that they met with in their passage. Sometimes when they are violently swoln with immoderate rains, they beat with excessive fury against the paving at the bottom and the sides. Sometimes in a flood the Tiber waters oppose them in their course; and then the two streams encounter with great fury; and yet the works preserve their ancient strength, without any sensible damage. Sometimes huge pieces of stone and timber, or such-like materials, are carried down the channel; and yet the fabric receives no detriment. Sometimes the ruin of whole buildings, destroyed by fire or other casualties, presses heavily upon the frame. Sometimes terrible earthquakes shake the very foundations, and yet they still continue impregnable. Such is the testimony of Pliny the Elder.

The Cloaca Maxima still exists. At its outlet in the Tiber, it is said to be thirteen feet high, and as many in breadth. The ancients always regarded this work as a great wonder. Livy speaks of it in terms of admiration; and Pliny equally so; and Dionysius says that the sewers having been once so greatly neglected that sufficient passage was not afforded for the waters, it cost no less a sum than 225,000l. to put them in repair.

The Pyramid of Cestius, one of the most ancient remains, is the only specimen of a pyramid in Rome. It was erected daring the republic, to the memory of Caius Cestius, one of the priests that provided feasts for the gods. It is of great size, being ninety-seven feet in the base, and one hundred and twenty-four in height; and was erected, according to the inscription, in three hundred and thirty days.

This ancient monument remains entire158. It is [Pg 251]formed, externally, of white marble. At each corner on the outside was a pillar, once surmounted with a statue. Its form is graceful, and its appearance very picturesque; supported on either side by the ancient wall of Rome, with their towers and galleries venerable in decay, half shaded by a few scattered trees; and, looking down upon a hundred humble tents interspersed in the neighbouring groves, it rises in lonely pomp, and seems to preside over these fields of silence and mortality.

This structure was repaired by order of Pope Alexander VII. in 1663; it having been greatly dilapidated; no less than fifteen feet of rubbish have accumulated above the base. “It is curious,” says Simond, “to see how Nature, disappointed of her usual means of destruction by the pyramidal shape, goes to work another way. That very shape affording a better hold for plants, their roots have penetrated between the stones, and acting like wedges, have lifted and thrown wide large blocks, in such a manner, as to threaten the disjoined assemblage with entire destruction. In Egypt, the extreme heat and want of moisture, during a certain part of the year, hinder the growth of plants in such situations; and in Africa alone are pyramids eternal.”—Close to this is the Protestant burial-ground. “When I am inclined to be serious,” says Mr. Rogers, “I love to wander up and down before the tomb of Caius Cestius. The Protestant burial-ground is there; and most of the little monuments are erected to the young; young men of promise, cut off when on their travels, full of enthusiasm, full of enjoyment; brides in the bloom of their beauty, on their first journey; or children borne from home in search of health. This stone was placed by his fellow-travellers, young as himself, who will return to the house of his parents without him; that by a husband or a father, now in his native country. His heart is buried[Pg 252] in that grave. It is a quiet and sheltered nook, covered in the winter with violets; and the pyramid that overshadows it gives a classical and singularly solemn air. You feel an interest there, a sympathy you were not prepared for. You are yourself in a foreign land; and they are for the most part your countrymen. They call upon you in your mother tongue—in English—in words unknown to a native; known only to yourselves: and the tomb of Cestius, that old majestic pile has this also in common with them,—it is itself a stranger among strangers. It has stood there till the language, spoken round about it, has changed; and the shepherd, born at the foot, can read its inscription no longer.”

There is a stern, round tower of other days, Firm as a fortress, with its fence of stone, Such as an army’s baffled strength decays, Standing with half its battlements alone. And with two thousand years of ivy grown, The garland of eternity, where wave The green leaves over all by Time o’erthrown; What was this tower of strength? within its cave What treasure lay so hid?—a Woman’s grave.

A little beyond the Circus of Caracalla159 rises the mausoleum of Cecilia Metella, a beautiful edifice, built by Crassus, in honour of his wife. It is of considerable height and great thickness: in the centre is a hollow space reaching from the pavement to the top of the building. In the concavity was deposited the body in a marble sarcophagus, which in the time of Paul III. was removed to the court of the Farnesian palace. The solidity and simplicity of this monument are worthy of the republican era in which it was erected, and have enabled it to resist the incidents and survive the lapse of two thousand years.

“At the end of the Velabrum,” says Dupaty, “I found myself on the Appian way, and walked along it for some time. I there found the tomb of Cecilia [Pg 253] Metella, the daughter of that Crassus whose wealth was a counterpoise to the name of Pompey and the fortune of Cæsar. I entered the tomb, and set myself down on the grass. The flowers which displayed their brilliant colours in the corner of the tomb, and as I may say amid the shades of death; the noise of a swarm of bees who were depositing their honey between two rows of bricks, while the surrounding silence rendered their pleasing humming more audible; the azure of the sky forming over my head a magnificent dome, decorated alternately by flying clouds of silver and of purple; the name Cecilia Metella, who perhaps was beautiful, and possessed of the tenderest sensibility, and who most certainly was unfortunate; the memory of Crassus; the image of a distracted father who strives by piling up stones to immortalize his sorrow; the soldiers, whom my imagination still behold combating from the height of this tower;—all these and a thousand other impressions gradually plunged my soul into a delicious reverie, and it was with difficulty I could leave the place.”

The portico of Octavia stood upon the Flaminian Circus and the theatre of Marcellus; it was erected by Augustus, in honour of his sister Octavia. This portico formed a parallelogram, composed of a double row of two hundred and seventy Corinthian columns of white marble, adorned with statues, enclosing a court, in which were two temples, dedicated to Jupiter and Juno, a library, and a large hall for the exhibition of paintings. A small portion of the portico, being one of the entrances, is all that now remains. Many of the pillars are, however, supposed to be built up in the neighbouring houses.

The general use, porticoes were put to, was the pleasure of walking or riding in them; in the shade in summer, and in winter in the day; like the present[Pg 254] piazzas in Italy. Velleius Paterculus, when he deplores the extreme corruption of manners that had crept into Rome upon the conclusion of the Carthaginian war, mentions particularly the vanity of the noblemen, in endeavouring to outshine one another in the magnificence of their porticoes, as a great instance of their extraordinary luxury. Juvenal thus alludes to them:—

On sumptuous baths the rich their wealth bestow, Or some expensive airy portico; Where safe from showers they may be borne in state; And, free from tempests, for fair weather wait: Or rather not expect the clearing sun; Through thick and thin their equipage must run: Or staying, ‘tis not for their servants’ sake, But that their mules no prejudice may take.

The Naumachiæ, or places for the shows of sea engagements160, are nowhere particularly described; but we may suppose them to be very little different from the circus or amphitheatres; since those sort of shows, for which they were designed, were often exhibited. The Naumachiæ owed their original to the time of the first Punic war, when the Romans first initiated their men in the knowledge of sea-affairs. After the improvement of many years, they were designed as well for gratifying the sight, as for increasing their naval experience and discipline; and therefore composed one of the solemn shows by which the magistrates or emperors, or any affecters of popularity, so often made their court to the people.

The usual accounts we have of these exercises seem to represent them as nothing else but the image of a naval fight. But it is probable that sometimes they did not engage in any hostile manner, but only rowed fairly for the victory. This conjecture may be confirmed by the authority of Virgil, who is acknowledged by all the critics, in his descriptions of the [Pg 255]games and exercises to have had an eye always to his own country, and to have drawn them after the manner of the Roman sports. Now the sea contention, which he presents us with, is barely a trial of swiftness in the vessels, and of skill in managing the oars, as is most admirably delivered in his fifth book161.

Warm baths were first introduced into Rome by Mæcenas. There cannot be a greater instance of the magnificence of the Romans than their bagnios. Ammianus Marcellinus observes, that they were built “in modum provinciarum,” as large as provinces; but the great Valesius judges the word provinciarum to be a corruption of piscinarum. And though this emendation does in some measure extenuate one part of the vanity which has been so often alleged against them, from the authority of that passage of the historian, yet the prodigious accounts we have of their ornaments and furniture, will bring them, perhaps, under a censure no more favourable than the former. Seneca, speaking of the luxury of his countrymen in this respect, complains that they were arrived to such a pitch of niceness and delicacy, as to scorn to set their feet on any thing but precious stones. And Pliny wishes good old Fabricius were but alive to see the degeneracy of his posterity, when the very women must have their seats in the baths of solid silver. Of the luxury and magnificence of the Roman bath, we have an interesting account in Seneca; we borrow the old translation, it being somewhat of a curiosity:—

“Of the countrie-house of Africanus, and bath:

“Lying in the verie towne (villa) of Scipio Africanus, I write these things unto thee, having adored the spirit of him and the altar, which I suppose to be the sepulcher of so great a man. * * I saw [Pg 256]that towne builded of four-square stone, a wall compassing about a wood, towers also set under both sides of the towne for a defence. A cisterne laid under the buildings, and green places, which was able to serve even an armie of men. A little narrow bathe, somewhat darke, as the olde fashion was. None seemed warme for our ancestors except it were obscure. Great pleasure entered into me, beholding the manners of Scipio and of us. In this corner that horrour of Carthage, to whom Rome is in debt that it was taken but once, washed his bodie, wearied with the labours of the countrie: for he exercised himselfe in worke, and he himself tilled the earth, as the fashion of the ancients was. He stood upon this so base a roofe,—this so mean a floore sustained him. But now who is he that can sustaine to be bathed thus? Poore and base seemeth he to himself, except the walls have shined with great and precious rounds, except Alexandrian marbles be distinguished with Numidian roofe-caste, except the chamber be covered over with glasse, except stone of the Ile Thassus, once a rare gazing-stocke in some church (temple), have compassed about our ponds into which we let down our bodies exhausted by much labour; except silver cocks have poured out water unto us. And as yet I speake of the conduits of the common sort; what when I shall come to the bathes of freedmen? What profusion of statues is there; what profusion of columns holding nothing up, but placed for ornament, merely on account of the expense? What quantity of waters sliding downe upon staires with a great noise? To that delicacie are we come, that men will not tread but upon precious stones. In this bathe of Scipio, there be verie small chinckes, rather than windowes, cut out in the stone wall, that without hurt of the fense they should let the light in. But now they are[Pg 257] called the bathes of moths, if any be not framed so as to receive, with most large windows, the sunne all the day long, except they be bathed and coloured (sunburnt) at the same time, except from the bathing vessel they look upon both land and sea. But in old time there were few bathes, neither were they adorned with any trimming up. For why should a thing of a farthing worth be adorned, and which is invented for use, and not for delight? Water was not poured in, neither did it alwaies, as from a warm fountain, runne fresh. But, O the good gods! how delightful it was to enter into those bathes, somewhat darke and covered with plaster of the common sort, which thou diddest know that Cato, the overseer of the buildings (ædile), or Fabius Maximus, or some one of the Cornelii, had tempered for you with his own hand! For the most noble ædiles performed this duty also of going into those places which received the people, and of exacting cleanliness, and an useful and healthie temperature; not this which is lately found out, like unto a setting on fire, so that it is meet indeed to be washed alive, as a slave convicted of some crime. It seemeth to me now to be of no difference, whether the bathe be scalding hot or be but warme. Of how great rusticity do some now condemn Scipio, because into his warm bathe he did not with large windowes (of transparent stone) let in the light? O miserable man! He knew not how to live; he was not washed in strained water, but oftentimes in turbid, and, when more vehemently it did rain, in almost muddy water.”

The more extensive and best-preserved baths now remaining in Rome are those of Titus, Antoninus, Caracalla, and Dioclesian. In the time of Ammianus Marcellinus there were sixteen public baths. These were surrounded by extensive gardens; and the main buildings were used, some for bathing and swimming; [Pg 258] some for athletic exercises; and others for lectures, recitation, and conversation. They were splendidly fitted up, and furnished with considerable libraries.

The ruins of what are called the baths of Titus extend to a great area. The site is, to a considerable extent, occupied by gardens; in various parts of which are to be seen fragments, all once belonging to the same edifice. This building seems to have consisted of two stories. Of the upper one little remains; but of the lower there are more than thirty rooms accessible.

“We passed,” says the author of ‘Rome in the Nineteenth Century,’ describing a visit to the baths, “the mouths of nine long corridors, converging together like the radii of the segment of a circle, divided from each other by dead walls, covered at the top, and closed at the end. They must always have been dark. Having passed these corridors, we entered the portal of what is called the house of Mæcenas. It is known that the house and gardens of Mæcenas stood in this part of the Esquiline-hill, which, before it was given him by Augustus, was the charnel-ground of the common people. The conflagration in Nero’s reign did not reach to them; and it is believed, that a part of them was taken by Nero into his buildings, and by Titus into his baths. Antiquaries think they can trace a difference in the brick-work and style of building, between what they consider as the erection of Augustus’s and that of Titus’s age: and on these grounds, the parts they point out as vestiges of the house of Mæcenas, are the entrance, which leads into a range of square and roofless chambers (called, on supposition, the public baths), and the wall on the right in passing through them, which is partially formed of reticulated building in patches. From these real or imaginary classic remains, we[Pg 259] entered a damp and dark corridor, the ceiling of which is still adorned with some of the most beautiful specimens, that now remain, of the paintings of antiquity. Their colouring is fast fading away, and their very outline, I should fear, must be obliterated at no very distant period; so extreme is the humidity of the place, and so incessantly does the water-drop fall. By the light of a few trembling tapers elevated on the top of a long bending cane, we saw, at least twenty feet above our heads, paintings in arabesque, executed with a grace, a freedom, a correctness of design, and a masterly command of pencil, that awakened our highest admiration, in spite of all the disadvantages under which they were viewed. * * * Leaving the painted corridor, which is adorned with these beautiful specimens of ancient art, we entered halls, which, like it, must always have been dark, but are still magnificent. The bright colouring of the crimson stucco, the alcove still adorned with gilding, and the ceilings beautifully painted with fantastic designs, still remain in many parts of them; but how chill, how damp, how desolate are now these gloomy halls of imperial luxury! No sound is to be heard through them, but that of the slow water-drop. In one of these splendid dungeons, we saw the remains of a bath, supposed to have been for the private use of the emperor. In another we were shown the crimson-painted alcove, where the Laocöon was found in the reign of Leo the Tenth. The French, who cleared out a great many of these chambers, found nothing but the Pluto and Cerberus, now in the Capitol, a work of very indifferent sculpture.”

Another critic (Knight) has estimated these paintings rather differently. “The paintings on the walls,” says he, “consist chiefly of what we now call arabesques; the figures are all very small, and arranged in[Pg 260] patterns and borders. They consist of birds and beasts; among which some green parrots may be seen very distinctly; the ground is generally a rich dark red. At the end of one of these rooms is a large painting of some building, in which the perspective is said to be correctly given. This seems to disprove the charge which has been brought against the ancient painters, of not understanding the rules of perspective; none of these paintings can, however, be justly regarded as specimens of ancient art; they were intended solely as decorations to the apartments, and were doubtless the work of ordinary house-painters. To judge of the proficiency of the ancient painters from such remains as these would be as unfair, to use Dr. Burton’s remark, as to estimate the state of the arts in England from the sign-posts. Where the walls of the rooms are bare, the brick-work has a most singular appearance of freshness; the stucco also is very perfect in many parts; but the marble, of which there are evident traces on the walls of the floors, is gone.”

The ruins of the baths of Caracalla are so extensive, that they occupy a surface equal to one-sixteenth of a square mile. Next to the Coliseum, they present the greatest mass of ancient building in Rome. “At each end,” says Mr. Eustace, “were two temples; one dedicated to Apollo, and the other to Æsculapius, as the tutelary deities of the place, sacred to the improvement of the mind, and the care of the body: the two other temples were dedicated to the two protecting divinities of the Antonine family; Hercules and Bacchus. In the principal building were, in the first place, a grand circular vestibule, with four baths on each side, for cold, tepid, warm, and sea baths; in the centre was an immense square for exercise, when the weather was unfavourable for it in the open air: beyond it is a marble hall, where[Pg 261] sixteen hundred marble seats were placed for the convenience of the bathers; at each end of this hall were libraries. This building terminated on both sides with a court, surrounded with porticoes, with an odeum for music, and in the middle a spacious basin for swimming. Round this edifice were walks shaded by rows of trees, particularly the plane; and in its front extended a gymnasium, for running, wrestling, &c., in fine weather. The whole was surrounded by a vast portico, opening into spacious halls, where the poets declaimed, and philosophers gave lectures to their auditors.”

The following account is from the author of Rome in the Nineteenth Century. “We passed through a long succession of immense halls, open to the sky, whose pavements of costly marbles, and rich mosaics, long since torn away, have been supplied by the soft green turf, that forms a carpet more in unison with their deserted state. The wind sighing through the branches of the aged trees, that have taken root in them, without rivalling their loftiness, was the only sound we heard; and the bird of prey, which burst through the thick ivy of the broken wall far above us, was the only living object we beheld. These immense halls formed part of the internal division of the Thermæ, which was entirely devoted to purposes of amusement. The first of the halls, or walled enclosures, that you enter, and several of the others, have been open in the centre. These were surrounded by covered porticos, supported by immense columns of granite, which have long since been carried away; chiefly by the popes, and princes of the Farnese family. In consequence of their loss the roofs fell with a concussion so tremendous, that it is said to have been felt even in Rome, like the distant shock of an earthquake. Fragments of this vaulted roof are still lying at the corners of the porticoes.[Pg 262] The open part, in the centre, was probably designed for athletic sports. Many have been the doubts and disputes among the antiquaries, which of these halls have the best claims to be considered as the once wonderful Cella Solearis. All are roofless now; but the most eastern of them, that which is farthest to the left on entering, and which evidently had windows, seems generally to enjoy the reputation. Besides these enormous halls, there are, on the western side of these ruins, the remains of a large circular building, and a great number of small divisions, of all sizes and forms, in their purpose wholly incomprehensible; except that they belonged to that part of the Thermæ destined for purposes of amusement. Nothing can now be known; and though the immense extent of the baths may be traced, far from hence, by the wide-spreading ruins, it is equally difficult and unprofitable to explore them any further.”

In these baths were discovered (A. D. 1540), the celebrated Farnese Hercules; also the famous Flora (1540); and the Farnese Bull, in 1544. In those of Titus, the Belvidere Meleager; and the wonderful group, entitled the Laocöon; and not far from them the exquisite figure of Antinous.

Columns, or pillars,162 were none of the meanest beauties of the city. They were at least converted to the same design as the arches; for the honourable memorial of some noble victory or exploit; after they had been a long time in use for the chief ornament of the sepulchres of great men.

There are three columns more celebrated than the rest. These are, the pillars of Trajan, of Antoninus, and of Phocas. The first of these was set up in the middle of Trajan’s Forum; being composed of twenty-four great stones of marble;163 but so curiously [Pg 263]cemented, as to seem one entire natural stone. The height was one hundred and forty-four feet, according to Eutropius; though Marlian seems to make them but one hundred and twenty-eight: yet they are easily reconciled, if we suppose one of them to have begun the measure from the pillar itself, and the other from the basis. It is ascertained on the inside by one hundred and eighty-five winding stairs, and has forty little windows for the admission of light. The noblest ornament of this pillar was the statue of Trajan at the top, of a gigantic height; being no less than twenty-five feet high. He was represented in a coat of armour, proper to the general, holding in his left hand a sceptre; in his right a hollow globe of gold, in which his ashes were deposited after his death.

The subjects of the bas-reliefs, as we have already stated, are the victories of Trajan, in his Dacian campaign164. The whole number of figures sculptured is about 2,500; and the figure of Trajan himself is repeated more than fifty times. At the lower part of the column, the human figures are about two feet high; as they ascend, and thus become further removed from the eye, their size is increased, till, at the top of the column, they have nearly double the height that they have below. These bas-reliefs are executed with great delicacy and spirit; but they possess a higher value of a different kind. “The Roman dress and manners,” says Dr. Burton, “may receive a considerable light from them. We find the soldiers constantly carrying their swords on the right side. On a march they are generally bare-headed; some have no helmets at all; others wear them suspended to their right shoulder; each of them carries a stick over the left shoulder, which seems to have been for the [Pg 264]purpose of carrying their provisions. We may observe also a wallet, a vessel for wine, and a machine for dressing meat.”

Their shields165 were oblong, with different devices upon them; their standards of various kinds; pictures also were used; which were portraits of gods, or heroes. The soldiers wear upon their legs a kind of light pantaloons, reaching a little below the knee, and not buttoned. The Dacians have loose pantaloons, reaching to the ankle, and shoes; they also carry curved swords. The Sarmatian cavalry, allies of Decabalus (the Dacian king) wear plated armour, covering the men and horses. Their armour was a covering of thin circular plates, which were adapted to the movements of the body, and drawn over all their limbs; so that in whatever direction they wished to move, their clothing allowed them free play, by the close fitting of its joints. Some Roman soldiers have also plate-armour; but they are archers. The horses have saddles, or rather cloths, which are fastened by cords round the breast, and under the tail. The Dacian horses are without this covering; and the Germans, or some other allies, have neither saddles nor bridles to their horses. We might observe several other particulars, such as a bridge of boats over a river, and that the boats everywhere are without a rudder, but are guided by an oar, fastened with a thong on one side of the stern. The wall of the camp has battlements, and the heads of the Dacians are stuck to it. The Dacian women are represented burning the Roman prisoners. We may also see the testudo, formed by soldiers putting their shields together in a compact mass over their backs. Victory is represented as writing with a pen on a shield166.

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The column of Antoninus was raised in imitation of this, which it exceeded in one respect; that it was one hundred and seventy-six feet high. The work was much inferior to that of Trajan’s, as being undertaken in the declining age of the empire. The ascent on the inside was by one hundred and six stairs, and the windows in the sides fifty-six. The sculpture and the other monuments were of the same nature as those of the first; and on the top stood a colossus of the emperor, naked, as appears from some of his coins. Both these columns are still standing; the former most entire. But Pope Sixtus V., instead of the statues of the emperors, set up St. Peter’s, on the column of Trajan, and St. Paul’s, on that of Antoninus.

The historical columns167 are true to no order of architecture. Trajan’s has a Tuscan base and capital, and a pedestal with Corinthian mouldings. That of M. Aurelius repeats the same mixture; but its pedestal is restored: and though higher, both in proportion and in place, than Trajan’s, does not associate so well with its shaft. These are the only regular pedestals that are observed in Roman antiquity.

Next to these may be classed the column of Phocas168. So recently as twenty-four years ago, the whole of its base, and part of the shaft, were buried in the soil; and up to that time, the ingenuity of the learned was severely tried, in the attempt to find for it a name. One thought it a fragment of the Græcostasis; another adjudged it to a temple of Jupiter Custos; and a third urged the claim of Caligula’s bridge. At length, it was thought that, possibly, the column might originally have been isolated, and thus in itself a complete monument; that, consequently, if the earth at its foot were removed, a [Pg 266]pedestal might be uncovered with some inscriptions thereon. The Duchess of Devonshire had recourse to this simple expedient, in the year 1813; the base of the column was laid open, and upon it an inscription was found, recording the fact, that a gilt statue was placed on the top of it in the year 608, in honour of the emperor Phocas, by Smaragdus, exarch of Italy.

The material of the column is Greek marble, the capital is Corinthian, and the shaft is fluted. The height is forty-six feet, but as it stands upon a pyramid of eleven steps, its elevation is increased about eleven feet.

The seventh Basilica stands about two miles from the walls; the church itself is a fine building, restored in 1611; but the portico, of antique marble columns, is of the time of Constantine. Under the church are the openings to very extensive catacombs, originally formed no doubt by the ancient Romans, to procure pozzolana for their buildings; and enlarged by the early Christians, who used them as places of refuge during their persecutions, and as cemeteries, one hundred and seventy thousand of them having, it is said, been interred there. The passages are from two to three feet in width, and extend several miles in different directions.

A hall of immense size169 was discovered about the beginning of the last century, concealed under the ruins of its own massive roof. The pillars of verde antico that supported its vaults, the statues that ornamented its niches, and the rich marbles that formed its pavements, were found buried in rubbish, and were immediately carried away by the Farnesian family, the proprietors of the soil, to adorn their palaces and furnish their galleries. This hall is now cleared of its encumbrances, and presents to the eye [Pg 267]a vast length of naked wall, and an area covered with weeds. “As we stood contemplating its extent and proportion,” continues Mr. Eustace, “a fox started from an aperture, once a window, at one end, and crossing the open space, scrambled up the ruins at the other, and disappeared in the rubbish. This scene of desolation reminded me of Ossian’s beautiful description:—‘The thistle shook there its lonely head; the moss whistled to the gale; the fox looked out from the windows; the rank grass waved round his head.’”

There are twelve obelisks at Rome still standing erect, the oldest of which is that brought by Augustus, which is eighty feet in height, decorating the fine square called Piazza del Popolo.

Roman conquerors had successively enriched the capital of the world with the monuments of subdued nations, and with the spirit of art from Sicily, Greece, and Egypt. Among these, the emperor Augustus ordered two Egyptian obelisks to be carried to Rome. To this end, an immense vessel of a peculiar structure was built, and when, after a tedious and difficult voyage, it reached the Tiber with its freight, one of the columns was placed in the Grand Circus, and the other in the Campus Martius. Caligula adorned Rome with a third Egyptian obelisk, obtained in the like manner.

A fourth was added afterwards. The emperor Constantine, equally ambitious of these costly foreign ornaments, resolved to decorate his newly-founded capital of Constantinople with the largest of all the obelisks that stood on the ruins of Thebes. He succeeded in having it conveyed as far as Alexandria, but, dying at the time, its destination was changed, and an enormous raft, managed by three hundred rowers, transported the granite obelisk from Alexandria to Rome.

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The Circi were places set apart for the celebration of several sorts of games. They were generally oblong, or almost in the shape of a bow, having a wall quite round, with ranges of seats for the convenience of the spectators. At the entrance of the circus stood the Carceres, or lists, whence they started, and just by them one of the Metæ, or marks, the other standing at the further end to conclude the race. “There were several of these Circi at Rome, as those of Flaminius, Nero, Caracalla, and Severus; but the most remarkable, as the very name imports, was Circus Maximus, first built by Tarquinius Priscus. The length of it was four furlongs, the breadth the like number of acres, with a trench of ten feet deep, and as many broad, to receive the water; and seats enough for one hundred and fifty thousand men. It was beautified and adorned by succeeding princes, particularly by Julius Cæsar, Augustus, Caligula, Domitian, Trajan, and Heliogabalus; and enlarged to such a prodigious extent as to be able to contain, in their proper seats, two hundred and sixty thousand spectators. In the time of Constantine it would hold three hundred and eighty-five thousand persons to view the combats, chariot races, &c.170” The Circus Maximus stands on the spot where the games were celebrated when the Romans seized the Sabine women; and it was here also that the interesting scene took place between Androcles and the lion.

The number of beasts exhibited in the circus is wonderful; and were it not well attested, would be incredible. In the days of imperial splendour, nearly every rare animal that Western Asia or Northern Africa could produce, was commonly exhibited to the Roman people. In the year 252 B. C. one hundred and forty-two elephants, brought from [Pg 269] Sicily, were exhibited in the circus. Cæsar, in his third dictatorship, showed a vast number of wild beasts, among which were four hundred lions, and a camelopard. The emperor Gordian devised a novel kind of spectacle; he converted the Circus into a temporary kind of wood, and turned into it two hundred stags, thirty wild horses, one hundred wild sheep, ten elks, one hundred Cyprian bulls, three hundred ostriches, thirty wild asses, one hundred and fifty wild boars, two hundred ibices, and two hundred deer. He then allowed the people to enter the wood, and to take what they pleased. Forty years afterwards the emperor Probus171 imitated his example. “Large trees were pulled up by the roots,” says an ancient writer, “and fastened to beams, which were laid down crossing each other. Soil was then thrown upon them, and the whole Circus planted like a wood. One thousand ostriches, one thousand stags, one thousand ibices, wild sheep, and other grazing animals, as many as could be fed or found, were turned in, and the people admitted as before.”

Of the trouble which was taken in the republican times to procure rare animals for exhibition in Rome, we have a curious illustration in the letters of Cicero. The orator went out in the year 52 B. C., as governor of a province of Asia Minor; and while there, he was thus addressed by his friend Cœlius:—“I have spoken to you, in almost all my letters, about the panthers. It will be disgraceful to you, that Patiscus has sent ten panthers to Curio, while you have scarcely sent a greater number to me. Curio has made me a present of these, and ten others from Africa. If you will only keep it in mind, and employ the people of Cybira, and also send letters into Pamphylia (for I understand that [Pg 270]the greatest number are taken there), you will gain your object.” To this the proconsul replies:—“I have given particular orders about the panthers to those who are in the habit of hunting them; but they are surprisingly scarce; and it is said, that those which are there, make a great complaint that there are no snares laid against any one in my province but themselves. It is accordingly supposed, that they are determined to quit my province. I go into Caria. However, I shall use all diligence.”

The avidity172 with which the amusements of the Circus were sought, increased with the decline of the empire and the corruption of morals. Ammianus Marcellinus, who wrote in the fourth century of the Christian era, gives us the following description:—“The people spend all their evenings in drinking and gaming, in spectacles, amusements, and shows. The Circus Maximus is their temple, their dwelling-house, their public meeting, and all their hopes. In the Forum, the streets, and squares, multitudes assemble together, and dispute, some defending one thing, and some another. The oldest take the privilege of age, and cry out in the temples and Forum, that the republic must fall, if in the approaching games the person whom they support does not win the prize and first pass the goal. When the wished-for day of the equestrian games arrives, before sunrise all run headlong to the spot, passing in swiftness the chariots that are to run; upon the success of which their wishes are so divided, that many pass the night without sleep.” Lactantius confirms this account, and says that the people, from their great eagerness, often quarrelled and fought.

Fortunately there still exists, about two miles from the walls of Rome, an ancient circus in a high state of preservation; and from this we are enabled [Pg 271]to acquire a very good notion of the form and arrangement of such structures. The chief entrance was an opening at the straight end; and on each side of it were six carceres, or starting-places. At the rounded end, or that opposite to the carceres, was the Porta Triumphalis, or Triumphal Gate, by which the victor left the circus; the rest of the enclosed space were the seats for the spectators, raised in rows one above the other. Down the middle of the area, or more properly speaking, rather nearer to one side than the other, ran a raised division,—a sort of thick dwarf wall, called the Spina; equal in length to about two-thirds of the area itself. At each end of this spina was a small meta, or goal, formed of three cones. The meta which approached the triumphal gate was much nearer to it than the other meta was to the carceres. The course which the chariots ran was by the side of the spina, and round the metæ. All these different parts of the circus were variously ornamented; the spina especially was highly decorated, having sometimes in the middle one of those lofty Egyptian obelisks, of which there are more to be seen at this day in Rome, than are assembled anywhere else173.

Besides the Mamertine prisons and the Cloaca Maxima, there are other antiquities at Rome which belong to the early period. Among these are the foundations and great fragments of the ancient buildings of the Capitol. The Capitol-hill is said to form a link between the ancient city and the modern one.—“From an elevated station, about two hundred and fifty feet above the Forum,” says Simond, “the voice of Cicero might have been heard, revealing to the people, assembled before the Temple of Concord, (to which the ruins nearest to us probably belonged,) Catiline’s conspiracy. He might even have been heard [Pg 272]in the Tribune of Harangues, situated on the other side of the Forum, and next to the Temple of Jupiter Stator,—of which there are three columns still standing,—taking the oath that he had saved his country, and all the people taking the same oath after him. But the gory head and hand of this saviour of his country might have been seen from our station soon after, nailed to the side of this same tribune, and the same people tamely looking on! Instead of the contending crowds of patriots, conspirators, orators, heroes, and fools, each acting his part, we now saw only a few cows quietly picking up blades of grass among the ruins; beggars, and monks, and asses loaded with bags of puzzolana, and a gang of galley-slaves lazily digging away for antiquities, under the lash of their taskmasters.”

The hill of the Capitol derived its name from the head of Tolus174, and the prediction of universal empire to those who held it. It was famous for a temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, which was the effect of a vow made by Tarquinius Priscus in the Sabine war. But he had scarcely laid the foundations before his death. His nephew, Tarquinius the Proud, finished it with the spoils taken from the neighbouring nations. But upon the expulsion of the kings, the consecration was performed by Horatius the consul. The structure stood on a high ridge, taking in four acres of ground. The front was adorned with three rows of pillars, the other side with two. Its ascent from the ground was by one hundred steps. The prodigious gifts and ornaments, with which it was several times endowed, almost exceed belief. Suetonius tells us that Augustus gave at one time two thousand pounds weight of gold; and a precious stone to the value of five hundred sestertia. Livy and Pliny surprise us with accounts of the brazen thresholds, the [Pg 273]noble pillars, that Sylla removed hither from Athens out of the temple of Jupiter Olympius; the gilded roof, the gilded shields, and those of solid silver; the huge vessels of silver, holding three measures; the golden chariot, &c. This temple was first consumed by fire in the Marian war, and then rebuilt by Sylla, who, dying before the dedication, left that honour to Quintus Catulus. This too was demolished in the Vitellian sedition. Vespasian undertook a third, which was burnt down about the time of his death. Domitian raised the last and most glorious of all; in which the very gilding amounted to twelve thousand talents (£2,250,000). He adorned it with some columns of Pentelic marble brought from Athens. Indeed, his extravagance in this and other public works led to that exceeding severity which accompanied the exaction of the capitation tax from the Jewish people. It was the opinion of contemporaries of the emperor, that if he were to reclaim from the gods the sums which he now expended upon them, even Jupiter himself, though he were to hold a general auction in Olympus, would be unable to pay a twelfth of his debts, or, as we should say, one shilling and eightpence in the pound.

If, Cæsar, all thou to the powers hast lent, Thou should’st reclaim, a creditor content, Should a fair auction vend Olympus’ hall, And the just gods be fain to sell their all; The bankrupt Atlas not a twelfth could sound:— Who bade the Sire of Gods with man compound? For Capitolian fanes what to the chief? What can he pay for the Tarpeian leaf? What for her double towers the Thunderer’s queen? Pallas I pass, thy manager serene. Alcides why, or Phœbus, should I name, Or the twin Lacons, of fraternal fame? Or the substructure (who can sum the whole?) Of Flavian temples to the Latian pole? Augustus, pious, then, and patient stay: The chest of Jove possesses not to pay.

[Pg 274]

Of all the ancient glory of the Capitol,175 nothing now remains but the solid foundation and vast substructions raised on the rock. Not only is the Capitol fallen, but its very name, expressive of dominion, and once fondly considered as an omen of empire, is now almost lost in the semi-barbarous appellation of Campi-doglio. “This place,” says a celebrated French traveller, “which gave law to the universe, where Jupiter had his temple and Rome her senate; from whence of old the Roman eagles were continually flying into every quarter of the globe, and from every quarter of the globe continually winging their way back with victories; whence a single word from the mouth of Scipio, of Pompey, or of Cæsar, quickly reached the most distant nations, menacing their liberty, and deciding on the fate of kings; where the greatest men of the republic, in short, still continued to live after their death in statues, and still to govern the world with the authority of Romans: this place so renowned has lost its statues, its senate, its citadel, its temples; it has retained nothing but its name, so cemented by the blood and tears of nations, that time has not yet been able to disjoin the immortal syllables of which it is composed. It is still called the Capitol. At the Capitol we perceive, in the strongest light, the insignificance of all human things, and the power of fortune.”

The Pantheon is the most perfect of all the remains of ancient Rome, and the only one of the Pagan temples that retains any thing of its original appearance. It was dedicated176 either to Jupiter Ultor, or to Mars and Venus, or, more probably, to all the gods in general. The structure, according to Fabricius, is one hundred and forty feet high, and about the same in breadth; but a later author has increased the [Pg 275]number to one hundred and fifty-eight. The roof is curiously vaulted, void places being left here and there for the greater strength.

The statues of all the gods were in this temple; and these, according to their degrees, were of gold, silver, bronze, or marble. The portico is one hundred and ten feet long177, by forty-four in depth, and is supported by sixteen columns of the Corinthian order. Each of the shafts of these columns is of one piece of oriental granite, and forty-two feet in height; the bases and capitals are of white marble. The whole height of the columns is forty-six feet five inches; the diameter, just above the base, is four feet ten inches; and, just beneath the capital, four feet three inches. The interior of the rotunda has a diameter of nearly one hundred and fifty feet.

This building has been generally attributed wholly to Agrippa; but from careful research, Desgodetz asserts that the body of the edifice is of much earlier origin; and that Agrippa only newly modelled and embellished the inside, and added the magnificent portico. The building is circular, with a noble dome, and a fine portico of sixteen pillars of oriental granite. There are no windows, the light being admitted by a circular aperture in the dome. The fine marble with which the walls were encrusted, and the brass which covered the roof, have long since disappeared; the bare bricks alone are left.

As St. Peter’s affords the best sample of modern art in Rome178, so does the Pantheon exhibit the most satisfactory and best-preserved specimen of ancient art; for, notwithstanding the injuries it has sustained by the hands of barbarians of all ages, no signs of natural decay are yet visible; and with this magnificent model before their eyes, it appears strange, that the architects of St. Peter’s should not have accomplished [Pg 276] their task more worthily. The Pantheon seems to be the hemispherical summit of a modern temple, taken off and placed on the ground; so it appears to us, at least, accustomed to see cupolas in the former situation only.

“It is built in the dirtiest part of modern Rome,” says the author of Rome in the Nineteenth Century; “and the unfortunate spectator, who comes with a mind filled with enthusiasm, to gaze upon this monument of the taste and magnificence of antiquity, finds himself surrounded by all that is most revolting to the senses, distracted by incessant uproar, pestered by the crowd of clamorous beggars, and stuck fast in the congregated filth of every description that covers the slippery pavement; so that the time he forces himself to spend in admiring its noble portico, generally proves a penance from which he is glad to be liberated, instead of an enjoyment he wishes to protract. We escaped none of these nuisances, except the mud, by sitting in an open carriage to survey it. The smells of the beggars were equally annoying. You may perhaps form some idea of the situation of the Pantheon at Rome, by imagining what Westminster Abbey would be in Covent Garden Market.”

This does not appear, however, to have damped the enthusiasm of Dupaty:—“I first directed my steps,” says he, “towards the Pantheon, dedicated by Agrippa to all the gods, and since, I know not by what pope, to all the saints179. This consecration has preserved the Pantheon from the general pillage and destruction which the other temples have undergone. It has been despoiled of every thing that made it rich; but they have left all that made it great. It [Pg 277]has lost its marbles, its porphyry, its alabaster, but it has preserved its dome, its peristyle, and its columns. How magnificent is this peristyle! The eyes are just attracted by eight Corinthian columns, on which rests the pediment of this immortal monument. These columns are beautiful from the harmony of the most perfect workmanship, and the lapse of twenty centuries, which adds to their grandeur, and the awe they inspire. The eye can never tire with mounting with them in the air, and following their descent. They present I know not what appearance of animated life, that creates a pleasing illusion, an elegant shape, a noble stature, and a majestic head, round which the acanthus, with leaves at once so flexible and so superb, forms a crown; which, like that of kings, serves the double purpose of decorating the august head to which it gives a splendour, and disguising the immense weight that loads it. How richly does architecture, which creates such monuments, merit a place among the fine arts!”

The light, as we have before observed, is admitted only by a circular opening in the dome, which is twenty-eight feet in diameter180. Through this aperture a flood of light diffuses itself over the whole edifice, producing a sublime effect, but only showing all its beauties by permitting every passing shower to deluge its gorgeous pavement. The rain is carried off by a drain to the Tiber; but from the low situation of the building in the Campus Martius, the waters of the Tiber, when it is swollen, find their way up the drain, and flood the interior. Myriads of beetles, scorpions, worms, rats and mice, may then be seen retreating before the waters, as they gradually rise from the circumference to the centre of [Pg 278]the area, which is a little elevated above the rest of it. “A beautiful effect,” says Dr. Burton, “is produced by visiting the building on these occasions at night, when the moon is reflected upon the water, through the aperture of the dome.”

“The Pantheon retains its majestic portico,” says Mr. Eustace, “and presents its graceful dome uninjured; the pavement, laid by Agrippa, and trodden by Augustus, still forms its floor; the compartments and fluted pillars of the richest marble, that originally lined its walls, still adorn its inward circumference; the deep tints that age has thrown over it, only contribute to raise its dignity, and augment our veneration; and the traveller enters its portal, through which twice twenty generations have flowed in succession, with a mixture of awe and religious veneration. Yet the Pantheon itself has been ‘shorn of its beams,’ and looks eclipsed through the ‘disastrous twilight of eighteen centuries.’”

Augustus dwelt at first181 near the Roman Forum, in a house which had belonged to the orator Calvus; afterwards on the Palatine, but in the moderate house of Hortensius, which was not conspicuous, either for extent or ornament; it had some porticoes of Alban columns, and rooms without any marble or remarkable pavement. For more than forty years he occupied the same chamber, in winter and in summer; and although he found the city by no means favourable to his health in the winter, yet he constantly passed the winter in it. After the palace had been accidentally destroyed by fire, Augustus had it rebuilt, as we are told, and ordered it to be entirely opened to the public. This edifice was called Palatium, from the name of the hill on which it stood; and that being afterwards applied to the residence [Pg 279]of the Roman emperors, it has passed into most of the languages of Europe, as the common appellation of a princely mansion.

It was under the immediate successors of Augustus that the Palatine rose in splendour, till it eclipsed all that we read of magnificence in the history of the ancient world. The imperial possessors of this proud eminence seem to have regarded it as a theatre for their amusement; and upon it their “gorgeous tyranny” was amply displayed, in the vast and costly structures which they erected for the gratification of their personal pleasure or caprice.

This palace received many additions by Tiberius, Caligula, and Domitian; and, finally, by Nero; from whom it was called “the golden house of Nero.” It is thus described by Salmon, from Suetonius, Tacitus, and other writers:—“From the remains in the back part of the Palatine-hill, the ancient palace of Nero, from its great extent and vast size, was no less difficult to be inhabited than it is for us to believe its magnificence. It was built by the famous architects Severus and Cererus. In the vestibule or principal entrance was the colossal statue of Nero, of bronze. It was one hundred and twenty feet high, of excellent workmanship, by Zenodorus, who was sent for from Gaul for the purpose. It was restored by Vespasian, and dedicated to the sun. The emperor added the rays, which were twenty-two feet and a half in length. In the porticos were three galleries supported by large columns, which extended a mile in length. This palace enclosed all the Palatine-hill, together with the plain between the Palatine and the Cælius, and part of the Esquiline mount near to the garden of Mæcenas. It was raised on large columns of marble carried on a level from the Palatine to the Esquiline. The superb entrance was facing the Via Sacra. Nero, in order to execute this[Pg 280] design, destroyed the houses of many of the citizens, which occasioned the saying, that Rome consisted of one house. Tacitus writes, that when Rome was in flames seven days and nights, it was not to be extinguished till all the buildings about the Palatine were burnt. Where the amphitheatre now stands, Nero formed a lake to resemble the sea, with edifices around it similar to a city, together with extensive gardens and walks, and places for wild beasts, vineyards, &c. In the palace were a great number of halls, and an innumerable quantity of rooms, galleries, and statues, resplendent in every part with gold, gems, and precious stones; from which circumstance it acquired the name of the golden house. Many of the rooms destined for public feasts were very spacious, with most beautiful ceilings, which turned round in such a manner that from various parts there fell flowers and exquisite odours. The principal hall where Nero supped was circular, and of such art, that the ceiling was ornamented with stars to resemble the heavens, in conformity to which it continually revolved night and day. Birds of silver were carved in the other ceilings with surprising art. Amulius, a celebrated artist, was employed during the whole of his life to paint this palace. The tables were of ivory, the floors of the rooms were intersected with works in gold compartments of gems and mother-of-pearl: the marble, the bronze, the statues, and the richest of the tapestry, were beyond all description. When Nero went to inhabit it, he said, full of pride, ‘I now begin to be lodged like a man.’ Here, particularly, was a temple of Fortune, consecrated by Servius Tullius, and constructed by Nero, of a fine transparent alabaster, called fingites. This stone was brought from Cappadocia, and was so clear, that every object might be seen when the doors were shut, as if it were noon-day. In the gardens were[Pg 281] delightful baths, numerous fish-ponds and pastures, with all sorts of animals. Here were also baths of fresh and sea water. To erect these wonderful edifices Italy was ruined with impositions and burdens, and its temples spoiled of their precious ornaments, statues of gold and silver, as likewise great part of the empire. Tacitus writes in his Annals, that it was twice burned and rebuilt; that is, in the fire under Nero, and in the sixth year of Trajan. According to Dion, it was burnt the third time under the emperor Commodus; and, as he rebuilt it, it was called from him Colonia Commodiana. Various emperors, abhorring the excess of so much riches and luxury, removed the most valuable part, and employed it for the greater ornament of the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus. Antoninus Pius, detesting the extent of the palace, contented himself with the part called Tiberiana, and shut up the rest. All this magnificence, time, and especially the malignity of man, have destroyed, and cypresses, symbols of death and desolation, triumph on the ruins.”

Its present condition has been thus described by the poet:—

Cypress and ivy, weed and wallflower, grown Matted and massed together; hillocks heaped On what were chambers, arch crushed, column strown In fragments, choked-up vaults, and frescoes steeped In subterranean damps, where the owl peeped, Deeming it midnight: temples, baths, or halls? Pronounce who can; for all that learning reaped From her research hath been, that these are walls. Behold the Imperial Mount! ‘tis thus the mighty falls.

Arches were public buildings,182 designed for the reward and encouragement of noble enterprises, erected generally to the honour of such eminent persons as had either won a victory of extraordinary consequence abroad, or had rescued the commonwealth [Pg 282] at home from considerable danger. At first, they were plain and rude structures, by no means remarkable for beauty or state. But in later times no expenses were thought too great for the rendering them in the highest degree splendid and magnificent; nothing being more usual than to have the greatest actions of the heroes they stood to honour curiously expressed, or the whole procession of the triumph cut out on the sides. The arches built by Romulus were only of brick; that of Camillus, of plain square stone; but those of Cæsar, Drusus, Titus, Trajan, Gordian, &c., were entirely of marble.

The most distinguished of these arches are those of Titus and Septimius Severus. That of Gallienus is a mere gateway, and that of Drusus seems part of an aqueduct; yet, coarse as they are, each has its Corinthian columns, and pediments on a portion of the fronts. That of Constantine was erected after the defeat of Maxentius, and was so contrived that the music for the triumph might be placed in it. When the procession reached the arch, the band began to play, and continued till the whole had passed through.

The arch of Titus is situate on the eastern declivity of the Palatine Mount. It is so rich, that some regard it not as elegant. The entablature, the imposts, the key-stones, are all crowded with sculpture; yet all, according to the taste of Mr. Forsyth, are meagre in profile. It was erected by the senate, in gratitude to Titus for having conquered Judea and taken Jerusalem. It is, therefore, one of the most interesting monuments of ancient Rome; and so sensibly do the Jews still feel the injury, done to their nation, that none of them can be tempted to pass under it.

The triumph is represented on each side of the arch in oblong spaces, seven feet in height, and[Pg 283] nearly fourteen in length. The emperor appears in a triumphal car drawn by four horses,—Victory crowning him with a laurel. Rome is personified as a female. She conducts the horses; lictors, citizens, and soldiers, attending. On the opposite side is represented a procession, in which are carried, by persons crowned with laurel and bearing the Roman standards, various spoils taken at Jerusalem; such as the silver trumpets, the golden table, and the golden candlestick with seven branches.

The arch of Severus was erected in honour of the emperor Septimius, and his two sons Caracalla and Geta, on account of victories obtained over the Parthians. We know from history, says Dr. Burton, that he made two expeditions into the East; the first in 195, when he conquered Vologeses; the second in 199, when he took Ctesiphon, and the treasures of king Artabanus. Spartian tells us, that he triumphed after the first expedition; but refused the honour the second time, because he had the gout. His son triumphed in his stead; and it was upon this occasion that the arch was erected.

This triumphal arch consists of three; that is, a large one in the middle, and a smaller one on each side. These arches183 are not in a very pure style of architecture; but they are rich and handsome objects. Four projecting columns adorn each face, and the entablature bricks around each of them. Above the columns are supposed to have been statues; while, on the top, as we learn from coins, was a car drawn by six horses abreast, containing two persons in it, and having on each side an attendant on horseback, followed by one on foot. The material of the arch is marble; and each front is covered, between the columns, with bas-reliefs. These bas-reliefs illustrate the campaigns and victories, in commemoration of [Pg 284]which the arch was erected. But the whole series, says Dr. Burton, is in an indifferent style of sculpture, and presents but a poor idea of the state of the arts at that time. Mr. Wood, however, regards them, though bad in design as well as execution, as contributing to the magnificence of the edifice. Mr. Forsyth, however, is not given to indulge in respect to the architecture; for he says, that the composite starts so often and so “furiously” out, the poverty of its entablature meets you in so many points, as to leave no repose to the eye. Within the arch is a marble staircase, leading by fifty steps to the summit. The arch itself was half buried so late as the year 1803. Several excavations had been made; but the loose soil had slipped down, and quickly filled them up again. Pope Pius VII. was more successful in the attempt than his predecessors had been; and by the year 1804 the whole arch had been uncovered, and laid open down to the bottom.

The site of the temple of Romulus is now occupied by the church of San Teodoro, a small rotunda. The walls are of great antiquity, and marvellously perfect. In regard to the temple of Romulus and Remus, few buildings have occasioned more disputes. It is now the church of S.S. Cosimo e Damiano; the vestibule, several porphyry columns, and a bronze door of which are exceedingly ancient.

The temple of Vesta, erected by Numa, now forms part of the church of S. Maria del Sola. It is of Greek architecture, and surrounded by a portico of nineteen Corinthian columns, on a flight of steps, the whole of Parian marble. The roof was originally covered with bronze, brought from Syracuse; but that has, long since, been replaced by materials much less costly.

The temple of Minerva Medici stands in a garden[Pg 285] on the Esquiline-hill; it is round without, but forms a decagon within, and appears to have had ten windows, and nine niches for statues. Here were found statues of Æsculapius, Venus, Hercules, the Faun, and that of Minerva with the serpent.

The church Sa. Maria in Cosmedin is supposed to have been the temple of Puditia Patricia, or Chastity, which no plebeian was allowed to enter. Pope Adrian I. rebuilt this edifice in 728, retaining the cella, and many portions of the ancient temple.

A mean-looking church, called Sa. Maria d’ Ara Cœli, wholly devoid of external ornament, is supposed to stand on the site of the temple of Jupiter Feretrius. A flight of one hundred and twenty-four steps of marble, brought from the temple of Jupiter Quirinus, forms the ascent to it from the Campus Martius; the interior has twenty-two ancient columns of granite, and the whole appears to be an assemblage of fragments of other buildings. It was whilst musing in this church, “whilst the friars were singing vespers in the temple of Jupiter,” that Gibbon says he first conceived the idea of writing his immortal history.

The beautiful temple of Jupiter Tonans was erected by Augustus, in gratitude for his escape from lightning. Only three of the thirty columns of the portico now remain, together with a portion of the frieze. They are of Luna marble, four feet four inches in diameter, with Corinthian capitals, and appear originally to have been tinged with Tyrian purple.

During the time of Claudius, the very curious temple of Faunus was built upon the Celian mount. It was of circular form, and had internally two rows of Ionic columns, with arches springing immediately from the capitals. The upper windows had each a[Pg 286] column in the middle, with arches also springing from the capitals; and these two arches were enclosed by a semicircular arch, which had its springing upon the jambs of the windows; and, rising higher, left a considerable space between it and the two before-mentioned small arches, in which space was a circular opening. This is particularly noticed as an early and distinct type of what was afterwards named Saxon, Norman, and Gothic.

The temple of Concord was the place in which Lentulus and other confederates of Catiline were brought before the senate in order to be tried, and whence they were taken to the Mamertine prisons. “For my own part,” says Middleton, “as oft as I have been wandering about in the very rostra of old Rome, or in that of the temple of Concord, where Tully assembled the senate in Catiline’s conspiracy, I could not help fancying myself much more sensible of the force of his eloquence; whilst the impression of the place served to warm my imagination to a degree almost equal to that of his old audience.” Of late years, however, these ruins have been ascribed to the temple of Fortune, burnt in the time of Maxentius, the competitor of Constantine.

The temple of Fortune was, for a long time, taken for the temple of Concord. Its portico is nearly complete; consisting of six granite columns in front, and two behind, supporting an entablature and pediment. The columns all vary in diameter, and have bases and capitals of white marble. From this circumstance it is conjectured that it was erected with the spoils of other buildings; their original temple, burnt in the time of Maxentius, having been rebuilt by Constantine.

The temple of Nerva was erected by Trajan. It was one of the finest edifices of ancient Rome; but[Pg 287] all that now remains of it is a cella, and three fine columns of Parian marble, fifty feet in height, supporting an architrave.

The temple of Peace184, erected by Vespasian, was enriched with spoils from Jerusalem. This temple is related to have been one of the most magnificent in Rome: it was encircled with a coating of gilt bronze, and adorned with stupendous columns of white marble; it was also enriched with some of the finest sculptures and paintings of which the ancient world could boast185. Among the former was a colossal statue of the Nile, surrounded by sixteen children, cut out of one block of basalt; among the latter was the famous picture of Jalysus, painted by Protogenes of Rhodes. Here, too, were deposited the candlesticks, and some other of the spoils, which Titus brought from Jerusalem. There was also a curious library attached to the edifice.

Three immense arches, which rank amongst the most remarkable remains in Rome, are all that are left of this once stupendous structure, which, until lately, was supposed to be the temple of Peace, erected by Vespasian at the close of the Judean war. But the great degeneracy of the workmanship, and its being wholly unlike all erections of that nature, has led to the opinion that the remains are neither of the time of Vespasian, nor those of the temple, which, with all the immense treasures it contained, was destroyed by fire, about one hundred years after its erection; but of a Basilica186, erected by Maxentius [Pg 288]on the ruins of the temple, and converted by Constantine into a Christian church. The stupendous proportions of this structure are shown by the three vaulted roofs, each seventy-five feet across, which rise above the surrounding buildings in huge but not ungainly masses. The vault of the middle arch, which is placed further back, forms part of a sphere; the side ones are cylindrical; all are ornamented with sunk panels of stucco-work. The church appears to have consisted of a nave and two aisles, divided by enormous pillars of marble, one of which now stands in front of the church of La Maria Maggiore. It is of a single block, of forty-eight feet in height, and sixteen and a half in circumference.

Of the fine temple, di Venere e Roma,187 the cella of each deity remains, with the niches, in which were their statues, and a portion of one of the side walls, which prove it to have been of vast size, great magnificence, and a chef-d’œuvre of architecture. The emperor Adrian himself drew the plans, which he submitted to Apollodorus, whose opinion respecting them is said to have been the cause of his untimely death. The temples, although they had each a separate entrance and cella, formed but one edifice; the substructure of which, having been recently excavated, is found to have been three hundred and thirty by one hundred and sixty feet. A noble flight of steps, discovered at the same time, between the arch of Titus and the church of St. Francesco, formed the approach of the Forum, which front, as well as that towards the Coliseum, was adorned with columns of Parian marble, six feet in diameter; and the whole was surrounded by a portico, [Pg 289] with a double row of columns of grey granite. The walls and pavement of the interior were incrusted with fine marble, and the roof richly gilt.

The Temple of Antoninus was erected by Marcus Aurelius in 178, in memory of Antoninus and his consort Faustina. The original portico, consisting of ten Corinthian columns of Cippolino marble, and a portion of the temple itself, now form the church of S. Lorenzo in Miranda.

The column of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus was erected by the senate in honour of that illustrious emperor. Bassi-rilievi run spirally from the bottom to the top, representing the Marcomannian war. It is composed of twenty-six blocks of Parian marble, and is one hundred and twenty-three feet in height. The statue of the emperor once stood on its summit, but it has been replaced by that of St. Paul.

This leads us to speak of the great statue of the same emperor. The horse was so greatly admired by Michael Angelo, that when he first saw it, he looked at it in silence for some time, and then said, “Go on!” “This great statue of Marcus Aurelius,” says Mr. Forsyth, “or rather of his horse, which was once the idol of Rome, is now a subject of contention. Some critics find the proportions of the animal false, and his attitude impossible. One compares his head to an owl, another his belly to a cow’s, but the well-known apostrophe of a third (Michael Angelo) will ever prevail in your first impressions. The spirit and fire of the general figure will seduce the most practised eye. Ancient sculptors, intent only on man, are supposed to have neglected the study of animals; and we certainly find very rude accessories affixed to some exquisite antiques. Perhaps they affected such contrasts as strike us in the work of the Faun and his panther, the Meleager and his dogs, the Apollo and his swans, where the[Pg 290] accessory serves as a foil. The horse, however, comes so frequently into heroic subjects, that the greatest artists of antiquity must have made him their particular study, and we are told that they did so; but it were unfair to judge of their excellence from this bruised and unfortunate animal.”

This celebrated statue is the only one of bronze of all that adorned the city in ancient times. It has been called, at different periods, by the names of Lucius Verus, Septimius Severus, and Constantine. It was placed in its present position by Paul III. in 1538, being then removed from before the church of St. John Lateran. A bunch of flowers is said to be presented every year to the chapter of St. John, as an acknowledgment, that the statue belongs to them; but this Sir John Hobhouse denies. The statue was originally gilt; the coating laid on, according to the practice of the ancients, in very thick leaves; and some traces of it may still be observed.

We now turn to the Coliseum. The shows of wild beasts were in general designed for the honour of Diana, the patroness of hunting. For this purpose, no cost was spared to fetch the different creatures from the farthest parts of the world.

Part in laden vessels came, Borne on the rougher waves, or gentler stream; The fainting man let fall his trembling oar, And the pale master feared the freight he bore.

And shortly after,

All that with potent teeth command the plain, All that run horrid with erected mane, Or proud of stately horns, or bristling hair, At once the forest’s ornament and fear; Torn from their deserts by the Roman power, Nor strength can save, nor craggy dens secure.

Some creatures were presented merely as strange sights and rarities; as crocodiles, and several outlandish [Pg 291] birds and beasts: others for the combat, as lions, tigers, leopards, &c. We may reckon up three sorts of diversions with the beasts, which all went under the common name of Venatio:—The first, when the people were permitted to run after the beasts, and catch what they could for their own use; the second, when the beasts fought with one another; and the last, when they were brought out to engage with men.188

The fights between beasts were exhibited with great variety; sometimes a tiger was matched with a lion; sometimes a lion with a bull; a bull with an elephant; a rhinoceros with a bear, &c. But the most wonderful sight was, when by bringing water into the amphitheatre, huge sea-monsters were introduced to combat with wild beasts:—

No sylvan monsters we alone have view’d, But huge sea calves, dyed red with hostile blood Of bears, lie floundering in the wondrous flood. Calphurn. Eclog. vii.

The men, that engaged with wild beasts, had the common name of Bestiarii. Some of these were condemned persons; others hired themselves at a set pay, like the Gladiators; and like them, too, had their schools where they were instructed and initiated in such combats. We find several of the nobility and gentry many times voluntarily undertaking a part in these encounters; and Juvenal acquaints us, that the very women were ambitious of showing their courage on the like occasions, though with the forfeiture of their modesty.

One of the best accounts of this wonderful edifice, is that given in Burford’s account of the Panorama painted by himself, and now (1839,) exhibiting in Leicester Square, London. “The far-famed amphitheatre of Vespasian, or, as it is more generally called, [Pg 292]the Coliseum, is one of the most extraordinary and massive works, that Rome, or any other country, ever produced; and forms one of the most surprising, and intensely interesting, objects of attraction amongst the many gigantic remains of that ancient city. In whatever way it is viewed, whether as regards its immense size, the solidity of its structure, the simplicity and harmony of its architecture, the grace and beauty of its proportions, or its internal arrangement and convenience, it equally strikes the mind with wonder and admiration; and is universally admitted to be one of the noblest remains of antiquity in the world. Placed at some distance from the gorgeous churches, extensive palaces, and busy streets of modern Rome, it stands alone in solitary dignity and gloomy contrast; elevating its stupendous masses from above the surrounding ruins of the imperial city; a striking image of Rome itself in its present state, erect on the one side, fallen on the other; half grey, half green, deserted and decaying; a splendid and melancholy monument of past greatness; and no monument of human power, no memorial of departed ages, ever spoke more forcibly to the heart, or awakened feelings so powerful, and unutterable. The Coliseum was commenced by Flavius Vespasian, in the year 72, as a triumphal memorial of his victories in Judea; and it also served to perpetuate the recollection of the many horrid cruelties, committed by the conquering Romans during that war. It was erected, according to Martial and Pliny, on the spot formerly occupied by a lake or fish-pond, in the gardens of Nero’s golden house, then nearly the centre of the city. Twelve thousand Jewish prisoners, reduced to slavery, were employed on the work; and when it is considered, that so large and solid an edifice was completed in little more than four years, it becomes[Pg 293] clearly evident, that the utmost cruelty and oppression must have been resorted to, to compel these unfortunates to complete the task. Titus, the son of Vespasian, finished the building; and on its dedication exhibited shows and games for one hundred days, during which numbers of gladiators were killed, and five thousand wild beasts were torn to pieces in the arena.”

This vast amphitheatre is of an elliptical shape, which gives it great powers of resistance. According to the best and most recent measurement, it must be about one thousand one hundred and eighty eight feet in external circumference, the long axis being six hundred and twenty-eight, the short five hundred and forty, and the total height one hundred and sixty feet.189 The whole is a vast mixed mass of enormous blocks of stone and bricks, (probably portions of the golden palace), metal and cement, which have become so hardened by time, as to be like solid rock. The exterior was entirely of calcareous tufa of Tivoli, called travertine, a fine hard and white stone. It presents a series of three ranges of open arcades, so airy and correct in their proportions, that the building does not appear so large as it really is. Each tier consisted of thirty arches; the columns between which, together with the entablatures, displaying different orders of architecture, the lowest being Doric, the second Ionic, and the third Corinthian, surmounted by an attic story, with Composite pilasters, and forty windows. The two upper tiers of arches, which have the remains of pedestals for statues in them, admitted light to the various ambulacra or corridors, which were quadrangular at the [Pg 294]base, diminishing in number and size as they ascended, and terminating in a single passage at the top. The lowest tier of arches were the entrances, seventy-six of which were for the emperor, finely ornamented; one for the spectators, of various denominations; and one for the consuls, senators, &c.; and two for the gladiators, animals, &c. These entrances led to the various staircases by which the populace gained the different dormitories, and descended by narrow flights of steps, to the graduated ranges of seats. Altogether there were one hundred and sixty staircases: that is,—to the first floor, sixty-four; to the second, fifty-two; to the third, sixteen; to the fourth, twenty-four; and four to the extreme top, for the workmen. In the four ambulacra on the ground floor, were shops, taverns, stables, and rooms for refreshments, and places where perfumes were burned. There was also a fifth, or private passage, under the pulvinar, for the use of the emperor, which communicated subterraneously with the palace. In the tier above were twenty-two small vaulted chambers, called fornices, devoted to the sensual pleasures of the privileged classes.

It is impossible to say at what period the amphitheatre was first suffered to decay. The sanguinary exhibitions of the gladiators were abolished in the reign of Honorius, at the commencement of the fifth century; yet so late as 1632, it must have been perfect, as bull-fights, and other games, were at that time exhibited. A great portion of the southern side was demolished by order of Paul III., it is said at the recommendation of Michael Angelo, to furnish materials for the Farnese palace for his nephew, and the complaints of the populace alone saved it from total demolition. It has however since suffered frequently from similar depredations of worse than Goths and Vandals, so that

[Pg 295]

“From its mass, Walls, palaces, half cities have been rear’d.”

These robberies have now ceased; Benedict XIV. having, by the erection of a series of altars in the arena, made the whole consecrated ground; a most efficient protection against the ravages of modern barbarism. Pius has also erected a massive buttress against the weakest end, and repaired some parts of the interior. Thus, after a lapse of nearly eighteen centuries, having frequently suffered from earthquakes, storms, and fire; having been several times battered as a fortress, during the civil contentions of the middle ages; defaced as a quarter for soldiers; used as a manufactory, and worked as a quarry, it still remains a miracle of human labour and ingenuity, and is, even in its present state, one of the noblest remains of antiquity, and the most wonderful monument of Roman magnificence. Solitary and desolated, it is still grand and imposing; the rich hues which time has overspread its venerable fragments with, the luxuriant clusters of vegetation, and the graceful drapery of numerous beautiful creepers, festooning from the rifted arches, and broken arcades, whilst assimilating with the general character, add an indescribable richness and variety to the whole, that has a powerful effect on the mind of the spectator.

When the whole amphitheatre was entire190, a child might comprehend its design in a moment, and go direct to his place without straying in the porticoes; for each arcade bears its number engraved, and opposite each arcade was a staircase. This multiplicity of wide, straight, and separate passages, proves the attention which the ancients paid to the safe discharge of a crowd.191 As it now stands, the Coliseum is a striking image of Rome itself;—decayed, vacant, serious; yet grand:—half grey, and half green; erect [Pg 296]on one side and fallen on the other, with consecrated ground in its bosom, inhabited by a herdsman; visited by every caste: for moralists, antiquaries, painters, architects, devotees, all meet here to meditate, to examine, to draw, to measure, and to copy.

The figure of the Coliseum was an ellipse, whose longer diameter was about six hundred and fifteen English feet, and the shorter five hundred and ten feet. The longer diameter of the arena, or space within, was about two hundred and eighty-one feet, and the shorter one hundred and seventy-six feet, leaving the circuit for seats and galleries, of about one hundred and fifty-seven feet in breadth. The outward circumference when complete was about seventeen hundred and seventy-two feet, covering a surface of about two hundred and forty-six thousand, six hundred and sixty-one feet, or something more than five acres and a half. When some pilgrims192 who journeyed to Rome beheld this vast amphitheatre, they are said to have exclaimed, “As long as the Coliseum stands, Rome shall stand; when the Coliseum falls, Rome will fall; and when Rome falls, the world will fall.”

193It is impossible to contemplate without horror the dreadful scenes of carnage which for two hundred and fifty years disgraced the amphitheatre, or to regard without utter detestation the character of the people who took pleasure in spectacles of such monstrous brutality. We may form some idea of the myriads of men and animals destroyed in these houses of slaughter, from one instance which is recorded by Dio. He informs us that after the triumph of Trajan over the Dacians, spectacles were exhibited for one hundred and twenty-three days, in which eleven thousand animals were killed, and one thousand gladiators were matched against each other. Nor was it only malefactors, captives, and slaves, that were [Pg 297]doomed to contend in these dreadful games: free-born citizens hired themselves as gladiators, men of noble birth sometimes degraded themselves so far as to fight on the stage for the amusement of their countrymen,—even women, ladies too of high rank, forgetting the native delicacy and the feebleness of their sex, strove on the arena for the prize of valour for the honour of adroitness in murder. A people thus inured to blood, were prepared for every villainy; nor is it possible to read of the enormities which disgraced the transactions of the later Romans, without ascribing them in a great measure to the ferocity of temper, fostered by the shocking amusements of the amphitheatre.

“The Coliseo,” says Dupaty, “is unquestionably the most admirable monument of the Roman power under the Cæsars. From its vast circuit, from the multitude of stones of which it is formed, from that union of columns of every order, which rise up one above the other, in a circular form, to support three rows of porticoes; from all the dimensions, in a word, of this prodigious edifice, we instantly recognise the work of a people, sovereigns of the universe, and slaves of an emperor. I wandered long around the Coliseo, without venturing, if I may so say, to enter it: my eyes surveyed it with admiration and awe. Not more than one half of this vast edifice at present is standing; yet the imagination may still add what has been destroyed, and complete the whole. At length I entered within its precincts. What an astonishing scene! What contrasts! What a display of ruins, and of all the parts of the monument, of every form, every age, and, as I may say, every year; some bearing the marks of the hand of time, and others of the hand of the barbarian. These crumbled down yesterday, those a few days before, a great number on the point of falling, and some, in[Pg 298] short, which are falling from one moment to another. Here we see a tottering portico, there a falling entablament, and further on, a seat; while, in the meanwhile, the ivy, the bramble, the moss, and various plants, creep amongst these ruins, grow, and insinuate themselves; and, taking root in the cement, are continually detaching, separating, and reducing to powder these enormous masses; the work of ages, piled on each other by the will of an emperor, and the labour of a hundred thousand slaves. There was it then that gladiators, martyrs, and slaves, combated on the Roman festivals, only to make the blood circulate a little quicker in the veins of a hundred thousand idle spectators. I thought I still heard the roaring of the lions, the sighs of the dying, the voice of the executioners, and what would strike my ear with still greater horror, the applauses of the Romans. I thought I heard them, by these applauses, encouraging and demanding carnage; the men requiring still more blood from the combatants; and the women, more mercy for the dying. I imagined I beheld one of these women, young and beautiful, on the fall of a gladiator, rise from her seat and with an eye which had just caressed a lover, welcome, or repel, find fault with, or applaud, the last sigh of the vanquished, as if she had paid for it.

“But what a change has taken place in this arena! In the middle stands a crucifix, and all round this crucifix, at equal distances, fourteen altars, consecrated to different saints, are erected in the dens, which once contained the wild beasts. The Coliseo was daily hastening to destruction; the stones were carried off, and it was constantly disfigured, and made the receptacle of filth; when Benedict XIV. conceived the idea of saving this noble monument by consecrating it; by defending it with altars, and protecting it with indulgences. These walls, these[Pg 299] columns, and these porticoes, have now no other support but the names of those very martyrs with whose blood they were formerly stained. I walked through every part of the Coliseo; I ascended into all its different stories; and sat down in the box of the emperors. I shall long remember the silence and solitude that reigned through these galleries, along these ranges of seats, and under these vaulted porticoes. I stopped from time to time to listen to the echo of my feet in walking. I was delighted, too, with attending to a certain faint rustling, more sensible to the soul than to the ear, occasioned by the hand of time, which is continually at work, and undermining the Coliseo on every side. What pleasure did I not enjoy, too, in observing how the day gradually retired, and the night as gradually advanced over the arcades, spreading her lengthening shadows. At length I was obliged to retire; with my mind, however, filled with and absorbed in a thousand ideas, a thousand sensations, which can only arise among these ruins, and which these ruins in some degree inspire. Where are the five thousand wild beasts that tore each other to pieces, on the day on which this mighty pile was opened? Silent now are those unnatural shouts of applause, called forth by the murderous fights of the gladiators:—What a contrast to this death of sound!”

“Ascending among the ruins,” says Mr. Williams, “we took our station where the whole magnitude of the Coliseum was visible. What a fulness of mind the first glance excited; yet how inexpressible, at the same time, were our feelings! The awful silence of this dread ruin still appealed to our hearts. The single sentinel’s tread, and the ticking of our watches, were the only sounds we heard, while the moon was marching in the vault of night, and the stars were peeping through the various[Pg 300] openings; the shadows of the flying clouds being all that reminded us of life and of motion.”

The manner, in which the traveller should survey the curiosities of Rome, must be determined by the length of time which he can afford for that purpose. “There are two modes of seeing Rome,” says Mr. Mathews; “the topographical, followed by Vasi, who parcels out the town into eight divisions, and jumbles every thing together,—antiquities, churches, and palaces, if their situation be contiguous; and the chronological,—which would carry you regularly from the house of Romulus to the palace of the reigning pontiff. The first mode is the most expeditious, and the least expensive; for even if the traveller walk afoot, the economy of time is worth considering; and after all that can be urged in favour of the chronological order, on the score of reason, Vasi’s plan is perhaps the best. For all that is worth seeing at all is worth seeing twice. Vasi’s mode hurries you through every thing; but it enables you to select and note down those objects that are worthy of public examination, and these may be afterwards studied at leisure. Of the great majority of sights it must be confessed that all we obtain for our labour is the knowledge that they are not worth seeing;—but this is a knowledge, that no one is willing to receive upon the authority of another, and Vasi’s plan offers a most expeditious mode of arriving at this truth by one’s own proper experience. His plan is, however, too expeditious; for he would get through the whole town, with all its wonders, ancient and modern, in eight days!”

Expeditious as it is, some of our indefatigable countrymen have contrived to hit upon one still more so. You may tell them that the antiquaries allow eight days for the tour, and they will boast of having beaten the antiquaries, and “done it in[Pg 301] six.” This rapid system may do, or rather must do, for those who have no time for any other; but to the traveller who wishes to derive instruction and profit from his visit, a more leisurely survey is essential. “For my own part,” says Mr. Woods, “the first eight days I spent in Rome were all hurry and confusion, and I could attend to nothing systematically, nor even examine any thing with accuracy; a sort of restless eagerness to see every thing and know every thing, gave me no power of fixing my attention on any one particular.”

We must now close our account: not that we have by any means exhausted the subject, for it demands volumes and years; whereas our space is limited, and our time is short. We shall, therefore, devote the remainder of our space and time to the impressions with which the ruins of this city have been viewed by several elegant and accomplished travellers.

“At length I behold Rome,” said Dupaty. “I behold that theatre, where human nature has been all that it can ever be, has performed every thing it can perform, has displayed all the virtues, exhibited all the vices, brought forth the sublimest heroes, and the most execrable monsters, has been elevated to a Brutus, degraded to a Nero, and re-ascended to a Marcus Aurelius.”

“Even those who have not read at all,” says Dr. Burton, “know, perhaps, more of the Romans than of any other nation194 which has figured in the world. If we prefer modern history to ancient, we still find Rome in every page; and if we look with composure upon an event so antiquated as the fall of the Roman empire, we cannot, as Englishmen, or as protestants, contemplate with indifference the sacred empire which Rome erected over the minds and consciences of men. Without making any invidious allusion, it may be [Pg 302]said that this second empire has nearly passed away; so that, in both points of view, we have former recollections to excite our curiosity.”

“Neither the superb structures,” says Sir John Hobhouse, “nor the happy climate, have made Rome the country of every man, and ‘the city of the soul.’ The education, which has qualified the traveller of every nation for that citizenship, prepares enjoyments for him at Rome, independent of the city and inhabitants about him, and of all the allurements of site and climate. He will already people the banks of the Tiber with the shades of Pompey, Constantine, and Belisarius, and other heroes. The first footsteps within the venerable walls will have shown him the name and magnificence of Augustus, and the three long narrow streets, branching from the obelisk in the centre of the Piazza del Popolo, like the theatre of Palladio, will have imposed upon his fancy with an air of antiquity congenial to the soil. Even the mendicants of the country asking alms in Latin prayers, and the vineyard gates of the suburbs, inscribed with the ancient language, may be allowed to contribute to the agreeable delusion.”

“What,” says Chateaubriand, gazing on the ruins of Rome by moonlight, “what was doing here eighteen centuries ago, at a like hour of night? Not only has ancient Italy vanished, but the Italy of the middle ages is also gone. Nevertheless, the traces of both are plainly marked at Rome. If this modern city vaunts her St. Peter’s, ancient Rome opposes her Pantheon and all her ruins; if the one marshals from the Capitol her consuls and emperors, the other arrays her long succession of pontiffs. The Tiber divides the rival glories; seated in the same dust, pagan Rome sinks faster and faster into decay, and Christian Rome is gradually re-descending into the catacombs whence she issued.”

What says Lord Byron in regard to this celebrated[Pg 303] city?—“I am delighted with Rome. As a whole—ancient and modern—it beats Greece, Constantinople, every thing,—at least that I have seen. As for the Coliseum, Pantheon, St. Peter’s, the Vatican, &c. &c., they are quite inconceivable, and must be seen.”

We close this article with a fine passage from Middleton’s Life of Cicero:—“One cannot help reflecting on the surprising fate and revolutions of kingdoms; how Rome, once the mistress of the world, the seat of arts, empire, and glory, now lies sunk in sloth, ignorance, and poverty, enslaved to the most cruel, as well as the most contemptible of tyrants, superstition and religious imposture; while this remote country, anciently the jest and contempt of the polite Romans, is become the happy seat of liberty, plenty, and letters; flourishing in all the arts and refinements of civil life; yet running, perhaps, the same course which Rome itself had run before,—from virtuous industry to wealth; from wealth to luxury; from luxury to an impatience of discipline and corruption of morals; till, by a total degeneracy and loss of virtue, being grown ripe for destruction, it falls a prey at last to some hardy oppressor; and, with the loss of liberty, losing every thing that is valuable, sinks gradually again into original barbarism.”

See the wild waste of all-devouring years: How Rome her own sad sepulchre appears! With nodding arches, broken temples spread! The very tombs now vanish’d like their dead! Imperial wonders raised on nations spoil’d, Where mix’d with slaves the groaning martyr toil’d: Huge theatres, that now unpeopled woods, Now drain’d a distant country of her floods: Fanes, which admiring gods with pride survey, Statues of men, scarce less alive than they!195 Pope’s Epistle to Addison.

[Pg 304]


Proud and cruel nation! every thing must be yours, and at your disposal! You are to prescribe to us with whom we shall make war; with whom we shall make peace! You are to set bounds; to shut us up between hills and rivers: but you—you are not to observe the limits which yourselves have fixed. Pass not the Iberus. What next? Touch not the Saguntines. Saguntum is upon the Iberus; move not a step towards that city.


Saguntum was a celebrated city of Hispania Taraconensis, on the west side of the Iberus, about a mile from the sea-shore. It was founded by a colony of Zacynthians, and by some of the Rutili of Ardea196.

Saguntum, according to Livy, acquired immense riches, partly from its commerce both by land and sea, and partly from its just laws and excellent police.

Saguntum was under the protection of the Romans, if not numbered amongst its cities; and when by a treaty made between that people and the Carthaginians, the latter were permitted to carry their arms as far as the Iberus, this city was excepted.

The moment Hannibal was created general, he [Pg 305]lost no time, for fear of being prevented by death, as his father had been. Though the Spaniards had so much advantage over him, with regard to the number of forces, their army amounting to upwards of one hundred thousand men, yet he chose his time and posts so happily, that he entirely defeated them. After this every thing submitted to his arms. But he still forbore laying siege to Saguntum, carefully avoiding every occasion of a rupture with the Romans, till he should be furnished with all things necessary for so important an enterprise;—pursuant to the advice of his father. He applied himself particularly to engage the affections of the citizens and allies, and to gain their confidence, by allotting them a large share of the plunder taken from the enemy, and by paying them all their arrears.

The Saguntines, on their side, sensible of the danger with which they were threatened, from the continued successes of Hannibal, advertised the Romans of them. Upon this, deputies were nominated by the latter, and ordered to go and take a personal information upon the spot; they commanded them also to lay their complaints before Hannibal, if it should be thought proper; and in case he should refuse to do justice, that then they should go directly to Carthage, and make the same complaints. In the meantime, Hannibal laid siege to Saguntum, promising himself great advantages from the taking of this city. He was persuaded that this would deprive the Romans of all hopes of carrying the war into Spain; that this new conquest would secure the old ones; and that no enemy would be left behind him; that he should find money enough in it for the execution of his designs; that the plunder of the city would inspire his soldiers with great ardour, and make them follow him with greater cheerfulness; and that, lastly, the spoils which he should send to[Pg 306] Carthage would gain him the favour of the citizens. Animated by these motives, he carried on the siege with the utmost vigour.

News was soon carried to Rome, that Saguntum was besieged. But the Romans, instead of flying to its relief, lost their time in fruitless debates, and equally insignificant disputations. The Saguntines were now reduced to the last extremity, and in want of all things. An accommodation was thereupon proposed; but the conditions on which it was offered, appeared so harsh, that the Saguntines could not so much as think of accepting them. Before they gave their final answer, the principal senators, bringing their gold and silver, and that of the public treasury, into the market-place, threw both into a fire, lighted for that purpose, and afterwards themselves! At the same time, a tower which had been long assaulted by the battering-rams, falling with a dreadful noise, the Carthaginians entered the city by the breach, and soon made themselves masters of it, and cut to pieces all the inhabitants, who were of sufficient age to bear arms.

“Words,” says Polybius, “could never express the grief and consternation with which the news of the taking, and cruel fate of Saguntum, was received at Rome. Compassion for an unfortunate city, shame for their having failed to succour such faithful allies, a just indignation against the Carthaginians, the authors of all these calamities; the strong alarms, raised by the successes of Hannibal, whom the Romans fancied they saw already at their gates; all these sentiments were so violent, that, during the first moments of them, the Romans were unable to come to any resolution, or do any thing, but give way to the torrent of their passion, and sacrifice floods of tears to the memory of a city, which lay in ruins because of its inviolable fidelity to the Romans,[Pg 307] and had been betrayed by their imprudent delays, and unaccountable indolence. When they were a little recovered, an assembly of the people was called, and war unanimously declared against the people of Carthage.”

The conqueror afterwards rebuilt it, and placed a garrison there, with all the noblemen whom he had detained as hostages, from the several neighbouring nations of Spain197.

The city remained in a deplorable state of distress under the Carthaginians, till the year of Rome 538, when Scipio, having humbled the power of Carthage in Spain, in process of time recovered Saguntum, and made it, as Pliny says, “a new city.” By the Romans it was treated with every kind of distinction; but at some period, not ascertained by historians, it was reduced to ruins.

The city of Morviedro is supposed to be situated on the ruins of Saguntum; the name of which being derived from Muri veteres, Muros viejos, “old walls.” It abounds with vestiges of antiquity. Several Celtiberian and Roman inscriptions are seen; but of all the numerous statues that the temples, and other public edifices of Saguntum once had, only one remains, of white marble, without a head; besides the fragment of another.

The traces of the walls of its circus are, nevertheless, still discernible; though its mosaic pavement is destroyed. A greater portion of the theatre remains than of any other Roman monument.

A writer on Spanish antiquities in 1684, gives the following account of this city, whereby we may learn that at that time there were many more remains of antiquity then there are at present. “The Roman inscriptions,” says he, “that are scattered up and down in the public and private buildings, and the [Pg 308]medals and other monuments of antiquity, that have been found there, being endless, I shall only present my reader with that which is over one of the gates of the town, in honour of the emperor Claudius:—


“And upon another gate, near the cathedral, is a head of Hannibal, cut in stone. From hence, if you mount still higher up the rock, you come to an amphitheatre, which has twenty-six rows of seats one above another, all cut in the rock; and in the other parts the arches are so thick and strong, that they are little inferior to the rock itself. There are remains of prodigious aqueducts, and numbers of vast cisterns under ground. As this country has been celebrated by Titus Livius, and Polybius, for its fertility, I shall take notice of one or two of its productions, which are peculiar to it. First then, the winter figs, which Pliny speaks of, are to be met with in great perfection at this day; and are almost as remarkable for their flavour and sweetness, as for their hanging upon the trees in the middle of the winter. Their pears also have a higher reputation than any others. There are cherry-trees that are full of fine fruit in January: and in a place near Canet, about half a league off, they raised a melon that weighed thirty pounds198.”


Sais stands on the eastern side of the Nile, near the place where a canal, passing across the Delta, joins the Pelusiac with the Canopic branch of the Nile.

[Pg 309]

It was the metropolis of Lower Egypt; and its inhabitants were, originally, an Athenian colony.

At this place there was a temple dedicated to Minerva, who is supposed to be the same as Isis, with the following inscription:—“I am whatever hath been, and is, and shall be; no mortal hath yet pierced through the veil that shrouds me.”

In this city Osiris is said to have been buried. “They have a tomb at Sais,” says Herodotus, “of a certain personage, whom I do not think myself permitted to specify. It is behind the Temple of Minerva, and is continued by the whole length of the wall of that building: around this are many large obelisks, near which is a lake, whose banks are lined with stone. It is of a circular form, and, I should think, as large as that of Delos, which is called Trochoeides.”

To name this “personage” seems to have been an act carefully to be avoided. How very sacred the ancients deemed their mysteries appears from the following passage in Apollonius Rhodius:—

“To Samothrace, Electra’s isle, they steer: That there, initiated in rights divine, Safe might they sail the navigable brine. But Muse, presume not of those rights to tell. Farewell, dread isle, dire deities, farewell! Let not my verse these mysteries explain; To name is impious, to reveal profane.”

In this temple (that of Minerva) Herodotus informs us the inhabitants buried their princes; and in the area before it stood a large marble edifice, magnificently adorned with obelisks in the shape of palm-trees, with various other ornaments. This temple was erected by Amasis, who was a native of Sais.199 [Pg 310] In magnitude and grandeur it surpassed any they had before seen; of such enormous size were the stones employed in the building and foundation. There was a room cut out of one stone, which had been conveyed by water from Elephantis by the labour of two thousand men; costing three years’ labour. This stone measured on the outside twenty-one cubits long, fourteen broad, and eight high.

Cambyses entertained a mortal hatred to the monarch just mentioned. From Memphis he went to Sais, where was the burying-place of the kings of Egypt. As soon as he entered the palace, he caused the body of Amasis to be taken out of its tomb, and after having exposed it to a thousand indignities in his own presence, he ordered it to be cast into the fire and burned; which was a thing equally contrary to the customs [Pg 311] of the Persians and Egyptians. The rage, this prince testified against the dead body of Amasis, shows to what a degree he hated his person. Whatever was the cause of this aversion, it seems to have been one of the chief motives, Cambyses had of carrying his arms into Egypt.

The first notice of the ruins of Sais, by Europeans, occurs in the travels of Egmont and Heyman, two Dutchmen, who found a curious inscription in honour of its “benefactor,” Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. They saw also a colossal statue of a female, with hieroglyphics. Fourteen camel-loads of treasure are said to have been found among the ruins.

“The village of Sé’l Hajar,” says Dr. Clarke, “seems in the suburban district of the ancient city; for as we proceeded hence in an eastern direction we soon discerned its vestiges. Irregular heaps, containing ruined foundations which had defied the labours of the peasants, appeared between the village, and some more considerable remains farther towards the south-east. The earth was covered with fragments of the ancient terra-cotta, which the labourers had cast out of their sieves. At the distance of about three furlongs we came to an immense quadrangular inclosure, nearly a mile wide, formed by high walls, or rather mounds of earth, facing the four points of the compass, and placed at right angles to each other, so as to surround the spacious area. In the centre of this was another conical heap, supporting the ruins of some building, whose original form cannot be now ascertained. The ramparts of this inclosure are indeed so lofty as to be visible from the river, although at this distance, the irregularity of their appearance might cause a person ignorant of their real nature to mistake them for natural eminences.”

Dr. Clarke found several things at Sais well[Pg 312] worthy attention; among which may be particularly mentioned several bronze relics; an ara-triform sceptre, a curious hieroglyphic tablet200, the torso of an ancient statue, a triple hierogram with the symbol of the cross, and several other antiquities.

On the east is another fragment of a very highly finished edifice; and the hieroglyphics which remain are perfectly well sculptured.

Many fragments of these ruins have been, of late years, taken away by Mohamed Bey, to build therewith a miserable palace at E’Sooan201.


Samaria is never called in Scripture Sebast, though strangers know it only by that name.

Obadiah is supposed to have been buried in this city; and here, at one time, were shown the tombs of Elisha, and of John the Baptist; and many ancient coins of this town are still preserved in the cabinets of the curious.

Samaria, during a siege, was afflicted with a great famine; and a very extraordinary occurrence is related with respect to it202.

“24. And it came to pass after this, that Benhadad king of Syria gathered all his host, and went up, and besieged Samaria.

“25. And there was a great famine in Samaria; and, behold, they besieged it, until an ass’s head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a cab of dove’s dung for five pieces of silver.

“26. And as the king of Israel was passing by upon the wall, there cried a woman unto him, saying, Help, my lord, O king.

[Pg 313]

“27. And he said, if the Lord do not help thee, whence shall I help thee? out of the barn-floor, or out of the wine-press?

“28. And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, This woman said unto me, Give thy son, that we may eat him to-day, and we will eat my son to-morrow.

“29. So we boiled my son, and did eat him: and I said unto her on the next day, Give thy son, that we may eat him: and she hath hid her son.

“30. And it came to pass, when the king heard the words of the woman, that he rent his clothes; and he passed by upon the wall, and the people looked, and, behold, he had sackcloth within upon his flesh.

“31. Then he said, God do so and more also to me, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat shall stand on him this day.

“32. But Elisha sat in his house, and the elders sat with him; and the king sent a man from before him; but ere the messenger came to him, he said to the elders, See how this son of a murderer hath sent to take away mine head! look, when the messenger cometh, shut the door, and hold him fast at the door: is not the sound of his master’s feet behind him?

“33. And while he yet talked with them, behold, the messenger came down unto him: and he said, Behold, this evil is of the Lord; what should I wait for the Lord any longer?”

This was one of the cities of Palestine. The country in which it is situated was at one time greatly infested with lions. The inhabitants were always at variance with their neighbours the Jews,—who detested them. The Samaritans having built a temple on Mount Gerizim, similar to that at Jerusalem, insisting that Gerizim was the spot which God had originally consecrated, the Jews never forgave[Pg 314] them for so doing, either in precept or practice. Their malice pursued them everywhere; they called them rebels and apostates; and held them in such utter detestation, that to say,—“There goes a Samaritan,” was a phrase equivalent to that of “There goes a serpent.” This hatred was returned with nearly equal force by the Samaritans; insomuch, that when the Jews were building their temple, they did all they could to prevent the execution of it.

When Alexander marched into Judæa, and had arrived at Jerusalem, the Samaritans sent a number of deputies, with great pomp and ceremony, to request that he would visit the temple they had erected on Mount Gerizim. As they had submitted to Alexander, and assisted him with troops, they naturally thought that they deserved as much favour from him as the Jews; and, indeed, more. Alexander, however, does not appear to have thought so; for when the deputies were introduced, he thanked them, indeed, in a courteous manner, but he declined visiting their temple; giving them to understand, that his affairs were urgent, and, therefore, that he had not sufficient time; but that if he should return that way from Egypt, he would not fail to do as they desired; that is, if he had time. The Samaritans afterwards mutinied; in consequence of which Alexander drove them out of Samaria; for they had set fire to the house of the governor he had appointed, and burned him alive. He divided their lands amongst the Jews, and repeopled their city with a colony of Macedonians.

When Antiochus afterwards marched into their country, they had the baseness to send a petition to that monarch, in which they declared themselves not to be Jews; in confirmation of which they entreated, that the temple, they had built upon Mount Gerizim, might be dedicated to the Jupiter of Greece. This petition was received with favour; and the temple[Pg 315] was, therefore, dedicated as the Samaritans had petitioned.

This city was afterwards subject to the vengeance of Hyrcanus, son of Simon, one of the Maccabees. It stood a siege for nearly a year. When the conqueror took it, he ordered it to be immediately demolished. The walls of the city, and the houses of the inhabitants, were entirely razed and laid level with the ground; and, to prevent its ever being rebuilt, he caused deep trenches and ditches to be cut through the new plain, where the city had stood, into which water was turned203.

Thus it remained till the time of Herod, who rebuilt the city; and, in honour of Augustus, gave it the name of Sebastos204.


This village was once the chief city and bulwark of Galilee. Its inhabitants often revolted against the Romans; but few remains of its ancient greatness now exist. There are, however, ruins of a stately Gothic edifice, which some travellers esteem one of the finest structures in the Holy Land. “We entered,” says Dr. Clarke, “beneath lofty massive arches of stone. The roof of the building was of the same materials. The arches are placed in the intersection of a Greek cross, and originally supported a dome or tower; their appearance is highly picturesque, and they exhibit the grandeur of a noble style of architecture. Broken columns of granite and marble lie scattered among the walls; and these prove how richly it was decorated.” In this place Dr. Clarke saw several very curious paintings.

This place was visited in the early part of the seventeenth century by a Franciscan friar of Lodi, [Pg 316]in Italy, named Quaresimius, who says:—“This place now exhibits a scene of ruin and desolation, consisting only of peasants’ habitations, and sufficiently manifests, in its remains, the splendour of the ancient city. Considered as the native place of Joachim and Anna, the parents of the Virgin, it is renowned, and worthy of being visited.” “It is not easy,” says Dr. Clarke, “to account for the disregard shown to a monument of antiquity, highly interesting from its title to consideration in the history of ancient architecture, or to the city of which it was the pride, once renowned as the metropolis of Galilee.”

The following account is from the pen of the celebrated French traveller, M. La Martine:—“A great number of blocks of stone, hollowed out for tombs, traced our route to the summit of the mamelon, on which Saphora is situated. Arrived at the top, we beheld an insulated column of granite still standing, and marking the site of a temple. Beautiful sculptured capitals were lying on the ground at the foot of the column, and immense fragments of hewn stone, removed from some great Roman monument, were scattered everywhere round, serving the Arabs as boundaries to their property, and extending as far as a mile from Saphora, where we stopped to halt in the middle of the day.”

This is all that now remains of this once noble city.

“A fountain of excellent and inexhaustible water,” continues La Martine, “flows herefrom, for the use of the inhabitants of two or three valleys; it is surrounded by some orchards of fig and pomegranate trees, under the shade of which we seated ourselves; and waited more than an hour before we could water our caravan, so numerous were the herds of cows and camels which the Arabian shepherds brought from all parts of the valley. Innumerable [Pg 317] files of cattle and black goats wound across the plain and the sides of the hill leading to Nazareth205.”


Sardis is thus alluded to in the Apocalypse206:—

“1. And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write:—These things saith he that hath the seven spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name, that thou livest, and art dead.

“2. Be watchful and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die; for I have not found thy works perfect before God.

“3. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

“4. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis, which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white; for they are worthy.”

Sardis was situated five hundred and forty stadia from Ephesus; viz. seven miles and a half.

When this city was built is not, we believe, upon record. It was the capital of Lydia, and situated on the banks of the Pactolus, at the foot of Mount Tmolus; having the Cayster to the south, and Hermus to the north.

During the reign of Atys, son of Gyges, the Cimmerians, being expelled their own country by the Nomades of Scythia, passed over into Asia, and possessed themselves of Sardis. Some time after this, Crœsus became king of Lydia, and a war ensued between him and Cyrus the Great. At that period no nation of Asia was more hardy, or more valiant, than the Lydians. They fought principally on horseback, [Pg 318] armed with long spears, and were very expert in managing the horse. Sardis, according to Herodotus, was taken by storm; according to Polyænus, by surprise. Cyrus availed himself of a truce, which he had concluded with Crœsus, (the richest of kings), to advance his forces, and making his approach by night, took the city. Crœsus, still remaining in possession of the citadel, expected the arrival of his Grecian succours: but Cyrus, putting in irons the relatives and friends of those who defended the citadel, showed them in that state to the besieged. At the same time he informed them by a herald, that, if they would give up the place, he would set their friends at liberty; but that, if they persevered in their defence, he would put them to death. The besieged chose rather to surrender, than cause their relations to perish. Such is the relation of Polyænus.

The Persians obtained possession of Sardis, and made Crœsus captive, after a siege of fourteen days, and a reign of fourteen years. Thus was a mighty empire destroyed in a few days. Crœsus being brought into the presence of Cyrus, that prince ordered him to be placed in chains upon the summit of a huge wooden pile, with fourteen Lydian youths standing round him. Before this, however, Cyrus gave the citizens to understand, that if they would bring to him and his army all their silver and gold, their city should be spared. On learning this, they brought to him all their wealth; but Crœsus was ordered to be burned alive. Before we give an account of this barbarous order, however, we must refer to a circumstance which had occurred several years before.

Solon, one of the most celebrated of legislators, having established a new system of laws at Athens, thought to improve his knowledge by travel. He went, therefore, to Sardis. The king received him very sumptuously;—dressed in magnificent apparel,[Pg 319] enriched with gold, and glittering with diamonds. Finding that the Grecian sage did not appear in any way moved by this display, Crœsus ordered, that all his treasures, royal apartments, and costly furniture, should be shown to him. When Solon had been shown all these, he was taken back to the king, who then inquired of him:—Which of all the persons he had seen during his travels, he esteemed the most happy? “A person named Tellus,” answered Solon, “a citizen of Athens; an honest and good man; one who had lived all his days without indigence, and always seen his country flourishing and happy; who had children that were universally esteemed; and whose children he had the satisfaction, also, of seeing, and who died at last gloriously fighting for his country.”

When Crœsus heard this, thinking that if he were not esteemed the first in happiness, he would at least be thought the second, he inquired “Who, of all you have seen, was the next in happiness to Tellus?” “Cleobis and Biton of Argos,” answered Solon, “two brothers who left behind them a perfect pattern of fraternal affection, and of the respect due from children to their parents. Upon a solemn festival when their mother, a priestess of Juno, was to go to the temple, the oxen that were to draw her not being ready, the two sons put themselves to the yoke, and drew their mother’s chariot thither, which was above five miles distant. All the mothers, ravished with admiration, congratulated the priestess on the piety of her sons. She, in the transport of her joy and thankfulness, earnestly entreated the goddess to reward her children with the best thing that heaven can give to man. Her prayers were heard. When the sacrifice was over, her two sons fell asleep in the very temple to which they had brought her, and there died in a soft and peaceful slumber. In[Pg 320] honour of their piety,” concluded Solon, “the people of Argos consecrated statues to them in the temple of Delphos.”

Crœsus was greatly mortified at this answer; and therefore said with some token of discontent, “Then you do not reckon me in the number of the happy at all?” “King of Lydia,” answered Solon, “besides many other advantages, the gods have given to us Grecians a spirit of moderation and reserve, which has produced among us a plain, popular, kind of philosophy, accompanied with a certain generous freedom, void of pride and ostentation, and therefore not well suited to the courts of kings. This philosophy, considering what an infinite number of vicissitudes and accidents the life of man is liable to, does not allow us to glory in any prospects we enjoy ourselves, or to admire happiness in others which may prove only superficial and transient.”

Having said this much, Solon paused a little,—then proceeded to say, that “the life of man seldom exceeds seventy years, which make up in all twenty-five thousand five hundred and fifty days, of which two are not exactly alike; so that the time to come is nothing but a series of various accidents, which cannot be foreseen. Therefore, in our opinion,” continued Solon, “no man can be esteemed happy, but he whose happiness God continues to the end of his life. As for others, who are perpetually exposed to a thousand dangers, we account their happiness as uncertain, as the crown is to a person that is still engaged in battle, and has not yet obtained the victory.”

It was not long before Crœsus experienced the truth of what Solon told him. Cyrus made war upon him, as we have already related: and he was now condemned to be burned. The funeral pile was prepared, and the unhappy king being laid thereon, and just on the point of execution, recollecting the conversation [Pg 321] he had had with Solon some few years before, he cried aloud three times, “Solon! Solon! Solon!” When Cyrus heard him exclaim thus, he became curious to know why Crœsus pronounced that celebrated sage’s name with so much earnestness in the extremity to which he was reduced. Crœsus informed him. The conqueror instantly paused in the punishment designed; and, reflecting on the uncertain state to which all sublunary things are subject, he caused him to be taken from the pile, and ever afterwards treated him with honour and respect. This account is from Rollin, who has it from Herodotus and other ancient writers.

Crœsus is honourably mentioned by Pindar, in his celebrated contrast between a good sovereign and a bad one:—

When in the mouldering urn the monarch lies, His fame in lively characters remains, Or graved in monumental histories, Or deck’d and painted in Aonian strains. Thus fresh and fragrant and immortal blooms The virtue, Crœsus, of thy gentle mind; While fate to infamy and hatred dooms Sicilia’s tyrant207, scorn of human kind; Whose ruthless bosom swelled with cruel pride, When in his brazen bull the broiling wretches died. Him, therefore, not in sweet society, The generous youth, conversing, ever name; Nor with the harp’s delightful melody Mingle his odious, inharmonious fame. The first, the greatest, bliss on man conferred, Is in the acts of virtue to excel; The second to obtain their high reward, The soul-exalting praise of doing well. Who both these lots attains is bless’d indeed; Since fortune here below can give no higher meed. Pindar. Pyth. i.—West.

On the division of the Persian monarchy into [Pg 322]satrapies, Sardis became the residence of the satrap who had the government of the sea-coast.

In the third year of the war arising from the revolt of the Ionians against the Persian authority, the Ionians having collected all their forces together, set sail for Ephesus, whence, leaving their ships, they marched by land to Sardis. Finding that city in a defenceless state, they made themselves masters of it; but the citadel, into which the Persian governor Artaphernes had retired, they were not able to force. Most of the houses were roofed with reeds. An Ionian soldier therefore having, whether with intention or by accident was never ascertained, set fire to a house, the flames flew from roof to roof, and the whole city was entirely destroyed, almost in a moment. In this destruction the Persians implicated the Athenians; for there were many Athenians among the Ionians. When Darius, therefore, heard of the conflagration, he immediately determined on making war upon Greece; and that he might never forget the resolution, he appointed an officer to the duty of crying out to him every night at supper,—“Sir, remember the Athenians.” It is here, also, to be remembered, that the cause why the Persians afterwards destroyed all the temples they came near in Greece, was in consequence of the temple of Cybele, the tutelary deity of Sardis, having been, at that period, reduced to ashes.

Xerxes, on his celebrated expedition, having arrived at Sardis, sent heralds into Greece, demanding earth and water. He did not, however, send either to Athens or Lacedæmon. His motive for enforcing his demand to the other cities, was the expectation that they, who had before refused earth and water to Darius, would, from the alarm at his approach, send it now. In this, however, he was[Pg 323] for the most part mistaken. Xerxes wintered at this city.

Alexander having conquered the Persians at the battle of the Granicus, marched towards Sardis. It was the bulwark of the Persian empire on the side next the sea. The citizens surrendered; and, as a reward for so doing, the king gave them their liberties, and permitted them to live under their own laws. He gave orders, also, to the Sardians to erect a temple to Olympian Jove.

After the death of Alexander, Seleucus, carrying on a war with Lysimachus, took possession of Sardis, B. C. 283. In 214 B. C. Antiochus the Great made himself master of the citadel and city. He kept possession of it twenty-five years, and it became his favourite place of retreat after having lost the battle of Magnesia. His taking it is thus described by Polybius:—“An officer had observed, that vultures and birds of prey gathered round the rock on which the citadel was placed, about the offals and dead bodies, thrown into a hollow by the besieged; and inferred that the wall standing on the edge of the precipice was neglected, as secure from attack. He scaled it with a resolute party, while Antiochus called off the attention both of his own army and of the enemy by a feint, marching as if he intended to attack the Persian gate. Two thousand soldiers rushed in at the gate opened for them, and took their post at the theatre, when the town was plundered and burned.”

Attalus Philomater, one of the descendants of the Antiochus just mentioned, bequeathed Sardis, with all his other possessions, to the Roman people; and, three years after his death, it was in consequence reduced to a Roman province.

Under the reign of Tiberius, Sardis was a very large city; but it was almost wholly destroyed by[Pg 324] an earthquake. The emperor, however, had sufficient public virtue to order it to be rebuilt, and at a very great expense. In this patronage of Sardis, he was imitated by Hadrian, who was so great a benefactor, that he obtained the name of Neocorus. The patron god was Jupiter, who was called by a name synonymous with protector.

Sardis was one of the first towns that embraced the Christian religion, having been converted by St. John; and some have thought that its first bishop was Clement, the disciple of St. Paul.

In the time of Julian great efforts were made to restore the Pagan worship, by erecting temporary altars at Sardis, where none had been left, and repairing those temples of which vestiges remained.

A. D. 400, the city was plundered by the Goths, under Tribigildus and Cairanas, officers in the Roman pay, who had revolted from the emperor Arcadius.

A. D. 1304, the Turks, on an insurrection of the Tartars, were permitted to occupy a portion of the Acropolis; but the Sardians, on the same night, murdered them in their sleep.

The town is now called Sart or Serte. When Dr. Chandler visited it in 1774, he found the site of it “green and flowery.” Coming from the east, he found on his left the ground-work of a theatre; of which still remained some pieces of the vault, which supported the seats, and completed the semicircle.

Going on, he passed remnants of massy buildings; marble piers sustaining heavy fragments of arches of brick, and more indistinct ruins. These are in the plain before the hill of the Acropolis. On the right hand, near the road, was a portion of a large edifice, with a heap of ponderous materials before and behind it. The walls also are standing of two large,[Pg 325] long, and lofty rooms, with a space between them, as of a passage. This remnant, according to M. Peysonell, was the house of Crœsus, once appropriated by the Sardians as a place of retirement for superannuated citizens. The walls in this ruin have double arches beneath, and consist chiefly of brick, with layers of stone: it is called the Gerusia. The bricks are exceedingly fine and good, of various sizes, some flat and broad. “We employed,” continues Dr. Chandler, “a man to procure one entire, but the cement proved so very hard and tenacious, it was next to impossible. Both Crœsus and Mausolus, neither of whom could be accused of parsimony, had used this material in the walls of their palaces. It was insensible of decay; and it is asserted, if the walls were erected true to their perpendicular, would, without violence, last for ever.”

Our traveller was then led toward the mountain; when, on a turning of the road, he was struck with the view of a ruin of a temple, in a retired situation beyond the Pactolus, and between Mount Tmolus and the hill of the Acropolis. Five columns were standing, one without the capital, and one with the capital awry, to the south. The architrave was of two stones. A piece remains of one column, to the southward; the other part, with the column which contributed to its support, has fallen since the year 1699. One capital was then distorted, as was imagined, by an earthquake; and over the entrance of the Naos was a vast stone, which occasioned wonder by what art or power it could be raised. That magnificent portal has since been destroyed; and in the heap lies that huge and ponderous marble. The soil has accumulated round the ruin; and the bases, with a moiety of each column, are concealed. This, in the opinion of Dr. Chandler, is probably the Temple of Cybele; and which was damaged in the[Pg 326] conflagration of Sardis by the Milesians. It was of the Ionic order, and had eight columns in front. The shafts are fluted, and the capitals designed with exquisite taste and skill. “It is impossible,” continues our traveller, “to behold without deep regret, this imperfect remnant of so beautiful and so glorious an edifice!”

In allusion to this, Wheler, who visited Sart towards the latter part of the seventeenth century, says:—“Now see how it fareth with this miserable church, marked out by God; who, being reduced to a very inconsiderable number, live by the sweat of their brows in digging and planting the gardens of the Turks they live amongst and serve; having neither church nor priest among them. Nor are the Turks themselves there very considerable, either for number or riches; being only herdsmen to cattle feeding on those spacious plains; dwelling in a few pitiful earthen huts; having one mosque, perverted to that use from a Christian church. Thus is that once glorious city of the rich king Crœsus now reduced to a nest of worse than beggars. Their Pactolus hath long since ceased to yield them gold,208 and the treasures to recover them their dying glories. Yet there are some remains of noble structures, remembrances of their prosperous state, long since destroyed. For there are the remains of an old castle, of a great church, palaces, and other proud buildings, humbled to the earth.”

Several inscriptions have been found here; and, amongst these, one recording the good will of the council and senate of Sardis towards the emperor Antoninus Pius. Medals, too, have been found; [Pg 327]amongst which, two very rare ones; viz. one of the Empress Tranquillina, and another of Caracalla, with an urn on the reverse, containing a branch of olives; under which is an inscription, which translated, is, “The sport Chysanthina of the Sardians twice Nercorus.” Another, stamped by the common assembly of Asia there, in honour of Drusus and Germanicus. Also one with the Emperor Commodus, seated in the midst of a zodiac, with celestial signs engraved on it: on the reverse, “Sardis, the first metropolis of Asia, Greece, Lydia.”209


There were no less than thirteen cities, which were called Seleucia, and which received their name from Seleucus Nicanor. These were situated in Syria, in Cilicia, and near the Euphrates.

“It must be acknowledged,” says Dr. Prideaux, “that there is mention made of Babylon, as of a city standing long after the time I have placed its dissolution, as in Lucan210, Philostratus211, and others. But in all those authors, and wherever also we find Babylon mentioned as a city in being, after the time of Seleucus Nicanor, it must be understood, not of old Babylon, on the Euphrates, but of Seleucia, on the Tigris. For as that succeeded to the dignity and grandeur of old Babylon, so also did it in its name.”

“Since the days of Alexander,” says Sir R. Porter, “we find four capitals, at least, built out of the remains of Babylon; Seleucia by the Greeks; Ctesiphon by the Parthians; Al Maidan by the Persians; Kufa by the Caliphs; with towns, villages, and caravanserais, without number. That the fragments of one city [Pg 328]should travel so far, to build or repair the breaches of another, appeared, on the first view of the subject, to be unlikely to myself; but, on traversing the country between the approximating shores of the two rivers, and observing all the facilities of water-carriage from one side to the other, I could no longer be incredulous of what had been told me; particularly when scarce a day passed without my seeing people digging the mounds of Babylon for bricks, which they carried to the verge of the Euphrates, and thence conveyed in boats to wherever they might be wanted.”

Seleucus built many cities; of which far the greater part was raised from superstitious motives; many were peopled from the ruins of places in their neighbourhood, whose sites were equally convenient; and only a very few were erected in conformity with those great military and commercial views, by which, in this particular, his master (Alexander) had uniformly been guided. He named nine after himself; and four in honour of four of his wives; three Apameas; and one Stratonice; in all thirty-five. Sixteen were named Antioch; five Laodicea, after his mother. Many foundations were laid of other cities. Some, after favourite scenes in Greece or Macedon; some in memory of glorious exploits; and not a few after his master Alexander.

This Seleucia was built of the ruins of Babylon; and Pliny, the naturalist, gives the following account:—“Seleucia was built by Seleucus Nicanor, forty miles from Babylon, at a point of the confluence of the Euphrates with the Tigris, by a canal. There were 600,000 citizens here at one time; and all the commerce and wealth of Babylon had flowed into it. The territory in which it stood was called Babylonia; but it was itself a free state, and the people lived after the laws and manners of the Macedonians.[Pg 329] The form of the walls resembled an eagle spreading her wings.”

In a country, destitute of wood and stone, whose edifices were hastily erected with bricks baked in the sun, and cemented with the native bitumen, Seleucia speedily eclipsed the ancient capital of the East.

Many ages after the fall of the Macedonian empire, Seleucia retained the genuine character of a Greek colony; arts, military virtue, and a love of freedom: and while the republic remained independent, it was governed by a senate consisting of three hundred nobles. The walls were strong; and as long as concord prevailed among the several orders of the state, the power of the Parthians was regarded with indifference, if not with contempt. The madness of faction, however, was sometimes so great, that the common enemy was occasionally implored; and the Parthians212 were, in consequence, beheld at the gates, to assist sometimes one party, and sometimes the other. Ctesiphon was then but a village213, on the opposite side of the Tigris, in which [Pg 330]the Parthian kings were accustomed to reside during the winter, on account of the mildness of the climate. The summer they passed at Ecbatana.

Trajan left Rome A. D. 112, and after subduing several cities in the East, laid siege to Seleucia and Ctesiphon. Chosroes, the king, being absent quelling a revolt in some part of his more eastern dominions, these cities soon surrendered to the Roman hero, and all the neighbouring country. “The degenerate Parthians,” says the Roman historian, “broken by internal discord, fled before his arms. He descended the Tigris in triumph from the mountains of Armenia to the Persian gulf. He enjoyed the honour of being the first, as he was the last, of the Roman generals who ever navigated that remote sea.” At his death, which occurred soon after his return to Rome, most of the cities of Asia, that he had conquered, threw off the Roman yoke; and among these were Seleucia and Ctesiphon.

Under the reign of Marcus, A. D. 165, the Roman generals penetrated as far as these celebrated cities. They were received as friends by the Greek colony; they attacked, as enemies, the seat of the Parthian kings; and yet both experienced the same treatment. Seleucia was sacked by the friends they had invited—though it has been alleged in their favour, that the citizens of Seleucia had first violated their faith.

More than 300,000 of the inhabitants were put to the sword; and the city itself nearly destroyed by conflagration.

Seleucia never recovered this blow: but Ctesiphon, in about thirty-three years, had sufficiently recovered its strength to maintain an obstinate siege against the emperor Severus. It was at last, nevertheless, taken by assault; and the king, who defended it in person, [Pg 331]escaped with precipitation. The Romans netted a rich booty, and took captive 100,000 persons214.

“Below Bagdad,” says a celebrated French writer, on geography, (Malte-Brun), “the ruins of Al-Modain, or the two cities, have attracted the attention of every traveller. One of them is unquestionably the ancient Ctesiphon; but the other, which lies on the western bank of the Tigris, is not Seleucia, as all the travellers affirm215: it is Kochos, a fortress situated opposite to Seleucia, and which, according to the positive testimony of Arrian and Gregory of Nazianzus, was different from Seleucia216.” In this account Malte-Brun appears to us to be exceedingly mistaken217.

Of the ruins of Seleucia, near Antioch, Mr. Robinson speaks thus:—“Being desirous of visiting the ruins of the ancient Seleucia Pieriæ, I rode over to the village of Kepse, occupying the site of the ancient city. We were apprised of our approach to it, by seeing a number of sepulchral grots excavated in the rock by the road-side, at present tenanted by shepherds and their flocks. Some were arched like those I had seen at Delphi; others were larger, with apartments, one within the other. We entered the inclosure of the ancient city by the gate at the south-east side; probably the one that led to Antioch. It is defended by round towers, at present in ruins. Of the magnificent temples and buildings mentioned by Polybius, some remains of pillars are alone standing to gratify the curiosity of the antiquarian traveller. [Pg 332] But recollecting, as I sat alone on a stone seat at the jetty head, that it was from hence Paul and Barnabas, the harbingers of Christianity to the West, when sent forth from the church at Antioch, embarked for Cyprus; the place all at once assumed an interest that heathen relics were little calculated to inspire. It came opportunely, also, for I felt particularly depressed at the sight of a large maritime city, once echoing with the voices of thousands, now without an inhabitant; a port formerly containing rich laden galleys, at present choked up with reeds; and finally, a quay, on which for centuries anxious mariners paced up and down throughout the day, at this moment without a living creature moving on its weather-beaten surface but myself.”


This city was founded A. U. C. 127, by a colony from Megara. It received its name from a Greek word meaning parsley, which grew there in great profusion; and its ancient consequence may be learned from the ruins now remaining. It was destroyed by Hannibal. The conduct of the war having been committed to that general, he set sail with a very large fleet and army. He landed at a place called the Well of Lilybæum, which gave its name to a city afterwards built on the same spot.

His first enterprise was the siege of Selinuntum. The attack and defence were equally vigorous; the very women showing a resolution and bravery beyond their sex. The city, after making a long resistance, was taken by storm, and the plunder of it abandoned to the soldiers. The victor exercised the most horrid cruelties, without showing the least regard to age or sex. He permitted, however, such inhabitants as had fled to continue in the city after it had been dismantled, and to till the lands, on condition [Pg 333] of their paying a tribute to the Carthaginians. The city had then been built 242 years. It became afterwards an important place; but from the manner in which the columns and other fragments of three stupendous temples lie, it is quite evident they must have been thrown down by an earthquake; but the date of that calamity is not known.

The ruins of Selinus are thus described by Mr. Swinburne:—“They lie in several stupendous heaps, with many columns still erect, and at a distance resemble a large town with a crowd of steeples. On the top of the hill is a very extensive level, seven miles off, on which lie the scattered members of three Doric temples, thirty yards asunder, in a direct line from north to south. The most northerly temple, which was pseudodipterous, exceeded the others very much in dimensions and majesty, and now composes one of the most gigantic and sublime ruins imaginable. They all lie in great confusion and disorder.

“The second temple is easily described. It had six columns in the front, and eleven on each side; in all thirty-four. Their diameter is five feet; they were all fluted; and most of them now remain standing as high as the second course of stones. The pillars of the third temple were also fluted, and have fallen down so very entire, that the five pieces which composed them lie almost close to each other, in the order they were placed in when upright. These temples are all of the Doric order, without a base.

“The two lesser ones are more delicate in their parts and ornaments than the principal ruins; the stone of which they are composed is smooth and yellowish, and brought from the quarries of Castel-Franco. There are other ruins and broken columns dispersed over the site of the city, but none equal to these.” Such is the account given by Mr. Swinburne; what follows first appeared in the Penny Magazine.

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On the southern coast of Sicily, about ten miles to the east of Cape Granitola, and between the little rivers of Maduini and Bilici, (the Crimisus and Hypsa of ancient times,) a tremendous mass of ruins presents itself in the midst of a solitary and desolate country. These are the sad remains of the once splendid city of Selinus, or Selinuntum, which was founded by a Greek colony from Megara, more than two thousand four hundred years ago. When seen at a distance from the sea, they still look like a mighty city; but on a near approach nothing is seen but a confused heap of fallen edifices—a mixture of broken shafts, capitals, entablatures, and metopæ, with a few truncated columns erect among them. They seem to consist chiefly of the remains of three temples of the Doric order. One of these temples was naturally devoted by a maritime and trading people to Neptune; a second was dedicated to Castor and Pollux, the friends of navigation and the scourge of pirates; the destination of the third temple is uncertain.

The size of the columns and the masses of stone that lie heaped about them is prodigious. The lower circumference of the columns is thirty-one feet and a half; many of the stone blocks measure twenty-five feet in length, eight in height, and six in thickness. Twelve of the columns have fallen with singular regularity, the disjointed shaft-pieces of each lying in a straight line with the base from which they fell, and having their several capitals at the other end of the line. If architects and antiquaries have not been mistaken in their task of measuring among heaps of ruins that in good part cover and conceal the exterior lines, the largest of the three temples was three hundred and thirty-four feet long, and one hundred and fifty-four feet wide.

These are prodigious and unusual dimensions for ancient edifices of this kind. That wonder of the[Pg 335] whole world, the Temple of Diana at Ephesus, itself did not much exceed these admeasurements. The great Selinuntian temple seems to have had porticoes of four columns in depth, and eight in width, with a double row of sixteen columns on the lateral sides of the cella. It is somewhat singular, from having had all the columns of the first row on the east front fluted, while all the rest of the columns were quite plain. One of these fluted columns is erect and tolerably entire, with the exception of its capital. The fluting, moreover, is not in the Doric style; for each flute is separated by a fillet. The material of which this and the other edifices were formed, is a species of fine-grained petrifaction, hard, and very sonorous on being struck with a hammer. It was hewn out of quarries near at hand, at a place called Campo Bello, where many masses, only partially separated from the rock, and looking as if the excavation had been suddenly interrupted, are still seen.

A flight of ancient steps, in tolerable preservation, leads from the Marinella to the Acropolis, where the covert-ways, gates, and walls, built of large squared stones, may still be traced all round the hill. A little to the west of the Acropolis is the small pestiferous lake, Yhalici, partly choked up with sand. In ancient times this was called Stagnum Gonusa, and it is said the great philosopher Empedocles purified it and made the air around it wholesome, by clearing a mouth towards the sea, and conveying a good stream of water through it. The Fountain of Diana, at a short distance, which supplied this stream, still pours forth a copious volume of excellent water; but it is allowed to run and stagnate over the plain, and now adds to the malaria created by the stagnant lake. The surrounding country is wholly uncultivated, and, where not a morass, is covered with underwood, dwarf palms, and myrtle-bushes of a prodigious growth.

[Pg 336]

For six months in the year, Selinunte is a most unhealthy place; and though the stranger may visit it by day-time without much danger of catching the infection, it seems scarcely possible to sleep there in summer and escape the malaria fever in one of its worst forms. Of four English artists who tried the experiment in 1822, not one escaped; and Mr. Harris, a young architect of great promise, died in Sicily from the consequences. These gentlemen made a discovery of some importance. They dug up near one of the temples some sculptured metopæ with figures in rilievo, of a singular primitive style, which seems to have more affinity with the Egyptian or the Etruscan, than with the Greek style of a later age. There are probably few Greek fragments of so ancient a date in so perfect a state of preservation.

The government claimed these treasures, and caused them to be transported to Palermo; but Mr. Samuel Angel, an architect, and one of the party, took casts from them, which may now be seen at the British Museum; and of which we present the reader with an account, drawn up, we believe, by a gentleman named Hamilton.—“Within a temporary building opening from the fifth room, are the casts from the marble metopæ of the great temple of Jupiter Olympius, at Selinus, in Sicily. Valuable as they are, as belonging to a school of art prior to that of Ægina, and probably of a date coeval with the earliest Egyptian, a short notice of them may not be unacceptable, as no account of them is to be found in the Synopsis, although to the public in general subjects of great curiosity and inquiry. The legend which they tell and their appearance, are altogether as unaccountable as mysterious. At Selinus, in Sicily, there are the remains of six temples of the earliest Doric, within a short distance of each other, and it was during the researches into the ruins of the[Pg 337] largest, called the Western, and the one farthest from it, named the Eastern, by Messrs. Harris and Angell, in 1832, that these ancient sculptures were found: among them there were no single and perfect statues as in the temple of Ægina, which probably arose from the neighbourhood being well peopled, and they had no doubt been repeatedly ransacked. These temples may be reckoned among the largest of antiquity, being equal in their dimensions to those at Agrigentum, in the fluting of whose columns there is sufficient space for a man to stand. Immediately after the discovery, application was made to the Neapolitan Government to allow them to be shipped for England; but permission was refused, and they are now in the Royal Gallery at Palermo. Casts were, however, allowed to be taken, and they are these we now describe.

“They are probably of as early a date as any that have reached our times, and are of different styles of art; those which belonged to the temple called Eastern, whence the sculpture of the head of the dying warrior, and the chariot drawn by horses, were taken, possess much of the Æginitan character; those of the Western are of a ruder age. In most of the figures the anatomy resembles that of the earliest coins, but differs in many respects from the Greek sculptures; and there is a short and full character in the faces approaching the Egyptian. From the short proportions, the fleshy part of the thigh overcharged, and the peculiar manner in which the hair is arranged, they might be taken for specimens of Æginitan art; but on a close inspection it will be found, that they are the work of artists educated on different principles. At a much later period it is known that the artists of Ægina were employed by the kings of Sicily; and these, therefore, are not unlikely to have been the work of Carthaginian sculptors brought to decorate[Pg 338] a city in alliance and newly founded, which will account for the Egyptian character given to the whole.

“The cast, which consists of the body and head of a dying soldier, a part of a female figure behind, formed the third metope of the Eastern Temple, and is a most valuable and curious fragment, and determines the style and character of the sculpture of the temple. It bears a marked resemblance to some of the heads in the Ægina marbles, but it has much more expression; the artist has evidently intended to mark the agonies of death, by the closed eyes, the mouth slightly opened, and the tongue appearing between the teeth; the hair and beard are most carefully and symmetrically arranged and most elaborately finished; the helmet is thrown back, and is of the kind called ‘γεῖσον’—part of the crest ‘λόφος’ is visible under the left shoulder of the figure. The fragment of the female is very spirited, and evidently in strong action. Those metopes, like those of the Parthenon, are in high relief, and in some parts detached. Thorwaldsen has pronounced them equal in execution to the Ægina. The next, which consists of three figures, one of which has a horse under the arm, is particularly interesting, from the illustration it presents of the death of the Gorgon Medusa. Perseus, emboldened by the presence of Minerva, is represented in the act of slaying Medusa; his eyes are averted from the object of his honour, while his right arm, guided by the goddess, thrusts his sword into the throat of the monster. Pegasus, a winged foal, springs from her blood, and Medusa presses him to her side with apparent solicitude. The monstrous face of the Gorgon is finely represented; the large round head and hideous face rise from the shoulders without the intervention of a neck; all the features are frightfully distorted, the nose is flat and spreading, and the mouth is nearly the whole width of the face, and[Pg 339] is armed on each side with two immense tusks; the hair over the forehead is curiously shown, and almost appears to have represented the serpents to which it was changed. The figure of Minerva on the right is draped with the ‘πέπλον,’ and has the Mæander ornament on the edge. The figure of Perseus is in the centre; he is armed with the harp of Mercury and the helmet of Pluto, which latter has a pendant falling on each side; the ‘πτηνὰ πέδιλα,’ or talaria, are represented as covering the feet entirely, and bear some resemblance to the ancient greaves; the front part is attached to the ancle by thongs. The form of the young Pegasus is exceedingly beautiful; he seems bounding from the earth. The metope, containing the figure bearing two others on its shoulders, represents the adventure of Hercules, surnamed Melampyges, from the black and hairy appearance of his loins. The story is as follows:—Passalus and Achemon, two brothers, reviled their mother, who warned them to beware of a man whose loins were covered with black hair. They attempted to rob Hercules while asleep, and from that had the name of Cercopes; in the attempt they failed and awoke him, and he bound them hand and foot to his bow, with their heads downwards, and carried them in that manner. They began laughing on the accomplishment of their mother’s prophecy; Hercules asked them why they laughed, and on their telling him the reason, he also laughed and liberated them. The figure of the god is represented as strong and muscular, and the two prisoners have a very ludicrous appearance; in the reversed position, the hair falls in a curious manner; the whole group has been painted in various colours, and in the countenances much of Egyptian expression is to be observed. The horses which draw the chariot formed part of the centre metope of the Eastern Temple; it is very[Pg 340] imperfect, and is supposed to represent the celebration of the race of Pelops and Œnomaus; they are drawn full of fire and courage, and are finely fore-shortened; they have the cropped ears and manes which are observable in those of the Parthenon.

“These sculptures are valuable as specimens of the third period of the art, the earliest of which is probably the Hindoo; the great resemblance both these and the Egyptian bear to that style is remarkable, and gives warrant to suppose that it was the original school. Of Hebrew sculpture there are no remains; the command to form no graven images prevented the art attaining the perfection which it reached in the neighbouring country of Syria, and would seem to confirm the account, that within the land of Judea no statue bearing marks of great antiquity has been discovered. The Egyptian, the Etruscan, the Selinuntine, and the Ægina schools, furnished the models for the Grecian; and the careful observer has it in his power, within the walls of the Museum, to trace, step by step, the progress of the art; till it attained its meridian splendour in the production of those sculptures, whose dilapidated remains are there preserved, and which the accumulated knowledge, genius, labour, and talent of two thousand five hundred years has never yet been able to surpass218.”

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The neighbouring country is interesting, as having been the scene of many of the memorable events [Pg 342]recorded by the ancient historians. A few miles to the west of the ruins, on the banks of a little river, [Pg 343]that now, unless when swelled by the winter torrents, creeps gently into the sea, was fought, amidst thunder, lightning, and rain, one of the most celebrated battles of ancient times, in which the “Immortal Timoleon,” the liberator of Corinth, and the saviour of Syracuse, gained a glorious victory over the Carthaginian invaders. The events are preserved in popular traditions; and the names of Mago, Hamilcar, Hannibal, Agathocles, Dionysius, and Timoleon, are common in the mouths of the country people, though not unfrequently confused with one another, and subjected to the same laughable mutilation as the name of Castor and Selinute219.

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The most ancient kingdom of Greece was that of Sicyon, the beginning of which is placed by Eusebius 1313 years before the first Olympiad. Its duration is believed to have been about a thousand years; during which period it is said to have had a succession of kings, whose reigns were so equitable that nothing of importance is recorded of them. It sent, however, 3000 troops to the battle of Platea, and fifteen ships to that of Salamis. It is now only a village.

Of these monarchs the most remarkable was Sicyon, who is supposed to have built, though some say he only enlarged, the metropolis of his kingdom, and to have called it by his own name.

It became very powerful in the time of the Achaian league, which it joined, at the persuasion of Aratus, A. C. 251. It was destroyed by Demetrius, son of Antigonus, who afterwards rebuilt it, and endeavoured to impose upon it the name of Demetrius; but it soon sunk under its ancient and more memorable appellation.

Sicyon was in great reputation for the arts, and painting in particular; the true taste for which was preserved there in all its ancient purity. It is even said, that Apelles, who was then admired by all the world, had been at Sicyon, where he frequented the schools of two painters, to whom he gave a talent; not for acquiring a perfection of the art from them, but in order to obtain a share in their great reputation. When Aratus had reinstated his city in its former liberties, he destroyed all the pictures of the tyrants; but when he came to that of Aristratus, who reigned in the time of Philip, and whom the painter had represented in the attitude of standing in a triumphant chariot, he hesitated a long time[Pg 345] whether he should deface it or not; for all the capital disciples of Melanthus had contributed to the completion of that piece; and it had even been touched by the pencil of Apelles. This work was so inimitable in its kind, that Aratus was enchanted with its beauties; but his aversion to tyrants prevailed over his admiration of the picture, and he accordingly ordered it to be destroyed.

In the time of Pausanias, Sicyon was destroyed by an earthquake. It was, nevertheless, not long after, not only one of the noblest cities of Greece, on account of its magnificent edifices, many of which were built of marble, and ingenious workmen, but it was a distinguished place when the Venetians were masters of the Morea. The period, however, when it fell from that eminence is unknown.

Sicyon220 was the school of the most celebrated artists of antiquity, and was sumptuously decorated with temples and statues. Pausanias enumerates seventeen temples, a stadium, a theatre, two gymnasia, an agora, a senate-house, and a temenos for the Roman emperors, with many altars, monuments, and numerous statues of ivory and gold, of marble, of bronze, and of wood.

Its present condition, in respect to population, may be, in a great measure, attributed to its having, about twenty years before Sir George Wheler visited it, been afflicted by the plague. “This final destruction,” said one of the inhabitants, “is a judgment of God upon the Turks for turning one of the Christian churches into a mosque. The Vaywode fell down dead upon the place, the first time he caused the Koran to be read in it. This was followed by a plague, which, in a short time, utterly destroyed the whole town; and it could never afterwards be repeopled.”

So little is known221 concerning this ancient seat of [Pg 346] Grecian power, that it is not possible to ascertain in what period it dwindled from its pre-eminence to become, what it is now, one of the most wretched villages of the Peloponnesus. The remains of its former magnificence are, however, still considerable, and in some instances they exist in such a state of preservation, that it is evident the buildings of the city either survived the earthquakes said to have overwhelmed them, or they must have been constructed at some later period.

“The ruins of Sicyon,” says Mr. Dodwell, “still retain some vestiges of ancient magnificence. Among these a fine theatre, situate at the north-east foot of the Acropolis; having seats in a perfect state. Near it are some large masses of Roman brick walls, and the remains of the gymnasium, supported by strong walls of polygonal construction. There are several dilapidated churches which, composed of ancient fragments, are supposed to occupy the site of the temples. Several fragments of the Doric order are observable among them; also several inscriptions.”

“In respect to the temple of Bacchus,” says Dr. Clarke, “we can be at no loss for its name, although nothing but the ground-plot now remains. It is distinctly stated by Pausanias to have been the temple of Bacchus, which was placed beyond the theatre to a person coming from the citadel, and to this temple were made those annual processions which took place at night, and by the light of the torches, when the Sicyonians brought hither the mystic images, called Bacchus and Lysius, chanting their ancient hymns.”

The theatre is almost in its entire state; and although the notes were made upon the spot, did not enable Dr. Clarke to afford a description of its form and dimensions equally copious with that already given of the famous theatre of Polycletus in Eidausia; yet this of Sicyon may be considered as surpassing every[Pg 347] other in Greece, in the harmony of its proportions, the costliness of the workmanship, the grandeur of the coilon, and the stupendous nature of the prospect presented to all those who were seated upon its benches. If it were cleared of the rubbish about it, and laid open to view, it would afford an astonishing idea of the magnificence of a city, whose treasures were so great, that its inhabitants ranked amongst the most voluptuous and effeminate people of all Greece. The stone-work is entirely of that massive kind, which denotes a very high degree of antiquity.

The stadium222 is on the right hand of a person facing the theatre, and it is undoubtedly the oldest work remaining of all that belonged to the ancient city. The walls exactly resemble those of Mycenæ and Tiryns; we may, therefore, class it among the examples of the Cyclopean masonry. It is, in other respects, the most remarkable structure of the kind existing; combining at once a natural and artificial character. The persons by whom it was formed, finding that the mountain whereon the coilon of the theatre has been constructed, would not allow a sufficient space for another oblong cavea of the length requisite to complete a stadium, built upon an artificial rampart reaching out into the plain, from the mountain toward the sea; so that this front-work resembles half a stadium thrust into the semi-circular cavity of a theatre; the entrance to the area, included between both, being formed with great taste and effect at the two sides or extremities of the semicircle. The ancient masonry appears in the front-work so placed. The length of the whole area equals two hundred and sixty-seven paces; the width of the advanced bastion thirty-six paces; and its height twenty-two feet six inches.

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Besides these there are some few other antiquities, but of too minute a kind to merit description.

Even her ruins223 speak less emphatically of the melancholy fate of Greece than her extensive solitudes. Oppression has degraded her children, and broken her spirit. Hence those prodigious plains, which God hath given for their good, are neglected; hence, too, the beauteous seas are without a sail; the lands of ancient Sicyon so thinly peopled!

’Tis Greece, but living Greece no more! So coldly sweet, so deadly fair, We start—for soul is wanting there! Hers is the loveliness in death, That parts not quite with parting breath; But beauty with that fearful bloom, That hue which haunts it to the tomb— Expression’s last receding ray, A gilded halo, hovering round decay, The farewell beam of feeling past away; Spark of that flame, perchance of heavenly birth, Which gleams, but warms no more its cherished earth!224


Phœnicia comprised Sidon, Tyre, Ptolemais, and Berytus. Its mountains were Libanus and Anti-Libanus. Its most ancient city was Sidon; which was an opulent city even at so early a period as that in which the Greeks are said to have lived upon acorns. It is situated on the shores of the Mediterranean, at a distance of about twenty miles from Tyre, and fifty from Damascus.

Sidon is supposed to have been built by Canaan’s first-born, whose name was Sidon225. It is, therefore, celebrated as the most ancient of the cities of Phœnicia. It is frequently mentioned in holy writ. It is named by Jacob226, in his prophetic speech concerning [Pg 349]the country which his sons were to inhabit; and it is stated as a place for some of the kings who were driven out by Joshua. Its remote origin, however, is perhaps still uncertain, though Justin speaks of it in the following manner:—“The nation of the Tyrians, descended from the Phœnicians, being shaken by an earthquake, and having abandoned their country, did first inhabit the Assyrian marsh; and, not long afterwards, the shore next unto the sea, where they built a city, and called it Sidon, from the abundance of fishes that were there: for the Phœnicians call a fish sidon. After the process of many years, being overcome by king Ascalon, they took shipping again, and built Tyre in the year before the destruction of Troy.”

“I cannot help thinking,” says Mr. Drummond, “that the city, called Tsidon by the Hebrews; Tsaid or Tsaida, by the Syrians; and Said or Saida, by the Arabians; originally received its name from the language of the last. The Tsidonians were celebrated for their skill in metallurgy, and for the art with which they worked in gold, silver, and brass. Much iron and brass existed in Phœnicia, and the possession of this country having been once intended for the tribe of Ashur, Moses said to that tribe, ‘under thy shoes shall be iron and brass:’ (Deut. xxxiii. 25.): that is, the soil under thy feet shall abound with iron and brass. Now I consider Sidon, or rather Saida, to have been so called from its abounding with saidi or saidan, viz. brass.”227

During the administration of Joshua, and afterwards, Sidon was governed by kings. He calls it “Zidon the great.”228 In the division of Palestine [Pg 350]it was allotted to Ashur; but this tribe could never get possession of it.229

The inhabitants are said to have assisted Solomon, in his preparations for the building of the temple; their skill in hewing timber being superior to that of all other nations.230

That Sidon was celebrated for its women being skilled in embroidery, we learn, in the first instance, from several passages in Scripture; and secondly, from a curious passage in Homer:

The Phrygian queen to her rich wardrobe went, Where treasured odours breathed a costly scent. There lay the vestures of no vulgar art, Sidonian maids embroider’d every part, Whom from soft Sidon youthful Paris bore, With Helen touching on the Tyrian shore. Here as the queen revolved with careful eyes The various textures and the various dyes, She chose a veil that shone superior far, And glow’d refulgent as the morning star.231

To the Sidonians, also, are attributed the inventions of glass,232 linen, and purple dye. They were [Pg 351]also greatly celebrated for their industry. They were highly commercial, and were famous for the many voyages some of their fellow-citizens undertook. It was the most ancient of maritime cities: illustrious for its wealth, for the sobriety and industry of its inhabitants; for the wisdom of its councils, and for its skill, not only in commerce and geography, but in astronomy.

The Sidonians were often engaged in war; but we can afford space only to a few instances. The origin of that with Artaxerxes Ochus, is thus related by Diodorus:233—“The king’s lieutenants and generals then in Sidon, carrying themselves, by their severe edicts, rigorously and haughtily towards the Sidonians, the citizens, being so abused, and not being able longer to brook it, studied how to revolt from the Persians. Upon which, the rest of the Phœnicians, being wrought upon by the others to vindicate their liberty, sent messengers to Nectanetus, the king of Egypt, then at war with the Persians, to receive them as confederates, and so the whole nation (Phœnicia,) prepared for war. And being that Sidon exceeded all the rest of the cities in wealth, and even private men, by the advantage of trade, were grown very rich, they built a great number of ships, and raised a potent army of mercenaries; and both arms, and darts, and provisions, and all other things necessary for war were prepared; and that they might appear first in the war, they spoiled and ruined the king’s garden, cutting down [Pg 352]all the trees, where the Persian kings used to recreate and divert themselves. Then they burned all the hay, which the lieutenants had laid up for the horses. At last they seized upon the Persians, who had so insulted them, and led them to punishment, and in this manner began the war of the Persians with the Phœnicians.”

Ochus Artaxerxes acted in a manner so contrary to all the best notions of government, that some historians have not hesitated to regard him as the most cruel and wicked of all the princes of his race. Not only the palace, but the empire was filled with his murderers. Several nations, over whom he exercised sway, in consequence revolted. Amongst these, Sidon and the other Phœnician cities. Ochus hearing of this, resolved to go in person to reduce the rebels. He repaired to Phœnicia with an army of 300,000 foot, and 30,000 horse. Mentor was at this time in Sidon with some troops from Greece. He had come thither to assist the rebels. When he learned how great a force the Persian king had, he was so alarmed, that he sent secretly to the king to offer to deliver up Sidon. This offer Ochus accepted; and the king of Sidon having come into the treason, the city was surrendered into his hands.

When the Sidonians saw themselves betrayed, and that the enemy had got entire possession of their city, they gave themselves up to despair, shut themselves up in their houses, and set them on fire. In this manner 40,000 men, besides women and children, perished in the flames! At this time, Sidon was so immensely rich, that the cinders, among which a vast quantity of gold and silver had melted, were sold by the conqueror for a large sum of money.

This judgment had been prophesied by Ezekiel234.

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“20. Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,

“21. Son of man, set thy face against Zidon, and prophesy against it.

“22. And say, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold I am against thee, O Zidon; and I will be glorified in the midst of thee: and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I shall have executed judgments in her, and shall be sanctified in her.

“23. For I will send into her pestilence, and blood into her streets; and the wounded shall be judged in the midst of her by the sword upon her on every side; and they shall know that I am the Lord.”

Eighteen years after this misfortune, Alexander of Macedon marched into Phœnicia. All submitted to him as he advanced; nor did any people do this with greater alacrity than the Sidonians: who, having suffered so largely from the Persian king, held the Persians in very great detestation. Strato, their king, however, having declared for Darius, Alexander desired Hephæstion to place in his stead any one of the Sidonians that he should judge worthy of so exalted a station. Being quartered at the house of two brothers, of whom he had reason to entertain the highest opinion, Hephæstion offered the crown to them; but these brothers had the virtue to refuse it, telling him, that, by the laws of the country, no one could ascend the throne but those who were of the blood-royal. Hephæstion, greatly moved at seeing the greatness of those who could refuse what so many others had striven to obtain by fire and sword, expressed his admiration of their magnanimity; and desired them to name any person of the royal family who would, on being placed upon the throne, remember who it was that put him there. On this the brothers answered, that they knew of no one more[Pg 354] worthy of a diadem than a person, named Abdolonymus. He was, they said, of the royal family, though at a great distance from the succession; but so poor that he was compelled to earn his bread by working in one of the gardens outside the city. He was not only poor, they continued, but of so contented a spirit, of so exalted a mind, and of such deep engagement of purpose, that the wars, which were then shaking Asia, were altogether unknown to him.

The two brothers immediately repaired to the place where they knew this person was to be found. They took royal garments with them; and after no great search found him employed in weeding his garden. They immediately saluted him as King of Sidon. “You must change your tatters,” said one of the brothers, “for the royal garments we have brought with us. Put off that mean and contemptible habit, in which you have grown old. Assume the style and sentiments of a prince. When, however, you are seated on the throne, continue to preserve the virtues which have made you worthy of it.” When Abdolonymus heard this, he was amazed. He looked upon the whole as a dream. When, however, he perceived that the two brothers were standing before him in actual presence, he inquired of them if they did not feel some shame in ridiculing him in that manner? They replied, that no ridicule was intended; but that all was in the spirit of honour. They threw over his shoulders a purple raiment, richly embroidered with gold; repeated to him oaths of earnestness, and led him to the palace.

The news of this astonishing circumstance soon spread over the whole city. Most of the richer sort were indignant. Alexander, however, commanded that the newly elected prince should be brought into his presence. When he was presented, Alexander[Pg 355] measured him with his eye from head to foot, and gazed upon his countenance for some time. At length he addressed him after the following manner:—“Thine air and thy mien by no means contradict what I have heard, in regard to thy extraction; and I therefore desire to know in what spirit thou hast borne the abject condition to which thou wert reduced.” “Would to the gods,” answered Abdolonymus, “that I may bear this crown with equal patience! These hands have procured to me all I have enjoyed; for whilst I had nothing, I wanted nothing.”

When Alexander heard this, he was so struck with admiration, that he not only presented him with all the furniture that had belonged to Strato, and part of the riches he had himself acquired in Persia, but he annexed to his dominions one of the neighbouring provinces.

At this period, Quietus Curtius says235, Sidon was a city greatly celebrated on account of its antiquity and its founder.

Upon an elevation, on the south side of the city, stood a fine old castle, now in ruins. It was built by Lewis IX. of France, surnamed the Saint; who also repaired the city during the Holy Wars236. In subsequent times it fell into decay; but its final ruin is said to have been effected by Feckerdine, Emir of the Druses, when he had established an independent power, with the view of preventing the Grand Signior from landing a maritime force here to act against him. He destroyed all the little ports, from Bairout to Acra, by sinking boats and stones to prevent [Pg 356] the Turkish ships from entering them237. He then built a castle, which still exists. He erected also a magnificent palace in the Italian style; but that is in ruins.

In the time of Volney, Sayda contained about five thousand inhabitants; in 1816 from six thousand to seven thousand. Of these there are one thousand Christians, five hundred Jews, the rest are Mahommedans. The climate is mild, agreeable, and healthy.

The huge stones of which the mole was built may still be seen, being capable of filling its whole thickness. Some of these are twelve feet long, eleven broad, and five deep. It is supposed to have been built by Lewis IX.; but this, perhaps, was not the case, since it contains, on the top of it, a work of a much more ancient date.

On the opposite side of the town is a modern fort, built by Degnizlu; but consisting merely of a large tower, incapable of resisting any serious attack.

“Sidon was the mother of Tyre,” says Mr. Robinson; “yet it was speedily eclipsed by that city, in fame, in riches, and in importance. After sharing in its fortunes, during the space of many centuries, it has finally survived its rival, and is again a place of considerable trade.”

The buildings of Sayda, according to Mr. Buckingham, are not at all superior to the common order of Mahommedan edifices in the modern towns of Syria. The streets are extremely narrow, the mosques mean, the caravanserais small and incommodious, and the bazaars few, and badly furnished even with the commonest necessaries. According to another traveller, Sayda is ill-built, dirty, and full of ruins. These ruins, however, are of a comparatively modern date. [Pg 357] Few of ancient times remain. There is, nevertheless, a large tesselated pavement of variegated marble, representing a horse, and tolerably perfect in some parts for ten feet in length, remaining close to the sea, on the northern extremity of the city, which shows that the sea encroaches on the land. There are also several columns of granite wrought into the walls; and some stand as posts on the bridge leading to the fort; and near the gate of the town is a small square building, which contains the tombs of such of the Emirs of the Druses as died when Sayda was in their possession.

Sayda is the principal port of Damascus. The harbour, like all those on this coast, was formed with much art, and at an immense expense, by means of long piers. These works, which subsisted entire under the lower empire, are now fallen into decay. “So great are the mutations, occasioned by time,” says Mr. Buckingham, “that but for the identity of name and position, there would be scarcely any marks left by which to recognise even the site of the present emporium here alluded to. The stranger, who visits it in its present state, will look around in vain for any of those vestiges of its former grandeur which the description of the ancient historians would lead him to expect; and which, indeed, are still to be seen in most of the other celebrated cities of the East,—whether in Greece, Egypt, Syria, or Asia Minor.238


The true origin of Smyrna is rather doubtful. One account is, that such of the Achaians as were descended from Æolus, and had hitherto inhabited Laconia, being driven thence by the Dorians, after some [Pg 358]wandering, settled in that part of Asia Minor which, from them, was called Æolis; where they founded twelve cities, one of which was Smyrna. According to Herodotus, however, it owed its foundation to the Curmæans, who were of Thessalian extraction; who, having built the city of Cuma, and finding it too small to contain their number, erected another city, which they named Smyrna, from the wife of their general, Theseus. According to some, it was built by Tantalus; and others insist, and perhaps with great truth, that it was founded by persons who inhabited a quarter of Ephesus called Smyrna. Some have ascribed it to an Amazon of that name: in respect to whom Sir George Wheler informs us, that they stamped their money with a figure of her head, and that he got several pieces of them very rare, and saw many more. One small one had her head crowned with towers, and a two-edged hatchet on her shoulder. On another her whole habit; thus—her head crowned with a tower, as before; a two-edged axe upon her shoulder, holding a temple in her right hand, with a short vest let down to her knees, and buskins half way up her legs. On another she was dressed in the habit of a Hercules. Whatever its origin might be, certain it is, that it was one of the richest and most powerful cities of Asia, and became one of the twelve cities of the Ionian confederacy.

Smyrna has been subject to many revolutions, and been severally in the possession of the Æolians, Ionians, and Macedonians.

The Lydians took possession under Ardys, son of Gyges; and having destroyed it, the inhabitants dispersed themselves into several districts.

Alexander, in compliance with the directions of a vision, he saw near the temple of the Furies, rebuilt it four hundred years after it had been destroyed by the Lydians. Strabo, however, attributes its re-establishment [Pg 359] to Antigonus and Lysimachus. But as neither that author nor Arrian mention Alexander as having done so, it is not improbable that he only meditated the doing so; that Antigonus followed up his design; and that Lysimachus carried its completion into effect.

At Smyrna there were none of the tyrants, who oppressed many other cities of Asia. Even the Romans respected the happy state of this town, and left it the shadow of liberty. This is a fine panegyric upon the system of polity, that must have been adopted and invariably preserved.

There is another circumstance, highly to its honour: the inhabitants believed that Homer was born in their city, and they showed a place which bore the poet’s name. They also paid him divine honours. Of all the cities, which contended for the honour of having given birth to this transcendant poet, Smyrna has undoubtedly the most reason on her side. Herodotus absolutely decides in favour of Smyrna, assuring us, that he was born on the banks of the river Meles, whence he took the name of Melesigenes.

The inhabitants are said to have been much given to luxury and indolence; but they were universally esteemed for their valour and intrepidity when called into action. Anacharsis is made to speak of their city in the following manner:—“Our road, which was almost everywhere overshadowed by beautiful andrachnes, led us to the mouth of the Hermus; and thence our view extended over that superb bay, formed by a peninsula, on which are the cities of Erythræ and Teos. At the bottom of it are some small villages, the unfortunate remains of the ancient city of Smyrna, formerly destroyed by the Lydians. They still bear the same name; and, should circumstances one day permit the inhabitants to unite and form one town, defended by walls, their situation will doubtless attract an immense commerce.”

[Pg 360]

It was the first town of Asia Minor, according to Tacitus, which, even during the existence of Carthage, erected any temple to “Rome the Goddess.” Part of the city was destroyed by Dolabella, when he slew Trebonius, one of the conspirators against Cæsar. But it flourished greatly under the early emperors: Marcus Aurelius repaired it after it had been destroyed by an earthquake; and under Caracalla it took the name of the first city of Asia.

Smyrna was much celebrated for its stately buildings, magnificent temples, and marble porticoes. It had several grand porticoes of a square form, amongst which was one in which stood a temple of Homer, adorned with a statue of the bard. There was also a gymnasium, and a temple dedicated to the mother of the gods. Where the gymnasium was, however, is now past conjecture; but part of its theatre was still in existence in the time of Sir George Wheler. “The theatre,” says he, “is on the brow of the hill north of the course, built of white marble, but now is going to be destroyed, to build the new Kan and Bazar hard by the fort below, which they are now about; and in doing whereof there hath been lately found a pot of medals, all of the emperor Gallienus’ family, and the other tyrants that reigned in his time.” There were also there the remains of a circus, and a considerable number of ancient foundations and noble structures; but what they were Sir George considered uncertain. He found also many inscriptions and medals, on which the names of Tiberius, Claudius, and Nero were to be read; on others, sepulchral monuments. Among these, was one with an inscription “to the emperor Adrian, Olympian, Saviour and Founder.”

In the Armenian church-yard he saw an inscription—“Good Fortune to the most splendid Metropolitan, and thrice Neocorus of the emperor, according [Pg 361] to the judgment of the most holy senate of Smyrniotes239.”

Many writers do not seem to be aware, that the ancient Smyrna did not occupy the spot where modern Smyrna stands, but one about two miles and a half distant. It was built partly on the brow of a hill, and partly on a plain towards the port, and had a temple dedicated to Cybele. It was then the most beautiful of all the Asiatic cities. “But that which was, and ever will be, its true glory,” says Sir George Wheler, “was their early reception of the gospel of Jesus Christ—glorious in the testimony he has given of them, and happy in the faithful promises he made to them. Let us, therefore, consider what he writeth to them by the Evangelist St. John:—(Apoc. ii. 9.) ‘I know thy works and tribulation, and poverty; but thou art rich. And I know the blasphemy of them, that say they are Jews, and are not: but are the Synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things, which thou shalt suffer. Behold, the Devil shall cast some of ye in prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days. Be thou faithful unto death; and I will give thee a crown of life.’”

Previous to the year 1675, it had been partially destroyed, and several times, by earthquakes; and it was predicted that a seventh convulsion would be fatal to the whole city. Such a calamity, attended by a dreadful fire, and the swallowing up of multitudes by the incursion of the sea, recurred in 1688, and did, indeed, very nearly fulfil the prophecy. [Pg 362] “Repeated strokes,” says Sir John Hobhouse, “and almost annual pestilences, have since that period laid waste this devoted city; and yet the convenience of a most spacious and secure harbour, together with the luxuriant fertility of the surrounding country, and the prescriptive excellence allowed nearly two thousand years to this port, in preference to the other maritime stations of Asia Minor, still operate to collect and keep together a vast mass of inhabitants from every quarter of the globe.”

According to Pococke, the city might have been about four miles in compass; of a triangular form. It seems to have extended about a mile on the sea, and three miles on the north, south, and east sides, taking in the compass of the castle. This stands on the remains of the ancient castle, the walls of which were of the same kind of architecture as the city walls on the hill. It is all in ruins, except a small part of the west end, which is always kept shut up.

One of the gateways of white marble has been brought from another place; and in the architrave round the arch there is a Greek inscription of the middle ages. At another gate there is a colossal head, said to be that of the Amazon Smyrna. It is of fine workmanship, and the tresses particularly flow in a very natural manner. “Smyrna,” says Pococke, “was one of the finest cities in these parts, and the streets were beautifully laid out, well-paved, and adorned with porticoes, both above and below. There was also a temple of Mars, a circus, and a theatre; and yet there is now very little to be seen of all these things.”

Upon a survey of the castle, Dr. Chandler collected, that, after being re-edified by John Angelus Comnenus, its condition, though less ruinous than before, was far more mean and ignoble. The old[Pg 363] wall, of which many remnants may be discovered, is of a solid massive construction, worthy of Alexander and his captains. All the repairs are mere patchwork. On the arch of a gateway, which is of marble, is inscribed a copy of verses, giving an elegant and poetical description of the extreme misery from which the above-mentioned emperor raised the city; concluding with an address to the Omnipotent Ruler of heaven and earth, that he would grant him and his queen, whose beauty it celebrates, a reign of many years. On each side is an eagle, rudely cut.

Near the sea is the ground-work of a stadium, stripped of its marble seats and decorations. Below the theatre is part of a slight wall. The city walls have long since been demolished. Even its ruins are removed. Beyond the deep valley, however, in which the Meles winds, behind the castle, are several portions of the wall of the Pomœrium, which encompassed the city at a distance, but broken. The facings are gone, and masses left only of rubble and cement.

The ancient city has supplied materials for those public edifices, which have been erected by the Turks. The Bezestan and the Vizir khan were both raised with the white marble of the theatre. The very ruins of the stones and temples are vanished. “We saw,” says Dr. Chandler, “remains of one only; some shafts of columns of variegated marble, much injured, in the way ascending through the town to the castle. Many pedestals, statues, inscriptions, and medals have been, and are still, discovered in digging. Perhaps,” continues our author, “no place has contributed more to enrich the cabinets and collections of Europe.”

“Smyrna,” says a celebrated French writer, “the queen of the cities of Anatolia, and extolled by the[Pg 364] ancients under the title of ‘the lovely, the crown of Ionia, the ornament of Asia,’ braves the reiterated efforts of conflagrations and earthquakes. Ten times destroyed, she has ten times risen from her ruins with new splendour. According to a very common Grecian system, the principal buildings were erected on the face of a hill fronting the sea. The hill supplied marble, while its slope afforded a place for the seats rising gradually above each other in the stadium, or the great theatre for the exhibition of games. Almost every trace of the ancient city, however, has been obliterated during the contests between the Greek empire and the Ottomans, and afterwards by the ravages of Timour, in 1402. The foundation of the stadium remains; but the area is sown with grain. There are only a few vestiges of the theatre; and the castle, which crowns the hill, is chiefly patchwork, executed by John Comnenus on the ruins of the old one, the walls of which, of immense strength and thickness, may still be discovered.”

This city was visited a short time since by the celebrated French poet and traveller Lamartine. He has thus spoken of its environs:—“The view from the top of the hill over the gulf and city is beautiful. On descending the hill to the margin of the river, which I like to believe is the Meles, we were delighted with the situation of the bridge of the caravans, very near one of the gates of the town. The river is limpid, slumbering under a peaceful arch of sycamores and cypresses; we seated ourselves on its bank. If this stream heard the first notes of Homer, I love to hear its gentle murmurings amidst the roots of the palm-trees; I raise its waters to my lips. Oh! might that man appear from the Western world, who should weave its history, its dreams, and its heaven, into an epic! Such a poem is the sepulchre of times gone by, to which posterity comes to[Pg 365] venerate traditions, and eternalise by its worship the great actions and sublime thoughts of human nature. Its author engraves his name on the pedestal of the statue which he erects to man, and he lives in all the ideas with which he enriches the world of imagination.”

According to the same author, Smyrna in no respect resembles an Eastern town; it is a large and elegant factory, where the European consuls and merchants lead the life of Paris and London.

Though frequently and severely visited by the plague, it contains one hundred and twenty thousand inhabitants; and may be considered as the great emporium of the Levant240.


When Diocletian selected a spot for his retirement, he solicitously observed, that his palace should command every beauty that the country afforded. In this retirement he began to live, to see the beauty of the sun, and to enjoy, as Vopiscus relates, true happiness in the society of those he had known in his youth241. His palace was situated at Spalatro, in Dalmatia.

While residing at this place, Diocletian made a [Pg 366]very remarkable and strictly true confession:—“Four or five persons,” said he, “who are closely united, and resolutely determined to impose on a prince, may do it very easily. They never show things to him but in such a light as they are sure will please. They conceal whatever would contribute to enlighten him; and as they only besiege him continually, he cannot be informed of any thing but through their medium, and does nothing but what they think fit to suggest to him. Hence it is, that he bestows employments on those he ought to exclude from them; and, on the other hand, removes from offices such persons as are most worthy of filling them. In a word, the best prince is often sold by these men, though he be ever so vigilant, and even suspicious of them.”

As the voyager enters the bay, the marine wall and long arcades of the palace, one of the ancient temples, and other parts of that building, present themselves. The inhabitants have destroyed some parts of the palace, in order to procure materials for building. In other places houses are built of the old foundations; and modern works are so intermingled with the ancient, as scarcely to be distinguishable.

The palace of Diocletian possessed all those advantages of situation, to which the ancients were most attentive. It was so great that the emperor Constantinus Porphyrogenitus, who had seen the most splendid buildings of the ancients, affirms242, that no plan or description of it could convey a perfect idea of it. The vast extent of ground which it occupied is surprising at first sight; the dimensions of one side of [Pg 367]the quadrangle, including the towers, being no less than six hundred and ninety-eight feet, and of the other four hundred and ninety-two feet:—making the superficial contents four hundred and thirteen thousand two hundred and sixteen feet; that is, about nine and a half English acres. But when it is considered that it contained proper apartments not only for the emperor himself, and for the numerous retinue of officers who attended his court, but likewise edifices and open spaces for exercises of different kinds, that it was capable of lodging a prætorian cohort, and that two temples were erected within its precincts, we shall not conclude the area to have been too large for such a variety of buildings.

For a description of this celebrated place, we must refer to Mr. Adam’s Antiquities; but there is one circumstance that may be highly interesting at the present time, which is, that not the smallest vestige of a fire-place is to be seen in any part of the building; and it may be therefore conjectured, that the various apartments might have been heated by flues or funnels, conveying and distributing heated air.

Of the temples, one of them was dedicated to Æsculapius; the ascent to which was by a stair of fifteen steps, and it received no light but from the door. Beneath it are vaults of great strength; its roof is an arch adorned with sunk pannels of beautiful workmanship, and its walls are of a remarkable thickness. This temple remains almost entire.

There is another temple, dedicated to Jupiter, who was worshipped by Diocletian with peculiar veneration; and in honour of whom he assumed the name of Jovius. This temple is surrounded with one row of columns, having a space between them and the wall. It is lighted by an arched window over the door, and is vaulted beneath like that of Æsculapius. There are remains of two other buildings, not much[Pg 368] inferior in extent, nor probably in original magnificence; but by the injuries of time, and the depredations of the Spalatrines, these are reduced to a very ruinous condition.

Besides these the visitor sees large vaults along that side of the palace which looks to the sea; partly destroyed, partly filled up, and some occupied by merchants as storehouses.

In one of the towers belonging to the palace, Diocletian is supposed to have been buried; and we are told that, about two hundred and seventy-five years ago, the body of the emperor was discovered there in a sarcophagus of porphyry.

The shafts of the columns of the temple of Jupiter are of oriental alabaster of one stone. The capitals and bases of the columns, and on the entablature, are of Parian marble. The shafts of the columns of the second order, which is composite, are alternately of verd-antique, or ancient green marble and porphyry, of one piece. The capitals and entablature are also of Parian marble.

All the capitals throughout the palace are raffled more in the Grecian than the Roman style; so that Mr. Adam243 thinks it probable, that Diocletian, who had been so often in Greece, brought his artificers thither, in order to vary the execution of his orders of architecture in this palace, from those he had executed at his baths at Rome, which are extremely different both in formation and execution244.

[Pg 369]


This was a town in Caria, where a Macedonian colony took up their abode; and which several Syrian monarchs afterwards adorned and beautified. It was named after the wife of Antiochus Soter, of whom history gives the following account. “Antiochus was seized with a lingering distemper, of which the physicians were incapable of discovering the cause; for which reason his condition was thought entirely desperate. Erasistratus, the most attentive and skilful of all the physicians, having carefully considered every symptom with which the indisposition of the young prince was attended, believed at last that he had discovered its true cause, and that it proceeded from a passion he had entertained for some lady; in which conjecture he was not deceived. It, however, was more difficult to discover the object of a passion, the more violent from the secrecy in which it remained. The physician, therefore, to assure himself fully of what he surmised, passed whole days in the apartment of his patient, and when he saw any lady enter, he carefully observed the countenance of the prince, and never discovered the least emotion in him, except when Stratonice came into the chamber, either alone, or with her consort; at which times the young prince was, as Plutarch observes, always affected with the symptoms described by Sappho, as so many indications of a violent passion. Such, for instance, as a suppression of voice; burning blushes; suffusion of sight; cold sweat; a sensible inequality and disorder of pulse; with a variety of the like symptoms. When the physician was afterwards alone with his patient, he managed his inquiries with so much dexterity, as at last drew the secret from him. Antiochus confessed his passion for queen Stratonice his mother-in-law, and declared that he had in vain employed [Pg 370] all his efforts to vanquish it: he added, that he had a thousand times had recourse to every consideration that could be represented to his thoughts, in such a conjuncture; particularly the respect due from him to a father and a sovereign, by whom he was tenderly beloved; the shameful circumstance of indulging a passion altogether unjustifiable, and contrary to all the rules of decency and honour; the folly of harbouring a design he ought never to be desirous of gratifying; but that his reason, in its present state of distraction, entirely engrossed by one object, would hearken to nothing. And he concluded with declaring, that, to punish himself, for desires involuntary in one sense, but criminal in every other, he had resolved to languish to death, by discontinuing all care of his health, and abstaining from every kind of food. The physician gained a very considerable point, by penetrating into the source of his patient’s disorder; but the application of the proper remedy was much more difficult to be accomplished; and how could a proposal of this nature be made to a parent and king! When Seleucus made the next inquiry after his son’s health, Erasistratus replied, that his distemper was incurable, because it arose from a secret passion which could never be gratified, as the lady he loved was not to be obtained. The father, surprised and afflicted at this answer, desired to know why the lady was not to be obtained? ‘Because she is my wife!’ replied the physician, ‘and I am not disposed to yield her up to the embraces of another.’ ‘And will you not part with her then,’ replied the king, ‘to preserve the life of a son I so tenderly love! Is this the friendship you profess for me?’ ‘Let me entreat you, my lord,’ said Erasistratus, ‘to imagine yourself for one moment in my place, would you resign your Stratonice to his arms? If you, therefore, who are a father,[Pg 371] would not consent to such a sacrifice for the welfare of a son so dear to you, how can you expect another should do it?’ ‘I would resign Stratonice, and my empire to him, with all my soul,’ interrupted the king. ‘Your majesty then,’ replied the physician, ‘has the remedy in your own hands; for he loves Stratonice.’ The father did not hesitate a moment after this declaration, and easily obtained the consent of his consort: after which, his son and that princess were crowned king and queen of upper Asia. Julian the Apostate, however, relates in a fragment of his writings still extant, that Antiochus could not espouse Stratonice, till after the death of his father.

“Whatever traces of reserve, moderation, and even modesty, appear in the conduct of this young prince,” says Rollin at the conclusion of this history, “his example shows us the misfortune of giving the least entrance into the heart of an unlawful passion, capable of discomposing all the happiness and tranquillity of life.”

Stratonice was a free city under the Romans. Hadrian erected several structures in it, and thence took the opportunity of calling it Hadrianopolis.

It is now a poor village, and called Eskihissar. It was remarkable for a magnificent temple, dedicated to Jupiter, of which no foundations are now to be traced, but in one part of the village there is a grand gate of a plain architecture. There was a double row of large pillars from it, which probably formed the avenue to the temple; and on each side of the gate there was a semicircular alcove niche, and a colonnade from it, which, with a wall on each side of the gate, might make a portico, that was of the Corinthian order. Fifty paces further there are remains of another colonnade. To the south of this are ruins of a building of large hewn stone, supposed to have belonged to the temple of Serapis. There[Pg 372] is also a large theatre, the front of which is ruined; there are in all about forty seats, with a gallery in the middle, and another at the top.

Chandler gives a very agreeable account of this village:—“The houses are scattered among woody hills environed by huge mountains; one of which has its summit as white as chalk. It is watered by a limpid and lively rill, with cascades. The site is strewed with marble fragments. Some shafts of columns are standing single; and one with a capital on it. By a cottage are three, with a pilaster supporting an entablature, but enveloped in thick vines and trees. Near the theatre are several pedestals of statues; one records a citizen of great merit and magnificence. Above it is a marble heap; and the whole building is overgrown with moss, bushes, and trees. Without the village, on the opposite side, are broken arches, with pieces of massive wall and sarcophagi. Several altars also remain, with inscriptions; once placed in sepulchres245.”


Strabo says that Susa was built by Tithonus or Tithon, the father of Memnon; and this origin is in some degree supported by a passage in Herodotus, wherein that historian calls it “the city of Memnon.” In Scripture it is called “Shushan.” It was an oblong of one hundred and twenty stadia in circuit; situated on the river Cutæus or Uhlai.

Susa derived its name from the number of lilies which grew on the banks of the river on which it stood. It was sheltered by a high ridge of mountains on the north, which rendered it very agreeable during winter. But in summer the heat was so intense and parching, that the inhabitants were accustomed to [Pg 373]cover their houses two cubits deep with earth. It was in this city that Ahasuerus gave the great feast which lasted one hundred and eighty-three days.

Barthelemy makes Anacharsis write to his friend in Scythia to the following purport:—“The kings of Persia, besides Persepolis, have caused other palaces to be built; less sumptuous, indeed, but of wonderful beauty, at Ecbatana and Susa. They have, also, spacious parks, which they call paradises, and which are divided into two parts. In the one, armed with arrows and javelins, they pursue on horseback, through the forests, the deer which are shut up in them; and in the other, in which the art of gardening has exhausted its utmost efforts, they cultivate the most beautiful flowers, and gather the most delicious fruits. They are not less attentive to adorn these parks with superb trees, which they commonly dispose in the form called Quincunx.” He gives, also, an account of the great encouragement afforded to agriculture. “But our attention was still more engaged by the conspicuous protection and encouragement which the sovereign grants to agriculture; and that, not by some transient favours and rewards, but by an enlightened vigilance more powerful than edicts and laws. He appoints in every district two superintendants; one for the military, and the other for civil affairs. The office of the former is to preserve the public tranquillity; and that of the latter to promote the progress of industry and agriculture. If one of these should not discharge his duty, the other may complain of him to the governor of the province, or the sovereign himself. If the monarch sees the country covered with trees, harvests, and all the productions of which the soil is capable, he heaps honours on the two officers, and enlarges their government. But if he finds the lands uncultivated, they are directly displaced, and others appointed in[Pg 374] their stead. Commissioners of incorruptible integrity exercise the same justice in the districts through which the sovereign does not pass.”

Susa is rendered remarkable by the immensity of wealth, hoarded up in it by the Persian kings, and which fell into the hands of Alexander, when, twenty days after leaving Babylon, he took possession of that city. There were 50,000 talents246 of silver in ore and ingots; a sum equivalent, of our money, to 7,500,000l. Besides this, there were five thousand talents’247 worth of purple of Hermione, which, though it had been laid up for one hundred and ninety years, retained its freshness and beauty: the reason assigned for which is, that the purple wool was combed with honey, and the white with white oil248. Besides this, there were a thousand other things of extraordinary value. “This wealth,” says one of the historians, “was the produce of the exactions imposed for several centuries upon the common people, from whose sweat and poverty immense revenues were raised.” “The Persian monarchy,” he goes on to observe, “fancied they had amassed them for their children and posterity; but, in one hour, they fell into the hands of a foreign king, who was able to make a right use of them: for Alexander seemed to be merely the guardian or trustee of the immense riches which he found hoarded up in Persia; and applied them to no other use than the rewarding of courage and merit.”

Here, too, were found many of the rarities which Xerxes had taken from Greece; and amongst others, [Pg 375]the brazen statues of Harmodius and Aristogiton, which Alexander soon after sent to Athens.

This was the city in which a curious scene occurred between Alexander and Sisygambis, Darius’ mother, whom he had taken prisoner at the battle of Issus. He had left her at Susa, with Darius’ children: and having received a quantity of purple stuffs and rich habits from Macedonia, made after the fashion of his own country, he sent them to Sisygambis; desiring his messengers to tell her, that if the stuffs pleased her, she might teach her grandchildren, who were with her, the art of weaving them for their amusement. Now the working in wool was considered an ignominy by the Persian women. When Sisygambis heard Alexander’s message, therefore, she burst into tears. This being related to the conqueror, he thought it decorous to do away the impression. He therefore visited Sisygambis. “Mother,” said he, for he valued Darius’ mother next to his own, “the stuff, in which you see me clothed, was not only a gift of my sisters, but wrought by their fingers. Hence I beg you to believe, that the custom of my country misled me; and do not consider that as an insult, which was owing entirely to ignorance. I believe I have not yet done any thing which I knew interfered with your manners and customs. I was told, that among the Persians it is a sort of crime for a son to seat himself in his mother’s presence, without first obtaining her leave. You are sensible how cautious I have been in that particular; and that I never sat down till you had first laid your commands upon me to do so. And every time that you were going to fall down prostrate before me, I only ask you, whether I would suffer it? As the highest testimony of the veneration I owe you, I always called you by the tender name of mother, though this belongs properly to[Pg 376] Olympia only, to whom I owe my birth.” On hearing this Sisygambis was extremely well satisfied, and became afterwards so partial to the conqueror of her son and country, that when she heard of the death of Alexander she wept as if she had lost a son. “Who now will take care of my daughters?” she exclaimed. “Where shall we find another Alexander?” At last she sank under her grief. “This princess,” says Rollin, “who had borne with patience the death of her father, her husband, eighty of her brothers, who were murdered in one day by Ochus, and, to say all in one word, that of Darius her son, and the ruin of her family; though she had, I say, submitted patiently to all these losses, she however had not strength of mind sufficient to support herself after the death of Alexander. She would not take any sustenance, and starved herself to death, to avoid surviving this last calamity.”

Alexander found in Susa all the captives of quality he had left there. He married Statira,249 Darius’ eldest daughter, and gave the youngest to his dear Hephæstion. And in order that, by making these marriages more common, his own might not be censured, he persuaded the greatest noblemen in his court, and his principal favourites, to imitate him. Accordingly they chose, from amongst the noblest families of Persia, about eighty young maidens, whom they married. His design was, by these alliances, to cement so strongly the union of the two nations, that they should henceforward form but one, under his empire. The nuptials were solemnised after the Persian manner. He likewise feasted all the rest of the Macedonians who had married before in that country. It is related that there were nine thousand guests at this feast, and that he gave each of them a golden cup for the libations.

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When at Susa, Alexander found a proof of the misgovernment of which his satraps had been guilty during his absence. The Susians loudly complained of the satrap Abulites, and his son Oxathres, of spoliation and tyranny. Being convicted of the crimes of which they were charged, they were both sentenced to death.

Josephus says, that Daniel’s wisdom did not only reach to things divine and political, but also to arts and sciences, and particularly to that of architecture; in confirmation of which, he speaks of a famous edifice built by him at Susa, in the manner of a castle, which he says still subsisted in his time, and finished with such wonderful art, that it then seemed as fresh and beautiful as if it had been but newly built. “Within this palace,” continues Josephus, “the Persian and Parthian kings were usually buried; and, for the sake of the founder, the keeping of it was committed to one of the Jewish nation, even to his time. It was a common tradition in those parts for many ages, that Daniel died at Susa, and there they show his monument to this day. It is certain that Daniel used to go thither from time to time, and he himself tells us, that ‘he did the king’s business there.’”

There being some doubt whether the ancient Susa is the modern Shus, or the modern Shuster, we shall not enter into the argument, but describe them both.

The ruins of Shus are situate in the province of Kuzistan, or Chusistan. They extend about twelve miles250 from one extremity to the other, stretching as far as the eastern bank of the Kerah, occupying an immense space between that river and the Abzal; and, like the ruins of Babylon, Ctesiphon, and Kufa, [Pg 378]consisting of hillocks of earth and rubbish, covered with broken pieces of brick and coloured tile.

There are two mounds larger than the rest. The first is about a mile in circumference, and nearly one hundred feet in height. The other is not quite so high, but double the circumference. The Arabs often dig with a view of getting treasures of gold in these two mounds; and every now and then discover large blocks of marble, covered with hieroglyphics. The mounds in general bear considerable resemblance to those of Babylon; but with this difference to distinguish them: instead of being entirely composed of brick, they consist of clay and pieces of tile, with irregular layers of brick and mortar, five or six feet thick, intended, it would seem, as a kind of prop to the mass. This is one reason for supposing that Shus is the ancient Susa; and not Shuster. For Strabo says, that the Persian capital was entirely built of brick; there not being a single stone in the province: whereas the quarries of Shuster are very celebrated; and almost the whole of that town is built of stone. But let the question, says a modern traveller, be decided as it may, the site of the city of Shus is now a gloomy wilderness, infested by lions, hyænas, and other beasts of prey. “The dread of these furious animals,” says Mr. Kinneir, “compelled us to take shelter for the night within the walls that encompassed Daniel’s tomb.”

At the foot of the most elevated of the pyramids stands what is called “the Tomb of Daniel;” a small, comparatively modern, building, erected on the spot where the relics of the prophet are believed to rest. Others doubt this circumstance; among whom is Dr. Vincent251, who insists, that to the legendary tradition of the tomb of Daniel little more respect is due, than to the legends of the church of Rome, and the traditions [Pg 379] of the Mahometans in general. The antiquity of the tradition is, nevertheless, considerable; for it is not only mentioned by Benjamin of Tudela, who visited Shus in the latter part of the twelfth century, but by one of the earliest Mussulman writers, Ahmed of Kufah, who died A. H. 117 (A. D. 735), and records the removal of the prophet’s coffin to the bed of the river.

Shuster is the capital of Kuzistan, and is situate at the foot of the mountains of Bucktiari, on an eminence commanding the rapid course of the Karoon, across which is a bridge of one arch, upwards of eighty feet high; from the summit of which the Persians often throw themselves into the water, without sustaining the smallest injury. It is situated so agreeably in respect to climate and supplies of all kinds, that while Shus, in the old Persian language, signified “delightful,” Shuster had a more expressive one; “most delightful.”

Shuster, from the ruins yet remaining, must have been once of great magnificence and extent. The most worthy of observation amongst these ruins are the castle, a dyke, and a bridge. “Part of the walls of the first,” says Mr. Kinneir, “said to have been the abode of Valerian252, are still standing. They occupy a small hill at the western extremity of the town, from which there is a fine view of the river, mountains, and adjoining country. This fortress is, on two sides, defended by a ditch, now almost choked with sand; and on the other two, by a branch of the Karoon. It has but one gateway, built in the Roman fashion, formerly entered by a draw-bridge. The hill is almost entirely excavated, and formed into surdabs and subterranean aqueducts, through which the water still continues to flow.”

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Not far from the castle is the dyke to which we have alluded. This dyke was built by Sapor. “Not,” says Mr. Kinneir, as “D’Herbelot would insinuate, to prevent a second deluge, but rather to occasion one, by turning a large proportion of the water into a channel more favourable to agriculture, than that which Nature had assigned to it.”

This dyke is constructed of cut stone, bound together by clamps of iron, about twenty-feet broad, and four hundred yards long, with two small arches in the middle. It has lately been rebuilt by Mahomet Ali Maerza, governor of Kermanshaw.

The fate of Valerian, to whom we have alluded, is thus recorded by Gibbon:—“The voice of history, which is often little more than the organ of hatred or flattery, reproaches Sapor with a proud abuse of the rights of conquest. We are told that Valerian, in chains, but invested with the imperial purple, was exposed to the multitude, a constant spectacle of fallen greatness; and that whenever the Persian monarch mounted on horseback, he placed his foot upon the neck of a Roman emperor. Notwithstanding all the remonstrances of his allies, who repeatedly advised him to remember the vicissitudes of fortune, to dread the returning power of Rome, and to make his illustrious captive the pledge of peace, not the object of insult, Sapor still remained inflexible. When Valerian sank under the weight of shame and grief, his skin, stuffed with straw, and formed into the likeness of a human figure, was preserved for ages in the most celebrated temple of Persia; a more real monument of triumph than the sacred trophies of brass and marble, so often erected by Roman vanity253. The tale is moral and pathetic; but the [Pg 381]truth of it may very fairly be called in question. It is unnatural to suppose, that a jealous monarch should, even in the person of a rival, thus publicly degrade the majesty of kings. Whatever treatment the unfortunate Valerian might experience in Persia, it is at least certain, that the only emperor of Rome who had ever fallen into the hands of the enemy, languished away his life in hopeless captivity.” The place of that captivity is said to have been Shuster254.


Dissolved in ease and soft delights they lie, Till every sun annoys, and every wind Has chilling force, and every rain offends. Dyer, Ruins of Rome.

Sybaris was a town of Lucania, situated on the banks of the Bay of Tarentum. It was founded by a colony of Achaians; and in process of time became very powerful.

The walls of this city extend six miles and a half in circumference, and the suburbs covered the banks of the Crathis for seven miles.

Historians and orators, of all ages, have been guilty of praising heroes. “For my own part,” says Mr. Swinburne, “I cannot help feeling pity for the hard fate of the Sybarites, to whom we are indebted for the discovery of many most useful pieces of chamber and kitchen furniture. They appear to have been a people of great taste, and to have set the fashion, in point of dress, throughout all Greece. Their cooks, embroiderers, [Pg 382] and confectioners, were famous over all the polite world; and we may suppose their riding-masters did not enjoy a less brilliant reputation, since we are told of their having taught their horses to dance to a particular tune. The public voice, however, of all ages, has been against them. Sybaris255 was ten leagues from Croton. Four neighbouring states, and twenty-five cities, were subject to it; so that it was alone able to raise an army of three hundred thousand men. The opulence of Sybaris was soon followed by luxury, and such a dissoluteness as is scarcely possible. The citizens employed themselves in nothing but banquets, games, shows, parties of pleasure, and carnivals. Public rewards and marks of distinction were bestowed on those who gave the most magnificent entertainments; and even to such cooks as were best skilled in the important art of making new refinements to tickle the palate. The Sybarites carried their delicacy and effeminacy to such a height, that they carefully removed from their city all such artificers whose work was noisy; and would not suffer any cocks in it, lest their shrill, piercing crow should disturb their slumbers.”

All these evils were heightened by dissension and discord, which at last proved their ruin. Five hundred of the wealthiest in the city having been expelled by the faction of one Telys, fled to Croton. Telys demanded to have them surrendered to him; and, on the refusal of the Crotonians to deliver them up, prompted to this generous resolution by Pythagoras, who then lived among them, war was declared. The Crotonians were headed by Milo, the famous champion; over whose shoulders a lion’s skin was thrown, and himself armed with a club, like another Hercules. The latter gained a complete victory, and made a dreadful [Pg 383] havoc of those who fled, so that very few escaped; and Sybaris was depopulated.

About sixty years after this some Thessalians came and settled in it; however, they did not long enjoy peace, being driven out by the Crotonians. Being thus reduced to the most fatal extremity, they implored the succour of the Lacedæmonians and Athenians. The latter, moved to compassion at their deplorable condition, after causing proclamation to be made in Peloponnesus, that all who were willing to assist that colony were at liberty to do it, sent the Sybarites a fleet of ten ships, under the command of Lampon and Xenocrates. They built a city near the ancient Sybaris, and called it Thurium.

Two men, greatly renowned for their learning, the one an orator, and the other an historian, settled in this colony. The first was Lysias, at that time but fifteen years of age. He lived in Thurium, till that ill fate which befel the Athenians in Sicily, and then went to Athens.

The second was Herodotus. Though he was born in Halicarnassus, a city of Caria, he was considered as a native of Thurium, because he settled there with that colony. Divisions soon broke out in the city, on occasion of the new inhabitants, whom the rest would exclude from all public employments and privileges. But as these were much more numerous, they repulsed all the ancient Sybarites, and got the sole possession of the city. Being supported by the alliance they made with the people of Croton, they grew very powerful; and, having settled a popular form of government in their city, they divided the citizens into ten tribes, which they called by the names of the different nations whence they sprang.

Sybaris was destroyed five times; but had always the good fortune to be restored. It at length, however, [Pg 384] fell into irredeemable decay; and, no doubt, justly, for every excess256, whether of luxury or voluptuousness, could be found there. The indolence of the inhabitants was so great, that they boasted that they never saw the sun either rise or set. The greatest encouragement was liberally lavished on such as invented new pleasures; and, as a natural consequence, though the city enjoyed a long period of prosperity, not a single citizen’s name has been preserved to posterity, who is entitled to admiration, either for deeds of heroism, or the practice of milder virtues in private life.

There is, nevertheless, one anecdote recorded in their favour. Being enslaved by the Lucanians, and afterwards subjected to the Romans, they still retained a fond attachment to the manners of Greece; and are said to have displayed their partiality to their mother-country, in a manner that evinces both their taste and their feeling. Being compelled by the will of the conquerors, or by other circumstances, to adopt a foreign language and foreign manners, they were accustomed to assemble annually, on one of the great festivals of Greece, in order to revive the memory of their Grecian origin, to speak their primitive language, and to deplore, with tears and lamentations, their sad degradation. It would afford peculiar pleasure to discover some monument of a people of so much sensibility, and of such persevering patriotism.

Seventy days sufficed to destroy all their grandeur! Five hundred and seventy-two years before the Christian era, the Crotoniates, under the famous athlete Milo, as we have already related, defeated the Sybarites in a pitched battle, broke down the dams of the Crathis, and let the furious stream into [Pg 385]the town, where it soon overturned and swept away every building of use and ornament. The inhabitants were massacred without mercy; and the few that escaped the slaughter, and attempted to restore their city, were cut to pieces by a colony of Athenians, who afterwards removed to some distance, and founded Thurium.

“Many ages, alas!” continues Mr. Swinburne, “have now revolved since man inhabited these plains in sufficient numbers to secure salubrity. The rivers have long rolled lawless over these low, desolated fields; leaving, as they shrink back to their beds, black pools and nauseous swamps, to poison the whole region, and drive mankind still farther from its ancient possessions. Nothing in reality remains of Sybaris, which once gave law to nations, and could muster even so large a force as 300,000 fighting men. Not one stone remains upon another257!”


This was a town in the Thebais, nearly under the tropic of Cancer; greatly celebrated for the first attempt to ascertain the measure of the circumference of the earth by Eratosthenes, who, about the year 276 A. C., was invited from Athens to Alexandria, by Ptolemy Evergetes.

Juvenal, the poet, was banished there, on the pretence of commanding a cohort, stationed in the neighbourhood.

Its principal antiquities are a small temple, supposed to be the remains of Eratosthenes’ observatory, the remains of a Roman bridge, and the ruins of the Saracen town. The latter includes the city wall, built of unburnt bricks, and defended by square towers, and several mosques with lofty minarets, and many large houses in a state of wonderful preservation, [Pg 386] still entire, though resting on very frail foundations.

“Syene, which, under so many different masters,” says a celebrated French geographer, “has been the southern frontier of Egypt, presents in a greater degree than any other spot on the surface of the globe, that confused mixture of monuments, which, even in the destinies of the most potent monarchs, reminds us of human instability. Here the Pharaohs, and the Ptolemies, raised the temple, and the palaces which are found half buried under the drifting sand. Here are forts and villas built by the Romans and Arabians; and on the remains of all these buildings French inscriptions are found, attesting that the warriors, and the learned men of modern Europe, pitched their tents, and erected their observatories on this spot. But the eternal power of nature presents a still more magnificent spectacle. Here are the terraces of reddish granite, of a particular character, hence called syenite,—a term applied to those rocks, which differ from granite in containing particles of hornblende. These mighty terraces, are shaped into peaks, across the bed of the Nile, and over them the river rolls majestically its impetuous foaming waves. Here are the quarries from which the obelisks and colossal statues of the Egyptian temples were dug. An obelisk, partially formed and still remaining attached to the native rock, bears testimony to the labours and patient efforts of human art. On the polished surfaces of these rocks, hieroglyphic sculptures represent the Egyptian deities, together with the sacrifices and offerings of this nation; which, more than any other, has identified itself with the country which it inhabited, and has, in the most literal sense, engraved the records of its glory on the terrestrial globe”258.

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The fame of states, now no longer existing, lives,” says Mr. Swinburne, “in books or tradition; and we reverence their memory in proportion to the wisdom of their laws, the private virtues of their citizens, the policy and courage with which they defended their own dominions, or advanced their victorious standards into those of their enemies. Some nations have rendered their names illustrious, though their virtues and valour had but a very confined sphere to move in; while other commonwealths and monarchies have subdued worlds, and roamed over whole continents in search of glory and power. Syracuse must be numbered in the former class, and amongst the most distinguished of that class. In public and private wealth, magnificence of buildings, military renown, and excellence in all arts and sciences, it ranks higher than most nations of antiquity. The great names recorded in its annals still command our veneration; though the trophies of their victories, and the monuments of their skill, have long been swept away by the hand of time.”

Syracuse is a city, the history of which is so remarkably interesting to all those who love liberty, that we shall preface our account of its ruins by adopting some highly important remarks afforded us by that celebrated and amiable writer to whose learning and genius we have been so greatly indebted throughout the whole of this work:—(Rollin). “Syracuse,” says he, “appears like a theatre, on which many surprising scenes have been exhibited; or rather like a sea, sometimes calm and untroubled, but oftener violently agitated by winds and storms, always ready to overwhelm it entirely. We have seen, in no other republic, such sudden, frequent,[Pg 388] violent, and various revolutions: sometimes enslaved by the most cruel tyrants; at others, under the government of the wisest kings: sometimes abandoned to the capricious will of a populace, without either government or restriction; sometimes perfectly docile and submissive to the authority of law and the empire of reason; it passed alternately from the most insupportable slavery to the most grateful liberty; from convulsions and frantic emotions, to a wise, peaceable, and regular conduct. To what are such opposite extremes and vicissitudes to be attributed? Undoubtedly, I think, the levity and inconstancy of the Syracusans, which was their distinguishing characteristic, had a great share in them; but what I am convinced conduced the most to them, was the very form of their government, compounded of the aristocratic and democratic; that is to say, divided between the senate or elders, and the people. As there was no counterpoise in Syracuse to support a right balance between those two bodies, when authority inclined either to the one side or the other, the government presently changed, either into a violent and cruel tyranny, or an unbridled liberty, without order or regulation. The sudden confusion, at such times, of all orders of the state, made the way to the sovereign power easy to the most ambitious of the citizens. To attract the affection of their country, and soften the yoke to their fellow-citizens, some exercised that power with lenity, wisdom, equity, and popular behaviour; and others, by nature less virtuously inclined, carried it to the last excess of the most absolute and cruel despotism, under pretext of supporting themselves against the attempts of their citizens, who, jealous of their liberty, thought every means for the recovery of it legitimate and laudable. There were,[Pg 389] besides, other reasons that rendered the government of Syracuse difficult, and thereby made way for the frequent changes it underwent. That city did not forget the signal victories it had obtained against the formidable power of Africa, and that it had carried its victorious arms and terror even to the walls of Carthage. Besides which, riches, the natural effect of commerce, had rendered the Syracusans proud, haughty, and imperious, and at the same time had plunged them into a sloth and luxury, that inspired them with a disgust for all fatigue and application. They abandoned themselves blindly to their orators, who had acquired an absolute ascendant over them. In order to make them obey, it was necessary either to flatter or reproach them. They had naturally a fund of equity, humanity, and good nature; and yet, when influenced by the seditious discourses of the orators, they would proceed to excessive violence and cruelties, which they immediately after repented. When they were left to themselves, their liberty, which at that time knew no bounds, soon degenerated into caprice, fury, violence, and even frenzy. On the contrary, when they were subjected to the yoke, they became base, timorous, submissive, and creeping like slaves. With a small attention to the whole series of the history of the Syracusans, it may easily be perceived, as Galba afterwards said of the Romans, that they were equally incapable of bearing either entire liberty or entire servitude; so that the ability and policy of those, who governed them, consisted in keeping the people to a wise medium between those two extremes, by seeming to leave them an entire freedom in their resolutions, and reserving only to themselves the care of explaining the utility, and facilitating the execution, of good measures. And in this some of its magistrates and kings were wonderfully successful;[Pg 390] under whose government the Syracusans always enjoyed peace and tranquillity, were obedient to their princes, and perfectly submissive to the laws. And this induces one to conclude, that the revolutions of Syracuse were less the effect of the people’s levity, than the fault of those that governed them, who had not the art of managing their passions, and engaging their affection, which is properly the science of kings, and of all who command others.”

Syracuse was founded about seven hundred and thirty-two years before the Christian era, by a Corinthian named Archias; one of the Heraclidæ.

The two first ages of its history are very obscure; it does not begin to be known till after the age of Gelon, and furnishes in the sequel many great events for the space of more than two hundred years. During all that time it exhibits a perpetual alternation of slavery under the tyrants, and liberty under a popular government, till Syracuse is at length subjected to the Romans, and makes part of their empire.

The Carthaginians, in concert with Xerxes, having attacked the Greeks who inhabited Sicily, whilst that prince was employed in making an irruption into Greece, Gelon, who had made himself master of Syracuse, obtained a celebrated victory over the Carthaginians, the very day of the battle of Thermopylæ.

Gelon, upon returning from his victory, repaired to the assembly without arms or guards, to give the people an account of his conduct. He was chosen king unanimously. He reigned five or six years, solely employed in the truly royal care of making his people happy.

Gelon is said to have been the first man who became[Pg 391] more virtuous by being raised to a throne. He was eminent for honesty, truth, and sincerity; he never wronged the meanest of his subjects, and never promised a thing which he did not perform.

Hiero, the eldest of Gelon’s brothers, succeeded him. The beginning of his reign was worthy of great praise. Simonides and Pindar celebrated him in emulation of each other. The latter part of it, however, did not answer the former. He reigned eleven years.

Thrasybulus, his brother, succeeded him. He rendered himself odious to all his subjects, by his vices and cruelty. They expelled him the throne and city, after a reign of one year.

After his expulsion, Syracuse and all Sicily enjoyed their liberty for the space of almost sixty years.

During this interval, the Athenians, animated by the warm exhortations of Alcibiades, turned their arms against Syracuse; this was in the sixth year of the Peloponnesian war. This event was fatal to the Athenians.

The reign of Dionysius the Elder is famous for its length of thirty-eight years, and still more for the extraordinary events with which it was attended.

Dionysius, son of the elder Dionysius, succeeded him. He contracted a particular intimacy with Plato, and had frequent conversations with him. He did not long improve from the wise precepts of that philosopher, but soon abandoned himself to all the vices and excesses which attend tyranny.

Besieged by Dion, he escaped from Sicily, and retired into Italy, where he was assassinated in his house by Callippus.

Thirteen months after the death of Dion, Hipparinus, brother of Dionysius the Younger, expelled[Pg 392] Callippus, and established himself in Syracuse. During the two years of his reign, Sicily was agitated by great commotions.

Dionysius the Younger, taking advantage of these troubles, reascends the throne ten years after having quitted it. At last, reduced by Timoleon, he retires to Corinth. Here he preserved some semblance of his former tyranny, by turning schoolmaster, and exercising a discipline over boys, when he could no longer tyrannise over men. He had learning, and was once a scholar to Plato, whom he caused to come again into Sicily, notwithstanding the unworthy treatment he had met with from Dionysius’s father. Philip, king of Macedon, meeting him in the streets of Corinth, and asking him how he came to lose so considerable a principality as had been left him by his father, he answered, that his father had indeed left him the inheritance, but not the fortune which had preserved both himself and that; however, Fortune did him no great injury, in replacing him on the dunghill, from which she had raised his father.

Timoleon restored liberty to Syracuse. He passed the rest of his life there in a glorious retirement, beloved and honoured by all the citizens and strangers.

This interval of liberty was of no long duration. Agathocles, in a short time, makes himself tyrant of Syracuse. He commits unparalleled cruelties. He forms one of the boldest designs related in history, carries the war into Africa, makes himself master of the strongest places, and ravages the whole country. After various events, he perishes miserably, after a reign of about twenty-eight years259.

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Syracuse took new life again for some time, and tasted with joy the sweets of liberty. But she suffered much from the Carthaginians, who disturbed her tranquillity by continual wars. She called in Pyrrhus to her aid. The rapid success of his arms at first gave him great hopes, which soon vanished. Pyrrhus, by a sudden retreat, plunged the Syracusans into new misfortunes. They were not happy and in tranquillity till the reign of Hiero II., which was very long, and almost always pacific.

Hieronymus scarce reigned one year. His death was followed with great troubles, and the taking of Syracuse by Marcellus.

Of this celebrated siege, since it was the ruin of Syracuse, it is our duty to give some account.

“The Romans carrying on their attacks at two different places, Syracuse was in great consternation, and apprehended that nothing could oppose so terrible a power, and such mighty efforts; and it had indeed been impossible to have resisted them, without the assistance of a single man, whose wonderful industry was every thing to the Syracusans—this was Archimedes. He had taken care to supply the walls with all things necessary to a good defence. As soon as his machines began to play on the land-side, they discharged upon the infantry all sorts of darts, and stones of enormous weight, which flew with so much noise, force, and rapidity, that nothing could oppose their shock. They beat down and dashed to pieces all before them.

“Marcellus succeeded no better on the side of the sea. Archimedes had disposed his machines in such a manner as to throw darts to any distance. Though the enemy lay far from the city, he reached them with his larger and more forcible balistæ and catapultæ. When they overshot their mark, he had smaller, proportioned to the distance, which put the Romans [Pg 394]into such confusion as made them incapable of attempting any thing.

“This was not the greatest danger. Archimedes had placed lofty and strong machines behind the walls, which suddenly letting fall vast beams, with an immense weight at the end of them, upon the ships, sunk them to the bottom. Besides this, he caused an iron grapple to be let out by a chain; the person who guided the machine having caught hold of the head of a ship with this hook, by the means of a weight let down within the walls, it was lifted up and set upon its stern, and held so for some time; then, by letting go the chain either by a wheel or a pulley, it was let fall again with its whole weight either on its head or side, and often entirely sunk. At other times the machines dragging the ship towards the shore by cords and hooks, after having made it whirl about a great while, dashed it to pieces against the points of the rocks which projected under the walls, and thereby destroyed all within it. Galleys, frequently seized and suspended in the air, were whirled about with rapidity, exhibiting a dreadful sight to the spectators; after which they were let fall into the sea, and sunk to the bottom, with all that were in them.

“Marcellus, almost discouraged, and at a loss what to do, retired as fast as possible with his galleys, and sent orders to his land forces to do the same. He called also a council of war, in which it was resolved the next day, before sun-rise, to endeavour to approach the walls. They were in hopes by this means to shelter themselves from the machines, which, for want of a distance proportioned to their force, would be rendered ineffectual.

“But Archimedes had provided against all contingencies. He had prepared machines long before, as we have already observed, that carried to all distances a proportionate quantity of darts, and ends of beams, which being very short, required less time for preparing them, and in consequence were more frequently discharged. He had besides made small chasms or loop-holes in the walls at little distances, where he had placed scorpions, which, not carrying far, wounded those who approached, without being perceived but by that effect.

“When the Romans, according to their design, had gained the foot of the walls, and thought themselves well covered, they found themselves exposed either to an infinity of darts, or overwhelmed with stones, which fell directly upon their heads; there being no part of the wall which did not continually pour that mortal hail upon them. This obliged them to retire. But they were no sooner removed than a new discharge of darts overtook them in their retreat; so that they lost great numbers [Pg 395]of men, and almost all their galleys were disabled or beat to pieces, without being able to revenge their loss in the least upon their enemies: for Archimedes had planted most of his machines in security behind the walls; and the Romans, says Plutarch, repulsed by an infinity of wounds, without seeing the place or hand from which they came, seemed to fight in reality with the gods.

“Marcellus, though at a loss what to do, and not knowing how to oppose the machines of Archimedes, could not, however, forbear pleasantries upon them. ‘Shall we persist,’ said he to his workmen and engineers, ‘in making war with this Briareus of a geometrician, who treats my galleys and sambucæ so rudely? He infinitely exceeds the fabled giants with their hundred hands, in his perpetual and surprising discharges upon us.’ Marcellus had reason for referring to Archimedes only; for the Syracusans were really no more than the members of the engines and machines of that great geometrician, who was himself the soul of all their powers and operations. All other arms were unemployed; for the city at that time made use of none, either defensive or offensive, but those of Archimedes.

“Marcellus at length renounced his hopes of being able to make a breach in the place, gave over his attacks, and turned the siege into a blockade. The Romans conceived they had no other resource than to reduce the great number of people in the city by famine, in cutting off all provisions that might be brought to them either by sea or land. During the eight months in which they besieged the city, there were no kind of stratagems which they did not invent, nor any actions of valour left untried, almost to the assault, which they never dared to attempt more. So much force, on some occasions, have a single man, and a single science, when rightly applied.

“A burning glass is spoken of, by means of which Archimedes is said to have burned part of the Roman fleet.

“In the beginning of the third campaign, Marcellus almost absolutely despairing of being able to take Syracuse, either by force, because Archimedes continually opposed him with invincible obstacles, or famine, as the Carthaginian fleet, which was returned more numerous than before, easily threw in convoys, deliberated whether he should continue before Syracuse to push the siege, or turn his endeavours against Agrigentum. But before he came to a final determination, he thought proper to try whether he could make himself master of Syracuse by some secret intelligence.

“This, too, having miscarried, Marcellus found himself in new difficulties. Nothing employed his thoughts but the shame of raising a siege, after having consumed so much time, and [Pg 396]sustained the loss of so many men and ships in it. An accident supplied him with a resource, and gave new life to his hopes. Some Roman vessels had taken one Damippus, whom Epicydes had sent to negociate with Philip king of Macedon. The Syracusans expressed a great desire to ransom this man, and Marcellus was not averse to it. A place near the port Trogilus was agreed on for the conferences concerning the ransom of the prisoner. As the deputies went thither several times, it came into a Roman soldier’s thoughts to consider the wall with attention. After having counted the stones, and examined with his eye the measure of each of them, upon a calculation of the height of the wall, he found it to be much lower than it was believed, and concluded, that with ladders of a moderate size it might be easily scaled. Without loss of time he related the whole to Marcellus. Marcellus did not neglect this advice, and assured himself of its reality with his own eyes. Having caused ladders to be prepared, he took the opportunity of a festival that the Syracusans celebrated for three days in honour of Diana, during which the inhabitants gave themselves up entirely to rejoicing and good cheer. At the time of night when he conceived that the Syracusans, after their debauch, began to fall asleep, he made a thousand chosen troops, in profound silence, advance with their ladders to the wall. When the first got to the top without noise or tumult, the others followed, encouraged by the boldness and success of their leaders. These thousand soldiers, taking the advantage of the enemy’s stillness, who were either drunk or asleep, soon scaled the wall.

“It was then no longer time to deceive, but terrify the enemy. The Syracusans, awakened by the noise, began to rouse, and to prepare for action. Marcellus made all his trumpets sound together, which so alarmed them, that all the inhabitants fled, believing every quarter of the city in the possession of the enemy. The strongest and best part, however, called Achradina, was not yet taken, because separated by its walls from the rest of the city.

“All the captains and officers with Marcellus congratulated him upon this extraordinary success. For himself, when he had considered from an eminence the loftiness, beauty, and extent of that city, he is said to have shed tears, and to have deplored the unhappy condition it was upon the point of experiencing.

“As it was then autumn, there happened a plague, which killed great numbers in the city, and still more in the Roman and Carthaginian camps. The distemper was not excessive at first, and proceeded only from the bad air and season; but [Pg 397]afterwards the communication with the infected, and even the care taken of them, dispersed the contagion; from whence it happened that some, neglected and absolutely abandoned, died of the violence of the malady, and others received help, which became fatal to those who brought it. Nothing was heard night and day but groans and lamentations. At length, the being accustomed to the evil had hardened their hearts to such a degree, and so far extinguished all sense of compassion in them, that they not only ceased to grieve for the dead, but left them without interment. Nothing was to be seen every where but dead bodies, exposed to the view of those who expected the same fate. The Carthaginians suffered much more from it than the others. As they had no place to retire to, they almost all perished, with their generals Hippocrates and Himilcon. Marcellus, from the breaking out of the disease, had brought his soldiers into the city, where the roofs and shade was of great relief to them; he lost, however, no inconsiderable number of men.

“Amongst those, who commanded in Syracuse, there was a Spaniard named Mericus: him a means was found to corrupt. He gave up the gate near the fountain Arethusa to soldiers sent by Marcellus in the night to take possession of it. At day-break the next morning, Marcellus made a false attack at Achradina, to draw all the forces of the citadel and the isle adjoining to it, to that side, and to facilitate the throwing some troops into the isle, which would be unguarded, by some vessels he had prepared. Every thing succeeded according to his plan. The soldiers, whom those vessels had landed in the isle, finding almost all the posts abandoned, and the gates by which the garrison of the citadel had marched out against Marcellus still open, they took possession of them after a slight encounter.

“The Syracusans opened all their gates to Marcellus, and sent deputies to him with instructions to demand nothing further from him than the preservation of the lives of themselves and their children. Marcellus having assembled his council, and some Syracusans who were in his camp, gave his answer to the deputies in their presence:—‘That Hiero, for fifty years, had not done the Roman people more good than those who have been masters of Syracuse some years past had intended to do them harm; but that their ill-will had fallen upon their own heads, and they had punished themselves for their violation of treaties in a more severe manner than the Romans could have desired. That he had besieged Syracuse during three years; not that the Roman people might reduce it into slavery, but to prevent the chiefs of the revolters from [Pg 398]continuing it under oppression. That he had undergone many fatigues and dangers in so long a siege, but that he thought he had made himself ample amends by the glory of having taken that city, and the satisfaction of having saved it from the entire ruin it seemed to deserve.’ After having placed a guard upon the treasury, and safe-guards in the houses of the Syracusans, who had withdrawn into his camp, he abandoned the city to be plundered by the troops. It is reported that the riches which were pillaged in Syracuse at this time exceeded all that could have been expected at the taking of Carthage itself.”

The chronicles of Syracuse260 commemorate endless and bitter dissentions among the several ranks of citizens, the destruction of liberty by tyrants, their expulsion and re-establishment, victories over the Carthaginians, and many noble struggles to vindicate the rights of mankind; till the fatal hour arrived, when the Roman leviathan swallowed all up. Inglorious peace and insignificance were afterwards, for many ages, the lot of Syracuse; and, probably, the situation was an eligible one, except in times of such governors as Verres. At length, Rome herself fell in her turn, a prey to conquest, and barbarians divided her ample spoils. The Vandals seized upon Sicily; but it was soon wrested from them by Theodoric the Goth; and at his death, fell into the hands of the Eastern emperor. Totila afflicted Syracuse with a long but fruitless siege: yet it was not so well defended against the Saracens. These cruel enemies took it twice, and exercised the most savage barbarities on the wretched inhabitants. They kept possession of it two hundred years, and made an obstinate resistance against Earl Roger, in this fortress, which was one of the last of their possessions, that yielded to his victorious arms.

“It is truly melancholy,” says Mr. Brydone, “to think of the dismal contrast, that its former magnificence makes with its present meanness. The mighty [Pg 399] Syracuse, the most opulent and powerful of all the Grecian cities, which, by its own strength alone, was able at different times to contend against all the power of Carthage and of Rome, in which it is recorded to have repulsed fleets of 2000 sail, and armies of 200,000 men; and contained within its walls, what no other city ever did before or since, fleets and armies that were the terror of the world:—this haughty and magnificent city is reduced even below the consequence of the most insignificant borough.”

In its most flourishing state Syracuse, according to Strabo, extended twenty-two and a half English miles in circumference261, and was divided into four districts; each of which was, as it were, a separate city, fortified with three citadels, and three-fold walls.

Of the four cities262 that composed this celebrated city, there remains only Ortygia, by much the smallest, situated in the island of that name. It is about two miles round. The ruins of the other three are computed at twenty-two miles in circumference. The walls of these are every where built with broken marbles, covered over with engravings and inscriptions; but most of them defaced and spoiled. The principal remains of antiquity are a theatre and amphitheatre, many sepulchres, the Latomie, the catacombs, and the famous Ear of Dionysius, which it was impossible to destroy. The Latomie now forms a noble subterraneous garden, and is, indeed, a very beautiful and romantic spot. The whole is hewn out of a rock as hard as marble, composed entirely of a concretion of gravel, shells, and other marine bodies; [Pg 400]and many orange, bergamot, and fig trees, grow out of the hard rock, where there is no mark of any soil.

There are many remains of temples. The Duke of Montalbano, who has written on the antiquities of Syracuse, reckons nearly twenty; but few of these now are distinguishable. A few fine columns of that of Jupiter Olympius still remain; and the temple of Minerva (now converted into the cathedral of the city, and dedicated to the Virgin) is almost entire.

There are some remains, also, of Diana’s temple, near to the church of St. Paul; but they are not remarkable.

The palace of Dionysius, his tomb, the baths of Daphnis, and other ancient buildings, and all their statues and paintings263, have disappeared; but the Ear, of which history speaks so loud, still remains. It is no less a monument of the ingenuity and magnificence, than of the cruelty of the tyrant. It is a huge cavern, cut out of the hard rock, exactly in the form of the human ear. The perpendicular height of it is about eighty feet, and the length is no less than two hundred and fifty. The cavern was said to be so contrived, that every sound, made in it, was collected and united into one point as into a focus. This was called the tympanum; and exactly opposite to it the tyrant had made a hole, communicating with a little apartment, in which he used to conceal himself. He applied his own ear to this hole, and is said to have heard distinctly every word that was spoken in the cavern below. This apartment was no sooner finished, than he put to [Pg 401]death all the workmen that had been employed in it. He then confined all those that he suspected of being his enemies; and by hearing their conversation judged of their guilt, and condemned or acquitted accordingly.

The holes in the rock, to which the prisoners were chained, still remain, and even the lead and iron in several of the holes.

The cathedral264, now dedicated to Our Lady of the Pillar, was the temple of Minerva, on the summit of which her statue was fixed; holding a broad, refulgent shield. Every Syracusan, that sailed out of the port, was bound by his religion to carry honey, flowers, and ashes, which he threw into the sea, the instant he lost sight of the buckler. This was to ensure a safe return. The temple is built in the Doric proportions, used in the rest of Sicily. Its exterior dimensions are one hundred and eighty-five feet in length, and seventy-five in breadth.

The amphitheatre265 is in the form of a very eccentric ellipse; but the theatre is so entire, that most of the seats still remain.

The great harbour ran into the heart of the city, and was called “Marmoreo,” because it was entirely encompassed with buildings of marble. Though the buildings are gone, the harbour exists in all its beauty. It is capable of receiving vessels of the greatest burden, and of containing a numerous fleet. Although at present this harbour is entirely neglected, it might easily be rendered a great naval and commercial station.

The catacombs are a great work; not inferior either to those of Rome or Naples, and in the same style.

There was also a prison, called Latomiæ, a word signifying a quarry. Cicero has particularly described [Pg 402]this dreadful prison, which was a cave dug out of the solid rock, one hundred and twenty-five paces long, and twenty feet broad, and almost one hundred feet below the surface of the earth. Cicero, also, reproaches Verres with imprisoning Roman citizens in this place; which was the work of Dionysius, who caused those to be shut up in it, who had the misfortune to have incurred his displeasure. It is now a noble subterranean garden.

The fountain of Arethusa266 also still exists. It was dedicated to Diana, who had a magnificent temple near its banks, where great festivals were annually celebrated in honour of that goddess. It is indeed an astonishing fountain, and rises at once out of the earth to the size of a river: and many of the people believe, even to this day, that it is the identical river, Arethusa, that was said to have sunk under ground near Olympia in Greece, and, continuing its course five hundred or six hundred miles below the ocean, rose again in this spot.267


The glory of Thebes belongs to a period, prior to the commencement of authentic history. It is recorded only by the divine light of poetry and tradition, which might be suspected as fable, did not such mighty witnesses remain to attest the truth. A curious calculation, made from the rate of increase of deposition by the Nile, corroborated by other evidence, shows however that this city must have been founded four thousand seven hundred and sixty years ago, or two thousand nine hundred and thirty before Christ. There are the ruins of a temple, bearing an inscription, stating that it was founded by Osymandyas, who reigned, according to M. Champollion, [Pg 403] two thousand two hundred and seventy years before Christ.


Thebes was called, also, Diospolis, as having been sacred to Jupiter; and Hecatompylos, on account, it is supposed, of its having had a hundred gates.

“Not all proud Thebes’ unrivall’d walls contains, The world’s great empress, on the Egyptian plain; That spreads her conquests o’er a thousand states, And pours her heroes through a hundred gates— Two hundred horsemen, and two hundred cars, From each wide portal issuing to the wars.” Homer’s Iliad; Pope.

“This epithet Hecatompylos, however,” says Mr. Wilkinson, “applied to it by Homer, has generally been supposed to refer to the hundred gates of its wall of circuit; but this difficulty is happily solved by an observation of Diodorus, that many suppose them ‘to have been the propylæa of the temples,’ and that this expression rather implies a plurality, than a definite number.”

Historians are unanimously agreed, that Menes was the first king of Egypt. It is pretended, and not without foundation, that he is the same with Misraim, the son of Cham. Cham was the second son of Noah. When the family of the latter, after the attempt of building the Tower of Babel, dispersed themselves into different countries; Cham retired to Africa, and it was, doubtless, he who afterwards was worshipped as a god, under the name of Jupiter Ammon. He had four children, Chus, Misraim, Phut, and Canaan. Chus settled in Ethiopia, Misraim in Egypt, which generally is called in Scripture after his name, and by that of Cham, his father. Phut took possession of that part of Africa which lies westward of Egypt; and Canaan, of the country which has since borne his name.

Misraim is agreed to be the same as Menes, whom all historians declare to be the first king of Egypt; [Pg 404] the institutor of the worship of the gods, and of the ceremonies of the sacrifices.

Some ages after him, Busiris built the city of Thebes, and made it the seat of his empire. This prince is not to be confounded with the Busiris who, in so remarkable a manner, distinguished himself by his inordinate cruelties. In respect to Osymandyas, Diodorus gives a very particular account of many magnificent edifices raised by him; one of which was adorned with sculpture and paintings of great beauty, representing an expedition against the Bactrians, a people of Asia, whom he had invaded with four hundred thousand foot, and twenty thousand horse. In another part of the edifice was exhibited an assembly of the judges, whose president wore on his breast a picture of Truth, with her eyes shut, and himself surrounded with books; an emphatic emblem, denoting that judges ought to be perfectly versed in the laws, and impartial in the administration of them. The king, also, was painted there, offering to the gods silver and gold, which he drew from the mines of Egypt, amounting to the sum of sixteen millions.

So old as this king’s reign, the Egyptians divided the year into twelve months, each consisting of thirty days; to which they added, every year, five days and six hours. To quote the words of a well-known writer, (Professor Heeren,) “its monuments testify to us a time when it was the centre of the civilisation of the human race; a civilisation, it is true, which has not endured, but which, nevertheless, forms one of the steps by which mankind has attained to higher perfection.”

Although Thebes had greatly fallen from its former splendour, in the time of Cambyses the Persian it was the fury of this lawless and merciless conqueror that gave the last blow to its grandeur,[Pg 405] about 520 years before the Christian era. He pillaged its temples, and carried away the ornaments of gold, silver, and ivory. Before this period, no city in the world could be compared with it in size, beauty, and wealth; and according to the expression of Diodorus—“The sun had never seen so magnificent a city.”

The next step towards the decline and fall of this city was, as we learn from Diodorus, the preference given to Memphis; and the removal of the seat of government thither, and subsequently to Sais and Alexandria, proved as disastrous to the welfare, as the Persian invasion had been to the splendour, of the capital of Upper Egypt. “Commercial wealth,” says Mr. Wilkinson, “on the accession of the Ptolemies, began to flow through other channels. Coptos and Apollinopolis succeeded to the lucrative trade of Arabia; and Ethiopia no longer contributed to the revenues of Thebes; and its subsequent destruction, after a three years’ siege, by Ptolemy Lathyrus, struck a death-blow to the welfare and existence of this capital, which was, thenceforth, scarcely deemed an Egyptian city. Some few repairs, however, were made to its dilapidated temples by Evergetes II., and some by the later Ptolemies. But it remained depopulated; and at the time of Strabo’s visit, was already divided into small and detached villages.”

Thebes was, perhaps, the most astonishing work ever performed by the hand of man. In the time of its splendour, it extended above twenty-three miles; and upon any emergency could send into the field seven hundred thousand men, according to Tacitus; but Homer allows only that it could pour through each of its hundred gates two hundred armed men, with their chariots and horses, which makes about forty thousand men, allowing two men to each chariot.

[Pg 406]

Though its walls were twenty-four feet in thickness, and its buildings the most solid and magnificent; yet, in the time of Strabo and of Juvenal, only mutilated columns, broken obelisks, and temples levelled with the dust, remained to mark its situation, and inform the traveller of the desolation which time, or the more cruel hand of tyranny, can assert over the proudest monuments of human art.

“Thebes,” says Strabo, “presents only remains of its former grandeur, dispersed over a space eighty stadia in length. Here are found great number of temples, in part destroyed by Cambyses; its inhabitants have retired to small towns, east of the Nile, where the present city is built, and to the western shore, near Memnonium; at which place we admired two colossal stone figures, standing on each side, the one entire, the other in part thrown down, it has been said by an earthquake. There is a popular opinion, that the remaining part of this statue, towards the base, utters a sound once a day. Curiosity leading me to examine this fact, I went thither with Ælius Gallus, who was accompanied with his numerous friends, and an escort of soldiers. I heard a sound about six o’clock in the morning, but dare not affirm whether it proceeded from the base, from the colossus, or had been produced by some person present; for one is rather inclined to suppose a thousand different causes, than that it should be the effect of a certain assemblage of stones.

“Beyond Memnonium are the tombs of the kings, hewn out of the rock. There are about forty, made after a marvellous manner, and worthy the attention of travellers. Near them are obelisks, bearing various inscriptions, descriptive of the wealth, power, and extensive empire of those sovereigns who reigned over Scythia, Bactriana, Judæa, and what is now called Ionia. They also recount the various tributes those kings had exacted, and the number of their troops, which amounted to a million of men.”

We now proceed to draw from Diodorus Siculus:—

“The great Diospolis,” says he, “which the Greeks have named Thebes, was six miles in circumference. Busiris, who founded it, adorned it with magnificent edifices and presents. The fame of its power and wealth, celebrated by Homer, has filled the world. Never was there a city which received so many offerings in silver, gold and ivory, colossal statues and [Pg 407]obelisks, each cut from a single stone. Four principal temples are especially admired there: the most ancient of which was surpassingly grand and sumptuous. It was thirteen stadia in circumference, and surrounded by walls twenty-four feet in thickness and forty-five cubits high. The richness and workmanship of its ornaments were correspondent to the majesty of the building, which many kings contributed to embellish. The temple still is standing; but it was stripped of its silver and gold, ivory, and precious stones, when Cambyses set fire to all the temples of Egypt.”

The following account of the tomb of Osymandyas is also from Diodorus:—

“Ten stadia from the tombs of the kings of Thebes, is the admirable one of Osymandyas. The entrance to it is by a vestibule of various coloured stones, two hundred feet long, and sixty-eight high. Leaving this we enter a square peristyle, each side of which is four hundred feet in length. Animals twenty-four feet high, cut from blocks of granite, serve as columns to support the ceiling, which is composed of marble slabs, twenty-seven feet square, and embellished throughout by golden stars glittering on a ground of azure. Beyond this peristyle is another entrance; and after that a vestibule, built like the first, but containing more sculptures of all kinds. At the entrance are three statues, formed from a single stone by Memnon Syncite, the principal of which, representing the king, is seated, and is the largest in Egypt. One of its feet, exactly measured, is about seven cubits. The other had figures supported on its knees; the one on the right, the other on the left, are those of his mother and daughter. The whole work is less valuable for its enormous grandeur, than for the beauty of the sculpture, and the choice of the granite, which, though so extensive, has neither flaw nor blemish on its surface. The colossus bears this inscription: ‘I am Osymandyas, king of kings; he who would comprehend my greatness, and where I rest, let him destroy some one of these works.’ Beside this, is another statue of his mother, cut from a single block of granite, thirty feet high. Three queens are sculptured on her head, intimating that she was a daughter, wife, and mother of a king. After this portico is a peristyle, still more beautiful than the first; on the stones of which is engraved, the history of the wars of Osymandyas, against the rebels of Bactriana. The façade of the front wall exhibits this prince attacking ramparts, at the foot of which the river flows. He is combating advanced troops; and by his side is a terrible lion, ardent in his defence. On the right wall are captives in [Pg 408]chains, with their hands and genitals cut off, as marks of reproach for their cowardice. The wall on the left contains symbolical figures of exceedingly good sculpture, descriptive of triumphs and sacrifice of Osymandyas returning from this war. In the centre of the peristyle, where the roof is open, an altar was erected of a single stone of marvellous bulk and exquisite workmanship; and at the farther wall are two colossal figures, each hewn from a single block of marble, forty feet high, seated on their pedestals. This admirable peristyle has three gates, one between the two statues, and the others on each side. These lead to an edifice two hundred feet square, the roof of which is supported by high columns; it resembles a magnificent theatre; several figures carved in wood, represent a tribunal administering justice. Thirty judges are seen on one of the walls; and in the midst of them the chief justice, with a pile of books at his feet, and a figure of Truth, with her eyes shut, suspended from his neck; beyond is a walk, surrounded by edifices of various forms, in which were tables stored with all kinds of delicious viands. In one of these, Osymandyas, clothed in magnificent robes, offers up the gold and silver which he annually drew from the mines of Egypt to the gods. Beneath, the amount of this revenue, which was thirty-two million minas of silver, was inscribed. Another building contained the sacred library, at the entrance of which these words were read: ‘Physic for the soul.’ A fourth contained all the deities of Egypt, with the king offering suitable presents to each; and calling Osiris and the surrounding divinities to witness, he had exercised piety towards the gods, and justice towards men. Beside the library stood one of the finest of these edifices, and in it twenty couches to recline on, while feasting; also the statues of Jupiter, Juno, and Osymandyas, whose body, it is supposed, was deposited here. Various adjoining apartments contained representations of all the consecrated animals of Egypt. Hence was the ascent to the sepulchre of the king; on the summit of which was placed a circle of gold, in thickness one cubit, and three hundred and sixty-five in circumference, each cubit corresponding to a day in the year; and on it was engraved the rising and setting of the stars for that day, with such astrological indications as the superstition of the Egyptians had affixed to them. Cambyses is said to have carried off this circle, when he ravaged Egypt. Such, according to historians, was the tomb of Osymandyas, which surpassed all others as well by its wealth, as by the workmanship of the skilful artists employed.”

In the whole of Upper Egypt, adjacent to each city, numerous tombs are always found excavated[Pg 409] in the neighbouring mountains. The most extensive and highly ornamented are nearest to the base; those of smaller dimensions, and less decorated, occupy the middle; and the most rude and simple are situated in the upper parts.

Those adjacent to Thebes are composed of extensive galleries, twelve feet broad and twenty high, with many lateral chambers.

They are ornamented with pilasters, sculptures, stucco, and paintings; both ceilings and walls are covered with emblems of war, agriculture, and music; and, in some instances, with shapes of very elegant utensils, and always representing offerings of bread, fruit, and liquors. The colours upon the ceilings are blue, and the figures yellow. We must, however, refer to a fuller account:—that of Belzoni.

Gournou is a tract of rocks about two miles in length, at the foot of the Lybian mountains, on the west of Thebes, and was the burial-place of the great ‘city of the hundred gates.’ Every part of these rocks is cut out by art, in the form of large and small chambers, each of which has its separate entrance; and, though they are very close to each other, it is seldom that there is any communication from one to another. I can truly say, it is impossible to give any description sufficient to convey the smallest idea of these subterranean abodes and their inhabitants; there are no sepulchres in any part of the world like them; and no exact description can be given of their interior, owing to the difficulty of visiting these recesses. Of some of these tombs many persons cannot withstand the suffocating air, which often causes fainting. A vast quantity of dust rises, so fine, that it enters into the throat and nostrils, and chokes to such a degree, that it requires great power of lungs to resist it, and the strong effluvia of the mummies. This is not all; the entry, or passage where the bodies are, is roughly cut in the rocks, and the falling of the sand from the ceiling causes it to be nearly filled up:—so that in some places, there is not a vacancy of much more than a foot left, which must be passed in a creeping posture on the hands and knees. Alter getting through these passages, some of them two or three hundred yards long, you generally find a more commodious place, perhaps high enough to sit: but what a place of rest! Surrounded by bodies, by heaps of mummies in all directions, [Pg 410]which, till I got accustomed to the sight, impressed me with horror. After the exertion of entering into such a place through a passage of sometimes six hundred yards in length, nearly overcome, I sought a resting-place, found one, and contrived to sit; but when my weight bore on the body of an Egyptian, it crushed it like a band-box. I naturally had recourse to my hands to sustain my weight, but they found no better support; so that I sank altogether among the broken mummies with a crash of bones, rags, and wooden cases, which raised such a dust as kept me motionless for a quarter of an hour, waiting till it subsided again. Once I was conducted from such a place to another resembling it, through a passage about twenty feet in length, and no larger than that a body could be forced through; it was choked with mummies, and I could not pass without putting my face in contact with that of some decayed Egyptian; but, as the passage inclined downwards, my own weight helped me on, and I could not avoid being covered with bones, legs, arms, and heads; rolling from above. The purpose of my researches was to rob the Egyptians of their papyri, of which I found a few hidden in their breasts, under their arms, in the space above their knees, or on the legs, and covered by the numerous folds of cloth that envelop the body.

“Nothing can more plainly distinguish the various classes of people, than the manner of their preservation. In the many pits that I have opened, I never saw a single mummy standing, and found them lying regularly in horizontal rows, and some were sunk into a cement which must have been nearly fluid when the cases were placed on it. The lower classes were not buried in cases: they were dried up, as it appears, after the usual preparation. Mummies of this sort were in the proportion of about ten to one of the better class, as nearly as I could calculate from the quantity of both I have seen; the linen in which they are folded is of a coarser sort and less in quantity; they have no ornaments about them of any consequence, and are piled up in layers, so as to fill, in a rude manner, the caves excavated for the purpose. In general these tombs are to be found in the lower grounds, at the foot of the mountains; they are entered by a small aperture arched over, or by a shaft four or five feet square, at the bottom of which are entrances into various chambers, all choked up with mummies, many of which have been rummaged and left in the most confused state. Among these tombs we saw some which contained the mummies of animals intermixed with human bodies; these were bulls, cows, sheep, monkeys, foxes, bats, crocodiles, fishes, and birds. Idols often occur, and one tomb was filled with nothing but cats, carefully folded in red and white linen, the head covered by a mask made [Pg 411]of the same, and representing the cat. I have opened all these sorts of animals. Of the bull, the calf, and the sheep, there is no part but the head, which is covered with linen with the horns projecting out of the cloth; the rest of the body being represented by two pieces of wood eighteen inches wide and three feet long, with another at the end, two feet high, to form the breast. It is somewhat singular, that such animals are not to be met with in the tombs of the higher sort of people, while few or no papyri are to be found among the lower order; and if any occur, they are only small pieces stuck on the breast with a little gum or asphaltum, being probably all that the poor individual could afford to himself. In those of the better classes other objects are found. I think they ought to be divided into several classes, and not confined to three, as is done by Herodotus in his account of the mode of embalming. In the same pit where I found mummies in cases, I have found others without, and in these, papyri are most likely to be met with. I remarked that those in cases have none. It appears to me that those that could afford it had a case to be buried in, on which the history of their lives was painted; and those who could not afford a case, were contented to have their lives written on papyri, and placed above their knees. The cases are made of sycamore, some very plain, some richly painted with well-executed figures; all have a human face on the lid: some of the larger contain others within them, either of wood or plaster, and painted; some of the mummies have garlands of flowers and leaves of the acacia, or Sunt-tree, over their heads and breasts. In the inside of these mummies are often found lumps of asphaltum, sometimes weighing as much as two pounds. Another kind of mummy I believe I may conclude to have belonged exclusively to the priests: they are folded in a manner totally differing from the others, and with much more care; the bandages consist of stripes of red and white linen intermixed, and covering the whole body, but so carefully applied, that the form of the trunk and limbs are preserved separate, even to the fingers and toes; they have sandals of painted leather on the feet, and bracelets on their arms and wrists. The cases in which these mummies are preserved, are somewhat better executed than the rest.

“The tombs containing the better classes are of course superior to the others; some are also more extensive than others, having various apartments adorned with figures. It would be impossible to describe the numerous little articles found in them, which are well adapted to show the domestic habits of the ancient Egyptians. It is here the smaller idols are occasionally found, either lying on the ground, or on the cases. Vases made of baked clay, painted over, from eight to [Pg 412]eighteen inches in size, are sometimes seen, containing embalmed entrails; the covers represent the head of some divinity, bearing either the human form, or that of a monkey, fox, cat, or other animal. I met with a few of these made of alabaster, in the tombs of the kings, but they were unfortunately broken: a great quantity of pottery and wooden vessels are found in some of the tombs; the ornaments, the small works in clay in particular, are very curious. I have been fortunate enough to find many specimens of their manufactures, among which is leaf-gold, nearly as thin as ours; but what is singular, the only weapon I met with was an arrow, two feet long.

“One day while causing the walls of a large tomb to be struck with a sledge-hammer, in order to discover some hidden chambers, an aperture, a foot and a half wide, into another tomb, was suddenly made: having enlarged it sufficiently to pass, we entered, and found several mummies and a great quantity of broken cases; in an inner apartment was a square opening, into which we descended, and at the bottom we found a small chamber at each side of the shaft, in one of which was a granite sarcophagus with its cover, quite perfect, but so situated, that it would be an arduous undertaking to draw it out.”

Among the many discoveries of the enterprising Belzoni, was that of the Tombs of the Kings:—

“After a long survey of the western valley, I could observe only one spot that presented the appearance of a tomb: accordingly I set the men to work, and when they had got a little below the surface, they came to some large stones; having removed these, I perceived the rock had been cut on both sides, and found a passage leading downwards, and in a few hours came to a well-built wall of stones of various sizes, through which we contrived to make a breach; at last on entering, we found ourselves on a staircase, eight feet wide and ten high, at the bottom of which were four mummies in their cases, lying flat on the ground, and further on four more: the cases were all painted, and one had a large covering thrown over it like a pall. These I examined carefully, but no further discoveries were made at this place, which appears to have been intended for some of the royal blood.

“Not fifteen yards from the last tomb I described, I caused the earth to be opened at the foot of a steep hill, and under a torrent which, when it rains, pours a great quantity of water over the spot: on the evening of the second day, we perceived the part of the rock which was cut and formed the entrance, which was at length entirely cleared, and was found to be eighteen feet below the surface of the ground. In about [Pg 413]an hour there was room for me to enter through a passage that the earth had left under the ceiling of the first corridor, which is thirty-six feet long and eight or nine wide, and when cleared, six feet nine inches high. I perceived immediately, by the painting on the ceiling, and by the hieroglyphics in bas-relief, that this was the entrance into a large and magnificent tomb. At the end of the corridor, I came to a staircase twenty-three feet long, and of the same breadth as the corridor, with a door at the bottom, twelve feet high; this led to another corridor thirty-seven feet long, and of the same width and height as the former one, each side, and the ceiling sculptured with hieroglyphics and painted; but I was stopped from further progress by a large pit at the other end, thirty feet deep and twelve wide. The upper part of this was adorned with figures, from the wall of the passage up to the ceiling; the passages from the entrance, all the way to this pit, were inclined at an angle of about eighteen degrees. On the opposite side of the pit, facing the passage, a small opening was perceived, two feet wide, and two feet six inches high, and a quantity of rubbish at the bottom of the wall; a rope, fastened to a piece of wood that was laid across the passage, against the projections which form a kind of door, appears to have been used for descending into the pit, and from the small aperture on the other side hung another, for the purpose, doubtless, of ascending again; but these and the wood crumbled to dust on touching them, from the damp arising from the water which drained into the pit down the passages. On the following day we contrived a bridge of two beams to cross the pit by, and found the little aperture to be an opening forced through a wall, which had entirely closed the entrance, and which had been plastered over and painted, so as to give the appearance of the tomb having ended at the pit, and of there having been nothing beyond it. The rope in the inside of the wall, having been preserved from the damp, did not fall to pieces, and the wood to which it was attached was in good preservation. When we had passed through the little aperture, we found ourselves in a beautiful hall, twenty-seven feet six inches by twenty-five feet ten inches, in which were four pillars, three feet square. At the end of this room, which I shall call the entrance hall, and opposite the aperture, is a large door, from which three steps lead down into a chamber with two pillars, four feet square, the chamber being twenty-eight by twenty-five feet; the walls were covered with figures, which, though in outline only, were as fine and perfect as if drawn only the day before. On the left of the aperture a large staircase of eighteen steps, descended from the entrance-hall into a corridor, [Pg 414] thirty-six feet by seven wide; and we perceived that the paintings became more perfect as we advanced further; the figures are painted on a white ground, and highly varnished. At the end of this ten steps led us into another, seventeen feet by eleven, through which we entered a chamber, twenty feet by fourteen, adorned in the most splendid manner by basso-relievos, painted like the rest. Standing in this chamber, the spectator sees himself surrounded by representations of the Egyptian gods and goddesses. Proceeding further, we entered another large hall, twenty-eight feet square, with two rows of pillars, three on each side, in a line with the walls of the corridors; at each side is a small chamber, each about ten or eleven feet square. At the end of this hall we found a large saloon, with an arched roof or ceiling, thirty-two feet by twenty-seven; on the right was a small chamber, roughly cut, and obviously left unfinished; and on the left there is another, twenty six by twenty-three feet, with two pillars in it. It had a projection of three feet all round it, possibly intended to contain the articles necessary for the funeral ceremonies; the whole was beautifully painted like the rest. At the same end of the room we entered by a large door into another chamber, forty-three feet by seventeen, with four pillars in it, one of which had fallen down; it was covered with white plaster where the rock did not cut smoothly, but there were no paintings in it. We found the carcass of a bull embalmed with asphaltum, and also, scattered in various places, an immense quantity of small wooden figures of mummies, six or eight inches long, and covered with asphaltum to preserve them; there were some others of fine baked earth, coloured blue, and highly varnished. On each side of the two little rooms were some wooden statues, standing erect, four feet high, with a circular hollow inside, as if to contain a roll of papyrus, which I have no doubt they once did. In the centre of the saloon was a SARCOPHAGUS of the finest oriental alabaster, nine feet five inches long, and three feet seven wide; it is only two inches thick, and consequently transparent when a light is held within it; it is minutely sculptured, both inside and out, with several hundred figures, not exceeding two inches in length, representing, as I suppose, the whole of the funeral procession and ceremonies relating to the deceased. The cover had been taken out, and we found it broken in several pieces in digging before the first entrance: this sarcophagus was over a staircase in the centre of the saloon, which communicated with a subterraneous passage, leading downwards, three hundred feet in length. At the end of this we found a great quantity of bats’ dung, which choked it up, so that we could go no further [Pg 415]without digging; it was also nearly filled up by the falling in of the upper part. One hundred feet from the entrance is a staircase, in good preservation, but the rock below changes its substance. This passage proceeds in a south-west direction through the mountain. I measured the distance from the entrance, and also the rocks above, and found that the passage reaches nearly half-way through the mountain to the upper part of the valley. I have reason to suppose that this passage was used as another entrance; but this could not be after the person was buried there; for, at the bottom of the stairs, under the sarcophagus, a wall had been built, which entirely closed this communication; hence it should appear, that this tomb had been opened again with violence, after all the precautions mentioned had been taken to conceal the existence of the greater part of it; and as these had been carefully and skilfully done, it is probable that the intruder must have had a guide who was acquainted with the place.”

The rich alabaster sarcophagus, mentioned above, is now in the Soane Museum, Lincoln’s-inn-fields, London, and remains altogether unrivalled in beauty and curiosity. How it came there is thus described by Sir John Soane:—

“This marvellous effort of human industry and perseverance is supposed to be at least three thousand years old. It is of one piece of alabaster, between nine and ten feet in length, and is considered of pre-eminent interest, not only as a work of human skill and labour, but as illustrative of the customs, arts, religion, and government of a very ancient and learned people. The surface of this monument is covered externally and internally with hieroglyphics, comprehending a written, language, which it is to be hoped the labour of modern literati will one day render intelligible. With no inconsiderable expense and difficulty this unique monument was transferred from Egypt to England, and placed in the British Museum, to the trustees of which it was offered for two thousand pounds. After which negotiation, the idea of purchasing it for our national collection was relinquished; when it was offered to me at the same price, which offer I readily accepted, and shortly after I had the pleasure of seeing this splendid relic of Egyptian magnificence safely deposited in a conspicuous part of my museum.”

“On entering the sepulchral chamber,” says a writer, giving an account of the Soane collection, “notwithstanding intense anxiety to behold a work so unique and so celebrated [Pg 416]as the Belzoni sarcophagus, I confess that the place in which this monument of antiquity is situated became the overpowering attraction. Far above, and on every side, were concentrated the most precious relics of architecture and sculpture, disposed so happily as to offer the charm of novelty, the beauty of picturesque design, and that sublimity resulting from a sense of veneration, due to the genius and the labours of the ‘mighty dead.’ The light admitted from the dome appeared to descend with a discriminating effect, pouring its brightest beams on those objects most calculated to benefit by its presence.

“The more,” says the same writer, speaking of the sarcophagus itself, “we contemplate this interesting memorial of antiquity and regal magnificence, the more our sense of its value rises in the mind. We consider the beauty and scarcity of the material, its transparency, the rich and mellow hue, the largeness of the original block, the adaptation of its form to the purpose, which was unquestionably to receive a body inclosed in numerous wrappings, and doubly cased, according to the custom of the Egyptians. We then examine the carving of innumerable figures, doubting not that the history of a life fraught with the most striking events is here recorded; gaze on the beautiful features of the female form sculptured at the bottom of the sarcophagus, and conclude it to be that of the goddess Isis, the elongated eye and the delicate foot closely resembling those drawings of her, given by the learned Montfaucon; and repeat the exclamation of Belzoni, when he declared that the day on which he found this treasure was the happiest of his life.

“Viewed by lamp-light, the effect of this chamber is still more impressive; for, seen by this medium, every surrounding object, however admirable in itself, becomes subservient to the sarcophagus. The ancient, the splendid, the wonderful sarcophagus is before us, and all else are but accessories to its dignity and grandeur. A mingled sense of awe, admiration, and delight pervades our faculties, and is even oppressive in its intensity, yet endearing in its associations.”

In respect to the tomb, in which this splendid monument was discovered, Belzoni, on his arrival in England, constructed and exhibited a perfect facsimile of it, which many of our readers will, doubtless, remember having seen.

“The ‘Tombs of the Kings,’ as their name implies268, are the [Pg 417]sepulchres in which are deposited the earthly remains of the ancient Egyptian monarchs who reigned at Thebes; they are called by some Babor, or Biban el Molook—a traditional appellation, signifying the Gate or Gates of the Kings, which is by others applied to the narrow gorge at the entrance of the valley in which they are situated. This valley, as Champollion remarks, ‘is the veritable abode of death; not a blade of grass, or a living being is to be found there, with the exception of jackals and hyænas, who, at a hundred paces from our residence, devoured last night the ass which had served to carry my servant Barabba Mohammed, whilst his keeper was agreeably passing the night of Ramazan in our kitchen, which is established in a royal tomb entirely ruined.’

“It would be unnecessary, were it possible, to give a detailed account of these tombs, or of the sculptures which they contain, and of which our interpretation is very limited, because they often refer to Egyptian mysteries of which we have but a scanty knowledge. The tomb, which of all others stands preeminently conspicuous, as well for the beauty of its sculptures as the state of its preservation, is undoubtedly that discovered and opened by Belzoni. It has been deprived within a few years of one of its chief ornaments. ‘I have not forgotten,’ says Champollion, in his twenty-second letter, ‘the Egyptian Museum of the Louvre in my explorations; I have gathered monuments of all sizes, and the smallest will not be found the least interesting. Of the larger class I have selected, out of thousands, three or four mummies remarkable for peculiar decorations, or having Greek inscriptions; and next, the most beautiful coloured bas-relief in the royal tomb of Menephtha the First (Ousirei), at Biban-el-Molouk; it is a capital specimen, of itself worth a whole collection: it has caused me much anxiety, and will certainly occasion me a dispute with the English at Alexandria, who claim to be the lawful proprietors of the tomb of Ousirei, discovered by Belzoni at the expense of Mr. Salt. In spite, however, of this fine pretension, one of two things shall happen; either my bas-relief shall reach Toulon, or it shall go to the bottom of the sea, or the bottom of the Nile, rather than fall into the hands of others; my mind is made up on that point!’”

No dispute, however, took place, and the bas-relief is now in the museum for which it was destined.

“Nearly two thousand years ago, these tombs were an object of wonder and curiosity, and used to attract visiters from different parts of the earth as they now do. It was the practice even then for many of those who beheld them to leave [Pg 418]some memorial of their visit behind, in the shape of an inscription commemorating the date at which they ‘saw and wondered,’ to use the expression which is commonly found among them. Some of these inscriptions are curious: one of them is to the following effect: ‘I, the Dadouchos (literally Torch-bearer), of the most sacred Eleusinian mysteries, Nisagoras of Athens, having seen these syringes (as the tombs were commonly called), a very long time after the divine Plato of Athens, have wondered and given thanks to the God and to the most pious King Constantine, who has procured me this favour.’ The tomb in which this was written seems to have been generally admired above all others, though, as Mr. Wilkinson tells us, one morose old gentleman of the name of Epiphanius declares that ‘he saw nothing to admire but the stone,’ meaning the alabaster sarcophagus. There are many other inscriptions: some afford internal evidence of their dates, and among them are four relating to the years 103, 122, 147, and 189 of our era.

“A great many of the painted sculptures, which are found in these tombs, relate to the idolatrous worship of the ancient Egyptians, and the rites and ceremonies which they practised in connexion with it269. But besides these, there are others which afford us a vast quantity of interesting information upon the subjects of their domestic usages and every-day life. In one chamber are depicted the operations of preparing and dressing meat, boiling the cauldron, making bread, lighting the fire, fetching water, &c. Another presents scenes in a garden, where a boy is beaten for stealing fruit; a canal and pleasure boats; fruit and flowers; the mechanical processes of various arts, such as sculpture, painting, the mixing of colours, &c. In the Harper’s Tomb, (so called from there being among the bas-reliefs figures of a man playing upon an instrument resembling a harp,) which was first visited by Bruce, there are some [Pg 419]curious illustrations of the furniture which was in use among the Egyptians; tables, chairs, and sideboards, patterns of embossed silk and chintz, drapery with folds and fringe are there to be seen, precisely such, we are told, as were used in our own country some years ago when Egyptian furniture was in fashion.

“The ‘Tombs of the Kings’ bring many allusions of Scripture to the mind, as is remarked by Mr. Jowett, as in the passages of Mark v. 2, 3, 5, and particularly of Isaiah xxii. 16. ‘What hast thou here, and whom hast thou here, that thou hast hewed thee out a sepulchre here, as he that heweth him out a sepulchre on high, and that graveth an habitation for himself on a rock?

“Another passage of the same prophet might be applied to the pride which the tenants of these magnificent abodes took in resting as magnificently in death as they had done in life; he tells us (xiv. 18), ‘All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house.

“The mystical sculptures upon the walls of the chambers within these sepulchres, cannot be better described than in the words of Ezekiel, (viii. 8, 10): ‘Then said he unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and when I had digged in the wall, behold, a door; and he said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here. So I went in, and saw; and, behold, every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, pourtrayed upon the wall round about.

“‘The Israelites,’ remarks Mr. Jowett, ‘were but copyists; the master sketches are to be seen in all the ancient temples and tombs of Egypt.’ These are the places in which the dead bodies of the inhabitants of ancient Thebes were deposited many ages ago; and notwithstanding the havoc which, during many years, has been made among them, the stores of mummies which they contain would almost appear to be inexhaustible; indeed, as a modern writer expresses it, it would scarcely be an exaggeration to say that the mountains are merely roofs over the masses of mummies within them. The coffins, which are made of sycamore-wood, serve as fuel to the Arabs of the whole neighbourhood. ‘At first,’ says Mrs. Lushington, ‘I did not relish the idea of my dinner being dressed with this resurrection wood, particularly as two or three of the coffin lids, which were in the shape of human figures, were usually to be seen standing upright against the tree under which the cook was performing his operations, staring with their large eyes as if in astonishment at the new world upon which they had opened.’

“The miserable beings who have fixed their dwellings in these cavern tombs, are as little civillized as could be expected; [Pg 420]our female traveller describes them as having a wild and resolute appearance. ‘Every man was at this time (1828) armed with a spear, to resist, it was said, the compulsory levies of the Pacha, who found it vain to attack them in their fastnesses. I, who was so delighted with the beauty and peace of our new abode, felt quite disturbed to discover that the very spot where we encamped four years before, witnessed the massacre of many hundreds of Arabs, then in resistance against this recruiting system, and who were blown from guns, or shot, while endeavouring to make their escape by swimming across the river. The poor people, however, behaved with civility to us, and I felt no apprehension at going among them with a single companion, or even alone. To be sure we were obliged to take especial care of our property, for which purpose the chief of Luxor assisted us by furnishing half-a-dozen men to watch by night round the encampment. Nevertheless, once after I had gone to sleep, I was awakened by the extinguishing of the light, and felt my little camp-bed raised up by a man creeping underneath; he fled on my crying out, and escaped the pursuit, as he had the vigilance, of our six protectors.’

“The feelings occasioned by the sight of the numerous fragments of mummies which are to be found scattered in every direction in the neighbourhood of these tombs, must be to one of a reflective cast of mind peculiarly affecting. The Rev. Mr. Jowett, after speaking of his ascent to the top of the Libyan mountains, ‘which command a magnificent view of the winding of the Nile, and the plain of the hundred-gated Thebes,’ says, ‘as we were descending the other side of the mountain, we came suddenly on a part where thirty or forty mummies lay scattered in the sand,—the trunk of the body filled with pitch, and the limbs swathed in exceeding long clothes. The forty days spent in embalming these mortal bodies, (Genesis 1. 3.) thus give us a sight of some of our fellow-creatures who inhabited these plains more than three thousand years ago. How solemn the reflection that their disembodied spirits have been so long waiting to be united again to their reanimated body! and that this very body which, notwithstanding its artificial preservation, we see to be a body of humiliation, will on its great change become incorruptible and immortal.’”

The following observations are by Mr. Browne:—

“The massy and magnificent forms of the ruins that remain of ancient Thebes, the capital of Egypt, the city of Jove, the city with a hundred gates, must inspire every intelligent spectator with awe and admiration. Diffused on both sides of the Nile, their extent confirms the classical observations, and [Pg 421]Homer’s animated description rushes into the memory:—‘Egyptian Thebes, in whose palaces vast wealth is stored; from each of whose hundred gates issue two hundred warriors, with their horses and chariots.’ These venerable ruins, probably the most ancient in the world, extend for about three leagues in length along the Nile. East and west they reach to the mountains, a breadth of about two leagues and a half. The river is here about three hundred yards broad. The circumference of the ancient city must therefore have been about twenty-seven miles. In sailing up the Nile, the first village you come to within the precincts is Kourna, on the west, where there are few houses, the people living mostly in the caverns. Next is Abu-Hadjadj, a village, and Karnak, a small district, both on the east. Far the largest portion of the city stood on the eastern side of the river. On the south-west Medinet-Abu marks the extremity of the ruins; for Arment, which is about two leagues to the south, cannot be considered as a part.

“In describing the ruins, we shall begin with the most considerable, which are on the east of the Nile. The chief is the Great Temple, an oblong square building, of vast extent, with a double colonnade, one at each extremity. The massy columns and walls are covered with hieroglyphics, a labour truly stupendous. 1. The Great Temple stands in the district called Karnak. 2. Next in importance is the temple at Abu-Hadjadj. 3. Numerous ruins, avenues marked with remains of sphinxes, &c. On the west side of the Nile appear, 1. Two colossal figures, apparently of a man and woman, formed of a calcareous stone like the rest of the ruins. 2. Remains of a large temple, with caverns excavated in the rock. 3. The magnificent edifice styled the Palace of Memnon. Some of the columns are about forty feet high, and about nine and a half in diameter. The columns and walls are covered with hieroglyphics. This stands at Kourna. 4. Behind the palace is the passage styled Bibân-el-Molûk, leading up the mountain. At the extremity of this passage, in the sides of the rock, are the celebrated caverns known as the sepulchres of the ancient kings. Several of these sepulchres have been described by Pococke, with sufficient minuteness; he has even given plans of them. But in conversation with persons at Assiût, and in other parts of Egypt, I was always informed that they had not been discovered till within the last thirty years, when a son of Shech Hamâm, a very powerful chief of the Arabs, who governed all the south of Egypt from Achmîm to Nubia, caused four of them to be opened, in expectation of finding treasure.

“They had probably been rifled in very ancient times; but [Pg 422]how the memory of them should have been lost remains to be explained. One of those which I visited exactly answers Dr. Pococke’s description; but the other three appear materially different from any of his plans. It is, therefore, possible that some of those which he saw have been gradually closed up by the sand, and that the son of Hamâm had discovered others. They are cut into the free-stone rock, in appearance, upon one general plan, though differing in parts. First, a passage of some length, then a chamber; a continuation of the first passage turns abruptly to the right, where is the large sepulchral chamber, with a sarcophagus of red granite in the midst.

“In the second part of the passage of the largest are several cells or recesses on both sides. In these appear the chief paintings, representing the mysteries, which, as well as the hieroglyphics covering all the walls, are very fresh. I particularly observed the two harpers described by Bruce; but his engraved figures seem to be from memory. The French merchants at Kahira informed me that he brought with him two Italian artists; one was Luigi Balugani, a Bolognese, the other Zucci, a Florentine.”

The edifice at Luxor270 was principally the work of two Egyptian monarchs,—Amunoph the Third, who ascended the throne 1430 years before the Christian era, and Rameses the Second—the Great, as he is surnamed,—whose era has been fixed at 1500 or 1350 B. C. The Amenophium, as the more ancient part erected by the former is called, comprises all that extends from the river on the south up to the great court; a colonnade, together with a propyla which bound it on the north, is thus a portion of it. The great court itself, with the propyla forming the grand entrance into the whole building, and the obelisks, colossal statues, &c., was the work of Rameses the Second, and is sometimes called the Rameseium; under this appellation, however, it must not be confounded with the great monument of the same monarch on the western side of the river. As this great edifice is very near the bank of the river where it forms an angle, the soil is supported by a solid stone wall, from which is thrown out a jetty of massive and well-cemented brick, fifty yards in length, and seven in width. Mr. Wilkinson says that it is of the late era of the Ptolemies, or Cæsars, since blocks bearing the sculpture of the former have been used in its construction; and the same gentleman communicates the unpleasant intelligence that the river having formed a recess behind it, threatens to sweep away the whole of its solid masonry, and to undermine the [Pg 423]foundations of the temple itself. This jetty formed a small port, for the convenience of boats navigating the river. Mr. Hamilton says that its ruins very much resemble the fragments of the bridge called that of Caligula in the Bay of Baiæ; which is now generally believed to have been a pier for the purposes of trade. Dr. Richardson considered the workmanship of the embankment to be entirely Roman; and he suggests that the temple at Luxor was probably built on the banks of the Nile for the convenience of sailors and wayfaring men; where, without much loss of time they might stop, say their prayers, present their offerings, and bribe the priests for promises of future success.

“The entrance,” says Denon, “of the village of Luxor affords a striking instance of beggary and magnificence. What a gradation of ages in Egypt is offered by this single scene! What grandeur and simplicity in the bare inspection of this one mine! It appears to me to be at the same time the most picturesque group, and the most speaking representation of the history of those times. Never were my eyes or my imagination so forcibly struck as by the sight of this monument. I often came to meditate on this spot, to enjoy the past and the present; to compare the successive generations of inhabitants, by their respective works, which were before my eye, and to store in my mind volumes of materials for future meditations. One day the sheik of the village accosted me, and asked if it was the French or the English who had erected these monuments, and this question completed my reflections.”

Every spot of ground, intervening between the walls and columns, is laid out in plantations of corn and olives, inclosed by mud walls.

“We have little reason to suppose271, that when Egypt formed a part of the Eastern empire, its former capital was at all raised from its fallen condition; and we have, unfortunately, but too much reason to conclude, that under the dominion of the Arabian caliphs, it sank yet deeper into desolation, and the destruction of its monuments was continued still by the same agency which had all along worked their ruin,—the hand of man. Though we have no distinct account of the injuries inflicted on it in this period, we may infer their extent, and the motives which operated to produce them, from the following remarks of Abdallatif, an Arabian physician of Bagdad, who wrote a description of Egypt in the fourteenth century. He tells us, that formerly the sovereigns watched with care [Pg 424]over the preservation of the ancient monuments remaining in Egypt; ‘but, in our time,’ he adds, ‘the bridle has been unloosed from men, and no one takes the trouble to restrain their caprices, each being left to conduct himself as to him should seem best. When they have perceived monuments of colossal grandeur, the aspect of those monuments has inspired them with terror; they have conceived foolish and false ideas of the nature of these remains of antiquity. Every thing, which had the appearance of design, has been in their eyes but a signal of hidden treasure; they have not been able to see an aperture in a mountain, without imagining it to be a road leading to some repository of riches. A colossal statue has been to them but the guardian of the wealth deposited at its feet, and the implacable avenger of all attempts upon the security of his store. Accordingly, they have had recourse to all sorts of artifice to destroy and pull down these statues; they have mutilated the figures, as if they hoped by such means to attain their object, and feared that a more open attack would bring ruin upon themselves; they have made openings, and dug holes in the stones, not doubting them to be so many strong coffers filled with immense sums; and they have pierced deep, too, in the clefts of mountains, like robbers penetrating into houses by every way but the doors, and seizing eagerly any opportunity which they think known only to themselves.’ This is the secret of much of the devastation which has been worked among the monuments of ancient Egypt.”

The village of Luxor272 is built on the site of the ruins of a temple, not so large as that of Karnac, but in a better state of preservation, the masses not having as yet fallen through time, and by the pressure of their own weight. The most colossal parts consist of fourteen columns, of nearly eleven feet in diameter, and of two statues of granite at the outer gate, buried up to the middle of the arms, and having in front of them the two largest and best preserved obelisks known. They are rose-coloured, are still seventy feet above the ground, and to judge by the depth to which the figures seem to be covered, about thirty feet more may be reckoned to be concealed from the eye; making in all one hundred feet for their height. Their preservation is perfect; and the hieroglyphics [Pg 425] with which they are covered being cut deep, and in relief at the bottom, show the bold hand of a master, and a beautiful finish. The gravers, which could touch such hard materials, must have been of an admirable temper; and the machines to drag such enormous blocks from the quarries, to transport them thither, and to set them upright, together with the time required for the labour, surpass all conception.

The temple is very near the river, says another writer, and there is a good ancient jetty, well built of bricks. The entrance is through a magnificent gateway facing the north, two hundred feet in front, and fifty-seven feet high, above the present level of the soil. Before the gateway, and between the obelisks, are two colossal statues of red granite; from the difference of the dresses, it is judged that one was a male, the other a female, figure. They are nearly of equal sizes. Though buried in the ground to the chest, they still measure twenty-one or twenty-two feet from thence to the top of the mitres.

The gateway is filled with remarkable sculptures, which represent the triumph of some ancient monarch of Egypt over an Asiatic enemy; and which we find repeated both on other monuments of Thebes, and partly, also, on some of the monuments of Nubia. This event appears to have formed an epoch in Egyptian history, and to have furnished materials both for the historian and the sculptor, like the war of Troy to the Grecian poet. The whole length of this temple is about eight hundred feet.

In speaking of the gate of this temple, which is now become that of the village of Luxor, Denon remarks:—“Nothing can be more grand, and, at the same time, more simple, than the small number of objects of which this entrance is composed. No city whatever makes so proud a display at its appearance [Pg 426] as this wretched village; the population of which consists of two or three thousand souls, who have taken up their abode on the roofs and beneath the galleries of this temple, which has, nevertheless, the air of being in a manner uninhabited.”

The following observations, in regard to the sculptures at Luxor, are from the Saturday Magazine:—

“On the front of the great propyla, which form the principal entrance at Luxor, are a series of sculptures which have excited the wonder of all who have ever seen them. They are spoken of as being entitled to rank very high among works of ancient art; as Mr. Hamilton remarks in his admirable description of them, they far surpass all the ideas which till they were examined had been formed of the state of the arts in Egypt at the era to which they must be attributed. They are cut in a peculiar kind of relief, and are apparently intended to commemorate some victory gained by an ancient monarch of Egypt over a foreign enemy. The moment of the battle chosen, is when the hostile troops are driven back in their fortress, and the Egyptians are evidently to be soon masters of the citadel.

“The conqueror, behind whom is borne aloft the royal standard, in the shape of the Doum, or Theban palm-leaf, is of colossal size: that is, far larger than all the other warriors, standing up in a car drawn by two horses. His helmet is adorned with a globe with a serpent on each side. He is in the act of shooting an arrow from a bow which is full stretched; around him are quivers, and at his feet is a lion in the act of rushing forward. There is a great deal of life and spirit in the form and attitude of the horses, which are in full gallop, feathers waving over their heads, and the reins lashed round the body of the conqueror. Under the wheels of the car, and under the horses’ hoofs and bellies, are crowds of the slain; some stretched on the ground, others falling. On the enemy’s side, horses in full speed with empty cars,—others heedless of the rein, and all at last rushing headlong down a precipice into a broad and deep river which washes the walls of the town. The expression is exceedingly good; and nowhere has the artist shown more skill than in two groups, in one of which the horses having arrived at the edge of the precipice, instantly fall down; and the driver clinging with one hand to the car, the reins and whip falling from the other,—his body, trembling with despair, is about to be hurled over the backs of the horses. In the other, the horses still find a footing on the side of the hill, and [Pg 427]are hurrying forward their drivers to inevitable destruction; these throw themselves back upon the car in vain. Some that are yet unwounded pray for mercy on their knees, and others in their flight cast behind a look of anxious entreaty; their limbs, their eyes, and their hands, sufficiently declare their fears. The breathless horses are admirable,—whether fainting from loss of blood, or rearing up and plunging in the excess of torture. Immediately in front of the conqueror are several cars in full speed for the walls of the town; but even in these the charioteers and men-of-war are not safe from the arrows shot from his unerring bow, and when wounded they look back on their pursuer as they fall. Further on, more fortunate fugitives are passing the river; in which are mingled horses, chariots, arms, and men, expressed in the most faithful manner, floating or sunk. Some have already reached the opposite bank where their friends, who are drawn up in order of battle, but venture not to go out to the fight, drag them to the shore. Others, having escaped by another road, are entering the gates of the town amid the shrieks and lamentation of those within. Towers, ramparts, and battlements, are crowded with inhabitants, who are chiefly bearded old men and women. A party of the former are seen sallying forth, headed by a youth whose different dress, and high turban, mark him out as some distinguished chieftain. On each side of the town are large bodies of infantry, and a great force of chariots issuing out of the gates, and advancing seemingly by different routes to attack the besiegers.

“The impetuosity, with which the hero of the picture has moved, has already carried him far beyond the main body of his own army, and he is there alone amid the dying and the slain—victims of his valour and prowess. Behind this scene, the two lines of the enemy join their forces, and attack in a body the army of the invaders, which advances to meet them in a regular line. ‘Besides the peculiarities of the incidents recorded in this interesting piece of sculpture,’ says Mr. Hamilton, ‘we evidently traced a distinction between the short dresses of the Egyptians and the long robes of their Oriental enemies; whether Indians, Persians, or Bactrians; the uncovered and the covered heads; the different forms of the cars, of which the Egyptian contains two, and the others three warriors; and above all, the difference of the arms.’

“At one extremity of the west wing of the gateway, the beginning of this engagement appears to be represented; the same monarch being seen at the head of his troops, advancing against the double line of the enemy, and first breaking their ranks. At the other extremity of the same wing the conqueror is seated on his throne after the victory, holding a sceptre in [Pg 428]his left hand, and enjoying the cruel spectacle of eleven of the principal chieftains among his captives lashed together in a row, with a rope about their necks: the foremost stretches out his arms for pity, and in vain implores a reprieve from the fate of his companions: close to him is the twelfth, on his knees, just going to be put to death by the hands of two executioners. Above them is the captive sovereign, tied with his hands behind him to a car, to which two horses are harnessed; these are checked from rushing onward by the attendant, till the monarch shall mount and drag behind him the unfortunate victim of his triumphs. Behind the throne different captives are suffering death in various ways; some held by the executioner by the hair of their head; others dragged by chariots or slain by the arrow or the scimitar. There is then the conqueror’s camp, round which are placed his treasures, and where the servants prepare a feast to celebrate his victory.

“We have described these sculptures at length, because they are undoubtedly one of the greatest of the many wonders of Thebes, and because in no other manner could we convey to our readers a proper notion of their merits.”

The following observations are by Lord Lindsay:—

“We visited the Temples of Luxor and Carnac. The former is a most magnificent pile, architecturally considered, but otherwise the least interesting of the four great temples of Thebes. You originally entered between four gigantic statues of Rameses the Great, and two superb obelisks, of which one only remains;—the French have carried off his brother, and every lover of antiquity must regret their separation. The obelisks, statues, and pyramidal towers, were additions by Rameses to the original edifice, founded by Amunoph the Third. From the propyla and obelisks of this temple an avenue, guarded by sphinxes, facing each other, extended northwards, to the great temple of Jupiter Ammon at Carnac; meeting it at right angles, the latter extending from west to east. The road we followed lay nearer the river, and led us through a comparatively small temple of Isis, that would have detained us longer in a less attractive neighbourhood, into the great court of Jupiter Ammon’s temple, the noblest ruin at Thebes. A stupendous colonnade, of which one pillar only remains erect, once extended across this court, connecting the western propylon or gate of entrance, built by Sesostris, with that at its eastern extremity, leading to the grand hall of Osirei, and the sanctuary. We ascended the former;—the avenue of sphinxes, through which the god returned, in solemn procession, to his shrine at Carnac, after his annual visit to the Libyan suburb, ascends to it from the river,—the same [Pg 429]avenue traversed age after age by the conqueror, the poet, the historian, the lawgiver, the philosopher,—Sesostris, Cambyses, Homer, Herodotus, Thales, Anaxagoras, Solon, Pythagoras, Plato,—and now the melancholy song of an Arab boy was the only sound that broke the silence; but that poor boy was the representative of an older and a nobler race than that of the Pharaohs. Long did we gaze on the scene around and below us—utter, awful desolation! Truly, indeed, has NO been ‘rent asunder!’ The towers of the second or eastern propylon are mere heaps of stones, ‘poured down’—as prophecy and modern travellers describe the foundations of Samaria—into the court on one side, and the great hall on the other;—giant columns have been swept away like reeds before the mighty avalanche, and one hardly misses them. And that hall, who could describe it? Its dimensions, one hundred and seventy feet by three hundred and twenty-nine,—-the height of the central avenue of columns sixty-six feet, exclusive of their pedestals,—the total number of columns that supported its roof one hundred and thirty-four. These particulars may give you some idea of its extent; but of its grandeur and beauty—none. Every column is sculptured, and all have been richly painted. The exterior walls, too, are a sculptured history of the wars of Osirei and Rameses. Except those at Beit Wellee I have seen nothing in Egypt that would interest so much. In one corner, of especial interest, are represented the Jews captured by Shishak, and their king Rehoboam, with the hieroglyphical inscription ‘Jehouda Melek,’ the king of the Jews. This is the only reference to the Israelites found in Egyptian sculpture. Many have wondered at finding no allusions to their residence in Egypt; but I think without cause; for, except the pyramids, the tombs in their vicinity, those of Beni Hassan, and a few other remains, of but little interest, I do not believe that any monuments exist, coeval with Moses and the Exodus.”

The remains of this temple are thus described by Denon:—

“Of the hundred columns of the portico alone, the smallest are seven feet and a half in diameter, and the largest twelve; the space occupied by the circumvallation of the temple contains lakes and mountains. In short, to be enabled to form a competent idea of so much magnificence, the reader ought to fancy what is before him to be a dream; as he who views the objects themselves rubs his eyes to know whether he is awake. The avenue leading from Karnac to Luxor, a space nearly half a league in extent, contains a constant succession of sphinxes and other chimerical figures to the right and left, together with fragments of stone walls, of small columns, and of statues.”

[Pg 430]

“The most ancient remains,” says Mr. Wilkinson, “now existing at Thebes, are unquestionably in the great temple of Karnac, the largest and most splendid ruin273 of which, perhaps, either ancient or modern times can boast; being the work of a number of successive monarchs, each anxious to surpass his predecessor, by increasing the dimensions and proportions of the part he added.

“It is this fact which enables us to account for the diminutive size of the older parts of this extensive building; and their comparatively limited scale offering greater facility, as their vicinity to the sanctuary greater temptation, to an invading army to destroy them, added to their remote antiquity, are to be attributed their dilapidated state; as well as the total disappearance of the sculptures executed during the reigns of the Pharaohs, who preceded Osirtesen I., the cotemporary of Joseph, and the earliest monarch whose name exists on the monuments of Thebes274.”

Speaking of this magnificent edifice, and of the vast sphinxes and other figures, Belzoni says:—“I had seen the temple of Tentyra, and I still acknowledge that nothing can exceed that edifice in point of preservation, and the beauty of its workmanship [Pg 431] and sculpture. But here I was lost in a mass of colossal objects, every one of which was more than sufficient of itself to attract my whole attention. How can I describe my sensations at that moment? I seemed alone in the midst of all that is most sacred in the world; a forest of enormous columns from top to bottom; the graceful shape of the lotus, which forms their capitals, and is so well proportioned to the columns; the gates, the walls, the pedestals, the architraves, also adorned in every part with symbolical figures in low-relief, representing battles, processions, triumphs, feasts, and sacrifices, all relating to the ancient history of the country; the sanctuary wholly formed of fine red granite; the high portals, seen at a distance from the openings, of ruins of the other temples, within sight;—these altogether had such an effect upon my soul, as to separate me, in imagination, from the rest of mortals, exalt me on high above all, and cause me to forget entirely the trifles and follies of life. I was happy for a whole day, which escaped like a flash of lightning.”

Here stood, and does now stand, a fragment of the famous vocal statue of Memnon, which, many writers attest, sent forth harmonious sounds, when first touched of a morning by the rays of the sun. The circumstance being attested by Strabo, Pliny, Juvenal, Pausanias, Tacitus, and Philostratus, it is assuredly not to be doubted. The first injury this statue received was from Cambyses; who ordered it to be sawed in two, in order to get at the secret. It was afterwards thrown down by an earthquake.

Some have supposed, that the sounds alluded to were produced by the mechanical impulse of the sun’s light. Others that, being hollow, the air was driven out by the rarefaction of the morning, which occasioned the elicitation of a murmuring sound.[Pg 432] But some assert, that it saluted the morning and evening sun differently;—the former with animating sounds; the latter with melancholy ones. Darwin, in the true spirit of poetry, describes this statue as sending forth murmurs of indignation at the ravages of Cambyses:—

Prophetic whispers breathed from sphinx’s tongue; And Memnon’s lyre with hollow murmurs rung.

In another passage, equally poetical, he makes it view with delight the waters of the Nile, rushing from the cataracts of Ethiopia:—

Gigantic sphinx the circling waves admire; And Memnon bending o’er his broken lyre.

In many parts of the East the custom still remains of proclaiming the sun by the sounding of instruments. That similar signals were given in Egypt is not to be doubted, since the custom is almost as old as solar adoration itself. That the sun was worshipped in that country, is equally established: both being rendered the more certain by the ceremony of sounding harps, at sunrise, having been introduced into Italy by Pythagoras, who had long sojourned with the Egyptian magi. The sounding of Memnon’s statue, then, might have been an artifice of the priesthood; to effect which many methods might have been adopted. Either the head of Memnon contained wires, like the strings of an Æolian harp; or the sounds might have been produced by the touching of a stone275.

The real cause of the sound has lately been discovered by Mr. Wilkinson:—“In the lap of the statue is a stone, which, on being struck, elicits a metallic sound, that might still be made use of to deceive a visitor, who was predisposed to believe its powers; and from its position, and the squared [Pg 433]space cut in the block behind, as if to admit a person, who might thus lie concealed from the most scrutinous observer in the plain below, it seems to have been used after the restoration of the statue; and another similar recess exists beneath the present site of the stone, which might have been intended for the same purpose, when the statue was in its mutilated state.”

This statue has frequently been mistaken for the statue of Osymandyas. Strabo says, that it was named Ismandes. These words were derived from Os-Smandi, to give out a sound; a property possessed, it was said, by this statue at the dawn of day and at sunset. Its true name was Amenophis. It was visited by Germanicus. On its legs are to be seen Greek and Roman inscriptions, attesting the prodigy of the harmonious sounds emitted by this colossus.

After the temples at Karnac and Luxor, the next grand building at Thebes was the Memnonium; that is, the tomb or palace of one of the Pharaohs, whom the Greeks suppose to be the same as Memnon. In the middle of the first court was the largest figure ever raised by the Egyptians,—the statue of the monarch, seventy-five feet high.

“The name Memnonium276 is used by Strabo to designate some part of ancient Thebes lying on the western side of the river. Some modern travellers have applied it to a mass of ruins at a little distance to the north of Medeenet-Habou, which are by others identified with the palace and tomb of Osymandyas, described by Diodorus. The dimensions of the building are about five hundred and thirty feet in length, and two hundred in width: it is chiefly remarkable for the magnificent colossal statues which have been discovered within it. The ‘Memnon’s head,’ which forms so valuable an object in the collection of Egyptian antiquities contained in the British Museum, formerly belonged to one of these statues. It is generally supposed that the French, during their celebrated [Pg 434]expedition, separated the bust from the rest of the figure by the aid of gunpowder, with the view of rendering its transport more easy. They were compelled, however, from some cause or other, to leave it behind, and it was brought away by Belzoni.

“Close to the spot where the Memnon’s head was found, lie the fragments of another statue, which has been called the largest in Egypt. It was placed in a sitting posture, and measures sixty-two or sixty-three feet round the shoulders; six feet ten inches over the foot. The length of the nail of the second toe is about one foot, and the length of the toe to the insertion of the nail is one foot eleven inches. This enormous statue, formed of red granite, has been broken off at the waist, and the upper part is now laid prostrate on the back: the face is entirely obliterated, and next to the wonder excited at the boldness of the sculptor who made it, as Mr. Hamilton remarks, and the extraordinary powers of those who erected it, the labour and exertions that must have been used for its destruction are most astonishing.

“The mutilation of this statue must have been a work of extreme difficulty: Hamilton says that it could only have been brought about with the help of military engines, and must then have been the work of a length of time; in its fall it has carried along with it the whole of the wall of the temple which stood within its reach.

“We have remarked that this edifice, called the Memnonium, is by many travellers identified with that described by Diodorus, under the name of the monument of Osymandyas; his description is the only detailed account which we have in the ancient writers of any great Egyptian building. There is no one now at Thebes to which it may be applied in all its parts, or with which it so far agrees, as to leave no doubt concerning the edifice to which it was intended to apply by its author; and Mr. Hamilton expresses his decided opinion that Diodorus, in penning this description of the tomb of Osymandyas, either listened with too easy credulity to the fanciful relations of the Greek travellers, to whom he refers; or that, astonished with the immensity of the monuments he must have read and heard of as contained within the walls of the capital of Egypt, and equally unwilling to enter into a minute detail of them all, as to omit all mention of them whatever, he set himself down to compose an imaginary building, to which he could give a popular name. In this he might collect, in some kind of order, all the most remarkable features of Theban monuments, statues, columns, obelisks, sculptures, &c. to form one entire whole that might astonish his reader without [Pg 435]tiring him by prolixity or repetition, and which at the same time gave him a just notion of the magnificent and splendid works which had immortalised the monarchs of the Thebaid. It is evident that there is no one monument in Thebes which answers in all its parts to the description of Diodorus; yet it is urged that there is scarcely any one circumstance that he mentions that may not be referred to one or other of the temples of Luxor, Karnak, Goorno, Medeenet-Habou, or the tombs of the kings among the mountains. Others think that Diodorus used his best endeavours to describe a real place; and the chief agreements with that now called the Memnonium are in the position of the building and its colossal statues, which are supposed to outweigh the exaggerations of dimension; these being set down as faults of memory or observation. On the colossal statue mentioned by Diodorus as the largest in Egypt, was placed, as he tells us, this inscription:—‘I am Osymandyas, king of kings: if you wish to know how great I am, and where I lie, surpass my works!’ He speaks also of certain sculptures representing battle scenes; and of the famous sacred library, which was inscribed with the words, ‘Place of cure for the soul!’ Yet from this conclusion we learn that he has been describing what the tomb of Osymandyas was, ‘which not only in the expense of the structure, but also in the skill of the workmanship, must have surpassed by far all other buildings.’”

The following observations and history are taken from an exceedingly learned and agreeable work, “Egyptian Antiquities:”

“Those who visit the British Museum cannot fail to have observed, in the room of Egyptian antiquities, a colossal statue of which only the head and breast remain. It is numbered 66 in the catalogue and on the stone. Though this statue is commonly called the ‘Younger Memnon,’ a name to which for convenience we shall adhere, there is no reason in the world for calling it so, but a mistake of Norden, a Danish traveller, who visited Egypt in 1737. He then saw this statue in its entire state, seated on a chair, in precisely the same attitude as the black breccia figure, No. 38, but lying with its face on the ground; to which accident, indeed, the preservation of the features is no doubt mainly due. Several ancient writers, and among them the Greek geographer Strabo, speak of a large temple at Thebes on the west side of the Nile, to which they gave the name of the Memnonium, or Memnon’s temple. Norden fancied that the building, amidst whose ruins he saw this statue, was the ancient Memnonium: though he [Pg 436]supposed, that another statue of much larger dimensions than this in the Museum, and now lying in numerous fragments in the same place, was the great Memnon statue, of which some ancient writers relate the following fact:—That at sunrise, when the rays first struck the statue, it sent forth a sound something like that of the snapping of the string of a lute.

“It is now generally admitted, that the real statue of Memnon is neither the large one still lying at Thebes in fragments, nor this statue in the Museum, which came out of the same temple—but another statue still seated in its original position on the plain of Thebes, and showing by numerous Greek and Latin inscriptions on the legs, that it was the statue of which Strabo, Pausanias, and other ancient writers speak. The entire black statue, No. 38, is also a Memnon statue, for it resembles in all respects the great colossus with the inscriptions on its legs, and it has also the name of Memnon written on it, and enclosed in an oblong ring, on each side of the front part of the seat, and also on the back. If this colossus in the Museum (No. 66) was entire in 1737, it may be asked how came it to be broken? We cannot say further than the following statement:—Belzoni went to Egypt in 1815, intending to propose to the Pasha some improved mechanical contrivances for raising water from the river in order to irrigate the fields. Owing to various obstacles, this scheme did not succeed, and Belzoni determined to pay a visit to Upper Egypt to see the wonderful remains of its temples. Mr. Salt, then British Consul in Egypt, and Lewis Burckhardt, commissioned Belzoni to bring this colossal head from Thebes. Belzoni went up the river, and, landing at Thebes, found the statue exactly in the place where the Consul’s instructions described it to be.277 It was lying ‘near the remains of its body and chair, with its face upwards, and apparently smiling on me at the thought of being taken to England. I must say, that my expectations were exceeded by its beauty, but not by its size. I observed that it must have been absolutely the same statue as is mentioned by Norden, lying in his time with the face downwards, which must have been the cause of its preservation. I will not venture to assert who separated the bust from the rest of the body by an explosion, or by whom the bust has been turned face upwards.’ It will be observed that the left shoulder of this figure is shattered, and that there is a large hole drilled in the right shoulder. We believe both are the work of the French who visited Thebes during the occupation of Egypt by the French army in 1800; and there is no doubt that Belzoni, in the above extract, means to attribute to them [Pg 437]the separation of the head and shoulders from the rest of the body. In the magnificent work on Egyptian Antiquities, which has been published at Paris, there is a drawing of this head, which is pretty correct, except that the hole and the whole right shoulder are wanting. It seems that they drew the colossal bust in that form which it would have assumed, had they blown off the right shoulder. From what cause it happened we do not know, but they left the colossus behind them; and Belzoni, alone and unaided, accomplished what the French had unsuccessfully attempted.

“All the implements that Belzoni had for removing this colossus were fourteen poles, eight of which were employed in making a car for the colossus, four ropes of palm-leaves, four rollers, and no tackle of any description. With these sorry implements and such wretched workmen as the place could produce, he contrived to move the colossus from the ruins where it lay to the banks of the Nile, a distance considerably more than a mile. But it was a no less difficult task to place the colossus on board a boat, the bank of the river being ‘more than fifteen feet above the level of the water, which had retired at least a hundred yards from it.’ This, however, was effected by making a sloping causeway, along which the heavy mass descended slowly till it came to the lower part, where, by means of four poles, a kind of bridge was made, having one end resting on the centre parts of the boat, and the other on the inclined plane. Thus the colossus was moved into the boat without any danger of tilting it over by pressing too much on one side. From Thebes it was carried down the river to Rosetta, and thence to Alexandria, a distance of more than four hundred miles: from the latter place it was embarked for England.

“The material of this colossus is a fine-grained granite, which is found in the quarries near the southern boundary of Egypt, from which masses of enormous size may be procured free from any split or fracture. These quarries supplied the Egyptians with the principal materials for their colossal statues and obelisks, some of which, in an unfinished form, may still be seen in the granite quarries of Assouan. There is considerable variety in the qualities of this granite, as we may see from the specimens in the Museum, some of which consist of much larger component parts than others, and in different proportions; yet all of them admit a fine polish. The colossal head, No. 8, opposite to the Memnon, No. 2, commonly called an altar, will serve to explain our meaning.

“This Memnon’s bust consists of one piece of stone, of two different colours, of which the sculptor has judiciously applied the red part to form the face. Though there is a style of sculpture which we may properly call Egyptian, as distinguished [Pg 438]from and inferior to the Greek, and though this statue clearly belongs to the Egyptian style, it surpasses as a work of art most other statues from that country by a peculiar sweetness of expression and a finer outline of face. Though the eyebrows are hardly prominent enough for our taste, the nose somewhat too rounded, and the lips rather thick, it is impossible to deny that there is great beauty stamped on the countenance. Its profile, when viewed from various points, will probably show some new beauties to those only accustomed to look at it in front. The position of the ear in all Egyptian statues that we have had an opportunity of observing is very peculiar, being always too high; and the ear itself is rather large. We might almost infer, that there was some national peculiarity in this member, from seeing it so invariably placed in the same singular position. The appendage to the chin is common in Egyptian colossal statues, and is undoubtedly intended to mark the beard, the symbol of manhood; and it may be observed not only on numerous statues, but also on painted reliefs, where we frequently see it projecting from the end of the chin and not attached to the breast, but slightly curved upwards. Osiris, one of the great objects of Egyptian adoration, is often thus represented; but the beard is generally only attached to the clothed figure, being, for the most part, but not always, omitted on naked ones. The colossal figures, No. 8 and 38, have both lost their beards. There is a colossal head in the Museum, No. 57, that is peculiar in having the upper margin of the beard represented by incisions on the chin, after the fashion of Greek bearded statues. It is the only instance we have seen, either in reality or in any drawing, of a colossus with a genuine beard. There is more variety in the head-dresses of colossal statues than in their beards. No. 8, opposite the Memnon, has the high cap which occurs very often on Egyptian standing colossi, which are placed with their backs to pilasters. No. 38 has the flat cap fitting close to the head and descending behind, very much like the pigtails once in fashion. The Memnon head-dress differs from both of these, and has given rise to discussions, called learned, into which we cannot enter here. On the forehead of this colossus may be seen the remains of the erect serpent, the emblem of royalty, which always indicates a deity or a royal personage. This erect serpent may be traced on various monuments of the Museum, and perhaps occurs more frequently than any single sculptured object.

“Our limits prevent us from going into other details, but we have perhaps said enough to induce some of our readers to look more carefully at this curious specimen of Egyptian art; and to examine the rest of the ornamental parts. The following are some of the principal dimensions:—

[Pg 439]

  ft. in.

The whole height of the bust from the top of the head-dress to the lowest part of the fragment measured behind

8 9
Round the shoulders and breast, above 15 3

Height of the head from the upper part of the head-dress to the end of the beard

From the forehead to the chin 3

“Judging from these dimensions, the figure in its entire state would be about twenty-four feet high as seated on its chair: which is about half the height of the real Memnon, who still sits majestic on his ancient throne, and throws his long shadow at sun-rise over the plain of Thebes.”

Many pages have been written in regard to the time when the arch was first invented. It is not known that the two divisions of the city were ever connected by any bridge.

“A people,” remarks Heeren, “whose knowledge of architecture had not attained to the formation of arches, could hardly have constructed a bridge over a river, the breadth of which would even now oppose great obstacles to such an undertaking. We have reason to believe, however, that the Egyptians were acquainted with the formation of the arch, and did employ it on many occasions. Belzoni contends that such was the case, and asserts that there is now at Thebes a genuine specimen, which establishes the truth of his assertion. No question exists, it should be observed, that arches are to be found in Thebes; it is their antiquity alone which has been doubted. The testimony of Mr. Wilkinson on this point is decisive in their favour. He tells us that he had long been persuaded that most of the innumerable vaults and arches to be seen at Thebes, were of an early date, although unfortunately, from their not having the names of any of the kings inscribed on them, he was unable to prove the fact; when, at last, chance threw in his way a tomb vaulted in the usual manner, and with an arched door-way, ‘the whole stuccoed, and bearing on every part of it the fresco paintings and name of Amunoph the First,’ who ascended the throne 1550 years B. C. We thus learn that the arch was in use in Egypt nearly three thousand four hundred years ago,—or more than twelve hundred years before the period usually assigned as the date of its introduction among the Greeks.”

At Thebes have lately been found, that is, about fifteen years ago, several papyri; one of which gives an ancient contract for the sale of land in this city. The following is a translation:—

[Pg 440]

“‘In the reign of Cleopatra and Ptolemy her son, surnamed Alexander, the gods Philometores Soteres, in the year XII, otherwise IX; in the priesthood, &c. &c., on the 29th of the month Tybi; Apollonius bring president of the Exchange of the Memnonians, and of the lower government of the Pathyritic Nome.

“‘There was sold by Pamonthes, aged about 45, of middle size, dark complexion, and handsome figure, bald, round-faced, and straight-nosed; and by Snachomnenus, aged about 20, of middle size, sallow complexion, likewise round-faced, and straight-nosed; and by Semmuthis Persineï, aged about 22, of middle size, sallow complexion, round-faced, flat-nosed, and of quiet demeanour; and by Tathlyt Persineï, aged about 30, of middle size, sallow complexion, round face, and straight nose, with their principal, Pamonthes, a party in the sale; the four being of the children of Petepsais, of the leather-cutters of the Memnonia; out of the piece of level ground which belongs to them in the southern part of the Memnonia, eight thousand cubits of open field; one-fourth of the whole, bounded on the south by the Royal Street; on the north and east by the land of Pamonthes and Boconsiemis, who is his brother,—and the common land of the city; on the west by the house of Tages, the son of Chalome; a canal running through the middle, leading from the river; these are the neighbours on all sides. It was bought by Nechutes the Less, the son of Asos, aged about 40, of middle size, sallow complexion, cheerful countenance, long face, and straight nose, with a scar upon the middle of his forehead; for 601 pieces of brass; the sellers standing as brokers, and as securities for the validity of the sale. It was accepted by Nechutes the purchaser.

“‘Apollonius, Pr. Exch.

“Attached278 to this deed is a registry, dated according to the day of the month and year in which it was effected, ‘at the table in Hermopolis, at which Dionysius presides over the 20th department;’ and briefly recapitulating the particulars of the sale, as recorded in the account of the partners receiving the duties on sales, of which Heraclius is the subscribing clerk; so that even in the days of the Ptolemies there was a tax on the transfer of landed property, and the produce of it was farmed out in this case to certain ‘partners.’

“According to Champollion, the date of this contract corresponds to the 13th or 14th of February, 105 B. C., and that of the registry to the 6th or the 14th of May in the same year. Dr. Young fixes it in the year 106 B. C.

[Pg 441]

“The contract is written in Greek; it is usually called the ‘Contract of Ptolemais,’ or the ‘Papyrus of M. d’Anatasy,’ having been first procured by a gentleman of that name, the Swedish consul at Alexandria. Three other deeds of a similar kind, but rather older, and written in the enchorial, or demotic character, were brought from Thebes, about fifteen years ago, by a countryman of our own, Mr. G. F. Grey, the same gentleman who was fortunate enough to bring that Greek papyrus which turned out, by a most marvellous coincidence, to be a copy of an Egyptian manuscript which Dr. Young was at the very time trying to decipher. These three deeds are in the enchorial character, and accompanied with a registry in Greek. They all relate to the transfer of land ‘at the southern end of Diospolis the Great,’ as the Greek registries have it. The Greek papyrus, too, of which we just spoke, and the original Paris manuscript, of which it is a copy, are instruments for the transfer of the rent of certain tombs in the Libyan suburb of Thebes, in the Memnonia; and also of the proceeds arising from the performance of certain ‘liturgies’ on the account of the deceased. They have been invaluable aids in the study of ancient Egyptian literature.”

The emperor Constantine, ambitious of foreign ornaments, resolved to decorate his newly-founded capital of Constantinople with the largest of all the obelisks that stood on the ruins of Thebes. He succeeded in having it conveyed as far as Alexandria, but, dying at the time, its destination was changed; and an enormous raft, managed by three hundred rowers, transported the granite obelisk from Alexandria to Rome.

Among the treasures of antiquity, found in the Thebais, were, till very lately, two granite columns, of precisely the same character as Cleopatra’s Needles. Of these one remains on the spot; the other, with great labour and expense, has been transported to Paris. When the French army, in their attempt on Egypt, penetrated as far as Thebes, they were, almost to a man, overpowered by the majesty of the ancient monuments they saw before them; and Buonaparte is then said to have conceived the idea of removing at least one of the obelisks to Paris. But[Pg 442] reverses and defeat followed. The French were compelled to abandon Egypt; and the English, remaining masters of the seas, effectually prevented any such importation into France.

279Thirty years after Buonaparte’s first conception of the idea, the French government, then under Charles X., having obtained the consent of the pasha of Egypt, determined that one of the obelisks of Luxor should be brought to Paris. ‘The difficulties of doing this,’ says M. Delaborde, ‘were great. In the first place, it was necessary to build a vessel which should be large enough to contain the monument, deep enough to stand the sea, and, at the same time, draw so little water as to be able to ascend and descend such rivers as the Nile and the Seine.’

“In the month of February, 1831, when the crown of France had passed into the hands of Louis Philippe, a vessel, built as nearly as could be on the necessary principles, was finished and equipped at Toulon. This vessel, which for the sake of lightness was chiefly made of fir and other white wood, was named the ‘Luxor.’ The crew consisted of one hundred and twenty seamen, under the command of Lieutenant Verninac, of the French royal navy; and there went, besides, sixteen mechanics of different professions, and a master to direct the works under the superintendence of M. Lebas.

“After staying forty-two days at Alexandria, the expedition sailed for the mouth of the Nile. At Rosetta they remained some days, and on the 20th of June M. Lebas, the engineer, two officers, and a few of the sailors and workmen, leaving the ‘Luxor’ to make her way up the river slowly, embarked in common Nile-boats for Thebes, carrying with them the tools and materials necessary for the removal of the obelisk. The ‘Luxor’ did not arrive at Thebes until the 14th of August, which was two months after her departure from Alexandria.

“Reaumur’s thermometer marked from thirty degrees to thirty-eight in the shade, and ascended to fifty, and even to fifty-five degrees, in the sun. Several of the sailors were seized with dysentery, and the quantity of sand blown about by the wind, and the glaring reflection of the burning sun, afflicted others with painful ophthalmia. The sand was particularly distressing: one day the wind raised it and rolled it onward in such volume as, at intervals, to obscure the light of the sun. After they had felicitated themselves on the fact that the plague was not in the country, they were struck with alarm, on the 29th of August, by learning that the cholera morbus had broken out most violently at Cairo. On the 11th of September [Pg 443] the same mysterious disease declared itself on the plain of Thebes, with the natives of which the French were obliged to have frequent communications. In a very short time fifteen of the sailors, according to M. J. U. Angelina, the surgeon, caught the contagion, but every one recovered under his care and skill.

“In the midst of these calamities and dangers, the French sailors persevered in preparing the operations relative to the object of the expedition. One of the first cares of M. Lebas, on his arriving on the plain of Thebes, was to erect near to the obelisks, and not far from the village of Luxor, proper wooden barracks—sheds and tents to lodge the officers, sailors, and workmen on shore; he also built an oven to bake them bread, and magazines in which to secure their provisions, and the sails, cables, &c. of the vessel.

“The now desolate site, on which the City of the Hundred Gates once stood, offered them no resources of civilised life. But French soldiers and sailors are happily, and, we may say, honourably distinguished, by the facility with which they adapt themselves to circumstances, and turn their hands to whatever can add to their comfort and well-being. The sailors on this expedition, during their hours of repose from more severe labours, carefully prepared and dug up pieces of ground for kitchen-gardens. They cultivated bread-melons and watermelons, lettuces, and other vegetables; they even planted some trees, which thrived very well; and, in short, they made their place of temporary residence a little paradise, as compared with the wretched huts and neglected fields of the oppressed natives.

“It was the smaller of the two obelisks the French had to remove; but this smaller column of hard, heavy granite was seventy-two French feet high, and was calculated to weigh upwards of two hundred and forty tons. It stood, moreover, at the distance of about one thousand two hundred feet from the Nile, and the intervening space presented many difficulties.

“M. Lebas commenced by making an inclined plane, extending from the base of the obelisk to the edge of the river. This work occupied nearly all the French sailors, and about seven hundred Arabs, during three months; for they were obliged to cut through two hills of ancient remains and rubbish, to demolish half of the poor villages which lay in their way280, and to beat, equalise, and render firm the uneven, loose, and crumbling soil. This done, the engineer proceeded to make the ship ready for the reception of the obelisk. The vessel had been left aground by the periodical fall of the waters of the Nile, and matters had been so managed that she [Pg 444]lay imbedded in the sand, with her figure-head pointing directly towards the temple and the granite column. The engineer, taking care not to touch the keel, sawed off a section of the front of the ship; in short, he cut away her bows, which were raised, and kept suspended above the place they properly occupied, by means of pulleys and some strong spars, which crossed each other above the vessel.

“The ship, thus opened, presented in front a large mouth to receive its cargo, which was to reach the very lip of that mouth or opening, by sliding down the inclined plane. The preparations for bringing the obelisk safely down to the ground lasted from the 11th of July to the 31st of October, when it was laid horizontally on its side.

“The rose-coloured granite of Syene (the material of these remarkable works of ancient art), though exceedingly hard, is rather brittle. By coming into contact with other substances, and by being impelled along the inclined plane, the beautiful hieroglyphics, sculptured on its surface, might have been defaced, and the obelisk might have suffered other injuries. To prevent these, M. Lebas encased it, from its summit to its base, in strong thick wooden sheathings, well secured to the column by means of hoops. The western face of this covering, which was that upon which the obelisk was to slide down the inclined plane, was rendered smooth, and was well rubbed with grease to make it run the easier.

“To move so lofty and narrow an object from its centre of gravity was no difficult task,—but then came the moment of intense anxiety! The whole of the enormous weight bore upon the cable, the cordage, and machinery, which quivered and cracked in all their parts. Their tenacity, however, was equal to the strain, and so ingeniously were the mechanical powers applied, that eight men in the rear of the descending column were sufficient to accelerate or retard its descent.

“On the following day the much less difficult task of getting the obelisk on board the ship was performed. It only occupied an hour and a half to drag the column down the inclined plane, and (through the open mouth in front) into the hold of the vessel. The section of the suspended bows was then lowered to the proper place, and readjusted and secured as firmly as ever by the carpenters and other workmen. So nicely was this important part of the ship sliced off, and then put to again, that the mutilation was scarcely perceptible.

“The obelisk was embarked on the 1st of November, 1831, but it was not until the 18th August 1832, that the annual rise of the Nile afforded sufficient water to float their long-stranded ship. At last, however, to their infinite joy, they were ordered to prepare every thing for the voyage homewards. As soon as [Pg 445]this was done, sixty Arabs were engaged to assist in getting them down the river, (a distance of 180 leagues), and the ‘Luxor’ set sail.

“After thirty-six days of painful navigation, but without meeting with any serious accident, they reached Rosetta; and there they were obliged to stop, because the sand bank off that mouth of the Nile had accumulated to such a degree, that, with its present cargo the vessel could not clear it. Fortunately, however, on the 30th of December, a violent hurricane dissipated part of this sand-bank; and, on the first of January, 1833, at ten o’clock in the morning, the ‘Luxor’ shot safely out of the Nile, and at nine o’clock on the following morning came to a secure anchorage in the old harbour of Alexandria.

“Here they awaited the return of the fine season for navigating the Mediterranean; and the Sphynx (a French man-of-war) taking the ‘Luxor’ in tow, they sailed from Alexandria on the 1st of April. On the 2nd, a storm commenced, which kept the ‘Luxor’ in imminent danger for two whole days. On the 6th, the storm abated; but the wind continued contrary, and soon announced a fresh tempest. They had just time to run for shelter into the bay of Marmara, when the storm became more furious than ever.

“On the 13th of April, they again weighed anchor, and shaped their course for Malta; but a violent contrary wind drove them back as far as the Greek island of Milo, where they were detained two days. Sailing, however, on the 17th, they reached Navarino on the 18th, and the port of Corfu, where they were kindly received by Lord Nugent and the British, on the 23d of April. Between Corfu and Cape Spartivento, heavy seas and high winds caused the ‘Luxor’ to labour and strain exceedingly. As soon, however, as they reached the coast of Italy, the sea became calm, and a light breeze carried them forward, at the rate of four knots an hour, to Toulon, where they anchored during the evening on the 11th of May.

“They had now reached the port whence they had departed, but their voyage was not yet finished. There is no carriage by water, or by any other commodious means, for so heavy and cumbrous a mass as an Egyptian obelisk, from Toulon to Paris (a distance of above four hundred and fifty miles). To meet this difficulty they must descend the rest of the Mediterranean, pass nearly the whole of the southern coast of France, and all the south of Spain—sail through the straits of Gibraltar, and traverse part of the Atlantic, as far as the mouth of the Seine, which river affords a communication between the French capital and the ocean.

“Accordingly, on the 22d of June, they sailed from Toulon, [Pg 446]the ‘Luxor’ being again taken in tow by the Sphynx man-of-war; and, after experiencing some stormy weather, finally reached Cherbourg on the 5th of August, 1833. The whole distance performed in this voyage was upwards of four hundred leagues.

“As the royal family of France was expected at Cherbourg by the 31st of August, the authorities detained the ‘Luxor’ there. On the 2d of September, King Louis Philippe paid a visit to the vessel, and warmly expressed his satisfaction to the officers and crew. He was the first to inform M. Verninac, the commander, that he was promoted to the rank of captain of a sloop-of-war. On the following day, the king distributed decorations of the Legion of Honour to the officers, and entertained them at dinner.

“The ‘Luxor,’ again towed by the Sphynx, left Cherbourg on the 12th of September, and safely reached Havre de Grace, at the mouth of the Seine. Here her old companion, the Sphynx, which drew too much water to be able to ascend the river, left her, and she was taken in tow by the Neva steam-boat. To conclude with the words of our author: ‘At six o’clock (on the 13th) our vessel left the sea for ever, and entered the Seine. By noon we had cleared all the banks and impediments of the lower part of the river; and on the 14th of September at noon, we arrived at Rouen, where the ‘Luxor’ was made fast before the quay d’Harcourt. Here we must remain until the autumnal rains raise the waters of the Seine, and permit us to transport to Paris this pyramid,—the object of our expedition.’ This event has since happened, and the recent French papers announce that the obelisk has been set up in the centre of the Place Louis XVI.”

For a more detailed account of this wonderful city, we must refer to the learned and elaborate account, published a few years since, by Mr. Wilkinson. We now have space only for impressions.

“That ancient city, celebrated by the first of poets and historians that are now extant: ‘that venerable city,’ as Pococke so plaintively expresses it, ‘the date of whose ruin is older than the foundation of most other cities,’ offers, at this day, a picture of desolation and fallen splendour, more complete than can be found elsewhere; and yet ‘such vast and surprising remains,’ to continue in the words of the same old traveller, ‘are still to be seen, of such magnificence [Pg 447] and solidity, as may convince any one that beholds them, that without some extraordinary accident, they must have lasted for ever, which seems to have been the intention of the founders of them.’”

“Their very aspect,” says Savary, “would awaken the genius of a polished nation; but the Turks and Copts, crushed to dust beneath an iron sceptre, behold them without astonishment, and build huts, which even scarcely screen them from the sun, in their neighbourhood. These barbarians, if they want a mill-stone, do not blush to overturn a column, the support of a temple or portico, and saw it in pieces! Thus abject does despotism render men.”—“All here is sublime, all majestic. The kings seem to have acquired the glory of never dying while the obelisks and colossal statues exist; and have only laboured for immortality. They could preserve their memory against the efforts of time, but not against the efforts of the barbarism of conquerors; those dreadful scourges of science and nations, which, in their pride, they have too often erased from the face of the earth.”—“With pain one tears oneself from Thebes. Her monuments fix the traveller’s eyes, and fill his mind with vast ideas. Beholding colossal figures, and stately obelisks, which seem to surpass human powers, he says,—‘Man has done this,’ and feels himself and his species ennobled. True it is, when he looks down on the wretched huts, standing beside these magnificent labours, and when he perceives an ignorant people, instead of a scientific nation, he grieves for the generations that are past, and the arts that have perished with them; yet this very grief has a kind of charm for a heart of sensibility.”

“It would be difficult,” says Sonnini, “to describe the sensations which the sight of objects so grand, so majestic, raised within me. It was not a simple adoration merely, but an ecstacy which suspended the use of all my faculties. I remained some[Pg 448] time immoveable with rapture, and I felt inclined more than once to prostrate myself in token of veneration before monuments, the rearing of which appeared to transcend the strength and genius of man.”

“Let the so much boasted fabrics of Greece and Rome (continues he) come and bow down before the temples and palaces of Thebes and Egypt. Its lofty ruins are still more striking than their gaudy ornaments; its gigantic wrecks are more majestic than their perfect preservation. The glory of the most celebrated fabrics vanishes before the prodigies of Egyptian architecture; and to describe them justly, a man must possess the genius of those who conceived and executed them, or the eloquent pen of a Bossuet.”

“On turning,” says Denon, “the point of a chain of mountains, we saw, all at once, ancient Thebes in its full extent—that Thebes whose magnitude has been pictured to us by a single word in Homer, hundred-gated—renowned for numerous kings, who, through their wisdom, have been elevated to the rank of gods; for laws which have been revered without being known; for sciences which have been confided to proud and mysterious inscriptions; wise and earliest monuments of the arts which time has respected; this sanctuary, abandoned, isolated through barbarism, and surrendered to the desert from which it was won; this city, shrouded in the veil of mystery, by which even colossi are magnified; this remote city, which imagination has only caught a glimpse of through the darkness of time, was still so gigantic an apparition, that, at the sight of its ruins, the French army halted of its own accord, and the soldiers, with one spontaneous movement, clapped their hands.”

Dr. Richardson, who visited Thebes many years after Denon, tells us, that as he approached it in the night, he could not judge of the awful grandeur of that first appearance, which so powerfully affected the[Pg 449] enthusiastic Frenchman. “But the next morning’s sun convinced us,” he says, “that the ruins can scarcely be seen from the river; that no where does the traveller turn the corner of the mountain to come in sight of them; and that he must be near them, or among them, before he can discover any thing.” Yet both Denon’s drawings, and the more recent ones of Captain W. F. Head, give some distant views of the ruins, which are very effective.

Mons. Champollion speaks of Thebes in terms of equal admiration:—“All that I had seen, all that I had learned on the left bank, appeared miserable in comparison with the gigantic conceptions by which I was surrounded at Karnac. I shall take care not to attempt to describe any thing; for either my description would not express the thousandth part of what ought to be said, or if I drew a faint sketch, I should be taken for an enthusiast, or, perhaps, for a madman. It will suffice to add, that no people, either ancient or modern, ever conceived the art of architecture on so sublime, and so grand, a scale, as the ancient Egyptians. Their conceptions were those of men a hundred feet high.”

Mr. Carne speaks to the same effect:—“It is difficult to describe the noble and stupendous ruins of Thebes. Beyond all others, they give you the idea of a ruined, yet imperishable, city: so vast is their extent, that you wander a long time, confused and perplexed, and discover at every step some new object of interest.”

“The temple of Luxor,” says Belzoni, “presents to the traveller, at once, one of the most splendid groups of Egyptian grandeur. The extensive propylæon, with two obelisks, and colossal statues in front, the thick groups of enormous columns, the variety of apartments, and the sanctuary it contains, the beautiful ornaments which adorn every part of[Pg 450] the walls and columns, described by Mr. Hamilton, cause, in the astonished traveller, an oblivion of all that he has seen before. If his attention be attracted to the north side of Thebes, by the towering remains that project a great height above the wood of palm-trees, he will gradually enter that forest-like assemblage of ruins, of temples, columns, obelisks, colossi, sphinxes, portals, and an endless number of other astonishing objects, that will convince him at once of the impossibility of a description. On the west side of the Nile, still the traveller finds himself among wonders. The temples of Gournou, Memnonium, and Memdet Aboo, attest the extent of the great city on this side. The unrivalled colossal figures in the plains of Thebes, the number of tombs excavated in the rocks; those in the great valley of their kings, with their paintings, sculptures, mummies, sarcophagi, figures, &c., are all objects worthy of the admiration of the traveller; who will not fail to wonder how a nation, which was once so great as to erect these stupendous edifices, could so far fall into oblivion, that even their language and writing are totally unknown to us. Very imperfect ideas,” continues this celebrated traveller, “can be formed of these extensive ruins, even from the accounts of the most skilful and accurate travellers. It is absolutely impossible to imagine the scene, displayed, without seeing it. The most sublime ideas, that can be formed from the most magnificent specimens of our present architecture, would give a very incorrect picture of these ruins; for such is the difference, not only in magnitude, but in form, proportion, and construction, that even the pencil can convey but a faint idea of the whole. It appeared to me like entering a city of giants, who, after a long conflict, were all destroyed; leaving the ruins of their various temples as the only proofs of their former existence.”

[Pg 451]

Travellers have sometimes taken a fancy to visit these ruins by moonlight; and the view which they then present, though of course wanting in distinctness, is described as extremely impressive. Mr. Carne paid his second visit in this manner, and he says that it was still more interesting than the other. “The moon had risen, and we passed through one or two Arab villages in the way, where fires were lighted in the open air; and the men, after the labours of the day, were seated in groups round them, smoking and conversing with great cheerfulness. It is singular, that in the most burning climates of the East, the inhabitants love a good fire at night, and a traveller soon catches the habit; yet the air was still very warm. There was no fear of interruption in exploring the ruins, for the Arabs dread to come here after daylight, as they often say these places were built by Afrit, the devil; and the belief in apparitions prevails among most of the Orientals. We again entered with delight the grand portico. It was a night of uncommon beauty, without a breath of wind stirring, and the moonlight fell vividly on some parts of the colonnades, while others were shaded so as to add to, rather than diminish, their grandeur. The obelisks, the statues, the lonely columns on the plain without, threw their long shadows on the mass of ruins around them, and the scene was in truth exquisitely mournful and beautiful281.”

[Pg 452]


It has been asserted,” says Sir William Gell, “and confidently maintained, that there does not exist the smallest vestige of the ancient city of Priam; and it is not the only capital concerning which the same erroneous idea has prevailed. The ‘etiam periere ruinæ’ of Virgil282 seems to have been the foundation of this opinion; and it is not wonderful, that it should maintain its ground until the truth was investigated, when we recollect that the ignorance of travellers for a long time countenanced the idea, that not the smallest trace of the great and powerful Babylon remained, though destroyed at a period when the credibility of history is universally admitted. The existence, however, of the ruins of Babylon is now perfectly established. If the situation of the most magnificent capital of the four great monarchies of the world could have so long escaped the researches of modern inquirers, it will be granted that the vestiges of a city, comparatively inconsiderable, the capital but of a small territory, and destroyed in a very remote age, might be easily overlooked.”

Diodorus Siculus relates, that the Samothracians were accustomed to say, that the Pontic sea had once been a vast pool of standing water, which, swollen by rivers running into it, first overflowed to the Cyanæ, two rocks of the Thracian Bosphorus; and afterwards, forcing a way and flooding the champaign country, formed the sea, called the Hellespont.

The Samothracians, also, related that Dardanus passed over from their island, the place of his birth, [Pg 453]in a boat to the continent of Asia, and settled in the Troia. Here this enterprising person, forming a community, built a city, from him called Dardania, situated on a small eminence near Mount Ida, and the promontory of Sigæum, at the distance of about four miles from the sea-shore.

This Dardanus is said to have espoused Asia, called also Arisba and Batia, daughter of Teucer, king of Teucria. He was succeeded by Ericthonius, his son, who is celebrated in the Iliad for having possessed three thousand horses; and for his being, moreover, the richest of men. We ought to have first stated, however, that Dardanus was accompanied by his nephew Corybas, who introduced the worship of Cybele; that he himself taught his subjects to worship Minerva; and that he gave them two statues of that goddess, one of which is well known by the name of Palladium.

Ericthonius died 1374 B. C. after a reign of seventy-five years. He had one son, named Tros; and Tros had three sons, of whom Ilus was his successor. His barrow is mentioned in the Iliad, as still remaining in the plain before the city. He married Eurydice, the daughter of Adrastus, by whom he had Laomedon, the father of Priam. He greatly embellished the city of Dardanus, which from him was called Ilium; as from his father it had been called Troja.

Ilus was succeeded by his son, Laomedon. This prince surrounded the city with walls; in which he is fabulously stated to have been assisted by two deities. For an account of this, the reader, if he please, may consult Homer, Virgil, Ovid, and other ancient poets. Not long after he had built the walls, they are said to have been thrown down by Hercules, the streets made desolate, and Laomedon slain.

[Pg 454]

Priamus, one of the most unfortunate as well as one of the most celebrated of princes, succeeded his father. The city, in his time, had recovered the damage it had sustained, and became famous for its wealth; more especially in brass and gold. Homer, too, celebrates it for its walls and buildings. It was situate on a rising ground amid morasses, which were formed by the waters which, at certain seasons of the year, descended in torrents from Mount Ida. The language, as well as the religion, of this city was the same as those appertaining to Greece; and the dominions of the king comprised the whole of the country lying within the isle of Lesbos, Phrygia, and the Hellespont.

The reign of Priam is celebrated for the war, which took place between the Trojans and Greeks. This was made a subject of the finest poem that ever honoured civilised society; but as the history of the transaction differs, when treated by the poets, we, as plain matter-of-fact persons, adopt that which has been given us by Herodotus. We must, however, first of all remark, that some, and most especially Monsieur Pascal, have treated the whole as a mere fable. “Homer,” say they, “wrote a romance: no one can believe that Troy and Agamemnon had any existence, any more than the golden apple. He had no intention to write a history. He merely intended to amuse and delight us.” And here we may advantageously give place to several particular observations of that accomplished traveller, Sir William Gell:—“In approaching the Troas,” says he, “each bay, mountain, and promontory, presented something new to the eye, and excited the most agreeable reflections in the mind; so that, in a few days, I found myself in possession of a number of observations and drawings, taken in a part of the world concerning which, although much has been written, there still exists a[Pg 455] great deficiency of those materials, which might enable a reader to form a satisfactory opinion, without encountering the difficulties of a tedious voyage. I thought that such information would gratify men of literature and inquiry. I was confident that delineations and descriptions of a fertile plain, watered by abundant and perennial streams, affording almost impregnable positions, and so situated as to command one of the most important passes of the world, must be interesting, not to say valuable, to politicians and statesmen. It is, perhaps, unnecessary to add, that I was not without the hope of convincing others, as I had been myself convinced, that the history, as related by Homer, is confirmed by the fullest testimony, which a perfect correspondence between the present face of the country and the description of the poet can possibly give to it.”

That the Trojan war absolutely took place is, however, not so much to be believed on poetical authority, as it is upon that of history. Not only Herodotus and Thucydides have left records of it, but all the biographers of Alexander. The testimony of Thucydides is remarkable:—“The power of the Greeks gradually advancing, they were enabled, in process of time, to undertake the Trojan expedition. It is further my opinion, that the assemblage of that armament, by Agamemnon, was not owing so much to the attendance of the suitors of Helen, in pursuance of the oath they had sworn to Tyndarus, as to his own superior power.” “To these enlargements of power Agamemnon succeeding, and being also superior to the rest of his countrymen in naval strength, he was enabled, in my opinion, to form that expedition more from awe than favour. It is plain that he equipped out the largest number of ships himself, besides those he lent to the Arcadians. We ought not, therefore, to be incredulous, nor so[Pg 456] much to regard the appearance of cities as their power, and of course to conclude the armament against Troy to have been greater than ever was known before, but inferior to those of our age; and whatever credit be given to the poetry of Homer in this respect, who no doubt as a poet hath set it off with all possible enlargement, yet even, according to his account, it appears inferior.” “On their first landing, they got the better in fight. The proof is, that they could not otherwise have fortified their camp with a wall. Neither does it appear that they exerted all their strength at once; numbers being detached for supplies of provisions, to till the Chersonesus, and to forage at large. Thus, divided as they were, the Trojans were the better able to make a ten years’ resistance, being equal in force to those who were at any time left to carry on the siege.”

Herodotus treats it, also, as a matter of actual history: and as the first portion of his work affords a very curious and beautiful example of ancient manners, we shall abbreviate the version, rendered by Mr. Beloe. Paris, having carried off Helen from Sparta, was returning home (to Troy); but meeting with contrary winds in the Ægean, he was driven into the Egyptian Sea. As the winds continued unfavourable, he proceeded to Egypt, and was driven to the Canopian mouth of the Nile, and to Tarichea. In that situation, continues Herodotus, was a temple of Hercules, “which still remains.” To this temple, should any slave fly for refuge, no one was permitted to molest him. The servants of Paris, aware of this privilege, fled thither from their master. There they propagated many accusations against him; and, amongst other disclosures, they published the wrong that Paris had done to Menelaus. Hearing this, Thonis, the governor of the district, despatched a messenger to Proteus, king[Pg 457] of Memphis. “There is arrived here a Trojan, who has perpetrated an atrocious crime in Greece. He has seduced the wife of his host, and carried her away, with a great quantity of treasure. Adverse winds have forced him hither. Shall I suffer him to depart without molestation? or shall I seize his person and property?” In answer to this Proteus desired, that the malefactor should be sent to him. Receiving this command, Thonis seized Paris, and detained his vessels, with Helen and all his wealth. Being taken before Proteus, and asked who he was and whence he came, Paris gave a true account of his family and country, and whence he had last sailed. But when Proteus inquired concerning Helen, who she was, and how he got possession of her, he faltered. His servants, however, proved the particulars of his guilt. On this, Proteus addressed him after the following manner: “If I did not esteem it a very heinous crime to put any stranger to death, whom unfavourable winds have driven to my coast, I would, most assuredly, thou most abandoned man, avenge that Greek whose hospitality thou hast so treacherously violated. Thou hast not subdued his wife, but having violently taken her away, still criminally detainest her; and as if this were not enough, thou hast robbed and plundered him. But as I can by no means prevail upon myself to put a stranger to death, I shall suffer you to depart; in regard to the woman and her wealth, I shall detain both.”

After a few observations in respect to Homer’s knowing, and yet neglecting, the true history, in order to make his poem the more interesting, the historian goes on to relate, that being desirous of knowing whether all that the Greeks relate concerning Troy had any foundation in truth, he inquired of the priests of Egypt; and that they informed him, that, after the loss of Helen, the Greeks assembled in great[Pg 458] numbers at Teucris, to assist Menelaus, whence they despatched ambassadors to Troy, whom Menelaus himself accompanied. On arriving at that city, they made a formal demand of Helen, and the wealth Paris had taken away; and also a general satisfaction for the injuries received. In answer to this, the Trojans replied, and persisted in the truth of their assertion, that neither the person nor the wealth of Helen was in their city or territory; but that both were in Egypt; and that they esteemed it hard, that they should be made responsible for what King Proteus possessed. The Greeks, however, believing themselves to be deluded, laid siege to Troy, and, after ten years, took it.

When they had done so, they were surprised and chagrined to find, that Helen was not in the captured town. On learning this, Menelaus himself was despatched into Egypt, where, being introduced to Proteus, he was honourably received, and Helen was restored to him with all his treasures. This is related by Herodotus as the true history283.

With such testimony it is rather curious, that so many writers,—respectable ones too,—should have not only doubted the war, but even the existence of the town against which it was directed. “We do not know,” says Sir John Hobhouse, “that Strabo had not himself been in the Troad; but we are sure that no one could speak more to the purpose than Demetrius, who was a native of Tcepsis, a town not far from Ilium, and who wrote thirty books on sixty lines of Homer’s catalogue. From this authority we know, that not a vestige was left of the ancient city. Neither Julius Cæsar, nor Demetrius, nor Strabo, had any doubt of the former existence of the city of [Pg 459]Priam; and the orator Lycurgus, quoted by the latter author, at the same time that he declared the total desolation, and as it were death of Troy, to be known to all the world, spoke of its destruction as equally notorious.”

In what manner the city was actually taken is nowhere upon record; for as to the story of the wooden horse, it is so absurd, that the judgment even of Virgil may be arraigned in respect to it. That it was burned, however, is scarcely to be denied; and that it was destroyed is not to be doubted. The event occurred in the year coinciding with that of 1184 before the Christian era. “The name of Priam,” says a judicious writer, “will therefore ever be memorable, on account of the war which happened in his reign—a war famous to this day for the many princes of great prowess and renown concerned in it, the battles fought, the length of the sieges, the destruction of the city, and the endless colonies planted in divers parts of the world by the conquered as well as by the conquerors.”

When the Greeks had destroyed the city, they sailed back to their own country. They made no attempt to appropriate the land to their own use or authority. They were, doubtless, not only wearied, but exhausted, by the conquest. The whole plot of Virgil is supposed to be no other than a fable; for Homer signifies that Æneas not only remained in the country, but that he succeeded to the sceptre of the Trojans.

From this period the history of the country is exceedingly obscure. Whether Æneas did succeed or not, certain it is that this and the adjacent countries were laid open, at no great distance of time from the destruction of Troy, an easy and tempting prey to adventurers, Greek as well as Barbarian. Among these, the best known are the Æolian colonists, [Pg 460] who are supposed to have put a final period not only to the unfortunate city, but to the name of its people.

The Troia was next invaded by the Ionians and Lydians; then there was a war between the Æolians and Athenians about Sigéum284 and Achilléum285. This war was of considerable duration. Several melancholy circumstances are there related, as arising out of the possession of the Troia by Darius. Xerxes, too, visited it during his expedition into Greece, and the Persians lay one night encamped beneath Mount Ida. A considerable number of them were destroyed by thunder and lightning; and on their coming to the Scamander, that river was found to possess no water; a circumstance far from being unusual in a mountainous country. On his arrival at this river, Xerxes, having a wish to see the Pergamus of Priam, went thither; and, having listened to the accounts which were given to him in respect to it, he sacrificed a thousand oxen to the Ilian Minerva.

Many interesting occurrences are related of Troia during the first and second Peloponnesian wars. An adventure of Æschines, the famous orator of Athens, it may not be unamusing to relate. Dr. Chandler has given an abstract of the epistle, in which the orator relates it. It is this:—“After leaving Athens, the author says, that he arrived at Ilium, where he had intended to stay until he should [Pg 461]have gone through all the verses in the ‘Iliad,’ on the very spot to which they severally had reference, but was prevented by the misconduct of his fellow-traveller, a young rake, named Cymon. It was the custom, he tells us, for the maidens who were betrothed, to repair on a certain day to bathe in the Scamander; among them was at this time a damsel of illustrious family, called Callirhoe. Æschines, with their relations and the multitude, was a spectator of as much of the ceremony as was allowed to be seen, at a due distance; but Cymon, who had conceived a bad design against this lady, personated the River-God, and wearing a crown of reeds, lay concealed in the thicket, until she, as was usual, invoked Scamander to receive the offer which she made of herself to him. He then leaped forth, saying, ‘I, Scamander, willingly accept of Callirhoe;’ and with many promises of kindness, imposed on and abused her simplicity and credulity. Four days after this ceremony, a public festival was held in honour of Venus, when the females, whose nuptials had been recently celebrated, appeared in the procession. Æschines was again a spectator, and Cymon with him; so when Callirhoe respectfully bowed her head as she passed by, and, casting her eyes on her nurse, said, ‘that is the God Scamander,’ a discovery followed. The two companions got to their lodging and quarrelled, a crowd gathered about the gate of the house, and Æschines with difficulty made his escape by the back-door to a place of security.”

The reader is requested to observe that on the destruction of old Ilium, another town or rather village was erected; and that this village was called New Ilium. This was the place visited by Alexander. It had only one temple. This temple Alexander visited. He viewed also all the antiquities which remained. He poured libations on the altar of Jupiter Hercéus[Pg 462] to Priam, and prayed that the vengeance which the gods had taken of the son of Achilles, for having slain that unfortunate father and king, might not descend upon him, whose descendant he was. One of the Ilians offered him a lyre, which he said was the lyre of Paris; but Alexander refused, saying, “I set but little value on the lyre of Paris; but it would give me great pleasure to see that of Achilles, to which he sang the glorious actions of the brave;” alluding to a passage in the ninth book of the Iliad:

“Amused, at case, the god-like man they found, Pleased with the solemn harp’s harmonious sound: With this he soothes his angry soul, and sings The immortal deeds of heroes and of kings.”

He then desired to be shown the tombs of the heroes.

Quintus Curtius says, that when Alexander arrived at Illium, Menetius the governor crowned him with a crown of gold; and that Chares the Athenian did the same,—coming from Sigeum for that purpose. “Alexander was at length,” says Mr. Mitford, “amidst the scenes, sacred in his eyes, in which were performed the wondrous deeds that Homer, his favourite poet, had immortalised. He was treading on the ground which Achilles, the hero that was the object of his emulation and envy, fought, and conquered, and fell. Thoughts, emotions, and wishes, of the most ardent kind, doubtless swelled his heart and fired his brain.” On the site of Troy there stood only a village. The temple of Minerva, however, still existed, and thither he proceeded. It contained some consecrated suits of armour, which were said to have been preserved there ever since the Trojan war. One of these he took away to be borne before him on solemn occasions, and in battle; and in the place of it he dedicated his own. He performed rites and made offerings at the tombs of the heroes; especially those of Achilles and Ajax Telamon.[Pg 463] He adorned the tumulus of Achilles, whom he regarded as his ancestor, with the choicest flowers that could be collected in the neighbourhood, anointed the pillar on it with delicious perfumes, and, with his companions, ran naked, as the custom was, round its base. He also wept on reflecting, that he had, as yet, done little to make men associate his name with so great a hero as Achilles,—thinking that hero beyond all others happy, not only in having so excellent a friend as Patroclus when living; but inasmuch that he had so noble a poet as Homer to celebrate him when dead. “What a number of writers of his actions,” says Cicero, in his defence of Archias, “is Alexander reported to have had in his retinue; and yet, when he stood near the tumulus of Achilles at Sigeum he exclaimed, ‘O fortunate youth! to have found a Homer to be the herald of thy valour!’” Nor did he ever forget the emotions felt in that, to him, sacred place. When, therefore, he had conquered the Persians at the Granicus, he is said to have adorned the temple with offerings, ordered Curators to repair the buildings, and raised Ilium to the rank of a city. He also declared it free from tribute; and when he had entirely conquered Persia, he wrote a letter to the inhabitants, promising to raise their town to importance, to render their temple famous, and to hold the sacred games there. In his memorandum-book, also, appeared after his death, a resolution to erect a temple to Minerva, which should be in splendour and magnificence, not unequal to any other then existing in any place. All this was prevented by his death.

After that occurrence, Ilium was chiefly indebted to Lysimachus. He enlarged its temple, encircled the town with walls to the extent of five miles, and collected into it the inhabitants of the old cities about it, which had gone to decay. Games also[Pg 464] were subsequently instituted. He also patronised Alexandria Troas.

Some time after the Troia was invaded by Philip, last king of Macedon, because Attalus, who had assumed the title of King of Pergamum, had given himself out as an ally of the Romans. At a subsequent period, the Gauls marched into Ilium; but soon after deserted it, because part of it was not defended by a wall.

When Antiochus, commonly called the Great, invaded Europe, he went to Ilium, in order to sacrifice to Minerva. The year after, the Roman admiral, Caius Livius, performed the same ceremony; which having done he gave audience in the kindest manner to ambassadors from the neighbouring places, which had surrendered to the Romans.

Ilium, when Scipio arrived there, (B. C. 190) was what we should now call a village-city: and so says Demetrius of Scepsis; who, going thither about that time, saw it so poor and neglected a place, that most of the houses had no roofs on them. Such is the account given by Strabo. The Romans, however, were proud of acknowledging the Ilians as their progenitors. “An insatiable desire,” says Dr. Chandler, “to contemplate the household gods of their ancestors, the places of their nativity, the temples and images, which they had frequented or worshipped, possessed the Romans; while the Ilians were delighted that their posterity (in the line of Æneas) already conquerors of the West and Africa, laid claim to Asia as the kingdom of their forefathers.”

The Romans embellished the city, and conferred many privileges upon it, on the ground that Ilium was the parent of Rome. “The Romans,” says Justin, “entering into Asia, came to Troy, where there was great rejoicing between the Trojans and the Romans; the Trojans declaring how Æneas came from[Pg 465] them, and the Romans vaunting themselves to be descended from them: and there was as great a rejoicement between both parties, as there is wont to be at the meeting of parents and children after a long absence.”

We now pass to the period when Julius Cæsar, after the battle of Pharsalia, pursuing his rival, landed in the Troia, “full of admiration of the ancient renown of the place, and desirous to behold the spot from which he derived his origin;” for Cæsar insisted that his family was of the true Ænean race. The Ilians had sided with Pompey, and bore no great affection to Cæsar; “although,” says Lucan,

“The tales of Troy proud Cæsar’s lineage grace, With great Æneas and the Julian race.”

Notwithstanding this, Cæsar forgave their offences against him, and enlarged their territory, confirmed their liberties, and granted them even additional privileges. Not only this; Suetonius relates, that it was currently reported, that he had contemplated the design of removing the seat of empire to Ilium, or Alexandria, and leaving Rome to be governed by lieutenants. Whether Cæsar really entertained such an idea is not certain; but it is quite certain that Augustus entertained a similar project; and perhaps he had actually put it in practice, had not Horace written an ode to dissuade him from it; and his councillors urgently followed the poet’s example, by the counsel they gave him.

During the reign of Tiberius, Ilium was visited by Germanicus. This visit is recorded by Tacitus. “On his return from the Euxine, he intended to visit Samothrace286, famous for its rites and mysteries; but the wind springing up from the north, he was obliged to bear away from the coast. He viewed the ruins of Troy, and the remains of antiquity in that [Pg 466]part of the world; renowned for so many turns of fortune, the theatre of illustrious actions, and the origin of the Roman people287.”

When the Romans were delivered from the flattery that pursued the Julian line, of their being sprung from Troy, Ilium began to fall to decay; and in the time of Pliny the Elder, who flourished in the reign of Vespasian, many cities had perished. These are enumerated by him, and thence by Dr. Chandler:—“There has been Achilleum, a town near the tomb of Achilles, built by the Mitylenians, and afterwards by the Athenians. There has been Æantium, too, built by the Rhodians, near where Ajax was buried. Palæscepsis, Gergithos, Neandros, and Colone, had perished. Dardanus is still a small town. There had been a Larissa and a Chrysa. The Sminthean temple and Hamaxitus remained.” He mentions Troas Alexandria, a Roman colony; but this city, too, was on the decline; and as, in another place, he says, “very many mice came forth at Troas, insomuch that now they have driven the inhabitants away from thence.”

We pass over passages in the works of Lucian and Philostratus; since no confidence in respect to the real condition of Ilium can be placed in them. The extravagances of Caracalla are upon more respectable record. Terrified by several dreams he had had, Caracalla voyaged to Pergamum, to inquire of the god Æsculapius in what manner he could be relieved from them; from that city he passed to Ilium. “At Ilium,” says Chandler, on the authority of Herodian, “Caracalla was seized with a passion to imitate Achilles, as he had before done Alexander the Great. He wanted a Patroclus, whose funeral he might solemnize; when, during his stay there, Festus, his remembrancer and favourite freedman, [Pg 467] died of a distemper; but so opportunely, that others said he was taken off by poison for the purpose. Caracalla ordered, after the example of Achilles, a large pile of wood to be collected. The body was carried forth from the city, and placed on it in the middle. He slew a variety of animals as victims. He set fire to the pile; and, holding a phial in his hand, and pouring a libation, as Achilles had done, invoked the winds to come and consume it. His seeking, for he was nearly bald, a lock of hair to throw into the flames, excited laughter; but the little which he had he cut off. He is said to have continued the farce, by allotting prizes for games; and to have concluded it, by imagining that he had taken Troy, and distributing money among his soldiers on the occasion.”

In the age of Gallienus, and in that subsequent, Ilium and the Troas were twice ravaged by the Goths.

The project of Constantine the Great is now to be referred to. It is thus related by Sozomenus, translated by Mr. Dalzell:—“Having taken possession of the plain, which lies before Ilium, near the Hellespont, beyond the tomb of Ajax, where the Greeks, at the time that they were engaged in the expedition against Troy, are said to have had a station for their ships and tents, he there traced the outline and ground-plot of a city; and he constructed gates in a conspicuous place; which still at this day are seen at sea by those who sail along the west. While he was employed in this undertaking, God appeared to him by night, and warned him to go in quest of another place.” The Deity, also, is said to have conducted him to Byzantium, and commanded him to establish his residence there, to enlarge the town into a city, and to call it by his own name.

From this period, little is related of Ilium, or the[Pg 468] Troas, commanding any peculiar interest, till the period when both became possessed by another, and, till then, an unknown people. It is related in the annals of this new and strange people, that Soliman, son of Orchan, taking an airing on horseback, in the country, lately conquered, came to some fine ruins of edifices, which had remained there from the time of the destruction of Troy, and which he beheld with wonder. After viewing these ruins, he was observed to remain musing and silent. On being asked the reason, he answered that he was considering how the sea between them and the opposite coast could be crossed, without the knowledge of the Christians. Two of his retinue offered to pass over privately at the strait, which is described as a Greek mile wide. A fleet was provided, they landed before day-break, and lay concealed among vines; until, a Greek coming by, they seized, and returned with him to the emperor; who gave orders that their captive should be kindly treated; and, on his undertaking to serve as a guide to the castle erected by Justinian, above Sestos, caused trees to be cut down, and a large raft to be constructed; on which, with about four-score men, Soliman crossed the strait; and arriving, under colour of night, at the fortress, found, without the entrance—such was the supine negligence and security of the Greeks,—a dunghill as high as the wall. His soldiers mounted over it, and easily got possession of the place; the people, a few exempted, being engaged abroad in the harvest-work. Thus did the Turks obtain their first footing in Europe, (A. D. 1357.)

“If we reflect,” says Dr. Chandler; to whose pages not only ourselves, but all the encyclopedias have been so largely indebted on all articles relating to the Troas; “if we reflect on the ravages, committed on the borders of the Hellespont, and on the destruction of the cities there, we shall not be surprised, [Pg 469] that the coasts are desolate, and that the interior country of the Troas, returned nearly to its more ancient state, is occupied almost entirely by villages, herdsmen, and shepherds; who are no longer distinguished by the appellation of Ilians, Dardanians, Cebrenians, and so on; but as Greeks and Turks, or Turcomans, slaves, the masters and their dependants. The ancient places, which we have noticed, and of which few remain, or have possessed any consequence under the Turks, have all of them, especially those by the sea-side, been ransacked and plundered of their materials, for a long series of years. Constantinople has been adorned or enlarged from their stores, as well under the Roman and the Greek as the Mahometan emperors. Towns and villages, which have risen in their vicinity, public baths, mosques, castles, and other edifices, have been constructed from their relics; and the Turkish burying-grounds, which are often very extensive, are commonly rich in broken pillars and marble fragments, once belonging to them. The Troia had been left in ruins; and was a desert, in the time of Strabo. Since, in many instances, the very ruins have perished: but the desert remains; and, as then, still affords much, and that no vulgar matter for a writer.”

These remarks lead us, naturally, to that part of our subject, which relates to the present state in which these ruins lie. So much, however, has been written on the subject of Troy, and so many different opinions have been started, that the subject has become no little embarrassing; and the more so, since the compiler of these pages has not been on the scene of observation himself. In this dilemma, he thinks the wisest and best course is, to select such passages and descriptions as appear to him the most[Pg 470] probable, and therefore the most characteristic of truth; leaving all references to the individual authorities to a general acknowledgment at the end.

It seems hardly to admit of doubt, that the plain of Anatolia, watered by the Mendar,288 and backed by a mountainous ridge, of which Kazdaghy is the summit, is the precise territory, alluded to and described by Homer. And this is rendered the more probable, since Homer’s description contained certain prominent and remarkable features, not likely to be affected by any lapse of time. To increase the probability of this, the text of Strabo is considered very important; more especially as it illustrates, to a certain degree, even the position of Troy itself: for that it was not altogether unknown, in the time of Augustus, is proved by that celebrated geographer, who, more than once, expressly assigns to the ancient city the place then occupied by the village of the Iliensians. “Ilus,” says he, “did not build the city where it now is; but nearly thirty stadia farther eastward, towards Ida, and Dardania, where the Iliensian village is now situated.” This locality of Ilium has been discovered by Dr. Clarke, in the remains of that city. Crossing the Mendar, over a wooden bridge, that celebrated traveller entered an immense plain, [Pg 471]in which some Turks were hunting wild boars. Proceeding then towards the east, and round the bay, distinctly pointed out by Strabo as the harbour in which the Grecian fleet was stationed, he arrived at the sepulchre of Ajax. Around this tomb Alexander is described as having performed rites, and made offerings. In former times, it was surmounted by a shrine, in which was preserved the statue of the hero. This statue Antony stole and took with him into Egypt; but, having been recovered by Augustus, it was by him restored to its ancient shrine; which, with a considerable portion of the structure, still remains. “It is impossible,” says Dr. Clarke, “to view its sublime and simple form, without calling to mind the veneration so long paid to it; without picturing to the imagination a successive series of kings, and heroes, and mariners, who, from the Hellespont, or by the shores of Troas and Chersonesus, or on the sepulchre itself, poured forth the tribute of their homage; and finally, without representing to the mind the feelings of a native or of a traveller, in those times, who, after viewing the existing monument, and witnessing the instances of public and of private regard, so constantly bestowed upon it, should have been told, the age was to arrive when the existence of Troy, and of the mighty dead, entombed upon its plain, would be considered as having no foundation in truth.” The view of the Hellespont, and the plain of Troy, from the top of this tomb, is one of the finest the country affords; and, travellers have the pleasure of seeing poppies and mezereons, and the field-star of Bethlehem, growing upon it.

From this spot the traveller passes over a heathy country to a village called Habil Elly, where he finds the remains of a temple, which seems to be those of ten temples rather than one. Doric, Ionic, and[Pg 472] Corinthian capitals, lie dispersed in every direction, and some of them are of great beauty. On these are many inscriptions; amongst which are these remarkable words:—“The Ilians to their country’s God, Æneas.

From these ruins you proceed through a dilapidated valley, full of vineyards and almond-trees; and, after a space, you find the remains of an ancient paved way. You then come to the village of Tchiblack, where you see many remains of ancient sculpture in a state of disorder and ruin. The most remarkable are those upon the top of a hill near the village, in the middle of a grove of oak trees. Here the ruins of a Doric temple, formed of white marble, lay heaped, mixed with sarcophagi, cippæ, stelæ, cornices, and capitals of large size, pillars, and entablatures. The village near which all these are, is supposed to be no other than ancient Ilium! of “Troy divine.” On these fragments are to be read various inscriptions.

At no great distance, of a high, conical, and regular shape, a tumulus stands, insulated. It is of great antiquity. On the southern side of its base is a long natural mound of limestone. It is, we are told, of such height, that an army encamped on the eastern side of it would be concealed from all observation of persons, stationed upon the coast, by the mouth of the Mendar. On the surface of the tomb itself are found fragments of the vases of ancient Greece;—a circumstance, attributed to the veneration paid to the tombs of Troas, in all the ages of history, until the introduction of Christianity.

At some distance from this tomb is another tumulus, less considerable. There are ruins, also, on the southern side of the water, called Callifat289.

[Pg 473]

These consist of beautiful Doric pillars, whose capitals and shafts are of the finest white marble. Among them, also, are entire shafts of granite. As the temples of Jupiter were always of the Doric order, these are supposed to have belonged to a temple dedicated to that deity. Among these ruins was found an inscription, which Dr. Clarke sent to Cambridge. This is as old as the archonship of Euclid. It was on the lower part of a plain marble pillar; the interpretation of which sets forth, that “those partaking of the sacrifice, and of the games, and of the whole festival, honoured Pytha, daughter of Scamandrotimus, native of Ilium, who performed the office of Canephoros, in an exemplary and distinguished manner, for her piety towards the goddess.”

In the village of Callifat there are several capitals of Corinthian pillars. Medals, too, are sometimes dug up there; not of ancient Troy, however, but of the Roman emperors. Not far from Callifat are also to be seen traces of an ancient citadel. These are the remains of a city, called New Ilium290. “We stand,” says Dr. Clarke, “with Strabo, upon the very spot, whence he deduced his observations, concerning other objects in the district; looking down upon the Simoisian plain, and viewing the junction of the two rivers (‘one flowing towards Sigeum, and the other towards Rhætium,’ precisely as described by him), in front of the Iliensian city.”

From the national and artificial elevation of the territory [Pg 474] on which this city stood, this accomplished traveller saw almost every landmark to which that author alludes. “The splendid spectacle,” says he, “presented towards the west by the snow-clad top of Samothrace, towering behind Imbrus, would baffle every attempt at delineation. It rose with indescribable grandeur beyond all I had seen of a long time; and whilst its ethereal summit shone with inconceivable brightness in a sky without a cloud, seemed, notwithstanding its remote situation, as if its vastness would overwhelm all Troas, should an earthquake heave it from its base.”

Besides these, there are various tumuli in the Troas, which are distinguished by the names of Homer’s heroes; the tomb of Achilles, for instance, and two others, near the Sigæan promontory, mentioned by Strabo, Ælian, and Diodorus Siculus. When Alexander came to visit these, he anointed the Hêle of Achilles with perfumes; and, as we have already related, ran naked around it, according to the custom of honouring the manes of a hero in ancient times. One of the other tombs was that of Patroclus. Alexander crowned the one, and his friend Hephæstion the other291.

[Pg 475]

There, on the green and village-cotted hill, is (Flanked by the Hellespont and by the sea) Entomb’d the bravest of the brave, Achilles. They say so;—(Bryant says the contrary.) And further downward, tall and towering, still is The tumulus—of whom? Heaven knows; ‘t may be Patroclus, Ajax, or Protesilaus; All heroes, who, if living still, would slay us.   High barrows, without mark, or name, A vast, untill’d, and mountain-skirted plain, And Ida in the distance, still the same; And old Scamander (if ‘tis he) remain: The situation still seemed formed for fame; A hundred thousand men might fight again With ease; but where they fought for Ilion’s walls, The quiet sheep feed, and the tortoise crawls.

These tombs have been so celebrated in all ages, that we give place, willingly, to a description of them by Mr. Franklin; more particularly as he has mentioned several particulars, unnoticed by other travellers.

Not far from the site of Ilium are to be observed a number of antiquities, fragments of Doric and Ionic pillars of marble, some columns of granite, broken bas-reliefs, and, “in short,” says Dr. Clarke, “those remains so profusely scattered over this extraordinary country, serving to prove the number of cities and temples once the boast of Troas.”

At no great distance is the steep, which some have supposed the spot on which stood the citadel of Priam. On the edge of this is a tumulus, ninety-three yards in circumference, which is called the tomb of Hector; it is formed entirely of loose stones. From this spot the whole isle of Tenedos is seen, and a most magnificent prospect of the course of Scamander to the sea, with all Troas, and every interesting object it contains.

Rather more than one hundred and twenty paces from this tumulus is another tumulus; the base of[Pg 476] this is one hundred and thirty-three yards in circumference. Some little way from this is a third, ninety yards in circumference. The former is called the tomb of Priam; the latter the tomb of Paris. At a short distance farther on are beheld foundations of buildings; but these are not supposed to be of any high antiquity, nor even so high as to be classed with a Roman interdict. They are therefore, with probability, assigned to those pirates which at different times have infested the Hellespont. Near them are tumuli of much higher antiquity; but whether they belong to Trojan times, or to those in which the Milesians formed settlements on the coast, is not determined.

Four hours’ distance from Bonarbashy, situated on the Scamander, is a town called Æné, the Æneia of Strabo. It is ornamented with cypresses, and backed by lofty rocks and mountains. In this town medals have been found, and some have supposed that Æneas was buried here; it is, however, more probable that the town was named after him.

On a hill, in the shape of a cone, at about two hours’ distance from Beyramitch, towards Gargarus, are a vast quantity of substances for building; they may be traced from the bottom to the summit. These are supposed to have constituted a temple and altar of Jupiter; the work seems to be Roman. On the western extremity of the area are remains of baths, the walls of which are stuccoed; and there are remaining earthenware conduits still entire in several places. Above this are tombs, and close to them a bath; near which lie scattered about several columns, with broken pieces of amphoræ, marble, basalt, granite, jasper, and blue chalcedony. At no great distance off lies the cornice of a Doric entablature, so large, that M. Preaux said he had seen nothing like it at Athens. Higher up are the[Pg 477] remains of another temple, the area of which measures one hundred and forty yards long and forty-four wide. These are supposed to be the temple and altars of Jupiter mentioned by Homer, Æschylus, and Plutarch. From this spot the view is represented as being exceedingly grand. “Immediately before the eye is spread the whole of Gargarus, seeming, from its immense size and the vastness of its features, as if those who were stationed on this spot might hold converse with persons upon its clear and sunny summit. Far below is seen the bed and valley of the Scamander.”

What kind of a scene is beheld from Gargarus may be, in some measure, imagined from what Dr. Clarke says of it. “In a few minutes I stood upon the summit. What a spectacle! All European Turkey, and the whole of Asia Minor, seemed as it were modelled before me on a vast surface of glass. The great objects drew my attention first. The eye, roaming to Constantinople, beheld all the sea of Marmora, the mountains of Prusa, with Asiatic Olympus, and all the surrounding territory; comprehending, in one wide survey, all Propontis and the Hellespont, with the shores of Thrace and Chersonesus, all the north of the Egean, Mount Athos, the islands of Imbrus, Samothrace, Lemnos, Tenedos, and all beyond, even to Eubœa; the gulf of Smyrna, almost all Mysia, and Bithynia, with part of Lydia and Ionia. Looking down upon Troas, it appeared spread as a lawn before me.”

In the same district are considerable remains of the ancient city Alexandria Troas. Long before the extinction of the Greek empire, this city was laid under perpetual obligation to contribute, by its monuments of ancient splendour, towards the public structures of Constantinople. Notwithstanding this, there are still some interesting remains; among[Pg 478] which is to be noted the aqueduct of Herodes Atticus, formed of blocks of hewn stone of vast size. Part of one of its gates also remains; consisting of two round towers, with square basements, supporting pedestals for statues. At a few yards’ distance are the ruins of public baths. “Broken marble soroi lie about;” says the intelligent traveller to whom, in this account, we have been so largely indebted; “soroi of such prodigious size, that their fragments seem as rocks among the Valany oaks covering the soil. But in all that now exists of this devoted city, there is nothing so conspicuous as the edifice, vulgarly termed by the mariners the Palace of Priam; from an erroneous notion, prevalent in the writings of early travellers, that Alexandria Troas was the Ilium of Homer.”

This building has three noble arches in front, and there are many others behind. The stones with which it is constructed are placed without any cement; and the whole appear to have been once coated over with marble. There are, also, the bases of columns, each eight feet in diameter. This building is supposed to have been intended for baths, as a grand terminus of the aqueduct of Atticus.

There are other vestiges, also, of this city, amongst which may be mentioned a series of vaults and subterranean chambers, one beneath another, now serving as sheds for tenders, and herds of goats. Towards the south-west there are remains also of an immense theatre, still in a state of considerable preservation. Its diameter is two hundred and fifty feet, and there is a semicircular range of seats at each extremity. Towards the port, lower down, are marble soroi, and other antiquities of less importance.

From this spot, Dr. Clarke proceeded to an immense tumulus, called after Æsyates, the situation of which, he says, perfectly agrees with the account[Pg 479] given of that monument by Strabo. He then descended again into the vale of Troy, and arrived at a village, called Erkessy, in which he found a marble soros, quite entire. Upon it is an inscription in Greek, beautifully cast, and in a very perfect state. “Aurelius Agethopodos Othoniacus, and the son of Aurelius, who was also a Pancratiast, of whom there is a hollow statue in the temple of Smintheus, and here in the Temple of Æsculapius, I have placed this Soros for myself and my dearest father, the afore-written Amelius Paulinus and to my descendants. But if any one shall dare to open this Soros, and lay in it the dead body of any other, or any man’s bones, he shall pay, as a fine to the city of the Troadenses, two thousand five hundred drachms, and to the most sacred Treasury as much more.

At no great distance from this soros, Dr. Clarke found a village, the inhabitants of which live with great cleanliness in small cottages, and practising the customs of their forefathers, in their hospitality to strangers. They presented him with a medal, found in their village; and they showed him a marble, on which was an inscription in Greek characters, implying, that “Metrodorus of Amphipolis, the son of Timocles, is praised by the senate and people, for his virtue and good-will towards the king Antiochus and Seleucus and the people: he is deemed a benefactor to the state; is to have access to the senate; and to be inscribed into the tribe and fraternity to which he may wish to belong292.”


Tyre is, in Scripture, called “the daughter of Sidon,” and very appropriately; for the Tyrians [Pg 480]were, in the first instance, a colony from Sidon. It was built two hundred and forty years before the building of Jerusalem.

The king of Tyre assisted Solomon in procuring wood for his temple, and artisans wherewith to build it. Thus it is stated, in the Book of Chronicles:—

“3. And Solomon sent to Huram, the king of Tyre, saying, As thou didst deal with David my father, and didst send him cedars to build him an house to dwell therein, even so deal with me.

“4. Behold, I build an house to the name of the Lord my God, to dedicate it to him, and to burn before him sweet incense, and for the continual shewbread, and for the burnt offerings morning and evening, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts of the Lord our God. This is an ordinance for ever to Israel.


“7. Send me now therefore a man cunning to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, and in iron, and in purple, and crimson, and blue, and that can skill to grave with the cunning men that are with me in Judah and in Jerusalem, whom David my father did provide.

“8. Send me also cedar-trees, fir-trees, and algum-trees, out of Lebanon; for I know that thy servants can skill to cut timber in Lebanon; and, behold, my servants shall be with thy servants.

“9. Even to prepare me timber in abundance: for the house which I am about to build shall be wonderful great.

“10. And, behold, I will give to thy servants, the hewers that cut timber, twenty thousand measures of beaten wheat, and twenty thousand measures of barley, and twenty thousand baths of wine, and twenty thousand baths of oil.

“11. Then Huram the king of Tyre answered in writing, which he sent to Solomon, Because the Lord hath loved his people, he hath made thee king over them.

“12. Huram said moreover, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, that made heaven and earth, who hath given to David the king a wise son, endued with prudence and understanding, that might build an house for the Lord, and an house for his kingdom.

“13. And now I have sent a cunning man, endued with understanding, of Huram my father’s,

“14. The son of a woman of the daughters of Dan; and the father was a man of Tyre, skilful to work in gold, and in silver, [Pg 481] in brass, in iron, in stone, and in timber, in purple, in blue, and in fine linen, and in crimson; also to grave any manner of graving, and to find out every device which shall be put to him, with thy cunning men, and with the cunning men of my lord David thy father.

“15. Now therefore the wheat, and the barley, the oil, and the wine, which my lord hath spoken of, let him send unto his servants:

“16. And we will cut wood out of Lebanon, as much as thou shalt need: and we will bring it to thee in floats by sea to Joppa; and thou shalt carry it up to Jerusalem.”

Various are the opinions concerning the origin of Tyre, and the date when it was founded. Herodotus (lib. ii. c. 44) says, that he was told by the priests of Tyre, that the temple of Hercules was as ancient as the city, which had been built two thousand three hundred years. According to this account, Tyre was founded about the year two thousand seven hundred and sixty before the Christian era; four hundred and sixty-nine years after the deluge, according to the Septuagint293.

Before the captivity of the Jews in Babylon, Tyre was the greatest maritime city in the world; its situation and industry having raised it to the sovereignty of the sea. From the extreme parts of India, Persia, and Arabia, to the western coast; from Ethiopia and Egypt on the south, to Scythia on the north, all nations contributed to the increase of its power, splendour, and wealth. Every thing that was useful, and all that was curious, magnificent, and precious, were there to be sold. Every article of commerce was brought to its markets.

This state of prosperity swelled the pride of the Tyrians to a very exorbitant extent. “She delighted,” we are told, “to consider herself as Queen of Cities; a queen, whose head is adorned with a diadem; whose correspondents are illustrious princes; whose rich traders dispute for superiority with kings; [Pg 482]who sees every maritime power, either as her allies or her dependents; and who made herself necessary or formidable to all nations.” Such was the pride of Tyre, when Nebuchadnezzar marched up against her.

Her fate had been foretold by the denunciations of Ezekiel.

“I am against thee, O Tyrus, and will cause many nations to come up against thee, as the sea causes her waves to come up. And they shall destroy the walls of Tyrus, and break down her towers. It shall be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea; and her daughters shall be slain by the sword.” The prophet then discloses who shall be the instrument of all this destruction. “I will bring upon Tyrus Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, a king of kings, with horses, and with chariots, and with horsemen, and companies of much people.” “He shall set his engines of war against thy walls, and with his axes he shall break down thy towers.” “With the hoofs of thy horses shall he tread down all thy streets; he shall slay thy people with the sword, and thy strong garrisons shall go down to the ground.” “And they shall make a spoil of thy riches, and make a prey of thy merchandise; and they shall break down thy walls, and destroy thy pleasant houses; and they shall lay thy stones, and thy timber, and thy dust, in the midst of the water.” “I will cause the noise of thy songs to cease; and the sound of thy harps shall be no more heard.” “Thou shalt be a place to hang nets upon; and shalt be built no more.” “Though thou be sought for, thou shall not be found.”

The pride of the Tyrians may be estimated by the splendour of their ships. These were frequently of cedar; their benches of ivory; fine embroidered linens of Egypt were used for sails; and their canopies were of scarlet and purple silk294. Its trade may be in some degree imagined, from what is stated as having been brought to her markets;—gold, silver, iron, tin, brass, and lead; slaves295; horses, horsemen, [Pg 483]and mules; sheep and goats; horn, ivory, and ebony; emeralds, purple, and broidered work; fine linen, and coral, and agate;—wheat, honey, oil, and bales of wares, wine, and wool; cassia and calamus; cloths for chariots; all manner of spices and precious stones. All these articles were to be destroyed. “Thy riches and thy merchandise, thy mariners and thy pilots, thy calkers, and the occupiers of thy merchandise, and all thy men of war that are in thee, and in all thy company which is in the midst of thee, shall fall into the midst of the seas, in the days of thy ruin.”

The Prophet then goes on to prophesy how all the nations shall mourn for her fall. “Shall not the isles shake at the sound of thy fall, when the wounded cry; when the slaughter is made in the midst of thee? All the princes of the sea shall come down from their thrones, and lay away their robes, and put off their embroidered garments; they shall clothe themselves with trembling; they shall sit upon the ground, and shall tremble at every moment, and shall be astonished at thee.”

Tyre was besieged by Nebuchadnezzar, in the twenty-first year of his reign; Ithobel being its king. After seven years he made himself master of it; not without his troops suffering incredible hardships; insomuch that, as Ezekiel had predicted, “every head was made bald and every head was peeled.” Previous, however, to the taking of it, a multitude of its inhabitants quitted the city, and took up their abode, with the greatest part of their effects, in the neighbouring island296, half a mile from the shore; and in that spot they laid the foundation [Pg 484]of a new city. When, therefore, Nebuchadnezzar took possession of the town, he found little in it to reward him for the trouble, danger, and expense he had been at during the siege, which lasted thirteen years. He rased the city to the foundations, and it was afterwards known only as a village, by the name of Palæ-Tyrus (ancient Tyre): the new one rose to greater power than the former one.

The new town, nevertheless, was not remitted of misfortune; for the inhabitants were made slaves of, compelled to admit a foreign yoke, and this for the space of seventy years. After the expiration of that time, they were restored, according to the prophecy of Isaiah,297 to the possession of their ancient privileges, with the liberty of having a king of their own, and that liberty they enjoyed till the time of Alexander.

At that period Tyre had again become an exceedingly large city; and because of the vast commerce she carried on with all nations, she was called “Queen of the Sea.” She boasted of having first invented navigation, and taught mankind the art of braving the waves and wind. Her happy situation, the extent and conveniency of her ports, the character of her inhabitants, who were not only industrious, laborious, and patient, but extremely courteous to strangers, invited thither merchants from all parts of the then-known world: so that it might be considered, not so much as a city belonging to any particular nation, as the common city of all nations, and the centre of their commerce.

Tyre had now for some time risen from the desolation, [Pg 485] into which she had fallen: but with prosperity came pride, and vain-glory; luxury and voluptuousness. Another prophet, therefore, foretold to her a second ruin. She was now “the crowning city,” whose merchants were princes, and whose traffickers were styled “the honourable of the earth.”

Tyre had profited nothing from the first lesson: Another destruction, therefore, was denounced against her. This was to come from Chittim (Macedonia). Tyre was careless of this threat. Defended by strong fortifications, and surrounded on all sides by the sea, she feared nothing; neither God nor man. Isaiah, therefore, brings to her recollection the ruin, that had befallen them in the days of Nebuchadnezzar; and the destruction which had afterwards fallen on Babylon itself. “The inhabitants had raised pompous palaces, to make their names immortal; but all those fortifications had become but as dens for wild beasts to revel in.” “The Lord hath purposed it to stain all the pride of all glory, and to bring into contempt all the honourable of the earth.” “The Lord hath given a commandment against the merchant city, to destroy the strong-holds thereof.” “Thou shalt no more rejoice, thou virgin daughter of Zidon.” This fall was to come, as we have already said, from Macedon.

Alexander besieged Tyre seven months;298 during which time he erected vast mounds of earth, plied it with his engines, and invested it on the side next the sea with two hundred galleys. When the Tyrians saw this fleet, they were astonished; because it greatly exceeded what they had any reason to expect. They had had in contemplation to send most of their women and children, with all the men, who were past the military age, to Carthage: but, [Pg 486]confident in their strength, they had delayed doing so; and now they could not spare ships or seamen to transport them.

A vessel coming from Sidon, they seized upon the crew, led them to a part of the wall, from which they could have a full view of the besieging army, then maliciously put them to death, and threw their dead bodies over the wall. This greatly enraged the Macedonian: and he soon after took possession of the city. According to Plutarch, the siege terminated in the following manner:—Alexander had permitted his main body to rest themselves, after some great fatigues they had undergone, and ordered only some small parties to keep the Tyrians in play. In the mean time, Aristander, his principal soothsayer, offered sacrifices; and one day, upon inspecting the entrails of the victims, he boldly asserted, amongst those about him, that the city would be taken that month. As the day happened to be the last of the month, this prediction was received with great ridicule. Alexander perceiving the soothsayer to be disconcerted, and having always made a point of bringing the prophecies of his soothsayers to completion, he gave orders that the day should not be called the thirtieth, but the twenty-eighth of the month. At the same time he called out his forces by sound of trumpet, and made a much more vigorous assault than he at first intended. The attack was violent, and those who were left in the camp, quitted it to have a share in it, and to support their fellow soldiers; insomuch that the Tyrians were forced to give in; and the city was taken that very day; seven thousand being slain.299

The king, with many of the principal men, took refuge in the temple of Hercules. The lives and liberties of these were spared; but all others taken, to the number of thirteen thousand,300 were sold to [Pg 487]slavery for the benefit of the conquering army. To the eternal ignominy of the conqueror, too, all the children and women were made slaves of, and all the young men, that survived the battle, to the amount of two thousand, were crucified along the sea-shore. The annals of no nation exhibit an atrocity equal to this! The city was burned to the ground.

In reference to this stout defence of the Tyrians against so accomplished a warrior as Alexander, and their maritime enterprises, a highly eminent scholar has made the following remarks301:—“Let us contemplate all these great things, as completed by the efforts of a single city, which, possibly, did not possess a territory of twenty miles in circumference, which sustained a siege of thirteen years against all the power of Babylon; and another of eight months against Alexander, in the full career of his victories; and then judge whether a commercial spirit debases the nature of man, or whether any single city, recorded in history, is worthy to be compared with Tyre.”

The buildings were spacious and magnificent; above all, the temples of Jupiter, Hercules, and Astarte. These were built by Huram. The walls were one hundred and fifty feet high, proportionably broad, and firmly built of large blocks of stone, bound together with white plaster.

When the conqueror had satiated his vengeance, he rebuilt it, and planted it anew with people, drawn from the neighbouring parts; chiefly that he might, in future times, be called the founder of Tyre.

In the year 313 B. C. this new city sustained a siege against Antigonus; for soon after the death of Eumenes, Antigonus formed designs against Tyre, Joppa, and Gaza. The two last soon submitted; but Tyre gave him great trouble. Being master of all the other ports on the Phœnician coasts, he caused [Pg 488]a vast number of trees to be cut down on Mount Libanus,—cedars and cypress trees of great height and beauty; and these were conveyed to the different ports, where he commanded a number of ships to be built, and where he employed in that object several thousand men. With these, and other ships he received from Rhodes, Cyprus, and other places, he made himself master of the sea. Tyre was, therefore, reduced to great extremities. The fleet of Antigonus cut off all communication of provisions, and the city was soon after compelled to capitulate. It was no longer than nineteen years before this event, that Alexander had destroyed this city in a manner as made it natural to believe it would require whole ages to re-establish it; and yet, in so short a time as that we speak of, it became capable of sustaining this new siege, which lasted more than as long again as that of Alexander. This circumstance discovers the great resources derived from commerce; for this was the only expedient by which Tyre rose out of its ruins, and recovered most of its former splendour.

Isaiah had foretold that Tyre should lie in obscurity and oblivion for seventy years302. This term being expired, it recovered its former credit; and, at the same time, recovered again its former vices. At length, according to another passage in the same prophecy303, converted by the preaching of the Christians, it became a holy and religious city.

After this period it belonged to several masters, till the time when it was taken possession of by Antiochus the Great, B. C. 218.

Afterwards it became subject to the Seleucidæ. It was then sold to a Roman, named Marion, whose [Pg 489]wealth was so great, that he was enabled to purchase the whole principality. It was still in repute in the time of Christ, and is, therefore, several times mentioned in the New Testament.

“Woe unto thee, Chorazin! Woe unto thee, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment than for you.”—Matthew, ch. xi. ver. 21.

“And from Jerusalem, and from Idumea, and from beyond Jordan; and they about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they had heard what great things he did, came to him.”—Mark, ch. iii. ver. 8. Luke, ch. vi. ver. 17.

“And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon; but they came with one accord to him, and having made Blastus, the king’s chamberlain, their friend, desired peace, because their country was nourished by the king’s country.”—Acts, ch. xi. ver. 20.

Tyre, in the time of Pliny:—“Tyrus, in the olden time an island, lying almost three quarters of a mile within the deep sea; but now, through the skill and labour of Alexander at the siege of it, joined to the main land. It is greatly renowned; for out of it have come three other cities of ancient name;—viz., Leptis, Utica, and that great Carthage, which so long strove with the empire of Rome, for the monarchy and dominion of the whole world. Not only these, but the Gades, divided, as it were, from the rest of the earth, were peopled from thence. Now, all its glory and reputation arise out of its dye purple and crimson colours. The compass of it is nineteen miles, if Palæ-tyrus be included in it.”

There was a style of architecture called Tyrian; and of this order Sir C. Wren supposes was the[Pg 490] theatre; by the fall of which, Samson made so great a slaughter of the Philistines. “In considering what this fabric must be,” says he304, “that could at one pull be demolished, I conceive it an oval amphitheatre, the scene in the middle, where a vast roof of cedar-beams, resting round upon the walls, centered all upon one short architrave, that united two cedar pillars in the middle. One pillar would not be sufficient to unite the ends of at least one hundred beams that tended to a centre; therefore, I say, there must be a short architrave resting upon two pillars, upon which all the beams tending to the centre of the amphitheatre might be supported. Now, if Samson, by his miraculous strength, pressing upon one of these pillars, moved it from its basis, the whole roof must of necessity fall.” The most observable monument of the Tyrian style is the sepulchre of Absalom, over against Jerusalem, in the valley of Jehosaphat.

When Tyre fell into the hands of the Romans, it did not cease to be a flourishing city. It was made the metropolis of a province by the emperor Hadrian, who repaired its fortifications, and gave it all the advantages of a Roman colony.

About A. D. 639, it fell from the dominion of Rome into the hands of the Saracens, who remained a considerable time in possession of it.

On this capture most of the inhabitants emigrated to Acre. It still remains, we are told by Mr. Addison, in nearly the same state in which they abandoned it, with the addition of about a hundred new stone buildings, occupying a small space to the north of the peninsula contiguous to the port. Many parts of the double wall, which encompassed the island, are still visible, and attest the strength of its ancient foundations. The isthmus is so completely covered with sand, washed up by the sea, on either side, that none but those, acquainted with the history [Pg 491]of Tyre, would suppose it to be the work of man. The peninsula is about a mile long, and half a mile broad; and its surface is covered with the foundations of buildings, now nearly all in ruins. On the western side, where the ground is somewhat more elevated than the rest, is a citadel, which Mr. Addison naturally supposes, occupies the site of the ancient one. On the eastern side, he goes on to observe, are the remains of a Gothic church, built by the crusaders, of materials belonging to the temple of Jupiter Olympus, which was destroyed by Constantine the Great, or that of Hercules, the tutelary deity of the ancient Tyrians. Of this only part of the choir remains. The interior is divided into three aisles, separated by rows of columns of red granite; of a kind nowhere else known in Syria. At the extremities of the two branches of the cross were two towers, the ascent to which was by a spiral staircase, which still remains entire. Djezzar, who stripped all this country to ornament his mosque at Acre, wished to carry them away; but his engineers were not able even to move them. This is supposed to have been the cathedral, of which Eusebius speaks, calling it the most magnificent temple in Phœnicia, and in which the famous William of Tyre was the first archbishop.

In the second century, it became a bishop’s see; and St. Jerome says, that in his time it was not only the most famous and beautiful city of Phœnicia, but a mart for all the nations of the world. It was dependent upon the patriarch of Antioch; but the see had no less than fourteen suffragans.

In 1112, Tyre was besieged by the crusaders; also again in 1124. It was successfully attacked by Saladin, in 1192; but in 1291, Kabil, sultan of the Mamelukes, obtained it by capitulation, and rased its forts.

[Pg 492]

Tyre is now called Sur or Sour. For this name several explanations have been given. We shall select the most probable, and these are by Volney, and Dr. Shaw. “In the name Sour,” says Volney, “we recognise that of Tyre, which we receive from the Latin; but if we recollect, that the y was formerly pronounced ou; and observe, that the Latins have substituted the t for θ of the Greeks, and that the θ had the sound of th, in the word think, we shall be less surprised at the alteration. This has not happened among the Orientals, who have always called this place ‘Tsour,’ and ‘Sour.’”

Dr. Shaw gives a different interpretation:—“All the nations of the Levant call Tyre by its ancient name Sur, from whence the Latins seem to have borrowed their Sarra. Sur, I find, layeth claim to a double interpretation, each of them very natural; though its rocky situation will prevail, I am persuaded, with every person who seeth this peninsula, beyond the Sar, or purple fish, for which it might afterwards be in such esteem. The purple fish (the method, at least, of extracting the tincture,) hath been wanting for many ages; however, amongst a variety of other shells, the Purpura of Rondeletius is very common upon the sea shore.”

“The Arabians,” says Mr. Drummond, “have always called Tyre Al Sur, the palm-tree. (Gol. in voce.) Hence, perhaps, the Greeks gave the name of Phœnix to this tree, as being the natural production of Phœnice; and as being the common emblem both of the Phœnicians and of their colonists. It may have happened, then, that ancient Tyre, which was situated in a plain, may have been called Al Sur, as the place where the palm-tree flourished.”

Perhaps another explanation may be still more probable. Sanchoniathon, as reported by Philo[Pg 493] Byllius, tells us that Tyre was first inhabited by Hyp-sour-anios, and that it then consisted of sheds, built up with canes, rushes, and papyri. From the middle of this, perhaps, comes the present name, Hyp-sour-anois.

The palaces of Tyre were for a long period supplanted by miserable hovels. Poor fishermen inhabited their vaulted cellars; where, in ancient times, the treasures of the world were stored. “This city,” says Maundrell, “standing in the sea upon a peninsula, promises, at a distance, something very magnificent. But when you come to it, you find no similitude of that glory, for which it was so renowned in ancient times. On the north side it has an old Turkish ungarrisoned castle; besides which, you see nothing here but a mere Babel, of broken walls, pillars, vaults, &c.: there not being so much as one entire house left. The present inhabitants are only a few poor wretches, harbouring themselves in the vaults, and chiefly subsisting upon fishing; who seem to be preserved, in this place by Divine Providence, as a visible argument, how God has fulfilled his word concerning Tyre.”

Sour, till lately, was a village in the pachalic of Saide or of Acre; situate on a peninsula, which projects from the shore, in the form of a mallet with an oval head. The isthmus which joins it to the continent is of pure sand. That part of the island which lies between the village and the sea, that is, the western side, was laid out in gardens, beset with weeds. The south side is sandy, and covered with rubbish. The whole village did not contain more than fifty families, having huts for houses, crumbling to pieces.

Dr. Shaw says, that in his time, notwithstanding Tyre was the chief maritime power of Syria, he could not perceive the least token of either Cothon[Pg 494] or harbour, that could, at any time, have been of any extraordinary capacity. Coasting ships, indeed, says he, still find a tolerably good shelter from the northerly winds, under the southern shore; but they are obliged immediately to retire, when the winds change to the west or south; so there must, therefore, have been a better station than this for security and reception. In the N. N. E. part likewise of the city, are seen traces of a safe and commodious basin; but, at the same time, so small as not to exceed forty yards in diameter. Neither could it have enjoyed a larger area. Yet this port, small as it is at present, is notwithstanding so choked up with sand and rubbish, that even the boats of the poor fishermen, who visit this once renowned emporium, can be admitted only with great difficulty. The sea, however, which usually destroys solid structures, has not only spared, but enlarged and converted into a solid isthmus, the mound by which Alexander joined the isle of Tyre to the continent.

A recent traveller, however, says, “that in the angle on which was seated the royal palace, there are still to be seen a number of fallen granite pillars, and other vestiges of architectural grandeur; but of the temples of the Tyrian and the Thracian Hercules, of Saturn, of Apollo, and of their other deities, I am not aware that sufficient remains are to be traced to confirm the positions assigned to them. The causeway of Alexander is still perfect, and is become like a natural isthmus, by its being covered over with sand. The hill, on which is placed the temple of the Astrochitonian Hercules, is now occupied by a Mohammedan faqueer’s tomb, around which are no ruins that indicate a work of grandeur destroyed. The ruins of Palæ-tyrus, near to Ras-el-ain, were not observed by me, although we crossed the brook there; and the Syrian sepulchres,[Pg 495] which are said to be to the northward of the town, I did not hear of. On approaching the modern Sour, whether from the hills, from the north or from the south, its appearance has nothing of magnificence. On entering the town, it is discovered to have been walled; the portion towards the isthmus still remaining, and being entered by an humble gate; while that on the north side is broken down, showing only detached fragments of circular towers, greatly dilapidated.” “They do not reach beyond the precincts of the present town; thus shutting out all the range to the northward of the harbour, which appears to have been composed of the ruins of former buildings.” “The tower to the south-east is not more than fifty feet square, and about the same height. It is turreted to the top, and has small windows and loop-holes on each of its sides. A flight of steps leads up to it from without, and its whole appearance is like that of the Saracenic buildings in the neighbourhood of Cairo.”

Sour has greatly risen of late years. It now contains eight hundred dwellings, substantially built of stone; most of which have courts, walls, and various conveniences, attached to them; besides smaller habitations for the poor. There are, also, one mosque, three Christian churches, three bazaars, and a bath. This intelligence is furnished by Mr. Buckingham, who was there in the earlier part of 1816. He adds also, that the population amounts, at the lowest computation, from five to six thousand; three-fourths of which are Arab catholics, and the remainder Turks and Arab moslems.

In Tyre was interred the well-known Frederic the First, surnamed Barbarossa (A. D. 1190)305.

[Pg 496]


The memory of Veii306 was almost obliterated in the time of Florus. The flock had fed in the streets, and the ploughshare had furrowed the sepulchres of the Veientes307.

The history of Veii is too imperfect, to throw any light, prior to the existence of Rome. We are only informed, that Morrius, king of Veii, was descended, by Halæsius, from Neptune; and that there was a king Veius, a king Menalus, and lastly, in the time of Camillus, an elected king named Tolemarius.

Veii was a powerful city of Etruria; large enough to contend with Rome in the time of Servius Tullus; and Dionysius of Halicarnassus says, that it was equal in extent to Athens; and Sir W. Gell quotes a passage from a fragment of the same writer, published by Mai at Milan, 1816, in which he speaks thus of Veii and its territory:—“The city of Veii was not inferior to Rome itself in buildings, and possessed a large and fruitful territory, partly mountainous, and [Pg 497]partly in the plain. The air was pure and healthy, the country being free from the vicinity of marshes, and without any river, which might render the morning air too rigid. Nevertheless, there was an abundance of water; not artificially conducted, but rising from natural springs, and good to drink.” (Lib. xii. frag. 21).

In the course of three hundred and fifty years it carried on no less than sixteen wars with Rome, but was at last taken and destroyed by Camillus, after a siege of ten years. This was the most important of the conquests of the infant republic. Its situation was so eligible, that the Romans, after the burning of their city by the Gauls, were long inclined to emigrate there, and totally abandon their homes; and this would have been carried into execution, but for the authority and eloquence of Camillus308.

“It is lamentable,” says Sir W. Gell, “that in a country so little cultivated, interesting traces of antiquity, tending to confirm the truth of history, should be suffered to disappear almost without record, for the sake of a miserable and narrow stripe of corn, and a few volcanic stones for mending the roads. The site of the citadel of Veii affords ample testimony to the accuracy of the description of Dionysius, who says it stood upon a high and precipitous rock. Not far from the road (from Rome) several large square blocks, concealed by soil and bushes, may easily be detected by persons accustomed to antiquarian researches. A heap of ruins are seen, supposed to have been a temple dedicated to Juno; and among these lay, in 1830, a piece of marble, relating to the family of Tarquitia, a race of celebrated Tuscan augurs, from whose books the soothsayers took their lessons, even so low down as the last war of the emperor Julian with the Persians.”

[Pg 498]

There exists, also, a large tumulus, supposed to be the tomb of Propertius, king of Etruria, founder of the city.

In a rock under the ancient wall are several niches, which have the appearance of places for urns, or votive offerings; not of Roman construction, but Etrurian. There are, also, evident traces of one or two bridges; and on the summit of a hill, at the distance of three miles, is another tumulus.

In another part the rugged extent of the rocks, with the bushes, and the difficulty of carrying away the blocks, have preserved portions of the ancient wall of the Etruscan Veii. These are ten or eleven feet in length, and some more than five feet in height. One of the most singular facts attending this wall, is a bed of three courses of bricks, each three feet in length, intervening between the lower course of the wall, and the rock upon which it is built. It requires only a very moderate knowledge of the subject to convince us, that the construction of this wall has no resemblance to anything remaining at Rome, nor yet at Nepi, Falerii, or Tarquinii, where the ramparts were in smaller blocks, and nearly regular. The style of the fortifications at Veii bespeak a much higher antiquity.

Added to what we have already stated, there are vestiges of ancient fortifications and aqueducts, and traces of roads; also fragments of an ancient citadel. There are, also, tombs in a glen near, and upon the rock, called Isola, exhibiting every kind of sepulchral excavation; caves, columbaria, and tombs without number. This was, no doubt, the metropolis of Veii.

There are, also, the remains of other tumuli, which appear to have been the common receptacle of those slain in battle, rather than of remarkable individuals. These all mark the date of Veii in the elder times; but[Pg 499] a statue of Tiberius found here, of course denotes the age of the empire.

“The remains of this once populous Etruscan city,” says Sir William Gell, “have, in the course of the last ten years, suffered so lamentably from spoliations, perpetrated or permitted by the owners of the soil, that it is necessary to take particular notice of such relics as still attest the existence of a place of so much importance in the early history of Italy.”

This he has done, in his work entitled “The Topography of Rome, and its Vicinity;” and from that work we glean most that is stated in this abstract309.


[1] Dodwell.

[2] Barthelemy.

[3] Dodwell.

[4] Barthelemy; Rollin; Dodwell; Clarke.

[5] Knight.

[6] Chandler.

[7] Clarke.

[8] Clarke.

[9] Strabo; Pausanias; Rollin; Wheler; Barthelemy; Chandler; Turner; Clarke.

[10] Gillies.

[11] Acts xx. ver. 13. And we went before to ship, and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot.

14. And when he met with us at Assos, we took him in, and came to Mitylene.

15. And we sailed thence, and came the next day over against Chios; and the next day we arrived at Samos, and tarried at Trogyllium; and the next day we came to Miletus.

16. For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.

17. And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.

18. And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons.

[12] He was the first that accurately calculated eclipses of the sun; he discovered the solstices; he divided the heavens into five zones, and recommended the division of the year into three hundred and sixty-five days.

[13] The inventor of sun-dials and the gnomon. This philosopher had nevertheless many curious opinions; amongst which may be mentioned, that air was the parent of every created being; and that the sun, moon, and stars, had been made from the earth.

[14] He taught that men were born of earth and water, mixed together by the heat of the sun.

[15] An historian.

[16] A musician.

[17] Ionian Antiquities.

[18] Herodotus; Strabo; Pausanias; Quintus Curtius; Prideaux; Chandler; Stuart; Barthelemy; Gillies.

[19] This was written in 1806, and published in 1819.

[20] Pausanias; Dodwell; La Martine.

[21] Barthelemy; Dodwell; Rees; Brewster.

[22] See Herod. i. c. 184; Diodor. Sic. ii.; Pompon. Mela, i. c. 3; Justin. i. c. 1; Val. Max. ix. c. 3.

[23] The character of Sardanapalus has been treated more gently by a modern poet. “The Sardanapalus of Lord Byron is pretty nearly such a person as the Sardanapalus of history may be supposed to have been,—young, thoughtless, spoiled by flattery and unbounded self-indulgence; but, with a temper naturally amiable, and abilities of a superior order, he affects to undervalue the sanguinary renown of his ancestors, as an excuse for inattention to the most necessary duties of his rank; and flatters himself, while he is indulging his own sloth, that he is making his people happy. Yet, even in his fondness for pleasure, there lurks a love of contradiction. Of the whole picture, selfishness is the prevailing feature;—selfishness admirably drawn, indeed; apologised for by every palliating circumstance of education and habit, and clothed in the brightest colours of which it is susceptible, from youth, talents, and placidity. But it is selfishness still; and we should have been tempted to quarrel with the art which made vice and frivolity thus amiable, if Lord Byron had not, at the same time, pointed out with much skill the bitterness and weariness of spirit which inevitably wait on such a character; and if he had not given a fine contrast to the picture, in the accompanying portraits of Salamenes and Myrrha.”—Heber.

[24] Atherstone’s “Fall of Nineveh.”

[25] Ælian calls him Thilgamus.

[26] 2 Kings.