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Tyber under a firm and active government, what could oppose, or who can enumerate, the injuries of the city, after the fall of the Western empire? A remedy was at length produced by the evil itself: the accumulation of rubbish and the earth, that has been washed down from the hills, is supposed to have elevated the plain of Rome, fourteen or fifteen feet, perhaps, above the ancient level 18; and the modern city is less accessible to the attacks of the river. 19
II. The crowd of writers of every nation, who impute 11. The the destruction of the Roman monuments to the Goths boristerialen and the Christians, have neglected to inquire how far Barbarians they were animated by an hostile principle, and how far tians. they possessed the means and the leisure to satiate their enmity. In the preceding volumes of this History, I have described the triumph of barbarism and religion ; and I can only resume, in a few words, their real or imaginary connection with the ruin of ancient Rome. Our fancy may create, or adopt, a pleasing romance, that the Goths and Vandals sallied from Scandinavia, ardent to avenge the flight of Odin20 ; to break the chains, and to chastise the oppressors, of mankind; that they wished to burn the records of classic literature, and to found their national architecture on the broken members of the Tuscan and Corinthian orders. But in simple truth, the northern conquerors were neither sufficiently savage, nor sufficiently refined, to entertain such aspiring ideas of destruction and revenge. The shepherds of Scythia and Germany had been educated in the armies of the empire, whose discipline they acquired, and whose weakness they invaded : with the familiar use of the Latin tongue, they had learned to reverence the name and titles of Rome; and, though incapable of emulating, they were more inclined to admire, than to abolish, the arts and studies of a brighter period. In the transient possession of a rich and unresisting capital, the soldiers of Alaric and Genseric were stimulated by the passions of a victorious army; amidst the wan
18 In his travels in Italy, Mr. Addison (his works, vol. ii. p. 98. Baskerville's edition) has observed this curious and unquestionable fact.
19 Yet in modern times, the Tyber has sometimes damaged the city, and in the years 1530, 1557, 1598, the Annals of Muratori record three mischievous and memorable inundations (tom. xiv. p. 268. 429. tom. xv. p. 99, &c.). *
*o I take this opportunity of declaring, that in the course of twelve years, I have forgotten, or renounced, the flight of Odin from Azoph to Sweden, which I never very seriously believed (Vol. I. p. 254.). The Goths are apparently Germans: but all beyond Cæsar and Tacitus is darkness or fable, in the antiquities of Germany.
The level of the Tyber was at one satisfactory, statement of the question in time supposed to be considerably raised : Bunsen and Platner, Roms Beschreibung, recent investigations seem to be conclusive vol. i. p. 29. — M. against this supposition. See a brief, but VOL. VI.
ton indulgence of lust or cruelty, portable wealth was the object of their search; nor could they derive either pride or pleasure from the unprofitable reflection, that they had battered to the ground the works of the consuls and Cæsars. Their moments were indeed precious; the Goths evacuated Rome on the sixth 21 the Vandals on the fifteenth, day 22 ; and, though it be far more difficult to build than to destroy, their hasty assault would have made a slight impression on the solid piles of antiquity. We may remember, that both Alaric and Genseric affected to spare the buildings of the city; that they subsisted in strength and beauty under the auspicious government of Theodoric 23; and that the momentary resentment of Totila 24
was disarmed by his own temper and the advice of his friends and enemies. From these innocent Barbarians, the reproach may be transferred to the Catholics of Rome. The statues, altars, and houses, of the dæmons, were an abomination in their eyes; and in the absolute command of the city, they might labour with zeal and perseverance to erase the idolatry of their ancestors. The demolition of the temples in the East 25 affords to them an example of conduct, and to us an argument of belief; and it is probable, that a portion of guilt or merit may be imputed with justice to the Roman proselytes. Yet their abhorrence was confined to the monuments of heathen superstition; and the civil structures that were dedicated to the business or pleasure of society might be preserved without injury or scandal. The change of religion was accomplished, not by a popular tumult, but by the decrees of the emperors, of the senate, and of time. Of the Christian hierarchy, the bishops of Rome were commonly the most prudent and least fanatic; nor can any positive charge be opposed to the meritorious act of saving and converting the majestic structure of the Pantheon. 26 *
21 History of the Decline, &c. Vol. III. p. 141.
Vol. III. p. 291.
Vol. III. c. xxviii. p. 8–16. 26 Eodem tempore petiit a Phocate principe templum, quod appellatur Pantheon, in quo fecit ecclesiam Sanctæ Mariæ semper Virginis, et omnium martyrum; in quả ecclesiæ princeps multa bona obtulit (Anastasius vel potius Liber Pontificalis in Bonifacio IV. in Muratori, Script. Rerum Italicarum, tom. iii. P. i. p. 135.). According to the anonymous writer in Montfaucon, the Pantheon had been vowed by Agrippa to Cybele and Neptune, and was dedicated by Boniface IV. on the calends of November, to the Virgin, quæ est mater omnium sanctorum (p. 297, 298.)..
The popes, under the dominion of the emperor and of the exarchs, according to Feas's just observation, did not possess the power of disposing of the buildings and
monuments of the city according to their own will.
Bunsen and Platner, vol. i. p. 241. -M.
III. The value of any object that supplies the wants !!. The or pleasures of mankind is compounded of its substance abuse of and its form, of the materials and the manufacture. Its rials. price must depend on the number of persons by whom it may be acquired and used; on the extent of the market; and consequently on the ease or difficulty of remote exportation, according to the nature of the commodity, its local situation, and the temporary circumstances of the world. The Barbarian conquerors of Rome usurped in a moment the toil and treasure of successive ages; but, except the luxuries of immediate consumption, they must view without desire all that could not be removed from the city in the Gothic waggons or the fleet of the Vandals. 27 Gold and silver were the first objects of their avarice; as in every country, and in the smallest compass, they represent the most ample command of the industry and possessions of mankind. A vase or a statue of those precious metals might tempt the vanity of some Barbarian chief; but the grosser multitude, regardless of the form, was tenacious only of the substance; and the melted ingots might be readily divided and stamped into the current coin of the empire. The less active or less fortunate robbers were reduced to the baser plunder of brass, lead, iron, and copper : whatever had escaped the Goths and Vandals was pillaged by the Greek tyrants ; and the emperor Constans, in his rapacious visit, stripped the bronze tiles from the roof of the Pantheon. 28 The edifices of Rome might be considered as a vast and various mine; the first labour of extracting the materials was already performed; the metals were purified and cast; the marbles were hewn and polished; and after foreign and domestic rapine had been satiated, the remains of the city, could a purchaser have been found, were still venal. The monuments of antiquity had been left naked of their precious ornaments; but the Romans would demolish with their own hands the arches and walls, if the hope of profit could surpass the cost of the labour and exportation. If Charlemagne had fixed in Italy the seat of the Western empire, his genius would have aspired to restore, rather than to violate, the works of the Cæsars; but policy
97 Flaminius Vacca (apud Montfaucon, p. 155, 156. His memoir is likewise printed, p. 21. at the end of the Roman Antica of Nardini), and several Romans, doctrinâ graves, were persuaded that the Goths buried their treasures at Rome, and bequeathed the secret marks filiis nepotibusque. He relates some anecdotes to prove, that, in his own time, these places were visited and rifled by the Transalpine pilgrims, the heirs of the Gothic conquerors.
28 Omnia quæ erant in ære ad ornatum civitatis deposuit ; sed et ecclesiam B. Mariæ ad martyres quæ de tegulis æreis cooperta discooperuit (Anast. in Vitalian. p. 141.). The base and sacrilegious Greek had not even the poor pretence of plundering an heathen temple ; the Pantheon was already a Catholic Church.
confined the French monarch to the forests of Germany; his taste could be gratified only by destruction; and the new palace of Aix la Chapelle was decorated with the marbles of Ravenna 29 and Rome. Five hundred years after Charlemagne, a king of Sicily, Robert, the wisest and most liberal sovereign of the age, was supplied with the same materials by the easy navigation of the Tyber and the sea ; and Petrarch sighs an indignant complaint, that the ancient capital of the world should adorn from her own bowels the slothful luxury of Naples. 31 But these examples of plunder or purchase were rare in the darker ages; and the Romans, alone and unenvied, might have applied to their private or public use the remaining structures of antiquity, if in their present form and situation they had not been useless in a great measure to the city and its inhabitants. The walls still described the old circumference, but the city had descended from the seven hills into the Campus Martius; and some of the noblest monuments which had braved the injuries of time were left in a desert, far remote from the habitations of mankind. The palaces of the senators were no longer adapted to the manners or fortunes of their indigent successors : the use of baths 32 and porticoes was forgotten : in the sixth century, the games of the theatre, amphitheatre, and
29 For the spoils of Ravenna (musiva atque marmora) see the original grant of pope Adrian I. to Charlemagne (Codex Carolin. epist. lxvii. in Muratori, Script. Ital. tom. iii. P.ji. p. 223.).
so I shall quote the authentic testimony of the Saxon poet (A. D. 887–899), de Rebus gestis Caroli magni, 1. v. 437–440. in the Historians of France (tom. v. p. 180.):
Ad quæ marmoreas præstabat Roma columnas,
Quasdam præcipuas pulchra Ravenna dedit.
Illius ornatum, Francia, ferre tibi.
31 I cannot refuse to transcribe a long passage of Petrarch (Opp. p. 536, 537.) in Epistolâ hortatoriâ ad Nicolaum Laurentium ; it is so strong and full to the point : Nec pudor aut pietas continuit quominus impii spoliata Dei templa, occupatas arces, opes publicas, regiones urbis, atque honores magistratûum inter se divisos; (habeant ?) quam unâ in re, turbulenti ac seditiosi homines et totius reliquæ vitæ consiliis et rationibus discordes, inhuinani fæderis stupendâ societate convenirent, in pontes et mænia atque immeritos lapides desævirent. Denique post vi vel senio collapsa palatia, quæ quondam ingentes tenuerunt viri, post diruptos arcus triumphales (unde majores horum forsitan corruerunt), de ipsius vetustatis ac propriæ impietatis fragminibus vilem quæstum turpi mercimonio captare non puduit. Itaque nunc, heu dolor ! heu scelus indignum! de vestris marmoreis columnis, de liminibus templorum (ad quæ nuper ex orbe toto concursus devotissimus fiebat), de imaginibus sepulchrorum sub quibus patrum vestrorum venerabilis civis (cinis ?) erat, ut reliquas sileam, desidiosa Neapolis adornatur. Sic paullatim ruinæ ipsæ deficiunt. Yet king Robert was the friend of Petrarch.
33 Yet Charlemagne washed and swam at Aix la Chapelle with an hundred of his courtiers (Eginhart, c. 22. p. 108, 109.), and Muratori describes, as late as the
year 814, the public baths which were built at Spoleto in Italy (Annali, tom, vi. p. 416.).
circus, had been interrupted: some temples were devoted to the prevailing worship; but the Christian churches preferred the holy figure of the cross; and fashion, or reason, had distributed after a peculiar model the cells and offices of the cloister. Under the ecclesiastical reign, the number of these pious foundations was enormously multiplied; and the city was crowded with forty monasteries of men, twenty of women, and sixty chapters and colleges of canons and priests 33, who aggravated, instead of relieving, the depopulation of the tenth century. But if the forms of ancient architecture were disregarded by a people insensible of their use and beauty, the plentiful materials were applied to every call of necessity or superstition; till the fairest columns of the Ionic and Corinthian orders, the richest marbles of Paros and Numidia, were degraded, perhaps to the support of a convent or a stable. The daily havoc which is perpetrated by the Turks in the cities of Greece and Asia may afford a melancholy example; and in the gradual destruction of the monuments of Rome, Sixtus the Fifth may alone be excused for employing the stones of the Septizonium in the glorious edifice of St. Peter's. 34
A fragment, a ruin, howsoever mangled or profaned, may be viewed with pleasure and regret; but the greater part of the marble was deprived of substance, as well as of place and proportion; it was burnt to lime for the
of cement. Since the arrival of Poggius, the temple of Concord 35, and many capital structures, had vanished from his eyes; and an epigram of the same age expresses a just and pious fear, that the continuance of this practice would finally annihilate all the monuments of antiquity. 36 The
33 See the Annals of Italy, A. D. 988. For this and the preceding fact, Muratori himself is indebted to the Benedictine history of Père Mabillon.
34 Vita di Sisto Quinto, da Gregorio Leti, tom. iii. p. 50.
33 Porticus ædis Concordiæ, quam cum primum ad urbem accessi vidi fere integram opere marmoreo admodum specioso: Romani postmodum ad calcem ædem totam et porticûs partem disjectis columnis sunt demoliti (p. 12.). The temple of Concord was therefore not destroyed by a sedition in the xiiith century, as I have read in a MS. treatise del Governo civile di Rome, lent me formerly at Rome, and ascribed (I believe falsely) to the celebrated Gravina. Poggius likewise affirms, that the sepulchre of Cæcilia Metella was burnt for lime (p. 19, 20.).
** Composed by Æneas Sylvius, afterwards pope Pius II., and published by Mabillon, from a MS. of the queen of Sweden (Museum Italicum, tom. i. p. 97.).
Oblectat me, Roma, tuas spectare ruinas :
Ex cujus lapsû gloria prisca patet.
* From the quotations in Bunsen's considered a quarry from which the church, Dissertation, it may be suspected that this the castle of the baron, or even the hovel of slow but continual process of destruction the peasant might be repaired. — M. was the most fatal. Ancient Rome was