Pagan and Christian Rome

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  • erschienen am 21. Januar 2019
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  • 404 Seiten
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978-3-7481-8940-4 (ISBN)
It has been contended, and many still believe, that in ancient Rome the doctrines of Christ found no proselytes, except among the lower and poorer classes of citizens. That is certainly a noble picture which represents the new faith as searching among the haunts of poverty and slavery, seeking to inspire faith, hope, and charity in their occupants; to transform them from things into human beings; to make them believe in the happiness of a future life; to alleviate their present sufferings; to redeem their children from shame and servitude; to proclaim them equal to their masters. But the gospel found its way also to the mansions of the masters, nay, even to the palace of the Cæsars. The discoveries lately made on this subject are startling, and constitute a new chapter in the history of imperial Rome. We have been used to consider early Christian history and primitive Christian art as matters of secondary importance, and hardly worthy the attention of the classical student. Thus, none of the four or five hundred volumes on the topography of ancient Rome speaks of the basilicas raised by Constantine; of the church of S. Maria Antiqua, built side by side with the Temple of Vesta, the two worships dwelling together as it were, for nearly a century; of the Christian burial-grounds; of the imperial mausoleum near S. Peter's; of the porticoes, several miles in length, which led from the centre of the city to the churches of S. Peter, S. Paul, and S. Lorenzo; of the palace of the Cæsars transformed into the residence of the Popes.
1. Auflage
  • Englisch
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978-3-7481-8940-4 (9783748189404)



Ancient temples as galleries of art.-The adornment of statues with jewelry, etc.-Offerings and sacrifices by individuals.-Stores of ex-votos found in the favissæ or vaults of temples.-Instances of these brought to light within recent years.-Remarkable wealth of one at Veii.-The altars of ancient Rome.-The ara maxima Herculis .-The Roma Quadrata .-The altar of Aius Locutius.-That of Dis and Proserpina.-Its connection with the Sæcular Games.-The discovery of the inscription describing these, in 1890.-The ara pacis Augustæ .-The ara incendii Neroniani .-Temples excavated in my time.-That of Jupiter Capitolinus.-History of its ruins.-The Capitol as a place for posting official announcements.-The Temple of Isis and Serapis.-The number of sculptures discovered on its site.-The Temple of Neptune.-Its remains in the Piazza di Pietra.-The Temple of Augustus.-The Sacellum Sanci .

Ancient guide-books of Rome, published in the middle of the fourth century, [34] mention four hundred and twenty-four temples, three hundred and four shrines, eighty statues of gods, of precious metal, sixty-four of ivory, and three thousand seven hundred and eighty-five miscellaneous bronze statues. The number of marble statues is not given. It has been said, however, that Rome had two populations of equal size, one alive, and one of marble.

I have had the opportunity of witnessing or conducting the discovery of several temples, altars, shrines, and bronze statues. The number of marble statues and busts discovered in the last twenty-five years, either in Rome or the Campagna, may be stated at one thousand.

Before beginning the description of these beautiful monuments, I must allude to some details concerning the management and organization of ancient places of worship, upon which recent discoveries have thrown a considerable, and in some cases, unexpected light.

Roman temples, like the churches of the present day, were used not only as places of worship, but as galleries of pictures, museums of statuary, and "cabinets" of precious objects. In chapter v. of "Ancient Rome," I have given the catalogue of the works of art displayed in the temple of Apollo on the Palatine. The list includes: The Apollo and Artemis driving a quadriga, by Lysias; fifty statues of the Danaids; fifty of the sons of Egypt; the Herakles of Lysippos; Augustus with the attributes of Apollo (a bronze statue fifty feet high); the pediment of the temple, by Bupalos and Anthermos; statues of Apollo, by Skopas; Leto, by Kephisodotos, son of Praxiteles; Artemis, by Timotheos; and the nine Muses; also a chandelier, formerly dedicated by Alexander the Great at Kyme; medallions of eminent men; a collection of gold plate; another of gems and intaglios; ivory carvings; specimens of palæography; and two libraries.

Entablature of the Temple of Concord.

The Temple of Apollo was by no means the only sacred museum of ancient Rome; there were scores of them, beginning with the Temple of Concord, so emphatically praised by Pliny. This temple, built by Camillus, at the foot of the Capitol, and restored by Tiberius and Septimius Severus, was still standing at the time of Pope Hadrian I. (772-795), when the inscription on its front was copied for the last time by the Einsiedlensis . It was razed to the ground towards 1450. "When I made my first visit to Rome," says Poggio Bracciolini, "I saw the Temple of Concord almost intact ( ædem fere integram ), built of white marble. Since then the Romans have demolished it, and turned the structure into a lime-kiln." The platform of the temple and a few fragments of its architectural decorations were discovered in 1817. The reader may appreciate the grace of these decorations, from a fragment of the entablature now in the portico of the Tabularium, and one of the capitals of the cella, now in the Palazzo dei Conservatori. The cella contained one central and ten side niches, in which eleven masterpieces of Greek chisels were placed, namely, the Apollo and Hera, by Baton; Leto nursing Apollo and Artemis, by Euphranor; Asklepios and Hygieia, by Nikeratos; Ares and Hermes, by Piston; and Zeus, Athena, and Demeter, by Sthennis. The name of the sculptor of the Concordia in the apse is not known. Pliny speaks also of a picture by Theodoros, representing Cassandra; of four elephants, cut in obsidian, a miracle of skill and labor, and of a collection of precious stones, among which was the sardonyx set in the legendary ring of Polykrates of Samos. Most of these treasures had been offered to the goddess by Augustus, moved by the liberality which Julius Cæsar had shown towards his ancestral goddess, Venus Genetrix. We know from Pliny, xxxv. 9, that Cæsar was the first to give due honor to paintings, by exhibiting them in his Forum Julium. He gave about $72,000 (eighty talents), for two works of Timomachos, representing Medea and Ajax. At the base of the Temple of Venus Genetrix he placed his own equestrian statue, the horse of which, modelled by Lysippos, had once supported the figure of Alexander the Great. The statue of Venus was the work of Arkesilaos, and her breast was covered with strings of British pearls. Pliny (xxxvii. 5), after mentioning the collection of gems made by Scaurus, and another made by Mithradates, which Pompey the Great had offered to Jupiter Capitolinus, adds: "These examples were surpassed by Cæsar the dictator, who offered to Venus Genetrix six collections of cameos and intaglios."

A descriptive catalogue of these valuables and works of art was kept in each temple, and sometimes engraved on marble. The inventories included also the furniture and properties of the sacristy. In 1871 the following remarkable document was discovered in the Temple of Diana Nemorensis. The inventory, engraved on a marble pillar three feet high, is now preserved in the Orsini Castle at Nemi. It has been published by Henzen in "Hermes," vol. vi. p. 8, and reads as follows, in translation:-

Objects offered to [or belonging to] both temples [the temple of Isis and that of Bubastis]:-Seventeen statues; one head of the Sun; four silver images; one medallion; two bronze altars; one tripod (in the shape of one at Delphi); a cup for libations; a patera; a diadem [for the statue of the goddess] studded with gems; a sistrum of gilded silver; a gilt cup; a patera ornamented with ears of corn; a necklace studded with beryls; two bracelets with gems; seven necklaces with gems; nine ear-rings with gems; two nauplia [rare shells from the Propontis]; a crown with twenty-one topazes and eighty carbuncles; a railing of brass supported by eight hermulæ ; a linen costume comprising a tunica, a pallium, a belt, and a stola, all trimmed with silver; a like costume without trimming.

[Objects offered] to Bubastis:-A costume of purple silk; another of turquoise color; a marble vase with pedestal; a water jug; a linen costume with gold trimmings and a golden girdle; another of plain white linen.

The objects described in this catalogue did not belong to the Temple of Diana itself, one of the wealthiest in central Italy; but to two small shrines, of Isis and Bubastis, built by a devotee within the sacred enclosure, on the north side of the square.

The ancients displayed remarkably bad taste in loading the statues of their gods with precious ornaments, and in spoiling the beauty of their temples with hangings of every hue and description. A document published by Muratori [35] speaks of a statue of Isis which was dedicated by a lady named Fabia Fabiana as a memorial to her deceased granddaughter Avita. The statue, cast in silver, weighed one hundred and twelve and a half pounds, and was muffled in ornaments and jewelry beyond conception. The goddess wore a diadem in which were set six pearls, two emeralds, seven beryls, one carbuncle, one hyacinthus , and two flint arrow-heads; also earrings with emeralds and pearls, a necklace composed of thirty-six pearls and eighteen emeralds, two clasps, two rings on the little finger, one on the third, one on the middle finger; and many other gems on the shoes, ankles, and wrists. Another inscription discovered at Constantine, Algeria, describes a statue of Jupiter dedicated in the Capitol of that city. The devotees had placed on his head an oak-wreath of silver, with thirty leaves and fifteen acorns; they had loaded his right hand with a silver disk, a Victory waving a palm-leaf, and a crown of forty leaves; and in the other had fastened a silver rod and other emblems.

The hangings and tinsel not only disfigured the interior of temples, but were a source of danger from their combustibility. When we hear of fires destroying the Pantheon in a. d. 110, the Temple of Apollo in 363, that of Venus and Rome in 307, and that of Peace in 191, we may assume that they were started and fed by the inflammable materials with which the interiors were filled. There is no other explanation to be given, inasmuch as the structures were fire-proof, with the exception of the roof. As for the disfiguration of sacred buildings with all sorts of hangings, it is enough to quote the words of Livy (xl. 51). "In the year of...

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