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Title: Sketches and Studies in Italy and Greece, Third series
Author: Symonds, John Addington, 1840-1893
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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First Edition (Smith, Elder & Co.) _December 1898_
_Reprinted December 1907_
_Reprinted October  1910_
Taken Over by John Murray _January  1917_

_All rights reserved_

_Printed in Great Britain by_

Spottiswoode, Ballantyne & Co. Ltd.

_London, Colchester & Eton_


















The Ildefonso Group     _Frontispiece_





Students of Mr. Dante Gabriel Rossetti's translations from the early
Italian poets (_Dante and his Circle_. Ellis & White, 1874) will not
fail to have noticed the striking figure made among those jejune
imitators of Provençal mannerism by two rhymesters, Cecco Angiolieri
and Folgore da San Gemignano. Both belong to the school of Siena,
and both detach themselves from the metaphysical fashion of their
epoch by clearness of intention and directness of style. The sonnets
of both are remarkable for what in the critical jargon of to-day
might be termed realism. Cecco is even savage and brutal. He
anticipates Villon from afar, and is happily described by Mr.
Rossetti as the prodigal, or 'scamp' of the Dantesque circle. The
case is different with Folgore. There is no poet who breathes a
fresher air of gentleness. He writes in images, dealing but little
with ideas. Every line presents a picture, and each picture has the
charm of a miniature fancifully drawn and brightly coloured on a
missal-margin. Cecco and Folgore alike have abandoned the mediæval
mysticism which sounds unreal on almost all Italian lips but
Dante's. True Italians, they are content to live for life's sake,
and to take the world as it presents itself to natural senses. But
Cecco is perverse and impious. His love has nothing delicate; his
hatred is a morbid passion. At his worst or best (for his best
writing is his worst feeling) we find him all but rabid. If
Caligula, for instance, had written poetry, he might have piqued
himself upon the following sonnet; only we must do Cecco the justice
of remembering that his rage is more than half ironical and

  An I were fire, I would burn up the world;
      An I were wind, with tempest I'd it break;
      An I were sea, I'd drown it in a lake;
      An I were God, to hell I'd have it hurled;
  An I were Pope, I'd see disaster whirled
      O'er Christendom, deep joy thereof to take;
      An I were Emperor, I'd quickly make
      All heads of all folk from their necks be twirled;
  An I were death, I'd to my father go;
      An I were life, forthwith from him I'd fly;
      And with my mother I'd deal even so;
  An I were Cecco, as I am but I,
      Young girls and pretty for myself I'd hold,
      But let my neighbours take the plain and old.

Of all this there is no trace in Folgore. The worst a moralist could
say of him is that he sought out for himself a life of pure
enjoyment. The famous Sonnets on the Months give particular
directions for pastime in a round of pleasure suited to each season.
The Sonnets on the Days are conceived in a like hedonistic spirit.
But these series are specially addressed to members of the Glad
Brigades and Spending Companies, which were common in the great
mercantile cities of mediæval Italy. Their tone is doubtless due to
the occasion of their composition, as compliments to Messer Nicholò
di Nisi and Messer Guerra Cavicciuoli.

The mention of these names reminds me that a word need be said about
the date of Folgore. Mr. Rossetti does not dispute the commonly
assigned date of 1260, and takes for granted that the Messer Nicolò
of the Sonnets on the Months was the Sienese gentleman referred to
by Dante in a certain passage of the 'Inferno':[1]--

  And to the Poet said I: 'Now was ever
      So vain a people as the Sienese?
      Not for a certainty the French by far.'
  Whereat the other leper, who had heard me,
      Replied unto my speech: 'Taking out Stricca,
      Who knew the art of moderate expenses,
  And Nicolò, who the luxurious use
      Of cloves discovered earliest of all
      Within that garden where such seed takes root.
  And taking out the band, among whom squandered
      Caccia d' Ascian his vineyards and vast woods,
      And where his wit the Abbagliato proffered.'

Now Folgore refers in his political sonnets to events of the years
1314 and 1315; and the correct reading of a line in his last sonnet
on the Months gives the name of Nicholò di Nisi to the leader of
Folgore's 'blithe and lordly Fellowship.' The first of these facts
leads us to the conclusion that Folgore flourished in the first
quarter of the fourteenth, instead of in the third quarter of the
thirteenth century. The second prevents our identifying Nicholò di
Nisi with the Niccolò de' Salimbeni, who is thought to have been the
founder of the Fellowship of the Carnation. Furthermore, documents
have recently been brought to light which mention at San Gemignano,
in the years 1305 and 1306, a certain Folgore. There is no
sufficient reason to identify this Folgore with the poet; but the
name, to say the least, is so peculiar that its occurrence in the
records of so small a town as San Gemignano gives some confirmation
to the hypothesis of the poet's later date. Taking these several
considerations together, I think we must abandon the old view that
Folgore was one of the earliest Tuscan poets, a view which is,
moreover, contradicted by his style. Those critics, at any rate, who
still believe him to have been a predecessor of Dante's, are forced
to reject as spurious the political sonnets referring to Monte
Catini and the plunder of Lucca by Uguccione della Faggiuola. Yet
these sonnets rest on the same manuscript authority as the Months
and Days, and are distinguished by the same qualities.[2]

    [1] _Inferno_, xxix. 121.--_Longfellow_.

    [2] The above points are fully discussed by Signor Giulio
    Navone, in his recent edition of _Le Rime di Folgore da
    San Gemignano e di Cene da la Chitarra d' Arezzo_.
    Bologna: Romagnoli, 1880. I may further mention that in
    the sonnet on the Pisans, translated on p. 18, which
    belongs to the political series, Folgore uses his own

Whatever may be the date of Folgore, whether we assign his period to
the middle of the thirteenth or the beginning of the fourteenth
century, there is no doubt but that he presents us with a very
lively picture of Italian manners, drawn from the point of view of
the high bourgeoisie. It is on this account that I have thought it
worth while to translate five of his Sonnets on Knighthood, which
form the fragment that remains to us from a series of seventeen. Few
poems better illustrate the temper of Italian aristocracy when the
civil wars of two centuries had forced the nobles to enroll
themselves among the burghers, and when what little chivalry had
taken root in Italy was fast decaying in a gorgeous over-bloom of
luxury. The institutions of feudal knighthood had lost their sterner
meaning for our poet. He uses them for the suggestion of delicate
allegories fancifully painted. Their mysterious significance is
turned to gaiety, their piety to amorous delight, their grimness to
refined enjoyment. Still these changes are effected with perfect
good taste and in perfect good faith. Something of the perfume of
true chivalry still lingered in a society which was fast becoming
mercantile and diplomatic. And this perfume is exhaled by the petals
of Folgore's song-blossom. He has no conception that to readers of
Mort Arthur, or to Founders of the Garter, to Sir Miles Stapleton,
Sir Richard Fitz-Simon, or Sir James Audley, his ideal knight would
have seemed but little better than a scented civet-cat. Such knights
as his were all that Italy possessed, and the poet-painter was
justly proud of them, since they served for finished pictures of the
beautiful in life.

The Italians were not a feudal race. During the successive reigns of
Lombard, Frankish, and German masters, they had passively accepted,
stubbornly resisted feudalism, remaining true to the conviction that
they themselves were Roman. In Roman memories they sought the
traditions which give consistency to national consciousness. And
when the Italian communes triumphed finally over Empire, counts,
bishops, and rural aristocracy; then Roman law was speedily
substituted for the 'asinine code' of the barbarians, and Roman
civility gave its tone to social customs in the place of Teutonic
chivalry. Yet just as the Italians borrowed, modified, and
misconceived Gothic architecture, so they took a feudal tincture
from the nations of the North with whom they came in contact. Their
noble families, those especially who followed the Imperial party,
sought the honour of knighthood; and even the free cities arrogated
to themselves the right of conferring this distinction by diploma on
their burghers. The chivalry thus formed in Italy was a decorative
institution. It might be compared to the ornamental frontispiece
which masks the structural poverty of such Gothic buildings as the
Cathedral of Orvieto.

On the descent of the German Emperor into Lombardy, the great
vassals who acknowledged him, made knighthood, among titles of more
solid import, the price of their allegiance.[1] Thus the chronicle
of the Cortusi for the year 1354 tells us that when Charles IV. 'was
advancing through the March, and had crossed the Oglio, and was at
the borders of Cremona, in his camp upon the snow, he, sitting upon
his horse, did knight the doughty and noble man, Francesco da
Carrara, who had constantly attended him with a great train, and
smiting him upon the neck with his palm, said: "Be thou a good
knight, and loyal to the Empire." Thereupon the noble German peers
dismounted, and forthwith buckled on Francesco's spurs. To them the
Lord Francesco gave chargers and horses of the best he had.'
Immediately afterwards Francesco dubbed several of his own retainers
knights. And this was the customary fashion of these Lombard lords.
For we read how in the year 1328 Can Grande della Scala, after the
capture of Padua, 'returned to Verona, and for the further
celebration of his victory upon the last day of October held a
court, and made thirty-eight knights with his own hand of the divers
districts of Lombardy.' And in 1294 Azzo d'Este 'was knighted by
Gerardo da Camino, who then was Lord of Treviso, upon the piazza of
Ferrara, before the gate of the Bishop's palace. And on the same day
at the same hour the said Lord Marquis Azzo made fifty-two knights
with his own hand, namely, the Lord Francesco, his brother, and
others of Ferrara, Modena, Bologna, Florence, Padua, and Lombardy;
and on this occasion was a great court held in Ferrara.' Another
chronicle, referring to the same event, says that the whole expenses
of the ceremony, including the rich dresses of the new knights, were
at the charge of the Marquis. It was customary, when a noble house
had risen to great wealth and had abundance of fighting men, to
increase its prestige and spread abroad its glory by a wholesale
creation of knights. Thus the Chronicle of Rimini records a high
court held by Pandolfo Malatesta in the May of 1324, when he and his
two sons, with two of his near relatives and certain strangers from
Florence, Bologna, and Perugia, received this honour. At Siena, in
like manner, in the year 1284, 'thirteen of the house of Salimbeni
were knighted with great pomp.'

    [1] The passages used in the text are chiefly drawn from
    Muratori's fifty-third Dissertation.

It was not on the battlefield that the Italians sought this honour.
They regarded knighthood as a part of their signorial parade.
Therefore Republics, in whom perhaps, according to strict feudal
notions, there was no fount of honour, presumed to appoint
procurators for the special purpose of making knights. Florence,
Siena, and Arezzo, after this fashion gave the golden spurs to men
who were enrolled in the arts of trade or commerce. The usage was
severely criticised by Germans who visited Italy in the Imperial
train. Otto Frisingensis, writing the deeds of Frederick Barbarossa,
speaks with bitterness thereof: 'To the end that they may not lack
means of subduing their neighbours, they think it no shame to gird
as knights young men of low birth, or even handicraftsmen in
despised mechanic arts, the which folk other nations banish like the
plague from honourable and liberal pursuits.' Such knights, amid the
chivalry of Europe, were not held in much esteem; nor is it easy to
see what the cities, which had formally excluded nobles from their
government, thought to gain by aping institutions which had their
true value only in a feudal society. We must suppose that the
Italians were not firmly set enough in their own type to resist an
enthusiasm which inflamed all Christendom. At the same time they
were too Italian to comprehend the spirit of the thing they
borrowed. The knights thus made already contained within themselves
the germ of those Condottieri who reduced the service of arms to a
commercial speculation. But they lent splendour to the Commonwealth,
as may be seen in the grave line of mounted warriors, steel-clad,
with open visors, who guard the commune of Siena in Ambrogio
Lorenzetti's fresco. Giovanni Villani, in a passage of his Chronicle
which deals with the fair state of Florence just before the outbreak
of the Black and White parties, says the city at that epoch numbered
'three hundred Cavalieri di Corredo, with many clubs of knights and
squires, who morning and evening went to meat with many men of the
court, and gave away on high festivals many robes of vair.' It is
clear that these citizen knights were leaders of society, and did
their duty to the commonwealth by adding to its joyous cheer. Upon
the battlefields of the civil wars, moreover, they sustained at
their expense the charges of the cavalry.

Siena was a city much given to parade and devoted to the Imperial
cause, in which the institution of chivalry flourished. Not only did
the burghers take knighthood from their procurators, but the more
influential sought it by a special dispensation from the Emperor.
Thus we hear how Nino Tolomei obtained a Cæsarean diploma of
knighthood for his son Giovanni, and published it with great pomp to
the people in his palace. This Giovanni, when he afterwards entered
religion, took the name of Bernard, and founded the Order of Monte

Owing to the special conditions of Italian chivalry, it followed
that the new knight, having won his spurs by no feat of arms upon
the battlefield, was bounden to display peculiar magnificence in the
ceremonies of his investiture. His honour was held to be less the
reward of courage than of liberality. And this feeling is strongly
expressed in a curious passage of Matteo Villani's Chronicle. 'When
the Emperor Charles had received the crown in Rome, as we have said,
he turned towards Siena, and on the 19th day of April arrived at
that city; and before he entered the same, there met him people of
the commonwealth with great festivity upon the hour of vespers; in
the which reception eight burghers, given to display but miserly, to
the end they might avoid the charges due to knighthood, did cause
themselves then and there to be made knights by him. And no sooner
had he passed the gates than many ran to meet him without order in
their going or provision for the ceremony, and he, being aware of
the vain and light impulse of that folk, enjoined upon the Patriarch
to knight them in his name. The Patriarch could not withstay from
knighting as many as offered themselves; and seeing the thing so
cheap, very many took the honour, who before that hour had never
thought of being knighted, nor had made provision of what is
required from him who seeketh knighthood, but with light impulse did
cause themselves to be borne upon the arms of those who were around
the Patriarch; and when they were in the path before him, these
raised such an one on high, and took his customary cap off, and
after he had had the cheek-blow which is used in knighting, put a
gold-fringed cap upon his head, and drew him from the press, and so
he was a knight. And after this wise were made four-and-thirty on
that evening, of the noble and lesser folk. And when the Emperor had
been attended to his lodging, night fell, and all returned home; and
the new knights without preparation or expense celebrated their
reception into chivalry with their families forthwith. He who
reflects with a mind not subject to base avarice upon the coming of
a new-crowned Emperor into so famous a city, and bethinks him how so
many noble and rich burghers were promoted to the honour of
knighthood in their native land, men too by nature fond of pomp,
without having made any solemn festival in common or in private to
the fame of chivalry, may judge this people little worthy of the
distinction they received.'

This passage is interesting partly as an instance of Florentine
spite against Siena, partly as showing that in Italy great
munificence was expected from the carpet-knights who had not won
their spurs with toil, and partly as proving how the German
Emperors, on their parade expeditions through Italy, debased the
institutions they were bound to hold in respect. Enfeebled by the
extirpation of the last great German house which really reigned in
Italy, the Empire was now no better than a cause of corruption and
demoralisation to Italian society. The conduct of a man like Charles
disgusted even the most fervent Ghibellines; and we find Fazio degli
Uberti flinging scorn upon his avarice and baseness in such lines as

  Sappi ch' i' son Italia che ti parlo,
  Di Lusimburgo _ignominioso Carlo_ ...
  Veggendo te aver tese tue arti
  _A tór danari e gir con essi a casa_ ...
  Tu dunque, Giove, perche 'l Santo uccello
  Da questo Carlo quarto
  Imperador non togli e dalle mani
  _Degli altri, lurchi moderni Germani_
  _Che d' aquila un allocco n' hanno fatto_?

From a passage in a Sienese chronicle we learn what ceremonies of
bravery were usual in that city when the new knights understood
their duty. It was the year 1326. Messer Francesco Bandinelli was
about to be knighted on the morning of Christmas Day. The friends of
his house sent peacocks and pheasants by the dozen, and huge pies of
marchpane, and game in quantities. Wine, meat, and bread were
distributed to the Franciscan and other convents, and a fair and
noble court was opened to all comers. Messer Sozzo, father of the
novice, went, attended by his guests, to hear high mass in the
cathedral; and there upon the marble pulpit, which the Pisans
carved, the ceremony was completed. Tommaso di Nello bore his sword
and cap and spurs before him upon horseback. Messer Sozzo girded the
sword upon the loins of Messer Francesco, his son aforesaid. Messer
Pietro Ridolfi, of Rome, who was the first vicar that came to Siena,
and the Duke of Calabria buckled on his right spur. The Captain of
the People buckled on his left. The Count Simone da Battifolle then
undid his sword and placed it in the hands of Messer Giovanni di
Messer Bartolo de' Fibenzi da Rodi, who handed it to Messer Sozzo,
the which sword had previously been girded by the father on his son.
After this follows a list of the illustrious guests, and an
inventory of the presents made to them by Messer Francesco. We find
among these 'a robe of silken cloth and gold, skirt, and fur, and
cap lined with vair, with a silken cord.' The description of the
many costly dresses is minute; but I find no mention of armour. The
singers received golden florins, and the players upon instruments
'good store of money.' A certain Salamone was presented with the
clothes which the novice doffed before he took the ceremonial bath.
The whole catalogue concludes with Messer Francesco's furniture and
outfit. This, besides a large wardrobe of rich clothes and furs,
contains armour and the trappings for charger and palfrey. The
_Corte Bandita_, or open house held upon this occasion, lasted for
eight days, and the charges on the Bandinelli estates must have been

Knights so made were called in Italy _Cavalieri Addobbati_, or _di
Corredo_, probably because the expense of costly furniture was borne
by them--_addobbo_ having become a name for decorative trappings,
and _Corredo_ for equipment. The latter is still in use for a
bride's trousseau. The former has the same Teutonic root as our verb
'to dub.' But the Italians recognised three other kinds of knights,
the _Cavalieri Bagnati_, _Cavalieri di Scudo_, and _Cavalieri
d'Arme_. Of the four sorts Sacchetti writes in one of his
novels:--'Knights of the Bath are made with the greatest ceremonies,
and it behoves them to be bathed and washed of all impurity. Knights
of Equipment are those who take the order with a mantle of dark
green and the gilded garland. Knights of the Shield are such as are
made knights by commonwealths or princes, or go to investiture
armed, and with the casque upon their head. Knights of Arms are
those who in the opening of a battle, or upon a foughten field, are
dubbed knights.' These distinctions, however, though concordant with
feudal chivalry, were not scrupulously maintained in Italy. Messer
Francesco Bandinelli, for example, was certainly a _Cavaliere di
Corredo_. Yet he took the bath, as we have seen. Of a truth, the
Italians selected those picturesque elements of chivalry which lent
themselves to pageant and parade. The sterner intention of the
institution, and the symbolic meaning of its various ceremonies,
were neglected by them.

In the foregoing passages, which serve as a lengthy preamble to
Folgore's five sonnets, I have endeavoured to draw illustrations
from the history of Siena, because Folgore represents Sienese
society at the height of mediæval culture. In the first of the
series he describes the preparation made by the aspirant after
knighthood. The noble youth is so bent on doing honour to the order
of chivalry, that he raises money by mortgage to furnish forth the
banquets and the presents due upon the occasion of his institution.
He has made provision also of equipment for himself and all his
train. It will be noticed that Folgore dwells only on the fair and
joyous aspect of the ceremony. The religious enthusiasm of
knighthood has disappeared, and already, in the first decade of the
fourteenth century, we find the spirit of Jehan de Saintrè prevalent
in Italy. The word _donzello_, derived from the Latin _domicellus_,
I have translated _squire_, because the donzel was a youth of gentle
birth awaiting knighthood.

  This morn a young squire shall be made a knight;
    hereof he fain would be right worthy found,
    And therefore pledgeth lands and castles round
    To furnish all that fits a man of might.
  Meat, bread and wine he gives to many a wight;
    Capons and pheasants on his board abound,
    Where serving men and pages march around;
    Choice chambers, torches, and wax candle light.
  Barbed steeds, a multitude, are in his thought,
    Mailed men at arms and noble company,
    Spears, pennants, housing cloths, bells richly wrought.
  Musicians following with great barony
    And jesters through the land his state have brought,
    With dames and damsels whereso rideth he.

The subject having thus been introduced, Folgore treats the
ceremonies of investiture by an allegorical method, which is quite
consistent with his own preference of images to ideas. Each of the
four following sonnets presents a picture to the mind, admirably
fitted for artistic handling. We may imagine them to ourselves
wrought in arras for a sumptuous chamber. The first treats of the
bath, in which, as we have seen already from Sacchetti's note, the
aspirant after knighthood puts aside all vice, and consecrates
himself anew. Prodezza, or Prowess, must behold him nude from head
to foot, in order to assure herself that the neophyte bears no
blemish; and this inspection is an allegory of internal wholeness.

  Lo Prowess, who despoileth him straightway,
    And saith: 'Friend, now beseems it thee to strip;
    For I will see men naked, thigh and hip,
    And thou my will must know and eke obey;
  And leave what was thy wont until this day,
    And for new toil, new sweat, thy strength equip;
    This do, and thou shalt join my fellowship,
    If of fair deeds thou tire not nor cry nay.'
  And when she sees his comely body bare,
    Forthwith within her arms she him doth take,
    And saith: 'These limbs thou yieldest to my prayer;
  I do accept thee, and this gift thee make,
    So that thy deeds may shine for ever fair;
    My lips shall never more thy praise forsake.'

After courage, the next virtue of the knightly character is
gentleness or modesty, called by the Italians humility. It is this
quality which makes a strong man pleasing to the world, and wins him
favour. Folgore's sonnet enables us to understand the motto of the
great Borromeo family--_Humilitas_, in Gothic letters underneath the
coronet upon their princely palace fronts.

  Humility to him doth gently go,
    And saith: 'I would in no wise weary thee;
    Yet must I cleanse and wash thee thoroughly,
    And I will make thee whiter than the snow.
  Hear what I tell thee in few words, for so
    Fain am I of thy heart to hold the key;
    Now must thou sail henceforward after me;
    And I will guide thee as myself do go.
  But one thing would I have thee straightway leave;
    Well knowest thou mine enemy is pride;
    Let her no more unto thy spirit cleave:
  So leal a friend with thee will I abide
    That favour from all folk thou shalt receive;
    This grace hath he who keepeth on my side.'

The novice has now bathed, approved himself to the searching eyes of
Prowess, and been accepted by Humility. After the bath, it was
customary for him to spend a night in vigil; and this among the
Teutons should have taken place in church, alone before the altar.
But the Italian poet, after his custom, gives a suave turn to the
severe discipline. His donzel passes the night in bed, attended by
Discretion, or the virtue of reflection. She provides fair
entertainment for the hours of vigil, and leaves him at the morning
with good counsel. It is not for nothing that he seeks knighthood,
and it behoves him to be careful of his goings. The last three lines
of the sonnet are the gravest of the series, showing that something
of true chivalrous feeling survived even among the Cavalieri di
Corredo of Tuscany.

  Then did Discretion to the squire draw near,
    And drieth him with a fair cloth and clean,
    And straightway putteth him the sheets between,
    Silk, linen, counterpane, and minevere.
  Think now of this! Until the day was clear,
    With songs and music and delight the queen,
    And with new knights, fair fellows well-beseen,
    To make him perfect, gave him goodly cheer.
  Then saith she: 'Rise forthwith, for now 'tis due,
    Thou shouldst be born into the world again;
    Keep well the order thou dost take in view.'
  Unfathomable thoughts with him remain
    Of that great bond he may no more eschew,
    Nor can he say, 'I'll hide me from this chain.'

The vigil is over. The mind of the novice is prepared for his new
duties. The morning of his reception into chivalry has arrived. It
is therefore fitting that grave thoughts should be abandoned; and
seeing that not only prowess, humility, and discretion are the
virtues of a knight, but that he should also be blithe and debonair,
Gladness comes to raise him from his bed and equip him for the
ceremony of institution.

  Comes Blithesomeness with mirth and merriment,
    All decked in flowers she seemeth a rose-tree;
    Of linen, silk, cloth, fur, now beareth she
    To the new knight a rich habiliment;
  Head-gear and cap and garland flower-besprent,
    So brave they were May-bloom he seemed to be;
    With such a rout, so many and such glee,
    That the floor shook. Then to her work she went;
  And stood him on his feet in hose and shoon;
    And purse and gilded girdle 'neath the fur
    That drapes his goodly limbs, she buckles on;
  Then bids the singers and sweet music stir,
    And showeth him to ladies for a boon
    And all who in that following went with her.

At this point the poem is abruptly broken. The manuscript from which
these sonnets are taken states they are a fragment. Had the
remaining twelve been preserved to us, we should probably have
possessed a series of pictures in which the procession to church
would have been portrayed, the investiture with the sword, the
accolade, the buckling on of the spurs, and the concluding sports
and banquets. It is very much to be regretted that so interesting,
so beautiful, and so unique a monument of Italian chivalry survives
thus mutilated. But students of art have to arm themselves
continually with patience, repressing the sad thoughts engendered in
them by the spectacle of time's unconscious injuries.

It is certain that Folgore would have written at least one sonnet on
the quality of courtesy, which in that age, as we have learned from
Matteo Villani, identified itself in the Italian mind with
liberality. This identification marks a certain degradation of the
chivalrous ideal, which is characteristic of Italian manners. One of
Folgore's miscellaneous sonnets shows how sorely he felt the
disappearance of this quality from the midst of a society bent daily
more and more upon material aims. It reminds us of the lamentable
outcries uttered by the later poets of the fourteenth century,
Sacchetti, Boccaccio, Uberti, and others of less fame, over the
decline of their age.

  Courtesy! Courtesy! Courtesy! I call:
    But from no quarter comes there a reply.
    They who should show her, hide her; wherefore I
    And whoso needs her, ill must us befall.
  Greed with his hook hath ta'en men one and all,
    And murdered every grace that dumb doth lie:
    Whence, if I grieve, I know the reason why;
    From you, great men, to God I make my call:
  For you my mother Courtesy have cast
    So low beneath your feet she there must bleed;
    Your gold remains, but you're not made to last:
  Of Eve and Adam we are all the seed:
    Able to give and spend, you hold wealth fast:
    Ill is the nature that rears such a breed!

Folgore was not only a poet of occasion and compliment, but a
political writer, who fully entertained the bitter feeling of the
Guelphs against their Ghibelline opponents.

Two of his sonnets addressed to the Guelphs have been translated by
Mr. Rossetti. In order to complete the list I have made free
versions of two others in which he criticised the weakness of his
own friends. The first is addressed, in the insolent impiety of
rage, to God:--

  I praise thee not, O God, nor give thee glory,
    Nor yield thee any thanks, nor bow the knee,
    Nor pay thee service; for this irketh me
    More than the souls to stand in purgatory;
  Since thou hast made us Guelphs a jest and story
    Unto the Ghibellines for all to see:
    And if Uguccion claimed tax of thee,
    Thou'dst pay it without interrogatory.
  Ah, well I wot they know thee! and have stolen
    St. Martin from thee, Altopascio,
    St. Michael, and the treasure thou hast lost;
  And thou that rotten rabble so hast swollen
    That pride now counts for tribute; even so
    Thou'st made their heart stone-hard to thine own cost.

About the meaning of some lines in this sonnet I am not clear. But
the feeling and the general drift of it are manifest. The second is
a satire on the feebleness and effeminacy of the Pisans.

  Ye are more silky-sleek than ermines are,
    Ye Pisan counts, knights, damozels, and squires,
    Who think by combing out your hair like wires
    To drive the men of Florence from their car.
  Ye make the Ghibellines free near and far,
    Here, there, in cities, castles, huts, and byres,
    Seeing how gallant in your brave attires,
    How bold you look, true paladins of war.
  Stout-hearted are ye as a hare in chase,
    To meet the sails of Genoa on the sea;
    And men of Lucca never saw your face.
  Dogs with a bone for courtesy are ye:
    Could Folgore but gain a special grace,
    He'd have you banded 'gainst all men that be.

Among the sonnets not translated by Mr. Rossetti two by Folgore
remain, which may be classified with the not least considerable
contributions to Italian gnomic poetry in an age when literature
easily assumed a didactic tone. The first has for its subject the
importance of discernment and discrimination. It is written on the
wisdom of what the ancient Greeks called [Greek: Kairos], or the
right occasion in all human conduct.

  Dear friend, not every herb puts forth a flower;
    Nor every flower that blossoms fruit doth bear;
    Nor hath each spoken word a virtue rare;
    Nor every stone in earth its healing power:
  This thing is good when mellow, that when sour;
    One seems to grieve, within doth rest from care;
    Not every torch is brave that flaunts in air;
    There is what dead doth seem, yet flame doth shower.
  Wherefore it ill behoveth a wise man
    His truss of every grass that grows to bind,
    Or pile his back with every stone he can,
  Or counsel from each word to seek to find,
    Or take his walks abroad with Dick and Dan:
    Not without cause I'm moved to speak my mind.

The second condemns those men of light impulse who, as Dante put it,
discoursing on the same theme, 'subject reason to inclination.'[1]

  What time desire hath o'er the soul such sway
    That reason finds nor place nor puissance here,
    Men oft do laugh at what should claim a tear,
    And over grievous dole are seeming gay.
  He sure would travel far from sense astray
    Who should take frigid ice for fire; and near
    Unto this plight are those who make glad cheer
    For what should rather cause their soul dismay.
  But more at heart might he feel heavy pain
    Who made his reason subject to mere will,
    And followed wandering impulse without rein;
  Seeing no lordship is so rich as still
    One's upright self unswerving to sustain,
    To follow worth, to flee things vain and ill.

The sonnets translated by me in this essay, taken together with
those already published by Mr. Rossetti, put the English reader in
possession of all that passes for the work of Folgore da San

    [1] The line in Dante runs:

         'Che la ragion sommettono al talento.'

    In Folgore's sonnet we read:

         'Chi sommette rason a volontade.'

    On the supposition that Folgore wrote in the second decade
    of the fourteenth century, it is not impossible that he
    may have had knowledge of this line from the fifth canto
    of the _Inferno_.

Since these words were written, England has lost the poet-painter,
to complete whose work upon the sonnet-writer of mediæval Siena I
attempted the translations in this essay. One who has trodden the
same path as Rossetti, at however a noticeable interval, and has
attempted to present in English verse the works of great Italian
singers, doing inadequately for Michelangelo and Campanella what he
did supremely well for Dante, may here perhaps be allowed to lay the
tribute of reverent recognition at his tomb.


What is the meaning of our English Christmas? What makes it seem so
truly Northern, national, and homely, that we do not like to keep
the feast upon a foreign shore? These questions grew upon me as I
stood one Advent afternoon beneath the Dome of Florence. A priest
was thundering from the pulpit against French scepticism, and
exalting the miracle of the Incarnation. Through the whole dim
church blazed altar candles. Crowds of men and women knelt or sat
about the transepts, murmuring their prayers of preparation for the
festival. At the door were pedlars selling little books, in which
were printed the offices for Christmas-tide, with stories of S.
Felix and S. Catherine, whose devotion to the infant Christ had
wrought them weal, and promises of the remission of four purgatorial
centuries to those who zealously observed the service of the Church
at this most holy time. I knew that the people of Florence were
preparing for Christmas in their own way. But it was not our way. It
happened that outside the church the climate seemed as wintry as our
own--snowstorms and ice, and wind and chilling fog, suggesting
Northern cold. But as the palaces of Florence lacked our comfortable
firesides, and the greetings of friends lacked our hearty handshakes
and loud good wishes, so there seemed to be a want of the home
feeling in those Christmas services and customs. Again I asked
myself, 'What do we mean by Christmas?'

The same thought pursued me as I drove to Rome: by Siena, still and
brown, uplifted, mid her russet hills and wilderness of rolling
plain; by Chiusi, with its sepulchral city of a dead and unknown
people; through the chestnut forests of the Apennines; by Orvieto's
rock, Viterbo's fountains, and the oak-grown solitudes of the
Ciminian heights, from which one looks across the broad lake of
Bolsena and the Roman plain. Brilliant sunlight, like that of a day
in late September, shone upon the landscape, and I thought--Can this
be Christmas? Are they bringing mistletoe and holly on the country
carts into the towns in far-off England? Is it clear and frosty
there, with the tramp of heels upon the flag, or snowing silently,
or foggy with a round red sun and cries of warning at the corners of
the streets?

I reached Rome on Christmas Eve, in time to hear midnight services
in the Sistine Chapel and S. John Lateran, to breathe the dust of
decayed shrines, to wonder at doting cardinals begrimed with snuff,
and to resent the open-mouthed bad taste of my countrymen who made a
mockery of these palsy-stricken ceremonies. Nine cardinals going to
sleep, nine train-bearers talking scandal, twenty huge, handsome
Switzers in the dress devised by Michelangelo, some ushers, a choir
caged off by gilded railings, the insolence and eagerness of
polyglot tourists, plenty of wax candles dripping on people's heads,
and a continual nasal drone proceeding from the gilded cage, out of
which were caught at intervals these words, and these only,--'Sæcula
sæculorum, amen.' Such was the celebrated Sistine service. The
chapel blazed with light, and very strange did Michelangelo's Last
Judgment, his Sibyls, and his Prophets, appear upon the roof and
wall above this motley and unmeaning crowd.

Next morning I put on my dress-clothes and white tie, and repaired,
with groups of Englishmen similarly attired, and of Englishwomen in
black crape--the regulation costume--to S. Peter's. It was a
glorious and cloudless morning; sunbeams streamed in columns from
the southern windows, falling on the vast space full of soldiers and
a mingled mass of every kind of people. Up the nave stood double
files of the Pontifical guard. Monks and nuns mixed with the Swiss
cuirassiers and halberds. Contadini crowded round the sacred images,
and especially round the toe of S. Peter. I saw many mothers lift
their swaddled babies up to kiss it. Valets of cardinals, with the
invariable red umbrellas, hung about side chapels and sacristies.
Purple-mantled monsignori, like emperor butterflies, floated down
the aisles from sunlight into shadow. Movement, colour, and the stir
of expectation, made the church alive. We showed our dress-clothes
to the guard, were admitted within their ranks, and solemnly walked
up toward the dome. There under its broad canopy stood the altar,
glittering with gold and candles. The choir was carpeted and hung
with scarlet. Two magnificent thrones rose ready for the Pope:
guards of honour, soldiers, attachés, and the élite of the residents
and visitors in Rome, were scattered in groups picturesquely varied
by ecclesiastics of all orders and degrees. At ten a stirring took
place near the great west door. It opened, and we saw the procession
of the Pope and his cardinals. Before him marched the singers and
the blowers of the silver trumpets, making the most liquid melody.
Then came his Cap of Maintenance, and three tiaras; then a company
of mitred priests; next the cardinals in scarlet; and last, aloft
beneath a canopy, upon the shoulders of men, and flanked by the
mystic fans, advanced the Pope himself, swaying to and fro like a
Lama, or an Aztec king. Still the trumpets blew most silverly, and
still the people knelt; and as he came, we knelt and had his
blessing. Then he took his state and received homage. After this the
choir began to sing a mass of Palestrina's, and the deacons robed
the Pope. Marvellous putting on and taking off of robes and tiaras
and mitres ensued, during which there was much bowing and praying
and burning of incense. At last, when he had reached the highest
stage of sacrificial sanctity, he proceeded to the altar, waited on
by cardinals and bishops. Having censed it carefully, he took a
higher throne and divested himself of part of his robes. Then the
mass went on in earnest, till the moment of consecration, when it
paused, the Pope descended from his throne, passed down the choir,
and reached the altar. Every one knelt; the shrill bell tinkled; the
silver trumpets blew; the air became sick and heavy with incense, so
that sun and candle light swooned in an atmosphere of odorous
cloud-wreaths. The whole church trembled, hearing the strange subtle
music vibrate in the dome, and seeing the Pope with his own hands
lift Christ's body from the altar and present it to the people. An
old parish priest, pilgrim from some valley of the Apennines, who
knelt beside me, cried and quivered with excess of adoration. The
great tombs around, the sculptured saints and angels, the dome, the
volumes of light and incense and unfamiliar melody, the hierarchy
ministrant, the white and central figure of the Pope, the
multitude--made up an overpowering scene. What followed was
comparatively tedious. My mind again went back to England, and I
thought of Christmas services beginning in all village churches and
all cathedrals throughout the land--their old familiar hymn, their
anthem of Handel, their trite and sleepy sermons. How different the
two feasts are--Christmas in Rome, Christmas in England--Italy and
the North--the spirit of Latin and the spirit of Teutonic

What, then, constitutes the essence of our Christmas as different
from that of more Southern nations? In their origin they are the
same. The stable of Bethlehem, the star-led kings, the shepherds,
and the angels--all the beautiful story, in fact, which S. Luke
alone of the Evangelists has preserved for us--are what the whole
Christian world owes to the religious feeling of the Hebrews. The
first and second chapters of S. Luke are most important in the
history of Christian mythology and art. They are far from containing
the whole of what we mean by Christmas; but the religious poetry
which gathers round that season must be sought upon their pages.
Angels, ever since the Exodus, played a first part in the visions of
the Hebrew prophets and in the lives of their heroes. We know not
what reminiscences of old Egyptian genii, what strange shadows of
the winged beasts of Persia, flitted through their dreams. In the
desert, or under the boundless sky of Babylon, these shapes became
no less distinct than the precise outlines of Oriental scenery. They
incarnated the vivid thoughts and intense longings of the prophets,
who gradually came to give them human forms and titles. We hear of
them by name, as servants and attendants upon God, as guardians of
nations, and patrons of great men. To the Hebrew mind the whole
unseen world was full of spirits, active, strong, and swift of
flight, of various aspect, and with power of speech. It is hard to
imagine what the first Jewish disciples and the early Greek and
Roman converts thought of these great beings. To us, the hierarchies
of Dionysius, the services of the Church, the poetry of Dante and
Milton, and the forms of art, have made them quite familiar.
Northern nations have appropriated the Angels, and invested them
with attributes alien to their Oriental origin. They fly through our
pine-forests, and the gloom of cloud or storm; they ride upon our
clanging bells, and gather in swift squadrons among the arches of
Gothic cathedrals; we see them making light in the cavernous depth
of woods, where sun or moon beams rarely pierce, and ministering to
the wounded or the weary; they bear aloft the censers of the mass;
they sing in the anthems of choristers, and live in strains of
poetry and music; our churches bear their names; we call our
children by their titles; we love them as our guardians, and the
whole unseen world is made a home to us by their imagined presence.
All these things are the growth of time and the work of races whose
myth-making imagination is more artistic than that of the Hebrews.
Yet this rich legacy of romance is bound up in the second chapter of
S. Luke; and it is to him we must give thanks when at Christmas-tide
we read of the shepherds and the angels in English words more
beautiful than his own Greek.

The angels in the stable of Bethlehem, the kings who came from the
far East, and the adoring shepherds, are the gift of Hebrew legend
and of the Greek physician Luke to Christmas. How these strange and
splendid incidents affect modern fancy remains for us to examine; at
present we must ask, What did the Romans give to Christmas? The
customs of the Christian religion, like everything that belongs to
the modern world, have nothing pure and simple in their nature. They
are the growth of long ages, and of widely different systems, parts
of which have been fused into one living whole. In this respect they
resemble our language, our blood, our literature, and our modes of
thought and feeling. We find Christianity in one sense wholly
original; in another sense composed of old materials; in both senses
universal and cosmopolitan. The Roman element in Christmas is a
remarkable instance of this acquisitive power of Christianity. The
celebration of the festival takes place at the same time as that of
the Pagan Saturnalia; and from the old customs of that holiday,
Christmas absorbed much that was consistent with the spirit of the
new religion. During the Saturnalia the world enjoyed, in thought at
least, a perfect freedom. Men who had gone to bed as slaves, rose
their own masters. From the _ergastula_ and dismal sunless cages
they went forth to ramble in the streets and fields. Liberty of
speech was given them, and they might satirise those vices of their
lords to which, on other days, they had to minister. Rome on this
day, by a strange negation of logic, which we might almost call a
prompting of blind conscience, negatived the philosophic dictum that
barbarians were by law of nature slaves, and acknowledged the higher
principle of equality. The Saturnalia stood out from the whole year
as a protest in favour of universal brotherhood, and the right that
all men share alike to enjoy life after their own fashion, within
the bounds that nature has assigned them. We do not know how far the
Stoic school, which was so strong in Rome, and had so many points of
contact with the Christians, may have connected its own theories of
equality with this old custom of the Saturnalia. But it is possible
that the fellowship of human beings, and the temporary abandonment
of class prerogatives, became a part of Christmas through the habit
of the Saturnalia. We are perhaps practising a Roman virtue to this
day when at Christmas-time our hand is liberal, and we think it
wrong that the poorest wretch should fail to feel the pleasure of
the day.

Of course Christianity inspired the freedom of the Saturnalia with a
higher meaning. The mystery of the Incarnation, or the deification
of human nature, put an end to slavery through all the year, as well
as on this single day. What had been a kind of aimless licence
became the most ennobling principle by which men are exalted to a
state of self-respect and mutual reverence. Still in the Saturnalia
was found, ready-made, an easy symbol of unselfish enjoyment. It is,
however, dangerous to push speculations of this kind to the very
verge of possibility.

The early Roman Christians probably kept Christmas with no special
ceremonies. Christ was as yet too close to them. He had not become
the glorious creature of their fancy, but was partly an historic
being, partly confused in their imagination with reminiscences of
Pagan deities. As the Good Shepherd, and as Orpheus, we find him
painted in the Catacombs; and those who thought of him as God, loved
to dwell upon his risen greatness more than on the idyll of his
birth. To them his entry upon earth seemed less a subject of
rejoicing than his opening of the heavens; they suffered, and looked
forward to a future happiness; they would not seem to make this
world permanent by sharing its gladness with the Heathens. Theirs,
in truth, was a religion of hope and patience, not of triumphant
recollection or of present joyfulness.

The Northern converts of the early Church added more to the peculiar
character of our Christmas. Who can tell what Pagan rites were half
sanctified by their association with that season, or how much of our
cheerfulness belonged to Heathen orgies and the banquets of grim
warlike gods? Certainly nothing strikes one more in reading
Scandinavian poetry, than the strange mixture of Pagan and Christian
sentiments which it presents. For though the missionaries of the
Church did all they could to wean away the minds of men from their
old superstitions; yet, wiser than their modern followers, they saw
that some things might remain untouched, and that even the great
outlines of the Christian faith might be adapted to the habits of
the people whom they studied to convert. Thus, on the one hand, they
destroyed the old temples one by one, and called the idols by the
name of devils, and strove to obliterate the songs which sang great
deeds of bloody gods and heroes; while, on the other, they taught
the Northern sea-kings that Jesus was a Prince surrounded by twelve
dukes, who conquered all the world. Besides, they left the days of
the week to their old patrons. It is certain that the imagination of
the people preserved more of heathendom than even such missionaries
could approve; mixing up the deeds of the Christian saints with old
heroic legends; seeing Balder's beauty in Christ and the strength of
Thor in Samson; attributing magic to S. John; swearing, as of old,
bloody oaths in God's name, over the gilded boar's-head; burning the
yule-log, and cutting sacred boughs to grace their new-built

The songs of choirs and sound of holy bells, and superstitious
reverence for the mass, began to tell upon the people; and soon the
echo of their old religion only swelled upon the ear at intervals,
attaching itself to times of more than usual sanctity. Christmas was
one of these times, and the old faith threw around its celebration a
fantastic light. Many customs of the genial Pagan life remained;
they seemed harmless when the sense of joy was Christian. The
Druid's mistletoe graced the church porches of England and of
France, and no blood lingered on its berries. Christmas thus became
a time of extraordinary mystery. The people loved it as connecting
their old life with the new religion, perhaps unconsciously, though
every one might feel that Christmas was no common Christian feast.
On its eve strange wonders happened: the thorn that sprang at
Glastonbury from the sacred crown which Joseph brought with him from
Palestine, when Avalon was still an island, blossomed on that day.
The Cornish miners seemed to hear the sound of singing men arise
from submerged churches by the shore, and others said that bells,
beneath the ground where villages had been, chimed yearly on that
eve. No evil thing had power, as Marcellus in 'Hamlet' tells us, and
the bird of dawning crowed the whole night through. One might
multiply folklore about the sanctity of Christmas, but enough has
been said to show that round it lingered long the legendary spirit
of old Paganism. It is not to Jews, or Greeks, or Romans only that
we owe our ancient Christmas fancies, but also to those half-heathen
ancestors who lovingly looked back to Odin's days, and held the old
while they embraced the new.

Let us imagine Christmas Day in a mediæval town of Northern England.
The cathedral is only partly finished. Its nave and transepts are
the work of Norman architects, but the choir has been destroyed in
order to be rebuilt by more graceful designers and more skilful
hands. The old city is full of craftsmen, assembled to complete the
church. Some have come as a religious duty, to work off their tale
of sins by bodily labour. Some are animated by a love of art--simple
men, who might have rivalled with the Greeks in ages of more
cultivation. Others, again, are well-known carvers, brought for hire
from distant towns and countries beyond the sea. But to-day, and for
some days past, the sound of hammer and chisel has been silent in
the choir. Monks have bustled about the nave, dressing it up with
holly-boughs and bushes of yew, and preparing a stage for the sacred
play they are going to exhibit on the feast day. Christmas is not
like Corpus Christi, and now the market-place stands inches deep in
snow, so that the Miracles must be enacted beneath a roof instead of
in the open air. And what place so appropriate as the cathedral,
where poor people may have warmth and shelter while they see the
show? Besides, the gloomy old church, with its windows darkened by
the falling snow, lends itself to candlelight effects that will
enhance the splendour of the scene. Everything is ready. The incense
of morning mass yet lingers round the altar. The voice of the friar
who told the people from the pulpit the story of Christ's birth, has
hardly ceased to echo. Time has just been given for a mid-day
dinner, and for the shepherds and farm lads to troop in from the
country-side. The monks are ready at the wooden stage to draw its
curtain, and all the nave is full of eager faces. There you may see
the smith and carpenter, the butcher's wife, the country priest, and
the grey cowled friar. Scores of workmen, whose home the cathedral
for the time is made, are also here, and you may know the artists by
their thoughtful foreheads and keen eyes. That young monk carved
Madonna and her Son above the southern porch. Beside him stands the
master mason, whose strong arms have hewn gigantic images of
prophets and apostles for the pinnacles outside the choir; and the
little man with cunning eyes between the two is he who cuts such
quaint hobgoblins for the gargoyles. He has a vein of satire in him,
and his humour overflows into the stone. Many and many a grim beast
and hideous head has he hidden among vine-leaves and trellis-work
upon the porches. Those who know him well are loth to anger him, for
fear their sons and sons' sons should laugh at them for ever
caricatured in solid stone.

Hark! there sounds the bell. The curtain is drawn, and the candles
blaze brightly round the wooden stage. What is this first scene? We
have God in Heaven, dressed like a Pope with triple crown, and
attended by his court of angels. They sing and toss up censers till
he lifts his hand and speaks. In a long Latin speech he unfolds the
order of creation and his will concerning man. At the end of it up
leaps an ugly buffoon, in goatskin, with rams' horns upon his head.
Some children begin to cry; but the older people laugh, for this is
the Devil, the clown and comic character, who talks their common
tongue, and has no reverence before the very throne of Heaven. He
asks leave to plague men, and receives it; then, with many a curious
caper, he goes down to Hell, beneath the stage. The angels sing and
toss their censers as before, and the first scene closes to a sound
of organs. The next is more conventional, in spite of some grotesque
incidents. It represents the Fall; the monks hurry over it quickly,
as a tedious but necessary prelude to the birth of Christ. That is
the true Christmas part of the ceremony, and it is understood that
the best actors and most beautiful dresses are to be reserved for
it. The builders of the choir in particular are interested in the
coming scenes, since one of their number has been chosen, for his
handsome face and tenor voice, to sing the angel's part. He is a
young fellow of nineteen, but his beard is not yet grown, and long
hair hangs down upon his shoulders. A chorister of the cathedral,
his younger brother, will act the Virgin Mary. At last the curtain
is drawn.

We see a cottage-room, dimly lighted by a lamp, and Mary spinning
near her bedside. She sings a country air, and goes on working, till
a rustling noise is heard, more light is thrown upon the stage, and
a glorious creature, in white raiment, with broad golden wings,
appears. He bears a lily, and cries,--'Ave Maria, Gratia Plena!' She
does not answer, but stands confused, with down-dropped eyes and
timid mien. Gabriel rises from the ground and comforts her, and
sings aloud his message of glad tidings. Then Mary gathers courage,
and, kneeling in her turn, thanks God; and when the angel and his
radiance disappears, she sings the song of the Magnificat clearly
and simply, in the darkened room. Very soft and silver sounds this
hymn through the great church. The women kneel, and children are
hushed as by a lullaby. But some of the hinds and 'prentice lads
begin to think it rather dull. They are not sorry when the next
scene opens with a sheepfold and a little camp-fire. Unmistakable
bleatings issue from the fold, and five or six common fellows are
sitting round the blazing wood. One might fancy they had stepped
straight from the church floor to the stage, so natural do they
look. Besides, they call themselves by common names--Colin, and Tom
Lie-a-bed, and nimble Dick. Many a round laugh wakes echoes in the
church when these shepherds stand up, and hold debate about a stolen
sheep. Tom Lie-a-bed has nothing to remark but that he is very
sleepy, and does not want to go in search of it to-night; Colin cuts
jokes, and throws out shrewd suspicions that Dick knows something of
the matter; but Dick is sly, and keeps them off the scent, although
a few of his asides reveal to the audience that he is the real
thief. While they are thus talking, silence falls upon the
shepherds. Soft music from the church organ breathes, and they
appear to fall asleep.

The stage is now quite dark, and for a few moments the aisles echo
only to the dying melody. When, behold, a ray of light is seen, and
splendour grows around the stage from hidden candles, and in the
glory Gabriel appears upon a higher platform made to look like
clouds. The shepherds wake in confusion, striving to shelter their
eyes from this unwonted brilliancy. But Gabriel waves his lily,
spreads his great gold wings, and bids good cheer with clarion
voice. The shepherds fall to worship, and suddenly round Gabriel
there gathers a choir of angels, and a song of 'Gloria in Excelsis'
to the sound of a deep organ is heard far off. From distant aisles
it swells, and seems to come from heaven. Through a long resonant
fugue the glory flies, and as it ceases with complex conclusion, the
lights die out, the angels disappear, and Gabriel fades into the
darkness. Still the shepherds kneel, rustically chanting a carol
half in Latin, half in English, which begins 'In dulci Jubilo.' The
people know it well, and when the chorus rises with 'Ubi sunt
gaudia?' its wild melody is caught by voices up and down the nave.
This scene makes deep impression upon many hearts; for the beauty of
Gabriel is rare, and few who see him in his angel's dress would know
him for the lad who daily carves his lilies and broad water-flags
about the pillars of the choir. To that simple audience he
interprets Heaven, and little children will see him in their dreams.
Dark winter nights and awful forests will be trodden by his feet,
made musical by his melodious voice, and parted by the rustling of
his wings. The youth himself may return to-morrow to the workman's
blouse and chisel, but his memory lives in many minds and may form a
part of Christmas for the fancy of men as yet unborn.

The next drawing of the curtain shows us the stable of Bethlehem
crowned by its star. There kneels Mary, and Joseph leans upon his
staff. The ox and ass are close at hand, and Jesus lies in jewelled
robes on straw within the manger. To right and left bow the
shepherds, worshipping in dumb show, while voices from behind chant
a solemn hymn. In the midst of the melody is heard a flourish of
trumpets, and heralds step upon the stage, followed by the three
crowned kings. They have come from the far East, led by the star.
The song ceases, while drums and fifes and trumpets play a stately
march. The kings pass by, and do obeisance one by one. Each gives
some costly gift; each doffs his crown and leaves it at the
Saviour's feet. Then they retire to a distance and worship in
silence like the shepherds. Again the angel's song is heard, and
while it dies away the curtain closes, and the lights are put out.

The play is over, and evening has come. The people must go from the
warm church into the frozen snow, and crunch their homeward way
beneath the moon. But in their minds they carry a sense of light and
music and unearthly loveliness. Not a scene of this day's pageant
will be lost. It grows within them and creates the poetry of
Christmas. Nor must we forget the sculptors who listen to the play.
We spoke of them minutely, because these mysteries sank deep into
their souls and found a way into their carvings on the cathedral
walls. The monk who made Madonna by the southern porch, will
remember Gabriel, and place him bending low in lordly salutation by
her side. The painted glass of the chapter-house will glow with
fiery choirs of angels learned by heart that night. And who does not
know the mocking devils and quaint satyrs that the humorous sculptor
will carve among his fruits and flowers? Some of the misereres of
the stalls still bear portraits of the shepherd thief, and of the ox
and ass who blinked so blindly when the kings, by torchlight,
brought their dazzling gifts. Truly these old miracle-plays, and the
carved work of cunning hands that they inspired, are worth to us
more than all the delicate creations of Italian pencils. Our homely
Northern churches still retain, for the child who reads their bosses
and their sculptured fronts, more Christmas poetry than we can find
in Fra Angelico's devoutness or the liveliness of Giotto. Not that
Southern artists have done nothing for our Christmas. Cimabue's
gigantic angels at Assisi, and the radiant seraphs of Raphael or of
Signorelli, were seen by Milton in his Italian journey. He gazed in
Romish churches on graceful Nativities, into which Angelico and
Credi threw their simple souls. How much they tinged his fancy we
cannot say. But what we know of heavenly hierarchies we later men
have learned from Milton; and what he saw he spoke, and what he
spoke in sounding verse lives for us now and sways our reason, and
controls our fancy, and makes fine art of high theology.

Thus have I attempted rudely to recall a scene of mediæval
Christmas. To understand the domestic habits of that age is not so
easy, though one can fancy how the barons in their halls held
Christmas, with the boar's head and the jester and the great
yule-log. On the daïs sat lord and lady, waited on by knight and
squire and page; but down the long hall feasted yeomen and hinds and
men-at-arms. Little remains to us of those days, and we have outworn
their jollity. It is really from the Elizabethan poets that our
sense of old-fashioned festivity arises. They lived at the end of
one age and the beginning of another. Though born to inaugurate the
new era, they belonged by right of association and sympathy to the
period that was fleeting fast away. This enabled them to represent
the poetry of past and present. Old customs and old states of
feeling, when they are about to perish, pass into the realm of art.
For art is like a flower, which consummates the plant and ends its
growth, while it translates its nature into loveliness. Thus Dante
and Lorenzetti and Orcagna enshrined mediæval theology in works of
imperishable beauty, and Shakspere and his fellows made immortal the
life and manners that were decaying in their own time. Men do not
reflect upon their mode of living till they are passing from one
state to another, and the consciousness of art implies a beginning
of new things. Let one who wishes to appreciate the ideal of an
English Christmas read Shakspere's song, 'When icicles hang by the
wall;' and if he knows some old grey grange, far from the high-road,
among pastures, with a river flowing near, and cawing rooks in
elm-trees by the garden-wall, let him place Dick and Joan and Marian

We have heard so much of pensioners, and barons of beef, and
yule-logs, and bay, and rosemary, and holly boughs cut upon the
hillside, and crab-apples bobbing in the wassail bowl, and masques
and mummers, and dancers on the rushes, that we need not here
describe a Christmas Eve in olden times. Indeed, this last half of
the nineteenth century is weary of the worn-out theme. But one
characteristic of the age of Elizabeth may be mentioned: that is its
love of music. Fugued melodies, sung by voices without instruments,
were much in vogue. We call them madrigals, and their half-merry,
half-melancholy music yet recalls the time when England had her gift
of art, when she needed not to borrow of Marenzio and Palestrina,
when her Wilbyes and her Morlands and her Dowlands won the praise of
Shakspere and the court. We hear the echo of those songs; and in
some towns at Christmas or the New Year old madrigals still sound in
praise of Oriana and of Phyllis and the country life. What are
called 'waits' are but a poor travesty of those well-sung
Elizabethan carols. We turn in our beds half pitying, half angered
by harsh voices that quaver senseless ditties in the fog, or by
tuneless fiddles playing popular airs without propriety or interest.

It is a strange mixture of picturesquely blended elements which the
Elizabethan age presents. We see it afar off like the meeting of a
hundred streams that grow into a river. We are sailing on the flood
long after it has shrunk into a single tide, and the banks are dull
and tame, and the all-absorbing ocean is before us. Yet sometimes we
hear a murmur of the distant fountains, and Christmas is a day on
which for some the many waters of the age of great Elizabeth sound

The age which followed was not poetical. The Puritans restrained
festivity and art, and hated music. Yet from this period stands out
the hymn of Milton, written when he was a youth, but bearing promise
of his later muse. At one time, as we read it, we seem to be looking
on a picture by some old Italian artist. But no picture can give
Milton's music or make the 'base of heaven's deep organ blow.' Here
he touches new associations, and reveals the realm of poetry which
it remains for later times to traverse. Milton felt the true
sentiment of Northern Christmas when he opened his poem with the
'winter wild,' in defiance of historical probability and what the
French call local colouring. Nothing shows how wholly we people of
the North have appropriated Christmas, and made it a creature of our
own imagination, more than this dwelling on winds and snows and
bitter frosts, so alien from the fragrant nights of Palestine. But
Milton's hymn is like a symphony, embracing many thoughts and
periods of varying melody. The music of the seraphim brings to his
mind the age of gold, and that suggests the judgment and the
redemption of the world. Satan's kingdom fails, the false gods go
forth, Apollo leaves his rocky throne, and all the dim Phoenician
and Egyptian deities, with those that classic fancy fabled, troop
away like ghosts into the darkness. What a swell of stormy sound is
in those lines! It recalls the very voice of Pan, which went abroad
upon the waters when Christ died, and all the utterances of God on
earth, feigned in Delphian shrines, or truly spoken on the sacred
hills, were mute for ever.

After Milton came the age which, of all others, is the prosiest in
our history. We cannot find much novelty of interest added to
Christmas at this time. But there is one piece of poetry that
somehow or another seems to belong to the reign of Anne and of the
Georges--the poetry of bells. Great civic corporations reigned in
those days; churchwardens tyrannised and were rich; and many a
goodly chime of bells they hung in our old church-steeples. Let us
go into the square room of the belfry, where the clock ticks all
day, and the long ropes hang dangling down, with fur upon their hemp
for ringers' hands above the socket set for ringers' feet. There we
may read long lists of gilded names, recording mountainous
bob-majors, rung a century ago, with special praise to him who
pulled the tenor-bell, year after year, until he died, and left it
to his son. The art of bell-ringing is profound, and requires a long
apprenticeship. Even now, in some old cities, the ringers form a
guild and mystery. Suppose it to be Christmas Eve in the year 1772.
It is now a quarter before twelve, and the sexton has unlocked the
church-gates and set the belfry door ajar. Candles are lighted in
the room above, and jugs of beer stand ready for the ringers. Up
they bustle one by one, and listen to the tickings of the clock that
tells the passing minutes. At last it gives a click; and now they
throw off coat and waistcoat, strap their girdles tighter round the
waist, and each holds his rope in readiness. Twelve o'clock strikes,
and forth across the silent city go the clamorous chimes. The
steeple rocks and reels, and far away the night is startled. Damp
turbulent west winds, rushing from the distant sea, and swirling up
the inland valleys, catch the sound, and toss it to and fro, and
bear it by gusts and snatches to watchers far away, upon bleak
moorlands and the brows of woody hills. Is there not something dim
and strange in the thought of these eight men meeting, in the heart
of a great city, in the narrow belfry-room, to stir a mighty sound
that shall announce to listening ears miles, miles away, the birth
of a new day, and tell to dancers, mourners, students, sleepers, and
perhaps to dying men, that Christ is born?

Let this association suffice for the time. And of our own Christmas
so much has been said and sung by better voices, that we may leave
it to the feelings and the memories of those who read the fireside
tales of Dickens, and are happy in their homes. The many elements
which I have endeavoured to recall, mix all of them in the Christmas
of the present, partly, no doubt, under the form of vague and
obscure sentiment; partly as time-honoured reminiscences, partly as
a portion of our own life. But there is one phase of poetry which we
enjoy more fully than any previous age. That is music. Music is of
all the arts the youngest, and of all can free herself most readily
from symbols. A fine piece of music moves before us like a living
passion, which needs no form or colour, no interpreting
associations, to convey its strong but indistinct significance. Each
man there finds his soul revealed to him, and enabled to assume a
cast of feeling in obedience to the changeful sound. In this manner
all our Christmas thoughts and emotions have been gathered up for us
by Handel in his drama of the 'Messiah.' To Englishmen it is almost
as well known and necessary as the Bible. But only one who has heard
its pastoral episode performed year after year from childhood in the
hushed cathedral, where pendent lamps or sconces make the gloom of
aisle and choir and airy column half intelligible, can invest this
music with long associations of accumulated awe. To his mind it
brings a scene at midnight of hills clear in the starlight of the
East, with white flocks scattered on the down. The breath of winds
that come and go, the bleating of the sheep, with now and then a
tinkling bell, and now and then the voice of an awakened shepherd,
is all that breaks the deep repose. Overhead shimmer the bright
stars, and low to west lies the moon, not pale and sickly (he
dreams) as in our North, but golden, full, and bathing distant
towers and tall aërial palms with floods of light. Such is a child's
vision, begotten by the music of the symphony; and when he wakes
from trance at its low silver close, the dark cathedral seems
glowing with a thousand angel faces, and all the air is tremulous
with angel wings. Then follow the solitary treble voice and the
swift chorus.


After leaving the valley of the Arno at Empoli, the railway enters a
country which rises into earthy hills of no great height, and
spreads out at intervals into broad tracts of cultivated lowland.
Geologically speaking, this portion of Tuscany consists of loam and
sandy deposits, forming the basin between two mountain-ranges--the
Apennines and the chalk hills of the western coast of Central Italy.
Seen from the eminence of some old Tuscan turret, this champaign
country has a stern and arid aspect. The earth is grey and dusty,
the forms of hill and valley are austere and monotonous; even the
vegetation seems to sympathise with the uninteresting soil from
which it springs. A few spare olives cast their shadows on the lower
slopes; here and there a copse of oakwood and acacia marks the
course of some small rivulet; rye-fields, grey beneath the wind,
clothe the hillsides with scanty verdure. Every knoll is crowned
with a village--brown roofs and white house-fronts clustered
together on the edge of cliffs, and rising into the campanile or
antique tower, which tells so many stories of bygone wars and
decayed civilisations.

Beneath these villages stand groups of stone pines clearly visible
upon the naked country, cypresses like spires beside the square
white walls of convent or of villa, patches of dark foliage, showing
where the ilex and the laurel and the myrtle hide thick tangles of
rose-trees and jessamines in ancient gardens. Nothing can exceed the
barren aspect of this country in midwinter: it resembles an
exaggerated Sussex, without verdure to relieve the rolling lines of
down, and hill, and valley; beautiful yet, by reason of its frequent
villages and lucid air and infinitely subtle curves of
mountain-ridges. But when spring comes, a light and beauty break
upon this gloomy soil; the whole is covered with a delicate green
veil of rising crops and fresh foliage, and the immense distances
which may be seen from every height are blue with cloud-shadows, or
rosy in the light of sunset.

Of all the towns of Lower Tuscany, none is more celebrated than
Siena. It stands in the very centre of the district which I have
attempted to describe, crowning one of its most considerable
heights, and commanding one of its most extensive plains. As a city
it is a typical representative of those numerous Italian towns,
whose origin is buried in remote antiquity, which have formed the
seat of three civilisations, and which still maintain a vigorous
vitality upon their ancient soil. Its site is Etruscan, its name is
Roman, but the town itself owes all its interest and beauty to the
artists and the statesmen and the warriors of the middle ages. A
single glance at Siena from one of the slopes on the northern side,
will show how truly mediæval is its character. A city wall follows
the outline of the hill, from which the towers of the cathedral and
the palace, with other cupolas and red-brick campanili, spring;
while cypresses and olive-gardens stretch downwards to the plain.
There is not a single Palladian façade or Renaissance portico to
interrupt the unity of the effect. Over all, in the distance, rises
Monte Amiata melting imperceptibly into sky and plain.

The three most striking objects of interest in Siena maintain the
character of mediæval individuality by which the town is marked.
They are the public palace, the cathedral, and the house of S.
Catherine. The civil life, the arts, and the religious tendencies of
Italy during the ascendency of mediæval ideas, are strongly set
before us here. High above every other building in the town soars
the straight brick tower of the Palazzo Pubblico, the house of the
republic, the hearth of civil life within the State. It guards an
irregular Gothic building in which the old government of Siena used
to be assembled, but which has now for a long time been converted
into prisons, courts of law, and showrooms. Let us enter one chamber
of the Palazzo--the Sala della Pace, where Ambrogio Lorenzetti, the
greatest, perhaps, of Sienese painters, represented the evils of
lawlessness and tyranny, and the benefits of peace and justice, in
three noble allegories. They were executed early in the fourteenth
century, in the age of allegories and symbolism, when poets and
painters strove to personify in human shape all thoughts and
sentiments. The first great fresco represents Peace--the peace of
the Republic of Siena. Ambrogio has painted the twenty-four
councillors who formed the Government, standing beneath the thrones
of Concord, Justice, and Wisdom. From these controlling powers they
stretch in a long double line to a seated figure, gigantic in size,
and robed with the ensigns of baronial sovereignty. This figure is
the State and Majesty of Siena.[1] Around him sit Peace, Fortitude,
and Prudence, Temperance, Magnanimity, and Justice, inalienable
assessors of a powerful and righteous lord. Faith, Hope, and
Charity, the Christian virtues, float like angels in the air above.
Armed horsemen guard his throne, and captives show that he has laid
his enemy beneath his feet. Thus the mediæval artist expressed, by
painting, his theory of government. The rulers of the State are
subordinate to the State itself; they stand between the State and
the great animating principles of wisdom, justice, and concord,
incarnating the one, and receiving inspiration from the others. The
pagan qualities of prudence, magnanimity, and courage give stability
and greatness to good government, while the spirit of Christianity
must harmonise and rule the whole. Arms, too, are needful to
maintain by force what right and law demand, and victory in a just
quarrel proclaims the power and vigour of the commonwealth. On
another wall Ambrogio has depicted the prosperous city of Siena,
girt by battlements and moat, with tower and barbican and
drawbridge, to insure its peace. Through the gates stream
country-people, bringing the produce of their farms into the town.
The streets are crowded with men and women intent on business or
pleasure; craftsmen at their trade, merchants with laden mules, a
hawking party, hunters scouring the plain, girls dancing, and
children playing in the open square. A school-master watching his
class, together with the sculptured figures of Geometry, Astronomy,
and Philosophy, remind us that education and science flourish under
the dominion of well-balanced laws. The third fresco exhibits the
reverse of this fair spectacle. Here Tyranny presides over a scene
of anarchy and wrong. He is a hideous monster, compounded of all the
bestial attributes which indicate force, treason, lechery, and fear.
Avarice and Fraud and Cruelty and War and Fury sit around him. At
his feet lies Justice, and above are the effigies of Nero,
Caracalla, and like monsters of ill-regulated power. Not far from
the castle of Tyranny we see the same town as in the other fresco;
but its streets are filled with scenes of quarrel, theft, and
bloodshed. Nor are these allegories merely fanciful. In the middle
ages the same city might more than once during one lifetime present
in the vivid colours of reality the two contrasted pictures.[2]

    [1] It is probable that the firm Ghibelline sympathies of
    the Sienese people for the Empire were allegorised in this
    figure; so that the fresco represented by form and colour
    what Dante had expressed in his treatise 'De Monarchiâ.'
    Among the virtues who attend him, Peace distinguishes
    herself by rare and very remarkable beauty. She is dressed
    in white and crowned with olive; the folds of her drapery,
    clinging to the delicately modelled limbs beneath,
    irresistibly suggest a classic statue. So again does the
    monumental pose of her dignified, reclining, and yet
    languid figure. It seems not unreasonable to believe that
    Lorenzetti copied Peace from the antique Venus which
    belonged to the Sienese, and which in a fit of
    superstitious malice they subsequently destroyed and
    buried in Florentine soil.

    [2] Siena, of all Italian cities, was most subject to
    revolutions. Comines describes it as a city which 'se
    gouverne plus follement que ville d'Italie.' Varchi calls
    it 'un guazzabuglio ed una confusione di repubbliche
    piuttosto che bene ordinata e instituta repubblica.' See
    my 'Age of the Despots' (_Renaissance in Italy_, Part I.),
    pp. 141, 554, for some account of the Sienese
    constitution, and of the feuds and reconciliations of the

Quitting the Palazzo, and threading narrow streets, paved with brick
and overshadowed with huge empty palaces, we reach the highest of
the three hills on which Siena stands, and see before us the Duomo.
This church is the most purely Gothic of all Italian cathedrals
designed by national architects. Together with that of Orvieto, it
stands to show what the unassisted genius of the Italians could
produce, when under the empire of mediæval Christianity and before
the advent of the neopagan spirit. It is built wholly of marble, and
overlaid, inside and out, with florid ornaments of exquisite beauty.
There are no flying buttresses, no pinnacles, no deep and fretted
doorways, such as form the charm of French and English architecture;
but instead of this, the lines of parti-coloured marbles, the
scrolls and wreaths of foliage, the mosaics and the frescoes which
meet the eye in every direction, satisfy our sense of variety,
producing most agreeable combinations of blending hues and
harmoniously connected forms. The chief fault which offends against
our Northern taste is the predominance of horizontal lines, both in
the construction of the façade, and also in the internal decoration.
This single fact sufficiently proves that the Italians had never
seized the true idea of Gothic or aspiring architecture. But,
allowing for this original defect, we feel that the Cathedral of
Siena combines solemnity and splendour to a degree almost
unrivalled. Its dome is another point in which the instinct of
Italian architects has led them to adhere to the genius of their
ancestral art rather than to follow the principles of Gothic design.
The dome is Etruscan and Roman, native to the soil, and only by a
kind of violence adapted to the character of pointed architecture.
Yet the builders of Siena have shown what a glorious element of
beauty might have been added to our Northern cathedrals, had the
idea of infinity which our ancestors expressed by long continuous
lines, by complexities of interwoven aisles, and by multitudinous
aspiring pinnacles, been carried out into vast spaces of aërial
cupolas, completing and embracing and covering the whole like
heaven. The Duomo, as it now stands, forms only part of a vast
design. On entering we are amazed to hear that this church, which
looks so large, from the beauty of its proportions, the intricacy of
its ornaments, and the interlacing of its columns, is but the
transept of the intended building lengthened a little, and
surmounted by a cupola and campanile.[1] Yet such is the fact. Soon
after its commencement a plague swept over Italy, nearly depopulated
Siena, and reduced the town to penury for want of men. The
cathedral, which, had it been accomplished, would have surpassed all
Gothic churches south of the Alps, remained a ruin. A fragment of
the nave still stands, enabling us to judge of its extent. The
eastern wall joins what was to have been the transept, measuring the
mighty space which would have been enclosed by marble vaults and
columns delicately wrought. The sculpture on the eastern door shows
with what magnificence the Sienese designed to ornament this portion
of their temple; while the southern façade rears itself aloft above
the town, like those high arches which testify to the past splendour
of Glastonbury Abbey; but the sun streams through the broken
windows, and the walls are encumbered with hovels and stables and
the refuse of surrounding streets.

    [1] The present church was begun about 1229. In 1321 the
    burghers fancied it was too small for the fame and
    splendour of their city. So they decreed a new _ecclesia
    pulcra, magna, et magnifica_, for which the older but as
    yet unfinished building was to be the transept.

One most remarkable feature of the internal decoration is a line of
heads of the Popes carried all round the church above the lower
arches. Larger than life, white solemn faces they lean, each from
his separate niche, crowned with the triple tiara, and labelled with
the name he bore. Their accumulated majesty brings the whole past
history of the Church into the presence of its living members. A
bishop walking up the nave of Siena must feel as a Roman felt among
the waxen images of ancestors renowned in council or in war. Of
course these portraits are imaginary for the most part; but the
artists have contrived to vary their features and expression with
great skill.

Not less peculiar to Siena is the pavement of the cathedral. It is
inlaid with a kind of _tarsia_ work in stone, setting forth a
variety of pictures in simple but eminently effective mosaic. Some
of these compositions are as old as the cathedral; others are the
work of Beccafumi and his scholars. They represent, in the liberal
spirit of mediæval Christianity, the history of the Church before
the Incarnation. Hermes Trismegistus and the Sibyls meet us at the
doorway: in the body of the church we find the mighty deeds of the
old Jewish heroes--of Moses and Samson and Joshua and Judith.
Independently of the artistic beauty of the designs, of the skill
with which men and horses are drawn in the most difficult attitudes,
of the dignity of some single figures, and of the vigour and
simplicity of the larger compositions, a special interest attaches
to this pavement in connection with the twelfth canto of the
'Purgatorio.' Dante cannot have trodden these stones and meditated
upon their sculptured histories. Yet when we read how he journeyed
through the plain of Purgatory with eyes intent upon its storied
floor, how 'morti i morti, e i vivi parean vivi,' how he saw 'Nimrod
at the foot of his great work, confounded, gazing at the people who
were proud with him,' we are irresistibly led to think of the Divine
comedy. The strong and simple outlines of the pavement correspond to
the few words of the poet. Bending over these pictures and trying to
learn their lesson, with the thought of Dante in our mind, the tones
of an organ, singularly sweet and mellow, fall upon our ears, and we
remember how he heard _Te Deum_ sung within the gateway of

Continuing our walk, we descend the hill on which the Duomo stands,
and reach a valley lying between the ancient city of Siena and a
western eminence crowned by the church of San Domenico. In this
depression there has existed from old time a kind of suburb or
separate district of the poorer people known by the name of the
Contrada d' Oca. To the Sienese it has especial interest, for here
is the birthplace of S. Catherine, the very house in which she
lived, her father's workshop, and the chapel which has been erected
in commemoration of her saintly life. Over the doorway is written in
letters of gold 'Sponsa Christi Katherinæ domus.' Inside they show
the room she occupied, and the stone on which she placed her head to
sleep; they keep her veil and staff and lantern and enamelled
vinaigrette, the bag in which her alms were placed, the sackcloth
that she wore beneath her dress, the crucifix from which she took
the wounds of Christ. It is impossible to conceive, even after the
lapse of several centuries, that any of these relics are fictitious.
Every particular of her life was remembered and recorded with
scrupulous attention by devoted followers. Her fame was universal
throughout Italy before her death; and the house from which she went
forth to preach and heal the sick and comfort plague-stricken
wretches whom kith and kin had left alone to die, was known and well
beloved by all her citizens. From the moment of her death it became,
and has continued to be, the object of superstitious veneration to
thousands. From the little loggia which runs along one portion of
its exterior may be seen the campanile and the dome of the
cathedral; on the other side rises the huge brick church of San
Domenico, in which she spent the long ecstatic hours that won for
her the title of Christ's spouse. In a chapel attached to the church
she watched and prayed, fasting and wrestling with the fiends of a
disordered fancy. There Christ appeared to her and gave her His own
heart, there He administered to her the sacrament with His own
hands, there she assumed the robe of poverty, and gave her Lord the
silver cross and took from Him the crown of thorns.

To some of us these legends may appear the flimsiest web of fiction:
to others they may seem quite explicable by the laws of semi-morbid
psychology; but to Catherine herself, her biographers, and her
contemporaries, they were not so. The enthusiastic saint and
reverent people believed firmly in these things; and, after the
lapse of five centuries, her votaries still kiss the floor and steps
on which she trod, still say, 'This was the wall on which she leant
when Christ appeared; this was the corner where she clothed Him,
naked and shivering like a beggar-boy; here He sustained her with
angels' food.'

S. Catherine was one of twenty-five children born in wedlock to
Jacopo and Lapa Benincasa, citizens of Siena. Her father exercised
the trade of dyer and fuller. In the year of her birth, 1347, Siena
reached the climax of its power and splendour. It was then that the
plague of Boccaccio began to rage, which swept off 80,000 citizens,
and interrupted the building of the great Duomo. In the midst of so
large a family, and during these troubled times, Catherine grew
almost unnoticed; but it was not long before she manifested her
peculiar disposition. At six years old she already saw visions and
longed for a monastic life: about the same time she used to collect
her childish companions together and preach to them. As she grew,
her wishes became stronger; she refused the proposals which her
parents made that she should marry, and so vexed them by her
obstinacy that they imposed on her the most servile duties in their
household. These she patiently fulfilled, pursuing at the same time
her own vocation with unwearied ardour. She scarcely slept at all,
and ate no food but vegetables and a little bread, scourged herself,
wore sackcloth, and became emaciated, weak, and half delirious. At
length the firmness of her character and the force of her
hallucinations won the day. Her parents consented to her assuming
the Dominican robe, and at the age of thirteen she entered the
monastic life. From this moment till her death we see in her the
ecstatic, the philanthropist, and the politician combined to a
remarkable degree. For three whole years she never left her cell
except to go to church, maintaining an almost unbroken silence. Yet
when she returned to the world, convinced at last of having won by
prayer and pain the favour of her Lord, it was to preach to
infuriated mobs, to toil among men dying of the plague, to execute
diplomatic negotiations, to harangue the republic of Florence, to
correspond with queens, and to interpose between kings and popes. In
the midst of this varied and distracting career she continued to see
visions and to fast and scourge herself. The domestic virtues and
the personal wants and wishes of a woman were annihilated in her:
she lived for the Church, for the poor, and for Christ, whom she
imagined to be constantly supporting her. At length she died, worn
out by inward conflicts, by the tension of religious ecstasy, by
want of food and sleep, and by the excitement of political life. To
follow her in her public career is not my purpose. It is well known
how, by the power of her eloquence and the ardour of her piety, she
succeeded as a mediator between Florence and her native city, and
between Florence and the Pope; that she travelled to Avignon, and
there induced Gregory XI. to put an end to the Babylonian captivity
of the Church by returning to Rome; that she narrowly escaped
political martyrdom during one of her embassies from Gregory to the
Florentine republic; that she preached a crusade against the Turks;
that her last days were clouded with sorrow for the schism which
then rent the Papacy; and that she aided by her dying words to keep
Pope Urban on the Papal throne. When we consider her private and
spiritual life more narrowly, it may well move our amazement to
think that the intricate politics of Central Italy, the counsels of
licentious princes and ambitious Popes, were in any measure guided
and controlled by such a woman. Alone, and aided by nothing but a
reputation for sanctity, she dared to tell the greatest men in
Europe of their faults; she wrote in words of well-assured command,
and they, demoralised, worldly, sceptical, or indifferent as they
might be, were yet so bound by superstition that they could not
treat with scorn the voice of an enthusiastic girl.

Absolute disinterestedness, the belief in her own spiritual mission,
natural genius, and that vast power which then belonged to all
energetic members of the monastic orders, enabled her to play this
part. She had no advantages to begin with. The daughter of a
tradesman overwhelmed with an almost fabulously numerous progeny,
Catherine grew up uneducated. When her genius had attained maturity,
she could not even read or write. Her biographer asserts that she
learned to do so by a miracle. Anyhow, writing became a most potent
instrument in her hands; and we possess several volumes of her
epistles, as well as a treatise of mystical theology. To conquer
self-love as the root of all evil, and to live wholly for others,
was the cardinal axiom of her morality. She pressed this principle
to its most rigorous conclusions in practice; never resting day or
night from some kind of service, and winning by her unselfish love
the enthusiastic admiration of the people. In the same spirit of
exalted self-annihilation, she longed for martyrdom, and courted
death. There was not the smallest personal tie or afterthought of
interest to restrain her in the course of action which she had
marked out. Her personal influence seems to have been immense. When
she began her career of public peacemaker and preacher in Siena,
Raymond, her biographer, says that whole families devoted to
_vendetta_ were reconciled, and that civil strifes were quelled by
her letters and addresses. He had seen more than a thousand people
flock to hear her speak; the confessionals crowded with penitents,
smitten by the force of her appeals; and multitudes, unable to catch
the words which fell from her lips, sustained and animated by the
light of holiness which beamed from her inspired countenance.[1] She
was not beautiful, but her face so shone with love, and her
eloquence was so pathetic in its tenderness, that none could hear or
look on her without emotion. Her writings contain abundant proofs of
this peculiar suavity. They are too sweet and unctuous in style to
suit our modern taste. When dwelling on the mystic love of Christ
she cries, 'O blood! O fire! O ineffable love!' When interceding
before the Pope, she prays for 'Pace, pace, pace, babbo mio dolce;
pace, e non più guerra.' Yet clear and simple thoughts, profound
convictions, and stern moral teaching underlie her ecstatic
exclamations. One prayer which she wrote, and which the people of
Siena still use, expresses the prevailing spirit of her creed: 'O
Spirito Santo, o Deità eterna Cristo Amore! vieni nel mio cuore; per
la tua potenza trailo a Te, mio Dio, e concedemi carità con timore.
Liberami, o Amore ineffabile, da ogni mal pensiero; riscaldami ed
infiammami del tuo dolcissimo amore, sicchè ogni pena mi sembri
leggiera. Santo mio Padre e dolce mio Signore, ora aiutami in ogni
mio ministero. Cristo amore. Cristo amore.' The reiteration of the
word 'love' is most significant. It was the key-note of her whole
theology, the mainspring of her life. In no merely figurative sense
did she regard herself as the spouse of Christ, but dwelt upon the
bliss, beyond all mortal happiness, which she enjoyed in
supersensual communion with her Lord. It is easy to understand how
such ideas might be, and have been, corrupted, when impressed on
natures no less susceptible, but weaker and less gifted than S.

    [1] The part played in Italy by preachers of repentance
    and peace is among the most characteristic features of
    Italian history. On this subject see the Appendix to my
    'Age of the Despots,' _Renaissance in Italy_, Part I.

One incident related by Catherine in a letter to Raymond, her
confessor and biographer, exhibits the peculiar character of her
influence in the most striking light. Nicola Tuldo, a citizen of
Perugia, had been condemned to death for treason in the flower of
his age. So terribly did the man rebel against his sentence, that he
cursed God, and refused the consolations of religion. Priests
visited him in vain; his heart was shut and sealed by the despair of
leaving life in all the vigour of its prime. Then Catherine came and
spoke to him: 'whence,' she says, 'he received such comfort that he
confessed, and made me promise, by the love of God, to stand at the
block beside him on the day of his execution.' By a few words, by
the tenderness of her manner, and by the charm which women have, she
had already touched the heart no priest could soften, and no threat
of death or judgment terrify into contrition. Nor was this strange.
In our own days we have seen men open the secrets of their hearts to
women, after repelling the advances of less touching sympathy.
Youths, cold and cynical enough among their brethren, have stood
subdued like little children before her who spoke to them of love
and faith and penitence and hope. The world has not lost its ladies
of the race of S. Catherine, beautiful and pure and holy, who have
suffered and sought peace with tears, and who have been appointed
ministers of mercy for the worst and hardest of their fellow-men.
Such saints possess an efficacy even in the imposition of their
hands; many a devotee, like Tuldo, would more willingly greet death
if his S. Catherine were by to smile and lay her hands upon his
head, and cry, 'Go forth, my servant, and fear not!' The chivalrous
admiration for women mixes with religious awe to form the reverence
which these saints inspire. Human and heavenly love, chaste and
ecstatic, constitute the secret of their power. Catherine then
subdued the spirit of Tuldo and led him to the altar, where he
received the communion for the first time in his life. His only
remaining fear was that he might not have strength to face death
bravely. Therefore he prayed Catherine, 'Stay with me, do not leave
me; so it shall be well with me, and I shall die contented;' 'and,'
says the saint, 'he laid his head in the prison on my breast, and I
said, "Comfort thee, my brother, the block shall soon become thy
marriage altar, the blood of Christ shall bathe thy sins away, and I
will stand beside thee."' When the hour came, she went and waited
for him by the scaffold, meditating on Madonna and Catherine the
saint of Alexandria. She laid her own neck on the block, and tried
to picture to herself the pains and ecstasies of martyrdom. In her
deep thought, time and place became annihilated; she forgot the
eager crowd, and only prayed for Tuldo's soul and for herself. At
length he came, walking 'like a gentle lamb,' and Catherine received
him with the salutation of 'sweet brother.' She placed his head upon
the block, and laid her hands upon him, and told him of the Lamb of
God. The last words he uttered were the names of Jesus and of
Catherine. Then the axe fell, and Catherine beheld his soul borne by
angels into the regions of eternal love. When she recovered from her
trance, she held his head within her hands; her dress was saturated
with his blood, which she could scarcely bear to wash away, so
deeply did she triumph in the death of him whom she had saved. The
words of S. Catherine herself deserve to be read. The simplicity,
freedom from self-consciousness, and fervent faith in the reality of
all she did and said and saw, which they exhibit, convince us of her
entire sincerity.

The supernatural element in the life of S. Catherine may be
explained partly by the mythologising adoration of the people ready
to find a miracle in every act of her they worshipped--partly by her
own temperament and modes of life, which inclined her to ecstasy and
fostered the faculty of seeing visions--partly by a pious
misconception of the words of Christ and Bible phraseology.

To the first kind belong the wonders which are related of her early
years, the story of the candle which burnt her veil without injuring
her person, and the miracles performed by her body after death. Many
childish incidents were treasured up which, had her life proved
different, would have been forgotten, or have found their proper
place among the catalogue of common things. Thus on one occasion,
after hearing of the hermits of the Thebaïd, she took it into her
head to retire into the wilderness, and chose for her dwelling one
of the caverns in the sandstone rock which abound in Siena near the
quarter where her father lived. We merely see in this event a sign
of her monastic disposition, and a more than usual aptitude for
realising the ideas presented to her mind. But the old biographers
relate how one celestial vision urged the childish hermit to forsake
the world, and another bade her return to the duties of her home.

To the second kind we may refer the frequent communings with Christ
and with the fathers of the Church, together with the other visions
to which she frequently laid claim: nor must we omit the stigmata
which she believed she had received from Christ. Catherine was
constitutionally inclined to hallucinations. At the age of six,
before it was probable that a child should have laid claim to
spiritual gifts which she did not possess, she burst into loud
weeping because her little brother rudely distracted her attention
from the brilliant forms of saints and angels which she traced among
the clouds. Almost all children of a vivid imagination are apt to
transfer the objects of their fancy to the world without them.
Goethe walked for hours in his enchanted gardens as a boy, and
Alfieri tells us how he saw a company of angels in the choristers at
Asti. Nor did S. Catherine omit any means of cultivating this
faculty, and of preventing her splendid visions from fading away, as
they almost always do, beneath the discipline of intellectual
education and among the distractions of daily life. Believing simply
in their heavenly origin, and receiving no secular training
whatsoever, she walked surrounded by a spiritual world, environed,
as her legend says, by angels. Her habits were calculated to foster
this disposition: it is related that she took but little sleep,
scarcely more than two hours at night, and that too on the bare
ground; she ate nothing but vegetables and the sacred wafer of the
host, entirely abjuring the use of wine and meat. This diet,
combined with frequent fasts and severe ascetic discipline,
depressed her physical forces, and her nervous system was thrown
into a state of the highest exaltation. Thoughts became things, and
ideas were projected from her vivid fancy upon the empty air around
her. It was therefore no wonder that, after spending long hours in
vigils and meditating always on the thought of Christ, she should
have seemed to take the sacrament from His hands, to pace the chapel
in communion with Him, to meet Him in the form of priest and beggar,
to hear Him speaking to her as a friend. Once when the anguish of
sin had plagued her with disturbing dreams, Christ came and gave her
His own heart in exchange for hers. When lost in admiration before
the cross at Pisa, she saw His five wounds stream with blood--five
crimson rays smote her, passed into her soul, and left their marks
upon her hands and feet and side. The light of Christ's glory shone
round about her, she partook of His martyrdom, and awaking from her
trance she cried to Raymond, 'Behold! I bear in my body the marks of
the Lord Jesus!'

This miracle had happened to S. Francis. It was regarded as the sign
of fellowship with Christ, of worthiness to drink His cup, and to be
baptised with His baptism. We find the same idea at least in the old
Latin hymns:

  Fac me plagis vulnerari--
  Cruce hac inebriari--
  Fac ut portem Christi mortem,
  Passionis fac consortem,
  Et plagas recolere.

These are words from the 'Stabat Mater;' nor did S. Francis and S.
Catherine do more than carry into the vividness of actual
hallucination what had been the poetic rapture of many less
ecstatic, but not less ardent, souls. They desired to be _literally_
'crucified with Christ;' they were not satisfied with metaphor or
sentiment, and it seemed to them that their Lord had really
vouchsafed to them the yearning of their heart. We need not here
raise the question whether the stigmata had ever been actually
self-inflicted by delirious saint or hermit: it was not pretended
that the wounds of S. Catherine were visible during her lifetime.
After her death the faithful thought that they had seen them on her
corpse, and they actually appeared in the relics of her hands and
feet. The pious fraud, if fraud there must have been, should be
ascribed, not to the saint herself, but to devotees and
relic-mongers.[1] The order of S. Dominic would not be behind that
of S. Francis. If the latter boasted of their stigmata, the former
would be ready to perforate the hand or foot of their dead saint.
Thus the ecstasies of genius or devotion are brought to earth, and
rendered vulgar by mistaken piety and the rivalry of sects. The
people put the most material construction on all tropes and
metaphors: above the door of S. Catherine's chapel at Siena, for
example, it is written--

  Hæc tenet ara caput Catharinæ; corda requiris?
    Hæc imo Christus pectore clausa tenet.

The frequent conversations which she held with S. Dominic and other
patrons of the Church, and her supernatural marriage, must be
referred to the same category. Strong faith, and constant
familiarity with one order of ideas, joined with a creative power of
fancy, and fostered by physical debility, produced these miraculous
colloquies. Early in her career, her injured constitution, resenting
the violence with which it had been forced to serve the ardours of
her piety, troubled her with foul phantoms, haunting images of sin
and seductive whisperings, which clearly revealed a morbid condition
of the nervous system. She was on the verge of insanity. The reality
of her inspiration and her genius are proved by the force with which
her human sympathies, and moral dignity, and intellectual vigour
triumphed over these diseased hallucinations of the cloister, and
converted them into the instruments for effecting patriotic and
philanthropic designs. There was nothing savouring of mean
pretension or imposture in her claim to supernatural enlightenment.
Whatever we may think of the wisdom of her public policy with regard
to the Crusades and to the Papal Sovereignty, it is impossible to
deny that a holy and high object possessed her from the earliest to
the latest of her life--that she lived for ideas greater than
self-aggrandisement or the saving of her soul, for the greatest,
perhaps, which her age presented to an earnest Catholic.

    [1] It is not impossible that the stigmata may have been
    naturally produced in the person of S. Francis or S.
    Catherine. There are cases on record in which grave
    nervous disturbances have resulted in such modifications
    of the flesh as may have left the traces of wounds in
    scars and blisters.

The abuses to which the indulgence of temperaments like that of S.
Catherine must in many cases have given rise, are obvious.
Hysterical women and half-witted men, without possessing her
abilities and understanding her objects, beheld unmeaning visions,
and dreamed childish dreams. Others won the reputation of sanctity
by obstinate neglect of all the duties of life and of all the
decencies of personal cleanliness. Every little town in Italy could
show its saints like the Santa Fina of whom San Gemignano boasts--a
girl who lay for seven years on a back-board till her mortified
flesh clung to the wood; or the San Bartolo, who, for hideous
leprosy, received the title of the Job of Tuscany. Children were
encouraged in blasphemous pretensions to the special power of
Heaven, and the nerves of weak women were shaken by revelations in
which they only half believed. We have ample evidence to prove how
the trade of miracles is still carried on, and how in the France of
our days, when intellectual vigour has been separated from old forms
of faith, such vision-mongering undermines morality, encourages
ignorance, and saps the force of individuals. But S. Catherine must
not be confounded with those sickly shams and make-believes. Her
enthusiasms were real; they were proper to her age; they inspired
her with unrivalled self-devotion and unwearied energy; they
connected her with the political and social movements of her

Many of the supernatural events in S. Catherine's life were founded
on a too literal acceptation of biblical metaphors. The Canticles,
perhaps, inspired her with the belief in a mystical marriage. An
enigmatical sentence of S. Paul's suggested the stigmata. When the
saint bestowed her garment upon Christ in the form of a beggar and
gave Him the silver cross of her rosary, she was but realising His
own words: 'Inasmuch as ye shall do it unto the least of these
little ones, ye shall do it unto Me.' Charity, according to her
conception, consisted in giving to Christ. He had first taught this
duty; He would make it the test of all duty at the last day.
Catherine was charitable for the love of Christ. She thought less of
the beggar than of her Lord. How could she do otherwise than see the
aureole about His forehead, and hear the voice of Him who had
declared, 'Behold, I am with you, even to the end of the world.'
Those were times of childlike simplicity when the eye of love was
still unclouded, when men could see beyond the phantoms of this
world, and stripping off the accidents of matter, gaze upon the
spiritual and eternal truths that lie beneath. Heaven lay around
them in that infancy of faith; nor did they greatly differ from the
saints and founders of the Church--from Paul, who saw the vision of
the Lord, or Magdalen, who cried, 'He is risen!' An age accustomed
to veil thought in symbols, easily reversed the process and
discerned essential qualities beneath the common or indifferent
objects of the outer world. It was therefore Christ whom S.
Christopher carried in the shape of a child; Christ whom Fra
Angelico's Dominicans received in pilgrim's garb at their convent
gate; Christ with whom, under a leper's loathsome form, the flower
of Spanish chivalry was said to have shared his couch.

In all her miracles it will be noticed that S. Catherine showed no
originality. Her namesake of Alexandria had already been proclaimed
the spouse of Christ. S. Francis had already received the stigmata;
her other visions were such as had been granted to all fervent
mystics; they were the growth of current religious ideas and
unbounded faith. It is not as an innovator in religious ecstasy, or
as the creator of a new kind of spiritual poetry, that we admire S.
Catherine. Her inner life was simply the foundation of her
character, her visions were a source of strength to her in times of
trial, or the expression of a more than usually exalted mood; but
the means by which she moved the hearts of men belonged to that
which she possessed in common with all leaders of
mankind--enthusiasm, eloquence, the charm of a gracious nature, and
the will to do what she designed. She founded no religious order,
like S. Francis or S. Dominic, her predecessors, or Loyola, her
successor. Her work was a woman's work--to make peace, to succour
the afflicted, to strengthen the Church, to purify the hearts of
those around her; not to rule or organise. When she died she left
behind her a memory of love more than of power, the fragrance of an
unselfish and gentle life, the echo of sweet and earnest words. Her
place is in the heart of the humble; children belong to her
sisterhood, and the poor crowd her shrine on festivals.

Catherine died at Rome on the 29th of April 1380, in her
thirty-third year, surrounded by the most faithful of her friends
and followers; but it was not until 1461 that she received the last
honour of canonisation from the hands of Pius II., Æneas Sylvius,
her countryman. Æeneas Sylvius Piccolomini was perhaps the most
remarkable man that Siena has produced. Like S. Catherine, he was
one of a large family; twenty of his brothers and sisters perished
in a plague. The licentiousness of his early life, the astuteness of
his intellect, and the worldliness of his aims, contrast with the
singularly disinterested character of the saint on whom he conferred
the highest honours of the Church. But he accomplished by diplomacy
and skill what Catherine had begun. If she was instrumental in
restoring the Popes to Rome, he ended the schism which had clouded
her last days. She had preached a crusade; he lived to assemble the
armies of Christendom against the Turks, and died at Ancona, while
it was still uncertain whether the authority and enthusiasm of a
pope could steady the wavering counsels and vacillating wills of
kings and princes. The middle ages were still vital in S. Catherine;
Pius II. belonged by taste and genius to the new period of
Renaissance. The hundreds of the poorer Sienese who kneel before S.
Catherine's shrine prove that her memory is still alive in the
hearts of her fellow-citizens; while the gorgeous library of the
cathedral, painted by the hand of Pinturicchio, the sumptuous palace
and the Loggia del Papa designed by Bernardo Rossellino and Antonio
Federighi, record the pride and splendour of the greatest of the
Piccolomini. But honourable as it was for Pius to fill so high a
place in the annals of his city; to have left it as a poor
adventurer, to return to it first as bishop, then as pope: to have a
chamber in its mother church adorned with the pictured history of
his achievements for a monument, and a triumph of Renaissance
architecture dedicated to his family, _gentilibus suis_--yet we
cannot but feel that the better part remains with S. Catherine,
whose prayer is still whispered by children on their mother's knee,
and whose relics are kissed daily by the simple and devout.

Some of the chief Italian painters have represented the incidents of
S. Catherine's life and of her mystical experience. All the pathos
and beauty which we admire in Sodoma's S. Sebastian at Florence, are
surpassed by his fresco of S. Catherine receiving the stigmata. This
is one of several subjects painted by him on the walls of her chapel
in San Domenico. The tender unction, the sweetness, the languor, and
the grace which he commanded with such admirable mastery, are all
combined in the figure of the saint falling exhausted into the arms
of her attendant nuns. Soft undulating lines rule the composition;
yet dignity of attitude and feature prevails over mere loveliness.
Another of Siena's greatest masters, Beccafumi, has treated the same
subject with less pictorial skill and dramatic effect, but with an
earnestness and simplicity that are very touching. Colourists always
liked to introduce the sweeping lines of her white robes into their
compositions. Fra Bartolommeo, who showed consummate art by
tempering the masses of white drapery with mellow tones of brown or
amber, painted one splendid picture of the marriage of S. Catherine,
and another in which he represents her prostrate in adoration before
the mystery of the Trinity. His gentle and devout soul sympathised
with the spirit of the saint. The fervour of her devotion belonged
to him more truly than the leonine power which he unsuccessfully
attempted to express in his large figure of S. Mark. Other artists
have painted the two Catherines together--the princess of
Alexandria, crowned and robed in purple, bearing her palm of
martyrdom, beside the nun of Siena, holding in her hand the lantern
with which she went about by night among the sick. Ambrogio
Borgognone makes them stand one on each side of Madonna's throne,
while the infant Christ upon her lap extends His hands to both, in
token of their marriage.

The traditional type of countenance which may be traced in all these
pictures is not without a real foundation. Not only does there exist
at Siena, in the Church of San Domenico, a contemporary portrait of
S. Catherine, but her head also, which was embalmed immediately
after death, is still preserved. The skin of the face is fair and
white, like parchment, and the features have more the air of sleep
than death. We find in them the breadth and squareness of general
outline, and the long, even eyebrows which give peculiar calm to the
expression of her pictures. This relic is shown publicly once a year
on the 6th of May. That is the Festa of the saint, when a procession
of priests and acolytes, and pious people holding tapers, and little
girls dressed out in white, carry a splendid silver image of their
patroness about the city. Banners and crosses and censers go in
front; then follows the shrine beneath a canopy: roses and leaves of
box are scattered on the path. The whole Contrada d'Oca is decked
out with such finery as the people can muster: red cloths hung from
the windows, branches and garlands strewn about the doorsteps, with
brackets for torches on the walls, and altars erected in the middle
of the street. Troops of country-folk and townspeople and priests go
in and out to visit the cell of S. Catherine; the upper and the
lower chapel, built upon its site, and the hall of the
_confraternità_ blaze with lighted tapers. The faithful, full of
wonder, kneel or stand about the 'santi luoghi,' marvelling at the
relics, and repeating to one another the miracles of the saint. The
same bustle pervades the Church of San Domenico. Masses are being
said at one or other chapel all the morning, while women in their
flapping Tuscan hats crowd round the silver image of S. Catherine,
and say their prayers with a continual undercurrent of responses to
the nasal voice of priest or choir. Others gain entrance to the
chapel of the saint, and kneel before her altar. There, in the blaze
of sunlight and of tapers, far away behind the gloss and gilding of
a tawdry shrine, is seen the pale, white face which spoke and
suffered so much, years ago. The contrast of its rigid stillness and
half-concealed corruption with the noise and life and light outside
is very touching. Even so the remnant of a dead idea still stirs the
souls of thousands, and many ages may roll by before time and
oblivion assert their inevitable sway.



In former days the traveller had choice of two old hostelries in the
chief street of Siena. Here, if he was fortunate, he might secure a
prophet's chamber, with a view across tiled houseroofs to the
distant Tuscan champaign--glimpses of russet field and olive-garden
framed by jutting city walls, which in some measure compensated for
much discomfort. He now betakes himself to the more modern Albergo
di Siena, overlooking the public promenade La Lizza. Horse-chestnuts
and acacias make a pleasant foreground to a prospect of considerable
extent. The front of the house is turned toward Belcaro and the
mountains between Grosseto and Volterra. Sideways its windows
command the brown bulk of San Domenico, and the Duomo, set like a
marble coronet upon the forehead of the town. When we arrived there
one October afternoon the sun was setting amid flying clouds and
watery yellow spaces of pure sky, with a wind blowing soft and humid
from the sea. Long after he had sunk below the hills, a fading chord
of golden and rose-coloured tints burned on the city. The cathedral
bell tower was glistening with recent rain, and we could see right
through its lancet windows to the clear blue heavens beyond. Then,
as the day descended into evening, the autumn trees assumed that
wonderful effect of luminousness self-evolved, and the red brick
walls that crimson afterglow, which Tuscan twilight takes from
singular transparency of atmosphere.

It is hardly possible to define the specific character of each
Italian city, assigning its proper share to natural circumstances,
to the temper of the population, and to the monuments of art in
which these elements of nature and of human qualities are blended.
The fusion is too delicate and subtle for complete analysis; and the
total effect in each particular case may best be compared to that
impressed on us by a strong personality, making itself felt in the
minutest details. Climate, situation, ethnological conditions, the
political vicissitudes of past ages, the bias of the people to
certain industries and occupations, the emergence of distinguished
men at critical epochs, have all contributed their quota to the
composition of an individuality which abides long after the locality
has lost its ancient vigour.

Since the year 1557, when Gian Giacomo de' Medici laid the country
of Siena waste, levelled her luxurious suburbs, and delivered her
famine-stricken citizens to the tyranny of the Grand Duke Cosimo,
this town has gone on dreaming in suspended decadence. Yet the
epithet which was given to her in her days of glory, the title of
'Fair Soft Siena,' still describes the city. She claims it by right
of the gentle manners, joyous but sedate, of her inhabitants, by the
grace of their pure Tuscan speech, and by the unique delicacy of her
architecture. Those palaces of brick, with finely moulded lancet
windows, and the lovely use of sculptured marbles in pilastered
colonnades, are fit abodes for the nobles who reared them five
centuries ago, of whose refined and costly living we read in the
pages of Dante or of Folgore da San Gemignano. And though the
necessities of modern life, the decay of wealth, the dwindling of
old aristocracy, and the absorption of what was once an independent
state in the Italian nation, have obliterated that large signorial
splendour of the Middle Ages, we feel that the modern Sienese are
not unworthy of their courteous ancestry.

Superficially, much of the present charm of Siena consists in the
soft opening valleys, the glimpses of long blue hills and fertile
country-side, framed by irregular brown houses stretching along the
slopes on which the town is built, and losing themselves abruptly in
olive fields and orchards. This element of beauty, which brings the
city into immediate relation with the country, is indeed not
peculiar to Siena. We find it in Perugia, in Assisi, in
Montepulciano, in nearly all the hill towns of Umbria and Tuscany.
But their landscape is often tragic and austere, while this is
always suave. City and country blend here in delightful amity.
Neither yields that sense of aloofness which stirs melancholy.

The most charming district in the immediate neighbourhood of Siena
lies westward, near Belcaro, a villa high up on a hill. It is a
region of deep lanes and golden-green oak-woods, with cypresses and
stone-pines, and little streams in all directions flowing over the
brown sandstone. The country is like some parts of rural
England--Devonshire or Sussex. Not only is the sandstone here, as
there, broken into deep gullies; but the vegetation is much the
same. Tufted spleenwort, primroses, and broom tangle the hedges
under boughs of hornbeam and sweet-chestnut. This is the landscape
which the two sixteenth-century novelists of Siena, Fortini and
Sermini, so lovingly depicted in their tales. Of literature
absorbing in itself the specific character of a country, and
conveying it to the reader less by description than by sustained
quality of style, I know none to surpass Fortini's sketches. The
prospect from Belcaro is one of the finest to be seen in Tuscany.
The villa stands at a considerable elevation, and commands an
immense extent of hill and dale. Nowhere, except Maremma-wards, a
level plain. The Tuscan mountains, from Monte Amiata westward to
Volterra, round Valdelsa, down to Montepulciano and Radicofani, with
their innumerable windings and intricacies of descending valleys,
are dappled with light and shade from flying storm-clouds, sunshine
here, and there cloud-shadows. Girdling the villa stands a grove of
ilex-trees, cut so as to embrace its high-built walls with dark
continuous green. In the courtyard are lemon-trees and pomegranates
laden with fruit. From a terrace on the roof the whole wide view is
seen; and here upon a parapet, from which we leaned one autumn
afternoon, my friend discovered this _graffito_: '_E vidi e piansi
il fato amaro!_'--'I gazed, and gazing, wept the bitterness of


The prevailing note of Siena and the Sienese seems, as I have said,
to be a soft and tranquil grace; yet this people had one of the
stormiest and maddest of Italian histories. They were passionate in
love and hate, vehement in their popular amusements, almost frantic
in their political conduct of affairs. The luxury, for which Dante
blamed them, the levity De Comines noticed in their government,
found counter-poise in more than usual piety and fervour. S.
Bernardino, the great preacher and peacemaker of the Middle Ages; S.
Catherine, the worthiest of all women to be canonised; the blessed
Colombini, who founded the Order of the Gesuati or Brothers of the
Poor in Christ; the blessed Bernardo, who founded that of Monte
Oliveto; were all Sienese. Few cities have given four such saints to
modern Christendom. The biography of one of these may serve as
prelude to an account of the Sienese monastery of Oliveto Maggiore.

The family of Tolomei was among the noblest of the Sienese
aristocracy. On May 10, 1272, Mino Tolomei and his wife Fulvia, of
the Tancredi, had a son whom they christened Giovanni, but who, when
he entered the religious life, assumed the name of Bernard, in
memory of the great Abbot of Clairvaux. Of this child, Fulvia is
said to have dreamed, long before his birth, that he assumed the
form of a white swan, and sang melodiously, and settled in the
boughs of an olive-tree, whence afterwards he winged his way to
heaven amid a flock of swans as dazzling white as he. The boy was
educated in the Dominican Cloister at Siena, under the care of his
uncle Cristoforo Tolomei. There, and afterwards in the fraternity of
S. Ansano, he felt that impulse towards a life of piety, which after
a short but brilliant episode of secular ambition, was destined to
return with overwhelming force upon his nature. He was a youth of
promise, and at the age of sixteen he obtained the doctorate in
philosophy and both laws, civil and canonical. The Tolomei upon this
occasion adorned their palaces and threw them open to the people of
Siena. The Republic hailed with acclamation the early honours of a
noble, born to be one of their chief leaders. Soon after this event
Mino obtained for his son from the Emperor the title of Cæsarian
Knight; and when the diploma arrived, new festivities proclaimed the
fortunate youth to his fellow-citizens. Bernardo cased his limbs in
steel, and rode in procession with ladies and young nobles through
the streets. The ceremonies of a knight's reception in Siena at that
period were magnificent. From contemporary chronicles and from the
sonnets written by Folgore da San Gemignano for a similar occasion,
we gather that the whole resources of a wealthy family and all their
friends were strained to the utmost to do honour to the order of
chivalry. Open house was held for several days. Rich presents of
jewels, armour, dresses, chargers were freely distributed.
Tournaments alternated with dances. But the climax of the pageant
was the novice's investiture with sword and spurs and belt in the
cathedral. This, as it appears from a record of the year 1326,
actually took place in the great marble pulpit carved by the Pisani;
and the most illustrious knights of his acquaintance were summoned
by the squire to act as sponsors for his fealty.

It is said that young Bernardo Tolomei's head was turned to vanity
by these honours showered upon him in his earliest manhood. Yet,
after a short period of aberration, he rejoined his confraternity
and mortified his flesh by discipline and strict attendance on the
poor. The time had come, however, when he should choose a career
suitable to his high rank. He devoted himself to jurisprudence, and
began to lecture publicly on law. Already at the age of twenty-five
his fellow-citizens admitted him to the highest political offices,
and in the legend of his life it is written, not without
exaggeration doubtless, that he ruled the State. There is, however,
no reason to suppose that he did not play an important part in its
government. Though a just and virtuous statesman, Bernardo now
forgot the special service of God, and gave himself with heart and
soul to mundane interests. At the age of forty, supported by the
wealth, alliances, and reputation of his semi-princely house, he had
become one of the most considerable party-leaders in that age of
faction. If we may trust his monastic biographer, he was aiming at
nothing less than the tyranny of Siena. But in that year, when he
was forty, a change, which can only be described as conversion, came
over him. He had advertised a public disputation, in which he
proposed before all comers to solve the most arduous problems of
scholastic science. The concourse was great, the assembly brilliant;
but the hero of the day, who had designed it for his glory, was
stricken with sudden blindness. In one moment he comprehended the
internal void he had created for his soul, and the blindness of the
body was illumination to the spirit. The pride, power, and splendour
of this world seemed to him a smoke that passes. God, penitence,
eternity appeared in all the awful clarity of an authentic vision.
He fell upon his knees and prayed to Mary that he might receive his
sight again. This boon was granted; but the revelation which had
come to him in blindness was not withdrawn. Meanwhile the hall of
disputation was crowded with an expectant audience. Bernardo rose
from his knees, made his entry, and ascended the chair; but instead
of the scholastic subtleties he had designed to treat, he pronounced
the old text, 'Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.'

Afterwards, attended by two noble comrades, Patrizio Patrizzi and
Ambrogio Piccolomini, he went forth into the wilderness. For the
human soul, at strife with strange experience, betakes itself
instinctively to solitude. Not only prophets of Israel, saints of
the Thebaïd, and founders of religions in the mystic East have done
so; even the Greek Menander recognised, although he sneered at, the
phenomenon. 'The desert, they say, is the place for discoveries.'
For the mediæval mind it had peculiar attractions. The wilderness
these comrades chose was Accona, a doleful place, hemmed in with
earthen precipices, some fifteen miles to the south of Siena. Of his
vast possessions Bernardo retained but this--

                    The lonesome lodge,
  That stood so low in a lonely glen.

The rest of his substance he abandoned to the poor. This was in
1313, the very year of the Emperor Henry VII.'s death at
Buonconvento, which is a little walled town between Siena and the
desert of Accona. Whether Bernardo's retirement was in any way due
to the extinction of immediate hope for the Ghibelline party by this
event, we do not gather from his legend. That, as is natural, refers
his action wholly to the operation of divine grace. Yet we may
remember how a more illustrious refugee, the singer of the 'Divine
Comedy,' betook himself upon the same occasion to the lonely convent
of Fonte Avellana on the Alps of Catria, and meditated there the
cantos of his Purgatory. While Bernardo Tolomei was founding the
Order of Monte Oliveto, Dante penned his letter to the cardinals of
Italy: _Quomodo sola sedet civitas plena populo: facta est quasi
vidua domina gentium_.

Bernardo and his friends hollowed with their own hands grottos in
the rock, and strewed their stone beds with withered
chestnut-leaves. For S. Scolastica, the sister of S. Benedict, they
built a little chapel. Their food was wild fruit, and their drink
the water of the brook. Through the day they delved, for it was in
their mind to turn the wilderness into a land of plenty. By night
they meditated on eternal truth. The contrast between their rude
life and the delicate nurture of Sienese nobles, in an age when
Siena had become a by-word for luxury, must have been cruel. But it
fascinated the mediæval imagination, and the three anchorites were
speedily joined by recruits of a like temper. As yet the new-born
order had no rules; for Bernardo, when he renounced the world,
embraced humility. The brethren were bound together only by the ties
of charity. They lived in common; and under their sustained efforts
Accona soon became a garden.

The society could not, however, hold together without further
organisation. It began to be ill spoken of, inasmuch as vulgar minds
can recognise no good except in what is formed upon a pattern they
are familiar with. Then Bernardo had a vision. In his sleep he saw a
ladder of light ascending to the heavens. Above sat Jesus with Our
Lady in white raiment, and the celestial hierarchies around them
were attired in white. Up the ladder, led by angels, climbed men in
vesture of dazzling white; and among these Bernardo recognised his
own companions. Soon after this dream, he called Ambrogio
Piccolomini, and bade him get ready for a journey to the Pope at

John XXII. received the pilgrims graciously, and gave them letters
to the Bishop of Arezzo, commanding him to furnish the new
brotherhood with one of the rules authorised by Holy Church for
governance of a monastic order. Guido Tarlati, of the great
Pietra-mala house, was Bishop and despot of Arezzo at this epoch. A
man less in harmony with coenobitical enthusiasm than this warrior
prelate, could scarcely have been found. Yet attendance to such
matters formed part of his business, and the legend even credits him
with an inspired dream; for Our Lady appeared to him, and said: 'I
love the valley of Accona and its pious solitaries. Give them the
rule of Benedict. But thou shalt strip them of their mourning weeds,
and clothe them in white raiment, the symbol of my virgin purity.
Their hermitage shall change its name, and henceforth shall be
called Mount Olivet, in memory of the ascension of my divine Son,
the which took place upon the Mount of Olives. I take this family
beneath my own protection; and therefore it is my will it should be
called henceforth the congregation of S. Mary of Mount Olivet.'
After this, the Blessed Virgin took forethought for the heraldic
designs of her monks, dictating to Guido Tarlati the blazon they
still bear; it is of three hills or, whereof the third and highest
is surmounted with a cross gules, and from the meeting-point of the
three hillocks upon either hand a branch of olive vert. This was in
1319. In 1324 John XXII. confirmed the order, and in 1344 it was
further approved by Clement VI. Affiliated societies sprang up in
several Tuscan cities; and in 1347, Bernardo Tolomei, at that time
General of the Order, held a chapter of its several houses. The next
year was the year of the great plague or Black Death. Bernardo bade
his brethren leave their seclusion, and go forth on works of mercy
among the sick. Some went to Florence, some to Siena, others to the
smaller hill-set towns of Tuscany. All were bidden to assemble on
the Feast of the Assumption at Siena. Here the founder addressed his
spiritual children for the last time. Soon afterwards he died
himself, at the age of seventy-seven, and the place of his grave is
not known. He was beatified by the Church for his great virtues.


At noon we started, four of us, in an open waggonette with a pair of
horses, for Monte Oliveto, the luggage heaped mountain-high and tied
in a top-heavy mass above us. After leaving the gateway, with its
massive fortifications and frescoed arches, the road passes into a
dull earthy country, very much like some parts--and not the best
parts--of England. The beauty of the Sienese contado is clearly on
the sandstone, not upon the clay. Hedges, haystacks, isolated
farms--all were English in their details. Only the vines, and
mulberries, and wattled waggons drawn by oxen, most Roman in aspect,
reminded us we were in Tuscany. In such _carpenta_ may the vestal
virgins have ascended the Capitol. It is the primitive war-chariot
also, capable of holding four with ease; and Romulus may have
mounted with the images of Roman gods in even such a vehicle to
Latiarian Jove upon the Alban hill. Nothing changes in Italy. The
wooden ploughs are those which Virgil knew. The sight of one of them
would save an intelligent lad much trouble in mastering a certain
passage of the Georgics.

Siena is visible behind us nearly the whole way to Buonconvento, a
little town where the Emperor Henry VII. died, as it was supposed,
of poison, in 1313. It is still circled with the wall and gates
built by the Sienese in 1366, and is a fair specimen of an intact
mediæval stronghold. Here we leave the main road, and break into a
country-track across a bed of sandstone, with the delicate volcanic
lines of Monte Amiata in front, and the aërial pile of Montalcino to
our right. The pyracanthus bushes in the hedge yield their clusters
of bright yellow berries, mingled with more glowing hues of red from
haws and glossy hips. On the pale grey earthen slopes men and women
are plying the long Sabellian hoes of their forefathers, and
ploughmen are driving furrows down steep hills. The labour of the
husbandmen in Tuscany is very graceful, partly, I think, because it
is so primitive, but also because the people have an eminently noble
carriage, and are fashioned on the lines of antique statues. I
noticed two young contadini in one field, whom Frederick Walker
might have painted with the dignity of Pheidian form. They were
guiding their ploughs along a hedge of olive-trees, slanting
upwards, the white-horned oxen moving slowly through the marl, and
the lads bending to press the plough-shares home. It was a delicate
piece of colour--the grey mist of olive branches, the warm smoking
earth, the creamy flanks of the oxen, the brown limbs and dark eyes
of the men, who paused awhile to gaze at us, with shadows cast upon
the furrows from their tall straight figures. Then they turned to
their work again, and rhythmic movement was added to the picture. I
wonder when an Italian artist will condescend to pluck these flowers
of beauty, so abundantly offered by the simplest things in his own
native land. Each city has an Accademia delle Belle Arti, and there
is no lack of students. But the painters, having learned their
trade, make copies ten times distant from the truth of famous
masterpieces for the American market. Few seem to look beyond their
picture galleries. Thus the democratic art, the art of Millet, the
art of life and nature and the people, waits.

As we mount, the soil grows of a richer brown; and there are woods
of oak where herds of swine are feeding on the acorns. Monte Oliveto
comes in sight--a mass of red brick, backed up with cypresses, among
dishevelled earthy precipices, _balze_ as they are called--upon the
hill below the village of Chiusure. This Chiusure was once a
promising town; but the life was crushed out of it in the throes of
mediæval civil wars, and since the thirteenth century it has been
dwindling to a hamlet. The struggle for existence, from which the
larger communes of this district, Siena and Montepulciano, emerged
at the expense of their neighbours, must have been tragical. The
_balze_ now grow sterner, drier, more dreadful. We see how deluges
outpoured from thunder-storms bring down their viscous streams of
loam, destroying in an hour the terraces it took a year to build,
and spreading wasteful mud upon the scanty cornfields. The people
call this soil _creta_; but it seems to be less like a chalk than a
marl, or _marna_. It is always washing away into ravines and
gullies, exposing the roots of trees, and rendering the tillage of
the land a thankless labour. One marvels how any vegetation has the
faith to settle on its dreary waste, or how men have the patience,
generation after generation, to renew the industry, still beginning,
never ending, which reclaims such wildernesses. Comparing Monte
Oliveto with similar districts of cretaceous soil--with the country,
for example, between Pienza and San Quirico--we perceive how much is
owed to the perseverance of the monks whom Bernard Tolomei planted
here. So far as it is clothed at all with crop and wood, this is
their service.

At last we climb the crowning hill, emerge from a copse of oak,
glide along a terraced pathway through the broom, and find ourselves
in front of the convent gateway. A substantial tower of red brick,
machicolated at the top and pierced with small square windows,
guards this portal, reminding us that at some time or other the
monks found it needful to arm their solitude against a force
descending from Chiusure. There is an avenue of slender cypresses;
and over the gate, protected by a jutting roof, shines a fresco of
Madonna and Child. Passing rapidly downwards, we are in the
courtyard of the monastery, among its stables, barns, and
out-houses, with the forlorn bulk of the huge red building,
spreading wide, and towering up above us. As good luck ruled our
arrival, we came face to face with the Abbate de Negro, who
administers the domain of Monte Oliveto for the Government of Italy,
and exercises a kindly hospitality to chance-comers. He was standing
near the church, which, with its tall square campanile, breaks the
long stern outline of the convent. The whole edifice, it may be
said, is composed of a red-brick inclining to purple in tone, which
contrasts not unpleasantly with the lustrous green of the cypresses,
and the glaucous sheen of olives. Advantage has been taken of a
steep crest; and the monastery, enlarged from time to time through
the last five centuries, has here and there been reared upon
gigantic buttresses, which jut upon the _balze_ at a sometimes giddy

The Abbate received us with true courtesy, and gave us spacious
rooms, three cells apiece, facing Siena and the western mountains.
There is accommodation, he told us, for three hundred monks; but
only three are left in it. As this order was confined to members of
the nobility, each of the religious had his own apartment--not a
cubicle such as the uninstructed dream of when they read of monks,
but separate chambers for sleep and study and recreation.

In the middle of the vast sad landscape, the place is still, with a
silence that can be almost heard. The deserted state of those
innumerable cells, those echoing corridors and shadowy cloisters,
exercises overpowering tyranny over the imagination. Siena is so far
away, and Montalcino is so faintly outlined on its airy parapet,
that these cities only deepen our sense of desolation. It is a
relief to mark at no great distance on the hillside a contadino
guiding his oxen, and from a lonely farm yon column of ascending
smoke. At least the world goes on, and life is somewhere resonant
with song. But here there rests a pall of silence among the
oak-groves and the cypresses and _balze_. As I leaned and mused,
while Christian (my good friend and fellow-traveller from the
Grisons) made our beds, a melancholy sunset flamed up from a rampart
of cloud, built like a city of the air above the mountains of
Volterra--fire issuing from its battlements, and smiting the fretted
roof of heaven above. It was a conflagration of celestial rose upon
the saddest purples and cavernous recesses of intensest azure.

We had an excellent supper in the visitors' refectory--soup, good
bread and country wine, ham, a roast chicken with potatoes, a nice
white cheese made of sheep's milk, and grapes for dessert. The kind
Abbate sat by, and watched his four guests eat, tapping his
tortoiseshell snuff-box, and telling us many interesting things
about the past and present state of the convent. Our company was
completed with Lupo, the pet cat, and Pirro, a woolly Corsican dog,
very good friends, and both enormously voracious. Lupo in particular
engraved himself upon the memory of Christian, into whose large legs
he thrust his claws, when the cheese-parings and scraps were not
supplied him with sufficient promptitude. I never saw a hungrier and
bolder cat. It made one fancy that even the mice had been exiled
from this solitude. And truly the rule of the monastic order, no
less than the habit of Italian gentlemen, is frugal in the matter of
the table, beyond the conception of northern folk.

Monte Oliveto, the Superior told us, owned thirty-two _poderi_, or
large farms, of which five have recently been sold. They are worked
on the _mezzeria_ system; whereby peasants and proprietors divide
the produce of the soil; and which he thinks inferior for developing
its resources to that of _affitto_, or leaseholding.

The contadini live in scattered houses; and he says the estate would
be greatly improved by doubling the number of these dwellings, and
letting the subdivided farms to more energetic people. The village
of Chiusure is inhabited by labourers. The contadini are poor: a
dower, for instance, of fifty _lire_ is thought something: whereas
near Genoa, upon the leasehold system, a farmer may sometimes
provide a dower of twenty thousand _lire_. The country produces
grain of different sorts, excellent oil, and timber. It also yields
a tolerable red wine. The Government makes from eight to nine per
cent. upon the value of the land, employing him and his two
religious brethren as agents.

In such conversation the evening passed. We rested well in large
hard beds with dry rough sheets. But there was a fretful wind
abroad, which went wailing round the convent walls and rattling the
doors in its deserted corridors. One of our party had been placed by
himself at the end of a long suite of apartments, with balconies
commanding the wide sweep of hills that Monte Amiata crowns. He
confessed in the morning to having passed a restless night,
tormented by the ghostly noises of the wind, a wanderer, 'like the
world's rejected guest,' through those untenanted chambers. The
olives tossed their filmy boughs in twilight underneath his windows,
sighing and shuddering, with a sheen in them as eerie as that of
willows by some haunted mere.


The great attraction to students of Italian art in the convent of
Monte Oliveto is a large square cloister, covered with
wall-paintings by Luca Signorelli and Giovannantonio Bazzi, surnamed
Il Sodoma. These represent various episodes in the life of S.
Benedict; while one picture, in some respects the best of the whole
series, is devoted to the founder of the Olivetan Order, Bernardo
Tolomei, dispensing the rule of his institution to a consistory of
white-robed monks. Signorelli, that great master of Cortona, may be
studied to better advantage elsewhere, especially at Orvieto and in
his native city. His work in this cloister, consisting of eight
frescoes, has been much spoiled by time and restoration. Yet it can
be referred to a good period of his artistic activity (the year
1497) and displays much which is specially characteristic of his
manner. In Totila's barbaric train, he painted a crowd of fierce
emphatic figures, combining all ages and the most varied attitudes,
and reproducing with singular vividness the Italian soldiers of
adventure of his day. We see before us the long-haired followers of
Braccio and the Baglioni; their handsome savage faces; their brawny
limbs clad in the particoloured hose and jackets of that period;
feathered caps stuck sideways on their heads; a splendid swagger in
their straddling legs. Female beauty lay outside the sphere of
Signorelli's sympathy; and in the Monte Oliveto cloister he was not
called upon to paint it. But none of the Italian masters felt more
keenly, or more powerfully represented in their work, the muscular
vigour of young manhood. Two of the remaining frescoes, different
from these in motive, might be selected as no less characteristic of
Signorelli's manner. One represents three sturdy monks, clad in
brown, working with all their strength to stir a boulder, which has
been bewitched, and needs a miracle to move it from its place. The
square and powerfully outlined drawing of these figures is beyond
all praise for its effect of massive solidity. The other shows us
the interior of a fifteenth-century tavern, where two monks are
regaling themselves upon the sly. A country girl, with shapely arms
and shoulders, her upper skirts tucked round the ample waist to
which broad sweeping lines of back and breasts descend, is serving
wine. The exuberance of animal life, the freedom of attitude
expressed in this, the mainly interesting figure of the composition,
show that Signorelli might have been a great master of realistic
painting. Nor are the accessories less effective. A wide-roofed
kitchen chimney, a page-boy leaving the room by a flight of steps
which leads to the house door, and the table at which the truant
monks are seated, complete a picture of homely Italian life. It may
still be matched out of many an inn in this hill district.

Called to graver work at Orvieto, where he painted his gigantic
series of frescoes illustrating the coming of Anti-christ, the
Destruction of the World, the Resurrection, the Last Judgment, and
the final state of souls in Paradise and Hell, Signorelli left his
work at Monte Oliveto unaccomplished. Seven years later it was taken
up by a painter of very different genius. Sodoma was a native of
Vercelli, and had received his first training in the Lombard
schools, which owed so much to Lionardo da Vinci's influence. He was
about thirty years of age when chance brought him to Siena. Here he
made acquaintance with Pandolfo Petrucci, who had recently
established himself in a species of tyranny over the Republic. The
work he did for this patron and other nobles of Siena, brought him
into notice. Vasari observes that his hot Lombard colouring, a
something florid and attractive in his style, which contrasted with
the severity of the Tuscan school, rendered him no less agreeable as
an artist than his free manners made him acceptable as a
house-friend. Fra Domenico da Leccio, also a Lombard, was at that
time General of the monks of Monte Oliveto. On a visit to this
compatriot in 1505, Sodoma received a commission to complete the
cloister; and during the next two years he worked there, producing
in all twenty-five frescoes. For his pains he seemed to have
received but little pay--Vasari says, only the expenses of some
colour-grinders who assisted him; but from the books of the convent
it appears that 241 ducats, or something over 60_l._ of our money,
were disbursed to him.

Sodoma was so singular a fellow, even in that age of piquant
personalities, that it may be worth while to translate a fragment of
Vasari's gossip about him. We must, however, bear in mind that, for
some unknown reason, the Aretine historian bore a rancorous grudge
against this Lombard whose splendid gifts and great achievements he
did all he could by writing to depreciate. 'He was fond,' says
Vasari, 'of keeping in his house all sorts of strange animals:
badgers, squirrels, monkeys, cat-a-mountains, dwarf-donkeys, horses,
racers, little Elba ponies, jackdaws, bantams, doves of India, and
other creatures of this kind, as many as he could lay his hands on.
Over and above these beasts, he had a raven, which had learned so
well from him to talk, that it could imitate its master's voice,
especially in answering the door when some one knocked, and this it
did so cleverly that people took it for Giovannantonio himself, as
all the folk of Siena know quite well. In like manner, his other
pets were so much at home with him that they never left his house,
but played the strangest tricks and maddest pranks imaginable, so
that his house was like nothing more than a Noah's Ark.' He was a
bold rider, it seems; for with one of his racers, ridden by himself,
he bore away the prize in that wild horse-race they run upon the
Piazza at Siena. For the rest, 'he attired himself in pompous
clothes, wearing doublets of brocade, cloaks trimmed with gold lace,
gorgeous caps, neck-chains, and other vanities of a like
description, fit for buffoons and mountebanks.' In one of the
frescoes of Monte Oliveto, Sodoma painted his own portrait, with
some of his curious pets around him. He there appears as a young man
with large and decidedly handsome features, a great shock of dark
curled hair escaping from a yellow cap, and flowing down over a rich
mantle which drapes his shoulders. If we may trust Vasari, he showed
his curious humours freely to the monks. 'Nobody could describe the
amusement he furnished to those good fathers, who christened him
Mattaccio (the big madman), or the insane tricks he played there.'

In spite of Vasari's malevolence, the portrait he has given us of
Bazzi has so far nothing unpleasant about it. The man seems to have
been a madcap artist, combining with his love for his profession a
taste for fine clothes, and what was then perhaps rarer in people of
his sort, a great partiality for living creatures of all kinds. The
darker shades of Vasari's picture have been purposely omitted from
these pages. We only know for certain, about Bazzi's private life,
that he was married in 1510 to a certain Beatrice, who bore him two
children, and who was still living with him in 1541. The further
suggestion that he painted at Monte Oliveto subjects unworthy of a
religious house, is wholly disproved by the frescoes which still
exist in a state of very tolerable preservation. They represent
various episodes in the legend of S. Benedict; all marked by that
spirit of simple, almost childish piety which is a special
characteristic of Italian religious history. The series forms, in
fact, a painted _novella_ of monastic life; its petty jealousies,
its petty trials, its tribulations and temptations, and its
indescribably petty miracles. Bazzi was well fitted for the
execution of this task. He had a swift and facile brush,
considerable versatility in the treatment of monotonous subjects,
and a never-failing sense of humour. His white-cowled monks, some of
them with the rosy freshness of boys, some with the handsome brown
faces of middle life, others astute and crafty, others again
wrinkled with old age, have clearly been copied from real models. He
puts them into action without the slightest effort, and surrounds
them with landscapes, architecture, and furniture, appropriate to
each successive situation. The whole is done with so much grace,
such simplicity of composition, and transparency of style,
corresponding to the _naïf_ and superficial legend, that we feel a
perfect harmony between the artist's mind and the motives he was
made to handle. In this respect Bazzi's portion of the legend of S.
Benedict is more successful than Signorelli's. It was fortunate,
perhaps, that the conditions of his task confined him to
uncomplicated groupings, and a scale of colour in which white
predominates. For Bazzi, as is shown by subsequent work in the
Farnesina Villa at Rome, and in the church of S. Domenico at Siena,
was no master of composition; and the tone, even of his
masterpieces, inclines to heat. Unlike Signorelli, Bazzi felt a deep
artistic sympathy with female beauty; and the most attractive fresco
in the whole series is that in which the evil monk Florentius brings
a bevy of fair damsels to the convent. There is one group, in
particular, of six women, so delicately varied in carriage of the
head and suggested movement of the body, as to be comparable only to
a strain of concerted music. This is perhaps the painter's
masterpiece in the rendering of pure beauty, if we except his S.
Sebastian of the Uffizzi.

We tire of studying pictures, hardly less than of reading about
them! I was glad enough, after three hours spent among the frescoes
of this cloister, to wander forth into the copses which surround the
convent. Sunlight was streaming treacherously from flying clouds;
and though it was high noon, the oak-leaves were still a-tremble
with dew. Pink cyclamens and yellow amaryllis starred the moist
brown earth; and under the cypress-trees, where alleys had been cut
in former time for pious feet, the short firm turf was soft and
mossy. Before bidding the hospitable Padre farewell, and starting in
our waggonette for Asciano, it was pleasant to meditate awhile in
these green solitudes. Generations of white-stoled monks who had sat
or knelt upon the now deserted terraces, or had slowly paced the
winding paths to Calvaries aloft and points of vantage high above
the wood, rose up before me. My mind, still full of Bazzi's
frescoes, peopled the wilderness with grave monastic forms, and
gracious, young-eyed faces of boyish novices.



For the sake of intending travellers to this, the lordliest of
Tuscan hill-towns, it will be well to state at once and without
circumlocution what does not appear upon the time-tables of the line
from Empoli to Rome. Montepulciano has a station; but this railway
station is at the distance of at least an hour and a half's drive
from the mountain upon which the city stands.

The lumbering train which brought us one October evening from
Asciano crawled into this station after dark, at the very moment
when a storm, which had been gathering from the south-west, burst in
deluges of rain and lightning. There was, however, a covered
carriage going to the town. Into this we packed ourselves, together
with a polite Italian gentleman who, in answer to our questions,
consulted his watch, and smilingly replied that a little half-hour
would bring us easily to Montepulciano. He was a native of the
place. He knew perfectly well that he would be shut up with us in
that carriage for two mortal hours of darkness and downpour. And
yet, such is the irresistible impulse in Italians to say something
immediately agreeable, he fed us with false hopes and had no fear of
consequences. What did it matter to him if we were pulling out our
watches and chattering in well-contented undertone about _vino
nobile_, _biftek_, and possibly a _polio arrosto_, or a dish of
_tord_? At the end of the half-hour, as he was well aware,
self-congratulations and visions of a hearty supper would turn to
discontented wailings, and the querulous complaining of defrauded
appetites. But the end of half an hour was still half an hour off;
and we meanwhile were comfortable.

The night was pitchy dark, and blazing flashes of lightning showed a
white ascending road at intervals. Rain rushed in torrents,
splashing against the carriage wheels, which moved uneasily, as
though they could but scarcely stem the river that swept down upon
them. Far away above us to the left, was one light on a hill, which
never seemed to get any nearer. We could see nothing but a chasm of
blackness below us on one side, edged with ghostly olive-trees, and
a high bank on the other. Sometimes a star swam out of the drifting
clouds; but then the rain hissed down again, and the flashes came in
floods of livid light, illuminating the eternal olives and the
cypresses which looked like huge black spectres. It seemed almost
impossible for the horses to keep their feet, as the mountain road
grew ever steeper and the torrent swelled around them. Still they
struggled on. The promised half-hour had been doubled, trebled,
quadrupled, when at last we saw the great brown sombre walls of a
city tower above us. Then we entered one of those narrow lofty
Tuscan gates, and rolled upon the pavement of a street.

The inn at Montepulciano is called Marzocco, after the Florentine
lion which stands upon its column in a little square before the
house. The people there are hospitable, and more than once on
subsequent occasions have they extended to us kindly welcome. But on
this, our first appearance, they had scanty room at their disposal.
Seeing us arrive so late, and march into their dining-room, laden
with sealskins, waterproofs, and ulsters, one of the party hugging a
complete Euripides in Didot's huge edition, they were confounded. At
last they conducted the whole company of four into a narrow back
bedroom, where they pointed to one fair-sized and one very little
bed. This was the only room at liberty, they said; and could we not
arrange to sleep here? _S' accomodi, Signore! S' accomodi, Signora!_
These encouraging words, uttered in various tones of cheerful and
insinuating politeness to each member of the party in succession,
failed to make us comprehend how a gentleman and his wife, with a
lean but rather lengthy English friend, and a bulky native of the
Grisons, could 'accommodate themselves' collectively and undividedly
with what was barely sufficient for their just moiety, however much
it might afford a night's rest to their worse half. Christian was
sent out into the storm to look for supplementary rooms in
Montepulciano, which he failed to get. Meanwhile we ordered supper,
and had the satisfaction of seeing set upon the board a huge red
flask of _vino nobile_. In copious draughts of this the King of
Tuscan wines, we drowned our cares; and when the cloth was drawn,
our friend and Christian passed their night upon the supper table.
The good folk of the inn had recovered from their surprise, and from
the inner recesses of their house had brought forth mattresses and
blankets. So the better and larger half of the company enjoyed sound

It rained itself out at night, and the morning was clear, with the
transparent atmosphere of storm-clouds hurrying in broken squadrons
from the bad sea quarter. Yet this is just the weather in which
Tuscan landscape looks its loveliest. Those immense expanses of grey
undulating uplands need the luminousness of watery sunshine, the
colour added by cloud-shadows, and the pearly softness of rising
vapours, to rob them of a certain awful grimness. The main street of
Montepulciano goes straight uphill for a considerable distance
between brown palaces; then mounts by a staircase-zigzag under huge
impending masses of masonry; until it ends in a piazza. On the
ascent, at intervals, the eye is fascinated by prospects to the
north and east over Val di Chiana, Cortona, Thrasymene, Chiusi; to
south and west over Monte Cetona, Radicofani, Monte Amiata, the Val
d' Ombrone, and the Sienese Contado. Grey walls overgrown with ivy,
arcades of time-toned brick, and the forbidding bulk of houses hewn
from solid travertine, frame these glimpses of aërial space. The
piazza is the top of all things. Here are the Duomo; the Palazzo del
Comune, closely resembling that of Florence, with the Marzocco on
its front; the fountain, between two quaintly sculptured columns;
and the vast palace Del Monte, of heavy Renaissance architecture,
said to be the work of Antonio di San Gallo.

We climbed the tower of the Palazzo del Comune, and stood at the
altitude of 2000 feet above the sea. The view is finer in its kind
than I have elsewhere seen, even in Tuscany, that land of panoramic
prospects over memorable tracts of world-historic country. Such
landscape cannot be described in words. But the worst is that, even
while we gaze, we know that nothing but the faintest memory of our
enjoyment will be carried home with us. The atmospheric conditions
were perfect that morning. The sun was still young; the sky sparkled
after the night's thunderstorm; the whole immensity of earth around
lay lucid, smiling, newly washed in baths of moisture. Masses of
storm-cloud kept rolling from the west, where we seemed to feel the
sea behind those intervening hills. But they did not form in heavy
blocks or hang upon the mountain summits. They hurried and dispersed
and changed and flung their shadows on the world below.


The charm of this view is composed of so many different elements, so
subtly blent, appealing to so many separate sensibilities; the sense
of grandeur, the sense of space, the sense of natural beauty, and
the sense of human pathos; that deep internal faculty we call
historic sense; that it cannot be defined. First comes the immense
surrounding space--a space measured in each arc of the circumference
by sections of at least fifty miles, limited by points of
exquisitely picturesque beauty, including distant cloud-like
mountain ranges and crystals of sky-blue Apennines, circumscribing
landscapes of refined loveliness in detail, always varied, always
marked by objects of peculiar interest where the eye or memory may
linger. Next in importance to this immensity of space, so powerfully
affecting the imagination by its mere extent, and by the breadth of
atmosphere attuning all varieties of form and colour to one harmony
beneath illimitable heaven, may be reckoned the episodes of rivers,
lakes, hills, cities, with old historic names. For there spreads the
lordly length of Thrasymene, islanded and citadelled, in hazy
morning mist, still dreaming of the shock of Roman hosts with
Carthaginian legions. There is the lake of Chiusi, set like a jewel
underneath the copse-clad hills which hide the dust of a dead Tuscan
nation. The streams of Arno start far far away, where Arezzo lies
enfolded in bare uplands. And there at our feet rolls Tiber's
largest affluent, the Chiana. And there is the canal which joins
their fountains in the marsh that Lionardo would have drained. Monte
Cetona is yonder height which rears its bristling ridge defiantly
from neighbouring Chiusi. And there springs Radicofani, the eagle's
eyrie of a brigand brood. Next, Monte Amiata stretches the long
lines of her antique volcano; the swelling mountain flanks,
descending gently from her cloud-capped top, are russet with
autumnal oak and chestnut woods. On them our eyes rest lovingly;
imagination wanders for a moment through those mossy glades, where
cyclamens are growing now, and primroses in spring will peep amid
anemones from rustling foliage strewn by winter's winds. The heights
of Casentino, the Perugian highlands, Volterra, far withdrawn amid a
wilderness of rolling hills, and solemn snow-touched ranges of the
Spolentino, Sibyl-haunted fastnesses of Norcia, form the most
distant horizon-lines of this unending panorama. And then there are
the cities placed each upon a point of vantage: Siena; olive-mantled
Chiusi; Cortona, white upon her spreading throne; poetic Montalcino,
lifted aloft against the vaporous sky; San Quirico, nestling in
pastoral tranquillity; Pienza, where Æneas Sylvius built palaces and
called his birthplace after his own Papal name. Still closer to the
town itself of Montepulciano, stretching along the irregular ridge
which gave it building ground, and trending out on spurs above deep
orchards, come the lovely details of oak-copses, blending with grey
tilth and fields rich with olive and vine. The gaze, exhausted with
immensity, pierces those deeply cloven valleys, sheltered from wind
and open to the sun--undulating folds of brown earth, where Bacchus,
when he visited Tuscany, found the grape-juice that pleased him
best, and crowned the wine of Montepulciano king. Here from our
eyrie we can trace white oxen on the furrows, guided by
brown-limbed, white-shirted contadini.

The morning glory of this view from Montepulciano, though
irrecoverable by words, abides in the memory, and draws one back by
its unique attractiveness. On a subsequent visit to the town in
springtime, my wife and I took a twilight walk, just after our
arrival, through its gloomy fortress streets, up to the piazza,
where the impendent houses lowered like bastions, and all the masses
of their mighty architecture stood revealed in shadow and dim
lamplight. Far and wide, the country round us gleamed with bonfires;
for it was the eve of the Ascension, when every contadino lights a
beacon of chestnut logs and straw and piled-up leaves. Each castello
on the plain, each village on the hills, each lonely farmhouse at
the skirt of forest or the edge of lake, smouldered like a red
Cyclopean eye beneath the vault of stars. The flames waxed and
waned, leapt into tongues, or disappeared. As they passed from gloom
to brilliancy and died away again, they seemed almost to move. The
twilight scene was like that of a vast city, filling the plain and
climbing the heights in terraces. Is this custom, I thought, a relic
of old Pales-worship?


The early history of Montepulciano is buried in impenetrable mists
of fable. No one can assign a date to the foundation of these
high-hill cities. The eminence on which it stands belongs to the
volcanic system of Monte Amiata, and must at some time have formed a
portion of the crater which threw that mighty mass aloft. But sons
have passed since the _gran sasso di Maremma_ was a fire-vomiting
monster, glaring like Etna in eruption on the Tyrrhene sea; and
through those centuries how many races may have camped upon the
summit we call Montepulciano! Tradition assigns the first
quasi-historical settlement to Lars Porsena, who is said to have
made it his summer residence, when the lower and more marshy air of
Clusium became oppressive. Certainly it must have been a
considerable town in the Etruscan period. Embedded in the walls of
palaces may still be seen numerous fragments of sculptured
basreliefs, the works of that mysterious people. Apropos of
Montepulciano's importance in the early years of Roman history, I
lighted on a quaint story related by its very jejune annalist,
Spinello Benci. It will be remembered that Livy attributes the
invasion of the Gauls, who, after besieging Clusium, advanced on
Rome, to the persuasions of a certain Aruns. He was an exile from
Clusium; and wishing to revenge himself upon his country-people, he
allured the Senonian Gauls into his service by the promise of
excellent wine, samples of which he had taken with him into
Lombardy. Spinello Benci accepts the legend literally, and
continues: 'These wines were so pleasing to the palate of the
barbarians, that they were induced to quit the rich and teeming
valley of the Po, to cross the Apennines, and move in battle array
against Chiusi. And it is clear that the wine which Aruns selected
for the purpose was the same as that which is produced to this day
at Montepulciano. For nowhere else in the Etruscan district can
wines of equally generous quality and fiery spirit be found, so
adapted for export and capable of such long preservation.'

We may smile at the historian's _naïveté_. Yet the fact remains that
good wine of Montepulciano can still allure barbarians of this epoch
to the spot where it is grown. Of all Italian vintages, with the
exception of some rare qualities of Sicily and the Valtellina, it
is, in my humble opinion, the best. And when the time comes for
Italy to develop the resources of her vineyards upon scientific
principles, Montepulciano will drive Brolio from the field and take
the same place by the side of Chianti which Volnay occupies by
common Macon. It will then be quoted upon wine-lists throughout
Europe, and find its place upon the tables of rich epicures in
Hyperborean regions, and add its generous warmth to Trans-atlantic
banquets. Even as it is now made, with very little care bestowed on
cultivation and none to speak of on selection of the grape, the wine
is rich and noble, slightly rough to a sophisticated palate, but
clean in quality and powerful and racy. It deserves the enthusiasm
attributed by Redi to Bacchus:[1]

  Fill, fill, let us all have our will!
  But with _what_, with _what_, boys, shall we fill.
  Sweet Ariadne--no, not _that_ one--_ah_ no;
  Fill me the manna of Montepulciano:
  Fill me a magnum and reach it me.--Gods!
  How it glides to my heart by the sweetest of roads!
  Oh, how it kisses me, tickles me, bites me!
  Oh, how my eyes loosen sweetly in tears!
  I'm ravished! I'm rapt! Heaven finds me admissible!
  Lost in an ecstasy! blinded! invisible!--
  Hearken all earth!
  We, Bacchus, in the might of our great mirth,
  To all who reverence us, are right thinkers;
  Hear, all ye drinkers!
  Give ear and give faith to the edict divine;
  Montepulciano's the King of all wine.

It is necessary, however, that our modern barbarian should travel to
Montepulciano itself, and there obtain a flask of _manna_ or _vino
nobile_ from some trusty cellar-master. He will not find it bottled
in the inns or restaurants upon his road.

    [1] From Leigh Hunt's Translation.


The landscape and the wine of Montepulciano are both well worth the
trouble of a visit to this somewhat inaccessible city. Yet more
remains to be said about the attractions of the town itself. In the
Duomo, which was spoiled by unintelligent rebuilding at a dismal
epoch of barren art, are fragments of one of the rarest monuments of
Tuscan sculpture. This is the tomb of Bartolommeo Aragazzi. He was a
native of Montepulciano, and secretary to Pope Martin V., that
_Papa_ _Martino non vale un quattrino_, on whom, during his long
residence in Florence, the street-boys made their rhymes. Twelve
years before his death he commissioned Donatello and Michelozzo
Michelozzi, who about that period were working together upon the
monuments of Pope John XXIII. and Cardinal Brancacci, to erect his
own tomb at the enormous cost of twenty-four thousand scudi. That
thirst for immortality of fame, which inspired the humanists of the
Renaissance, prompted Aragazzi to this princely expenditure. Yet,
having somehow won the hatred of his fellow-students, he was
immediately censured for excessive vanity. Lionardo Bruni makes his
monument the theme of a ferocious onslaught. Writing to Poggio
Bracciolini, Bruni tells a story how, while travelling through the
country of Arezzo, he met a train of oxen dragging heavy waggons
piled with marble columns, statues, and all the necessary details of
a sumptuous sepulchre. He stopped, and asked what it all meant. Then
one of the contractors for this transport, wiping the sweat from his
forehead, in utter weariness of the vexatious labour, at the last
end of his temper, answered: 'May the gods destroy all poets, past,
present, and future.' I inquired what he had to do with poets, and
how they had annoyed him. 'Just this,' he replied, 'that this poet,
lately deceased, a fool and windy-pated fellow, has ordered a
monument for himself; and with a view to erecting it, these marbles
are being dragged to Montepulciano; but I doubt whether we shall
contrive to get them up there. The roads are too bad.' 'But,' cried
I, 'do you believe _that_ man was a poet--that dunce who had no
science, nay, nor knowledge either? who only rose above the heads of
men by vanity and doltishness?' 'I don't know,' he answered, 'nor
did I ever hear tell, while he was alive, about his being called a
poet; but his fellow-townsmen now decide he was one; nay, if he had
but left a few more money-bags, they'd swear he was a god. Anyhow,
but for his having been a poet, I would not have cursed poets in
general.' Whereupon, the malevolent Bruni withdrew, and composed a
scorpion-tailed oration, addressed to his friend Poggio, on the
suggested theme of 'diuturnity in monuments,' and false ambition.
Our old friends of humanistic learning--Cyrus, Alexander,
Cæsar--meet us in these frothy paragraphs. Cambyses, Xerxes,
Artaxerxes, Darius, are thrown in to make the gruel of rhetoric
'thick and slab.' The whole epistle ends in a long-drawn peroration
of invective against 'that excrement in human shape,' who had had
the ill-luck, by pretence to scholarship, by big gains from the
Papal treasury, by something in his manners alien from the
easy-going customs of the Roman Court, to rouse the rancour of his

I have dwelt upon this episode, partly because it illustrates the
peculiar thirst for glory in the students of that time, but more
especially because it casts a thin clear thread of actual light upon
the masterpiece which, having been transported with this difficulty
from Donatello's workshop, is now to be seen by all lovers of fine
art, in part at least, at Montepulciano. In part at least: the
phrase is pathetic. Poor Aragazzi, who thirsted so for 'diuturnity
in monuments,' who had been so cruelly assaulted in the grave by
humanistic jealousy, expressing its malevolence with humanistic
crudity of satire, was destined after all to be defrauded of his
well-paid tomb. The monument, a master work of Donatello and his
collaborator, was duly erected. The oxen and the contractors, it
appears, had floundered through the mud of Valdichiana, and
struggled up the mountain-slopes of Montepulciano. But when the
church, which this triumph of art adorned, came to be repaired, the
miracle of beauty was dismembered. The sculpture for which Aragazzi
spent his thousands of crowns, which Donatello touched with his
immortalising chisel, over which the contractors vented their curses
and Bruni eased his bile; these marbles are now visible as mere
_disjecta membra_ in a church which, lacking them, has little to
detain a traveller's haste.

On the left hand of the central door, as you enter, Aragazzi lies,
in senatorial robes, asleep; his head turned slightly to the right
upon the pillow, his hands folded over his breast. Very noble are
the draperies, and dignified the deep tranquillity of slumber. Here,
we say, is a good man fallen upon sleep, awaiting resurrection. The
one commanding theme of Christian sculpture, in an age of Pagan
feeling, has been adequately rendered. Bartolommeo Aragazzi, like
Ilaria led Carretto at Lucca, like the canopied doges in S. Zanipolo
at Venice, like the Acciauoli in the Florentine Certosa, like the
Cardinal di Portogallo in Samminiato, is carved for us as he had
been in life, but with that life suspended, its fever all smoothed
out, its agitations over, its pettinesses dignified by death. This
marmoreal repose of the once active man symbolises for our
imagination the state into which he passed four centuries ago, but
in which, according to the creed, he still abides, reserved for
judgment and re-incarnation. The flesh, clad with which he walked
our earth, may moulder in the vaults beneath. But it will one day
rise again; and art has here presented it imperishable to our gaze.
This is how the Christian sculptors, inspired by the majestic calm
of classic art, dedicated a Christian to the genius of repose. Among
the nations of antiquity this repose of death was eternal; and being
unable to conceive of a man's body otherwise than for ever
obliterated by the flames of funeral, they were perforce led back to
actual life when they would carve his portrait on a tomb. But for
Christianity the rest of the grave has ceased to be eternal.
Centuries may pass, but in the end it must be broken. Therefore art
is justified in showing us the man himself in an imagined state of
sleep. Yet this imagined state of sleep is so incalculably long, and
by the will of God withdrawn from human prophecy, that the ages
sweeping over the dead man before the trumpets of archangels wake
him, shall sooner wear away memorial stone than stir his slumber. It
is a slumber, too, unterrified, unentertained by dreams. Suspended
animation finds no fuller symbolism than the sculptor here presents
to us in abstract form.

The boys of Montepulciano have scratched Messer Aragazzi's sleeping
figure with _graffiti_ at their own free will. Yet they have had no
power to erase the poetry of Donatello's mighty style. That, in
spite of Bruni's envy, in spite of injurious time, in spite of the
still worse insult of the modernised cathedral and the desecrated
monument, embalms him in our memory and secures for him the
diuturnity for which he paid his twenty thousand crowns. Money,
methinks, beholding him, was rarely better expended on a similar
ambition. And ambition of this sort, relying on the genius of such a
master to give it wings for perpetuity of time, is, _pace_ Lionardo
Bruni, not ignoble.

Opposite the figure of Messer Aragazzi are two square basreliefs
from the same monument, fixed against piers of the nave. One
represents Madonna enthroned among worshippers; members, it may be
supposed, of Aragazzi's household. Three angelic children,
supporting the child Christ upon her lap, complete that pyramidal
form of composition which Fra Bartolommeo was afterwards to use with
such effect in painting. The other basrelief shows a group of grave
men and youths, clasping hands with loveliest interlacement; the
placid sentiment of human fellowship translated into harmonies of
sculptured form. Children below run up to touch their knees, and
reach out boyish arms to welcome them. Two young men, with
half-draped busts and waving hair blown off their foreheads,
anticipate the type of adolescence which Andrea del Sarto perfected
in his S. John. We might imagine that this masterly panel was
intended to represent the arrival of Messer Aragazzi in his home. It
is a scene from the domestic life of the dead man, duly subordinated
to the recumbent figure, which, when the monument was perfect, would
have dominated the whole composition.

Nothing in the range of Donatello's work surpasses these two
basreliefs for harmonies of line and grouping, for choice of form,
for beauty of expression, and for smoothness of surface-working. The
marble is of great delicacy, and is wrought to a wax-like surface.
At the high altar are three more fragments from the mutilated tomb.
One is a long low frieze of children bearing garlands, which
probably formed the base of Aragazzi's monument, and now serves for
a predella. The remaining pieces are detached statues of Fortitude
and Faith. The former reminds us of Donatello's S. George; the
latter is twisted into a strained attitude, full of character, but
lacking grace. What the effect of these emblematic figures would
have been when harmonised by the architectural proportions of the
sepulchre, the repose of Aragazzi on his sarcophagus, the suavity of
the two square panels and the rhythmic beauty of the frieze, it is
not easy to conjecture. But rudely severed from their surroundings,
and exposed in isolation, one at each side of the altar, they leave
an impression of awkward discomfort on the memory. A certain
hardness, peculiar to the Florentine manner, is felt in them. But
this quality may have been intended by the sculptors for the sake of
contrast with what is eminently graceful, peaceful, and melodious in
the other fragments of the ruined masterpiece.


At a certain point in the main street, rather more than halfway from
the Albergo del Marzocco to the piazza, a tablet has been let into
the wall upon the left-hand side. This records the fact that here in
1454 was born Angelo Ambrogini, the special glory of Montepulciano,
the greatest classical scholar and the greatest Italian poet of the
fifteenth century. He is better known in the history of literature
as Poliziano, or Politianus, a name he took from his native city,
when he came, a marvellous boy, at the age of ten, to Florence, and
joined the household of Lorenzo de' Medici. He had already claims
upon Lorenzo's hospitality. For his father, Benedetto, by adopting
the cause of Piero de' Medici in Montepulciano, had exposed himself
to bitter feuds and hatred of his fellow-citizens. To this animosity
of party warfare he fell a victim a few years previously. We only
know that he was murdered, and that he left a helpless widow with
five children, of whom Angelo was the eldest. The Ambrogini or Cini
were a family of some importance in Montepulciano; and their
dwelling-house is a palace of considerable size. From its eastern
windows the eye can sweep that vast expanse of country, embracing
the lakes of Thrasymene and Chiusi, which has been already
described. What would have happened, we wonder, if Messer Benedetto,
the learned jurist, had not espoused the Medicean cause and
embroiled himself with murderous antagonists? Would the little
Angelo have grown up in this quiet town, and practised law, and
lived and died a citizen of Montepulciano? In that case the
lecture-rooms of Florence would never have echoed to the sonorous
hexameters of the 'Rusticus' and 'Ambra.' Italian literature would
have lacked the 'Stanze' and 'Orfeo.' European scholarship would
have been defrauded of the impulse given to it by the 'Miscellanea.'
The study of Roman law would have missed those labours on the
Pandects, with which the name of Politian is honourably associated.
From the Florentine society of the fifteenth century would have
disappeared the commanding central figure of humanism, which now
contrasts dramatically with the stern monastic Prior of S. Mark.
Benedetto's tragic death gave Poliziano to Italy and to posterity.


Those who have a day to spare at Montepulciano can scarcely spend it
better than in an excursion to Pienza and San Quirico. Leaving the
city by the road which takes a westerly direction, the first object
of interest is the Church of San Biagio, placed on a fertile plateau
immediately beneath the ancient acropolis. It was erected by Antonio
di San Gallo in 1518, and is one of the most perfect specimens
existing of the sober classical style. The Church consists of a
Greek square, continued at the east end into a semicircular tribune,
surmounted by a central cupola, and flanked by a detached
bell-tower, ending in a pyramidal spire. The whole is built of solid
yellow travertine, a material which, by its warmth of colour, is
pleasing to the eye, and mitigates the mathematical severity of the
design. Upon entering, we feel at once what Alberti called the music
of this style; its large and simple harmonies, depending for effect
upon sincerity of plan and justice of balance. The square masses of
the main building, the projecting cornices and rounded tribune, meet
together and soar up into the cupola; while the grand but austere
proportions of the arches and the piers compose a symphony of
perfectly concordant lines. The music is grave and solemn,
architecturally expressed in terms of measured space and outlined
symmetry. The whole effect is that of one thing pleasant to look
upon, agreeably appealing to our sense of unity, charming us by
grace and repose; not stimulative nor suggestive, not multiform nor
mysterious. We are reminded of the temples imagined by Francesco
Colonna, and figured in his _Hypnerotomachia Poliphili_. One of
these shrines has, we feel, come into actual existence here; and the
religious ceremonies for which it is adapted are not those of the
Christian worship. Some more primitive, less spiritual rites,
involving less of tragic awe and deep-wrought symbolism, should be
here performed. It is better suited for Polifilo's lustration by
Venus Physizoe than for the mass on Easter morning. And in this
respect, the sentiment of the architecture is exactly faithful to
that mood of religious feeling which appeared in Italy under the
influences of the classical revival--when the essential doctrines of
Christianity were blurred with Pantheism; when Jehovah became
_Jupiter Optimus Maximus_; and Jesus was the _Heros_ of Calvary, and
nuns were _Virgines Vestales_. In literature this mood often strikes
us as insincere and artificial. But it admitted of realisation and
showed itself to be profoundly felt in architecture.

After leaving Madonna di San Biagio, the road strikes at once into
an open country, expanding on the right towards the woody ridge of
Monte Fallonica, on the left toward Cetona and Radicofani, with
Monte Amiata full in front--its double crest and long volcanic slope
recalling Etna; the belt of embrowned forest on its flank, made
luminous by sunlight. Far away stretches the Sienese Maremma; Siena
dimly visible upon her gentle hill; and still beyond, the pyramid of
Volterra, huge and cloud-like, piled against the sky. The road, as
is almost invariable in this district, keeps to the highest line of
ridges, winding much, and following the dimplings of the earthy
hills. Here and there a solitary castello, rusty with old age, and
turned into a farm, juts into picturesqueness from some point of
vantage on a mound surrounded with green tillage. But soon the dull
and intolerable _creta_, ash-grey earth, without a vestige of
vegetation, furrowed by rain, and desolately breaking into gullies,
swallows up variety and charm. It is difficult to believe that this
_creta_ of Southern Tuscany, which has all the appearance of
barrenness, and is a positive deformity in the landscape, can be
really fruitful. Yet we are frequently being told that it only needs
assiduous labour to render it enormously productive.

When we reached Pienza we were already in the middle of a country
without cultivation, abandoned to the marl. It is a little place,
perched upon the ledge of a long sliding hill, which commands the
vale of Orcia; Monte Amiata soaring in aërial majesty beyond. Its
old name was Cosignano. But it had the honour of giving birth to
Æneas Sylvius Piccolomini, who, when he was elected to the Papacy
and had assumed the title of Pius II., determined to transform and
dignify his native village, and to call it after his own name. From
that time forward Cosignano has been known as Pienza.

Pius II. succeeded effectually in leaving his mark upon the town.
And this forms its main interest at the present time. We see in
Pienza how the most active-minded and intelligent man of his epoch,
the representative genius of Italy in the middle of the fifteenth
century, commanding vast wealth and the Pontifical prestige, worked
out his whim of city-building. The experiment had to be made upon a
small scale; for Pienza was then and was destined to remain a
village. Yet here, upon this miniature piazza--in modern as in
ancient Italy the meeting-point of civic life, the forum--we find a
cathedral, a palace of the bishop, a palace of the feudal lord, and
a palace of the commune, arranged upon a well-considered plan, and
executed after one design in a consistent style. The religious,
municipal, signorial, and ecclesiastical functions of the little
town are centralised around the open market-place, on which the
common people transacted business and discussed affairs. Pius
entrusted the realisation of his scheme to a Florentine architect;
whether Bernardo Rossellino, or a certain Bernardo di Lorenzo, is
still uncertain. The same artist, working in the flat manner of
Florentine domestic architecture, with rusticated basements, rounded
windows and bold projecting cornices--the manner which is so nobly
illustrated by the Rucellai and Strozzi palaces at
Florence--executed also for Pius the monumental Palazzo Piccolomini
at Siena. It is a great misfortune for the group of buildings he
designed at Pienza, that they are huddled together in close quarters
on a square too small for their effect. A want of space is
peculiarly injurious to the architecture of this date, 1462, which,
itself geometrical and spatial, demands a certain harmony and
liberty in its surroundings, a proportion between the room occupied
by each building and the masses of the edifice. The style is severe
and prosaic. Those charming episodes and accidents of fancy, in
which the Gothic style and the style of the earlier Lombard
Renaissance abounded, are wholly wanting to the rigid, mathematical,
hard-headed genius of the Florentine quattrocento. Pienza,
therefore, disappoints us. Its heavy palace frontispieces shut the
spirit up in a tight box. We seem unable to breathe, and lack that
element of life and picturesqueness which the splendid retinues of
nobles in the age of Pinturicchio might have added to the now
forlorn Piazza.

Yet the material is a fine warm travertine, mellowing to dark red,
brightening to golden, with some details, especially the tower of
the Palazzo Comunale, in red brick. This building, by the way, is
imitated in miniature from that of Florence. The cathedral is a
small church of three aisles, equally high, ending in what the
French would call a _chevet_. Pius had observed this plan of
construction somewhere in Austria, and commanded his architect,
Bernardo, to observe it in his plan. He was attracted by the
facilities for window-lighting which it offered; and what is very
singular, he provided by the Bull of his foundation for keeping the
walls of the interior free from frescoes and other coloured
decorations. The result is that, though the interior effect is
pleasing, the church presents a frigid aspect to eyes familiarised
with warmth of tone in other buildings of that period. The details
of the columns and friezes are classical; and the façade, strictly
corresponding to the structure, and very honest in its decorative
elements, is also of the earlier Renaissance style. But the vaulting
and some of the windows are pointed.

The Palazzo Piccolomini, standing at the right hand of the Duomo, is
a vast square edifice. The walls are flat and even, pierced at
regular intervals with windows, except upon the south-west side,
where the rectangular design is broken by a noble double Loggiata,
gallery rising above gallery--serene curves of arches, grandly
proportioned columns, massive balustrades, a spacious corridor, a
roomy vaulting--opening out upon the palace garden, and offering
fair prospect over the wooded heights of Castiglione and Rocca d'
Orcia, up to Radicofani and shadowy Amiata. It was in these double
tiers of galleries, in the garden beneath and in the open inner
square of the palazzo, that the great life of Italian aristocracy
displayed itself. Four centuries ago these spaces, now so desolate
in their immensity, echoed to the tread of serving-men, the songs of
pages; horse-hooves struck upon the pavement of the court; spurs
jingled on the staircases; the brocaded trains of ladies sweeping
from their chambers rustled on the marbles of the loggia; knights
let their hawks fly from the garden parapets; cardinals and
abbreviators gathered round the doors from which the Pope would
issue, when he rose from his siesta to take the cool of evening in
those airy colonnades. How impossible it is to realise that scene
amid this solitude! The palazzo still belongs to the Piccolomini
family. But it has fallen into something worse than ruin--the
squalor of half-starved existence, shorn of all that justified its
grand proportions. Partition-walls have been run up across its halls
to meet the requirements of our contracted modern customs. Nothing
remains of the original decorations except one carved chimney-piece,
an emblazoned shield, and a frescoed portrait of the founder. All
movable treasures have been made away with. And yet the carved
heraldics of the exterior, the coat of Piccolomini, 'argent, on a
cross azure five crescents or,' the Papal ensigns, keys, and tiara,
and the monogram of Pius, prove that this country dwelling of a Pope
must once have been rich in details befitting its magnificence. With
the exception of the very small portion reserved for the Signori,
when they visit Pienza, the palace has become a granary for country
produce in a starveling land. There was one redeeming point about it
to my mind. That was the handsome young man, with earnest Tuscan
eyes and a wonderfully sweet voice, the servant of the Piccolomini
family, who lives here with his crippled father, and who showed us
over the apartments.

We left Pienza and drove on to S. Quirico, through the same wrinkled
wilderness of marl; wasteful, uncultivated, bare to every wind that
blows. A cruel blast was sweeping from the sea, and Monte Amiata
darkened with rain-clouds. Still the pictures, which formed
themselves at intervals, as we wound along these barren ridges, were
very fair to look upon, especially one not far from S. Quirico. It
had for fore-ground a stretch of tilth--olive-trees, honeysuckle
hedges, and cypresses. Beyond soared Amiata in all its breadth and
blue air-blackness, bearing on its mighty flanks the broken cliffs
and tufted woods of Castiglione and the Rocca d'Orcia; eagles' nests
emerging from a fertile valley-champaign, into which the eye was led
for rest. It so chanced that a band of sunlight, escaping from filmy
clouds, touched this picture with silvery greys and soft greens--a
suffusion of vaporous radiance, which made it for one moment a
Claude landscape.

S. Quirico was keeping _festa_. The streets were crowded with
healthy, handsome men and women from the contado. This village lies
on the edge of a great oasis in the Sienese desert--an oasis formed
by the waters of the Orcia and Asso sweeping down to join Ombrone,
and stretching on to Montalcino. We put up at the sign of the 'Two
Hares,' where a notable housewife gave us a dinner of all we could
desire; _frittata di cervello_, good fish, roast lamb stuffed with
rosemary, salad and cheese, with excellent wine and black coffee, at
the rate of three _lire_ a head.

The attraction of S. Quirico is its gem-like little collegiata, a
Lombard church of the ninth century, with carved portals of the
thirteenth. It is built of golden travertine; some details in brown
sandstone. The western and southern portals have pillars resting on
the backs of lions. On the western side these pillars are four
slender columns, linked by snake-like ligatures. On the southern
side they consist of two carved figures--possibly S. John and the
Archangel Michael. There is great freedom and beauty in these
statues, as also in the lions which support them, recalling the
early French and German manner. In addition, one finds the usual
Lombard grotesques--two sea-monsters, biting each other;
harpy-birds; a dragon with a twisted tail; little men grinning and
squatting in adaptation to coigns and angles of the windows. The
toothed and chevron patterns of the north are quaintly blent with
rude acanthus scrolls and classical egg-mouldings. Over the western
porch is a Gothic rose window. Altogether this church must be
reckoned one of the most curious specimens of that hybrid
architecture, fusing and appropriating different manners, which
perplexes the student in Central Italy. It seems strangely out of
place in Tuscany. Yet, if what one reads of Toscanella, a village
between Viterbo and Orbetello, be true, there exist examples of a
similar fantastic Lombard style even lower down.

The interior was most disastrously gutted and 'restored' in 1731:
its open wooden roof masked by a false stucco vaulting. A few
relics, spared by the eighteenth-century Vandals, show that the
church was once rich in antique curiosities. A marble knight in
armour lies on his back, half hidden by the pulpit stairs. And in
the choir are half a dozen rarely beautiful panels of tarsia,
executed in a bold style and on a large scale. One design--a man
throwing his face back, and singing, while he plays a mandoline;
with long thick hair and fanciful beretta; behind him a fine line of
cypress and other trees--struck me as singularly lovely. In another
I noticed a branch of peach, broad leaves and ripe fruit, not only
drawn with remarkable grace and power, but so modelled as to stand
out with the roundness of reality.

The whole drive of three hours back to Montepulciano was one long
banquet of inimitable distant views. Next morning, having to take
farewell of the place, we climbed to the Castello, or _arx_ of the
old city! It is a ruined spot, outside the present walls, upon the
southern slope, where there is now a farm, and a fair space of short
sheep-cropped turf, very green and grassy, and gemmed with little
pink geraniums as in England in such places. The walls of the old
castle, overgrown with ivy, are broken down to their foundations.
This may possibly have been done when Montepulciano was dismantled
by the Sienese in 1232. At that date the Commune succumbed to its
more powerful neighbours. The half of its inhabitants were murdered,
and its fortifications were destroyed. Such episodes are common
enough in the history of that internecine struggle for existence
between the Italian municipalities, which preceded the more famous
strife of Guelfs and Ghibellines. Stretched upon the smooth turf of
the Castello, we bade adieu to the divine landscape bathed in light
and mountain air--to Thrasymene and Chiusi and Cetona; to Amiata,
Pienza, and S. Quirico; to Montalcino and the mountains of Volterra;
to Siena and Cortona; and, closer, to Monte Fallonica, Madonna di
Biagio, the house-roofs and the Palazzo tower of Montepulciano.


Perugia is the empress of hill-set Italian cities. Southward from
her high-built battlements and church towers the eye can sweep a
circuit of the Apennines unrivalled in its width. From cloudlike
Radicofani, above Siena in the west, to snow-capped Monte Catria,
beneath whose summit Dante spent those saddest months of solitude in
1313, the mountains curve continuously in lines of austere dignity
and tempered sweetness. Assisi, Spoleto, Todi, Trevi, crown lesser
heights within the range of vision. Here and there the glimpse of
distant rivers lights a silver spark upon the plain. Those hills
conceal Lake Thrasymene; and there lies Orvieto, and Ancona there:
while at our feet the Umbrian champaign, breaking away into the
valley of the Tiber, spreads in all the largeness of majestically
converging mountain-slopes. This is a landscape which can never lose
its charm. Whether it be purple golden summer, or winter with sad
tints of russet woods and faintly rosy snows, or spring attired in
tenderest green of new-fledged trees and budding flowers, the air is
always pure and light and finely tempered here. City gates, sombre
as their own antiquity, frame vistas of the laughing fields.
Terraces, flanked on either side by jutting masonry, cut clear
vignettes of olive-hoary slopes, with cypress-shadowed farms in
hollows of the hills. Each coign or point of vantage carries a
bastion or tower of Etruscan, Roman, mediæval architecture, tracing
the limits of the town upon its mountain plateau. Everywhere art and
nature lie side by side in amity beneath a sky so pure and delicate,
that from its limpid depth the spirit seems to drink new life. What
air-tints of lilac, orange, and pale amethyst are shed upon those
vast ethereal hills and undulating plains! What wandering
cloud-shadows sail across this sea of olives and of vines, with here
and there a fleece of vapour or a column of blue smoke from charcoal
burners on the mountain flank! To southward, far away beyond those
hills, is felt the presence of eternal Rome, not seen, but clearly
indicated by the hurrying of a hundred streams that swell the Tiber.

In the neighbourhood of the town itself there is plenty to attract
the student of antiquities, or art, or history. He may trace the
walls of the Etruscan city, and explore the vaults where the dust of
the Volumnii lies coffered in sarcophagi and urns. Mild faces of
grave deities lean from the living tufa above those narrow alcoves,
where the chisel-marks are still fresh, and where the vigilant lamps
still hang suspended from the roof by leaden chains. Or, in the
Museum, he may read on basreliefs and vases how gloomy and morose
were the superstitions of those obscure forerunners of majestic
Rome. The piazza offers one of the most perfect Gothic façades, in
its Palazzo Pubblico, to be found in Italy. The flight of marble
steps is guarded from above by the bronze griffin of Perugia and the
Baglioni, with the bronze lion of the Guelf faction, to which the
town was ever faithful. Upon their marble brackets they ramp in all
the lean ferocity of feudal heraldry, and from their claws hang down
the chains wrested in old warfare from some barricaded gateway of
Siena. Below is the fountain, on the many-sided curves of which
Giovanni Pisano sculptured, in quaint statuettes and basreliefs, all
the learning of the middle ages, from the Bible history down to
fables of Æsop and allegories of the several months. Facing the same
piazza is the Sala del Cambio, a mediæval Bourse, with its tribunal
for the settlement of mercantile disputes, and its exquisite carved
woodwork and frescoes, the masterpiece of Perugino's school. Hard by
is the University, once crowded with native and foreign students,
where the eloquence of Greek Demetrius in the first dawn of the
Renaissance withdrew the gallants of Perugia--those slim youths with
shocks of nut-brown hair beneath their tiny red caps, whose comely
legs, encased in tight-fitting hose of two different colours, looked
so strange to modern eyes upon the canvas of Signorelli--from their
dice and wine-cups, and amours and daggers, to grave studies in the
lore of Greece and Rome.

This piazza, the scene of all the bloodiest tragedies in Perugian
annals, is closed at the north end by the Cathedral, with the open
pulpit in its wall from which S. Bernardino of Siena preached peace
in vain. The citizens wept to hear his words: a bonfire of vanities
was lighted on the flags beside Pisano's fountain: foe kissed foe:
and the same cowl of S. Francis was set in token of repentance on
heads that long had schemed destruction, each for each. But a few
days passed, and the penitents returned to cut each other's throat.
Often and often have those steps of the Duomo run with blood of
Baglioni, Oddi, Arcipreti, and La Staffa. Once the whole church had
to be washed with wine and blessed anew before the rites of
Christianity could be resumed in its desecrated aisles. It was here
that within the space of two days, in 1500, the catafalque was
raised for the murdered Astorre, and for his traitorous cousin
Grifonetto Baglioni. Here, too, if more ancient tradition does not
err, were stretched the corpses of twenty-seven members of the same
great house at the end of one of their grim combats.

No Italian city illustrates more forcibly than Perugia the violent
contrasts of the earlier Renaissance. This is perhaps its most
essential characteristic--that which constitutes its chief æsthetic
interest. To many travellers the name of Perugia suggests at once
the painter who, more than any other, gave expression to devout
emotions in consummate works of pietistic art. They remember how
Raphael, when a boy, with Pinturicchio, Lo Spagna, and Adone Doni,
in the workshop of Pietro Perugino, learned the secret of that style
to which he gave sublimity and freedom in his Madonnas di San Sisto,
di Foligno, and del Cardellino. But the students of mediæval history
in detail know Perugia far better as the lion's lair of one of the
most ferocious broods of heroic ruffians Italy can boast. To them
the name of Perugia suggests at once the great house of the
Baglioni, who drenched Umbria with blood, and gave the broad fields
of Assisi to the wolf, and who through six successive generations
bred captains for the armies of Venice, Florence, Naples, and the
Church.[1] That the trade of Perugino in religious pictures should
have been carried on in the city which shared the factions of the
Baglioni--that Raphael should have been painting Pietas while
Astorre and Simonetto were being murdered by the beautiful young
Grifonetto--is a paradox of the purest water in the history of

    [1] Most of the references in this essay are made to the
    Perugian chronicles of Graziani, Matarazzo, Bontempi, and
    Frolliere, in the _Archivio Storico Italiano_, vol. xvi.
    parts 1 and 2. Ariodante Fabretti's _Biografie dei
    Capitani Venturieri dell' Umbria_ supply some details.

The art of Perugino implied a large number of devout and wealthy
patrons, a public not only capable of comprehending him, but also
eager to restrict his great powers within the limits of purely
devotional delineation. The feuds and passions of the Baglioni, on
the other hand, implied a society in which egregious crimes only
needed success to be accounted glorious, where force, cruelty, and
cynical craft reigned supreme, and where the animal instincts
attained gigantic proportions in the persons of splendid young
athletic despots. Even the names of these Baglioni, Astorre,
Lavinia, Zenobia, Atalanta, Troilo, Ercole, Annibale, Ascanio,
Penelope, Orazio, and so forth, clash with the sweet mild forms of
Perugino, whose very executioners are candidates for Paradise, and
kill their martyrs with compunction.

In Italy of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries such
contradictions subsisted in the same place and under the conditions
of a common culture, because there was no limit to the development
of personality. Character was far more absolute then than now. The
force of the modern world, working in the men of those times like
powerful wine, as yet displayed itself only as a spirit of freedom
and expansion and revolt. The strait laces of mediæval Christianity
were loosened. The coercive action of public opinion had not yet
made itself dominant. That was an age of adolescence, in which men
were and dared to be _themselves_ for good or evil. Hypocrisy,
except for some solid, well-defined, selfish purpose, was unknown:
the deference to established canons of decorum which constitutes
more than half of our so-called morality, would have been scarcely
intelligible to an Italian. The outlines of individuality were
therefore strongly accentuated. Life itself was dramatic in its
incidents and motives, its catastrophes and contrasts. These
conditions, eminently favourable to the growth of arts and the
pursuit of science, were no less conducive to the hypertrophy of
passions, and to the full development of ferocious and inhuman
personalities. Every man did what seemed good in his own eyes. Far
less restrained than we are by the verdict of his neighbours, but
bound by faith more blind and fiercer superstitions, he displayed
the contradictions of his character in picturesque chiaroscuro. What
he could was the limit set on what he would. Therefore, considering
the infinite varieties of human temperaments, it was not merely
possible, but natural, for Pietro Perugino and Gianpaolo Baglioni to
be inhabitants at the same time of the selfsame city, and for the
pious Atalanta to mourn the bloodshed and the treason of her
Achillean son, the young and terrible Grifone. Here, in a word, in
Perugia, beneath the fierce blaze of the Renaissance, were brought
into splendid contrast both the martial violence and the religious
sentiment of mediævalism, raised for a moment to the elevation of
fine art.

Some of Perugino's qualities can be studied better in Perugia than
elsewhere. Of his purely religious pictures--altar-pieces of Madonna
and Saints, martyrdoms of S. Sebastian, Crucifixions, Ascensions,
Annunciations, and Depositions from the Cross,--fine specimens are
exhibited in nearly all the galleries of Europe. A large number of
his works and of those of his scholars may be seen assembled in the
Pinacoteca of Perugia. Yet the student of his pietistic style finds
little here of novelty to notice. It is in the Sala del Cambio that
we gain a really new conception of his faculty. Upon the decoration
of that little hall he concentrated all his powers of invention. The
frescoes of the Transfiguration and the Nativity, which face the
great door, are the triumphs of his devotional manner. On other
panels of the chamber he has portrayed the philosophers of Greece
and Rome, the kings and generals of antiquity, the prophets and the
sibyls who announced Christ's advent. The roof is covered with
arabesques of delicate design and dainty execution--labyrinths of
fanciful improvisation, in which flowers and foliage and human forms
are woven into a harmonious framework for the medallions of the
seven planets. The woodwork with which the hall is lined below the
frescoes, shows to what a point of perfection the art of
intarsiatura had been carried in his school. All these decorative
masterpieces are the product of one ingenuous style. Uninfluenced by
the Roman frescoes imitated by Raphael in his Loggie of the Vatican,
they breathe the spirit of the earlier Renaissance, which created
for itself free forms of grace and loveliness without a pattern,
divining by its innate sense of beauty what the classic artists had
achieved. Take for an example the medallion of the planet Jupiter.
The king of gods and men, hoary-headed and mild-eyed, is seated in
his chariot drawn by eagles: before him kneels Ganymede, a
fair-haired, exquisite, slim page, with floating mantle and ribbands
fluttering round his tight hose and jerkin. Such were the
cup-bearers of Galeazzo Sforza and Gianpaolo Baglioni. Then compare
this fresco with the Jupiter in mosaic upon the cupola of the Chigi
chapel in S. Maria del Popolo at Rome. A new age of experience had
passed over Raphael between his execution of Perugino's design in
the one and his conception of the other. He had seen the marbles of
the Vatican, and had heard of Plato in the interval: the simple
graces of the earlier Renaissance were no longer enough for him; but
he must realise the thought of classic myths in his new manner. In
the same way we may compare this Transfiguration with Raphael's last
picture, these sibyls with those of S. Maria della Pace, these sages
with the School of Athens, these warriors with the Battle of
Maxentius. What is characteristic of the full-grown Raphael is his
universal comprehension, his royal faculty for representing past and
present, near and distant, things the most diverse, by forms ideal
and yet distinctive. Each phase of the world's history and of human
activity receives from him appropriate and elevated expression. What
is characteristic of the frescoes in the Sala del Cambio, and indeed
of the whole manner of Perugino, is that all subjects, sacred or
secular, allegorical or real, are conceived in the same spirit of
restrained and well-bred piety. There is no attempt at historical
propriety or dramatic realism. Grave, ascetic, melancholy faces of
saints are put on bodies of kings, generals, sages, sibyls, and
deities alike. The same ribbands and studied draperies clothe and
connect all. The same conventional attitudes of meditative
gracefulness are repeated in each group. Yet, the whole effect, if
somewhat feeble and insipid, is harmonious and thoughtful. We see
that each part has proceeded from the same mind, in the same mood,
and that the master's mind was no common one, the mood itself was
noble. Good taste is everywhere apparent: the work throughout is a
masterpiece of refined fancy.

To Perugino the representative imagination was of less importance
than a certain delicate and adequately ideal mode of feeling and
conceiving. The consequent charm of his style is that everything is
thought out and rendered visible in one decorous key. The worst that
can be said of it is that its suavity inclines to mawkishness, and
that its quietism borders upon sleepiness. We find it difficult not
to accuse him of affectation. At the same time we are forced to
allow that what he did, and what he refrained from doing, was
determined by a purpose. A fresco of the Adoration of the Shepherds,
and a picture of S. Sebastian in the Pinacoteca, where the archer on
the right hand is drawn in a natural attitude with force and truth,
show well enough what Perugino could do when he chose.

The best way of explaining his conventionality, in which the supreme
power of a master is always verging on the facile trick of a
mannerist, is to suppose that the people of Perugia and the Umbrian
highlands imposed on him this narrow mode of treatment. We may
presume that he was always receiving orders for pictures to be
executed in his well-known manner. Celestial insipidity in art was
the fashion in that Umbria which the Baglioni and the Popes laid
waste from time to time with fire and sword.[1]

    [1] It will not be forgotten by students of Italian
    history that Umbria was the cradle of the _Battuti_ or
    Flagellants, who overspread Italy in the fourteenth
    century, and to whose devotion were due the _Laude_, or
    popular hymns of the religious confraternities, which in
    course of time produced the _Sacre Rappresentazioni_ of
    fifteenth-century Florentine literature. Umbria, and
    especially Perugia and Assisi, seems to have been
    inventive in piety between 1200 and 1400.

Therefore the painter who had made his reputation by placing devout
young faces upon twisted necks, with a back-ground of limpid
twilight and calm landscape, was forced by the fervour of his
patrons, and his own desire for money, to perpetuate pious
prettinesses long after he had ceased to feel them. It is just this
widespread popularity of a master unrivalled in one line of
devotional sentimentalism which makes the contrast between Perugino
and the Baglioni family so striking.

The Baglioni first came into notice during the wars they carried on
with the Oddi of Perugia in the fourteenth and fifteenth
centuries.[1] This was one of those duels to the death, like that of
the Visconti with the Torrensi of Milan, on which the fate of so
many Italian cities in the middle ages hung. The nobles fought; the
townsfolk assisted like a Greek chorus, sharing the passions of the
actors, but contributing little to the catastrophe. The piazza was
the theatre on which the tragedy was played. In this contest the
Baglioni proved the stronger, and began to sway the state of Perugia
after the irregular fashion of Italian despots. They had no legal
right over the city, no hereditary magistracy, no title of princely
authority.[2] The Church was reckoned the supreme administrator of
the Perugian commonwealth. But in reality no man could set foot on
the Umbrian plain without permission from the Baglioni. They elected
the officers of state. The lives and goods of the citizens were at
their discretion. When a Papal legate showed his face, they made the
town too hot to hold him. One of Innocent VIII.'s nephews had been
murdered by them.[3] Another cardinal had shut himself up in a box,
and sneaked on mule-back like a bale of merchandise through the
gates to escape their fury. It was in vain that from time to time
the people rose against them, massacring Pandolfo Baglioni on the
public square in 1393, and joining with Ridolfo and Braccio of the
dominant house to assassinate another Pandolfo with his son Niccolo
in 1460. The more they were cut down, the more they flourished. The
wealth they derived from their lordships in the duchy of Spoleto and
the Umbrian hill-cities, and the treasures they accumulated in the
service of the Italian republics, made them omnipotent in their
native town. There they built tall houses on the site which Paul
III. chose afterwards for his _castello_, and which is now an open
place above the Porta San Carlo. From the balconies and turrets of
these palaces, swarming with their _bravi_, they surveyed the
splendid land that felt their force--a land which, even in
midsummer, from sunrise to sunset keeps the light of day upon its
up-turned face. And from this eyrie they issued forth to prey upon
the plain, or to take their lust of love or blood within the city
streets. The Baglioni spent but short time in the amusements of
peace. From father to son they were warriors, and we have records of
few Italian houses, except perhaps the Malatesti of Rimini, who
equalled them in hardihood and fierceness. Especially were they
noted for the remorseless _vendette_ which they carried on among
themselves, cousin tracking cousin to death with the ferocity and
craft of sleuthhounds. Had they restrained these fratricidal
passions, they might, perhaps, by following some common policy, like
that of the Medici in Florence or the Bentivogli in Bologna, have
successfully resisted the Papal authority and secured dynastic

    [1] The Baglioni persecuted their rivals with persistent
    fury to the very last. Matarazzo tells how Morgante
    Baglioni gave a death-wound to his nephew, the young Carlo
    de li Oddi, in 1501: 'Dielli una ferita nella formosa
    faccia: el quale era in aspetto vago e bello giovane d'
    anni 23 o 24, _al quale uscivano e bionde tresse sotto la
    bella armadura_.' The same night his kinsman Pompeo was
    murdered in prison with this last lament upon his lips: 'O
    infelice casa degli Oddi, quale aveste tanta, fama di
    conduttieri, capitanie, cavaliere, speron d' oro,
    protonotarie, e abbate; et in uno solo tempo aveste homine
    quarantadue; e oggie, per me quale son ultimo, se asconde
    el nome de la magnifica e famosa casa degli Oddi, che mai
    al mondo non serà píu nominata' (p. 175).

    [2] The Baglioni were lords of Spello, Bettona, Montalera,
    and other Umbrian burghs, but never of Perugia. Perugia
    had a civic constitution similar to that of Florence and
    other Guelf towns under the protection of the Holy See.
    The power of the eminent house was based only on wealth
    and prestige.

    [3] See Matarazzo, p. 38. It is here that he relates the
    covert threat addressed by Guido Baglioni to Alexander
    VI., who was seeking to inveigle him into his clutches.

It is not until 1495 that the history of the Baglioni becomes
dramatic, possibly because till then they lacked the pen of
Matarazzo.[1] But from this year forward to their final extinction,
every detail of their doings has a picturesque and awful interest.
Domestic furies, like the revel descried by Cassandra above the
palace of Mycenæ, seem to take possession of the fated house; and
the doom which has fallen on them is worked out with pitiless
exactitude to the last generation. In 1495 the heads of the Casa
Baglioni were two brothers, Guido and Ridolfo, who had a numerous
progeny of heroic sons. From Guido sprang Astorre, Adriano, called
for his great strength Morgante,[2] Gismondo, Marcantonio, and
Gentile. Ridolfo owned Troilo, Gianpaolo, and Simonetto. The first
glimpse we get of these young athletes in Matarazzo's chronicle is
on the occasion of a sudden assault upon Perugia, made by the Oddi
and the exiles of their faction in September 1495. The foes of the
Baglioni entered the gates, and began breaking the iron chains,
_serragli_, which barred the streets against advancing cavalry. None
of the noble house were on the alert except young Simonetto, a lad
of eighteen, fierce and cruel, who had not yet begun to shave his
chin.[3] In spite of all dissuasion, he rushed forth alone,
bareheaded, in his shirt, with a sword in his right hand and a
buckler on his arm, and fought against a squadron. There at the
barrier of the piazza he kept his foes at bay, smiting men-at-arms
to the ground with the sweep of his tremendous sword, and receiving
on his gentle body twenty-two cruel wounds. While thus at fearful
odds, the noble Astorre mounted his charger and joined him. Upon his
helmet flashed the falcon of the Baglioni with the dragon's tail
that swept behind. Bidding Simonetto tend his wounds, he in his turn
held the square.

    [1] His chronicle is a masterpiece of naïve, unstudied
    narrative. Few documents are so important for the student
    of the sixteenth century in Italy. Whether it be really
    the work of Matarazzo or Maturanzio, the distinguished
    humanist, is more than doubtful. The writer seems to me as
    yet unspoiled by classic studies and the pedantries of

    [2] This name, it may be incidentally mentioned, proves
    the wide-spread popularity of Pulci's poem, the _Morgante

    [3] 'Era costui al presente di anni 18 o 19; ancora non se
    radeva barba; e mostrava tanta forza e tanto ardire, e era
    tanto adatto nel fatto d' arme, che era gran maraveglia; e
    iostrava cum tanta gintilezza e gagliardia, che homo del
    mondo non l' aria mai creso; et aria dato con la punta de
    la lancia in nel fondo d' uno bicchiere da la mattina a la
    sera,' &c. (p. 50).

Listen to Matarazzo's description of the scene; it is as good as any
piece of the 'Mort Arthur:'--'According to the report of one who
told me what he had seen with his own eyes, never did anvil take so
many blows as he upon his person and his steed; and they all kept
striking at his lordship in such crowds that the one prevented the
other. And so many lances, partisans, and crossbow quarries, and
other weapons, made upon his body a most mighty din, that above
every other noise and shout was heard the thud of those great
strokes. But he, like one who had the mastery of war, set his
charger where the press was thickest, jostling now one, and now
another; so that he ever kept at least ten men of his foes stretched
on the ground beneath his horse's hoofs; which horse was a most
fierce beast, and gave his enemies what trouble he best could. And
now that gentle lord was all fordone with sweat and toil, he and his
charger; and so weary were they that scarcely could they any longer

Soon after, the Baglioni mustered in force. One by one their heroes
rushed from the palaces. The enemy were driven back with slaughter;
and a war ensued, which made the fair land between Assisi and
Perugia a wilderness for many months. It must not be forgotten that,
at the time of these great feats of Simonetto and Astorre, young
Raphael was painting in the studio of Perugino. What the whole city
witnessed with astonishment and admiration, he, the keenly sensitive
artist-boy, treasured in his memory. Therefore in the S. George of
the Louvre, and in the mounted horseman trampling upon Heliodorus in
the Stanze of the Vatican, victorious Astorre lives for ever,
immortalised in all his splendour by the painter's art. The grinning
griffin on the helmet, the resistless frown upon the forehead of the
beardless knight, the terrible right arm, and the ferocious
steed,--all are there as Raphael saw and wrote them on his brain.
One characteristic of the Baglioni, as might be plentifully
illustrated from their annalist, was their eminent beauty, which
inspired beholders with an enthusiasm and a love they were far from
deserving by their virtues. It is this, in combination with their
personal heroism, which gives a peculiarly dramatic interest to
their doings, and makes the chronicle of Matarazzo more fascinating
than a novel. He seems unable to write about them without using the
language of an adoring lover.

In the affair of 1495 the Baglioni were at amity among themselves.
When they next appear upon the scene, they are engaged in deadly
feud. Cousin has set his hand to the throat of cousin, and the two
heroes of the piazza are destined to be slain by foulest treachery
of their own kin. It must be premised that besides the sons of Guido
and Ridolfo already named, the great house counted among its most
distinguished members a young Grifone, or Grifonetto, the son of
Grifone and Atalanta Baglioni. Both his father and grandfather had
died violent deaths in the prime of their youth; Galeotto, the
father of Atalanta, by poison, and Grifone by the knife at Ponte
Ricciolo in 1477. Atalanta was left a young widow with one only son,
this Grifonetto, whom Matarazzo calls 'un altro Ganimede,' and who
combined the wealth of two chief branches of the Baglioni. In 1500,
when the events about to be related took place, he was quite a
youth. Brave, rich, handsome, and married to a young wife, Zenobia
Sforza, he was the admiration of Perugia. He and his wife loved each
other dearly; and how, indeed, could it be otherwise, since 'l' uno
e l' altro sembravano doi angioli di Paradiso?' At the same time he
had fallen into the hands of bad and desperate counsellors. A
bastard of the house, Filippo da Braccio, his half-uncle, was always
at his side, instructing him not only in the accomplishments of
chivalry, but also in wild ways that brought his name into
disrepute. Another of his familiars was Carlo Barciglia Baglioni, an
unquiet spirit, who longed for more power than his poverty and
comparative obscurity allowed. With them associated Jeronimo della
Penna, a veritable ruffian, contaminated from his earliest youth
with every form of lust and violence, and capable of any crime.[1]
These three companions, instigated partly by the Lord of Camerino
and partly by their own cupidity, conceived a scheme for massacring
the families of Guido and Ridolfo at one blow. As a consequence of
this wholesale murder, Perugia would be at their discretion. Seeing
of what use Grifonetto by his wealth and name might be to them, they
did all they could to persuade him to join their conjuration. It
would appear that the bait first offered him was the sovereignty of
the city, but that he was at last gained over by being made to
believe that his wife Zenobia had carried on an intrigue with
Gianpaolo Baglioni. The dissolute morals of the family gave
plausibility to an infernal trick which worked upon the jealousy of
Grifonetto. Thirsting for revenge, he consented to the scheme. The
conspirators were further fortified by the accession of Jeronimo
della Staffa, and three members of the House of Corgna. It is
noticeable that out of the whole number only two, Bernardo da Corgna
and Filippo da Braccio, were above the age of thirty. Of the rest,
few had reached twenty-five. At so early an age were the men of
those times adepts in violence and treason. The execution of the
plot was fixed for the wedding festivities of Astorre Baglioni with
Lavinia, the daughter of Giovanni Colonna and Giustina Orsini. At
that time the whole Baglioni family were to be assembled in Perugia,
with the single exception of Marcantonio, who was taking baths at
Naples for his health. It was known that the members of the noble
house, nearly all of them condottieri by trade, and eminent for
their great strength and skill in arms, took few precautions for
their safety. They occupied several houses close together between
the Porta San Carlo and the Porta Eburnea, set no regular guard over
their sleeping chambers, and trusted to their personal bravery, and
to the fidelity of their attendants.[2] It was thought that they
might be assassinated in their beds. The wedding festivities began
upon the 28th of July, and great is the particularity with which
Matarazzo describes the doings of each successive day--processions,
jousts, triumphal arches, banquets, balls, and pageants. The night
of the 14th of August was finally set apart for the consummation of
_el gran tradimento_: it is thus that Matarazzo always alludes to
the crime of Grifonetto with a solemnity of reiteration that is most
impressive. A heavy stone let fall into the courtyard of Guido
Baglioni's palace was to be the signal: each conspirator was then to
run to the sleeping chamber of his appointed prey. Two of the
principals and fifteen bravi were told off to each victim: rams and
crowbars were prepared to force the doors, if needful. All happened
as had been anticipated. The crash of the falling stone was heard.
The conspirators rushed to the scene of operations. Astorre, who was
sleeping in the house of his traitorous cousin Grifonetto, was slain
in the arms of his young bride, crying, as he vainly struggled,
'Misero Astorre che more come poltrone!' Simonetto, who lay that
night with a lad called Paolo he greatly loved, flew to arms,
exclaiming to his brother, 'Non dubitare Gismondo, mio fratello!' He
too was soon despatched, together with his bedfellow. Filippo da
Braccio, after killing him, tore from a great wound in his side the
still quivering heart, into which he drove his teeth with savage
fury. Old Guido died groaning, 'Ora è gionto il ponto mio;' and
Gismondo's throat was cut while he lay holding back his face that he
might be spared the sight of his own massacre. The corpses of
Astorre and Simonetto were stripped and thrown out naked into the
streets. Men gathered round and marvelled to see such heroic forms,
with faces so proud and fierce even in death. In especial the
foreign students likened them to ancient Romans.[3] But on their
fingers were rings, and these the ruffians of the place would fain
have hacked off with their knives. From this indignity the noble
limbs were spared; then the dead Baglioni were hurriedly consigned
to an unhonoured tomb. Meanwhile the rest of the intended victims
managed to escape. Gianpaolo, assailed by Grifonetto and
Gianfrancesco della Corgna, took refuge with his squire and
bedfellow, Maraglia, upon a staircase leading from his room. While
the squire held the passage with his pike against the foe, Gianpaolo
effected his flight over neighbouring house-roofs. He crept into the
attic of some foreign students, who, trembling with terror, gave him
food and shelter, clad him in a scholar's gown, and helped him to
fly in this disguise from the gates at dawn. He then joined his
brother Troilo at Marsciano, whence he returned without delay to
punish the traitors. At the same time Grifonetto's mother, Atalanta,
taking with her his wife Zenobia and the two young sons of
Gianpaolo, Malatesta and Orazio, afterwards so celebrated in Italian
history for their great feats of arms and their crimes, fled to her
country-house at Landona. Grifonetto in vain sought to see her
there. She drove him from her presence with curses for the treason
and the fratricide that he had planned. It is very characteristic of
these wild natures, framed of fierce instincts and discordant
passions, that his mother's curse weighed like lead upon the
unfortunate young man. Next day, when Gianpaolo returned to try the
luck of arms, Grifonetto, deserted by the companions of his crime
and paralysed by the sense of his guilt, went out alone to meet him
on the public place. The semi-failure of their scheme had terrified
the conspirators: the horrors of that night of blood unnerved them.
All had fled except the next victim of the feud. Putting his sword
to the youth's throat, Gianpaolo looked into his eyes and said, 'Art
thou here, Grifonetto? Go with God's peace: I will not slay thee,
nor plunge my hand in my own blood, as thou hast done in thine.'
Then he turned and left the lad to be hacked in pieces by his guard.
The untranslatable words which Matarazzo uses to describe his death
are touching from the strong impression they convey of Grifonetto's
goodliness: 'Qui ebbe sua signoria sopra sua nobile persona tante
ferite che suoi membra leggiadre stese in terra.'[4] None but Greeks
felt the charm of personal beauty thus. But while Grifonetto was
breathing out his life upon the pavement of the piazza, his mother
Atalanta and his wife Zenobia came to greet him through the
awe-struck city. As they approached, all men fell aside and slunk
away before their grief. None would seem to have had a share in
Grifonetto's murder. Then Atalanta knelt by her dying son, and
ceased from wailing, and prayed and exhorted him to pardon those who
had caused his death. It appears that Grifonetto was too weak to
speak, but that he made a signal of assent, and received his
mother's blessing at the last: 'E allora porse el nobil giovenetto
la dextra mano a la sua giovenile matre strengendo de sua matre la
bianca mano; e poi incontinente spirò l' anima dal formoso corpo, e
passò cum infinite benedizioni de sua matre in cambio de la
maledictione che prima li aveva date.'[5] Here again the style of
Matarazzo, tender and full of tears, conveys the keenest sense of
the pathos of beauty and of youth in death and sorrow. He has
forgotten _el gran tradimento_. He only remembers how comely
Grifonetto was, how noble, how frank and spirited, how strong in
war, how sprightly in his pleasures and his loves. And he sees the
still young mother, delicate and nobly born, leaning over the
athletic body of her bleeding son. This scene, which is perhaps a
genuine instance of what we may call the neo-Hellenism of the
Renaissance, finds its parallel in the 'Phoenissæ' of Euripides.
Jocasta and Antigone have gone forth to the battlefield and found
the brothers Polynices and Eteocles drenched in blood:--

                        From his chest
  Heaving a heavy breath, King Eteocles heard
  His mother, and stretched forth a cold damp hand
  On hers, and nothing said, but with his eyes
  Spake to her by his tears, showing kind thoughts
  In symbols.

It was Atalanta, we may remember, who commissioned Raphael to paint
the so-called Borghese Entombment. Did she perhaps feel, as she
withdrew from the piazza, soaking with young Grifonetto's blood,[6]
that she too had some portion in the sorrow of that mother who had
wept for Christ? The memory of the dreadful morning must have
remained with her through life, and long communion with our Lady of
Sorrows may have sanctified the grief that had so bitter and so
shameful a root of sin.

    [1] Matarazzo's description of the ruffians who surrounded
    Grifonetto (pp. 104, 105, 113) would suit Webster's
    Flamineo or Bosola. In one place he likens Filippo to
    Achitophel and Grifonetto to Absalom. Villano Villani,
    quoted by Fabretti (vol. iii. p. 125), relates the street
    adventures of this clique. It is a curious picture of the
    pranks of an Italian princeling in the fifteenth century.

    [2] Jacobo Antiquari, the secretary of Lodovico Sforza, in
    a curious letter, which gives an account of the massacre,
    says that he had often reproved the Baglioni for 'sleeping
    in their beds without any guard or watch, so that they
    might easily be overcome by enemies.'
    [3] 'Quelli che li vidino, e maxime li forastiere
    studiante assimigliavano el magnifico Messer Astorre così
    morto ad un antico Romano, perchè prima era unanissimo;
    tanto sua figura era degnia e magnia,' &c. This is a touch
    exquisitely illustrative of the Renaissance enthusiasm for
    classic culture.

    [4] Here his lordship received upon his noble person so
    many wounds that he stretched his graceful limbs upon the

    [5] 'And then the noble stripling stretched his right hand
    to his youthful mother, pressing the white hand of his
    mother; and afterwards forthwith he breathed his soul
    forth from his beauteous body, and died with numberless
    blessings of his mother instead of the curses she had
    given him before.'

    [6] See Matarazzo, p. 134, for this detail.

After the death of Grifonetto, and the flight of the conspirators,
Gianpaolo took possession of Perugia. All who were suspected of
complicity in the treason were massacred upon the piazza and in the
Cathedral. At the expense of more than a hundred murders, the chief
of the Baglioni found himself master of the city on the 17th of
July. First he caused the Cathedral to be washed with wine and
reconsecrated. Then he decorated the Palazzo with the heads of the
traitors and with their portraits in fresco, painted hanging head
downwards, as was the fashion in Italy.[1] Next he established
himself in what remained of the palaces of his kindred, hanging the
saloons with black, and arraying his retainers in the deepest
mourning. Sad indeed was now the aspect of Perugia. Helpless and
comparatively uninterested, the citizens had been spectators of
these bloody broils. They were now bound to share the desolation of
their masters. Matarazzo's description of the mournful palace and
the silent town, and of the return of Marcantonio from Naples,
presents a picture striking for its vividness.[2] In the true style
of the Baglioni, Marcantonio sought to vent his sorrow not so much
in tears as by new violence. He prepared and lighted torches,
meaning to burn the whole quarter of Sant' Angelo; and from this
design he was with difficulty dissuaded by his brother. To such mad
freaks of rage and passion were the inhabitants of a mediæval town
in Italy exposed! They make us understand the _ordinanze di
giustizia_, by which to be a noble was a crime in Florence.

    [1] See Varchi (ed. Lemonnier, 1857), vol. ii. p. 265,
    vol. iii. pp. 224, 652, and Corio (Venice, 1554), p. 326,
    for instances of _dipinti per traditori_.

    [2] P. 142. 'Pareva ogni cosa oscura e lacrimosa: tutte
    loro servitore piangevano; et le camere de lo resto de li
    magnifici Baglioni, e sale, e ognie cosa erano tutte
    intorno cum pagnie negre. E per la città non era più
    alcuno che sonasse nè cantasse; e poco si rideva,' &c.

From this time forward the whole history of the Baglioni family is
one of crime and bloodshed. A curse had fallen on the house, and to
the last of its members the penalty was paid. Gianpaolo himself
acquired the highest reputation throughout Italy for his courage and
sagacity both as a general and a governor.[1] It was he who held
Julius II. at his discretion in 1506, and was sneered at by
Machiavelli for not consummating his enormities by killing the
warlike Pope.[2] He again, after joining the diet of La Magione
against Cesare Borgia, escaped by his acumen the massacre of
Sinigaglia, which overthrew the other conspirators. But his name was
no less famous for unbridled lust and deeds of violence. He boasted
that his son Constantino was a true Baglioni, since he was his
sister's child. He once told Machiavelli that he had it in his mind
to murder four citizens of Perugia, his enemies. He looked calmly on
while his kinsmen Eusebio and Taddeo Baglioni, who had been accused
of treason, were hewn to pieces by his guard. His wife, Ippolita de'
Conti, was poignarded in her Roman farm; on hearing the news, he
ordered a festival in which he was engaged to proceed with redoubled
merriment.[3] At last the time came for him to die by fraud and
violence. Leo X., anxious to remove so powerful a rival from
Perugia, lured him in 1520 to Rome under the false protection of a
papal safe-conduct. After a short imprisonment he had him beheaded
in the Castle of S. Angelo. It was thought that Gentile, his first
cousin, sometime Bishop of Orvieto, but afterwards the father of two
sons in wedlock with Giulia Vitelli--such was the discipline of the
Church at this epoch--had contributed to the capture of Gianpaolo,
and had exulted in his execution.[4] If so, he paid dear for his
treachery; for Orazio Baglioni, the second son of Gianpaolo and
captain of the Church under Clement VII., had him murdered in 1527,
together with his two nephews Fileno and Annibale.[5] This Orazio
was one of the most bloodthirsty of the whole brood. Not satisfied
with the assassination of Gentile, he stabbed Galeotto, the son of
Grifonetto, with his own hand in the same year.[6] Afterwards he
died in the kingdom of Naples while leading the Black Bands in the
disastrous war which followed the sack of Rome. He left no son.
Malatesta, his elder brother, became one of the most celebrated
generals of the age, holding the batons of the Venetian and
Florentine republics, and managing to maintain his ascendency in
Perugia in spite of the persistent opposition of successive popes.
But his name is best known in history for one of the greatest public
crimes--a crime which must be ranked with that of Marshal Bazaine.
Intrusted with the defence of Florence during the siege of 1530, he
sold the city to his enemy, Pope Clement, receiving for the price of
this infamy certain privileges and immunities which fortified his
hold upon Perugia for a season. All Italy was ringing with the great
deeds of the Florentines, who for the sake of their liberty
transformed themselves from merchants into soldiers, and withstood
the united powers of Pope and Emperor alone. Meanwhile Malatesta,
whose trade was war, and who was being largely paid for his services
by the beleaguered city, contrived by means of diplomatic
procrastination, secret communication with the enemy, and all the
arts that could intimidate an army of recruits, to push affairs to a
point at which Florence was forced to capitulate without inflicting
the last desperate glorious blow she longed to deal her enemies. The
universal voice of Italy condemned him. When Matteo Dandolo, the
Doge of Venice, heard what he had done, he cried before the Pregadi
in conclave, 'He has sold that people and that city, and the blood
of those poor citizens ounce by ounce, and has donned the cap of the
biggest traitor in the world.'[7] Consumed with shame, corroded by
an infamous disease, and mistrustful of Clement, to whom he had sold
his honour, Malatesta retired to Perugia, and died in 1531. He left
one son, Ridolfo, who was unable to maintain himself in the lordship
of his native city. After killing the Papal legate, Cinzio
Filonardi, in 1534, he was dislodged four years afterwards, when
Paul III. took final possession of the place as an appanage of the
Church, razed the houses of the Baglioni to the ground, and built
upon their site the Rocca Paolina. This fortress bore an
inscription: 'Ad coercendam Perusinorum audaciam.' The city was
given over to the rapacity of the abominable Pier Luigi Farnese, and
so bad was this tyranny of priests and bastards, that, strange to
say, the Perugians regretted the troublous times of the Baglioni.
Malatesta in dying had exclaimed, 'Help me, if you can; since after
me you will be set to draw the cart like oxen.' Frollieri, relating
the speech, adds, 'And this has been fulfilled to the last letter,
for all have borne not only the yoke but the burden and the goad.'
Ridolfo Baglioni and his cousin Braccio, the eldest son of
Grifonetto, were both captains of Florence. The one died in battle
in 1554, the other in 1559. Thus ended the illustrious family. They
are now represented by descendants from females, and by contadini
who preserve their name and boast a pedigree of which they have no

    [1] See Frollieri, p. 437, for a very curious account of
    his character.

    [2] Fabretti (vol. iii. pp. 193-202. and notes) discusses
    this circumstance in detail. Machiavelli's critique runs
    thus (_Discorsi_, lib. i. cap. 27): 'Nè si poteva credere
    che si fosse astenuto o per bontà, o per coscienza che lo
    ritenesse; perchè in un petto d'un uomo facinoroso, che si
    teneva la sorella, ch' aveva morti i cugini e i nipotí per
    regnare, non poteva scendere alcuno pietoso rispetto: ma
    si conchiuse che gli uomini non sanno essere onorevolmente
    tristi, o perfettamente buoni,' &c.

    [3] See Fabretti, vol. iii. p. 230. He is an authority for
    the details of Gianpaolo's life. The circumstance alluded
    to above justifies the terrible opening scene in Shelley's
    tragedy, _The Cenci_.

    [4] Fabretti, vol. iii. p. 230, vol. iv. p. 10.

    [5] See Varchi, _Storie Florentine_, vol. i. p. 224.

    [6] Ibid.

    [7] Fabretti, vol. iv. p. 206.

The history of the Baglioni needs no commentary. They were not worse
than other Italian nobles, who by their passions and their parties
destroyed the peace of the city they infested. It is with an odd
mixture of admiration and discontent that the chroniclers of Perugia
allude to their ascendency. Matarazzo, who certainly cannot be
accused of hostility to the great house, describes the miseries of
his country under their bad government in piteous terms:[1] 'As I
wish not to swerve from the pure truth, I say that from the day the
Oddi were expelled, our city went from bad to worse. All the young
men followed the trade of arms. Their lives were disorderly; and
every day divers excesses were divulged, and the city had lost all
reason and justice. Every man administered right unto himself,
_propriâ autoritate et manu regiâ_. Meanwhile the Pope sent many
legates, if so be the city could be brought to order: but all who
came returned in dread of being hewn in pieces; for they threatened
to throw some from the windows of the palace, so that no cardinal or
other legate durst approach Perugia, unless he were a friend of the
Baglioni. And the city was brought to such misery, that the most
wrongous men were most prized; and those who had slain two or three
men walked as they listed through the palace, and went with sword or
poignard to speak to the podestà and other magistrates. Moreover,
every man of worth was down-trodden by bravi whom the nobles
favoured; nor could a citizen call his property his own. The nobles
robbed first one and then another of goods and land. All offices
were sold or else suppressed; and taxes and extortions were so
grievous that every one cried out. And if a man were in prison for
his head, he had no reason to fear death, provided he had some
interest with a noble.' Yet the same Matarazzo in another place
finds it in his heart to say:[2] 'Though the city suffered great
pains for these nobles, yet the illustrious house of Baglioni
brought her honour throughout Italy, by reason of the great dignity
and splendour of that house, and of their pomp and name. Wherefore
through them our city was often set above the rest, and notably
above the commonwealths of Florence and Siena.' Pride feels no pain.
The gratified vanity of the Perugian burgher, proud to see his town
preferred before its neighbours, blinds the annalist to all the
violence and villany of the magnificent Casa Baglioni. So strong was
the _esprit de ville_ which through successive centuries and amid
all vicissitudes of politics divided the Italians against
themselves, and proved an insuperable obstacle to unity.

    [1] Pp. 102, 103.

    [2] P. 139.

After reading the chronicle of Matarazzo at Perugia through one winter
day, I left the inn and walked at sunset to the blood-bedabbled
cathedral square; for still those steps and pavements to my strained
imagination seemed reeking with the outpoured blood of Baglioni; and on
the ragged stonework of San Lorenzo red patches slanted from the dying
day. Then by one of those strange freaks of the brain to which we are
all subject, for a moment I lost sight of untidy Gothic façades and
gaunt unfinished church walls; and as I walked, I was in the Close of
Salisbury on a perfumed summer afternoon. The drowsy scent of
lime-flowers and mignonette, the cawing of elm-cradled rooks, the hum of
bees above, the velvet touch of smooth-shorn grass, and the breathless
shadow of motionless green boughs made up one potent and absorbing mood
of the charmed senses. Far overhead soared the calm grey spire into the
infinite air, and the perfection of accomplished beauty slept beneath in
those long lines of nave and choir and transepts. It was but a momentary
dream, a thought that burned itself upon a fancy overtaxed by passionate
images. Once more the puppet-scene of the brain was shifted; once more I
saw the bleak bare flags of the Perugian piazza, the forlorn front of
the Duomo, the bronze griffin, and Pisano's fountain, with here and
there a flake of that tumultuous fire which the Italian sunset sheds.
Who shall adequately compare the two pictures? Which shall we
prefer--the Close of Salisbury, with its sleepy bells and cushioned ease
of immemorial Deans--or this poor threadbare passion of Perugia, where
every stone is stained with blood, and where genius in painters and
scholars and prophets and ecstatic lovers has throbbed itself away to
nothingness? It would be foolish to seek an answer to this question,
idle to institute a comparison, for instance, between those tall young
men with their broad winter cloaks who remind me of Grifonetto, and the
vergers pottering in search of shillings along the gravel paths of
Salisbury. It is more rational, perhaps, to reflect of what strange
stuff our souls are made in this age of the world, when æsthetic
pleasures, full, genuine, and satisfying, can be communicated alike by
Perugia with its fascination of a dead irrevocable dramatic past, and
Salisbury, which finds the artistic climax of its English comfort in the
'Angel in the House.' From Matarazzo, smitten with a Greek love for the
beautiful Grifonetto, to Mr. Patmore, is a wide step.


On the road from Siena to Rome, halfway between Ficulle and Viterbo,
is the town of Orvieto. Travellers often pass it in the night-time.
Few stop there, for the place is old and dirty, and its inns are
said to be indifferent. But none who see it even from a distance can
fail to be struck with its imposing aspect, as it rises from the
level plain upon that mass of rock among the Apennines.

Orvieto is built upon the first of those huge volcanic blocks which
are found like fossils embedded in the more recent geological
formations of Central Italy, and which stretch in an irregular but
unbroken line to the Campagna of Rome. Many of them, like that on
which Civita Castellana is perched, are surrounded by rifts and
chasms and ravines and fosses, strangely furrowed and twisted by the
force of fiery convulsions. But their advanced guard, Orvieto,
stands up definite and solid, an almost perfect cube, with walls
precipitous to north and south and east, but slightly sloping to the
westward. At its foot rolls the Paglia, one of those barren streams
which swell in winter with the snows and rains of the Apennines, but
which in summer-time shrink up, and leave bare beds of sand and
pestilential canebrakes to stretch irregularly round their dwindled

The weary flatness and utter desolation of this valley present a
sinister contrast to the broad line of the Apennines, swelling tier
on tier, from their oak-girdled basements set with villages and
towers, up to the snow and cloud that crown their topmost crags. The
time to see this landscape is at sunrise; and the traveller should
take his stand upon the rising ground over which the Roman road is
carried from the town--the point, in fact, which Turner has selected
for his vague and misty sketch of Orvieto in our Gallery. Thence he
will command the whole space of the plain, the Apennines, and the
river creeping in a straight line at the base; while the sun, rising
to his right, will slant along the mountain flanks, and gild the
leaden stream, and flood the castled crags of Orvieto with a haze of
light. From the centre of this glory stand out in bold relief old
bastions built upon the solid tufa, vast gaping gateways black in
shadow, towers of churches shooting up above a medley of
deep-corniced tall Italian houses, and, amid them all, the marble
front of the Cathedral, calm and solemn in its unfamiliar Gothic
state. Down to the valley from these heights there is a sudden fall;
and we wonder how the few spare olive-trees that grow there can
support existence on the steep slope of the cliff.

Our mind, in looking at this landscape, is carried by the force of
old association to Jerusalem. We could fancy ourselves to be
standing on Mount Olivet, with the valley of Jehoshaphat between us
and the Sacred City. As we approach the town, the difficulty of
scaling its crags seems insurmountable. The road, though carried
skilfully along each easy slope or ledge of quarried rock, still
winds so much that nearly an hour is spent in the ascent. Those who
can walk should take a footpath, and enter Orvieto by the mediæval
road, up which many a Pope, flying from rebellious subjects or
foreign enemies, has hurried on his mule.[1]

    [1] Clement VII., for example, escaped from Rome disguised
    as a gardener after the sack in 1527, and, to quote the
    words of Varchi (St. Flor., v. 17), 'Entrò agli otto di
    dicembre a due ore di notte in Orvieto, terra di sito
    fortissimo, per lo essere ella sopra uno scoglio pieno di
    tufi posta, d' ogni intorno scosceso e dirupato,' &c.

To unaccustomed eyes there is something forbidding and terrible
about the dark and cindery appearance of volcanic tufa. Where it is
broken, the hard and gritty edges leave little space for vegetation;
while at intervals the surface spreads so smooth and straight that
one might take it for solid masonry erected by the architect of
Pandemonium. Rubbish and shattered bits of earthenware and ashes,
thrown from the city walls, cling to every ledge and encumber the
broken pavement of the footway. Then as we rise, the castle
battlements above appear more menacing, toppling upon the rough edge
of the crag, and guarding each turn of the road with jealous
loopholes or beetle-browed machicolations, until at last the gateway
and portcullis are in view.

On first entering Orvieto, one's heart fails to find so terrible a
desolation, so squalid a solitude, and so vast a difference between
the present and the past, between the beauty of surrounding nature
and the misery of this home of men. A long space of unoccupied
ground intervenes between the walls and the hovels which skirt the
modern town. This, in the times of its splendour, may have served
for oliveyards, vineyards, and pasturage, in case of siege. There
are still some faint traces of dead gardens left upon its arid
wilderness, among the ruins of a castellated palace, decorated with
the cross-keys and tiara of an unremembered pope. But now it lies a
mere tract of scorched grass, insufferably hot and dry and sandy,
intersected by dirty paths, and covered with the loathliest offal of
a foul Italian town. Should you cross this ground at mid-day, under
the blinding sun, when no living thing, except perhaps some
poisonous reptile, is about, you would declare that Orvieto had been
stricken for its sins by Heaven. Your mind would dwell mechanically
on all that you have read of Papal crimes, of fratricidal wars, of
Pagan abominations in the high places of the Church, of tempestuous
passions and refined iniquity--of everything, in fact, which renders
Italy of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance dark and ominous amid
the splendours of her art and civilisation. This is the natural
result; this shrunken and squalid old age of poverty and
self-abandonment is the end of that strong, prodigal, and vicious
youth. Who shall restore vigour to these dead bones? we cry. If
Italy is to live again, she must quit her ruined palace towers to
build fresh dwellings elsewhere. Filth, lust, rapacity, treason,
godlessness, and violence have made their habitation here; ghosts
haunt these ruins; these streets still smell of blood and echo to
the cries of injured innocence; life cannot be pure, or calm, or
healthy, where this curse has settled.

Occupied with such reflections, we reach the streets of Orvieto.
They are not very different from those of most Italian villages,
except that there is little gaiety about them. Like Assisi or Siena,
Orvieto is too large for its population, and merriment flows better
from close crowding than from spacious accommodation. Very dark, and
big, and dirty, and deserted, is the judgment we pronounce upon the
houses; very filthy and malodorous each passage; very long this
central street; very few and sad and sullen the inhabitants; and
where, we wonder, is the promised inn? In search of this one walks
nearly through the city, until one enters the Piazza, where there is
more liveliness. Here cafés may be found; soldiers, strong and
sturdy, from the north, lounge at the corners; the shops present
more show; and a huge hotel, not bad for such a place, and
appropriately dedicated to the Belle Arti, standing in a courtyard
of its own, receives the traveller weary with his climb. As soon as
he has taken rooms, his first desire is to go forth and visit the

The great Duomo was erected at the end of the thirteenth century to
commemorate the Miracle of Bolsena. The value of this miracle
consisted in its establishing unmistakably the truth of
transubstantiation. The story runs that a young Bohemian priest who
doubted the dogma was performing the office of the mass in a church
at Bolsena, when, at the moment of consecration, blood issued from
five gashes in the wafer, which resembled the five wounds of Christ.
The fact was evident to all the worshippers, who saw blood falling
on the linen of the altar; and the young priest no longer doubted,
but confessed the miracle, and journeyed straightway with the
evidence thereof to Pope Urban IV. The Pope, who was then at
Orvieto, came out with all his retinue to meet the convert and do
honour to the magic-working relics. The circumstances of this
miracle are well known to students of art through Raphael's
celebrated fresco in the Stanze of the Vatican. And it will be
remembered by the readers of ecclesiastical history that Urban had
in 1264 promulgated by a bull the strict observance of the Corpus
Christi festival in connection with his strong desire to
re-establish the doctrine of Christ's presence in the elements. Nor
was it without reason that, while seeking miraculous support for
this dogma, he should have treated the affair of Bolsena so
seriously as to celebrate it by the erection of one of the most
splendid cathedrals in Italy; for the peace of the Church had
recently been troubled by the reforming ardour of the Fraticelli and
by the promulgation of Abbot Joachim's Eternal Gospel. This new
evangelist had preached the doctrine of progression in religious
faith, proclaiming a kingdom of the Spirit which should transcend
the kingdom of the Son, even as the Christian dispensation had
superseded the Jewish supremacy of the Father. Nor did he fail at
the same time to attack the political and moral abuses of the
Papacy, attributing its degradation to the want of vitality which
pervaded the old Christian system, and calling on the clergy to lead
more simple and regenerate lives, consistently with the spiritual
doctrine which he had received by inspiration. The theories of
Joachim were immature and crude; but they were among the first signs
of that liberal effort after self-emancipation which eventually
stirred all Europe at the time of the Renaissance. It was,
therefore, the obvious policy of the Popes to crush so dangerous an
opposition while they could; and by establishing the dogma of
transubstantiation, they were enabled to satisfy the craving
mysticism of the people, while they placed upon a firmer basis the
cardinal support of their own religious power.

In pursuance of his plan, Urban sent for Lorenzo Maitani, the great
Sienese architect, who gave designs for a Gothic church in the same
style as the Cathedral of Siena, though projected on a smaller
scale. These two churches, in spite of numerous shortcomings
manifest to an eye trained in French or English architecture, are
still the most perfect specimens of Pointed Gothic produced by the
Italian genius. The Gottico Tedesco had never been received with
favour in Italy. Remains of Roman architecture, then far more
numerous and perfect than they are at present, controlled the minds
of artists, and induced them to adopt the rounded rather than the
pointed arch. Indeed, there would seem to be something peculiarly
Northern in the spirit of Gothic architecture: its intricacies suit
the gloom of Northern skies, its massive exterior is adapted to the
severity of Northern weather, its vast windows catch the fleeting
sunlight of the North, and the pinnacles and spires which constitute
its beauty are better expressed in rugged stone than in the marbles
of the South. Northern cathedrals do not depend for their effect
upon the advantages of sunlight or picturesque situations. Many of
them are built upon broad plains, over which for more than half the
year hangs fog. But the cathedrals of Italy owe their charm to
colour and brilliancy: their gilded sculpture and mosaics, the
variegated marbles and shallow portals of their façades, the light
aërial elegance of their campanili, are all adapted to the luminous
atmosphere of a smiling land, where changing effects of natural
beauty distract the attention from solidity of design and permanence
of grandeur in the edifice itself.[1]

    [1] In considering why Gothic architecture took so little
    root in mediæval Italy, we must remember that the Italians
    had maintained an unbroken connection with Pagan Rome, and
    that many of their finest churches were basilicas
    appropriated to Christian rites. Add to this that the
    commerce of their cities, which first acquired wealth in
    the twelfth century, especially Pisa and Venice, kept them
    in communication with the Levant, where they admired the
    masterpieces of Byzantine architecture, and whence they
    imported Greek artists in mosaic and stonework. Against
    these external circumstances, taken in connection with the
    hereditary leanings of an essentially Latin race, and with
    the natural conditions of landscape and climate alluded to
    above, the influence of a few imported German architects
    could not have had sufficient power to effect a thorough
    metamorphosis of the national taste. For further treatment
    of this subject see my 'Fine Arts,' _Renaissance in
    Italy_, Part III. chap. ii.

The Cathedral of Orvieto will illustrate these remarks. Its design
is very simple. It consists of a parallelogram, from which three
chapels of equal size project, one at the east end, and one at the
north and south. The windows are small and narrow, the columns
round, and the roof displays none of that intricate groining we find
in English churches. The beauty of the interior depends on surface
decoration, on marble statues, woodwork, and fresco-paintings.
Outside, there is the same simplicity of design, the same elaborated
local ornament. The sides of the Cathedral are austere, their narrow
windows cutting horizontal lines of black and white marble. But the
façade is a triumph of decorative art. It is strictly what has often
been described as a 'frontispiece;' for it bears no sincere relation
to the construction of the building. The three gables rise high
above the aisles. The pinnacles and parapets and turrets are stuck
on to look agreeable. It is a screen such as might be completed or
left unfinished at will by the architect. Finished as it is, the
façade of Orvieto presents a wilderness of beauties. Its pure white
marble has been mellowed by time to a rich golden hue, in which are
set mosaics shining like gems or pictures of enamel. A statue stands
on every pinnacle; each pillar has a different design; round some of
them are woven wreaths of vine and ivy; acanthus leaves curl over
the capitals, making nests for singing birds or Cupids; the doorways
are a labyrinth of intricate designs, in which the utmost elegance
of form is made more beautiful by incrustations of precious agates
and Alexandrine glasswork. On every square inch of this wonderful
façade have been lavished invention, skill, and precious material.
But its chief interest centres in the sculptures executed by
Giovanni and Andrea, sons and pupils of Nicola Pisano. The names of
these three men mark an era in the history of art. They first
rescued Italian sculpture from the grotesqueness of the Lombard and
the wooden monotony of the Byzantine styles. Sculpture takes the
lead of all the arts. And Nicola Pisano, before Cimabue, before
Duccio, even before Dante, opened the gates of beauty, which for a
thousand years had been shut up and overgrown with weeds. As Dante
invoked the influence of Virgil when he began to write his mediæval
poem, and made a heathen bard his hierophant in Christian mysteries,
just so did Nicola Pisano draw inspiration from a Græco-Roman
sarcophagus. He studied the basrelief of Phædra and Hippolytus,
which may still be seen upon the tomb of Countess Beatrice in the
Campo Santo, and so learned by heart the beauty of its lines and the
dignity expressed in its figures, that in all his subsequent works
we trace the elevated tranquillity of Greek sculpture. This
imitation never degenerated into servile copying; nor, on the other
hand, did Nicola attain the perfect grace of an Athenian artist. He
remained a truly mediæval carver, animated with a Christian instead
of a Pagan spirit, but caring for the loveliness of form which art
in the dark ages failed to realise.[1]

    [1] I am not inclined to reject the old legend mentioned
    above about Pisano's study of the antique. For a full
    discussion of the question see my 'Fine Arts,'
    _Renaissance in Italy_, Part III. chap. iii.

Whether it was Nicola or his scholars who designed the basreliefs at
Orvieto is of little consequence. Vasari ascribes them to the
father; but we know that he completed his pulpit at Pisa in 1230,
and his death is supposed to have taken place fifteen years before
the foundation of the cathedral. At any rate, they are imbued with
his genius, and bear the strongest affinity to his sculptures at
Pisa, Siena, and Bologna. To estimate the influence they exercised
over the arts of sculpture and painting in Italy would be a
difficult task. Duccio and Giotto studied here; Ghiberti closely
followed them. Signorelli and Raphael made drawings from their
compositions. And the spirit which pervades these sculptures may be
traced in all succeeding works of art. It is not classic; it is
modern, though embodied in a form of beauty modelled on the Greek.

The basreliefs are carved on four marble tablets placed beside the
porches of the church, and corresponding in size and shape with the
chief doorways. They represent the course of Biblical history,
beginning with the creation of the world, and ending with the last
judgment. If it were possible here to compare them in detail with
the similar designs of Ghiberti, Michel Angelo, and Raphael, it
might be shown that the Pisani established modes of treating sacred
subjects from which those mighty masters never deviated, though each
stamped upon them his peculiar genius, making them more perfect as
time added to the power of art. It would also be not without
interest to show that, in their primitive conceptions of the
earliest events in history, the works of the Pisan artists closely
resemble some sculptures executed on the walls of Northern
cathedrals, as well as early mosaics in the South of Italy. We might
have noticed how all the grotesque elements which appear in Nicola
Pisano, and which may still be traced in Ghiberti, are entirely lost
in Michel Angelo, how the supernatural is humanised, how the
symbolical receives an actual expression, and how intellectual types
are substituted for mere local and individual representations. For
instance, the Pisani represent the Creator as a young man standing
on the earth, with a benign and dignified expression, and attended
by two ministering angels. He is the Christ of the Creed, 'by whom
all things were made.' In Ghiberti we find an older man, sometimes
appearing in a whirlwind of clouds and attendant spirits, sometimes
walking on the earth, but still far different in conception from the
Creative Father of Michel Angelo. The latter is rather the Platonic
Demiurgus than the Mosaic God. By every line and feature of his face
and flowing hair, by each movement of his limbs, whether he ride on
clouds between the waters and the firmament, or stand alone creating
by a glance and by a motion of his hand Eve, the full-formed and
conscious woman, he is proclaimed the Maker who from all eternity
has held the thought of the material universe within his mind.
Raphael does not depart from this conception. The profound
abstraction of Michel Angelo ruled his intellect, and received from
his genius a form of perhaps greater grace. A similar growth from
the germinal designs of the Pisani may be traced in many groups.

But we must not linger at the gate. Let us enter the cathedral and
see some of the wonders it contains. Statues of gigantic size adorn
the nave. Of these, the most beautiful 151 are the work of Ippolito
Scalza, an artist whom Orvieto claims with pride as one of her own
sons. The long line of saints and apostles whom they represent
conduct us to the high altar, surrounded by its shadowy frescoes,
and gleaming with the work of carvers in marble and bronze and
precious metals. But our steps are drawn toward the chapel of the
south transept, where now a golden light from the autumnal sunset
falls across a crowd of worshippers. From far and near the poor
people are gathered. Most of them are women. They kneel upon the
pavement and the benches, sunburnt faces from the vineyards and the
canebrakes of the valley. The old look prematurely aged and
withered--their wrinkled cheeks bound up in scarlet and
orange-coloured kerchiefs, their skinny fingers fumbling on the
rosary, and their mute lips moving in prayer. The younger women have
great listless eyes and large limbs used to labor. Some of them
carry babies trussed up in tight swaddling-clothes. One kneels
beside a dark-browed shepherd, on whose shoulder falls his shaggy
hair; and little children play about, half hushed, half heedless of
the place, among old men whose life has dwindled down into a
ceaseless round of prayers. We wonder why this chapel, alone in the
empty cathedral, is so crowded with worshippers. They surely are not
turned towards that splendid Pietà of Scalza--a work in which the
marble seems to live a cold, dead, shivering life. They do not heed
Angelico's and Signorelli's frescoes on the roof and walls. The
interchange of light and gloom upon the stalls and carved work of
the canopies can scarcely rivet so intense a gaze. All eyes seem
fixed upon a curtain of red silk above the altar. Votive pictures,
and glass cases full of silver hearts, wax babies, hands and limbs
of every kind, are hung round it. A bell rings. A jingling organ
plays a little melody in triple time; and from the sacristy comes
forth the priest. With much reverence, and with a show of
preparation, he and the acolytes around him mount the altar steps
and pull a string which draws the curtain. Behind the silken veil we
behold Madonna and her child--a faint, old, ugly picture, blackened
with the smoke and incense of five hundred years, a wonder-working
image, cased in gold, and guarded from the common air by glass and
draperies. Jewelled crowns are stuck upon the heads of the mother
and the infant. In the efficacy of Madonna di San Brizio to ward off
agues, to deliver from the pangs of childbirth or the fury of the
storm, to keep the lover's troth and make the husband faithful to
his home, these pious women of the marshes and the mountains put a
simple trust.

While the priest sings, and the people pray to the dance-music of
the organ, let us take a quiet seat unseen, and picture to our minds
how the chapel looked when Angelico and Signorelli stood before its
plastered walls, and thought the thoughts with which they covered
them. Four centuries have gone by since those walls were white and
even to their brushes; and now you scarce can see the golden
aureoles of saints, the vast wings of the angels, and the flowing
robes of prophets through the gloom. Angelico came first, in monk's
dress, kneeling before he climbed the scaffold to paint the angry
judge, the Virgin crowned, the white-robed army of the Martyrs, and
the glorious company of the Apostles. These he placed upon the roof,
expectant of the Judgment. Then he passed away, and Luca Signorelli,
the rich man who 'lived splendidly and loved to dress himself in
noble clothes,' the liberal and courteous gentleman, took his place
upon the scaffold. For all the worldliness of his attire and the
worldliness of his living, his brain teemed with stern and terrible
thoughts. He searched the secrets of sin and of the grave, of
destruction and of resurrection, of heaven and hell. All these he
has painted on the walls beneath the saints of Fra Angelico. First
come the troubles of the last days, the preaching of Antichrist, and
the confusion of the wicked. In the next compartment we see the
Resurrection from the tomb; and side by side with that is painted
Hell. Paradise occupies another portion of the chapel. On each side
of the window, beneath the Christ of Fra Angelico, are delineated
scenes from the Judgment. A wilderness of arabesques, enclosing
medallion portraits of poets and chiaroscuro episodes selected from
Dante and Ovid, occupies the lower portions of the chapel walls
beneath the great subjects enumerated above; and here Signorelli has
given free vein to his fancy and his mastery over anatomical design,
accumulating naked human figures in the most fantastic and audacious
variety of pose.

Look at the 'Fulminati'--so the group of wicked men are called whose
death precedes the Judgment. Huge naked angels, sailing upon vanlike
wings, breathe columns of red flame upon a crowd of wicked men and
women. In vain these sinners avoid the descending fire. It pursues
and fells them to the earth. As they fly, their eyes are turned
towards the dreadful faces in the air. Some hurry through a portico,
huddled together, falling men, and women clasping to their arms dead
babies scorched with flame. One old man stares straightforward,
doggedly awaiting death. One woman scowls defiance as she dies. A
youth has twisted both hands in his hair, and presses them against
his ears to drown the screams and groans and roaring thunder. They
trample upon prostrate forms already stiff. Every shape and attitude
of sudden terror and despairing guilt are here. Next comes the
Resurrection. Two angels of the Judgment--gigantic figures, with the
plumeless wings that Signorelli loves--are seen upon the clouds.
They blow trumpets with all their might, so that each naked muscle
seems strained to make the blast, which bellows through the air and
shakes the sepulchres beneath the earth. Thence rise the dead. All
are naked, and a few are seen like skeletons. With painful effort
they struggle from the soil that clasps them round, as if obeying an
irresistible command. Some have their heads alone above the ground.
Others wrench their limbs from the clinging earth; and as each man
rises, it closes under him. One would think that they were being
born again from solid clay, and growing into form with labour. The
fully risen spirits stand and walk about, all occupied with the
expectation of the Judgment; but those that are yet in the act of
rising, have no thought but for the strange and toilsome process of
this second birth. Signorelli here, as elsewhere, proves himself one
of the greatest painters by the simple means with which he produces
the most marvellous effects. His composition sways our souls with
all the passion of the terrible scenes that he depicts. Yet what
does it contain? Two stern angels on the clouds, a blank grey plain,
and a multitude of naked men and women. In the next compartment Hell
is painted. This is a complicated picture, consisting of a mass of
human beings entangled with torturing fiends. Above hover demons
bearing damned spirits, and three angels see that justice takes its
course. Signorelli here degenerates into no mediæval ugliness and
mere barbarity of form. His fiends are not the bestial creatures of
Pisano's basreliefs, but models of those monsters which Duppa has
engraved from Michel Angelo's 'Last Judgment'--lean naked men, in
whose hollow eyes glow the fires of hate and despair, whose nails
have grown to claws, and from whose ears have started horns. They
sail upon bats' wings; and only by their livid hue, which changes
from yellow to the ghastliest green, and by the cruelty of their
remorseless eyes, can you know them from the souls they torture. In
Hell ugliness and power of mischief come with length of years.
Continual growth in crime distorts the form which once was human;
and the interchange of everlasting hatred degrades the tormentor and
his victim to the same demoniac ferocity. To this design the science
of foreshortening, and the profound knowledge of the human form in
every posture, give its chief interest. Paradise is not less
wonderful. Signorelli has contrived to throw variety and grace into
the somewhat monotonous groups which this subject requires. Above
are choirs of angels, not like Fra Angelico's, but tall male
creatures clothed in voluminous drapery, with grave features and
still, solemn eyes. Some are dancing, some are singing to the lute,
and one, the most gracious of them all, bends down to aid a
suppliant soul. The men beneath, who listen in a state of bliss, are
all undraped. Signorelli, in this difficult composition, remains
temperate, serene, and simple; a Miltonic harmony pervades the
movement of his angelic choirs. Their beauty is the product of their
strength and virtue. No floral ornaments or cherubs, or soft clouds,
are found in his Paradise; yet it is fair and full of grace. Here
Luca seems to have anticipated Raphael.

It may be parenthetically observed, that Signorelli has introduced
himself and Niccolo Angeli, treasurer of the cathedral building
fund, in the corner of the fresco representing Antichrist, with the
date 1503. They stand as spectators and solemn witnesses of the
tragedy, set forth in all its acts by the great master.

After viewing these frescoes, we muse and ask ourselves why
Signorelli's fame is so inadequate to his deserts? Partly, no doubt,
because he painted in obscure Italian towns, and left few
easel-pictures.[1] Besides, the artists of the sixteenth century
eclipsed all their predecessors, and the name of Signorelli has been
swallowed up in that of Michel Angelo. Vasari said that 'esso Michel
Angelo imitò l'andar di Luca, come può vedere ognuno.' Nor is it
hard to see that what the one began at Orvieto the other completed
in the Vatican. These great men had truly kindred spirits. Both
struggled to express their intellectual conceptions in the simplest
and most abstract forms. The works of both are distinguished by
contempt for adventitious ornaments and for the grace of positive
colour. Both chose to work in fresco, and selected subjects of the
gravest and most elevated character. The study of anatomy, and the
scientific drawing of the naked body, which Luca practised, were
carried to perfection by Michel Angelo. Sublimity of thought and
self-restraint pervade their compositions. He who would understand
Buonarroti must first appreciate Signorelli. The latter, it is true,
was confined to a narrower circle in his study of the beautiful and
the sublime. He had not ascended to that pure idealism, superior to
all the accidents of place and time, which is the chief distinction
of Michel Angelo's work. At the same time, his manner had not
suffered from too fervid an enthusiasm for the imperfectly
comprehended antique. He painted the life he saw around him, and
clothed his men and women in the dress of Italy.

    [1] The Uffizzi and Pitti Galleries at Florence contain
    one or two fine specimens of Luca Signorelli's Holy
    Families, which show his influence over the early manner
    of Michel Angelo. Into the background of one circular
    picture he has introduced a group of naked figures, which
    was imitated by Buonarroti in the Holy Family of the
    Tribune. The Accademia has also a picture of saints and
    angels illustrative of his large style and crowded
    composition. The Brera at Milan can boast of a very
    characteristic Flagellation, where the nude has been
    carefully studied, and the brutality of an insolent
    officer is forcibly represented. But perhaps the most
    interesting of his works out of Orvieto are those in his
    native place, Cortona. In the Church of the Gesù in that
    town there is an altar-piece representing Madonna in glory
    with saints, which also contains on a smaller scale than
    the principal figures a little design of the Temptation in
    Eden. You recognise the master's individuality in the
    muscular and energetic Adam. The Duomo has a Communion of
    the Apostles which shows Signorelli's independence of
    tradition. It is the Cenacolo treated with freedom. Christ
    stands in the midst of the twelve, who are gathered around
    him, some kneeling and some upright, upon a marble
    pavement. The whole scene is conceived in a truly grand
    style--noble attitudes, broad draperies, sombre and rich
    colouring, masculine massing of the figures in effective
    groups. The Christ is especially noble. Swaying a little
    to the right, he gives the bread to a kneeling apostle.
    The composition is marked by a dignity and self-restraint
    which Raphael might have envied. San Niccolo, again, has a
    fine picture by this master. It is a Deposition with
    saints and angels--those large-limbed and wide-winged
    messengers of God whom none but Signorelli realised. The
    composition of this picture is hazardous, and at first
    sight it is even displeasing. The figures seem roughly
    scattered in a vacant space. The dead Christ has but
    little dignity, and the passion of S. Jerome in the
    foreground is stiff in spite of its exaggeration. But long
    study only serves to render this strange picture more and
    more attractive. Especially noticeable is the youthful
    angel clad in dark green who sustains Christ. He is a
    young man in the bloom of strength and beauty, whose long
    golden hair falls on each side of a sublimely lovely face.
    Nothing in painting surpasses the modelling of the
    vigorous but delicate left arm stretched forward to
    support the heavy corpse. This figure is conceived and
    executed in a style worthy of the Orvietan frescoes.
    Signorelli, for whose imagination angels had a special
    charm, has shown here that his too frequent contempt for
    grace was not the result of insensibility to beauty.
    Strength is the parent of sweetness in this wonderful
    winged youth. But not a single sacrifice is made in the
    whole picture to mere elegance.--Cortona is a place which,
    independently of Signorelli, well deserves a visit. Like
    all Etruscan towns, it is perched on the top of a high
    hill, whence it commands a wonderful stretch of
    landscape--Monte Amiata and Montepulciano to the south,
    Chiusi with its lake, the lake of Thrasymene, and the
    whole broad Tuscan plain. The city itself is built on a
    projecting buttress of the mountain, to which it clings so
    closely that, in climbing to the terrace of S. Margarita,
    you lose sight of all but a few towers and house-roofs.
    One can almost fancy that Signorelli gained his broad and
    austere style from the habitual contemplation of a view so
    severe in outline, and so vacant in its width. This
    landscape has none of the variety which distinguishes the
    prospect from Perugia, none of the suavity of Siena. It is
    truly sympathetic in its bare simplicity to the style of
    the great painter of Cortona. Try to see it on a winter
    morning, when the mists are lying white and low and thin
    upon the plain, when distant hills rise islanded into the
    air, and the outlines of lakes are just discernible
    through fleecy haze.--Next to Cortona in importance is the
    Convent of Monte Oliveto in the neighbourhood of Siena,
    where Signorelli painted eight frescoes from the story of
    S. Benedict, distinguished by his customary vigour of
    conception, masculine force of design, and martial
    splendour in athletic disdainful young men. One scene in
    this series, representing the interior of a country inn,
    is specially interesting for a realism not usual in the
    work of Signorelli. The frescoes painted for Petruccio at
    Siena, one of which is now in the National Gallery, the
    fresco in the Sistine Chapel, which has suffered sadly
    from retouching, and the magnificent classical picture
    called the 'School of Pan,' executed for Lorenzo de'
    Medici, and now at Berlin, must not be forgotten, nor yet
    the church-pictures scattered over Loreto, Arcevia, Città
    di Castello, Borgo San Sepolcro, Volterra, and other
    cities of the Tuscan-Umbrian district. Arezzo, it may be
    added in conclusion, has two altar-pieces of Signorelli's
    in its Pinacoteca, neither of which adds much to our
    conception of this painter's style. Noticeable as they may
    be among the works of that period, they prove that his
    genius was hampered by the narrow and traditional
    treatment imposed on him in pictures of this kind.
    Students may be referred to Robert Vischer's _Luca
    Signorelli_ (Leipzig, 1879) for a complete list of the
    master's works and an exhaustive biography. I have tried
    to estimate his place in the history of Italian art in my
    volume on the 'Fine Arts,' _Renaissance in Italy_, Part
    III. I may also mention two able articles by Professor
    Colvin published a few years since in the _Cornhill

Such reflections, and many more, pass through our mind as we sit and
ponder in the chapel, which the daylight has deserted. The country
people are still on their knees, still careless of the frescoed
forms around them, still praying to Madonna of the Miracles. The
service is well-nigh done. The benediction has been given, the
organist strikes up his air of Verdi, and the congregation shuffles
off, leaving the dimly lighted chapel for the vast sonorous dusky
nave. How strange it is to hear that faint strain of a feeble opera
sounding where, a short while since, the trumpet-blast of
Signorelli's angels seemed to thrill our ears!


In seeking to distinguish the Roman from the Greek genius we can
find no surer guide than Virgil's famous lines in the Sixth Æneid.
Virgil lived to combine the traditions of both races in a work of
profoundly meditated art, and to their points of divergence he was
sensitive as none but a poet bent upon resolving them could be. The
real greatness of the Romans consisted in their capacity for
government, law, practical administration. What they willed, they
carried into effect with an iron indifference to everything but the
object in view. What they acquired, they held with the firm grasp of
force, and by the might of organised authority. Their architecture,
in so far as it was original, subserved purposes of public utility.
Philosophy with them ceased to be speculative, and applied itself to
the ethics of conduct. Their religious conceptions--in so far as
these were not adopted together with general culture from the
Greeks, or together with sensual mysticism from the East--were
practical abstractions. The Latin ideal was to give form to the
state by legislation, and to mould the citizen by moral discipline.
The Greek ideal was contained in the poetry of Homer, the sculpture
of Pheidias, the heroism of Harmodius, the philosophy of Socrates.
Hellas was held together by no system, but by the Delphic oracle and
the Olympian games. The Greeks depended upon culture, as the Romans
upon law. The national character determined by culture, and that
determined by discipline, eventually broke down: but the ruin in
either case was different. The Greek became servile, indolent, and
slippery; the Roman became arrogant, bloodthirsty, tyrannous, and
brutal. The Greeks in their best days attained to [Greek:
sôphrosynê], their regulative virtue, by a kind of instinct; and
even in their worst debasement they never exhibited the extravagance
of lust and cruelty and pompous prodigality displayed by Rome. The
Romans, deficient in the æsthetic instinct, whether applied to
morals or to art, were temperate upon compulsion; and when the
strain of law relaxed, they gave themselves unchecked to profligacy.
The bad taste of the Romans made them aspire to the huge and
monstrous. Nero's whim to cut through the isthmus, Caligula's villa
built upon the sea at Baiæ, the acres covered by imperial palaces in
Rome, are as Latin as the small scale of the Parthenon is Greek.
Athens annihilates our notions of mere magnitude by the predominance
of harmony and beauty, to which size is irrelevant. Rome dilates
them to the full: it is the colossal greatness, the mechanical
pride, of her monuments that win our admiration. By comparing the
Dionysian theatre at Athens, during a representation of the
'Antigone,' with the Flavian amphitheatre at Rome, while the
gladiators sang their _Ave Cæsar!_ we gain at once a measure for the
differences between Greek and Latin taste. In spiritual matters,
again, Rome, as distinguished from Hellas, was omnivorous. The
cosmopolitan receptivity of Roman sympathies, absorbing Egypt and
the Orient wholesale, is as characteristic as the exclusiveness of
the Greeks, their sensitive anxiety about the [Greek: êthos]. We
feel that it was in a Roman rather than a Greek atmosphere, where no
middle term of art existed like a neutral ground between the moral
law and sin, where no delicate intellectual sensibilities interfered
with the assimilation of new creeds, that Christianity was destined
to strike root and flourish.

These remarks, familiar to students, form a proper prelude to the
criticism of Lucretius: for in Lucretius the Roman character found
its most perfect literary incarnation. He is at all points a true
Roman, gifted with the strength, the conquering temper, the
uncompromising haughtiness, and the large scale of his race.
Holding, as it were, the thought of Greece in fee, he administers
the Epicurean philosophy as though it were a province, marshalling
his arguments like legionaries, and spanning the chasms of
speculative insecurity with the masonry of hypotheses. As the arches
of the Pont du Gard, suspended in their power amid that solitude,
produce an overmastering feeling of awe; so the huge fabric of the
Lucretian system, hung across the void of Nihilism, inspires a sense
of terror, not so much on its own account as for the Roman sternness
of the mind that made it. 'Le retentissement de mes pas dans ces
immenses voûtes me faisait croire entendre la forte voix de ceux qui
les avait bâties. Je me perdais comme un insecte dans cette
immensité.' This is what Rousseau wrote about the aqueduct of
Nismes. This is what we feel in pacing the corridors of the
Lucretian poem. Sometimes it seems like walking through resounding
caves of night and death, where unseen cataracts keep plunging down
uncertain depths, and winds 'thwarted and forlorn' swell from an
unknown distance, and rush by, and wail themselves to silence in the
unexplored beyond. At another time the impression left upon the
memory is different. We have been following a Roman road from the
gate of the Eternal City, through field and vineyard, by lake and
river-bed, across the broad intolerable plain and the barren tops of
Alps, down into forests where wild beasts and barbarian tribes
wander, along the marge of Rhine or Elbe, and over frozen fens, in
one perpetual straight line, until the sea is reached and the road
ends because it can go no further. All the while, the iron
wheel-rims of our chariot have jarred upon imperishable paved work;
there has been no stop nor stay; the visions of things beautiful and
strange and tedious have flown past; at the climax we look forth
across a waste of waves and tumbling wilderness of surf and foam,
where the storm sweeps and hurrying mists drive eastward close above
our heads. The want of any respite, breathing-space, or intermission
in the poem, helps to force this image of a Roman journey on our
mind. From the first line to the last there is no turning-point, no
pause of thought, scarcely a comma, and the whole breaks off:--

  rixantes potius quam corpora desererentur:

as though a scythe-sweep from the arm of Death had cut the thread of
singing short.

Is, then, this poem truly song? Indeed it is. The brazen voice of
Rome becomes tunable; a majestic rhythm sustains the progress of the
singer, who, like Milton's Satan,

  O'er bog or steep, through strait, rough, dense, or rare,
  With head, hands, wings or feet, pursues his way,
  And swims, or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flies.

It is only because, being so much a Roman, he insists on moving ever
onward with unwavering march, that Lucretius is often wearisome and
rough. He is too disdainful to care to mould the whole stuff of his
poem to one quality. He is too truth-loving to condescend to
rhetoric. The scoriæ, the grit, the dross, the quartz, the gold, the
jewels of his thought are hurried onward in one mighty lava-flood,
that has the force to bear them all with equal ease--not altogether
unlike that hurling torrent of the world painted by Tintoretto in
his picture of the Last Day, which carries on its breast cities and
forests and men with all their works, to plunge them in a bottomless

Poems of the perfect Hellenic type may be compared to bronze
statues, in the material of which many divers metals have been
fused. Silver and tin and copper and lead and gold are there: each
substance adds a quality to the mass; yet the whole is bronze. The
furnace of the poet's will has so melted and mingled all these ores,
that they have run together and filled the mould of his imagination.
It is thus that Virgil chose to work. He made it his glory to
realise artistic harmony, and to preserve a Greek balance in his
style. Not so Lucretius. In him the Roman spirit, disdainful,
uncompromising, and forceful, had full sway. We can fancy him
accosting the Greek masters of the lyre upon Parnassus, deferring to
none, conceding nought, and meeting their arguments with proud

  tu regere imperio populos Romane memento.

The Roman poet, swaying the people of his thoughts, will stoop to no
persuasion, adopt no middle course. It is not his business to
please, but to command; he will not wait upon the [Greek: kairos],
or court opportunity; Greeks may surprise the Muses in relenting
moods, and seek out 'mollia tempora fandi;' all times and seasons
must serve him; the terrible, the discordant, the sublime, and the
magnificent shall drag his thundering car-wheels, as he lists, along
the road of thought.

At the very outset of the poem we feel ourselves within the grasp of
the Roman imagination. It is no Aphrodite, risen from the waves and
white as the sea-foam, that he invokes:--

  Æneadum genetrix, hominum divomque voluptas,
  alma Venus.

This Venus is the mother of the brood of Rome, and at the same time
an abstraction as wide as the universe. See her in the arms of

                 in gremium qui sæpe tuum se
  reicit æterno devictus volnere amoris,
  atque ita suspiciens tereti cervice reposta
  pascit amore avidos inhians in te, dea, visus,
  eque tuo pendet resupini spiritus ore.
  hunc tu, diva, tuo recubantem corpore sancto
  circumfusa super, suavis ex ore loquelas
  funde petens placidam Romanis, incluta, pacem.

In the whole Lucretian treatment of love there is nothing really
Greek. We do not hear of Eros, either as the mystic mania of Plato,
or as the winged boy of Meleager. Love in Lucretius is something
deeper, larger, and more elemental than the Greeks conceived; a
fierce and overmastering force, a natural impulse which men share in
common with the world of things.[1] Both the pleasures and the pains
of love are conceived on a gigantic scale, and described with an
irony that has the growl of a roused lion mingled with its

  ulcus enim vivescit et inveterascit alendo
  inque dies gliscit furor atque aerumna gravescit.

The acts of love and the insanities of passion are viewed from no
standpoint of sentiment or soft emotion, but always in relation to
philosophical ideas, or as the manifestation of something terrible
in human life. Yet they lose nothing thereby in the voluptuous
impression left upon the fancy:--

  sic in amore Venus simulacris ludit amantis,
  nec satiare queunt spectando corpora coram
  nec manibus quicquam teneris abradere membris
  possunt errantes incerti corpore toto.
  denique cum membris conlatis flore fruuntur
  ætatis, iam cum præsagit gaudia corpus
  atque in eost Venus ut muliebria conserat arva,
  adfigunt avide corpus iunguntque salivas
  oris et inspirant pressantes dentibus ora,
  nequiquam, quoniam nil inde abradere possunt
  nec penetrare et abire in corpus corpore toto.

The master-word in this passage is _nequiquam_. 'To desire the
impossible,' says the Greek proverb, 'is a disease of the soul.'
Lucretius, who treats of physical desire as a torment, asserts the
impossibility of its perfect satisfaction. There is something almost
tragic in these sighs and pantings and pleasure-throes, and
incomplete fruitions of souls pent up within their frames of flesh.
We seem to see a race of men and women such as have never lived,
except perhaps in Rome or in the thought of Michel Angelo,[2]
meeting in leonine embracements that yield pain, whereof the climax
is, at best, relief from rage and respite for a moment from
consuming fire. There is a life dæmonic rather than human in those
mighty limbs; and the passion that bends them on the marriage bed
has in it the stress of storms, the rampings and the roarings of
leopards at play. Or, take again this single line:--

  et Venus in silvis iungebat corpora amantum.

What a picture of primeval breadth and vastness! The _vice
égrillard_ of Voltaire, the coarse animalism of Rabelais, even the
large comic sexuality of Aristophanes, are in another region: for
the forest is the world, and the bodies of the lovers are things
natural and unashamed, and Venus is the tyrannous instinct that
controls the blood in spring. Only a Roman poet could have conceived
of passion so mightily and so impersonally, expanding its sensuality
to suit the scale of Titanic existences, and purging from it both
sentiment and spirituality as well as all that makes it mean.

    [1] A fragment preserved from the _Danaides_ of Æschylus
    has the thought of Aphrodite as the mistress of love in
    earth and sky and sea and cloud; and this idea finds a
    philosophical expression in Empedocles. But the tone of
    these Greek poets is as different from that of Lucretius
    as a Greek Hera is from a Roman Juno.

    [2] See, for instance, his meeting of Ixion with the
    phantom of Juno, or his design for Leda and the Swan.

In like manner, the Lucretian conception of Ennui is wholly Roman:--

  Si possent homines, proinde ac sentire videntur
  pondus inesse animo quod se gravitate fatiget,
  e quibus id fiat causis quoque noscere et unde
  tanta mali tamquam moles in pectore constet,
  haut ita vitam agerent, ut nunc plerumque videmus
  quid sibi quisque velit nescire et quærere semper
  commutare locum quasi onus deponere possit.
  exit sæpe foras magnis ex ædibus ille,
  esse domi quem pertæsumst, subitoque revertit,
  quippe foris nilo melius qui sentiat esse.
  currit agens mannos ad villam præcipitanter,
  auxilium tectis quasi ferre ardentibus instans;
  oscitat extemplo, tetigit cum limina villæ,
  aut abit in somnum gravis atque oblivia quærit,
  aut etiam properans urbem petit atque revisit,
  hoc se quisque modo fugit (at quem scilicet, ut fit,
  effugere haut potis est, ingratis hæret) et odit
  propterea, morbi quia causam non tenet æger;
  quam bene si videat, iam rebus quisque relictis
  naturam primum studeat cognoscere rerum,
  temporis æterni quoniam, non unius horæ,
  ambigitur status, in quo sit mortalibus omnis
  ætas, post mortem quæ restat cumque manenda.

Virgil would not have written these lines. A Greek poet could not
have conceived them: unless we imagine to ourselves what Æschylus or
Pindar, oppressed by long illness, and forgetful of the gods, might
possibly have felt. In its sense of spiritual vacancy, when the
world and all its uses have become flat, stale, unprofitable, and
the sentient soul oscillates like a pendulum between weariful
extremes, seeking repose in restless movement, and hurling the ruins
of a life into the gulf of its exhausted cravings, we perceive
already the symptoms of that unnamed malady which was the plague of
imperial Rome. The tyrants and the suicides of the Empire expand
before our eyes a pageant of their lassitude, relieved in vain by
festivals of blood and orgies of unutterable lust. It is not that
_ennui_ was a specially Roman disease. Under certain conditions it
is sure to afflict all overtaxed civilisation; and for the modern
world no one has expressed its nature better than the slight and
feminine De Musset.[1] Indeed, the Latin language has no one phrase
denoting Ennui;--_livor_ and _fastidium_, and even _tædium vitæ_,
meaning something more specific and less all-pervasive as a moral
agency. This in itself is significant, since it shows the
unconsciousness of the race at large, and renders the intuition of
Lucretius all the more remarkable. But in Rome there were the
conditions favourable to its development--imperfect culture,
vehement passions unabsorbed by commerce or by political life, the
habituation to extravagant excitement in war and in the circus, and
the fermentation of an age foredestined to give birth to new
religious creeds. When the infinite but ill-assured power of the
Empire was conferred on semi-madmen, Ennui in Rome assumed colossal
proportions. Its victims sought for palliatives in cruelty and crime
elsewhere unknown, except perhaps in Oriental courts. Lucretius, in
the last days of the Republic, had discovered its deep significance
for human nature. To all the pictures of Tacitus it forms a solemn
tragic background, enhancing, as it were, by spiritual gloom the
carnival of passions which gleam so brilliantly upon his canvas. In
the person of Caligula, Ennui sat supreme upon the throne of the
terraqueous globe. The insane desires and the fantastic deeds of the
autocrat who wished one head for humanity that he might cut it off,
sufficiently reveal the extent to which his spirit had been
gangrened by this ulcer. There is a simple paragraph in Suetonius
which lifts the veil from his imperial unrest more ruthlessly than
any legend:--'Incitabatur insomniis maxime; neque enim plus tribus
horis nocturnis quiescebat, ac ne his quidem placidâ quiete, at
pavidâ, miris rerum imaginibus ... ideoque magnâ parte noctis,
vigiliæ cubandique tædio, nunc toro residens, nunc per longissimas
porticus vagus, invocare identidem atque expectare lucem
consueverat.' This is the very picture of Ennui that has become
mortal disease. Nor was Nero different. 'Néron,' says Victor Hugo,
'cherche tout simplement une distraction. Poëte, comédien, chanteur,
cocher, épuisant la férocité pour trouver la volupté, essayant le
changement de sexe, époux de l'eunuque Sporus et épouse de l'esclave
Pythagore, et se promenant dans les rues de Rome entre sa femme et
son mari; ayant deux plaisirs: voir le peuple se jeter sur les
pièces d'or, les diamants et les perles, et voir les lions se jeter
sur le peuple; incendiaire par curiosité et parricide par
désoeuvrement.' Nor need we stop at Nero. Over Vitellius at his
banquets, over Hadrian in his Tiburtine villa calling in vain on
Death, over Commodus in the arena, and Heliogabalus among the
rose-leaves, the same livid shadow of imperial Ennui hangs. We can
even see it looming behind the noble form of Marcus Aurelius, who,
amid the ruins of empire and the revolutions of belief, penned in
his tent among the Quadi those maxims of endurance which were
powerless to regenerate the world.

    [1] See the prelude to _Les Confessions d'un Enfant du
    Siècle_ and _Les Nuits_.

Roman again, in the true sense of the word, is the Lucretian
philosophy of Conscience. Christianity has claimed the celebrated
imprecation of Persius upon tyrants for her own, as though to her
alone belonged the secret of the soul-tormenting sense of guilt. Yet
it is certain that we owe to the Romans that conception of sin
bearing its own fruit of torment which the Latin Fathers--Augustine
and Tertullian--imposed with such terrific force upon the mediæval
consciousness. There is no need to conclude that Persius was a
Christian because he wrote--

  Magne pater divum, sævos punire tyrannos, etc.,

when we know that he had before his eyes that passage in the third
book of the 'De Rerum Naturâ,' (978-1023) which reduces the myths of
Tityos and Sisyphus and Cerberus and the Furies to facts of the
human soul:--

  sed metus in vita poenarum pro male factis
  est insignibus insignis, scelerisque luella,
  carcer et horribilis de saxo iactu' deorsum,
  verbera carnifices robur pix lammina tædæ;
  quæ tamen etsi absunt, at mens sibi conscia facti
  præmetuens adhibet stimulos terretque flagellis
  nec videt interea qui terminus esse malorum
  possit nec quæ sit poenarum denique finis
  atque eadem metuit magis hæc ne in morte gravescant.

The Greeks, by personifying those secret terrors, had removed them
into a region of existences separate from man. They became dread
goddesses, who might to some extent be propitiated by exorcisms or
expiatory rites. This was in strict accordance with the mythopoeic
and artistic quality of the Greek intellect. The stern and somewhat
prosaic rectitude of the Roman broke through such figments of the
fancy, and exposed the sore places of the soul itself. The theory of
the Conscience, moreover, is part of the Lucretian polemic against
false notions of the gods and the pernicious belief in hell.

Positivism and Realism were qualities of Roman as distinguished from
Greek culture. There was no self-delusion in Lucretius--no attempt,
however unconscious, to compromise unpalatable truth, or to invest
philosophy with the charm of myth. A hundred illustrations might be
chosen to prove his method of setting forth thought with unadorned
simplicity. These, however, are familiar to any one who has but
opened the 'De Rerum Naturâ.' It is more profitable to trace this
Roman ruggedness in the poet's treatment of the subject which more
than any other seems to have preoccupied his intellect and
fascinated his imagination--that is Death. His poem has been called
by a great critic the 'poem of Death.' Shakspere's line--

  And Death once dead, there's no more dying then,

might be written as a motto on the title-page of the book, which is
full of passages like this:--

  scire licet nobis nil esse in morte timendum
  nec miserum fieri qui non est posse neque hilum
  differre anne ullo fuerit iam tempore natus,
  mortalem vitam mors cum immortalis ademit.

His whole mind was steeped in the thought of death; and though he
can hardly be said to have written 'the words that shall make death
exhilarating,' he devoted his genius, in all its energy, to removing
from before men the terror of the doom that waits for all.
Sometimes, in his attempt at consolation, he adduces images which,
like the Delphian knife, are double-handled, and cut both ways:--

  hinc indignatur se mortalem esse creatum
  nec videt in vera nullum fore morte alium se
  qui possit vivus sibi se lugere peremptum
  stansque iacentem se lacerari urive dolere.

This suggests, by way of contrast, Blake's picture of the soul that
has just left the body and laments her separation. As we read, we
are inclined to lay the book down, and wonder whether the argument
is, after all, conclusive. May not the spirit, when she has quitted
her old house, be forced to weep and wring her hands, and stretch
vain shadowy arms to the limbs that were so dear? No one has felt
more profoundly than Lucretius the pathos of the dead. The intensity
with which he realised what we must lose in dying and what we leave
behind of grief to those who loved us, reaches a climax of
restrained passion in this well-known paragraph:--

  'iam iam non domus accipiet te læta, neque uxor
  optima nec dulces occurrent oscula nati
  præripere et tacita pectus dulcedine tangent.
  non poteris factis florentibus esse, tuisque
  præsidium. misero misere' aiunt 'omnia ademit
  una dies infesta tibi tot præmia vitæ.'
  illud in his rebus non addunt 'nec tibi earum
  iam desiderium rerum super insidet una.'
  quod bene si videant animo dictisque sequantur,
  dissoluant animi magno se angore metuque.
  'tu quidem ut es leto sopitus, sic eris ævi
  quod superest cunctis privatu' doloribus ægris.
  at nos horrifico cinefactum te prope busto
  insatiabiliter deflevimus, æternumque
  nulla dies nobis mærorem e pectore demet.'

Images, again, of almost mediæval grotesqueness, rise in his mind
when he contemplates the universality of Death. Simonides had dared
to say: 'One horrible Charybdis waits for all.' That was as near a
discord as a Greek could venture on. Lucretius describes the open
gate and 'huge wide-gaping maw' which must devour heaven, earth, and
sea, and all that they contain:--

  haut igitur leti præclusa est ianua cælo
  nec soli terræque neque altis æquoris undis,
  sed patet immani et vasto respectat hiatu.

The ever-during battle of life and death haunts his imagination.
Sometimes he sets it forth in philosophical array of argument.
Sometimes he touches on the theme with elegiac pity:--

                          miscetur funere vagor
  quem pueri tollunt visentis luminis oras;
  nec nox ulla diem neque noctem aurora secutast
  quæ non audierit mixtos vagitibus ægris
  ploratus mortis comites et funeris atri.

Then again he returns, with obstinate persistence, to describe how
the dread of death, fortified by false religion, hangs like a pall
over humanity, and how the whole world is a cemetery overshadowed by
cypresses. The most sustained, perhaps, of these passages is at the
beginning of the third book (lines 31 to 93). The most profoundly
melancholy is the description of the new-born child (v. 221):--

               quare mors immatura vagatur?
  tum porro puer, ut sævis proiectus ab undis
  navita, nudus humi iacet, infans, indigus omni
  vitali auxilio, cum primum in luminis oras
  nixibus ex alvo matris natura profudit,
  vagituque locum lugubri complet, ut æcumst
  cui tantum in vita restet transire malorum.

Disease and old age, as akin to Death, touch his imagination with
the same force. He rarely alludes to either without some lines as
terrible as these (iii. 472, 453):--

  nam dolor ac morbus leti fabricator uterquest.
  claudicat ingenium, delirat lingua, labat mens.

Another kindred subject affects him with an equal pathos. He sees
the rising and decay of nations, age following after age, like waves
hurrying to dissolve upon a barren shore, and writes (ii. 75):--

                    sic rerum summa novatur
  semper, et inter se mortales mutua vivunt,
  augescunt aliæ gentes, aliæ minuuntur,
  inque brevi spatio mutantur sæcla animantum
  et quasi cursores vitai lampada tradunt.

Although the theme is really the procession of life through
countless generations, it obtains a tone of sadness from the sense
of intervenient decay and change. No Greek had the heart thus to
dilate his imagination with the very element of death. What the
Greeks commemorated when they spoke of Death was the loss of the
lyre and the hymeneal chaunt, and the passage across dim waves to a
sunless land. Nor indeed does Lucretius, like the modern poet of
Democracy, ascend into the regions of ecstatic trance:--

  Lost in the loving, floating ocean of thee,
  Laved in the flood of thy bliss, O Death.

He keeps his reason cool, and sternly contemplates the thought of
the annihilation which awaits all perishable combinations of eternal
things. Like Milton, Lucretius delights in giving the life of his
imagination to abstractions. Time, with his retinue of ages, sweeps
before his vision, and he broods in fancy over the illimitable ocean
of the universe. The fascination of the infinite is the quality
which, more than any other, separates Lucretius as a Roman poet from
the Greeks.

Another distinctive feature of his poetry Lucretius inherited as
part of his birthright. This is the sense of Roman greatness. It
pervades the poem, and may be felt in every part; although to
Athens, and the Greek sages, Democritus, Empedocles, Anaxagoras,
Heraclitus, and Epicurus, as the fountain-heads of soul-delivering
culture, he reserves his most magnificent periods of panegyric. Yet
when he would fain persuade his readers that the fear of death is
nugatory, and that the future will be to them even as the past, it
is the shock of Rome with Carthage that he dwells upon as the
critical event of the world's history (iii. 830):--

    Nil igitur mors est ad nos neque pertinet hilum,
  quandoquidem natura animi mortalis habetur.
  et velut anteacto nil tempore sensimus ægri,
  ad confligendum venientibus undique Poenis,
  omnia cum belli trepido concussa tumultu
  horrida contremuere sub altis ætheris oris,
  _in dubioque fuere utrorum ad regna cadendum
  omnibus humanis esset terraque marique_,

The lines in italics could have been written by none but a Roman
conscious that the conflict with Carthage had decided the absolute
empire of the habitable world. In like manner the description of a
military review (ii. 323) is Roman: so, too, is that of the
amphitheatre (iv. 75):--

  et volgo faciunt id lutea russaque vela
  et ferrugina, cum magnis intenta theatris
  per malos volgata trabesque trementia flutant.
  namque ibi consessum caveai supter et omnem
  scænai speciem, patrum coetumque decorum
  inficiunt coguntque suo fluitare colore.

The imagination of Lucretius, however, was habitually less affected
by the particular than by the universal. He loved to dwell upon the
large and general aspects of things--on the procession of the
seasons, for example, rather than upon the landscape of the Campagna
in spring or autumn. Therefore it is only occasionally and by
accident that we find in his verse touches peculiarly characteristic
of the manners of his country. Therefore, again, it has happened
that modern critics have detected a lack of patriotic interest in
this most Roman of all Latin poets. Also may it here be remembered,
that the single line which sums up all the history of Rome in one
soul-shaking hexameter, is not Lucretian but Virgilian:--

  Tantæ molis erat Romanam condere gentem.

The custode of the Baths of Titus, when he lifts his torch to
explore those ruined arches, throws the wan light upon one place
where a Roman hand has scratched that verse in gigantic letters on
the cement. The colossal genius of Rome seems speaking to us, an
oracle no lapse of time can render dumb.

But Lucretius is not only the poet _par excellence_ of Rome. He will
always rank also among the first philosophical poets of the world:
and here we find a second standpoint for inquiry. The question how
far it is practicable to express philosophy in verse, and to combine
the accuracy of scientific language with the charm of rhythm and the
ornaments of the fancy, is one which belongs rather to modern than
to ancient criticism. In the progress of culture there has been an
ever-growing separation between the several spheres of intellectual
activity. What Livy said about the Roman Empire is true now of
knowledge: _magnitudine laborat suâ_; so that the labour of
specialising and distinguishing has for many centuries been
all-important. Not only do we disbelieve in the desirability of
smearing honey upon the lip of the medicine-glass through which the
draught of erudition has to be administered; but we know for certain
that it is only at the meeting-points between science and emotion
that the philosophic poet finds a proper sphere. Whatever
subject-matter can be permeated or penetrated with strong human
feeling is fit for verse. Then the rhythms and the forms of poetry
to which high passions naturally move, become spontaneous. The
emotion is paramount, and the knowledge conveyed is valuable as
supplying fuel to the fire of feeling. There are, were, and always
will be high imaginative points of vantage commanding the broad
fields of knowledge, upon which the poet may take his station to
survey the world and all that it contains. But it has long ceased to
be his function to set forth, in any kind of metre, systems of
speculative thought or purely scientific truths. This was not the
case in the old world. There was a period in the development of the
intellect when the abstractions of logic appeared like intuitions,
and guesses about the structure of the universe still wore the garb
of fancy. When physics and metaphysics were scarcely distinguished
from mythology, it was natural to address the Muses at the outset of
a treatise of ontology, and to cadence a theory of elemental
substances in hexameter verse. Thus the philosophical poems of
Xenophanes, Parmenides, and Empedocles belonged essentially to a
transitional stage of human culture.

There is a second species of poetry to which the name of
philosophical may be given, though it better deserves that of
mystical. Pantheism occupies a middle place between a scientific
theory of the universe and a form of religious enthusiasm. It
supplies an element in which the poetic faculty can move with
freedom: for its conclusions, in so far as they pretend to
philosophy, are large and general, and the emotions which it excites
are co-extensive with the world. Therefore, Pantheistic mysticism,
from the Bhagavadgita of the far East, through the Persian Soofis,
down to the poets of our own century, Goethe, and Shelley, and
Wordsworth, and Whitman, and many more whom it would be tedious to
enumerate, has generated a whole tribe of philosophic singers.

Yet a third class may be mentioned. Here we have to deal with what
are called didactic poems. These, like the metaphysical epic, began
to flourish in early Greece at the moment when exact thought was
dividing itself laboriously from myths and fancies. Hesiod with his
poem on the life of man leads the way; and the writers of moral
sentences in elegiac verse, among whom Solon and Theognis occupy the
first place, follow. Latin literature contributes highly artificial
specimens of this kind in the 'Georgics' of Virgil, the stoical
diatribes of Persius, and the 'Ars Poetica' of Horace. Didactic
verse had a special charm for the genius of the Latin race. The name
of such poems in the Italian literature of the Renaissance is
legion. The French delighted in the same style under the same
influences; nor can we fail to attribute the 'Essay on Man' and the
'Essay on Criticism' of our own Pope to a similar revival in England
of Latin forms of art. The taste for didactic verse has declined.
Yet in its stead another sort of philosophical poetry has grown up
in this century, which, for the want of a better term, may be called
psychological. It deserves this title, inasmuch as the
motive-interest of the art in question is less the passion or the
action of humanity than the analysis of the same. The 'Faust' of
Goethe, the 'Prelude' and 'Excursion' of Wordsworth, Browning's
'Sordello' and Mrs. Browning's 'Aurora Leigh,' together with the
'Musings' of Coleridge and the 'In Memoriam' of Tennyson, may be
roughly reckoned in this class. It will be noticed that nothing has
been said about professedly religious poetry, much of which attaches
itself to mysticism, while some, like the 'Divine Comedy' of Dante,
is philosophic in the truest sense of the word.

Where, then, are we to place Lucretius? He was a Roman, imbued with
the didactic predilections of the Latin race; and the didactic
quality of the 'De Rerum Naturâ' is unmistakable. Yet it would be
uncritical to place this poem in the class which derives from
Hesiod. It belongs really to the succession of Xenophanes,
Parmenides, and Empedocles. As such it was an anachronism. The
specific moment in the development of thought at which the
Parmenidean Epic was natural has been already described. The Romans
of the age of Lucretius had advanced far beyond it. The idealistic
metaphysics of the Socratic school, the positive ethics of the
Stoics, and the profound materialism of Epicurus, had accustomed the
mind to habits of exact and subtle thinking, prolonged from
generation to generation upon the same lines of speculative inquiry.
Philosophy expressed in verse was out of date. Moreover, the very
myths had been rationalised. Euhemerus had even been translated into
Latin by Ennius, and his prosaic explanations of Greek legend had
found acceptance with the essentially positive Roman intellect.
Lucretius himself, it may be said in passing, thought it worth while
to offer a philosophical explanation of the Greek mythology. The
Cybele of the poets is shown in one of his sublimest passages (ii.
600-645) to be Earth. To call the sea Neptune, corn Ceres, and wine
Bacchus, seems to him a simple folly (ii. 652-657). We have already
seen how he reduces the fiends and spectres of the Greek Hades to
facts of moral subjectivity (iii. 978-1023). In another place he
attacks the worship of Phoebus and the stars (v. 110); in yet
another he upsets the belief in the Centaurs, Scylla, and Chimæra
(v. 877-924) with a gravity which is almost comic. Such arguments
formed a necessary element in his polemic against foul religion
(foeda religio--turpis religio); to deliver men from which (i.
62-112), by establishing firmly in their minds the conviction that
the gods exist far away from this world in unconcerned tranquillity
(ii. 646), and by substituting the notion of Nature for that of
deity (ii. 1090), was the object of his scientific demonstration.

Lucretius, therefore, had outgrown mythology, was hostile to
religion, and burned with unsurpassable enthusiasm to indoctrinate
his Roman readers with the weighty conclusions of systematised
materialism. Yet he chose the vehicle of hexameter verse, and
trammelled his genius with limitations which Empedocles, four
hundred years before, must have found almost intolerable. It needed
the most ardent intellectual passion and the loftiest inspiration to
sustain on his far flight a poet who had forged a hoplite's panoply
for singing robes. Both passion and inspiration were granted to
Lucretius in full measure. And just as there was something
contradictory between the scientific subject-matter and the poetical
form of his masterpiece, so the very sources of his poetic strength
were such as are usually supposed to depress the soul. His passion
was for death, annihilation, godlessness. It was not the eloquence,
but the force of logic in Epicurus that roused his enthusiasm:--

  ergo vivida vis animi pervicit et extra
  processit longe flammantia moenia mundi.

No other poet who ever lived in any age, or any shore, drew
inspiration from founts more passionless and more impersonal.

The 'De Rerum Naturâ' is therefore an attempt, unique in its kind,
to combine philosophical exposition and poetry in an age when the
requirements of the former had already outgrown the resources of the
latter. Throughout the poem we trace a discord between the matter
and the form. The frost of reason and the fire of fancy war in
deadly conflict; for the Lucretian system destroyed nearly
everything with which the classical imagination loved to play. It
was only in some high ethereal region, before the majestic thought
of Death or the new Myth of Nature, that the two faculties of the
poet's genius met for mutual support. Only at rare intervals did he
allow himself to make artistic use of mere mythology, as in the
celebrated exordium of the first book, or the description of the
Seasons in the fifth book (737-745). For the most part reason and
fancy worked separately: after long passages of scientific
explanation, Lucretius indulged his readers with those pictures of
unparalleled sublimity and grace which are the charm of the whole
poem; or dropping the phraseology of atoms, void, motion, chance, he
spoke at times of Nature as endowed with reason and a will (v. 186,
811, 846).

It would be beyond the scope of this essay to discuss the particular
form given by Lucretius to the Democritean philosophy. He believed
the universe to be composed of atoms, infinite in number, and
variable, to a finite extent, in form, which drift slantingly
through an infinite void. Their combinations under the conditions of
what we call space and time are transitory, while they remain
themselves imperishable. Consequently, as the soul itself is
corporeally constituted, and as thought and sensation depend on mere
material idola, men may divest themselves of any fear of the
hereafter. There is no such thing as providence, nor do the gods
concern themselves with the kaleidoscopic medley of atoms in
transient combination which we call our world. The latter were
points of supreme interest to Lucretius. He seems to have cared for
the cosmology of Epicurus chiefly as it touched humanity through
ethics and religion. To impartial observers, the identity or the
divergence of the forms assumed by scientific hypothesis at
different periods of the world's history is not a matter of much
importance. Yet a peculiar interest has of late been given to the
Lucretian materialism by the fact that physical speculation has
returned to what is substantially the same ground. The most modern
theories of evolution and of molecular structure may be stated in
language which, allowing for the progress made by exact thought
during the last twenty centuries, is singularly like that of
Lucretius. The Roman poet knew fewer facts than are familiar to our
men of science, and was far less able to analyse one puzzle into a
whole group of unexplained phenomena. He had besides but a feeble
grasp upon those discoveries which subserve the arts of life and
practical utility. But as regards _absolute knowledge_--knowledge,
that is to say, of what the universe really is, and of how it became
what it seems to us to be--Lucretius stood at the same point of
ignorance as we, after the labours of Darwin and of Spencer, of
Helmholtz and of Huxley, still do. Ontological speculation is as
barren now as then, and the problems of existence still remain
insoluble. The chief difference indeed between him and modern
investigators is that they have been lessoned by the experience of
the last two thousand years to know better the depths of human
ignorance, and the directions in which it is possible to sound them.

It may not be uninteresting to collect a few passages in which the
Roman poet has expressed in his hexameters the lines of thought
adopted by our most advanced theorists. Here is the general
conception of Nature, working by her own laws toward the achievement
of that result which we apprehend through the medium of the senses
(ii. 1090):--

    Quæ bene cognita si teneas, natura videtur
  libera continuo dominis privata superbis
  ipsa sua per se sponte omnia dis agere expers.

Here again is a demonstration of the absurdity of supposing that the
world was made for the use of men (v. 156):--

  dicere porro hominum causa voluisse parare
  præclaram mundi naturam proptereaque
  adlaudabile opus divom laudare decere
  æternumque putare atque inmortale futurum
  nec fas esse, deum quod sit ratione vetusta
  gentibus humanis fundatum perpetuo ævo,
  sollicitare suis ulla vi ex sedibus umquam
  nec verbis vexare et ab imo evertere summa,
  cetera de genere hoc adfingere et addere, Memmi

A like cogent rhetoric is directed against the arguments of
toleology (iv. 823):--

    Illud in his rebus vitium vementer avessis
  effugere, errorem vitareque præmetuenter,
  lumina ne facias oculorum clara creata,
  prospicere ut possemus, et ut proferre queamus
  proceros passus, ideo fastigia posse
  surarum ac feminum pedibus fundata plicari,
  bracchia tum porro validis ex apta lacertis
  esse manusque datas utraque ex parte ministras,
  ut facere ad vitam possemus quæ foret usus.
  cetera de genere hoc inter quæcumque pretantur
  omnia perversa præpostera sunt ratione,
  nil ideo quoniam natumst in corpore ut uti
  possemus, sed quod natumst id procreat usum.
  nec fuit ante videre oculorum lumina nata
  nec dictis orare prius quam lingua creatast,
  sed potius longe linguæ præcessit origo
  sermonem multoque creatæ sunt prius aures
  quam sonus est auditus, et omnia denique membra
  ante fuere, ut opinor, eorum quam foret usus.
  haud igitur potuere utendi crescere causa.

The ultimate dissolution and the gradual decay of the terrestrial
globe is set forth in the following luminous passage (ii. 1148):--

  Sic igitur magni quoque circum moenia mundi
  expugnata dabunt labem putrisque ruinas.
  iamque adeo fracta est ætas effetaque tellus
  vix animalia parva creat quæ cuncta creavit
  sæcla deditque ferarum ingentia corpora partu.[1]

The same mind which recognised these probabilities knew also that
our globe is not single, but that it forms one among an infinity of
sister orbs (ii. 1084):--

  quapropter cælum simili ratione fatendumst
  terramque et solem lunam mare, cetera quæ sunt
  non esse unica, sed numero magis innumerali.[2]

When Lucretius takes upon himself to describe the process of
becoming which made the world what it now is, he seems to incline to
a theory not at all dissimilar to that of unassisted evolution (v.

  nam certe neque consilio primordia rerum
  ordine se suo quæque sagaci mente locarunt
  nec quos quæque darent motus pepigere profecto,
  sed quia multa modis multis primordia rerum
  ex infinito iam tempore percita plagis
  ponderibusque suis consuerunt concita ferri
  omnimodisque coire atque omnia pertemptare,
  quæcumque inter se possent congressa creare,
  propterea fit uti magnum volgata per ævom
  omne genus coetus et motus experiundo
  tandem conveniant ea quæ convecta repente
  magnarum rerum fiunt exordia sæpe,
  terrai maris et cæli generisque animantum.

    [1] Compare book v. 306-317 on the evidences of decay
    continually at work in the fabric of the world.

    [2] The same truth is insisted on with even greater force
    of language in vi. 649-652.

Entering into the details of the process, he describes the many
ill-formed, amorphous beginnings of organised life upon the globe,
which came to nothing, 'since nature set a ban upon their increase'
(v. 837-848); and then proceeds to explain how, in the struggle for
existence, the stronger prevailed over the weaker (v. 855-863). What
is really interesting in this exposition is that Lucretius ascribes
to nature the volition ('convertebat ibi natura foramina terræ;'
'quoniam natura absterruit auctum') which has recently been
attributed by materialistic speculators to the same maternal power.

To press these points, and to neglect the gap which separates
Lucretius from thinkers fortified by the discoveries of modern
chemistry, astronomy, physiology, and so forth, would be childish.
All we can do is to point to the fact that the circumambient
atmosphere of human ignorance, with reference to the main matters of
speculation, remains undissipated. The mass of experience acquired
since the age of Lucretius is enormous, and is infinitely valuable;
while our power of tabulating, methodising, and extending the sphere
of experimental knowledge seems to be unlimited. Only ontological
deductions, whether negative or affirmative, remain pretty much
where they were then.

The fame of Lucretius, however, rests not on this foundation of
hypothesis. In his poetry lies the secret of a charm which he will
continue to exercise as long as humanity chooses to read Latin
verse. No poet has created a world of larger and nobler images,
designed with the _sprezzatura_ of indifference to mere
gracefulness, but all the more fascinating because of the artist's
negligence. There is something monumental in the effect produced by
his large-sounding single epithets and simple names. We are at home
with the dæmonic life of nature when he chooses to bring Pan and his
following before our eyes (iv. 580). Or, again, the Seasons pass
like figures on some frieze of Mantegna, to which, by divine
accident, has been added the glow of Titian's colouring[1] (v.

  it ver et Venus, et veris prænuntius ante
  pennatus graditur zephyrus, vestigia propter
  Flora quibus mater præspargens ante viai
  cuncta coloribus egregiis et odoribus opplet.
  inde loci sequitur calor aridus et comes una
  pulverulenta Ceres et etesia flabra aquilonum,
  inde antumnus adit, graditur simul Eubius Euan,
  inde aliæ tempestates ventique secuntur,
  altitonans Volturnus et auster fulmine pollens.
  tandem bruma nives adfert pigrumque rigorem,
  prodit hiemps, sequitur crepitans hanc dentibus algor.

With what a noble style, too, are the holidays of the primeval
pastoral folk described (v. 1379-1404). It is no mere celebration of
the _bell' età dell' oro_: but we see the woodland glades, and hear
the songs of shepherds, and feel the hush of summer among rustling
forest trees, while at the same time all is far away, in a better,
simpler, larger age. The sympathy of Lucretius for every form of
country life was very noticeable. It belonged to that which was most
deeply and sincerely poetic in the Latin genius, whence Virgil drew
his sweetest strain of melancholy, and Horace his most unaffected
pictures, and Catullus the tenderness of his best lines on Sirmio.
No Roman surpassed the pathos with which Lucretius described the
separation of a cow from her calf (ii. 352-365). The same note
indeed was touched by Virgil in his lines upon the forlorn
nightingale, and in the peroration to the third 'Georgic.' But the
style of Virgil is more studied, the feeling more artistically
elaborated. It would be difficult to parallel such Lucretian
passages in Greek poetry. The Greeks lacked an undefinable something
of rusticity which dignified the Latin race. This quality was not
altogether different from what we call homeliness. Looking at the
busts of Romans, and noticing their resemblance to English country
gentlemen, I have sometimes wondered whether the Latin genius, just
in those points where it differed from the Greek, was not
approximated to the English.

    [1] The elaborate illustration of the first four lines of
    this passage, painted by Botticelli (in the Florence
    Academy of Fine Arts), proves Botticelli's incapacity or
    unwillingness to deal with the subject in the spirit of
    the original. It is graceful and 'subtle' enough, but not

All subjects needing a large style, brief and rapid, but at the same
time luminous with imagination, were sure of the right treatment
from Lucretius. This is shown by his enumeration of the celestial
signs (v. 1188):--

  in cæloque deum sedes et templa locarunt,
  per cælum volvi quia nox et luna videtur,
  luna dies et nox et noctis signa severa
  noctivagæque faces cæli flammæque volantes,
  nubila sol imbres nix venti fulmina grando
  et rapidi fremitus et murmura magna minarum.

Again, he never failed to rise to an occasion which required the
display of fervid eloquence. The Roman eloquence, which in its
energetic volubility was the chief force of Juvenal, added a tidal
strength and stress of storm to the quick gathering thoughts of the
greater poet. The exordia to the first and second books, the
analysis of Love in the fourth, the praises of Epicurus in the third
and fifth, the praises of Empedocles and Ennius in the first, the
elaborate passage on the progress of civilisation in the fifth, and
the description of the plague at Athens which closes the sixth, are
noble instances of the sublimest poetry sustained and hurried onward
by the volume of impassioned improvisation. It is difficult to
imagine that Lucretius wrote slowly. The strange word _vociferari_,
which he uses so often, and which the Romans of the Augustan age
almost dropped from their poetic vocabulary, seems exactly made to
suit his utterance. Yet at times he tempers the full torrent of
resonant utterance with divine tranquillity, and leaves upon our
mind that sense of powerful aloofness from his subject, which only
belongs to the mightiest poets in their most majestic moments. One
instance of this rare felicity of style shall end the list of our
quotations (v. 1194):--

  O genus infelix humanum, talia divis
  cum tribuit facta atque iras adiunxit acerbas!
  quantos tum gemitus ipsi sibi, quantaque nobis
  volnera, quas lacrimas peperere minoribu' nostris!
  nec pietas ullast velatum sæpe videri
  vertier ad lapidem atque omnis accedere ad aras
  nec procumbere humi prostratum et pandere palmas
  ante deum delubra nec aras sanguine multo
  spargere quadrupedum nec votis nectere vota,
  sed mage pacata posse omnia mente tueri.
  nam cum suspicimus magni cælestia mundi
  templa, super stellisque micantibus æthera fixum,
  et venit in mentem solis lunæque viarum,
  tunc aliis oppressa malis in pectora cura
  illa quoque expergefactum caput erigere infit,
  ne quæ forte deum nobis inmensa potestas
  sit, vario motu quæ candida sidera verset.
  temptat enim dubiam mentem rationis egestas,
  ecquænam fuerit mundi genitalis origo,
  et simul ecquæ sit finis, quoad moenia mundi
  solliciti motus hunc possint ferre laborem,
  an divinitus æterna donata salute
  perpetuo possint ævi labentia tractu
  inmensi validas ævi contemnere viris.

It would be impossible to adduce from any other poet a passage in
which the deepest doubts and darkest terrors and most vexing
questions that beset the soul, are touched with an eloquence more
stately and a pathos more sublime. Without losing the sense of
humanity, we are carried off into the infinite. Such poetry is as
imperishable as the subject of which it treats.


Visitors to picture and sculpture galleries are haunted by the forms
of two handsome young men--Sebastian and Antinous. Both were saints:
the one of decadent Paganism, the other of mythologising
Christianity. According to the popular beliefs to which they owed
their canonisation, both suffered death in the bloom of earliest
manhood for the faith that burned in them. There is, however, this
difference between the two--that whereas Sebastian is a shadowy
creature of the pious fancy, Antinous preserves a marked and
unmistakable personality. All his statues are distinguished by
unchanging characteristics. The pictures of Sebastian vary according
to the ideal of adolescent beauty conceived by each successive
artist. In the frescoes of Perugino and Luini he shines with the
pale pure light of saintliness. On the canvas of Sodoma he
reproduces the voluptuous charm of youthful Bacchus, with so much of
anguish in his martyred features as may serve to heighten his
dæmonic fascination. On the richer panels of the Venetian masters he
glows with a flame of earthly passion aspiring heavenward. Under
Guido's hand he is a model of mere carnal comeliness. And so forth
through the whole range of the Italian painters. We know Sebastian
only by his arrows. The case is very different with Antinous.
Depicted under diverse attributes--as Hermes of the
wrestling-ground, as Aristæus or Vertumnus, as Dionysus, as
Ganymede, as Herakles, or as a god of ancient Egypt--his
individuality is always prominent. No metamorphosis of divinity can
change the lineaments he wore on earth. And this difference, so
marked in the artistic presentation of the two saints, is no less
striking in their several histories. The legend of Sebastian tells
us nothing to be relied upon, except that he was a Roman soldier
converted to the Christian faith, and martyred. In spite of the
perplexity and mystery that involve the death of Antinous in
impenetrable gloom, he is a true historic personage, no phantom of
myth, but a man as real as Hadrian, his master.

Antinous, as he appears in sculpture, is a young man of eighteen or
nineteen years, almost faultless in his form. His beauty is not of a
pure Greek type. Though perfectly proportioned and developed by
gymnastic exercises to the true athletic fulness, his limbs are
round and florid, suggesting the possibility of early over-ripeness.
The muscles are not trained to sinewy firmness, but yielding and
elastic; the chest is broad and singularly swelling; and the
shoulders are placed so far back from the thorax that the breasts
project beyond them in a massive arch. It has been asserted that one
shoulder is slightly lower than the other. Some of the busts seem to
justify this statement; but the appearance is due probably to the
different position of the two arms, one of which, if carried out,
would be lifted and the other be depressed. The legs and arms are
modelled with exquisite grace of outline; yet they do not show that
readiness for active service which is noticeable in the statues of
converging so closely as almost to meet above the deep-cut eyes. The
nose is straight, but blunter than is consistent with the Greek
ideal. Both cheeks and chin are delicately formed, but fuller than a
severe taste approves: one might trace in their rounded contours
either a survival of infantine innocence and immaturity, or else the
sign of rapidly approaching over-bloom. The mouth is one of the
loveliest ever carved; but here again the blending of the Greek and
Oriental types is visible. The lips, half parted, seem to pout; and
the distance between mouth and nostrils is exceptionally short. The
undefinable expression of the lips, together with the weight of the
brows and slumberous half-closed eyes, gives a look of sulkiness or
voluptuousness to the whole face. This, I fancy, is the first
impression which the portraits of Antinous produce; and Shelley has
well conveyed it by placing the two following phrases, 'eager and
impassioned tenderness' and 'effeminate sullenness,' in close
juxtaposition.[1] But, after longer familiarity with the whole range
of Antinous's portraits, and after study of his life, we are brought
to read the peculiar expression of his face and form somewhat
differently. A prevailing melancholy, sweetness of temperament
overshadowed by resignation, brooding reverie, the innocence of
youth, touched and saddened by a calm resolve or an accepted
doom--such are the sentences we form to give distinctness to a still
vague and uncertain impression. As we gaze, Virgil's lines upon the
young Marcellus recur to our mind: what seemed sullen, becomes
mournful; the unmistakable voluptuousness is transfigured in

    [1] Fragment, _The Coliseum_.

After all is said and written, the statues of Antinous do not render
up their secret. Like some of the Egyptian gods with whom he was
associated, he remains for us a sphinx, secluded in the shade of a
'mild mystery.' His soul, like the Harpocrates he personated, seems
to hold one finger on closed lips, in token of eternal silence. One
thing, however, is certain. We have before us no figment of the
artistic imagination, but a real youth of incomparable beauty, just
as nature made him, with all the inscrutableness of undeveloped
character, with all the pathos of a most untimely doom, with the
almost imperceptible imperfections that render choice reality more
permanently charming than the ideal. It has been disputed whether
the Antinous statues are portraits or idealised works of inventive
art; and it is usually conceded that the sculptors of Hadrian's age
were not able to produce a new ideal type. Critics, therefore, like
Helbig and Overbeck, arrive at the conclusion that Antinous was one
of nature's masterpieces, modelled in bronze, marble, and granite
with almost flawless technical dexterity. Without attaching too much
weight to this kind of criticism, it is well to find the decisions
of experts in harmony with the instincts of simple observers.
Antinous is as real as any man who ever sat for his portrait to a
modern sculptor.

But who was Antinous, and what is known of him? He was a native of
Bithynium or Claudiopolis, a Greek town claiming to have been a
colony from Arcadia, which was situated near the Sangarius, in the
Roman province of Bithynia; therefore he may have had pure Hellenic
blood in his veins, or, what is more probable, his ancestry may have
been hybrid between the Greek immigrants and the native populations
of Asia Minor. Antinous was probably born in the first decade of the
second century of our era. About his youth and education we know
nothing. He first appears upon the scene of the world's history as
Hadrian's friend. Whether the Emperor met with him during his
travels in Asia Minor, whether he found him among the students of
the University at Athens, or whether the boy had been sent to Rome
in his childhood, must remain matter of the merest conjecture. We do
not even know for certain whether Antinous was free or a slave. The
report that he was one of the Emperor's pages rests upon the
testimony of Hegesippus, quoted by a Christian Father, and cannot
therefore be altogether relied upon. It receives, however, some
confirmation from the fact that Antinous is more than once
represented in the company of Hadrian and Trajan in a page's hunting
dress upon the basreliefs which adorn the Arch of Constantine. The
so-called Antinous-Castor of the Villa Albani is probably of a
similar character. Winckelmann, who adopted the tradition as
trustworthy, pointed out the similarity between the portraits of
Antinous and some lines in Phædrus, which describe a curly-haired
_atriensis_. If Antinous took the rank of _atriensis_ in the
imperial _pædagogium_, his position would have been, to say the
least, respectable; for to these upper servants was committed the
charge of the _atrium_, where the Romans kept their family archives,
portraits, and works of art. Yet he must have quitted this kind of
service some time before his death, since we find him in the company
of Hadrian upon one of those long journeys in which an _atriensis_
would have had no _atrium_ to keep. By the time of Hadrian's visit
to Egypt, Antinous had certainly passed into the closest
relationship with his imperial master; and what we know of the
Emperor's inclination towards literary and philosophical society
perhaps justifies the belief that the youth he admitted to his
friendship had imbibed Greek culture, and had been initiated into
those cloudy metaphysics which amused the leisure of semi-Oriental
thinkers in the last age of decaying Paganism.

It was a moment in the history of the human mind when East and West
were blending their traditions to form the husk of Christian creeds
and the fantastic visions of neo-Platonism. Rome herself had
received with rapture the strange rites of Nilotic and of Syrian
superstition. Alexandria was the forge of fanciful imaginations, the
majority of which were destined to pass like vapours and leave not a
wrack behind, while a few fastened with the force of dogma on the
conscience of awakening Christendom. During Hadrian's reign it was
still uncertain which among the many hybrid products of that motley
age would live and flourish; and the Emperor, we know, dreamed
fondly of reviving the cults and restoring the splendour of
degenerate Hellas. At the same time he was not averse to the more
mystic rites of Egypt: in his villa at Tivoli he built a Serapeum,
and named one of its quarters Canopus. What part Antinous may have
taken in the projects of his friend and master we know not; yet,
when we come to consider the circumstances of his death, it may not
be superfluous to have thus touched upon the intellectual conditions
of the world in which he lived. The mixed blood of the boy, born and
bred in a Greek city near the classic ground of Dindymean rites, and
his beauty, blent of Hellenic and Eastern qualities, may also not
unprofitably be remembered. In such a youth, nurtured between Greece
and Asia, admitted to the friendship of an emperor for whom
neo-Hellenism was a life's dream in the midst of grave state-cares,
influenced by the dark and symbolical creeds of a dimly apprehended
East, might there not have lurked some spark of enthusiasm combining
the impulses of Atys and Aristogeiton, pathetic even in its
inefficiency when judged by the light of modern knowledge, but
heroic at that moment in its boundless vista of great deeds to be

After journeying through Greece, Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine, and
Arabia, Hadrian, attended by Antinous, came to Egypt. He there
restored the tomb of Pompey, near Pelusium, with great magnificence,
and shortly afterwards embarked from Alexandria upon the Nile,
proceeding on his journey through Memphis into the Thebaïd. When he
had arrived near an ancient city named Besa, on the right bank of
the river, he lost his friend. Antinous was drowned in the Nile. He
had thrown himself, it was believed, into the water; seeking thus by
a voluntary death to substitute his own life for Hadrian's, and to
avert predicted perils from the Roman Empire. What these perils
were, and whether Hadrian was ill, or whether an oracle had
threatened him with approaching calamity, we do not know. Even
supposition is at fault, because the date of the event is still
uncertain; some authorities placing Hadrian's Egyptian journey in
the year 122, and others in the year 130 A.D. Of the two dates, the
second seems the more probable. We are left to surmise that, if the
Emperor was in danger, the recent disturbances which followed a new
discovery of Apis, may have exposed him to fanatical conspiracy. The
same doubt affects an ingenious conjecture that rumours which
reached the Roman court of a new rising in Judæa had disturbed the
Emperor's mind, and led to the belief that he was on the verge of a
mysterious doom. He had pacified the Empire and established its
administration on a solid basis. Yet the revolt of the indomitable
Jews--more dreaded since the days of Titus than any other
perturbation of the imperial economy--would have been enough,
especially in Egypt, to engender general uneasiness. However this
may have been, the grief of the Emperor, intensified either by
gratitude or remorse, led to the immediate canonisation of Antinous.
The city where he died was rebuilt, and named after him. His worship
as a hero and as a god spread far and wide throughout the provinces
of the Mediterranean. A new star, which appeared about the time of
his decease, was supposed to be his soul received into the company
of the immortals. Medals were struck in his honour, and countless
works of art were produced to make his memory undying. Great cities
wore wreaths of red lotos on his feast-day in commemoration of the
manner of his death. Public games were celebrated in his honour at
the city Antinoë, and also in Arcadian Mantinea. This canonisation
may probably have taken place in the fourteenth year of Hadrian's
reign, A.D. 130.[1] Antinous continued to be worshipped until the
reign of Valentinian.

    [1] Overbeck, Hausrath, and Mommsen, following apparently
    the conclusions arrived at by Flemmer in his work on
    Hadrian's journeys, place it in 130 A.D. This would leave
    an interval of only eight years between the deaths of
    Antinous and Hadrian. It may here be observed that two
    medals of Antinous, referred by Rasche with some
    hesitation to the Egyptian series, bear the dates of the
    eighth and ninth years of Hadrian's reign. If these coins
    are genuine, and if we accept Flemmer's conclusions, they
    must have been struck in the lifetime of Antinous. Neither
    of them represents Antinous with the insignia of deity:
    one gives the portrait of Hadrian upon the reverse.

Thus far I have told a simple story, as though the details of the
youth's last days were undisputed. Still we are as yet but on the
threshold of the subject. All that we have any right to take for
uncontested is that Antinous passed from this life near the city of
Besa, called thereafter Antinoopolis or Antinoë. Whether he was
drowned by accident, whether he drowned himself in order to save
Hadrian by vicarious suffering, or whether Hadrian sacrificed him in
order to extort the secrets of fate from blood-propitiated deities,
remains a question buried in the deepest gloom. With a view to
throwing such light as is possible upon the matter, we must proceed
to summon in their order the most trustworthy authorities among the

Dion Cassius takes precedence. In compiling his life of Hadrian, he
had beneath his eyes the Emperor's own 'Commentaries,' published
under the name of the freedman Phlegon. We therefore learn from him
at least what the friend of Antinous wished the world to know about
his death; and though this does not go for much, since Hadrian is
himself an accused person in the suit before us, yet the whole Roman
Empire may be said to have accepted his account, and based on it a
pious cult that held its own through the next three centuries of
growing Christianity. Dion, in the abstract of his history compiled
by Xiphilinus, speaks then to this effect: 'In Egypt he also built
the city named after Antinous. Now Antinous was a native of
Bithynium, a city of Bithynia, which we also call Claudiopolis. He
was Hadrian's favourite, and he died in Egypt: whether by having
fallen into the Nile, as Hadrian writes, or by having been
sacrificed, as the truth was. For Hadrian, as I have said, was in
general over-much given to superstitious subtleties, and practised
all kinds of sorceries and magic arts. At any rate he so honoured
Antinous, whether because of the love he felt for him, or because he
died voluntarily, since a willing victim was needed for his purpose,
that he founded a city in the place where he met this fate, and
called it after him, and dedicated statues, or rather images, of him
in, so to speak, the whole inhabited world. Lastly, he affirmed that
a certain star which he saw was the star of Antinous, and listened
with pleasure to the myths invented by his companions about this
star having really sprung from the soul of his favourite, and having
then for the first time appeared. For which things he was laughed

We may now hear what Spartian, in his 'Vita Hadriani,' has to say:
'He lost his favourite, Antinous, while sailing on the Nile, and
lamented him like a woman. About Antinous reports vary, for some say
that he devoted his life for Hadrian, while others hint what his
condition seems to prove, as well as Hadrian's excessive inclination
to luxury. Some Greeks, at the instance of Hadrian, canonised him,
asserting that oracles were given by him, which Hadrian himself is
supposed to have made up.'

In the third place comes Aurelius Victor: 'Others maintain that this
sacrifice of Antinous was both pious and religious; for when Hadrian
was wishing to prolong his life, and the magicians required a
voluntary vicarious victim, they say that, upon the refusal of all
others, Antinous offered himself.'

These are the chief authorities. In estimating them we must remember
that, though Dion Cassius wrote less than a century after the event
narrated, he has come down to us merely in fragments and in the
epitome of a Byzantine of the twelfth century, when everything that
could possibly be done to discredit the worship of Antinous, and to
blacken the memory of Hadrian, had been attempted by the Christian
Fathers. On the other hand, Spartianus and Aurelius Victor compiled
their histories at too distant a date to be of first-rate value.
Taking the three reports together, we find that antiquity differed
about the details of Antinous's death. Hadrian himself averred that
his friend was drowned; and it was surmised that he had drowned
himself in order to prolong his master's life. The courtiers,
however, who had scoffed at Hadrian's fondness for his favourite,
and had laughed to see his sorrow for his death, somewhat
illogically came to the conclusion that Antinous had been immolated
by the Emperor, either because a victim was needed to prolong his
life, or because some human sacrifice was required in order to
complete a dark mysterious magic rite. Dion, writing not very long
after the event, believed that Antinous had been immolated for some
such purpose with his own consent. Spartian, who wrote at the
distance of more than a century, felt uncertain about the question
of self-devotion; but Aurelius Victor, following after the interval
of another century, unhesitatingly adopted Dion's view, and gave it
a fresh colour. This opinion he summarised in a compact,
authoritative form, upon which we may perhaps found an assumption
that the belief in Antinous, as a self-devoted victim, had been
gradually growing through two centuries.

There are therefore three hypotheses to be considered. The first is
that Antinous died an accidental death by drowning; the second is,
that Antinous, in some way or another, gave his life willingly for
Hadrian's; the third is, that Hadrian ordered his immolation in the
performance of magic rites.

For the first of the three hypotheses we have the authority of
Hadrian himself, as quoted by Dion. The simple words [Greek: eis ton
Neilon ekpesôn] imply no more than accidental death; and yet, if the
Emperor had believed the story of his favourite's self-devotion, it
is reasonable to suppose that he would have recorded it in his
'Memoirs.' Accepting this view of the case, we must refer the
deification of Antinous wholly to Hadrian's affection; and the tales
of his _devotio_ may have been invented partly to flatter the
Emperor's grief, partly to explain its violence to the Roman world.
This hypothesis seems, indeed, by far the most natural of the three;
and if we could strip the history of Antinous of its mysterious and
mythic elements, it is rational to believe that we should find his
death a simple accident. Yet our authorities prove that writers of
history among the ancients wavered between the two other theories of
(i) Self-Devotion and (ii) Immolation, with a bias toward the
latter. These, then, have now to be considered with some attention.
Both, it may parenthetically be observed, relieve Antinous from a
moral stigma, since in either case a pure untainted victim was

If we accept the former of the two remaining hypotheses, we can
understand how love and gratitude, together with sorrow, led Hadrian
to canonise Antinous. If we accept the latter, Hadrian's sorrow
itself becomes inexplicable; and we must attribute the foundation of
Antinoë and the deification of Antinous to remorse. It may be added,
while balancing these two solutions of the problem, that cynical
sophists, like Hadrian's Græculi, were likely to have put the worst
construction on the Emperor's passion, and to have invented the
worst stories concerning the favourite's death. To perpetuate these
calumnious reports was the real interest of the Christian
apologists, who not unnaturally thought it scandalous that a
handsome page should be deified. Thus, at first sight, the balance
of probability inclines toward the former of the two solutions,
while the second may be rejected as based upon court-gossip and
religious animosity. Attention may also again be called to the fact
that Hadrian ventured to publish an account of Antinous quite
inconsistent with what Dion chose to call the truth, and that
virtuous Emperors like the Antonines did not interfere with a cult,
which, had it been paid to the mere victim of Hadrian's passion and
his superstition, would have been an infamy even in Rome. Moreover,
that cult was not, like the creations of the impious emperors,
forgotten or destroyed by public acclamation. It took root and
flourished apparently, as we shall see, because it satisfied some
craving of the popular religious sense, and because the people
believed that this man had died for his friend. It will not,
however, do to dismiss the two hypotheses so lightly.

The alternative of self-devotion presents itself under a double
aspect. Antinous may either have committed suicide by drowning with
the intention of prolonging the Emperor's life, or he may have
offered himself as a voluntary victim to the magicians, who required
a sacrifice for a similar purpose. Spartian's brief phrase, _aliis
eum devotum pro Hadriano_, may seem to point to the first form of
self-devotion; the testimony of Aurelius Victor clearly supports the
second: yet it does not much matter which of the two explanations we
adopt. The point is whether Antinous gave his life willingly to save
the Emperor's, or whether he was murdered for the satisfaction of
some superstitious curiosity. It was absolutely necessary that the
vicarious victim should make a free and voluntary oblation of
himself. That the notion of vicarious suffering was familiar to the
ancients is sufficiently attested by the phrases [Greek:
antipsychoi], [Greek: antandroi], and _hostia succidanea_. We find
traces of it in the legend of Alcestis, who died for Admetus, and of
Cheiron, who took the place of Prometheus in Hades. Suetonius
records that in the first days of Caligula's popularity, when he was
labouring under dangerous illness, many Romans of both sexes vowed
their lives for his recovery in temples of the gods. That this
superstition retained a strong hold on the popular imagination in
the time of Hadrian is proved by the curious affirmation of
Aristides, a contemporary of that Emperor. He says that once, when
he was ill, a certain Philumene offered her soul for his soul, her
body for his body, and that, upon his own recovery, she died. On the
same testimony it appears that her brother Hermeas had also died for
Aristides. This faith in the efficacy of substitution is persistent
in the human race. Not long ago a Christian lady was supposed to
have vowed her own life for the prolongation of that of Pope Pius
IX., and good Catholics inclined to the belief that the sacrifice
had been accepted. We shall see that in the first centuries of
Christendom the popular conviction that Antinous had died for
Hadrian brought him into inconvenient rivalry with Christ, whose
vicarious suffering was the cardinal point of the new creed.

The alternative of immolation has next to be considered. The
question before us here is, Did Hadrian sacrifice Antinous for the
satisfaction of a superstitious curiosity, and in the performance of
magic rites? Dion Cassius uses the word [Greek: hierourgêtheis], and
explains it by saying that Hadrian needed a voluntary human victim
for the accomplishment of an act of divination in which he was
engaged. Both Spartian and Dion speak emphatically of the Emperor's
proclivities to the black art; and all antiquity agreed about this
trait in his character. Ammianus Marcellinus spoke of him as
'_futurorum sciscitationi nimiæ deditum_.' Tertullian described him
as '_curiositatum omnium exploratorem_.' To multiply such phrases
would, however, be superfluous, for they are probably mere
repetitions from the text of Dion. That human victims were used by
the Romans of the Empire seems certain. Lampridius, in the 'Life of
Heliogabalus,' records his habit of slaying handsome and noble
youths, in order that he might inspect their entrails. Eusebius, in
his 'Life of Maxentius,' asserts the same of that Emperor. _Quum
inspiceret exta puerilia_, [Greek: neognôn splagchna brephôn
diereunomenou], are the words used by Lampridius and Eusebius.
Justin Martyr speaks of [Greek: epopteuseis paidôn adiaphthorôn].
Caracalla and Julian are credited with similar bloody sacrifices.
Indeed, it may be affirmed in general that tyrants have ever been
eager to foresee the future and to extort her secrets from Fate,
stopping short at no crime in the attempt to quiet a corroding
anxiety for their own safety. What we read about Italian
despots--Ezzelino da Romano, Sigismondo Malatesta, Filippo Maria
Visconti, and Pier Luigi Farnese--throws light upon the practice of
their Imperial predecessors; while the mysterious murder of the
beautiful Astorre Manfredi by the Borgias in Hadrian's Mausoleum has
been referred by modern critics of authority to the same unholy
curiosity. That Hadrian laboured under this moral disease, and that
he deliberately used the body of Antinous for _extispicium_, is, I
think, Dion's opinion. But are we justified in reckoning Hadrian
among these tyrants? That must depend upon our view of his

Hadrian was a man in whom the most conflicting qualities were blent.
In his youth and through his whole life he was passionately fond of
hunting; hardy, simple in his habits, marching bareheaded with his
legions through German frost and Nubian heat, sharing the food of
his soldiers, and exercising the most rigid military discipline. At
the same time he has aptly been described as 'the most sumptuous
character of antiquity.' He filled the cities of the empire with
showy buildings, and passed his last years in a kind of classic
Munich, where he had constructed imitations of every celebrated
monument in Europe. He was so far fond of nature that, anticipating
the most recently developed of modern tastes, he ascended Mount Ætna
and the Mons Casius, in order to enjoy the spectacle of sunrise. In
his villa at Tivoli he indulged a trivial fancy by christening one
garden Tempe and another the Elysian Fields; and he had his name
carved on the statue of the vocal Memnon with no less gusto than a
modern tourist: _audivi voces divinas_. His memory was prodigious,
his eloquence in the Latin language studied and yet forcible, his
knowledge of Greek literature and philosophy far from contemptible.
He enjoyed the society of Sophists and distinguished rhetoricians,
and so far affected authorship as to win the unenviable title of
_Græculus_ in his own lifetime: yet he never neglected state
affairs. Owing to his untiring energy and vast capacity for
business, he not only succeeded in reorganising every department of
the empire, social, political, fiscal, military, and municipal; but
he also held in his own hands the threads of all its complicated
machinery. He was strict in matters of routine, and appears to have
been almost a martinet among his legions: yet in social intercourse
he lived on terms of familiarity with inferiors, combining the
graces of elegant conversation with the _bonhomie_ of boon
companionship, displaying a warm heart to his friends, and using
magnificent generosity. He restored the domestic as well as the
military discipline of the Roman world; and his code of laws lasted
till Justinian. Among many of his useful measures of reform he
issued decrees restricting the power of masters over their slaves,
and depriving them of their old capital jurisdiction. His
biographers find little to accuse him of beyond a singular avidity
for fame, addiction to magic arts and luxurious vices: yet they
adduce no proof of his having, at any rate before the date of his
final retirement to his Tiburtine villa, shared the crimes of a Nero
or a Commodus. On the whole, we must recognise in Hadrian a nature
of extraordinary energy, capacity for administrative government, and
mental versatility. A certain superficiality, vulgarity, and
commonplaceness seems to have been forced upon him by the
circumstances of his age, no less than by his special temperament.
This quality of the immitigable commonplace is clearly written on
his many portraits. Their chief interest consists in a fixed
expression of fatigue--as though the man were weary with much
seeking and with little finding. In all things, he was somewhat of a
dilettante; and the Nemesis of that sensibility to impressions which
distinguishes the dilettante, came upon him ere he died. He ended
his days in an appalling and persistent paroxysm of _ennui_,
desiring the death which would not come to his relief.

The whole creative and expansive force of Hadrian's century lay
concealed in the despised Christian sect. Art was expiring in a
sunset blaze of gorgeous imitation, tasteless grandeur, technical
elaboration. Philosophy had become sophistical or mystic; its real
life survived only in the phrase 'entbehren sollst du, sollst
entbehren' of the Stoics. Literature was repetitive and scholastic.
Tacitus, Suetonius, Plutarch, and Juvenal indeed were living; but
their works formed the last great literary triumph of the age.
Religion had degenerated under the twofold influences of scepticism
and intrusive foreign cults. It was, in truth, an age in which, for
a sound heart and manly intellect, there lay no proper choice except
between the stoicism of Marcus Aurelius and the Christianity of the
Catacombs. All else had passed into shams, unrealities, and visions.
Now Hadrian was neither stoical nor Christian, though he so far
coquetted with Christianity as to build temples dedicated to no
Pagan deity, which passed in after times for unfinished churches. He
was a _Græculus_. In that contemptuous epithet, stripping it of its
opprobrious significance, we find the real key to his character. In
a failing age he lived a restless-minded, many-sided soldier-prince,
whose inner hopes and highest aspirations were for Hellas. Hellas,
her art, her history, her myths, her literature, her lovers, her
young heroes filled him with enthusiasm. To rebuild her ruined
cities, to restore her deities, to revive her golden life of blended
poetry and science, to reconstruct her spiritual empire as he had
re-organised the Roman world, was Hadrian's dream. It was indeed a
dream; one which a far more creative genius than Hadrian's could not
have realised.

But now, returning to the two alternatives regarding his friend's
death: was this philo-Hellenic Emperor the man to have immolated
Antinous for _extispicium_ and then deified him? Probably not. The
discord between this bloody act and subsequent hypocrisy upon the
one hand, and Hadrian's Greek sympathies upon the other, must be
reckoned too strong for even such a dipsychic character as his.
There is nothing in either Spartian or Dion to justify the opinion
that he was naturally cruel or fantastically deceitful. On the other
hand, Hadrian's philo-Hellenic, splendour-loving, somewhat tawdry,
fame-desiring nature was precisely of the sort to jump eagerly at
the deification of a favourite who had either died a natural death
or killed himself to save his master. Hadrian had loved Antinous
with a Greek passion in his lifetime. The Roman Emperor was half a
god. He remembered how Zeus had loved Ganymede, and raised him to
Olympus; how Achilles had loved Patroclus, and performed his funeral
rites at Troy; how the demi-god Alexander had loved Hephæstion, and
lifted him into a hero's seat on high. He, Hadrian, would do the
like, now that death had robbed him of his comrade. The Roman, who
surrounded himself at Tivoli with copies of Greek temples, and who
called his garden Tempe, played thus at being Zeus, Achilles,
Alexander; and the civilised world humoured his whim. Though the
Sophists scoffed at his real grief and honourable tears, they
consecrated his lost favourite, found out a star for him, carved him
in breathing brass, and told tales about his sacred flower.
Pancrates was entertained in Alexandria at the public cost for his
fable of the lotos; and the lyrist Mesomedes received so liberal a
pension for his hymn to Antinous that Antoninus Pius found it
needful to curtail it.

After weighing the authorities, considering the circumstances of the
age, and estimating Hadrian's character, I am thus led to reject the
alternative of immolation. Spartian's own words, _quem muliebriter
flevit_, as well as the subsequent acts of the Emperor and the
acquiescence of the whole world in the new deity, prove to my mind
that in the suggestion of _extispicium_ we have one of those covert
calumnies which it is impossible to set aside at this distance of
time, and which render the history of Roman Emperors and Popes
almost impracticable.

The case, then, stands before us thus. Antinous was drowned in the
Nile, near Besa, either by accident or by voluntary suicide to save
his master's life. Hadrian's love for him had been unmeasured, so
was his grief. Both of them were genuine; but in the nature of the
man there was something artificial. He could not be content to love
and grieve alone; he must needs enact the part of Alexander, and
realise, if only by a sort of makebelieve, a portion of his Greek
ideal. Antinous, the beautiful servant, was to take the place of
Ganymede, of Patroclus, of Hephæstion; never mind if Hadrian was a
Roman and his friend a Bithynian, and if the love between them, as
between an emperor of fifty and a boy of nineteen, had been less
than heroic. The opportunity was too fair to be missed; the _rôle_
too fascinating to be rejected. The world, in spite of covert
sneers, lent itself to the sham, and Antinous became a god.

The uniformly contemptuous tone of antique authorities almost
obliges us to rank this deification of Antinous, together with the
Tiburtine villa and the dream of a Hellenic Renaissance, among the
part-shams, part-enthusiasms of Hadrian's 'sumptuous' character.
Spartian's account of the consecration, and his hint that Hadrian
composed the oracles delivered at his favourite's tomb; Arrian's
letter to the Emperor describing the island Leukè and flattering him
by an adroit comparison with Achilles; the poem by Pancrates
mentioned in the 'Deipnosophistæ,' which furnished the myth of a new
lotos dedicated to Antinous; the invention of the star, and
Hadrian's conversations with his courtiers on this subject--all
converge to form the belief that something of consciously unreal
mingled with this act of apotheosis by Imperial decree. Hadrian
sought to assuage his grief by paying his favourite illustrious
honours after death; he also desired to give the memory of his own
love the most congenial and poetical environment, to feed upon it in
the daintiest places, and to deck it with the prettiest flowers of
fancy. He therefore canonised Antinous, and took measures for
disseminating his cult throughout the world, careless of the element
of imposture which might seem to mingle with the consecration of his
true affection. Hadrian's superficial taste was not offended by the
gimcrack quality of the new god; and Antinous was saved from being a
merely pinchbeck saint by his own charming personality.

This will not, however, wholly satisfy the conditions of the
problem; and we are obliged to ask ourselves whether there was not
something in the character of Antinous himself, something divinely
inspired and irradiate with spiritual beauty, apparent to his
fellows and remembered after his mysterious death, which justified
his canonisation, and removed it from the region of Imperial
makebelieve. If this was not the case, if Antinous died like a
flower cropped from the seraglio garden of the court-pages, how
should the Emperor in the first place have bewailed him with
'unhusbanded passion,' and the people afterwards have received him
as a god? May it not have been that he was a youth of more than
ordinary promise, gifted with intellectual enthusiasms proportioned
to his beauty and endowed with something of Phoebean inspiration,
who, had he survived, might have even inaugurated a new age for the
world, or have emulated the heroism of Hypatia in a hopeless cause?
Was the link between him and Hadrian formed less by the boy's beauty
than by his marvellous capacity for apprehending and his fitness for
realising the Emperor's Greek dreams? Did the spirit of
neo-Platonism find in him congenial incarnation? At any rate, was
there not enough in the then current beliefs about the future of the
soul, as abundantly set forth in Plutarch's writings, to justify a
conviction that after death he had already passed into the lunar
sphere, awaiting the final apotheosis of purged spirits in the sun?
These questions may be asked--indeed, they must be asked--for,
without suggesting them, we leave the worship of Antinous an almost
inexplicable scandal, an almost unintelligible blot on human nature.
Unless we ask them, we must be content to echo the coarse and
violent diatribes of Clemens Alexandrinus against the vigils of the
deified _exoletus_. But they cannot be answered, for antiquity is
altogether silent about him; only here and there, in the indignant
utterance of a Christian Father, stung to the quick by Pagan
parallels between Antinous and Christ, do we catch a perverted echo
of the popular emotion upon which his cult reposed, which recognised
his godhood or his vicarious self-sacrifice, and which paid enduring
tribute to the sublimity of his young life untimely quenched.

The _senatus consultum_ required for the apotheosis of an Emperor
was not, so far as we know, obtained in the case of Antinous.
Hadrian's determination to exalt his favourite sufficed; and this is
perhaps one of the earliest instances of those informal deifications
which became common in the later Roman period. Antinous was
canonised according to Greek ritual and by Greek priests: _Græci
quidam volente Hadriano eum consecraverunt_. How this was
accomplished we know not; but forms of canonisation must have been
in common usage, seeing that emperors and members of the Imperial
family received the honour in due course. The star which was
supposed to have appeared soon after his death, and which
represented his soul admitted to Olympus, was somewhere near the
constellation Aquila, according to Ptolemy, but not part of it. I
believe the letters [Greek: ê.th.i.k.l.] of Aquila now bear the name
of Antinous; but this appropriation dates only from the time of
Tycho Brahe. It was also asserted that as a new star had appeared in
the skies, so a new flower had blossomed on the earth, at the moment
of his death. This was the lotos, of a peculiar red colour, which
the people of Lower Egypt used to wear in wreaths upon his festival.
It received the name Antinoeian; and the Alexandrian sophist,
Pancrates, seeking to pay a double compliment to Hadrian and his
favourite, wrote a poem in which he pretended that this lily was
stained with the blood of a Libyan lion slain by the Emperor. As
Arrian compared his master to Achilles, so Pancrates flattered him
with allusions to Herakles. The lotos, it is well known, was a
sacred flower in Egypt. Both as a symbol of the all-nourishing
moisture of the earth and of the mystic marriage of Isis and Osiris,
and also as an emblem of immortality, it appeared on all the sacred
places of the Egyptians, especially on tombs and funeral utensils.
To dignify Antinous with the lotos emblem was to consecrate him; to
find a new species of the revered blossom and to wear it in his
honour, calling it by his name, was to exalt him to the company of
gods. Nothing, as it seems, had been omitted that could secure for
him the patent of divinity.

He met his death near the city Besa, an ancient Egyptian town upon
the eastern bank of the Nile, almost opposite to Hermopolis. Besa
was the name of a local god, who gave oracles and predicted future
events. But of this Besa we know next to nothing. Hadrian determined
to rebuild the city, change its name, and let his favourite take the
place of the old deity. Accordingly, he raised a splendid new town
in the Greek style; furnished it with temples, agora, hippodrome,
gymnasium, and baths; filled it with Greek citizens; gave it a Greek
constitution, and named it Antinoë. This new town, whether called
Antinoë, Antinoopolis, Antinous, Antinoeia, or even Besantinous (for
its titles varied), continued long to flourish, and was mentioned by
Ammianus Marcellinus, together with Copton and Hermopolis, as one of
the three most distinguished cities of the Thebaïd. In the age of
Julian these three cities were perhaps the only still thriving towns
of Upper Egypt. It has even been maintained on Ptolemy's authority
that Antinoë was the metropolis of a nome, called Antinoeitis; but
this is doubtful, since inscriptions discovered among the ruins of
the town record no name of nomarch or strategus, while they prove
the government to have consisted of a Boulè and a Prytaneus, who was
also the Eponymous Magistrate. Strabo reckons it, together with
Ptolemais and Alexandria, as governed after the Greek municipal

In this city Antinous was worshipped as a god. Though a Greek god,
and the eponym of a Greek city, he inherited the place and functions
of an Egyptian deity, and was here represented in the hieratic style
of Ptolemaic sculpture. A fine specimen of this statuary is
preserved in the Vatican, showing how the neo-Hellenic sculptors had
succeeded in maintaining the likeness of Antinous without
sacrificing the traditional manner of Egyptian piety. The sacred
emblems of Egyptian deities were added: we read, for instance, in
one passage, that his shrine contained a boat. This boat, like the
mystic egg of Erôs or the cista of Dionysos, symbolised the embryo
of cosmic life. It was specially appropriated to Osiris, and
suggested collateral allusions doubtless to immortality and the
soul's journey in another world. Antinous had a college of priests
appointed to his service; and oracles were delivered from the
cenotaph inside his temple. The people believed him to be a genius
of warning, gracious to his suppliants, but terrible to evil-doers,
combining the qualities of the avenging and protective deities.
Annual games were celebrated in Antinoë on his festival, with
chariot races and gymnastic contests; and the fashion of keeping his
day seems, from Athenæus's testimony, to have spread through Egypt.
An inscription in Greek characters discovered at Rome upon the
Campus Martius entitles Antinous a colleague of the gods in Egypt--


The worship of Antinous spread rapidly through the Greek and Asian
provinces, especially among the cities which owed debts of gratitude
to Hadrian or expected from him future favours. At Athens, for
example, the Emperor, attended perhaps by Antinous, had presided as
Archon during his last royal progress, had built a suburb called
after his name, and raised a splendid temple to Olympian Jove. The
Athenians, therefore, founded games and a priesthood in honour of
the new divinity. Even now, in the Dionysiac theatre, among the
chairs above the orchestra assigned to priests of elder deities and
more august tradition, may be found one bearing the name of
Antinous--[Greek: IEREÔS ANTINOOU]. A marble tablet has also been
discovered inscribed with the names of agonothetai for the games
celebrated in honour of Antinous; and a stele exists engraved with
the crown of these contests together with the crowns of Severus,
Commodus, and Antoninus. It appears that the games in honour of
Antinous took place both at Eleusis and at Athens; and that the
agonothetai, as also the priest of the new god, were chosen from the
Ephebi. The Corinthians, the Argives, the Achaians, and the Epirots,
as we know from coins issued by the priests of Antinous, adopted his
cult;[1] but the region of Greece proper where it flourished most
was Arcadia, the mother state of his Bithynian birthplace.
Pausanias, who lived contemporaneously with Antinous, and might have
seen him, though he tells us that he had not chanced to meet the
youth alive, mentions the temple of Antinous at Mantinea as the
newest in that city. 'The Mantineans,' he says, 'reckon Antinous
among their gods.' He then describes the yearly festival and
mysteries connected with his cult, the quinquennial games
established in his honour, and his statues. The gymnasium had a cell
dedicated to Antinous, adorned with pictures and fair stone-work.
The new god was in the habit of Dionysus.

    ANTINOOU ANETHÊKE TOIS ACHAIOIS] and a similar inscription
    for Corinth.

As was natural, his birthplace paid him special observance. Coins
dedicated by the province of Bithynia, as well as by the town
Bithynium, are common, with the epigraphs, [Greek: ANTINOOU Ê
PATRIS] and [Greek: ANTINOON THEON Ê PATRIS]. Among the cities of
Asia Minor and the vicinity the new cult seems to have been widely
spread. Adramyttene in Mysia, Alabanda, Ancyra in Galatia,
Chalcedon, Cuma in Æolis, Cyzicum in Mysia, the Ciani, the
Hadrianotheritæ of Bithynia, Hierapolis in Phrygia, Nicomedia,
Philadelphia, Sardis, Smyrna, Tarsus, the Tianians of Paphlagonia,
and a town Rhesæna in Mesopotamia, all furnish their quota of
medals. On the majority of these medals he is entitled Herôs, but on
others he has the higher title of god; and he seems to have been
associated in each place with some deity of local fame.

Being essentially a Greek hero, or divinised man received into the
company of immortals and worshipped with the attributes of god, his
cult took firmer root among the neo-Hellenic provinces of the empire
than in Italy. Yet there are signs that even in Italy he found his
votaries. Among these may first be mentioned the comparative
frequency of his name in Roman inscriptions, which have no immediate
reference to him, but prove that parents gave it to their children.
The discovery of his statues in various cities of the Roman Campagna
shows that his cult was not confined to one or two localities.
Naples in particular, which remained in all essential points a Greek
city, seems to have received him with acclamation. A quarter of the
town was called after his name, and a phratria of priests was
founded in connection with his worship. The Neapolitans owed much to
the patronage of Hadrian, and they repaid him after this fashion. At
the beginning of the last century Raffaello Fabretti discovered an
inscription near the Porta S. Sebastiano at Rome, which throws some
light on the matter. It records the name of a Roman knight, Sufenas,
who had held the office of Lupercus and had been a fellow of the
Neapolitan phratria of Antinous--_fretriaco Neapoli Antinoiton et
Eunostidon_. Eunostos was a hero worshipped at Tanagra in Boeotia,
where he had a sacred grove no female foot might enter; and the
wording of the inscription leaves it doubtful whether the Eunostidæ
and Antinoitæ of Naples were two separate colleges; or whether the
heroes were associated as the common patrons of one brotherhood.

A valuable inscription discovered in 1816 near the Baths at Lanuvium
or Lavigna shows that Antinous was here associated with Diana as the
saint of a benefit club. The rules of the confraternity prescribe
the payments and other contributions of its members, provide for
their assembling on the feast days of their patrons, fix certain
fines, and regulate the ceremonies and expenses of their funerals.
This club seems to have resembled modern burial societies, as known
to us in England; or still more closely to have been formed upon the
same model as Italian confraternitè of the Middle Ages. The Lex, or
table of regulations, was drawn up in the year 133 A.D. It fixes the
birthday of Antinous as v.k. Decembr., and alludes to the temple of
Antinous--_Tetrastylo Antinoi_. Probably we cannot build much on the
birthday as a genuine date, for the same table gives the birthday of
Diana; and what was wanted was not accuracy in such matters, but a
settled anniversary for banquets and pious celebrations. When we
come to consider the divinity of Antinous, it will be of service to
remember that at Lanuvium, together with Diana of the nether world,
he was reckoned among the saints of sepulture. Could this thought
have penetrated the imagination of his worshippers: that since
Antinous had given his life for his friend, since he had faced death
and triumphed over it, winning immortality and godhood for himself
by sacrifice, the souls of his votaries might be committed to his
charge and guidance on their journey through the darkness of the
tomb? Could we venture to infer thus much from his selection by a
confraternity existing for the purpose of securing decent burial or
pious funeral rites, the date of its formation, so soon after his
death, would confirm the hypothesis that he was known to have
devoted his life for Hadrian.

While speaking of Antinous as a divinised man, adscript to the gods
of Egypt, accepted as hero and as god in Hellas, Italy, and Asia
Minor, we have not yet considered the nature of his deity. The
question is not so simple as it seems at first sight: and the next
step to take, with a view to its solution, is to consider the
various forms under which he was adored--the phases of his divinity.
The coins already mentioned, and the numerous works of glyptic art
surviving in the galleries of Europe, will help us to place
ourselves at the same point of view as the least enlightened of his
antique votaries. Reasoning upon these data by the light of classic
texts, may afterwards enable us to assign him his true place in the
Pantheon of decadent and uninventive Paganism.

In Egypt, as we have already seen, Antinous was worshipped by the
neo-Hellenes of Antinoopolis as their Eponymous Hero; but he took
the place of an elder native god, and was represented in art
according to the traditions of Egyptian sculpture. The marble statue
of the Vatican is devoid of hieratic emblems. Antinous is attired
with the Egyptian head-dress and waistband: he holds a short
truncheon firmly clasped in each hand; and by his side is a
palm-stump, such as one often finds in statues of the Greek Hermes.
Two colossal statues of red granite discovered in the ruins of
Hadrian's villa, at Tivoli, represent him in like manner with the
usual Egyptian head-dress. They seem to have been designed for
pillars supporting the architrave of some huge portal; and the wands
grasped firmly in both hands are supposed to be symbolical of the
genii called Dii Averrunci. Von Levezow, in his monograph upon
Antinous in art, catalogues five statues of a similar description to
the three already mentioned. From the indistinct character of all of
them, it would appear that Antinous was nowhere identified with any
one of the great Egyptian deities, but was treated as a Dæmon
powerful to punish and protect. This designation corresponds to the
contemptuous rebuke addressed by Origen to Celsus, where he argues
that the new saint was only a malignant and vengeful spirit. His
Egyptian medals are few and of questionable genuineness: the
majority of them seem to be purely Hellenic; but on one he bears a
crown like that of Isis, and on another a lotos wreath. The dim
records of his cult in Egypt, and the remnants of Græco-Egyptian
art, thus mark him out as one of the Averruncan deities, associated
perhaps with Kneph or the Agathodæmon of Hellenic mythology, or
approximated to Anubis, the Egyptian Hermes. Neither statues nor
coins throw much light upon his precise place among those gods of
Nile whose throne he is said to have ascended. Egyptian piety may
not have been so accommodating as that of Hellas.

With the Græco-Roman world the case is different. We obtain a
clearer conception of the Antinous divinity, and recognise him
always under the mask of youthful gods already honoured with fixed
ritual. To worship even living men under the names and attributes of
well-known deities was no new thing in Hellas. We may remember the
Ithyphallic hymn with which the Athenians welcomed Demetrius
Poliorkêtes, the marriage of Anthony as Dionysus to Athenè, and the
deification of Mithridates as Bacchus. The Roman Emperors had
already been represented in art with the characteristics of
gods--Nero, for example, as Phoebus, and Hadrian as Mars. Such
compliments were freely paid to Antinous. On the Achaian coins we
find his portrait on the obverse, with different types of Hermes on
the reverse, varied in one case by the figure of a ram, in another
by the representation of a temple, in a third by a nude hero
grasping a spear. One Mysian medal, bearing the epigraph 'Antinous
Iacchus,' represents him crowned with ivy, and exhibits Demeter on
the reverse. A single specimen from Ancyra, with the legend
'Antinous Herôs,' depicts the god Lunus carrying a crescent moon
upon his shoulder. The Bithynian coins generally give youthful
portraits of Antinous upon the obverse, with the title of 'Herôs' or
'Theos;' while the reverse is stamped with a pastoral figure,
sometimes bearing the talaria, sometimes accompanied by a feeding ox
or a boar or a star. This youth is supposed to be Philesius, the son
of Hermes. In one specimen of the Bithynian series the reverse
yields a head of Proserpine crowned with thorns. A coin of Chalcedon
ornaments the reverse with a griffin seated near a naked figure.
Another, from Corinth, bears the sun-god in a chariot; another, from
Cuma, presents an armed Pallas. Bulls, with the crescent moon, occur
in the Hadrianotheritan medals: a crescent moon in that of
Hierapolis: a ram and star, a female head crowned with towers, a
standing bull, and Harpocrates placing one finger on his lips, in
those of Nicomedia; a horned moon and star in that of Epirot
Nicopolis. One Philadelphian coin is distinguished by Antinous in a
temple with four columns; another by an Aphrodite in her cella. The
Sardian coins give Zeus with the thunderbolt, or Phoebus with the
lyre; those of Smyrna are stamped with a standing ox, a ram, and the
caduceus, a female panther and the thyrsus, or a hero reclining
beneath a plane-tree; those of Tarsus with the Dionysian cista, the
Phoebean tripod, the river Cydnus, and the epigraphs 'Neos
Puthios,' 'Neos Iacchos;' those of the Tianians with Antinous as
Bacchus on a panther, or, in one case, as Poseidôn.

It would be unsafe to suppose that the emblems of the reverse in
each case had a necessary relation to Antinous, whose portrait is
almost invariably represented on the obverse. They may refer, as in
the case of the Tarsian river-god, to the locality in which the
medal was struck. Yet the frequent occurrence of the well-known type
with the attributes and sacred animals of various deities, and the
epigraphs 'Neos Puthios' or 'Neos Iacchos,' justify us in assuming
that he was associated with divinities in vogue among the people who
accepted his cult--especially Apollo, Dionysus, and Hermes. On more
than one coin he is described as Antinous-Pan, showing that his
Arcadian compatriots of Peloponnese and Bithynia paid him the
compliment of placing him beside their great local deity. In a Latin
inscription discovered at Tibur, he is connected with the sun-god of
Noricia, Pannonia and Illyria, who was worshipped under the title of

  Antinoo et Beleno par ætas famaque par est;
    Cur non Antinous sit quoque qui Belenus?

This couplet sufficiently explains the ground of his adscription to
the society of gods distinguished for their beauty. Both Belenus and
Antinous are young and beautiful: why, therefore, should not
Antinous be honoured equally with Belenus? The same reasoning would
apply to all his impersonations. The pious imagination or the
æsthetic taste tricked out this favourite of fortune in masquerade
costumes, just as a wealthy lover may amuse himself by dressing his
mistress after the similitude of famous beauties. The analogy of
statues confirms this assumption. A considerable majority represent
him as Dionysus Kisseus: in some of the best he is conceived as
Hermes of the Palæstra or a simple hero: in one he is probably
Dionysus Antheus; in another Vertumnus or Aristæus; yet again he is
the Agathos Daimon: while a fine specimen preserved in England shows
him as Ganymede raising a goblet of wine: a little statue in the
Louvre gives him the attributes of youthful Herakles; a basrelief of
somewhat doubtful genuineness in the Villa Albani exhibits him with
Romanised features in the character perhaps of Castor. Again, I am
not sure whether the Endymion in the celebrated basrelief of the
Capitol does not yield a portrait of Antinous.

This rapid enumeration will suffice to show that Antinous was
universally conceived as a young deity in bloom, and that preference
was given to Phoebus and Iacchus, the gods of divination and
enthusiasm, for his associates. In some cases he appears to have
been represented as a simple hero without the attributes of any
deity. Many of his busts, and the fine nude statues of the Capitol
and the Neapolitan Museum, belong to this class, unless we recognise
the two last as Antinous under the form of a young Hercules, or of
the gymnastic Hermes. But when he comes before us with the title of
Puthios, or with the attributes of Dionysus, distinct reference is
probably intended in the one case to his oracular quality, in the
other to the enthusiasm which led to his death. Allusions to
Harpocrates, Lunus, Aristæus, Philesius, Vertumnus, Castor,
Herakles, Ganymedes, show how the divinising fancy played around the
beauty of his youth, and sought to connect him with myths already
honoured in the pious conscience. Lastly, though it would be
hazardous to strain this point, we find in his chief impersonations
a Chthonian character, a touch of the mystery that is shrouded in
the world beyond the grave. The double nature of his Athenian cult
may perhaps confirm this view. But, over and above all these
symbolic illustrations, one artistic motive of immortal loveliness
pervades and animates the series.

It becomes at this point of some moment to determine what was the
relation of Antinous to the gods with whom he blended, and whose
attributes he shared. It seems tolerably certain that he had no
special legend which could be idealised in art. The mythopoeic
fancy invented no fable for him. His cult was parasitic upon elder
cults. He was the colleague of greater well-established deities,
from whom he borrowed a pale and evanescent lustre. Speaking
accurately, he was a hero or divinised mortal, on the same grade as
Helen immortalised for her beauty, as Achilles for his prowess, or
as Herakles for his great deeds. But having no poet like Homer to
sing his achievements, no myth fertile in emblems, he dwelt beneath
the shadow of superior powers, and crept into a place with them.
What was this place worth? What was the meaning attached by his
votaries to the title [Greek: synthronos] or [Greek: paredros
theos]? According to the simple meaning of both epithets, he
occupied a seat together with or by the side of the genuine
Olympians. In this sense Pindar called Dionysus the [Greek:
paredros] of Demeter, because the younger god had been admitted to
her worship on equal terms at Eleusis. In this sense Sophocles spoke
of Himeros as [Greek: paredros] of the eternal laws, and of Justice
as [Greek: synoikos] with the Chthonian deities. In this sense
Euripides makes Helen [Greek: xynthakos] with her brethren, the
Dioscuri. In this sense the three chief Archons at Athens were said
to have two [Greek: paredroi] apiece. In this sense, again,
Hephæstion was named a [Greek: theos paredros], and Alexander in his
lifetime was voted a thirteenth in the company of the twelve
Olympians. The divinised emperors were [Greek: paredroi] or [Greek:
synthronoi]; nor did Virgil hesitate to flatter Augustus by
questioning into which college of the immortals he would be adscript
after death--

  Tuque adeo, quem mox quæ sint habitura deorum
  Concilia, incertum est.

Conscript deities of this heroic order were supposed to avert evils
from their votaries, to pursue offenders with calamity, to inspire
prophetic dreams, and to appear, as the phantom of Achilles appeared
to Apollonius of Tyana, and answer questions put to them. They
corresponded very closely and exactly to the saints of mediævalism,
acting as patrons of cities, confraternities, and persons, and
interposing between the supreme powers of heaven and their especial
devotees. As a [Greek: paredros] of this exalted quality, Antinous
was the associate of Phoebus, Bacchus, and Hermes among the
Olympians, and a colleague with the gods of Nile. The principal
difficulty of grasping his true rank consists in the variety of his
emblems and divine disguises.

It must here be mentioned that the epithet [Greek: paredros] had a
secondary and inferior signification. It was applied by later
authors to the demons or familiar spirits who attended upon
enchanters like Simon Magus or Apollonius; and such satellites were
believed to be supplied by the souls of innocent young persons
violently slain. Whether this secondary meaning of the title
indicates a degeneration of the other, and forms the first step of
the process whereby classic heroes were degraded into the foul
fiends of mediæval fancy, or whether we find in it a wholly new
application of the word, is questionable. I am inclined to believe
that, while [Greek: paredros theos] in the one case means an
associate of the Olympian gods, [Greek: paredros daimôn] in the
other means a fellow-agent and assessor of the wizard. In other
words, however they may afterwards have been confounded, the two
uses of the same epithet were originally distinct: so that not every
[Greek: paredros theos], Achilles, or Hephæstion or Antinous, was
supposed to haunt and serve a sorcerer, but only some inferior
spirit over whom his black art gave him authority. The [Greek:
paredros theos] was so called because he sat with the great gods.
The [Greek: paredros daimôn] was so called because he sat beside the
magician. At the same time there seems sufficient evidence that the
two meanings came to be confounded; and as the divinities of Hellas,
with all their lustrous train, paled before the growing splendour of
Christ, they gradually fell beneath the necromantic ferule of the

Returning from this excursion, and determining that Antinous was a
hero or divinised mortal, adscript to the college of the greater
gods, and invested with many of their attributes, we may next ask
the question, why this artificial cult, due in the first place to
imperial passion and caprice, and nourished by the adulation of
fawning provinces, was preserved from the rapid dissolution to which
the flimsy products of court-flattery are subject. The mythopoetic
faculty was extinct, or in its last phase of decadent vitality.
There was nothing in the life of Antinous to create a legend or to
stimulate the sense of awe; and yet this worship persisted long
after the fear of Hadrian had passed away, long after the benefits
to be derived by humouring a royal fancy had been exhausted, long
after anything could be gained by playing out the farce. It is
clear, from a passage in Clemens Alexandrinus, that the sacred
nights of Antinous were observed, at least a century after the date
of his deification, with an enthusiasm that roused the anger of the
Christian Father. Again, it is worthy of notice that, while many of
the noblest works of antiquity have perished, the statues of
Antinous have descended to us in fair preservation and in very large
numbers. From the contemptuous destruction which erased the
monuments of base men in the Roman Empire they were safe; and the
state in which we have them shows how little they had suffered from
neglect. The most rational conclusion seems to be that Antinous
became in truth a popular saint, and satisfied some new need in
Paganism, for which none of the elder and more respectable deities
sufficed. The novelty of his cult had, no doubt, something to do
with the fascination it exercised; and something may be attributed
to the impulse art received from the introduction of so rare and
original a type of beauty into the exhausted cycle of mythical
subjects. The blending of Greek and Egyptian elements was also
attractive to an age remarkable for its eclecticism. But after
allowing for the many adventitious circumstances which concurred to
make Antinous the fashion, it is hardly unreasonable to assume that
the spirit of poetry in the youth's story, the rumour of his
self-devoted death, kept him alive in the memory of the people. It
is just that element of romance in the tale of his last hours, that
preservative association with the pathos of self-sacrifice, which
forms the interest we still feel for him.

The deified Antinous was therefore for the Roman world a charming
but dimly felt and undeveloped personality, made perfect by
withdrawal into an unseen world of mystery. The belief in the value
of vicarious suffering attached itself to his beautiful and
melancholy form. His sorrow borrowed something of the universal
world-pain, more pathetic than the hero-pangs of Herakles, the
anguish of Prometheus, or the passion of Iacchus-Zagreus, because
more personal and less suggestive of a cosmic mystery. The ancient
cries of Ah Linus, Ah Adonis, found in him an echo. For votaries
ready to accept a new god as simply as we accept a new poet, he was
the final manifestation of an old-world mystery, the rejuvenescence
of a well-known incarnation, the semi-Oriental realisation of a
recurring Avatar. And if we may venture on so bold a surmise, this
last flower of antique mythology had taken up into itself a portion
of the blood outpoured on Calvary. Planted in the conservatory of
semi-philosophical yearnings, faintly tinctured with the colours of
misapprehended Christianity, without inherent stamina, without the
powerful nutrition which the earlier heroic fables had derived from
the spiritual vigour of a truly mythopoeic age, the cult of
Antinous subsisted as an echo, a reflection, the last serious effort
of deifying but no longer potent Paganism, the last reverberation of
its oracles, an æsthetic rather than a religious product, viewed
even in its origin with sarcasm by the educated, and yet
sufficiently attractive to enthral the minds of simple votaries, and
to survive the circumstances of its first creation. It may be
remembered that the century which witnessed the canonisation of
Antinous, produced the myth of Cupid and Psyche--or, if this be too
sweeping an assertion, gave it final form, and handed it, in its
suggestive beauty, to the modern world. Thus at one and the same
moment the dying spirit of Hellas seized upon those doctrines of
self-devotion and immortality which, through the triumph of
Christian teaching, were gaining novel and incalculable value for
the world. According to its own laws of inspiration, it stamped both
legends of Love victorious over Death, with beautiful form in myth
and poem and statuary.

That we are not altogether unjustified in drawing this conclusion
may be gathered from the attitude assumed by the Christian
apologists toward Antinous. There is more than the mere hatred of a
Pagan hero, more than the bare indignation at a public scandal, in
their acrimony. Accepting the calumnious insinuations of Dion
Cassius, these gladiators of the new faith found a terrible
rhetorical weapon ready to their hands in the canonisation of a
court favourite. Prudentius, Clemens Alexandrinus, Tertullian,
Eusebius, Justin Martyr, Athanasius, Tatian--all inveigh, in nearly
the same terms, against the Emperor's Ganymede, exalted to the
skies, and worshipped with base fear and adulation by abject slaves.
But in Origen, arguing with Celsus, we find a somewhat different
keynote struck. Celsus, it appears, had told the story of Antinous,
and had compared his cult with that of Christ. Origen replies
justly, that there was nothing in common between the lives of
Antinous and of Christ, and that his supposed divinity is a fiction.
We can discern in this response an echo of the faith which endeared
Antinous to his Pagan votaries. Antinous was hated by the Christians
as a rival; insignificant, it is true, and unworthy, but still of
sufficient force to be regarded and persecuted. If Antinous had been
utterly contemptible, if he had not gained some firm hold upon the
piety of Græco-Roman Paganism, Celsus could hardly have ventured to
rest an argument upon his worship, nor would Origen have chosen to
traverse that argument with solid reasoning, instead of passing it
by in rhetorical silence. Nothing is more difficult than to
understand the conditions of that age or to sympathise with its
dominant passions. Educated as we have been in the traditions of the
finally triumphant Christian faith, warmed through and through as we
are by its summer glow and autumn splendour, believing as we do in
the adequacy of its spirit to satisfy the cravings of the human
heart, how can we comprehend a moment in its growth when the
divinised Antinous was not merely an object offensive to the moral
sense, but also a parody dangerous to the pure form of Christ?

It remains to say somewhat of Antinous as he appears in art. His
place in classic sculpture corresponds to his position in antique
mythology. The Antinous statues and coins are reflections of earlier
artistic masterpieces, executed with admirable skill, but lacking
original faculty for idealisation in the artists. Yet there is so
much personal attraction in his type, his statues are so manifestly
faithful portraits, and we find so great a charm of novelty in his
delicately perfect individuality, that the life-romance which they
reveal, as through a veil of mystery, has force enough to make them
rank among the valuable heirlooms of antiquity. We could almost
believe that, while so many gods and heroes of Greece have perished,
Antinous has been preserved in all his forms and phases for his own
most lovely sake; as though, according to Ghiberti's exquisite
suggestion, gentle souls in the first centuries of Christianity had
spared this blameless youth, and hidden him away with tender hands,
in quiet places, from the fury of iconoclasts. Nor is it impossible
that the great vogue of his worship was due among the Pagan laity to
this same fascination of pure beauty. Could a more graceful temple
of the body have been fashioned, after the Platonic theory, for the
habitation of a guileless, god-inspired, enthusiastic soul? The
personality of Antinous, combined with the suggestion of his
self-devoted death, made him triumphant in art as in the affections
of the pious.

It would be an interesting task to compose a _catalogue raisonné_ of
Antinous statues and basreliefs, and to discuss the question of
their mythological references. This is, however, not the place for
such an inquiry. And yet I cannot quit Antinous without some
retrospect upon the most important of his portraits. Among the
simple busts, by far the finest, to my thinking, are the colossal
head of the Louvre, and the ivy-crowned bronze at Naples. The latter
is not only flawless in its execution, but is animated with a
pensive beauty of expression. The former, though praised by
Winckelmann, as among the two or three most precious masterpieces of
antique art, must be criticised for a certain vacancy and
lifelessness. Of the heroic statues, the two noblest are those of
the Capitol and Naples. The identity of the Capitoline Antinous has
only once, I think, been seriously questioned; and yet it may be
reckoned more than doubtful. The head is almost certainly not his.
How it came to be placed upon a body presenting so much resemblance
to the type of Antinous I do not know. Careful comparison of the
torso and the arms with an indubitable portrait will even raise the
question whether this fine statue is not a Hermes or a hero of an
earlier age. Its attitude suggests Narcissus or Adonis; and under
either of these forms Antinous may properly have been idealised. The
Neapolitan marble, on the contrary, yields the actual Antinous in
all the exuberant fulness of his beauty. Head, body, pose, alike
bring him vividly before us, forming an undoubtedly authentic
portrait. The same personality, idealised, it is true, but rather
suffering than gaining by the process, is powerfully impressed upon
the colossal Dionysus of the Vatican. What distinguishes this great
work is the inbreathed spirit of divinity, more overpowering here
than in any other of the extant [Greek: andriantes kai agalmata].
The basrelief of the Villa Albani, restored to suit the conception
of a Vertumnus, has even more of florid beauty; but whether the
restoration was wisely made may be doubted. It is curious to compare
this celebrated masterpiece of technical dexterity with another
basrelief in the Villa Albani, representing Antinous as Castor. He
is standing, half clothed with the chlamys, by a horse. His hair is
close-cropped, after the Roman fashion, cut straight above the
forehead, but crowned with a fillet of lotos-buds. The whole face
has a somewhat stern and frowning Roman look of resolution,
contrasting with the mild benignity of the Bacchus statues, and the
almost sulky voluptuousness of the busts. In the Lateran Museum
Antinous appears as a god of flowers, holding in his lap a multitude
of blossoms, and wearing on his head a wreath. The conception of
this statue provokes comparison with the Flora of the Neapolitan
Museum. I should like to recognise in it a Dionysus Antheus, rather
than one of the more prosy Roman gods of horticulture. Not unworthy
to rank with these first-rate portraits of Antinous is a Ganymede,
engraved by the Dilettante Society, which represents him standing
alert, in one hand holding the wine-jug and in the other lifting a
cup aloft. It will be seen from even this brief enumeration of a few
among the statues of Antinous, how many and how various they are.
One, however, remains still to be discussed, which, so far as
concerns the story of Antinous, is by far the most interesting of
all. As a work of art, to judge by photographs, it is inferior to
others in execution and design. Yet could we but understand its
meaning clearly, the mystery of Antinous would be solved: the key to
the whole matter probably lies here; but, alas! we know not how to
use it. I speak of the Ildefonso Group at Madrid.[1]

    [1] See Frontispiece.

On one pedestal there are three figures in white marble. To the
extreme right of the spectator stands a little female statue of a
goddess, in archaistic style, crowned with the calathos, and holding
a sphere, probably of pomegranate fruit, to her breast. To the left
of this image are two young men, three times the height of the
goddess, quite naked, standing one on each side of a low altar. Both
are crowned with a wreath of leaves and berries--laurel or myrtle.
The youth to the right, next the image, holds a torch in either
hand: with the right he turns the flaming point downwards, till it
lies upon the altar; with the left he lifts the other torch aloft,
and rests it on his shoulder. He has a beautiful Græco-Roman face,
touched with sadness or ineffable reflection. The second youth leans
against his comrade, resting his left arm across the other's back,
and this hand is lightly placed upon the shoulder, close to the
lifted torch. His right arm is bent, and so placed that the hand
just cuts the line of the pelvis a little above the hip. The weight
of his body is thrown principally upon the right leg; the left foot
is drawn back, away from the altar. It is the attitude of the Apollo
Sauroctonos. His beautiful face, bent downward, is intently gazing
with a calm, collected, serious, and yet sad cast of earnest
meditation. His eyes seem fixed on something beyond him and beneath
him--as it were on an inscrutable abyss; and in this direction also
looks his companion. The face is unmistakably the face of Antinous;
yet the figure, and especially the legs, are not characteristic.
They seem modelled after the conventional type of the Greek Ephebus.
Parts of the two torches and the lower half of the right arm of
Antinous are restorations.

Such is the Ildefonso marble; and it may be said that its execution
is hard and rough--the arms of both figures are carelessly designed;
the hands and fingers are especially angular, elongated, and
ill-formed. But there is a noble feeling in the whole group,
notwithstanding. F. Tieck, the sculptor and brother of the poet, was
the first to suggest that we have here Antinous, the Genius of
Hadrian, and Persephone.[1] He also thought that the self-immolation
of Antinous was indicated by the loving, leaning attitude of the
younger man, and by his melancholy look of resolution. The same
view, in all substantial points, is taken by Friedrichs, author of a
work on Græco-Roman sculpture. But Friedrichs, while admitting the
identity of the younger figure with Antinous, and recognising
Persephone in the archaic image, is not prepared to accept the elder
as the Genius of Hadrian; and it must be confessed that this face
does not bear any resemblance to the portraits of the Emperor.
According to his interpretation, the Dæmon is kindling the fire upon
the sacrificial altar with the depressed torch; and the second or
lifted torch must be supposed to have been needed for the
performance of some obscure rite of immolation. What Friedrichs
fails to elucidate is the trustful attitude of Antinous, who could
scarcely have been conceived as thus affectionately reclining on the
shoulder of a merely sacrificial dæmon; nor is there anything upon
the altar to kindle. It must, however, be conceded that the
imperfection of the marble at this point leaves the restoration of
the altar and the torch upon it doubtful.

    [1] See the article on Antinous, by Victor Rydberg, in the
    _Svensk Tidskrift för Litteratur, Politik, och Ekonomi_.
    1875, Stockholm. Also Karl Bötticher, _Königliches Museum,
    Erklärendes Verzeichniss_. Berlin, 1871.

Charles Bötticher started a new solution of the principal problem.
According to him, it was executed in the lifetime of Antinous; and
it represents not a sacrifice of death, but a sacrifice of fidelity
on the part of the two friends, Hadrian and Antinous, who have met
together before Persephone to ratify a vow of love till death. He
suggests that the wreaths are of stephanotis, that large-leaved
myrtle, which was sacred to the Chthonian goddesses after the
liberation of Semele from Hades by her son Dionysus. With reference
to such ceremonies between Greek comrades, Bötticher cites a vase
upon which Theseus and Peirithous are sacrificing in the temple of
Persephone; and he assumes that there may have existed Athenian
groups in marble representing similar vows of friendship, from which
Hadrian had this marble copied. He believes that the Genius of
Hadrian is kindling one torch at the sacred fire, which he will
reach to Antinous, while he holds the other in readiness to kindle
for himself. This explanation is both ingenious and beautiful. It
has also the great merit of explaining the action of the right arm
of Antinous. Yet it is hardly satisfactory. It throws no light upon
the melancholy and solemnity of both figures, which irresistibly
suggest a funereal rather than a joyous rite. Antinous is not even
looking at the altar, and the meditative curves of his beautiful
reclining form indicate anything rather than the spirited alacrity
with which a friend would respond to his comrade's call at such a
moment. Besides, why should not the likeness of Hadrian have been
preserved as well as that of Antinous, if the group commemorated an
act of their joint will? On the other hand, we must admit that the
altar itself is not dressed for a funereal sacrifice.

It has been pointed out that in the British Museum there exists a
basrelief of Homer's apotheosis where we notice a figure holding two
torches. Is it, then, possible that the Ildefonso marble may
express, not the sacrifice, but the apotheosis of Antinous, and that
the Genius who holds the two torches is conferring on him
immortality? The lifted torch would symbolise his new life, and the
depressed torch would stand for the life he had devoted. According
to this explanation, the sorrowful expression of Antinous must
indicate the agony of death through which he passed into the company
of the undying. Against this interpretation is the fact that we have
no precise authority for the symbolism of the torches, except only
the common inversion of the life-brand by the Genius of Death.

Yet another solution may be suggested. Assuming that we have before
us a sacrificial ceremony, and that the group was executed after the
self-devotion of Antinous had passed into the popular belief, we may
regard the elder youth as either the Genius of the Emperor, separate
in spirit from Hadrian himself and presiding over his destinies, who
accepts the offer of Antinous with solemn calmness suited to so
great a gift; or else as the Genius of the Roman people, witnessing
the same act in the same majestic spirit. This view finds some
support in the abstract ideality of the torch-bearer, who is clearly
no historical personage as Antinous himself is, but rather a power
controlling his fate. The interpretation of the two torches remains
very difficult. In the torch flung down upon the flameless and
barren altar we might recognise a symbol of Hadrian's life upon the
point of extinction, but not yet extinguished; and in the torch
lifted aloft we might find a metaphor of life resuscitated and
exalted. Nor is it perhaps without significance that the arm of the
self-immolating youth meets the upraised torch, as though to touch
the life which he will purchase with his death. There is, however,
the objection stated above to this bold use of symbolism.

In support of any explanation which ascribes this group to a period
later than the canonisation of Antinous, it may be repeated that the
execution is inferior to that of almost all the other statues of the
hero. Is it possible, then, that it belongs to a subsequent date,
when art was further on the wane, but when the self-devotion of
Antinous had become a dogma of his cult?

After all is said, the Ildefonso marble, like the legend of
Antinous, remains a mystery. Only hypotheses, more or less
ingenious, more or less suited to our sympathies, varying between
Casaubon's coarse vilification and Rydberg's roseate vision, are
left us.

As a last note on the subject of Antinous let me refer to Raphael's
statue of Jonah in the Chigi Chapel of S. Maria del Popolo at Rome.
Raphael, who handled the myth of Cupid and Psyche so magnificently
in the Villa Farnesina of his patron Agostino Chigi, dedicated a
statue of Antinous--the only statue he ever executed in
marble--under the title of a Hebrew prophet in a Christian
sanctuary. The fact is no less significant than strange. During the
early centuries of Christianity, as is amply proved by the
sarcophagi in the Lateran Museum, Jonah symbolised self-sacrifice
and immortality. He was a type of Christ, an emblem of the
Christian's hope beyond the grave. During those same centuries
Antinous represented the same ideas, however inadequately, however
dimly, for the unlettered laity of Paganism. It could scarcely have
been by accident, or by mere admiration for the features of
Antinous, that Raphael, in his marble, blent the Christian and the
Pagan traditions. To unify and to transcend the double views of
Christianity and Paganism in a work of pure art was Raphael's
instinctive, if not his conscious, aim. Nor is there a more striking
instance of this purpose than the youthful Jonah with the head of
Hadrian's favourite. Leonardo's Dionysus-John-the-Baptist seems but
a careless _jeu d'esprit_ compared with this profound and studied
symbol of renascent humanism. Thus to regard the Jonah-Antinous of
the Cappella Chigi as a type of immortality and self-devotion,
fusing Christian and Græco-Roman symbolism in one work of modern
art, is the most natural interpretation; but it would not be
impossible to trace in it a metaphor of the resurgent Pagan spirit
also--as though, leaving Jonah and his Biblical associations in the
background, the artist had determined that from the mouth of the
monstrous grave should issue not a bearded prophet, but the
victorious youth who had captivated with his beauty and his heroism
the sunset age of the classic world. At any rate, whatever may have
been Raphael's intention, the legend of Antinous, that last creation
of antique mythology, shines upon us in this marble, just as the
tale of Hero and Leander, that last blossom of antique literature,
flowers afresh in the verses of our Marlowe. It would appear as
though the Renaissance poets, hastening to meet the classic world
with arms of welcome, had embraced its latest saints, as nearest to
them, in the rapture of their first enthusiasm.

Over all these questions, over all that concerns Antinous, there
rests a cloud of darkness and impenetrable doubt. To pierce that
cloud is now impossible. The utmost we can do is to indulge our
fancy in dreams of greater or less probability, and to mark out
clearly the limitations of the subject. It is indeed something to
have shown that the stigma of slavery and disgrace attaching to his
name has no solid historical justification, and something to have
suggested plausible reasons for conjecturing that his worship had a
genuine spiritual basis. Yet the sincere critic, at the end of the
whole inquiry, will confess that he has only cast a plummet into the
unfathomable sea of ignorance. What remains, immortal,
indestructible, victorious, is Antinous in art. Against the gloomy
background of doubt, calumny, contention, terrible surmise, his
statues are illuminated with the dying glory of the classic
genius--even as the towers and domes of a marble city shine forth
from the purple banks of a thunder-cloud in sunset light. Here and
here only does reality emerge from the chaos of conflicting
phantoms. Front to front with them, it is allowed us to forget all
else but the beauty of one who died young because the gods loved
him. But when we question those wonderful mute features and beg them
for their secret, they return no answer. There is not even a smile
upon the parted lips. So profound is the mystery, so insoluble the
enigma, that from its most importunate interrogation we derive
nothing but an attitude of deeper reverence. This in itself,
however, is worth the pains of study.[1]

    [1] I must here express my indebtedness to my friend H.F.
    Brown for a large portion of the materials used by me in
    this essay on Antinous, which I had no means at Davos
    Platz of accumulating for myself, and which he unearthed
    from the libraries of Florence in the course of his own
    work, and generously placed at my disposal.



The storm-clouds at this season, though it is the bloom of May, are
daily piled in sulky or menacing masses over Vesuvius and the
Abruzzi, frothing out their curls of moulded mist across the bay,
and climbing the heavens with toppling castle towers and domes of

We made the most of a tranquil afternoon, when there was an
armistice of storm, to climb the bluff of Mount Solaro. A ruined
fort caps that limestone bulwark; and there we lay together,
drinking the influences of sea, sun, and wind. Immeasurably deep
beneath us plunged the precipices, deep, deep descending to a bay
where fisher boats were rocking, diminished to a scale that made the
fishermen in them invisible. Low down above the waters wheeled white
gulls, and higher up the hawks and ospreys of the cliff sailed out
of sunlight into shadow. Immitigable strength is in the moulding of
this limestone, and sharp, clear definiteness marks yon clothing of
scant brushwood where the fearless goats are browsing. The sublime
of sculpturesque in crag structure is here, refined and modulated by
the sweetness of sea distances. For the air came pure and yielding
to us over the unfooted sea; and at the basement of those
fortress-cliffs the sea was dreaming in its caves; and far away, to
east and south and west, soft light was blent with mist upon the
surface of the shimmering waters.

The distinction between prospects viewed from a mountain overlooking
a great plain, or viewed from heights that, like this, dominate the
sea, principally lies in this: that while the former only offer
cloud shadows cast upon the fields below our feet, in the latter
these shadows are diversified with cloud reflections. This gives
superiority in qualities of colour, variety of tone, and luminous
effect to the sea, compensating in some measure for the lack of
those associations which render the outlook over a wide extent of
populated land so thrilling. The emergence of towered cities into
sunlight at the skirts of moving shadows, the liquid lapse of rivers
half disclosed by windings among woods, the upturned mirrors of
unruffled lakes, are wanting to the sea. For such episodes the white
sails of vessels, with all their wistfulness of going to and fro on
the mysterious deep, are but a poor exchange. Yet the sea-lover may
justify his preference by appealing to the beauty of empurpled
shadows, toned by amethyst or opal, or shining with violet light,
reflected from the clouds that cross and find in those dark shields
a mirror. There are suggestions, too, of immensity, of liberty, of
action, presented by the boundless horizons and the changeful
changeless tracts of ocean which no plain possesses.

It was nigh upon sunset when we descended to Ana-Capri. That evening
the clouds assembled suddenly. The armistice of storm was broken.
They were terribly blue, and the sea grew dark as steel beneath
them, till the moment when the sun's lip reached the last edge of
the waters. Then a courier of rosy flame sent forth from him passed
swift across the gulf, touching, where it trod, the waves with
accidental fire. The messenger reached Naples; and in a moment, as
by some diabolical illumination, the sinful city kindled into light
like glowing charcoal. From Posilippo on the left, along the palaces
of the Chiaja, up to S. Elmo on the hill, past Santa Lucia, down on
the Marinella, beyond Portici, beyond Torre del Greco, where
Vesuvius towered up aloof, an angry mount of amethystine gloom, the
conflagration spread and reached Pompeii, and dwelt on Torre dell'
Annunziata. Stationary, lurid, it smouldered while the day died
slowly. The long, densely populated sea-line from Pozzuoli to
Castellammare burned and smoked with intensest incandescence,
sending a glare of fiery mist against the threatening blue behind,
and fringing with pomegranate-coloured blots the water where no
light now lingered. It is difficult to bend words to the use
required. The scene, in spite of natural suavity and grace, had
become like Dante's first glimpse of the City of Dis--like Sodom and
Gomorrah when fire from heaven descended on their towers before they
crumbled into dust.

From Capri to Ischia

After this, for several days, Libeccio blew harder. No boats could
leave or come to Capri. From the piazza parapet we saw the wind
scooping the surface of the waves, and flinging spray-fleeces in
sheets upon the churning water. As they broke on Cape Campanella,
the rollers climbed in foam--how many feet?--and blotted out the
olive-trees above the headland. The sky was always dark with hanging
clouds and masses of low-lying vapour, very moist, but scarcely
raining--lightning without thunder in the night.

Such weather is unexpected in the middle month of May, especially
when the olives are blackened by December storms, and the
orange-trees despoiled of foliage, and the tendrils of the vines
yellow with cold. The walnut-trees have shown no sign of making
leaves. Only the figs seem to have suffered little.

It had been settled that we should start upon the first seafaring
dawn for Ischia or Sorrento, according as the wind might set; and I
was glad when, early one morning, the captain of the _Serena_
announced a moderate sirocco. When we reached the little quay we
found the surf of the Libeccio still rolling heavily into the gulf.
A gusty south-easter crossed it, tearing spray-crests from the swell
as it went plunging onward. The sea was rough enough; but we made
fast sailing, our captain steering with a skill which it was
beautiful to watch, his five oarsmen picturesquely grouped beneath
the straining sail. The sea slapped and broke from time to time on
our windward quarter, drenching the boat with brine; and now and
then her gunwale scooped into the shoulder of a wave as she shot
sidling up it. Meanwhile enormous masses of leaden-coloured clouds
formed above our heads and on the sea-line; but these were always
shifting in the strife of winds, and the sun shone through them
petulantly. As we climbed the rollers, or sank into their trough,
the outline of the bay appeared in glimpses, shyly revealed,
suddenly withdrawn from sight; the immobility and majesty of
mountains contrasted with the weltering waste of water round us--now
blue and garish where the sunlight fell, now shrouded in squally
rain-storms, and then again sullen beneath a vaporous canopy. Each
of these vignettes was photographed for one brief second on the
brain, and swallowed by the hurling drift of billows. The painter's
art could but ill have rendered that changeful colour in the sea,
passing from tawny cloud-reflections and surfaces of glowing violet
to bright blue or impenetrable purple flecked with boiling foam,
according as a light-illuminated or a shadowed facet of the moving
mass was turned to sight.

Halfway across the gulf the sirocco lulled; the sail was lowered,
and we had to make the rest of the passage by rowing. Under the lee
of Ischia we got into comparatively quiet water; though here the
beautiful Italian sea was yellowish green with churned-up sand, like
an unripe orange. We passed the castle on its rocky island, with the
domed church which has been so often painted in _gouache_ pictures
through the last two centuries, and soon after noon we came to

La Piccola Sentinella

Casamicciola is a village on the north side of the island, in its
centre, where the visitors to the mineral baths of Ischia chiefly
congregate. One of its old-established inns is called La Piccola
Sentinella. The first sight on entrance is an open gallery, with a
pink wall on which bloom magnificent cactuses, sprays of
thick-clustering scarlet and magenta flowers. This is a rambling
house, built in successive stages against a hill, with terraces and
verandahs opening on unexpected gardens to the back and front.
Beneath its long irregular façade there spreads a wilderness of
orange-trees and honeysuckles and roses, verbenas, geraniums and
mignonette, snapdragons, gazanias and stocks, exceeding bright and
fragrant, with the green slopes of Monte Epomeo for a background and
Vesuvius for far distance. There are wonderful bits of detail in
this garden. One dark, thick-foliaged olive, I remember, leaning
from the tufa over a lizard-haunted wall, feathered waist-high in
huge acanthus leaves. The whole rich orchard ground of Casamicciola
is dominated by Monte Epomeo, the extinct volcano which may be
called the _raison d'être_ of Ischia; for this island is nothing but
a mountain lifted by the energy of fire from the sea-basement. Its
fantastic peaks and ridges, sulphur-coloured, dusty grey, and tawny,
with brushwood in young leaf upon the cloven flanks, form a singular
pendant to the austere but more artistically modelled limestone
crags of Capri. No two islands that I know, within so short a space
of sea, offer two pictures so different in style and quality of
loveliness. The inhabitants are equally distinct in type. Here, in
spite of what De Musset wrote somewhat affectedly about the peasant

  Ischia! c'est là qu'on a des yeux,
  C'est là qu'un corsage amoureux
                  Serre la hanche.
  Sur un bas rouge bien tiré
  Brille, sous le jupon doré,
                  La mule blanche--

in spite of these lines I did not find the Ischian women eminent, as
those of Capri are, for beauty. But the young men have fine, loose,
faun-like figures, and faces that would be strikingly handsome but
for too long and prominent noses. They are a singular race, graceful
in movement.

Evening is divine in Ischia. From the topmost garden terrace of the
inn one looks across the sea towards Terracina, Gaeta, and those
descending mountain buttresses, the Phlegræan plains, and the
distant snows of the Abruzzi. Rain-washed and luminous, the sunset
sky held Hesper trembling in a solid green of beryl. Fireflies
flashed among the orange blossoms. Far away in the obscurity of
eastern twilight glared the smouldering cone of Vesuvius--a crimson
blot upon the darkness--a Cyclops' eye, bloodshot and menacing.

The company in the Piccola Sentinella, young and old, were decrepit,
with an odd, rheumatic, shrivelled look upon them. The dining-room
reminded me, as certain rooms are apt to do, of a ship's saloon. I
felt as though I had got into the cabin of the _Flying Dutchman_,
and that all these people had been sitting there at meat a hundred
years, through storm and shine, for ever driving onward over immense
waves in an enchanted calm.

Ischia and Forio

One morning we drove along the shore, up hill, and down, by the
Porto d'Ischia to the town and castle. This country curiously
combines the qualities of Corfu and Catania. The near distance, so
richly cultivated, with the large volcanic slopes of Monte Epomeo
rising from the sea, is like Catania. Then, across the gulf, are the
bold outlines and snowy peaks of the Abruzzi, recalling Albanian
ranges. Here, as in Sicily, the old lava is overgrown with prickly
pear and red valerian. Mesembrianthemums--I must be pardoned this
word; for I cannot omit those fleshy-leaved creepers, with their
wealth of gaudy blossoms, shaped like sea anemones, coloured like
strawberry and pineapple cream-ices--mesembrianthemums, then, tumble
in torrents from the walls, and large-cupped white convolvuluses
curl about the hedges. The Castle Rock, with Capri's refined
sky-coloured outline relieving its hard profile on the horizon, is
one of those exceedingly picturesque objects just too theatrical to
be artistic. It seems ready-made for a back scene in 'Masaniello,'
and cries out to the chromo-lithographer, 'Come and make the most of
me!' Yet this morning all things, in sea, earth, and sky, were so
delicately tinted and bathed in pearly light that it was difficult
to be critical.

In the afternoon we took the other side of the island, driving
through Lacca to Forio. One gets right round the bulk of Epomeo, and
looks up into a weird region called Le Falange, where white lava
streams have poured in two broad irregular torrents among broken
precipices. Forio itself is placed at the end of a flat headland,
boldly thrust into the sea; and its furthest promontory bears a
pilgrimage church, intensely white and glaring.

There is something arbitrary in the memories we make of places
casually visited, dependent as they are upon our mood at the moment,
or on an accidental interweaving of impressions which the _genius
loci_ blends for us. Of Forio two memories abide with me. The one is
of a young woman, with very fair hair, in a light blue dress,
standing beside an older woman in a garden. There was a flourishing
pomegranate-tree above them. The whiteness and the dreamy smile of
the young woman seemed strangely out of tune with her strong-toned
southern surroundings. I could have fancied her a daughter of some
moist north-western isle of Scandinavian seas. My other memory is of
a lad, brown, handsome, powerfully featured, thoughtful, lying
curled up in the sun upon a sort of ladder in his house-court,
profoundly meditating. He had a book in his hand, and his finger
still marked the place where he had read. He looked as though a
Columbus or a Campanella might emerge from his earnest, fervent,
steadfast adolescence. Driving rapidly along, and leaving Forio in
all probability for ever, I kept wondering whether those two lives,
discerned as though in vision, would meet--whether she was destined
to be his evil genius, whether posterity would hear of him and
journey to his birthplace in this world-neglected Forio. Such
reveries are futile. Yet who entirely resists them?

Monte Epomeo

About three on the morning which divides the month of May into two
equal parts I woke and saw the waning moon right opposite my window,
stayed in her descent upon the slope of Epomeo. Soon afterwards
Christian called me, and we settled to ascend the mountain. Three
horses and a stout black donkey, with their inevitable grooms, were
ordered; and we took for guide a lovely faun-like boy, goat-faced,
goat-footed, with gentle manners and pliant limbs swaying beneath
the breath of impulse. He was called Giuseppe.

The way leads past the mineral baths and then strikes uphill, at
first through lanes cut deep in the black lava. The trees meet
almost overhead. It is like Devonshire, except that one half hopes
to see tropical foxgloves with violet bells and downy leaves
sprouting among the lush grasses and sweet-scented ferns upon those
gloomy, damp, warm walls. After this we skirted a thicket of
arbutus, and came upon the long volcanic ridge, with divinest
outlook over Procida and Miseno toward Vesuvius. Then once more we
had to dive into brown sandstone gullies, extremely steep, where the
horses almost burst their girths in scrambling, and the grooms
screamed, exasperating their confusion with encouragements and
curses. Straight or bending as a willow wand, Giuseppe kept in
front. I could have imagined he had stepped to life from one of
Lionardo's fancy-sprighted studies.

After this fashion we gained the spine of mountain which composes
Ischia--the smooth ascending ridge that grows up from those eastern
waves to what was once the apex of fire-vomiting Inarime, and breaks
in precipices westward, a ruin of gulfed lava, tortured by the
violence of pent Typhoeus. Under a vast umbrella pine we
dismounted, rested, and saw Capri. Now the road skirts slanting-wise
along the further flank of Epomeo, rising by muddy earth-heaps and
sandstone hollows to the quaint pinnacles which build the summit.
There is no inconsiderable peril in riding over this broken ground;
for the soil crumbles away, and the ravines open downward,
treacherously masked with brushwood.

On Epomeo's topmost cone a chapel dedicated to S. Niccolo da Bari,
the Italian patron of seamen, has been hollowed from the rock.
Attached to it is the dwelling of two hermits, subterranean, with
long dark corridors and windows opening on the western seas. Church
and hermitage alike are scooped, with slight expenditure of mason's
skill, from solid mountain. The windows are but loopholes, leaning
from which the town of Forio is seen, 2500 feet below; and the
jagged precipices of the menacing Falange toss their contorted
horror forth to sea and sky. Through gallery and grotto we wound in
twilight under a monk's guidance, and came at length upon the face
of the crags above Casamicciola. A few steps upward, cut like a
ladder in the stone, brought us to the topmost peak--a slender spire
of soft, yellowish tufa. It reminded me (with differences) of the
way one climbs the spire at Strasburg, and stands upon that temple's
final crocket, with nothing but a lightning conductor to steady
swimming senses. Different indeed are the views unrolled beneath the
peak of Epomeo and the pinnacle of Strasburg! Vesuvius, with the
broken lines of Procida, Miseno, and Lago Fusaro for foreground; the
sculpturesque beauty of Capri, buttressed in everlasting calm upon
the waves; the Phlegræan plains and champaign of Volturno,
stretching between smooth seas and shadowy hills; the mighty sweep
of Naples' bay; all merged in blue; aërial, translucent, exquisitely
frail. In this ethereal fabric of azure the most real of realities,
the most solid of substances, seem films upon a crystal sphere.

The hermit produced some flasks of amber-coloured wine from his
stores in the grotto. These we drank, lying full-length upon the
tufa in the morning sunlight. The panorama of sea, sky, and
long-drawn lines of coast, breathless, without a ripple or a taint
of cloud, spread far and wide around us. Our horses and donkey
cropped what little grass, blent with bitter herbage, grew on that
barren summit. Their grooms helped us out with the hermit's wine,
and turned to sleep face downward. The whole scene was very quiet,
islanded in immeasurable air. Then we asked the boy, Giuseppe,
whether he could guide us on foot down the cliffs of Monte Epomeo to
Casamicciola. This he was willing and able to do; for he told me
that he had spent many months each year upon the hillside, tending
goats. When rough weather came, he wrapped himself in a blanket from
the snow that falls and melts upon the ledges. In summer time he
basked the whole day long, and slept the calm ambrosial nights away.
Something of this free life was in the burning eyes, long clustering
dark hair, and smooth brown bosom of the faun-like creature. His
graceful body had the brusque, unerring movement of the goats he
shepherded. Human thought and emotion seemed a-slumber in this youth
who had grown one with nature. As I watched his careless incarnate
loveliness I remembered lines from an old Italian poem of romance,
describing a dweller of the forest, who

  Haunteth the woodland aye 'neath verdurous shade,
  Eateth wild fruit, drinketh of running stream;
  And such-like is his nature, as 'tis said,
  That ever weepeth he when clear skies gleam,
  Seeing of storms and rain he then hath dread,
  And feareth lest the sun's heat fail for him;
  But when on high hurl winds and clouds together,
  Full glad is he and waiteth for fair weather.

Giuseppe led us down those curious volcanic _balze_, where the soil
is soft as marl, with tints splashed on it of pale green and rose
and orange, and a faint scent in it of sulphur. They break away into
wild chasms, where rivulets begin; and here the narrow watercourses
made for us plain going. The turf beneath our feet was starred with
cyclamens and wavering anemones. At last we reached the chestnut
woods, and so by winding paths descended on the village. Giuseppe
told me, as we walked, that in a short time he would be obliged to
join the army. He contemplated this duty with a dim and undefined
dislike. Nor could I, too, help dreading and misliking it for him.
The untamed, gentle creature, who knew so little but his goats as
yet, whose nights had been passed from childhood _à la belle
étoile_, whose limbs had never been cumbered with broadcloth or
belt--for him to be shut up in the barrack of some Lombard city,
packed in white conscript's sacking, drilled, taught to read and
write, and weighted with the knapsack and the musket! There was
something lamentable in the prospect. But such is the burden of
man's life, of modern life especially. United Italy demands of her
children that by this discipline they should be brought into that
harmony which builds a nation out of diverse elements.

From Ischia to Naples

Ischia showed a new aspect on the morning of our departure. A
sea-mist passed along the skirts of the island, and rolled in heavy
masses round the peaks of Monte Epomeo, slowly condensing into
summer clouds, and softening each outline with a pearly haze,
through which shone emerald glimpses of young vines and fig-trees.

We left in a boat with four oarsmen for Pozzuoli. For about an hour
the breeze carried us well, while Ischia behind grew ever lovelier,
soft as velvet, shaped like a gem. The mist had become a great white
luminous cloud--not dense and alabastrine, like the clouds of
thunder; but filmy, tender, comparable to the atmosphere of Dante's
moon. Porpoises and sea-gulls played and fished about our bows,
dividing the dark brine in spray. The mountain distances were
drowned in bluish vapour--Vesuvius quite invisible. About noon the
air grew clearer, and Capri reared her fortalice of sculptured rock,
aërially azure, into liquid ether. I know not what effect of
atmosphere or light it is that lifts an island from the sea by
interposing that thin edge of lustrous white between it and the
water. But this phenomenon to-day was perfectly exhibited. Like a
mirage on the wilderness, like Fata Morgana's palace ascending from
the deep, the pure and noble vision stayed suspense 'twixt heaven
and ocean. At the same time the breeze failed, and we rowed slowly
between Procida and Capo Miseno--a space in old-world history
athrong with Cæsar's navies. When we turned the point, and came in
sight of Baiæ, the wind freshened and took us flying into Pozzuoli.
The whole of this coast has been spoiled by the recent upheaval of
Monte Nuovo with its lava floods and cindery deluges. Nothing
remains to justify its fame among the ancient Romans and the
Neapolitans of Boccaccio's and Pontano's age. It is quite wrecked,
beyond the power even of hendecasyllables to bring again its breath
of beauty:--

  Mecum si sapies, Gravina, mecum
  Baias, et placidos coles recessus,
  Quos ipsæ et veneres colunt, et illa
  Quæ mentes hominum regit voluptas.
  Hic vina et choreæ jocique regnant,
  Regnant et charites facetiæque.
  Has sedes amor, has colit cupido.
  His passim juvenes puellulæque
  Ludunt, et tepidis aquis lavantur,
  Coenantque et dapibus leporibusque
  Miscent delitias venustiores:
  Miscent gaudia et osculationes,
  Atque una sociis toris foventur,
  Has te ad delitias vocant camoenæ;
  Invitat mare, myrteumque littus;
  Invitant volueres canoræ, et ipse
  Gaurus pampineas parat corollas.[1]

    [1] These verses are extracted from the second book of
    Pontano's _Hendecasyllabi_ (Aldus, 1513, p. 208). They so
    vividly paint the amusements of a watering-place in the
    fifteenth century that I have translated them:--

      With me, let but the mind be wise, Gravina,
      With me haste to the tranquil haunts of Baiæ,
      Haunts that pleasure hath made her home, and she who
      Sways all hearts, the voluptuous Aphrodite.
      Here wine rules, and the dance, and games and laughter;
      Graces reign in a round of mirthful madness;
      Love hath built, and desire, a palace here too,
      Where glad youths and enamoured girls on all sides
      Play and bathe in the waves in sunny weather,
      Dine and sup, and the merry mirth of banquets
      Blend with dearer delights and love's embraces,
      Blend with pleasures of youth and honeyed kisses,
      Till, sport-tired, in the couch inarmed they slumber.
      Thee our Muses invite to these enjoyments;
      Thee those billows allure, the myrtled seashore,
      Birds allure with a song, and mighty Gaurus
      Twines his redolent wreath of vines and ivy.

At Pozzuoli we dined in the Albergo del Ponte di Caligola (Heaven
save the mark!), and drank Falernian wine of modern and indifferent
vintage. Then Christian hired two open carriages for Naples. He and
I sat in the second. In the first we placed the two ladies of our
party. They had a large, fat driver. Just after we had all passed
the gate a big fellow rushed up, dragged the corpulent coachman from
his box, pulled out a knife, and made a savage thrust at the man's
stomach. At the same moment a _guardia-porta_, with drawn cutlass,
interposed and struck between the combatants. They were separated.
Their respective friends assembled in two jabbering crowds, and the
whole party, uttering vociferous objurgations, marched off, as I
imagined, to the watch-house. A very shabby lazzarone, without more
ado, sprang on the empty box, and we made haste for Naples. Being
only anxious to get there, and not at all curious about the squabble
which had deprived us of our fat driver, I relapsed into
indifference when I found that neither of the men to whose lot we
had fallen was desirous of explaining the affair. It was sufficient
cause for self-congratulation that no blood had been shed, and that
the Procuratore del Rè would not require our evidence.

The Grotta di Posilippo was a sight of wonder, with the afternoon
sun slanting on its festoons of creeping plants above the western
entrance--the gas lamps, dust, huge carts, oxen, and _contadini_ in
its subterranean darkness--and then the sudden revelation of the bay
and city as we jingled out into the summery air again by Virgil's

Night at Pompeii

On to Pompeii in the clear sunset, falling very lightly upon
mountains, islands, little ports, and indentations of the bay.

From the railway station we walked above half a mile to the Albergo
del Sole under a lucid heaven of aqua-marine colour, with Venus
large in it upon the border line between the tints of green and

The Albergo del Sole is worth commemorating. We stepped, without the
intervention of courtyard or entrance hall, straight from the little
inn garden into an open, vaulted room. This was divided into two
compartments by a stout column supporting round arches. Wooden gates
furnished a kind of fence between the atrium and what an old
Pompeian would have styled the triclinium. For in the further part a
table was laid for supper and lighted with suspended lamps. And here
a party of artists and students drank and talked and smoked. A great
live peacock, half asleep and winking his eyes, sat perched upon a
heavy wardrobe watching them. The outer chamber, where we waited in
armchairs of ample girth, had its _loggia_ windows and doors open to
the air. There were singing-birds in cages; and plants of rosemary,
iris, and arundo sprang carelessly from holes in the floor. A huge
vase filled to overflowing with oranges and lemons, the very symbol
of generous prodigality, stood in the midst, and several dogs were
lounging round. The outer twilight, blending with the dim sheen of
the lamps, softened this pretty scene to picturesqueness. Altogether
it was a strange and unexpected place. Much experienced as the
nineteenth-century nomad may be in inns, he will rarely receive a
more powerful and refreshing impression, entering one at evenfall,
than here.

There was no room for us in the inn. We were sent, attended by a boy
with a lantern, through fields of dew-drenched barley and folded
poppies, to a farmhouse overshadowed by four spreading pines.
Exceedingly soft and grey, with rose-tinted weft of steam upon its
summit, stood Vesuvius above us in the twilight. Something in the
recent impression of the dimly lighted supper-room, and in the
idyllic simplicity of this lantern-litten journey through the
barley, suggested, by one of those inexplicable stirrings of
association which affect tired senses, a dim, dreamy thought of
Palestine and Bible stories. The feeling of the _cenacolo_ blent
here with feelings of Ruth's cornfields, and the white square houses
with their flat roofs enforced the illusion. Here we slept in the
middle of a _contadino_ colony. Some of the folk had made way for
us; and by the wheezing, coughing, and snoring of several sorts and
ages in the chamber next me, I imagine they must have endured
considerable crowding. My bed was large enough to have contained a
family. Over its bead there was a little shrine, hollowed in the
thickness of the wall, with several sacred emblems and a shallow
vase of holy water. On dressers at each end of the room stood glass
shrines, occupied by finely dressed Madonna dolls and pots of
artificial flowers. Above the doors S. Michael and S. Francis,
roughly embossed in low relief and boldly painted, gave dignity and
grandeur to the walls. These showed some sense for art in the first
builders of the house. But the taste of the inhabitants could not be
praised. There were countless gaudy prints of saints, and exactly
five pictures of the Bambino, very big, and sprawling in a field
alone. A crucifix, some old bottles, a gun, old clothes suspended
from pegs, pieces of peasant pottery and china, completed the
furniture of the apartment.

But what a view it showed when Christian next morning opened the
door! From my bed I looked across the red-tiled terrace to the
stone-pines with their velvet roofage and the blue-peaked hills of

San Germano

No one need doubt about his quarters in this country town. The
Albergo di Pompeii is a truly sumptuous place. Sofas, tables, and
chairs in our sitting-room are made of buffalo horns, very cleverly
pieced together, but torturing the senses with suggestions of
impalement. Sitting or standing, one felt insecure. When would the
points run into us? when should we begin to break these
incrustations off? and would the whole fabric crumble at a touch
into chaotic heaps of horns?

It is market day, and the costumes in the streets are brilliant. The
women wear a white petticoat, a blue skirt made straight and tightly
bound above it, a white richly worked bodice, and the white
square-folded napkin of the Abruzzi on their heads. Their jacket is
of red or green--pure colour. A rug of striped red, blue, yellow,
and black protects the whole dress from the rain. There is a very
noble quality of green--sappy and gemmy--like some of Titian's or
Giorgione's--in the stuffs they use. Their build and carriage are
worthy of goddesses.

Rain falls heavily, persistently. We must ride on donkeys, in
waterproofs, to Monte Cassino. Mountain and valley, oak wood and
ilex grove, lentisk thicket and winding river-bed, are drowned alike
in soft-descending, soaking rain. Far and near the landscape swims
in rain, and the hillsides send down torrents through their

The monastery is a square, dignified building, of vast extent and
princely solidity. It has a fine inner court, with sumptuous
staircases of slabbed stone leading to the church. This public
portion of the edifice is both impressive and magnificent, without
sacrifice of religious severity to parade. We acknowledge a
successful compromise between the austerity of the order and the
grandeur befitting the fame, wealth, prestige, and power of its
parent foundation. The church itself is a tolerable structure of the
Renaissance--costly marble incrustations and mosaics, meaningless
Neapolitan frescoes. One singular episode in the mediocrity of art
adorning it, is the tomb of Pietro de' Medici. Expelled from
Florence in 1494, he never returned, but was drowned in the
Garigliano. Clement VII. ordered, and Duke Cosimo I. erected, this
marble monument--the handicraft, in part at least, of Francesco di
San Gallo--to their relative. It is singularly stiff, ugly, out of
place--at once obtrusive and insignificant.

A gentle old German monk conducted Christian and me over the
convent--boys' school, refectory, printing press, lithographic
workshop, library, archives. We then returned to the church, from
which we passed to visit the most venerable and sacred portion of
the monastery. The cell of S. Benedict is being restored and painted
in fresco by the Austrian Benedictines; a pious but somewhat frigid
process of re-edification. This so-called cell is a many-chambered
and very ancient building, with a tower which is now embedded in the
massive superstructure of the modern monastery. The German artists
adorning it contrive to blend the styles of Giotto, Fra Angelico,
Egypt, and Byzance, not without force and a kind of intense frozen
pietism. S. Mauro's vision of his master's translation to
heaven--the ladder of light issuing between two cypresses, and the
angels watching on the tower walls--might even be styled poetical.
But the decorative angels on the roof and other places, being
adapted from Egyptian art, have a strange, incongruous appearance.

Monasteries are almost invariably disappointing to one who goes in
search of what gives virtue and solidity to human life; and even
Monte Cassino was no exception. This ought not to be otherwise,
seeing what a peculiar sympathy with the monastic institution is
required to make these cloisters comprehensible. The atmosphere of
operose indolence, prolonged through centuries and centuries,
stifles; nor can antiquity and influence impose upon a mind which
resents monkery itself as an essential evil. That Monte Cassino
supplied the Church with several potentates is incontestable. That
mediæval learning and morality would have suffered more without this
brotherhood cannot be doubted. Yet it is difficult to name men of
very eminent genius whom the Cassinesi claim as their alumni; nor,
with Boccaccio's testimony to their carelessness, and with the
evidence of their library before our eyes, can we rate their
services to civilised erudition very highly. I longed to possess the
spirit, for one moment, of Montalembert. I longed for what is called
historical imagination, for the indiscriminate voracity of those men
to whom world-famous sites are in themselves soul-stirring.


The road between Vietri and Amalfi is justly celebrated as one of
the most lovely pieces of coast scenery in Italy. Its only rivals
are the roads from Castellammare to Sorrento, from Genoa to Sestri,
and from Nice to Mentone. Each of these has its own charm; and yet
their similarity is sufficient to invite comparison: under the spell
of each in turn, we are inclined to say, This then, at all events,
is the most beautiful. On first quitting Vietri, Salerno is left low
down upon the sea-shore, nestling into a little corner of the bay
which bears its name, and backed up by gigantic mountains. With each
onward step these mountain-ranges expand in long aërial line,
revealing reaches of fantastic peaks, that stretch away beyond the
plain of Pæstum, till they end at last in mist and sunbeams
shimmering on the sea. On the left hand hangs the cliff above the
deep salt water, with here and there a fig-tree spreading fanlike
leaves against the blue beneath. On the right rises the hillside,
clothed with myrtle, lentisk, cistus, and pale yellow coronilla--a
tangle as sweet with scent as it is gay with blossom. Over the
parapet that skirts the precipice lean heavy-foliaged locust-trees,
and the terraces in sunny nooks are set with lemon-orchards. There
are but few olives, and no pines. Meanwhile each turn in the road
brings some change of scene--now a village with its little beach of
grey sand, lapped by clearest sea-waves, where bare-legged fishermen
mend their nets, and naked boys bask like lizards in the sun--now
towering bastions of weird rock, broken into spires and pinnacles
like those of Skye, and coloured with bright hues of red and
orange--then a ravine, where the thin thread of a mountain streamlet
seems to hang suspended upon ferny ledges in the limestone--or a
precipice defined in profile against sea and sky, with a lad, half
dressed in goat-skin, dangling his legs into vacuity and singing--or
a tract of cultivation, where the orange, apricot, and lemon trees
nestle together upon terraces with intermingled pergolas of vines.

Amalfi and Atrani lie close together in two of these ravines, the
mountains almost arching over them, and the sea washing their very
house-walls. Each has its crowning campanile; but that of Amalfi is
the stranger of the two, like a Moorish tower at the top, and
coloured with green and yellow tiles that glitter in the sunlight.
The houses are all dazzling white, plastered against the naked rock,
rising on each other's shoulders to get a glimpse of earth and
heaven, jutting out on coigns of vantage from the toppling cliff,
and pierced with staircases as dark as night at noonday. Some
frequented lanes lead through the basements of these houses; and as
the donkeys pick their way from step to step in the twilight,
bare-chested macaroni-makers crowd forth like ants to see us
strangers pass. A myriad of swallows or a swarm of mason bees might
build a town like this.

It is not easy to imagine the time when Amalfi and Atrani were one
town, with docks and arsenals and harbourage for their associated
fleets, and when these little communities were second in importance
to no naval power of Christian Europe. The Byzantine Empire lost its
hold on Italy during the eighth century; and after this time the
history of Calabria is mainly concerned with the republics of Naples
and Amalfi, their conflict with the Lombard dukes of Benevento,
their opposition to the Saracens, and their final subjugation by the
Norman conquerors of Sicily. Between the year 839 A.D., when Amalfi
freed itself from the control of Naples and the yoke of Benevento,
and the year 1131, when Roger of Hauteville incorporated the
republic in his kingdom of the Two Sicilies, this city was the
foremost naval and commercial port of Italy. The burghers of Amalfi
elected their own doge; founded the Hospital of Jerusalem, whence
sprang the knightly order of S. John; gave their name to the richest
quarter in Palermo; and owned trading establishments or factories in
all the chief cities of the Levant. Their gold coinage of _tari_
formed the standard of currency before the Florentines had stamped
the lily and S. John upon the Tuscan florin. Their shipping
regulations supplied Europe with a code of maritime laws. Their
scholars, in the darkest depth of the dark ages, prized and conned a
famous copy of the Pandects of Justinian; and their seamen deserved
the fame of having first used, if they did not actually invent, the

To modern visitors those glorious centuries of Amalfitan power and
independence cannot but seem fabulous; so difficult is it for us to
imagine the conditions of society in Europe when a tiny city, shut
in between barren mountains and a tideless sea, without a
circumjacent territory, and with no resources but piracy or trade,
could develop maritime supremacy in the Levant and produce the first
fine flowers of liberty and culture.

If the history of Amalfi's early splendour reads like a brilliant
legend, the story of its premature extinction has the interest of a
tragedy. The republic had grown and flourished on the decay of the
Greek Empire. When the hard-handed race of Hauteville absorbed the
heritage of Greeks and Lombards and Saracens in Southern Italy,
these adventurers succeeded in annexing Amalfi. But it was not their
interest to extinguish the state. On the contrary, they relied for
assistance upon the navies and the armies of the little
commonwealth. New powers had meanwhile arisen in the North of Italy,
who were jealous of rivalry upon the open seas; and when the
Neapolitans resisted King Roger in 1135, they called Pisa to their
aid, and sent her fleet to destroy Amalfi. The ships of Amalfi were
on guard with Roger's navy in the Bay of Naples. The armed citizens
were, under Roger's orders, at Aversa. Meanwhile the home of the
republic lay defenceless on its mountain-girdled seaboard. The
Pisans sailed into the harbour, sacked the city, and carried off the
famous Pandects of Justinian as a trophy. Two years later they
returned, to complete the work of devastation. Amalfi never
recovered from the injuries and the humiliation of these two
attacks. It was ever thus that the Italians, like the children of
the dragon's teeth which Cadmus sowed, consumed each other. Pisa cut
the throat of her sister-port Amalfi, and Genoa gave a mortal wound
to Pisa, when the waters of Meloria were dyed with blood in 1284.
Venice fought a duel to the death with Genoa in the succeeding
century; and what Venice failed to accomplish was completed by Milan
and the lords of the Visconti dynasty, who crippled and enslaved the
haughty queen of the Ligurian Riviera.

The naval and commercial prosperity of Amalfi was thus put an end to
by the Pisans in the twelfth century. But it was not then that the
town assumed its present aspect. What surprises the student of
history more than anything is the total absence of fortifications,
docks, arsenals, and breakwaters, bearing witness to the ancient
grandeur of a city which numbered 50,000 inhabitants, and traded
with Alexandria, Syria, and the far East. Nothing of the sort, with
the exception of a single solitary tower upon the Monte Aureo, is
visible. Nor will he fail to remember that Amalfi and Atrani, which
are now divided by a jutting mountain buttress, were once joined by
a tract of sea-beach, where the galleys of the republic rested after
sweeping the Levant, and where the fishermen drew up their boats
upon the smooth grey sand. That also has disappeared. The violence
of man was not enough to reduce Amalfi to its present state of
insignificance. The forces of nature aided--partly by the gradual
subsidence of the land, which caused the lower quarters of the city
to be submerged, and separated Amalfi from her twin-port by covering
the beach with water--partly by a fearful tempest, accompanied by
earthquake, in 1343. Petrarch, then resident at Naples, witnessed
the destructive fury of this great convulsion, and the description
he wrote of it soon after its occurrence is so graphic that some
notice may well be taken of it here.

His letter, addressed to the noble Roman, Giovanni Colonna, begins
with a promise to tell something of a storm which deserved the title
of 'poetic,' and in a degree so superlative that no epithet but
'Homeric' would suffice to do it justice. This exordium is
singularly characteristic of Petrarch, who never forgot that he was
a literary man, and lost no opportunity of dragging the great names
of antiquity into his rhetorical compositions. The catastrophe was
hardly unexpected; for it had been prophesied by an astrological
bishop, whom Petrarch does not name, that Naples would be
overwhelmed by a terrible disaster in December 1343. The people were
therefore in a state of wild anxiety, repenting of their sins,
planning a total change of life under the fear of imminent death,
and neglecting their ordinary occupations. On the day of the
predicted calamity women roamed in trembling crowds through the
streets, pressing their babies to their breasts, and besieging the
altars of the saints with prayers. Petrarch, who shared the general
disquietude, kept watching the signs of the weather; but nothing
happened to warrant an extraordinary panic. At sunset the sky was
quieter than usual; and he could discern none of the symptoms of
approaching tempest, to which his familiarity with the mountains of
Vaucluse accustomed him. After dusk he stationed himself at a window
to observe the moon until she went down, before midnight, obscured
by clouds. Then he betook himself to bed; but scarcely had he fallen
into his first sleep when a most horrible noise aroused him. The
whole house shook; the night-light on his table was extinguished;
and he was thrown with violence from his couch. He was lodging in a
convent; and soon after this first intimation of the tempest he
heard the monks calling to each other through the darkness. From
cell to cell they hurried, the ghastly gleams of lightning falling
on their terror-stricken faces. Headed by the Prior, and holding
crosses and relics of the saints in their hands, they now assembled
in Petrarch's chamber. Thence they proceeded in a body to the
chapel, where they spent the night in prayer and expectation of
impending ruin. It would be impossible, says the poet, to relate the
terrors of that hellish night--the deluges of rain, the screaming of
the wind, the earthquake, the thunder, the howling of the sea, and
the shrieks of agonising human beings. All these horrors were
prolonged, as though by some magician's spell, for what seemed twice
the duration of a natural night. It was so dark that at last by
conjecture rather than the testimony of their senses they knew that
day had broken. A hurried mass was said. Then, as the noise in the
town above them began to diminish, and a confused clamour from the
sea-shore continually increased, their suspense became unendurable.
They mounted their horses, and descended to the port--to see and
perish. A fearful spectacle awaited them. The ships in the harbour
had broken their moorings, and were crashing helplessly together.
The strand was strewn with mutilated corpses. The breakwaters were
submerged, and the sea seemed gaining momently upon the solid land.
A thousand watery mountains surged up into the sky between the shore
and Capri; and these massive billows were not black or purple, but
hoary with a livid foam. After describing some picturesque
episodes--such as the gathering of the knights of Naples to watch
the ruin of their city, the procession of court ladies headed by the
queen to implore the intercession of Mary, and the wreck of a vessel
freighted with convicts bound for Sicily--Petrarch concludes with a
fervent prayer that he may never have to tempt the sea, of whose
fury he had seen so awful an example.

The capital on this occasion escaped the ruin prophesied. But Amalfi
was inundated; and what the waters then gained has never been
restored to man. This is why the once so famous city ranks now upon
a level with quiet little towns whose names are hardly heard in
history--with San Remo, or Rapallo, or Chiavari--and yet it is still
as full of life as a wasp's nest, especially upon the molo, or
raised piazza paved with bricks, in front of the Albergo de'
Cappuccini. The changes of scene upon this tiny square are so
frequent as to remind one of a theatre. Looking down from the
inn-balcony, between the glazy green pots gay with scarlet
amaryllis-bloom, we are inclined to fancy that the whole has been
prepared for our amusement. In the morning the corn for the
macaroni-flour, after being washed, is spread out on the bricks to
dry. In the afternoon the fishermen bring their nets for the same
purpose. In the evening the city magnates promenade and whisper.
Dark-eyed women, with orange or crimson kerchiefs for headgear,
cross and re-cross, bearing baskets on their shoulders. Great lazy
large-limbed fellows, girt with scarlet sashes and finished off with
dark blue nightcaps (for a contrast to their saffron-coloured
shirts, white breeches, and sunburnt calves), slouch about or sleep
face downwards on the parapets. On either side of this same molo
stretches a miniature beach of sand and pebble, covered with nets,
which the fishermen are always mending, and where the big boats lade
or unlade, trimming for the sardine fishery, or driving in to shore
with a whirr of oars and a jabber of discordant voices. As the
land-wind freshens, you may watch them set off one by one, like
pigeons taking flight, till the sea is flecked with twenty sail, all
scudding in the same direction. The torrent runs beneath the molo,
and finds the sea beyond it; so that here too are the washerwomen,
chattering like sparrows; and everywhere the naked boys, like brown
sea-urchins, burrow in the clean warm sand, or splash the shallow
brine. If you like the fun, you may get a score of them to dive
together and scramble for coppers in the deeper places, their lithe
bodies gleaming wan beneath the water in a maze of interlacing arms
and legs.

Over the whole busy scene rise the grey hills, soaring into blueness
of air-distance, turreted here and there with ruined castles, capped
with particoloured campanili and white convents, and tufted through
their whole height with the orange and the emerald of the great
tree-spurge, and with the live gold of the blossoming broom. It is
difficult to say when this picture is most beautiful--whether in the
early morning, when the boats are coming back from their night-toil
upon the sea, and along the headlands in the fresh light lie swathes
of fleecy mist, betokening a still, hot day--or at noontide, when
the houses on the hill stand, tinted pink and yellow, shadowless
like gems, and the great caruba-trees above the tangles of vines and
figs are blots upon the steady glare--or at sunset, when violet and
rose, reflected from the eastern sky, make all these terraces and
peaks translucent with a wondrous glow. The best of all, perhaps, is
night, with a full moon hanging high overhead. Who shall describe
the silhouettes of boats upon the shore or sleeping on the misty
sea? On the horizon lies a dusky film of brownish golden haze,
between the moon and the glimmering water; and here and there a lamp
or candle burns with a deep red. Then is the time to take a boat and
row upon the bay, or better, to swim out into the waves and trouble
the reflections from the steady stars. The mountains, clear and
calm, with light-irradiated chasms and hard shadows cast upon the
rock, soar up above a city built of alabaster, or sea-foam, or
summer clouds. The whole is white and wonderful: no similes suggest
an analogue for the lustre, solid and transparent, of Amalfi
nestling in moonlight between the grey-blue sea and lucid hills.
Stars stand on all the peaks, and twinkle, or keep gliding, as the
boat moves, down the craggy sides. Stars are mirrored on the marble
of the sea, until one knows not whether the oar has struck sparks
from a star image or has scattered diamonds of phosphorescent brine.

All this reads like a rhapsody; but indeed it is difficult not to be
rhapsodical when a May night of Amalfi is in the memory, with the
echo of rich baritone voices chanting Neapolitan songs to a
mandoline. It is fashionable to complain that these Italian airs are
opera-tunes; but this is only another way of saying that the Italian
opera is the genuine outgrowth of national melody, and that Weber
was not the first, as some German critics have supposed, to string
together Volkslieder for the stage. Northerners, who have never seen
or felt the beauty of the South, talk sad nonsense about the
superiority of German over Italian music. It is true that much
Italian music is out of place in Northern Europe, where we seem to
need more travail of the intellect in art. But the Italians are
rightly satisfied with such facile melody and such simple rhythms as
harmonise with sea and sky and boon earth sensuously beautiful.
'Perchè pensa? Pensando s' invecchia,' expresses the same habit of
mind as another celebrated saying, 'La musica è il lamento dell'
amore o la preghiera agli Dei.' Whatever may be the value of Italian
music, it is in concord with such a scene as Amalfi by moon-light;
and he who does not appreciate this no less than some more
artificial combination of sights and sounds in Wagner's theatre at
Bayreuth, has scarcely learned the first lesson in the lore of

There is enough and to spare for all tastes at Amalfi. The student
of architecture may spend hours in the Cathedral, pondering over its
high-built western front, and wondering whether there is more of
Moorish or of Gothic in its delicate arcades. The painter may
transfer its campanile, glittering like dragon's scales, to his
canvas. The lover of the picturesque will wander through its aisle
at mass-time, watching the sunlight play upon those upturned
Southern faces with their ardent eyes; and happy is he who sees
young men and maidens on Whit Sunday crowding round the chancel
rails, to catch the marigolds and gillyflowers scattered from
baskets which the priest has blessed. Is this a symbol of the Holy
Spirit's gifts, or is it some quaint relic of Pagan _sparsiones_?
This question, with the memory of Pompeian _graffiti_ in our mind,
may well suggest itself in Southern Italy, where old and new faiths
are so singularly blended. Then there is Ravello on the hills above.
The path winds upward between stone walls tufted with maidenhair;
and ever nearer grow the mountains, and the sea-line soars into the
sky. An Englishman has made his home here in a ruined Moorish villa,
with cool colonnaded cloisters and rose-embowered terraces, lending
far prospect over rocky hills and olive-girdled villages to Pæstum's
plain. The churches of Ravello have rare mosaics, and bronze doors,
and marble pulpits, older perhaps than those of Tuscany, which tempt
the archæologist to ask if Nicholas the Pisan learned his secret
here. But who cares to be a sober antiquary at Amalfi? Far
pleasanter is it to climb the staircase to the Capuchins, and linger
in those caverns of the living rock, and pluck the lemons hanging by
the mossy walls; or to row from cove to cove along the shore,
watching the fishes swimming in the deeps beneath, and the medusas
spreading their filmy bells; to land upon smooth slabs of rock,
where corallines wave to and fro; or to rest on samphire-tufted
ledges, when the shadows slant beneath the westering sun.

There is no point in all this landscape which does not make a
picture. Painters might even complain that the pictures are too easy
and the poetry too facile, just as the musicians find the melodies
of this fair land too simple. No effect, carefully sought and
strenuously seized, could enhance the mere beauty of Amalfi bathed
in sunlight. You have only on some average summer day to sit down
and paint the scene. Little scope is afforded for suggestions of
far-away weird thoughts, or for elaborately studied motives.
Daubigny and Corot are as alien here as Blake or Dürer.

What is wanted, and what no modern artist can successfully recapture
from the wasteful past, is the mythopoeic sense--the apprehension of
primeval powers akin to man, growing into shape and substance on the
borderland between the world and the keen human sympathies it stirs
in us. Greek mythology was the proper form of art for scenery like
this. It gave the final touch to all its beauties, and added to its
sensuous charm an inbreathed spiritual life. No exercise of the
poetic faculty, far less that metaphysical mood of the reflective
consciousness which 'leads from nature up to nature's God,' can now
supply this need. From sea and earth and sky, in those creative ages
when the world was young, there leaned to greet the men whose fancy
made them, forms imagined and yet real--human, divine--the
archetypes and everlasting patterns of man's deepest sense of what
is wonderful in nature. Feeling them there, for ever there,
inalienable, ready to start forth and greet successive
generations--as the Hamadryad greeted Rhaicos from his father's
oak--those mythopoets called them by immortal names. All their
pent-up longings, all passions that consume, all aspirations that
inflame--the desire for the impossible, which is disease, the
day-dreams and visions of the night, which are spontaneous
poems--were thus transferred to nature. And nature, responsive to
the soul that loves her, gave them back transfigured and translated
into radiant beings of like substance with mankind. It was thus, we
feel, upon these southern shores that the gods of Greece came into
being. The statues in the temples were the true fine flower of all
this beauty, the culmination of the poetry which it evoked in hearts
that feel and brains that think.

In Italy, far more than in any other part of Europe, the life of the
present is imposed upon the strata of successive past lives. Greek,
Latin, Moorish, and mediæval civilisations have arisen, flourished,
and decayed on nearly the same soil; and it is common enough to find
one city, which may have perished twenty centuries ago, neighbour to
another that enjoyed its brief prosperity in the middle of our era.
There is not, for example, the least sign of either Greek or Roman
at Amalfi. Whatever may have been the glories of the republic in the
early middle ages, they had no relation to the classic past. Yet a
few miles off along the bay rise the ancient Greek temples of
Pæstum, from a desert--with no trace of any intervening occupants.
Poseidonia was founded in the sixth century before Christ, by
colonists from Sybaris. Three centuries later the Hellenic element
in this settlement, which must already have become a town of no
little importance, was submerged by a deluge of recurrent barbarism.
Under the Roman rule it changed its name to Pæstum, and was
prosperous. The Saracens destroyed it in the ninth century of our
era; and Robert Guiscard carried some of the materials of its
buildings to adorn his new town of Salerno. Since then the ancient
site has been abandoned to malaria and solitude. The very existence
of Pæstum was unknown, except to wandering herdsmen and fishers
coasting near its ruined colonnades, until the end of the last
century. Yet, strange to relate, after all these revolutions, and in
the midst of this total desolation, the only relics of the antique
city are three Greek temples, those very temples where the Hellenes,
barbarised by their Lucanian neighbours, met to mourn for their lost
liberty. It is almost impossible to trace more than the mere circuit
of the walls of Poseidonia. Its port, if port it had in Roman days,
has disappeared. Its theatre is only just discernible. Still not a
column of the great hypæthral temple, built by the Sybarite
colonists two thousand and five hundred years ago, to be a house for
Zeus or for Poseidon, has been injured. The accidents that erased
far greater cities, like Syracuse, from the surface of the
earth--pillage, earthquake, the fury of fanatics, the slow decay of
perishable stone, or the lust of palace builders in the middle
ages--have spared those three houses of the gods, over whom, in the
days of Alexander, the funeral hymn was chanted by the enslaved

'We do the same,' said Aristoxenus in his Convivial Miscellanies,
'as the men of Poseidonia, who dwell on the Tyrrhenian Gulf. It
befell them, having been at first true Hellenes, to be utterly
barbarised, changing to Tyrrhenes or Romans, and altering their
language, together with their other customs. Yet they still observe
one Hellenic festival, when they meet together and call to
remembrance their old names and bygone institutions; and having
lamented one to the other, and shed bitter tears, they afterwards
depart to their own homes. Even thus a few of us also, now that our
theatres have been barbarised, and this art of music has gone to
ruin and vulgarity, meet together and remember what once music

    [1] _Athenæus_, xiv. 632.

This passage has a strange pathos, considering how it was penned,
and how it has come down to us, tossed by the dark indifferent
stream of time. The Aristoxenus who wrote it was a pupil of the
Peripatetic School, born at Tarentum, and therefore familiar with
the vicissitudes of Magna Græcia. The study of music was his chief
preoccupation; and he used this episode in the agony of an enslaved
Greek city, to point his own conservative disgust for innovations in
an art of which we have no knowledge left. The works of Aristoxenus
have perished, and the fragment I have quoted is embedded in the
gossip of Egyptian Athenæus. In this careless fashion has been
opened for us, as it were, a little window on a grief now buried in
the oblivion of a hundred generations. After reading his words one
May morning, beneath the pediment of Pæstum's noblest ruin, I could
not refrain from thinking that if the spirits of those captive
Hellenes were to revisit their old habitations, they would change
their note of wailing into a thin ghostly pæan, when they found that
Romans and Lucanians had passed away, that Christians and Saracens
had left alike no trace behind, while the houses of their own
[Greek: antêlioi theoi]--dawn-facing deities--were still abiding in
the pride of immemorial strength. Who knows whether buffalo-driver
or bandit may not ere now have seen processions of these Poseidonian
phantoms, bearing laurels and chaunting hymns on the spot where once
they fell each on the other's neck to weep? Gathering his cloak
around him and cowering closer to his fire of sticks, the
night-watcher in those empty colonnades may have mistaken the
Hellenic outlines of his shadowy visitants for fevered dreams, and
the melody of their evanished music for the whistling of night winds
or the cry of owls. So abandoned is Pæstum in its solitude that we
know not even what legends may have sprung up round those relics of
a mightier age.

  The shrine is ruined now; and far away
  To east and west stretch olive groves, whose shade
  Even at the height of summer noon is grey.

  Asphodels sprout upon the plinth decayed
  Of these low columns, and the snake hath found
  Her haunt 'neath altar-steps with weeds o'erlaid.

  Yet this was once a hero's temple, crowned
  With myrtle-boughs by lovers, and with palm
  By wrestlers, resonant with sweetest sound

  Of flute and fife in summer evening's calm,
  And odorous with incense all the year,
  With nard and spice, and galbanum and balm.

These lines sufficiently express the sense of desolation felt at
Pæstum, except that the scenery is more solemn and mournful, and the
temples are too august to be the shrine of any simple hero. There
are no olives. The sea plunges on its sandy shore within the space
of half a mile to westward. Far and wide on either hand stretch
dreary fever-stricken marshes. The plain is bounded to the north,
and east, and south, with mountains, purple, snow-peaked, serrated,
and grandly broken like the hills of Greece. Driving over this vast
level where the Silarus stagnates, the monotony of the landscape is
broken now and then by a group of buffaloes standing up to their
dewlaps in reeds, by peasants on horseback, with goads in their
hands, and muskets slung athwart their backs, or by patrols of
Italian soldiers crossing and re-crossing on the brigand-haunted
roads. Certain portions have been reclaimed from the swamp, and here
may be seen white oxen in herds of fifty grazing; or gangs of women
at field-labour, with a man to oversee them, cracking a long
hunting-whip; or the mares and foals of a famous stud-farm browsing
under spreading pines. There are no villages, and the few farmhouses
are so widely scattered as to make us wonder where the herdsmen and
field-workers, scanty as they are, can possibly be lodged.

At last the three great temples come in sight. The rich orange of
the central building contrasts with the paler yellow of its two
companions, while the glowing colour of all three is splendidly
relieved against green vegetation and blue mountain-flanks. Their
material is travertine--a calcareous stone formed by the deposit of
petrifying waters, which contains fragments of reeds, spiral shells,
and other substances, embedded in the porous limestone. In the
flourishing period of old Poseidonia these travertine columns were
coated with stucco, worked to a smooth surface, and brilliantly
tinted to harmonise with the gay costumes of a Greek festival. Even
now this coating of fine sand, mingled with slaked lime and water,
can be seen in patches on the huge blocks of the masonry. Thus
treated, the travertine lacked little of the radiance of marble, for
it must be remembered that the Greeks painted even the Pentelic
cornice of the Parthenon with red and blue. Nor can we doubt that
the general effect of brightness suited the glad and genial
conditions of Greek life.

All the surroundings are altered now, and the lover of the
picturesque may be truly thankful that the hand of time, by
stripping the buildings of this stucco, without impairing their
proportions, has substituted a new harmony of tone between the
native stone and the surrounding landscape, no less sympathetic to
the present solitude than the old symphony of colours was to the
animated circumstances of a populous Greek city. In this way those
critics who defend the polychrome decorations of the classic
architects, and those who contend that they cannot imagine any
alteration from the present toning of Greek temples for the better,
are both right.

In point of colour the Pæstum ruins are very similar to those of
Girgenti; but owing to their position on a level plain, in front of
a scarcely indented sea-shore, we lack the irregularity which adds
so much charm to the row of temples on their broken cliff in the old
town of Agrigentum. In like manner the celebrated _asymmetreia_ of
the buildings of the Athenian Acropolis, which causes so much
variety of light and shade upon the temple-fronts, and offers so
many novel points of view when they are seen in combination, seems
to have been due originally to the exigencies of the ground. At
Pæstum, in planning out the city, there can have been no utilitarian
reasons for placing the temples at odd angles, either to each other
or the shore. Therefore we see them now almost exactly in line and
parallel, though at unequal distances. If something of picturesque
effect is thus lost at Pæstum through the flatness of the ground,
something of impressive grandeur on the other hand is gained by the
very regularity with which those phalanxes of massive Doric columns
are drawn up to face the sea.

Poseidonia, as the name betokens, was dedicated to the god of the
sea; and the coins of the city are stamped with his effigy bearing a
trident, and with his sacred animal, the bull. It has therefore been
conjectured that the central of the three temples--which was
hypæthral and had two entrances, east and west--belonged to
Poseidon; and there is something fine in the notion of the god being
thus able to pass to and fro from his cella through those sunny
peristyles, down to his chariot, yoked with sea-horses, in the
brine. Yet hypæthral temples were generally consecrated to Zeus, and
it is therefore probable that the traditional name of this vast
edifice is wrong. The names of the two other temples, _Tempio di
Cerere_ and _Basilica_, are wholly unsupported by any proof or
probability. The second is almost certainly founded on a mistake;
and if we assign the largest of the three shrines to Zeus, one or
other of the lesser belonged most likely to Poseidon.

The style of the temples is severe and primitive. In general effect
their Doric architecture is far sterner than that adapted by Ictinus
to the Parthenon. The entablature seems somewhat disproportioned to
the columns and the pediment; and, owing to this cause, there is a
general effect of heaviness. The columns, again, are thick-set; nor
is the effect of solidity removed by their gradual narrowing from
the base upwards. The pillars of the _Neptune_ are narrowed in a
straight line; those of the _Basilica_ and _Ceres_ by a gentle
curve. Study of these buildings, so sublime in their massiveness, so
noble in the parsimony of their decoration, so dignified in their
employment of the simplest means for the attainment of an
indestructible effect of harmony, heightens our admiration for the
Attic genius which found in this grand manner of the elder Doric
architects resources as yet undeveloped; creating, by slight and
subtle alterations of outline, proportion, and rhythm of parts, what
may fairly be classed as a style unique, because exemplified in only
one transcendent building.

It is difficult not to return again and again to the beauty of
colouring at Pæstum. Lying basking in the sun upon a flat slab of
stone, and gazing eastward, we overlook a foreground of dappled
light and shadow, across which the lizards run--quick streaks of
living emerald--making the bunches of yellow rue and little white
serpyllum in the fissures of the masonry nod as they hurry past.
Then come two stationary columns, built, it seems, of solid gold,
where the sunbeams strike along their russet surface. Between them
lies the landscape, a medley first of brakefern and asphodel and
feathering acanthus and blue spikes of bugloss; then a white farm in
the middle distance, roofed with the reddest tiles and sheltered by
a velvety umbrella pine. Beyond and above the farm, a glimpse of
mountains purple almost to indigo with cloud shadows, and flecked
with snow. Still higher--but for this we have to raise our head a
little--the free heavens enclosed within the frame-work of the tawny
travertine, across which sail hawks and flutter jackdaws, sharply
cut against the solid sky. Down from the architrave, to make the
vignette perfect, hang tufts of crimson snapdragons. Each opening in
the peristyle gives a fresh picture.

The temples are overgrown with snapdragons and mallows, yellow
asters and lilac gillyflowers, white allium and wild fig. When a
breeze passes, the whole of this many-coloured tapestry waves gently
to and fro. The fields around are flowery enough; but where are the
roses? I suppose no one who has read his Virgil at school, crosses
the plain from Salerno to Pæstum without those words of the
'Georgics' ringing in his ears: _biferique rosaria Pæsti_. They have
that wonderful Virgilian charm which, by a touch, transforms mere
daily sights and sounds, and adds poetic mystery to common things.
The poets of ancient Rome seem to have felt the magic of this
phrase; for Ovid has imitated the line in his 'Metamorphoses,'
tamely substituting _tepidi_ for the suggestive _biferi_, while
again in his 'Elegies' he uses the same termination with _odorati_
for his epithet. Martial sings of _Pæstanæ rosæ_ and _Pæstani gloria
ruris_. Even Ausonius, at the very end of Latin literature, draws
from the rosaries of Pæstum a pretty picture of beauty doomed to
premature decline:--

  Vidi Pæstano gaudere rosaria cultu
    Exoriente novo roscida Lucifero.

  'I have watched the rose-beds that luxuriate on Pæstum's well-tilled
  soil, all dewy in the young light of the rising dawn-star.'

What a place indeed was this for a rose-garden, spreading far and
wide along the fertile plain, with its deep loam reclaimed from
swamps and irrigated by the passing of perpetual streams! But where
are the roses now? As well ask, _où sont les neiges d'antan?_

We left Amalfi for Capri in the freshness of an early morning at the
end of May. As we stepped into our six-oared boat the sun rose above
the horizon, flooding the sea with gold and flashing on the terraces
above Amalfi. High up along the mountains hung pearly and empurpled
mists, set like resting-places between a world too beautiful and
heaven too far for mortal feet. Not a breath of any wind was
stirring. The water heaved with a scarcely perceptible swell, and
the vapours lifted gradually as the sun's rays grew in power. Here
the hills descend abruptly on the sea, ending in cliffs where light
reflected from the water dances. Huge caverns open in the limestone;
on their edges hang stalactites like beards, and the sea within
sleeps dark as night. For some of these caves the maidenhair fern
makes a shadowy curtain; and all of them might be the home of
Proteus, or of Calypso, by whose side her mortal lover passed his
nights in vain home-sickness:--

  [Greek: en spessi glaphyroisi par' ouk ethelôn ethelousê].

This is a truly Odyssean journey. Soon the islands of the Sirens come in
sight,--bare bluffs of rock, shaped like galleys taking flight for the
broad sea. As we row past in this ambrosial weather, the oarsmen keeping
time and ploughing furrows in the fruitless fields of Nereus, it is not
difficult to hear the siren voices--for earth and heaven and sea make
melodies far above mortal singing. The water round the Galli--so the
islands are now called, as antiquaries tell us, from an ancient fortress
named Guallo--is very deep, and not a sign of habitation is to be seen
upon them. In bygone ages they were used as prisons; and many doges of
Amalfi languished their lives away upon those shadeless stones, watching
the sea around them blaze like a burnished shield at noon, and the peaks
of Capri deepen into purple when the west was glowing after sunset with
the rose and daffodil of Southern twilight.

The end of the Sorrentine promontory, Point Campanella, is absolutely
barren--grey limestone, with the scantiest over-growth of rosemary and
myrtle. A more desolate spot can hardly be imagined. But now the morning
breeze springs up behind; sails are hoisted, and the boatmen ship their
oars. Under the albatross wings of our lateen sails we scud across the
freshening waves. The precipice of Capri soars against the sky, and the
Bay of Naples expands before us with those sweeping curves and azure
amplitude that all the poets of the world have sung. Even thus the
mariners of ancient Hellas rounded this headland when the world was
young. Rightly they named yon rising ground, beneath Vesuvius,
Posilippo--rest from grief. Even now, after all those centuries of toil,
though the mild mountain has been turned into a mouth of murderous fire,
though Roman emperors and Spanish despots have done their worst to mar
what nature made so perfect, we may here lay down the burden of our
cares, gaining tranquillity by no mysterious lustral rites, no
penitential prayers or offerings of holocausts, but by the influence of
beauty in the earth and air, and by sympathy with a people unspoiled in
their healthful life of labour alternating with simple joy.

The last hour of the voyage was beguiled by stories of our boatmen, some
of whom had seen service on distant seas, while others could tell of
risks on shore and love adventures. They showed us how the tunny-nets
were set, and described the solitary life of the tunny-watchers, in
their open boats, waiting to spear the monsters of the deep entangled in
the chambers made for them beneath the waves. How much of Æschylean
imagery, I reflected, is drawn from this old fisher's art--the toils of
Clytemnestra and the tragedy of Psyttaleia rising to my mind. One of the
crew had his little son with him, a child of six years old; and when the
boy was restless, his father spoke of Barbarossa and Timberio (_sic_) to
keep him quiet; for the memory of the Moorish pirate and the mighty
emperor is still alive here. The people of Capri are as familiar with
Tiberius as the Bretons with King Arthur; and the hoof-mark of
illustrious crime is stamped upon the island.

Capri offers another example of the versatility of Southern Italy. If
Amalfi brings back to us the naval and commercial prosperity of the
early middle ages; if Pæstuni remains a monument of the oldest Hellenic
civilisation; Capri, at a few miles' distance, is dedicated to the Roman
emperor who made it his favourite residence, when, life-weary with the
world and all its shows, he turned these many peaks and slumbering caves
into a summer palace for the nursing of his brain-sick phantasy. Already
on landing, we are led to remember that from this shore was loosed the
galley bearing that great letter--_verbosa et grandis epistola_--which
undid Sejanus and shook Rome. Riding to Ana-Capri and the Salto di
Tiberio, exploring the remains of his favourite twelve villas, and
gliding over the smooth waters paved with the white marbles of his
baths, we are for ever attended by the same forbidding spectre. Here,
perchance, were the _sedes arcanarum libidinum_ whereof Suetonius
speaks; the Spintrian medals, found in these recesses, still bear
witness that the biographer trusted no mere fables for the picture he
has drawn. Here, too, below the Villa Jovis, gazing 700 feet sheer down
into the waves, we tread the very parapet whence fell the victims of
that maniac lust for blood. 'After long and exquisite torments,' says
the Roman writer, 'he ordered condemned prisoners to be cast into the
sea before his eyes; marines were stationed near to pound the fallen
corpses with poles and oars, lest haply breath should linger in their
limbs.' The Neapolitan Museum contains a little basrelief representing
Tiberius, with the well-known features of the Claudian house, seated
astride upon a donkey, with a girl before him. A slave is leading the
beast and its burden to a terminal statue under an olive-tree. This
curious relic, discovered some while since at Capri, haunted my fancy as
I climbed the olive-planted slopes to his high villa on the Arx Tiberii.
It is some relief, amid so much that is tragic in the associations of
this place, to have the horrible Tiberius burlesqued and brought into
donkey-riding relation with the tourist of to-day. And what an ironical
revenge of time it is that his famous Salto should be turned into a
restaurant, where the girls dance tarantella for a few coppers; that a
toothless hermit should occupy a cell upon the very summit of his Villa
Jovis; and that the Englishwoman's comfortable hotel should be called
_Timberio_ by the natives! A spiritualist might well believe that the
emperor's ghost was forced to haunt the island, and to expiate his old
atrocities by gazing on these modern vulgarisms.

Few problems suggested by history are more darkly fascinating than the
madness of despots; and of this madness, whether inherent in their blood
or encouraged by the circumstance of absolute autocracy, the emperors of
the Claudian and Julian houses furnish the most memorable instance.[1]
It is this that renders Tiberius ever present to our memory at Capri.
Nor will the student of Suetonius forget his even more memorable
grand-nephew Caligula. The following passage is an episode from the
biography of that imperial maniac, whose portrait in green basalt, with
the strain of dire mental tension on the forehead, is still so beautiful
that we are able at this distance of time to pity more than loathe him.
'Above all, he was tormented with nervous irritation, by sleeplessness;
for he enjoyed not more than three hours of nocturnal repose, nor even
these in pure untroubled rest, but agitated by phantasmata of portentous
augury; as, for example, upon one occasion, among other spectral
visions, he fancied that he saw the sea, under some definite
impersonation, conversing with himself. Hence it was, and from this
incapacity of sleeping, and from weariness of lying awake, that he had
fallen into habits of ranging all night long through the palace,
sometimes throwing himself on a couch, sometimes wandering along the
vast corridors, watching for the earliest dawn, and anxiously wishing
its approach.' Those corridors, or loggie, where Caligula spent his
wakeful hours, opened perchance upon this Bay of Naples, if not upon the
sea-waves of his favourite Porto d'Anzio; for we know that one of his
great follies was a palace built above the sea on piles at Baiæ; and
where else could _Pelagus_, with his cold azure eyes and briny locks,
have more appropriately terrified his sleep with prophecy conveyed in
dreams? The very nature of this vision, selected for such special
comment by Suetonius as to show that it had troubled Caligula
profoundly, proves the fantastic nature of the man, and justifies the
hypothesis of insanity.

    [1] De Quincey, in his essay on _The Cæsars_, has worked
    out this subject with such artistic vividness that no more
    need be said. From his pages I have quoted the
    paraphrastic version of Suetonius that follows.

But it is time to shake off the burden of the past. Only students,
carrying superfluity of culture in their knapsacks, will ponder over the
imperial lunatics who made Capri and Baiæ fashionable in the days of
ancient Rome. Neither Tiberius nor Caligula, nor yet Ferdinand of Aragon
or Bomba for that matter, has been able to leave trace of vice or scar
of crime on nature in this Eden. A row round the island, or a
supper-party in the loggia above the sea at sunset-time, is no less
charming now, in spite of Roman or Spanish memories, than when the world
was young.

Sea-mists are frequent in the early summer mornings, swathing the
cliffs of Capri in impenetrable wool and brooding on the perfectly
smooth water till the day-wind rises. Then they disappear like
magic, rolling in smoke-wreaths from the surface of the sea,
condensing into clouds and climbing the hillsides like Oceanides in
quest of Prometheus, or taking their station on the watch-towers of
the world, as in the chorus of the _Nephelai_. Such a morning may be
chosen for the _giro_ of the island. The blue grotto loses nothing
of its beauty, but rather gains by contrast, when passing from dense
fog you find yourself transported to a world of wavering subaqueous
sheen. It is only through the opening of the very topmost arch that
a boat can glide into this cavern; the arch itself spreads downward
through the water, so that all the light is transmitted from beneath
and coloured by the sea. The grotto is domed in many chambers; and
the water is so clear that you can see the bottom, silvery, with
black-finned fishes diapered upon the blue white sand. The flesh of
a diver in this water showed like the faces of children playing at
snapdragon; all around him the spray leapt up with living fire; and
when the oars struck the surface, it was as though a phosphorescent
sea had been smitten, and the drops ran from the blades in blue
pearls. I have only once seen anything (outside the magic-world of a
pantomime) to equal these effects of blue and silver; and that was
when I made my way into an ice-cave in the Great Aletsch
glacier--not an artificial gallery such as they cut at Grindelwald,
but a natural cavern, arched, hollowed into fanciful recesses, and
hung with stalactites of pendent ice. The difference between the
glacier-cavern and the sea-grotto was that in the former all the
light was transmitted through transparent sides, so that the whole
was one uniform azure, except in rare places where little chinks
opened upwards to the air, and the light of day came glancing with a
roseate flush. In the latter the light sent from beneath through the
water played upon a roof of rock; reflections intermingled with
translucence; and a greater variety of light and shadow compensated
the lack of that strange sense of being shut within a solid gem.

Numberless are the caves at Capri. The so-called green grotto has
the beauty of moss-agate in its liquid floor; the red grotto shows a
warmer chord of colour; and where there is no other charm to notice,
endless beauty may be found in the play of sunlight upon roofs of
limestone, tinted with yellow, orange, and pale pink, mossed over,
hung with fern, and catching tones of blue or green from the still
deeps beneath.

Sheets of water, wherever found, are the most subtle heighteners of
colour. To those who are familiar with Venetian or Mantuan sunsets,
who have seen the flocks of flamingoes reflected on the lagoons of
Tunis, or who have watched stormy red flakes tossed from crest to
crest of great Atlantic waves on our own coasts, this need hardly be
said. Yet I cannot leave this beauty of the sea at Capri without
touching on a melodrama of light and colour I once saw at
Castellammare. It was a festa night, when the people sent up rockets
and fireworks of every hue from the harbour-breakwater. The surf
rolled shoreward like a bath of molten metals, all confused of blue,
and red, and green, and gold--dying dolphin tints that burned
strangely beneath the purple skies and tranquil stars. Boats at sea
hung out their crimson cressets, flickering in long lines on the
bay; and larger craft moved slowly with rows of lamps defining their
curves; while the full moon shed over all her 'vitreous pour, just
tinged with blue.' To some tastes this mingling of natural and
artificial effects would seem unworthy of sober notice; but I
confess to having enjoyed it with childish eagerness like music
never to be forgotten.

After a day upon the water it is pleasant to rest at sunset in the
loggia above the sea. The Bay of Naples stretches far and wide in
front, beautiful by reason chiefly of the long fine line descending
from Vesuvius, dipping almost to a level and then gliding up to join
the highlands of the north. Now sun and moon begin to mingle: waning
and waxing splendours. The cliffs above our heads are still blushing
a deep flame-colour, like the heart of some tea-rose; when lo, the
touch of the huntress is laid upon those eastern pinnacles, and the
horizon glimmers with her rising. Was it on such a night that
Ferdinand of Aragon fled from his capital before the French, with
eyes turned ever to the land he loved, chanting, as he leaned from
his galley's stern, that melancholy psalm--'Except the Lord keep the
city, the watchman waketh but in vain'--and seeing Naples dwindle to
a white blot on the purple shore?

Our journey takes the opposite direction. Farewell to Capri, welcome
to Sorrento! The roads are sweet with scent of acacia and orange
flowers. When you walk in a garden at night, the white specks
beneath your feet are fallen petals of lemon blossoms. Over the
walls hang cataracts of roses, honey-pale clusters of the Banksia
rose, and pink bushes of the China rose, growing as we never see
them grow with us. The grey rocks wave with gladiolus--feathers of
crimson, set amid tufts of rosemary, and myrtle, and tree-spurge. In
the clefts of the sandstone, and behind the orchard walls, sleeps a
dark green night of foliage, in the midst of which gleam globed
oranges, and lemons dropping like great pearls of palest amber dew.
It is difficult to believe that the lemons have not grown into
length by their own weight, as though mere hanging on the bough
prevented them from being round--so waxen are they. Overhead soar
stone-pines--a roof of sombre green, a lattice-work of strong red
branches, through which the moon peers wonderfully. One part of this
marvellous _piano_ is bare rock tufted with keen-scented herbs, and
sparsely grown with locust-trees and olives. Another waves from sea
to summit with beech-copses and oak-woods, as verdant as the most
abundant English valley. Another region turns its hoary raiment of
olive-gardens to the sun and sea, or flourishes with fig and vine.
Everywhere, the houses of men are dazzling white, perched on natural
coigns of vantage, clustered on the brink of brown cliffs, nestling
under mountain eaves, or piled up from the sea-beach in ascending
tiers, until the broad knees of the hills are reached, and great
Pan, the genius of solitude in nature, takes unto himself a region
yet untenanted by man. The occupations of the sea and land are blent
together on this shore; and the people are both blithe and gentle.
It is true that their passions are upon the surface, and that the
knife is ready to their hand. But the combination of fierceness and
softness in them has an infinite charm when one has learned by
observation that their lives are laborious and frugal, and that
their honesty is hardly less than their vigour. Happy indeed are
they--so happy that, but for crimes accumulated through successive
generations by bad governors, and but for superstitions cankering
the soul within, they might deserve what Shelley wrote of his
imagined island in 'Epipsychidion.'


The eruptions of Etna have blackened the whole land for miles in
every direction. That is the first observation forced upon one in
the neighbourhood of Catania, or Giarre, or Bronte. From whatever
point of view you look at Etna, it is always a regular pyramid, with
long and gradually sloping sides, broken here and there by the
excrescence of minor craters and dotted over with villages; the
summit crowned with snow, divided into peak and cone, girdled with
clouds, and capped with smoke, that shifts shape as the wind veers,
dominates a blue-black monstrous mass of outpoured lava. From the
top of Monte Rosso, a subordinate volcano which broke into eruption
in 1669, you can trace the fountain from which 'the unapproachable
river of purest fire,' that nearly destroyed Catania, issued. You
see it still, bubbling up like a frozen geyser from the flank of the
mountain, whence the sooty torrent spreads, or rather sprawls, with
jagged edges to the sea. The plain of Catania lies at your feet,
threaded by the Simeto, bounded by the promontory of Syracuse and
the mountains of Castro Giovanni. This huge amorphous blot upon the
landscape may be compared to an ink-stain on a variegated
tablecloth, or to the coal districts marked upon a geological atlas,
or to the heathen in a missionary map--the green and red and grey
colours standing for Christians and Mahommedans and Jews of
different shades and qualities. The lava, where it has been
cultivated, is reduced to fertile sand, in which vines and fig-trees
are planted--their tender green foliage contrasting strangely with
the sinister soil that makes them flourish. All the roads are black
as jet, like paths leading to coal-pits, and the country-folk on
mule-back plodding along them look like Arabs on an infernal Sahara.
The very lizards which haunt the rocks are swart and smutty. Yet the
flora of the district is luxuriant. The gardens round Catania,
nestling into cracks and ridges of the stiffened flood, are
marvellously brilliant with spurge and fennel and valerian. It is
impossible to form a true conception of flower-brightness till one
has seen these golden and crimson tints upon their ground of ebony,
or to realise the blueness of the Mediterranean except in contrast
with the lava where it breaks into the sea. Copses of frail oak and
ash, undergrown with ferns of every sort; cactus-hedges,
orange-trees grafted with lemons and laden with both fruits; olives
of scarce two centuries' growth, and fig-trees knobbed with their
sweet produce, overrun the sombre soil, and spread their boughs
against the deep blue sea and the translucent amethyst of the
Calabrian mountains. Underfoot, a convolvulus with large white
blossoms, binding dingy stone to stone, might be compared to a rope
of Desdemona's pearls upon the neck of Othello.

The villages are perhaps the most curious feature of this scenery.
Their houses, rarely more than one story high, are walled, paved,
and often roofed with the inflexible material which once was ruinous
fire, and is now the servant of the men it threatened to destroy.
The churches are such as might be raised in Hades to implacable
Proserpine, such as one might dream of in a vision of the world
turned into hell, such as Baudelaire in his fiction of a metallic
landscape might have imagined under the influence of hasheesh. Their
flights of steps are built of sharply cut black lava blocks no feet
can wear. Their door-jambs and columns and pediments and carved work
are wrought and sculptured of the same gloomy masonry. How
forbidding are the acanthus scrolls, how grim the skulls and
cross-bones on these portals! The bell-towers, again, are ribbed and
beamed with black lava. A certain amount of the structure is
whitewashed, which serves to relieve the funereal solemnity of the
rest. In an Indian district each of these churches would be a
temple, raised in vain propitiation to the demon of the fire above
and below. Some pictures made by their spires in combination with
the sad village-hovels, the snowy dome of Etna, and the ever-smiling
sea, are quite unique in their variety of suggestion and wild

The people have a sorrow-smitten and stern aspect. Some of the men
in the prime of life are grand and haughty, with the cast-bronze
countenance of Roman emperors. But the old men bear rigid faces of
carved basalt, gazing fixedly before them as though at some time or
other in their past lives they had met Medusa: and truly Etna in
eruption is a Gorgon, which their ancestors have oftentimes seen
shuddering, and fled from terror-frozen. The white-haired old women,
plying their spindle or distaff, or meditating in grim solitude, sit
with the sinister set features of Fates by their doorways. The young
people are very rarely seen to smile: they open hard, black, beaded
eyes upon a world in which there is little for them but endurance or
the fierceness of passions that delight in blood. Strangely
different are these dwellers on the sides of Etna from the voluble,
lithe sailors of Sciacca or Mazara, with their sunburnt skins and
many-coloured garments.

The Val del Bove--a vast chasm in the flank of Etna, where the very
heart of the volcano has been riven and its entrails bared--is the
most impressive spot of all this region. The road to it leads from
Zafferana (so called because of its crocus-flowers) along what looks
like a series of black moraines, where the lava torrents pouring
from the craters of Etna have spread out, and reared themselves in
stiffened ridges against opposing mountain buttresses. After toiling
for about three hours over the dismal waste, a point between the
native rock of Etna and the dead sea of lava is reached, which
commands a prospect of the cone with its curling smoke surmounting a
caldron of some four thousand feet in depth and seemingly very wide.
The whole of this space is filled with billows of blackness, wave on
wave, crest over crest, and dyke by dyke, precisely similar to a
gigantic glacier, swarthy and immovable. The resemblance of the lava
flood to a glacier is extraordinarily striking. One can fancy
oneself standing on the Belvedere at Macugnaga, or the Tacul point
upon the Mer de Glace, in some nightmare, and finding to one's
horror that the radiant snows and river-breeding ice-fields have
been turned by a malignant deity to sullen, stationary cinders. It
is a most hideous place, like a pit in Dante's Hell, disused for
some unexplained reason, and left untenanted by fiends. The scenery
of the moon, without atmosphere and without life, must be of this
sort; and such, rolling round in space, may be some planet that has
survived its own combustion. When the clouds, which almost always
hang about the Val del Bove, are tumbling at their awful play around
its precipices, veiling the sweet suggestion of distant sea and
happier hills that should be visible, the horror of this view is
aggravated. Breaking here and there, the billows of mist disclose
forlorn tracts of jet-black desolation, wicked, unutterable, hateful
in their hideousness, with patches of smutty snow above, and
downward-rolling volumes of murky smoke. Shakspere, when he imagined
the damned spirits confined to 'thrilling regions of thick-ribbed
ice,' divined the nature of a glacier; but what line could he have
composed, adequate to shadow forth the tortures of a soul condemned
to palpitate for ever between the ridges of this thirsty and
intolerable sea of dead fire? If the world-spirit chose to assume
for itself the form and being of a dragon, of like substance to
this, impenetrable, invulnerable, unapproachable would be its hide.
It requires no great stretch of the imagination to picture these
lava lakes glowing, as they must have been, when first outpoured,
the bellowing of the crater, the heaving and surging of the solid
earth, the air obstructed with cinders and whizzing globes of molten
rock. Yet in these throes of devilish activity, the Val del Bove
would be less insufferable than in its present state of suspension,
asleep, but threatening, ready to regurgitate its flame, but for a
moment inert.

An hour's drive from Nicolosi or Zafferana, seaward, brings one into
the richest land of 'olive and aloe and maize and vine' to be found
upon the face of Europe. Here, too, are laughing little towns,
white, prosperous, and gleeful, the very opposite of those sad
stations on the mountain-flank. Every house in Aci Reale has its
courtyard garden filled with orange-trees, and nespole, and
fig-trees, and oleanders. From the grinning corbels that support the
balconies hang tufts of gem-bright ferns and glowing clove-pinks.
Pergolas of vines, bronzed in autumn, and golden green like
chrysoprase beneath an April sun, fling their tendrils over white
walls and shady loggie. Gourds hang ripening in the steady blaze.
Far and wide stretches a landscape rich with tilth and husbandry,
boon Nature paying back to men tenfold for all their easy toil. The
terrible great mountain sleeps in the distance innocent of fire. I
know not whether this land be more delightful in spring or autumn.
The little flamelike flakes of brightness upon vines and fig-trees
in April have their own peculiar charm. But in November the whole
vast flank of Etna glows with the deep-blue tone of steel; the
russet woods are like a film of rust; the vine-boughs thrust living
carbuncles against the sun. To this season, when the peculiar
earth-tints of Etna, its strong purples and tawny browns, are
harmonised with the decaying wealth of forest and of orchard, I
think the palm of beauty must be given in this land.

The sea is an unchangeable element of charm in all this landscape.
Aci Castello should be visited, and those strange rocks, called the
Ciclopidi, forced by volcanic pressure from beneath the waves. They
are made of black basalt like the Giant's Causeway; and on their top
can be traced the caps of calcareous stone they carried with them in
the fret and fury of their upheaval from the sea-bed. Samphire, wild
fennel, cactus, and acanthus clothe them now from crest to basement
where the cliff is not too sheer. By the way, there are few plants
more picturesque than the acanthus in full flower. Its pale lilac
spikes of blossom stand waist-high above a wilderness of feathering,
curving, delicately indented, burnished leaves--deep, glossy, cool,
and green.

This is the place for a child's story of the one-eyed giant
Polyphemus, who fed his flocks among the oak-woods of Etna, and who,
strolling by the sea one summer evening, saw and loved the fair girl
Galatea. She was afraid of him, and could not bear his shaggy-browed
round rolling eye. But he forgot his sheep and goats, and sat upon
the cliffs and piped to her. Meanwhile she loved the beautiful boy
Acis, who ran down from the copse to play with her upon the
sea-beach. They hid together from Polyphemus in a fern-curtained
cavern of the shore. But Polyphemus spied them out and heard them
laughing together at their games. Then he grew wroth, and stamped
with his huge feet upon the earth, and made it shake and quiver. He
roared and bellowed in his rage, and tore up rocks and flung them at
the cavern where the children were in hiding, and his eye shot fire
beneath the grisly pent-house of his wrinkled brows. They, in their
sore distress, prayed to heaven; and their prayers were heard:
Galatea became a mermaid, so that she might swim and sport like foam
upon the crests of the blue sea; and Acis was changed into a stream
that leapt from the hills to play with her amid bright waters. But
Polyphemus, in punishment for his rage, and spite, and jealousy, was
forced to live in the mid-furnaces of Etna. There he growled and
groaned and shot forth flame in impotent fury; for though he
remembered the gladness of those playfellows, and sought to harm
them by tossing red-hot rocks upon the shore, yet the light sea ever
laughed, and the radiant river found its way down from the copsewood
to the waves. The throes of Etna in convulsion are the pangs of his
great giant's heart, pent up and sick with love for the bright sea
and gladsome sun; for, as an old poet sings:--

  There's love when holy heaven doth wound the earth;
  And love still prompts the land to yearn for bridals:
  The rain that falls in rivers from the sky,
  Impregnates earth: and she brings forth for men
  The flocks and herds and life of teeming Ceres.

To which let us add:--

  But sometimes love is barren, when broad hills,
  Rent with the pangs of passion, yearn in vain,
  Pouring fire tears adown their furrowed cheeks,
  And heaving in the impotence of anguish.

There are few places in Europe where the poetic truth of Greek
mythology is more apparent than here upon the coast between Etna and
the sea. Of late, philosophers have been eager to tell us that the
beautiful legends of the Greeks, which contain in the coloured haze
of fancy all the thoughts afterwards expressed by that divine race
in poetry and sculpture, are but decayed phrases, dead sentences,
and words whereof the meaning was forgotten. In this theory there is
a certain truth; for mythology stands midway between the first
lispings of a nation in its language, and its full-developed
utterances in art. Yet we have only to visit the scenes which gave
birth to some Hellenic myth, and we perceive at once that, whatever
philology may affirm, the legend was a living poem, a drama of life
and passion transferred from human experience to the inanimate world
by those early myth-makers, who were the first and the most fertile
of all artists. Persephone was the patroness of Sicily, because amid
the billowy cornfields of her mother Demeter and the meadow flowers
she loved in girlhood, are ever found sulphurous ravines and chasms
breathing vapour from the pit of Hades. What were the Cyclops--that
race of one-eyed giants--but the many minor cones of Etna? Observed
from the sea by mariners, or vaguely spoken of by the natives, who
had reason to dread their rage, these hillocks became lawless and
devouring giants, each with one round burning eye. Afterwards the
tales of Titans who had warred with Zeus were realised in this spot.
Typhoeus or Enceladus made the mountain heave and snort; while
Hephæstus not unnaturally forged thunder-bolts in the central
caverns of a volcano that never ceased to smoke. To the student of
art and literature, mythology is chiefly interesting in its latest
stages, when, the linguistic origin of special legends being utterly
forgotten, the poets of the race played freely with its rich
material. Who cares to be told that Achilles was the sun, when the
child of Thetis and the lover of Patroclus has been sung for us by
Homer? Are the human agonies of the doomed house of Thebes made less
appalling by tracing back the tale of OEdipus to some prosaic
source in old astronomy? The incest of Jocasta is the subject of
supreme tragic art. It does not improve the matter, or whitewash the
imagination of the Greeks, as some have fondly fancied, to unravel
the fabric wrought by Homer and by Sophocles, into its raw material
in Aryan dialects. Indeed, this new method of criticism bids fair to
destroy for young minds the human lessons of pathos and heroism in
Greek poetry, and to create an obscure conviction that the greatest
race of artists the world has ever produced were but dotards,
helplessly dreaming over distorted forms of speech and obsolete

Let us bid farewell to Etna from Taormina. All along the coast
between Aci and Giardini the mountain towers distinct against a
sunset sky--divested of its robe of cloud, translucent and blue as
some dark sea-built crystal. The Val del Bove is shown to be a
circular crater in which the lava has boiled and bubbled over to the
fertile land beneath. As we reach Giardini, the young moon is
shining, and the night is alive with stars so large and bright that
they seem leaning down to whisper in the ears of our soul. The sea
is calm, touched here and there on the fringes of the bays and
headlands with silvery light; and impendent crags loom black and
sombre against the feeble azure of the moonlit sky. _Quale per
incertam lunam et sub luce malignâ_: such is our journey, with Etna,
a grey ghost, behind our path, and the reflections of stars upon the
sea, and glow-worms in the hedges, and the mystical still splendour
of the night, that, like Death, liberates the soul, raising it above
all common things, simplifying the outlines of the earth as well as
our own thoughts to one twilight hush of aërial tranquillity. It is
a strange compliment to such a landscape to say that it recalls a
scene from an opera. Yet so it is. What the arts of the
scene-painter and the musician strive to suggest is here realised in
fact; the mood of the soul created by music and by passion is
natural here, spontaneous, prepared by the divine artists of earth,
air, and sea.

Was there ever such another theatre as this of Taormina? Turned to
the south, hollowed from the crest of a promontory 1000 feet above
the sea, it faces Etna with its crown of snow: below, the coast
sweeps onward to Catania and the distant headland of Syracuse. From
the back the shore of Sicily curves with delicately indented bays
towards Messina: then come the straits, and the blunt mass of the
Calabrian mountains terminating Italy at Spartivento. Every spot on
which the eye can rest is rife with reminiscences. It was there, we
say, looking northward to the straits, that Ulysses tossed between
Scylla and Charybdis; there, turning towards the flank of Etna, that
he met with Polyphemus and defied the giant from his galley. From
yonder snow-capped eyrie, [Greek: Aitnas skopia], the rocks were
hurled on Acis. And all along that shore, after Persephone was lost,
went Demeter, torch in hand, wailing for the daughter she could no
more find among Sicilian villages. Then, leaving myths for history,
we remember how the ships of Nikias set sail from Reggio, and
coasted the forelands at our feet, past Naxos, on their way to
Catania and Syracuse. Gylippus afterwards in his swift galley took
the same course: and Dion, when he came to destroy his nephew's
empire. Here too Timoleon landed, resolute in his firm will to purge
the isle of tyrants.

What scenes, more spirit-shaking than any tragic shows--pageants of
fire and smoke, and mountains in commotion--are witnessed from these
grassy benches, when the earth rocks, and the sea is troubled, and
the side of Etna flows with flame, and night grows horrible with
bellowings that forebode changes in empires!--

          Quoties Cyclopum effervere in agros
  Vidimus undantem ruptis fornacibus Ætnam,
  Flammarumque globos liquefactaque volvere saxa.

The stage of these tremendous pomps is very calm and peaceful now.
Lying among acanthus leaves and asphodels, bound together by wreaths
of white and pink convolvulus, we only feel that this is the
loveliest landscape on which our eyes have ever rested or can rest.
The whole scene is a symphony of blues--gemlike lapis-lazuli in the
sea, aërial azure in the distant headlands, light-irradiated
sapphire in the sky, and impalpable vapour-mantled purple upon Etna.
The grey tones of the neighbouring cliffs, and the glowing brickwork
of the ruined theatre, through the arches of which shine sea and
hillside, enhance by contrast these modulations of the one
prevailing hue. Etna is the dominant feature of the
landscape--[Greek: Aitna mater ema--polydendreos Aitna]--than which
no other mountain is more sublimely solitary, more worthy of
Pindar's praise, 'The pillar of heaven, the nurse of sharp eternal
snow.' It is Etna that gives its unique character of elevated beauty
to this coast scenery, raising it to a grander and more tragic level
than the landscape of the Cornice and the Bay of Naples.



Sicily, in the centre of the Mediterranean, has been throughout all
history the meeting-place and battle-ground of the races that
contributed to civilise the West. It was here that the Greeks
measured their strength against Phoenicia, and that Carthage
fought her first duel with Rome. Here the bravery of Hellenes
triumphed over barbarian force in the victories of Gelon and
Timoleon. Here, in the harbour of Syracuse, the Athenian Empire
succumbed to its own intemperate ambition. Here, in the end, Rome
laid her mortmain upon Greek, Phoenician, and Sikeliot alike,
turning the island into a granary and reducing its inhabitants to
serfdom. When the classic age had closed, when Belisarius had vainly
reconquered from the Goths for the empire of the East the fair
island of Persephone and Zeus Olympius, then came the Mussulman,
filling up with an interval of Oriental luxury and Arabian culture
the period of utter deadness between the ancient and the modern
world. To Islam succeeded the conquerors of the house of Hauteville,
Norman knights who had but lately left their Scandinavian shores,
and settled in the northern provinces of France. The Normans
flourished for a season, and were merged in a line of Suabian
princes, old Barbarossa's progeny. German rulers thus came to sway
the corn-lands of Trinacria, until the bitter hatred of the Popes
extinguished the house of Hohenstauffen upon the battlefield of
Grandella and the scaffold of Naples. Frenchmen had the next
turn--for a brief space only; since Palermo cried to the sound of
her tocsins, 'Mora, Mora,' and the tyranny of Anjou was expunged
with blood. Spain, the tardy and patient power, which inherited so
much from the failure of more brilliant races, came at last, and
tightened so firm a hold upon the island, that from the end of the
thirteenth to the beginning of the nineteenth century, with one
brief exception, Sicily belonged to the princes of Aragon, Castile,
and Bourbon. These vicissitudes have left their traces everywhere.
The Greek temples of Segeste and Girgenti and Selinus, the Roman
amphitheatre of Syracuse, the Byzantine mosaics and Saracenic villas
of Palermo, the Norman cathedrals of Monreale and Cefalú, and the
Spanish habits which still characterise the life of Sicilian cities,
testify to the successive strata of races which have been deposited
upon the island. Amid its anarchy of tongues, the Latin alone has
triumphed. In the time of the Greek colonists Sicily was polyglot.
During the Saracenic occupation it was trilingual. It is now, and
during modern history it has always been, Italian. Differences of
language and of nationality have gradually been fused into one
substance, by the spirit which emanates from Rome, and vivifies the
Latin race.

The geographical position of Sicily has always influenced its
history in a very marked way. The eastern coast, which is turned
towards Greece and Italy, has been the centre of Aryan civilisation
in the island, so that during Greek and Roman ascendency Syracuse
was held the capital. The western end, which projects into the
African sea, was occupied in the time of the Hellenes by
Phoenicians, and afterwards by Mussulmans: consequently Panormus,
the ancient seat of Punic colonists, now called Palermo, became the
centre of the Moslem rule, which, inherited entire by the Norman
chieftains, was transmitted eventually to Spain. Palermo, devoid of
classic monuments, and unknown except as a name to the historians of
Greek civilisation, is therefore the modern capital of the island.
'Prima sedes, corona regis, et regni caput,' is the motto inscribed
upon the cathedral porch and the archiepiscopal throne of Palermo:
nor has any other city, except Messina,[1] presumed to contest this

    [1] Messina, owing to its mercantile position between the
    Levant, Italy, and France, and as the key to Sicily from
    the mainland, might probably have become the modern
    capital had not the Normans found a state machinery ready
    to their use centralised at Palermo.

Perhaps there are few spots upon the surface of the globe more
beautiful than Palermo. The hills on either hand descend upon the
sea with long-drawn delicately broken outlines, so exquisitely
tinted with aërial hues, that at early dawn or beneath the blue
light of a full moon the panorama seems to be some fabric of the
fancy, that must fade away, 'like shapes of clouds we form,' to
nothing. Within the cradle of these hills, and close upon the
tideless water, lies the city. Behind and around on every side
stretches the famous _Conca d'Oro_, or golden shell, a plain of
marvellous fertility, so called because of its richness and also
because of its shape; for it tapers to a fine point where the
mountains meet, and spreads abroad, where they diverge, like a
cornucopia, toward the sea. The whole of this long vega is a garden,
thick with olive-groves and orange-trees, with orchards of nespole
and palms and almonds, with fig-trees and locust-trees, with
judas-trees that blush in spring, and with flowers as
multitudinously brilliant as the fretwork of sunset clouds. It was
here that in the days of the Kelbite dynasty, the sugar-cane and
cotton-tree and mulberry supplied both East and West with produce
for the banquet and the paper-mill and the silk-loom; and though
these industries are now neglected, vast gardens of cactuses still
give a strangely Oriental character to the scenery of Palermo, while
the land flows with honey-sweet wine instead of sugar. The language
in which Arabian poets extolled the charms of this fair land is even
now nowise extravagant: 'Oh how beautiful is the lakelet of the twin
palms, and the island where the spacious palace stands! The limpid
water of the double springs resembles liquid pearls, and their basin
is a sea: you would say that the branches of the trees stretched
down to see the fishes in the pool and smile at them. The great
fishes swim in those clear waters, and the birds among the gardens
tune their songs. The ripe oranges of the island are like fire that
burns on boughs of emerald; the pale lemon reminds me of a lover who
has passed the night in weeping for his absent darling. The two
palms may be compared to lovers who have gained an inaccessible
retreat against their enemies, or raise themselves erect in pride to
confound the murmurs and ill thoughts of jealous men. O palms of the
two lakelets of Palermo, may ceaseless, undisturbed, and plenteous
dews for ever keep your freshness!' Such is the poetry which suits
the environs of Palermo, where the Moorish villas of La Zisa and La
Cuba and La Favara still stand, and where the modern gardens, though
wilder, are scarcely less delightful than those beneath which King
Roger discoursed with Edrisi, and Gian da Procida surprised his
sleeping mistress.[1] The groves of oranges and lemons are an
inexhaustible source of joy: not only because of their 'golden lamps
in a green night,' but also because of their silvery constellations,
nebulæ, and drifts of stars, in the same green night, and milky ways
of blossoms on the ground beneath. As in all southern scenery, the
transition from these perfumed thickly clustering gardens to the
bare unirrigated hillsides is very striking. There the dwarf-palm
tufts with its spiky foliage the clefts of limestone rock, and the
lizards run in and out among bushes of tree-spurge and wild cactus
and grey asphodels. The sea-shore is a tangle of lilac and oleander
and laurustinus and myrtle and lentisk and cytisus and geranium. The
flowering plants that make our shrubberies gay in spring with
blossoms, are here wild, running riot upon the sand-heaps of
Mondello or beneath the barren slopes of Monte Pellegrino.

It was into this terrestrial paradise, cultivated through two
preceding centuries by the Arabs, who of all races were wisest in
the arts of irrigation and landscape-gardening, that the Norsemen
entered as conquerors, and lay down to pass their lives.[2]

    [1] Boccaccio, Giorn. v. Nov. 6.

    [2] The Saracens possessed themselves of Sicily by a
    gradual conquest, which began about 827 A.D. Disembarking
    on the little isle of Pantellaria and the headland of
    Lilyboeum, where of old the Carthaginians used to enter
    Sicily, they began by overrunning the island for the first
    four years. In 831 they took Palermo; during the next ten
    years they subjugated the Val di Mazara; between 841 and
    859 they possessed themselves of the Val di Noto; after
    this they extended their conquest over the seaport towns
    of the Val Demone, but neglected to reduce the whole of
    the N.E. district. Syracuse was stormed and reduced to
    ruins after a desperate defence in 878, while Leo, the
    heir of the Greek Empire, contented himself with composing
    two Anacreontic elegies on the disaster at Byzantium. In
    895 Sicily was wholly lost to the Greeks, by a treaty
    signed between the Saracens and the remaining Christian
    towns. The Christians during the Mussulman occupation were
    divided into four classes--(1) A few independent
    municipalities obedient loosely to the Greek Empire; (2)
    tributaries who paid the Arabs what they would otherwise
    have sent to Byzantium; (3) vassals, whose towns had
    fallen by arms or treaty into the hands of the conquerors,
    and who, though their property was respected and religion
    tolerated, were called 'dsimmi' or 'humbled;' (4) serfs,
    prisoners of war, sold as slaves or attached to the soil
    (_Amari_, vol. i.).

No chapter of history more resembles a romance than that which
records the sudden rise and brief splendour of the house of
Hauteville. In one generation the sons of Tancred passed from the
condition of squires in the Norman vale of Cotentin, to kinghood in
the richest island of the southern sea. The Norse adventurers became
Sultans of an Oriental capital. The sea-robbers assumed together
with the sceptre the culture of an Arabian court. The marauders
whose armies burned Rome, received at papal hands the mitre and
dalmatic as symbols of ecclesiastical jurisdiction.[1] The brigands
who on their first appearance in Italy had pillaged stables and
farmyards to supply their needs, lived to mate their daughters with
princes and to sway the politics of Europe with gold. The
freebooters, whose skill consisted in the use of sword and shield,
whose brains were vigorous in strategy or statecraft, and whose
pleasures were confined to the hunting-field and the wine-cup,
raised villas like the Zisa and encrusted the cathedral of Monreale
with mosaics. Finally, while the race was yet vigorous, after giving
two heroes to the first Crusade, it transmitted its titles, its
temper, and its blood to the great Emperor, who was destined to
fight out upon the battlefield of Italy the strife of Empire against
Papacy, and to bequeath to mediæval Europe the tradition of
cosmopolitan culture. The physical energy of this brood of heroes
was such as can scarcely be paralleled in history. Tancred de
Hauteville begat two families by different wives. Of his children
twelve were sons; two of whom stayed with their father in Normandy,
while ten sought fame and found a kingdom in the south. Of these,
William Iron Arm, the first Count of Apulia; Robert Guiscard, who
united Calabria and Apulia under one dukedom, and carried victorious
arms against both Emperors of East and West; and Roger the Great
Count, who added Sicily to the conquests of the Normans and
bequeathed the kingdom of South Italy to his son, rose to the
highest name. But all the brothers shared the great qualities of the
house; and two of them, Humphrey and Drogo, also wore a coronet.
Large of limb and stout of heart, persevering under difficulties,
crafty yet gifted with the semblance of sincerity, combining the
piety of pilgrims with the morals of highwaymen, the sturdiness of
barbarians with the plasticity of culture, eloquent in the
council-chamber and the field, dear to their soldiers for their
bravery and to women for their beauty, equally eminent as generals
and as rulers, restrained by no scruples but such as policy
suggested, restless in their energy, yet neither fickle nor rash,
comprehensive in their views, but indefatigable in detail, these
lions among men were made to conquer in the face of overwhelming
obstacles, and to hold their conquests with a grasp of iron. What
they wrought, whether wisely or not for the ultimate advantage of
Italy, endures to this day, while the work of so many emperors,
republics, and princes has passed and shifted like the scenes in a
pantomime. Through them the Greeks, the Lombards, and the Moors were
extinguished in the south. The Papacy was checked in its attempt to
found a province of S. Peter below the Tiber. The republics of
Naples, Gaeta, Amalfi, which might have rivalled perchance with
Milan, Genoa, and Florence, were subdued to a master's hand. In
short, to the Normans Italy owed that kingdom of the Two Sicilies
which formed one-third of her political balance, and which proved
the cause of all her most serious revolutions.

    [1] King Roger in the mosaics of the Martorana Church at
    Palermo wears the dalmatic, and receives his crown from
    the hands of Christ.

Roger, the youngest of the Hauteville family, and the founder of the
kingdom of Sicily, showed by his untamable spirit and sound
intellect that his father's vigour remained unexhausted. Each of
Tancred's sons was physically speaking a masterpiece, and the last
was the prime work of all. This Roger, styled the Great Count, begat
a second Roger, the first King of Sicily, whose son and grandson,
both named William, ruled in succession at Palermo. With them the
direct line of the house of Hauteville expired. It would seem as if
the energy and fertility of the stock had been drained by its
efforts in the first three generations. Constance, the heiress of
the family, who married Henry VI. and gave birth to the Emperor
Frederick II., was daughter of King Roger, and therefore third in
descent from Tancred. Drawing her blood more immediately from the
parent stem, she thus transmitted to the princes of the race of
Hohenstauffen the vigour of her Norman ancestry unweakened. This was
a circumstance of no small moment in the history of Europe. Upon the
fierce and daring Suabian stem were grafted the pertinacity, the
cunning, the versatility of the Norman adventurers. Young Frederick,
while strong and subtle enough to stand for himself against the
world, was so finely tempered by the blended strains of his
parentage that he received the polish of an Oriental education
without effeminacy. Called upon to administer the affairs of
Germany, to govern Italy, to contend with the Papacy, and to settle
by arms and treaties the great Oriental question of his days,
Frederick, cosmopolitan from the cradle, was equal to the task. Had
Europe been but ready, the Renaissance would have dated from his
reign, and a universal empire, if not of political government, yet
of intellectual culture, might have been firmly instituted.

Of the personal appearance of the Norman chiefs--their fair hair,
clear eyes, and broad shoulders--we hear much from the chroniclers.
One minutely studied portrait will serve to bring the whole race
vividly before us. Bohemond, Prince of Tarentum, the son of Robert
Guiscard, and first cousin to Tancred of Montferrat, was thus
described by Anna Comnena, who saw him at her father's court during
the first Crusade: 'Neither amongst our own nation (the Greeks), nor
amongst foreigners, is there in our age a man equal to Bohemond. His
presence dazzled the eyes, as his reputation the fancy. He was one
cubit taller than the tallest man known. In his waist he was thin,
but broad in his shoulders and chest, without being either too thin
or too fat. His arms were strong, his hands full and large, his feet
firm and solid. He stooped a little, but through habit only, and not
on account of any deformity. He was fair, but on his cheeks there
was an agreeable mixture of vermilion. His hair was not loose over
his shoulders, according to the fashion of the barbarians, but was
cut above his ears. His eyes were blue, and full of wrath and
fierceness. His nostrils were large, inasmuch as having a wide chest
and a great heart, his lungs required an unusual quantity of air to
moderate the warmth of his blood. His handsome face had in itself
something gentle and softening, but the height of his person and the
fierceness of his looks had something wild and terrible. He was more
dreadful in his smiles than others in their rage.' When we read this
description, remembering the romance of Bohemond's ancestry and his
own life, we do not wonder at the tales of chivalry. Those 'knights
of Logres and of Lyoness, Lancelot or Pelleas or Pellenore,' with
whose adventures our tawny-haired magnificent Plantagenets amused
their leisure, become realities. The manly beauty, described by the
Byzantine princess in words which seem to betray a more than common
interest in her handsome foe, was hereditary in the house of
Hauteville. They transmitted it to the last of the Suabian dynasty,
to Manfred and Conradin, and to the king Enzio, whose long golden
hair fell down from his shoulders to his saddle-bow as he rode, a
captive, into Bologna.

The story of the Norman conquest is told by two chroniclers--William
of Apulia, who received his materials from Robert Guiscard, and
Godfrey Malaterra, who wrote down the oral narrative of Roger. Thus
we possess what is tantamount to personal memoirs of the Norman
chiefs. Nevertheless, a veil of legendary romance obscures the first
appearance of the Scandinavian warriors upon the scene of history.
William of Apulia tells how, in the course of a pilgrimage to S.
Michael's shrine on Monte Gargano, certain knights of Normandy were
accosted by a stranger of imposing aspect, who persuaded them to
draw their swords in the quarrel of the Lombard towns of South Italy
against the Greeks. This man was Melo of Bari. Whether his
invitation were so theatrically conveyed or not, it is probable that
the Norsemen made their first acquaintance with Apulia on a
pilgrimage to the Italian Michael's mount; and it is certain that
Melo, whom we dimly descry as a patriot of enlarged views and
indomitable constancy, provided them with arms and horses, raised
troops in Salerno and Benevento to assist them, and directed them
against the Greeks. This happened in 1017. Twelve years later we
find the town of Aversa built and occupied by Normans under the
control of their Count Rainulf; while another band, headed by
Ardoin, a Lombard of Milan, lived at large upon the country, selling
its services to the Byzantine Greeks. In the anarchy of Southern
Italy at this epoch, when the decaying Empire of the East was
relaxing its hold upon the Apulian provinces, when the Papacy was
beginning to lift up its head after the ignominy of Theodora and
Marozia, and the Lombard power was slowly dissolving upon its
ill-established foundations, the Norman adventurers pursued a policy
which, however changeful, was invariably self-advantageous. On
whatever side they fought, they took care that the profits of war
should accrue to their own colony. Quarrel as they might among
themselves, they were always found at one against a common foe. And
such was their reputation in the field, that the hardiest soldiers
errant of all nations joined their standard. Thus it fell out that
when Ardoin and his Normans had helped Maniaces to wrest the eastern
districts of Sicily from the Moors, they returned, upon an insult
offered by the Greek general, to extend the right hand of fellowship
to Rainulf and his Normans of Aversa. 'Why should you stay here like
a rat in his hole, when with our help you might rule those fertile
plains, expelling the women in armour who keep guard over them?' The
agreement of Ardoin and Rainulf formed the basis of the future
Norman power. Their companies joined forces. Melfi was chosen as the
centre of their federal government. The united Norman colony elected
twelve chiefs or counts of equal authority; and henceforth they
thought only of consolidating their ascendency over the effete races
which had hitherto pretended to employ their arms. The genius of
their race and age, however, was unfavourable to federations. In a
short time the ablest man among them, the true king, by right of
personal vigour and mental cunning, showed himself. It was at this
point that the house of Hauteville rose to the altitude of its
romantic destiny. William Iron Arm was proclaimed Count of Apulia.
Two of his brothers succeeded him in the same dignity. His
half-brother, Robert Guiscard, imprisoned one Pope,[1] Leo IX., and
wrested from another, Nicholas II., the title of Duke of Apulia and
Calabria. By the help of his youngest brother, Roger, he gradually
completed the conquest of Italy below the Tiber, and then addressed
himself to the task of subduing Sicily. The Papacy, incapable of
opposing the military vigour of the Northmen, was distracted between
jealousy of their growing importance and desire to utilise them for
its own advantage.[2] The temptation to employ these filial pirates
as a catspaw for restoring Sicily to the bosom of the Church, was
too strong to be resisted. In spite of many ebbs and flows of
policy, the favour which the Popes accorded to the Normans gilded
the might and cunning of the adventurers with the specious splendour
of acknowledged sanctity. The time might come for casting off these
powerful allies and adding their conquests to the patrimony of S.
Peter. Meanwhile it costs nothing to give away what does not belong
to one, particularly when by doing so a title to the same is
gradually formed. So the Popes reckoned. Robert and Roger went forth
with banners blessed by Rome to subjugate the island of the Greek
and Moor.

    [1] The Normans were lucky in getting hold of Popes. King
    Roger caught Innocent II. at San Germano in 1139, and got
    from him the confirmation of all his titles.

    [2] Even the great Hildebrand wavered in his policy toward
    Robert Guiscard. Having raised an army by the help of the
    Countess Matilda in 1074, he excommunicated Robert and
    made war against him. Robert proved more than his match in
    force and craft; and Hildebrand had to confirm his title
    as duke, and designate him Knight of S. Peter in 1080.
    When Robert drove the Emperor Henry IV. from Rome, and
    burned the city of the Coelian, Hildebrand retired with
    his terrible defender to Salerno, and died there in 1085.
    Robert and both Rogers were good sons of the Church,
    deserving the titles of 'Terror of the faithless,' 'Sword
    of the Lord drawn from the scabbard of Sicily,' as long as
    they were suffered to pursue their own schemes of empire.
    They respected the Pope's person and his demesne of
    Benevento; they were largely liberal in donations to
    churches and abbeys. But they did not suffer their piety
    to interfere with their ambition.

The honours of this conquest, paralleled for boldness only by the
achievements of Cortes and Pizarro, belong to Roger. It is true that
since the fall of the Kelbite dynasty Sicily had been shaken by
anarchy and despotism, by the petty quarrels of princes and party
leaders, and to some extent also by the invasion of Maniaces. Yet on
the approach of Roger with a handful of Norman knights, 'the island
was guarded,' to quote Gibbon's energetic phrase, 'to the water's
edge.' For some years he had to content himself with raids and
harrying excursions, making Messina, which he won from the Moors by
the aid of their Christian serfs and vassals, the basis of his
operations, and retiring from time to time across the Faro with
booty to Reggio. The Mussulmans had never thoroughly subdued the
north-eastern highlands of Sicily. Satisfied with occupying the
whole western and southern sections of the island, with planting
their government firmly at Palermo, destroying Syracuse, and
establishing a military fort on the heights of Castro Giovanni, they
had somewhat neglected the Christian populations of the Val Demone.
Thus the key to Sicily upon the Italian side fell into the hands of
the invaders. From Messina Roger advanced by Rametta and Centorbi to
Troina, a hill-town raised high above the level of the sea, within
view of the solemn blue-black pyramid of Etna. There he planted a
garrison in 1062, two years after his first incursion into the
island. The interval had been employed in marches and
countermarches, descents upon the vale of Catania, and hurried
expeditions as far as Girgenti, on the southern coast. One great
battle is recorded beneath the walls of Castro Giovanni, when six
hundred Norman knights, so say the chroniclers, engaged with fifteen
thousand of the Arabian chivalry and one hundred thousand foot
soldiers. However great the exaggeration of these numbers, it is
certain that the Christians fought at fearful odds that day, and
that all the eloquence of Roger, who wrought on their fanaticism in
his speech before the battle, was needed to raise their courage to
the sticking-point. The scene of the great rout of Saracens which
followed, is in every respect memorable. Castro Giovanni, the old
Enna of the Greeks and Romans, stands on the top of a precipitous
mountain, two thousand feet above a plain which waves with corn. A
sister height, Calascibetta, raised nearly to an equal altitude,
keeps ward over the same valley; and from their summits the whole of
Sicily is visible. Here in old days Demeter from her rock-built
temple could survey vast tracts of hill and dale, breaking downwards
to the sea and undulating everywhere with harvest. The much praised
lake and vale of Enna[1] are now a desolate sulphur district, void
of beauty, with no flowers to tempt Proserpine. Yet the landscape is
eminently noble because of its breadth--bare naked hills stretching
in every direction to the sea that girdles Sicily--peak rising above
peak and town-capped eyrie over eyrie--while Etna, wreathed with
snow, and purple with the peculiar colour of its coal-black lava
seen through light-irradiated air, sleeps far off beneath a crown of
clouds. Upon the cornfields in the centre of this landscape the
multitudes of the Infidels were smitten hip and thigh by the handful
of Christian warriors. Yet the victory was by no means a decisive
one. The Saracens swarmed round the Norman fortress of Troina;
where, during a severe winter, Roger and his young wife, Judith of
Evreux, whom he had loved in Normandy, and who journeyed to marry
him amid the din of battles, had but one cloak to protect them both
from the cold. The traveller, who even in April has experienced the
chill of a high-set Sicilian village, will not be inclined to laugh
at the hardships revealed by this little incident. Yet the Normans,
one and all, were stanch. A victory over their assailants in the
spring gave them courage to push their arms as far as the river
Himera and beyond the Simeto, while a defeat of fifty thousand
Saracens by four hundred Normans at Cerami opened the way at last to
Palermo. Reading of these engagements, we are led to remember how
Gelon smote his Punic foes upon the Himera, and Timoleon arrayed
Greeks by the ten against Carthaginians by the thousand on the
Crimisus. The battlefields are scarcely altered; the combatants are
as unequally matched, and represent analogous races. It is still the
combat of a few heroic Europeans against the hordes of Asia. In the
battle of Cerami it is said that S. George fought visibly on
horseback before the Christian band, like that wide-winged
chivalrous archangel whom Spinello Aretino painted beside Sant'
Efeso in the press of men upon the walls of the Pisan Campo Santo.

    [1] Cicero's description of Enna is still accurate: 'Enna
    is placed in a very lofty and exposed situation, at the
    top of which is a tableland and never-failing supply of
    springs. The whole site is cut off from access, and
    precipitous.' But when he proceeds to say, 'many groves
    and lakes surround it and luxuriant flowers through all
    the year,' we cannot follow him. The only quality which
    Enna has not lost is the impregnable nature of its cliffs.
    A few poplars and thorns are all that remain of its
    forests. Did we not know that the myth of Demeter and
    Persephone was a poem of seed-time and harvest, we might
    be tempted, while sitting on the crags of Castro Giovanni
    and looking toward the lake, to fancy that in old days a
    village dependent upon Enna, and therefore called her
    daughter, might have occupied the site of the lake, and
    that this village might have been withdrawn into the earth
    by the volcanic action which produced the cavity. Then
    people would have said that Demeter had lost Persephone
    and sought her vainly through all the cities of Sicily:
    and if this happened in spring Persephone might well have
    been thought to have been gathering flowers at the time
    when Hades took her to himself. So easy and yet so
    dangerous is it to rationalise a legend.

The capture of Palermo cost the Normans another eight years, part of
which was spent according to their national tactics in plundering
expeditions, part in the subjugation of Catania and other districts,
part in the blockade of the capital by sea and land. After the fall
of Palermo, it only remained for Roger to reduce isolated
cities--Taormina, Syracuse,[1] Girgenti, and Castro Giovanni--to his
sway. The last-named and strongest hold of the Saracens fell into
his hands by the treason of Ibn-Hamûud in 1087, and thus, after
thirty years' continual effort, the two brothers were at last able
to divide the island between them. The lion's share, as was due,
fell to Roger, who styled himself Great Count of Sicily and
Calabria. In 1098, Urban II., a politician of the school of Cluny,
who well understood the scope of Hildebrand's plan for subjecting
Europe to the Court of Rome, rewarded Roger for his zeal in the
service of the Church with the title of Hereditary Apostolical
Legate. The Great Count was now on a par with the most powerful
monarchs of Europe. In riches he exceeded all; so that he was able
to wed one daughter to the King of Hungary, another to Conrad, King
of Italy, a third to Raimond, Count of Provence and Toulouse,
dowering them all with imperial munificence.

    [1] In this siege, as in that of the Athenians, and of the
    Saracens 878 A.D., decisive engagements took place in the
    great harbour.

Hale and vigorous, his life was prolonged through a green old age
until his seventieth year; when he died in 1101, he left two sons by
his third wife, Adelaide. Roger, the younger of the two, destined to
succeed his father, and (on the death of his cousin, William, Duke
of Apulia, in 1127) to unite South Italy and Sicily under one crown,
was only four years old at the death of the Great Count. Inheriting
all the valour and intellectual qualities of his family, he rose to
even higher honour than his predecessors. In 1130 he assumed the
style of King of Sicily, no doubt with the political purpose of
impressing his Mussulman subjects; and nine years later, when he
took Innocent captive at San Germano, he forced from the
half-willing pontiff a confirmation of this title as well as the
investiture of Apulia, Calabria, and Capua. The extent of his sway
is recorded in the line engraved upon his sword:--

  Appulus et Calaber Siculus mihi servit et Afer.

King Roger died in 1154, and bequeathed his kingdoms to his son
William, surnamed the Bad; who in his turn left them to a William,
called the Good, in 1166. The second William died in 1189,
transmitting his possessions by will to Constance, wife of the
Suabian emperor. These two Williams, the last of the Hauteville
monarchs of Sicily, were not altogether unworthy of their Norman
origin. William the Bad could rouse himself from the sloth of his
seraglio to head an army; William the Good, though feeble in foreign
policy, and no general, administered the state with clemency and

Sicily under the Normans offered the spectacle of a singularly
hybrid civilisation. Christians and Northmen, adopting the habits
and imbibing the culture of their Mussulman subjects, ruled a mixed
population of Greeks, Arabs, Berbers, and Italians. The language of
the princes was French; that of the Christians in their territory,
Greek and Latin; that of their Mahommedan subjects, Arabic. At the
same time the Scandinavian Sultans of Palermo did not cease to play
an active part in the affairs, both civil and ecclesiastical, of
Europe. The children of the Vikings, though they spent their leisure
in harems, exercised, as hereditary Legates of the Holy See, a
peculiar jurisdiction in the Church of Sicily. They dispensed
benefices to the clergy, and assumed the mitre and dalmatic,
together with the sceptre, and the crown, as symbols of their
authority in Church as well as State. As a consequence of this
confusion of nationalities in Sicily, we find French and English
ecclesiastics[1] mingling at court with Moorish freedmen and
Oriental odalisques, Apulian captains fraternising with Greek
corsairs, Jewish physicians in attendance on the person of the
prince, and Arabian poets eloquent in his praises. The very money
with which Roger subsidised his Italian allies was stamped with
Cuphic letters,[2] and there is reason to believe that the reproach
against Frederick of being a false coiner arose from his adopting
the Eastern device of plating copper pieces to pass for silver. The
commander of Roger's navies and his chief minister of state was
styled, according to Oriental usage, Emir or Ammiraglio. George of
Antioch, who swept the shores of Africa, the Morea, and the Black
Sea, in his service, was a Christian of the Greek Church, who had
previously held an office of finance under Temin Prince of Mehdia.
The workers in his silk factories were slaves from Thebes and
Corinth. The pages of his palace were Sicilian or African eunuchs.
His charters ran in Arabic as well as Greek and Latin. His jewellers
engraved the rough gems of the Orient with Christian mottoes in
Semitic characters.[3] His architects were Mussulmans who adapted
their native style to the requirements of Christian ritual, and
inscribed the walls of cathedrals with Catholic legends in the
Cuphic language. The predominant characteristic of Palermo was
Orientalism. Religious toleration was extended to the Mussulmans, so
that the two creeds, Christian and Mahommedan, flourished side by
side. The Saracens had their own quarters in the towns, their
mosques and schools, and Cadis for the administration of petty
justice. French and Italian women in Palermo adopted the Oriental
fashions of dress. The administration of law and government was
conducted on Eastern principles. In nothing had the Mussulmans shown
greater genius than in their system of internal statecraft. Count
Roger found a machinery of taxation in full working order, officers
acquainted with the resources of the country, books and schedules
constructed on the principles of strictest accuracy, a whole
bureaucracy, in fact, ready to his use. By applying this machinery
he became the richest potentate in Europe, at a time when the
northern monarchs were dependent upon feudal aids and precarious
revenues from crown lands. In the same way, the Saracens bequeathed
to the Normans the court system, which they in turn had derived from
the princes of Persia and the example of Constantinople. Roger found
it convenient to continue that organisation of pages, chamberlains,
ushers, secretaries, viziers, and masters of the wardrobe, invested
each with some authority of state according to his rank, which
confined the administration of an Eastern kingdom to the walls of
the palace.[4] At Palermo Europe saw the first instance of a court
not wholly unlike that which Versailles afterwards became. The
intrigues which endangered the throne and liberty of William the
Bad, and which perplexed the policy of William the Good, were
court-conspiracies of a kind common enough at Constantinople. In
this court life men of letters and erudition played a first part
three centuries before Petrarch taught the princes of Italy to
respect the pen of a poet.

    [1] The English Gualterio Offamilio, or Walter of the
    Mill, Archbishop of Palermo during the reign of William
    the Good, by his intrigues brought about the match between
    Constance and Henry VI. Richard Palmer at the same time
    was Bishop of Syracuse. Stephen des Rotrous, a Frenchman
    of the Counts of Perche, preceded Walter of the Mill in
    the Arch See of Palermo.

    [2] Frederick Barbarossa's soldiers are said to have
    bidden the Romans: 'Take this German iron in change for
    Arab gold. This pay your master gives you, and this is how
    Franks win empire.'--_Amari_, vol. iii. p. 468.

    [3] The embroidered skullcap of Constance of Aragon, wife
    of Frederick II., in the sacristy of the cathedral at
    Palermo, is made of gold thread thickly studded with
    pearls and jewels--rough sapphires and carbuncles, among
    which may be noticed a red cornelian engraved in Arabic
    with this sentence, 'In Christ, God, I put my hope.'

    [4] The Arabic title of _Kâid_, which originally was given
    to a subordinate captain of the guard, took a wide
    significance at the Norman Court. Latinised to _gaytus_,
    and Grecised under the form of [Greek: kaitos], it
    frequently occurs in chronicles and diplomas to denote a
    high minister of state. Matteo of Ajello, who exercised so
    powerful an influence over the policy of William the Good,
    heading the Mussulman and national party against the great
    ecclesiastics who were intriguing to draw Sicily into the
    entanglements of European diplomacy, was a Kâid. Matteo
    favoured the cause of Tancred, Walter of the Mill espoused
    that of the Germans, during the war of succession which
    followed upon William's death. The barons of the realm had
    to range themselves under these two leaders--to such an
    extent were the affairs of state in Sicily within the
    grasp of courtiers and churchmen.

King Roger, of whom the court geographer Edrisi writes that 'he did
more sleeping than any other man waking,' was surrounded during his
leisure moments, beneath the palm-groves of Favara, with musicians,
historians, travellers, mathematicians, poets, and astrologers of
Oriental breeding. At his command Ptolemy's Optics were translated
into Latin from the Arabic. The prophecies of the Erythrean Sibyl
were rendered accessible in the same way. His respect for the occult
sciences was proved by his disinterring the bones of Virgil from
their resting-place at Posilippo, and placing them in the Castel
dell' Uovo in order that he might have access through necromancy to
the spirit of the Roman wizard. It may be remembered in passing,
that Palermo in one of her mosques already held suspended between
earth and air the supposed relics of Aristotle. Such were the saints
of modern culture in its earliest dawning. While Venice was robbing
Alexandria of the body of S. Mark, Palermo and Naples placed
themselves beneath the protection of a philosopher and a poet. But
Roger's greatest literary work was the compilation of a treatise of
universal geography. Fifteen years were devoted to the task; and the
manuscript, in Arabic, drawn up by the philosopher Edrisi, appeared
only six weeks before the king's death in 1154. This book, called
'The Book of Roger, or the Delight of whoso loves to make the
Circuit of the World,' was based upon the previous labours of twelve
geographers, classical and Mussulman. But aiming at greater accuracy
than could be obtained by a merely literary compilation, Roger
caused pilgrims, travellers, and merchants of all countries to be
assembled for conference and examination before him. Their accounts
were sifted and collated. Edrisi held the pen while Roger
questioned. Measurements and distances were carefully compared; and
a vast silver disc was constructed, on which all the seas, islands,
continents, plains, rivers, mountain ranges, cities, roads, and
harbours of the known world were delineated. The text supplied an
explanatory description of this map, with tables of the products,
habits, races, religions, and qualities, both physical and moral, of
all climates. The precious metal upon which the map was drawn proved
its ruin, and the Geography remained in the libraries of Arab
scholars. Yet this was one of the first great essays of practical
exploration and methodical statistic, to which the genius of the
Norseman and the Arab each contributed a quota. The Arabians, by
their primitive nomadic habits, by the necessities of their system
of taxation, by their predilection for astrology, by their
experience as pilgrims, merchants, and poets errant, were specially
qualified for the labour of geographical investigation. Roger
supplied the unbounded curiosity and restless energy of his
Scandinavian temper, the kingly comprehensive intellect of his race,
and the authority of a prince who was powerful enough to compel the
service of qualified collaborators.

The architectural works of the Normans in Palermo reveal the same
ascendency of Arab culture. San Giovanni degli Eremiti, with its low
white rounded domes, is nothing more or less than a little mosque
adapted to the rites of Christians.[1] The country palaces of the
Zisa and the Cuba, built by the two Williams, retain their ancient
Moorish character. Standing beneath the fretted arches of the hall
of the Zisa, through which a fountain flows within a margin of
carved marble, and looking on the landscape from its open porch, we
only need to reconstruct in fancy the green gardens and
orange-groves, where fair-haired Normans whiled away their hours
among black-eyed odalisques and graceful singing boys from Persia.
Amid a wild tangle of olive and lemon trees overgrown with scarlet
passion-flowers, the pavilion of the Cubola, built of hewn stone and
open at each of its four sides, still stands much as it stood when
William II. paced through flowers from his palace of the Cuba, to
enjoy the freshness of the evening by the side of its fountain. The
views from all these Saracenic villas over the fruitful valley of
the Golden Horn, and the turrets of Palermo, and the mountains and
the distant sea, are ineffably delightful. When the palaces were
new--when the gilding and the frescoes still shone upon their
honeycombed ceilings, when their mosaics glittered in noonday
twilight, and their amber-coloured masonry was set in shade of pines
and palms, and the cool sound of rivulets made music in their courts
and gardens, they must have well deserved their Arab titles of
'Sweet Waters' and 'The Glory' and 'The Paradise of Earth.'

    [1] Tradition asserts that the tocsin of this church gave
    the signal in Palermo to the massacre of the Sicilian

But the true splendour of Palermo, that which makes this city one of
the most glorious of the south, is to be sought in its churches--in
the mosaics of the Cappella Palatina founded by King Roger, in the
vast aisles and cloisters of Monreale built by King William the Good
at the instance of his Chancellor Matteo,[1] in the Cathedral of
Palermo begun by Offamilio, and in the Martorana dedicated by George
the Admiral. These triumphs of ecclesiastical architecture, none the
less splendid because they cannot be reduced to rule or assigned to
any single style, were the work of Saracen builders assisted by
Byzantine, Italian, and Norman craftsmen. The genius of Latin
Christianity determined the basilica shape of the Cathedral of
Monreale. Its bronze doors were wrought by smiths of Trani and Pisa.
Its walls were incrusted with the mosaics of Constantinople. The
woodwork of its roof, and the emblazoned patterns in porphyry and
serpentine and glass and smalto, which cover its whole surface, were
designed by Oriental decorators. Norman sculptors added their
dog-tooth and chevron to the mouldings of its porches; Greeks,
Frenchmen, and Arabs may have tried their skill in turn upon the
multitudinous ornaments of its cloister capitals. 'The like of which
church,' said Lucius III. in 1182, 'hath not been constructed by any
king even from ancient times, and such an one as must compel all men
to admiration.' These words remain literally and emphatically true.
Other cathedrals may surpass that of Monreale in sublimity,
simplicity, bulk, strength, or unity of plan. None can surpass it in
the strange romance with which the memory of its many artificers
invests it. None again can exceed it in richness and glory, in the
gorgeousness of a thousand decorative elements subservient to one
controlling thought. 'It is evident,' says Fergusson in his 'History
of Architecture,' 'that all the architectural features in the
building were subordinate in the eyes of the builders to the mosaic
decorations, which cover every part of the interior, and are in fact
the glory and the pride of the edifice, and alone entitle it to rank
among the finest of mediæval churches.' The whole of the Christian
history is depicted in this series of mosaics; but on first
entering, one form alone compels attention. The semi-dome of the
eastern apse above the high altar is entirely filled with a gigantic
half-length figure of Christ. He raises His right hand to bless, and
with His left holds an open book on which is written in Greek and
Latin, 'I am the Light of the world.' His face is solemn and severe,
rather than mild or piteous; and round His nimbus runs the legend
[Greek: 'Iêsous Christos ho pantokratôr]. Below Him on a smaller
scale are ranged the archangels and the mother of the Lord, who
holds the child upon her knees. Thus Christ appears twice upon this
wall, once as the Omnipotent Wisdom, the Word by whom all things
were made, and once as God deigning to assume a shape of flesh and
dwell with men. The magnificent image of supreme Deity seems to fill
with a single influence and to dominate the whole building. The
house with all its glory is His. He dwells there like Pallas in her
Parthenon or Zeus in his Olympian temple. To left and right over
every square inch of the cathedral blaze mosaics, which portray the
story of God's dealings with the human race from the Creation
downwards, together with those angelic beings and saints who
symbolise each in his own degree some special virtue granted to
mankind. The walls of the fane are therefore an open book of
history, theology, and ethics for all men to read.

    [1] Matteo of Ajello induced William to found an
    archbishopric at Monreale in order to spite his rival

The superiority of mosaics over fresco as an architectural adjunct
on this gigantic scale is apparent at a glance in Monreale.
Permanency of splendour and glowing richness of tone are all on the
side of the mosaics. Their true rival is painted glass. The jewelled
churches of the south are constructed for the display of coloured
surfaces illuminated by sunlight falling on them from narrow
windows, just as those of the north--Rheims, for example, or Le
Mans--are built for the transmission of light through a variegated
medium of transparent hues. The painted windows of a northern
cathedral find their proper counterpart in the mosaics of the south.
The Gothic architect strove to obtain the greatest amount of
translucent surface. The Byzantine builder directed his attention to
securing just enough light for the illumination of his glistening
walls. The radiance of the northern church was similar to that of
flowers or sunset clouds or jewels. The glory of the southern temple
was that of dusky gold and gorgeous needlework. The north needed
acute brilliancy as a contrast to external greyness. The south found
rest from the glare and glow of noonday in these sombre splendours.
Thus Christianity, both of the south and of the north, decked her
shrines with colour. Not so the Paganism of Hellas. With the Greeks,
colour, though used in architecture, was severely subordinated to
sculpture; toned and modified to a calculated harmony with actual
nature, it did not, as in a Christian church, create a world beyond
the world, a paradise of supersensual ecstasy, but remained within
the limits of the known. Light falling upon carved forms of gods and
heroes, bathing clear-cut columns and sharp basreliefs in simple
lustre, was enough for the Phoebean rites of Hellas. Though we
know that red and blue and green and gilding were employed to
accentuate the mouldings of Greek temples, yet neither the gloomy
glory of mosaics nor the gemmed fretwork of storied windows was
needed to attune the souls of Hellenic worshippers to devotion.

Less vast than Monreale, but even more beautiful, because the charm
of mosaic increases in proportion as the surface it covers may be
compared to the interior of a casket, is the Cappella Palatina of
the royal palace in Palermo. Here, again, the whole design and
ornament are Arabo-Byzantine. Saracenic pendentives with Cuphic
legends incrust the richly painted ceiling of the nave. The roofs of
the apses and the walls are coated with mosaics, in which the Bible
history, from the dove that brooded over Chaos to the lives of S.
Peter and S. Paul, receives a grand though formal presentation.
Beneath the mosaics are ranged slabs of grey marble, edged and
divided with delicate patterns of inserted glass, resembling drapery
with richly embroidered fringes. The floor is inlaid with circles of
serpentine and porphyry encased in white marble, and surrounded by
winding bands of Alexandrine work. Some of these patterns are
restricted to the five tones of red, green, white, black, and pale
yellow. Others add turquoise blue, and emerald, and scarlet, and
gold. Not a square inch of the surface--floor, roof, walls, or
cupola--is free from exquisite gemmed work of precious marbles. A
candelabrum of fanciful design, combining lions devouring men and
beasts, cranes, flowers, and winged genii, stands by the pulpit.
Lamps of chased silver hang from the roof. The cupola blazes with
gigantic archangels, stationed in a ring beneath the supreme figure
and face of Christ. Some of the Ravenna churches are more
historically interesting, perhaps, than this little masterpiece of
the mosaic art. But none is so rich in detail and lustrous in
effect. It should be seen at night, when the lamps are lighted in a
pyramid around the sepulchre of the dead Christ on Holy Thursday,
when partial gleams strike athwart the tawny gold of the arches, and
fall upon the profile of a priest declaiming in voluble Italian to a
listening crowd.

Such are a few of the monuments which still remain to show of what
sort was the mixed culture of Normans, Saracens, Italians, and
Greeks at Palermo. In scenes like these the youth of Frederick II.
was passed:--for at the end, while treating of Palermo, we are bound
to think again of the Emperor who inherited from his German father
the ambition of the Hohenstauffens, and from his Norman mother the
fair fields and Oriental traditions of Sicily. The strange history
of Frederick--an intellect of the eighteenth century born out of
date, a cosmopolitan spirit in the age of Saint Louis, the crusader
who conversed with Moslem sages on the threshold of the Holy
Sepulchre, the Sultan of Lucera[1] who persecuted Paterini while he
respected the superstition of Saracens, the anointed successor of
Charlemagne, who carried his harem with him to the battlefields of
Lombardy, and turned Infidels loose upon the provinces of Christ's
Vicar--would be inexplicable, were it not that Palermo still reveals
in all her monuments the _genius loci_ which gave spiritual nurture
to this phoenix among kings. From his Mussulman teachers Frederick
derived the philosophy to which he gave a vogue in Europe. From his
Arabian predecessors he learnt the arts of internal administration
and finance, which he transmitted to the princes of Italy. In
imitation of Oriental courts, he adopted the practice of verse
composition, which gave the first impulse to Italian literature. His
Grand Vizier, Piero Delle Vigne, set an example to Petrarch, not
only by composing the first sonnet in Italian, but also by showing
to what height a low-born secretary versed in art and law might
rise. In a word, the zeal for liberal studies, the luxury of life,
the religious indifferentism, the bureaucratic system of state
government, which mark the age of the Italian Renaissance, found
their first manifestation within the bosom of the Middle Ages in
Frederick. While our King John was signing Magna Charta, Frederick
had already lived long enough to comprehend, at least in outline,
what is meant by the spirit of modern culture.[2] It is true that
the so-called Renaissance followed slowly and by tortuous paths upon
the death of Frederick. The Church obtained a complete victory over
his family, and succeeded in extinguishing the civilisation of
Sicily. Yet the fame of the Emperor who transmitted questions of
sceptical philosophy to Arab sages, who conversed familiarly with
men of letters, who loved splendour and understood the arts of
refined living, survived both long and late in Italy. His power, his
wealth, his liberality of soul and lofty aspirations, formed the
theme of many a tale and poem. Dante places him in hell among the
heresiarchs; and truly the splendour of his supposed infidelity
found for him a goodly following. Yet Dante dated the rise of
Italian literature from the blooming period of the Sicilian court.
Frederick's unorthodoxy proved no drawback to his intellectual
influence. More than any other man of mediæval times he contributed,
if only as the memory of a mighty name, to the progress of civilised

    [1] Charles of Anjou gave this nickname to Manfred, who
    carried on the Siculo-Norman tradition. Frederick, it may
    here be mentioned, had transferred his Saracen subjects of
    the vale of Mazara to Lucera in the Capitanate. He
    employed them as trusty troops in his warfare with the
    Popes and preaching friars. Nothing shows the confusion of
    the century in matters ecclesiastical and religious more
    curiously than that Frederick, who conducted a crusade and
    freed the Holy Sepulchre, should not only have tolerated
    the religion of Mussulmans, but also have armed them
    against the Head of the Church. What we are apt to regard
    as religious questions really belonged at that period to
    the sphere of politics.

    [2] It is curious to note that in this year 1215, the date
    of Magna Charta, Frederick took the Cross at

Let us take leave both of Frederick and of Palermo, that centre of
converging influences which was his cradle, in the cathedral where
he lies gathered to his fathers. This church, though its rich
sunbrowned yellow[1] reminds one of the tone of Spanish buildings,
is like nothing one has seen elsewhere. Here even more than at
Monreale the eye is struck with a fusion of styles. The western
towers are grouped into something like the clustered sheafs of the
Caen churches: the windows present Saracenic arches: the southern
porch is covered with foliated incrustations of a late and
decorative Gothic style: the exterior of the apse combines Arabic
inlaid patterns of black and yellow with the Greek honeysuckle: the
western door adds Norman dog-tooth and chevron to the Saracenic
billet. Nowhere is any one tradition firmly followed. The whole
wavers and yet is beautiful--like the immature eclecticism of the
culture which Frederick himself endeavoured to establish in his
southern kingdoms. Inside there is no such harmony of blended
voices: all the strange tongues, which speak together on the
outside, making up a music in which the far North, and ancient
Byzance, and the delicate East sound each a note, are hushed. The
frigid silence of the Palladian style reigns there--simple indeed
and dignified, but lifeless as the century in which it flourished.

    [1] Nearly all cities have their own distinctive colour.
    That of Venice is a pearly white suggestive of every hue
    in delicate abeyance, and that of Florence is a sober
    brown. Palermo displays a rich yellow ochre passing at the
    deepest into orange, and at the lightest into primrose.
    This is the tone of the soil, of sun-stained marble, and
    of the rough ashlar masonry of the chief buildings.
    Palermo has none of the glaring whiteness of Naples, nor
    yet of that particoloured gradation of tints which adds
    gaiety to the grandeur of Genoa.

Yet there, in a side chapel near the western door, stand the
porphyry sarcophagi which shrine the bones of the Hautevilles and
their representatives. There sleeps King Roger--'Dux strenuus et
primus Rex Siciliæ'--with his daughter Constance in her purple chest
beside him. Henry VI. and Frederick II. and Constance of Aragon
complete the group, which surpasses for interest all sepulchral
monuments--even the tombs of the Scaligers at Verona--except only,
perhaps, the statues of the nave of Innspruck. Very sombre and
stately are these porphyry resting-places of princes born in the
purple, assembled here from lands so distant--from the craggy
heights of Hohenstauffen, from the green orchards of Cotentin, from
the dry hills of Aragon. They sleep, and the centuries pass by. Rude
hands break open the granite lids of their sepulchres, to find
tresses of yellow hair and fragments of imperial mantles,
embroidered with the hawks and stags the royal hunter loved. The
church in which they lie changes with the change of taste in
architecture and the manners of successive ages. But the huge stone
arks remain unmoved, guarding their freight of mouldering dust
beneath gloomy canopies of stone that temper the sunlight as it
streams from the chapel windows.


The traveller in Sicily is constantly reminded of classical history
and literature. While tossing, it may be, at anchor in the port of
Trapani, and wondering when the tedious Libeccio will release him,
he must perforce remember that here Æneas instituted the games for
Anchises. Here Mnestheus and Gyas and Sergestus and Cloanthus raced
their galleys: on yonder little isle the Centaur struck; and that
was the rock which received the dripping Menoetes:--

  Illum et labentem Teucri et risere natantem,
  Et salsos rident revomentem pectore fluctus.

Or crossing a broken bridge at night in the lumbering diligence,
guarded by infantry with set bayonets, and wondering on which side
of the ravine the brigands are in ambush, he suddenly calls to mind
that this torrent was the ancient Halycus, the border between Greeks
and Carthaginians, established of old, and ratified by Timoleon
after the battle of the Crimisus. Among the bare grey hills of
Segeste his thoughts revert to that strange story told by Herodotus
of Philippus, the young soldier of Crotona, whose beauty was so
great, that when the Segesteans found him slain among their foes,
they raised the corpse and burned it on a pyre of honour, and built
a hero's temple over the urn that held his ashes. The first sight of
Etna makes us cry with Theocritus, [Greek: Aitna mater
ema ... polydendreos Aitna]. The solemn heights of Castro
Giovanni bring lines of Ovid to our lips:--

  Haud procul Hennæis lacus est a moenibu altæ
  Nomine Pergus aquæ. Non illo plura Caystros
  Carmina cygnorum labentibus audit in undis.
  Silva coronat aquas, cingens latus omne; suisque
  Frondibus ut velo Phoebeos summovet ignes.
  Frigora dant rami, Tyrios humus humida flores.
  Perpetnum ver est.

We look indeed in vain for the leafy covert and the purple flowers
that tempted Proserpine. The place is barren now: two solitary
cypress-trees mark the road which winds downwards from a desolate
sulphur mine, and the lake is clearly the crater of an extinct
volcano. Yet the voices of old poets are not mute. 'The rich
Virgilian rustic measure' recalls a long-since buried past. Even
among the wavelets of the Faro we remember Homer, scanning the shore
if haply somewhere yet may linger the wild fig-tree which saved
Ulysses from the whirlpool of Charybdis. At any rate we cannot but
exclaim with Goethe, 'Now all these coasts, gulfs, and creeks,
islands and peninsulas, rocks and sand-banks, wooded hills, soft
meadows, fertile fields, neat gardens, hanging grapes, cloudy
mountains, constant cheerfulness of plains, cliffs and ridges, and
the surrounding sea, with such manifold variety are present in my
mind; now is the "Odyssey" for the first time become to me a living

But rich as the whole of Sicily may be in classical associations,
two places, Syracuse and Girgenti, are pre-eminent for the power of
bringing the Greek past forcibly before us. Their interest is of two
very different kinds. Girgenti still displays the splendour of
temples placed upon a rocky cornice between sea and olive-groves.
Syracuse has nothing to show but the scene of world-important
actions. Yet the great deeds recorded by Thucydides, the conflict
between eastern and western Hellas which ended in the annihilation
of the bright, brief, brilliant reality of Athenian empire, remain
so clearly written on the hills and harbours and marshlands of
Syracuse that no place in the world is topographically more
memorable. The artist, whether architect, or landscape-painter, or
poet, finds full enjoyment at Girgenti. The historian must be
exacting indeed in his requirements if he is not satisfied with

What has become of Syracuse, 'the greatest of Greek cities and the
fairest of all cities' even in the days of Cicero? Scarcely one
stone stands upon another of all those temples and houses. The five
towns which were included by the walls have now shrunk to the little
island which the first settlers named Ortygia, where the sacred
fountain of Arethusa seemed to their home-loving hearts to have
followed them from Hellas.[1] Nothing survives but a few columns of
Athene's temple built into a Christian church, with here and there
the marble masonry of a bath or the Roman stonework of an
amphitheatre. There are not even any mounds or deep deposits of
rubble mixed with pottery to show here once a town had been.[2]
_Etiam periere ruinæ._ The vast city, devastated for the last time
by the Saracens in 878 A.D., has been reduced to dust and swept by
the scirocco into the sea. This is the explanation of its utter
ruin. The stone of Syracuse is friable and easily disintegrated. The
petulant moist wind of the south-east corrodes its surface; and when
it falls, it crumbles to powder. Here, then, the elements have had
their will unchecked by such sculptured granite as in Egypt resists
the mounded sand of the desert, or by such marble colonnades as in
Athens have calmly borne the insults of successive sieges. What was
hewn out of the solid rock--the semicircle of the theatre, the
street of the tombs with its deeply dented chariot-ruts, the
gigantic quarries from which the material of the metropolis was
scooped, the catacombs which burrow for miles underground--alone
prove how mighty must have been the Syracuse of Dionysius. Truly
'the iniquity of oblivion blindly scattereth her poppy, and deals
with the memory of men without distinction to merit of perpetuity.'
Standing on the beach of the Great Harbour or the Bay of Thapsus, we
may repeat almost word by word Antipater's solemn lament over

  Where is thy splendour now, thy crown of towers,
    Thy beauty visible to all men's eyes,
    The gold and silver of thy treasuries,
  Thy temples of blest gods, thy woven bowers
  Where long-stoled ladies walked in tranquil hours,
    Thy multitudes like stars that crowd the skies?
    All, all are gone. Thy desolation lies
  Bare to the night. The elemental powers
  Resume their empire: on this lonely shore
    Thy deathless Nereids, daughters of the sea,
    Wailing 'mid broken stones unceasingly,
  Like halcyons when the restless south winds roar,
  Sing the sad story of thy woes of yore:
    These plunging waves are all that's left to thee.

Time, however, though he devours his children, cannot utterly
destroy either the written record of illustrious deeds or the
theatre of their enactment. Therefore, with Thucydides in hand, we
may still follow the events of that Syracusan siege which decided
the destinies of Greece, and by the fall of Athens, raised Sparta,
Macedonia, and finally Rome to the hegemony of the civilised world.

    [1] The fountain of Arethusa, recently rescued from the
    washerwomen of Syracuse, is shut off from the Great
    Harbour by a wall and planted with papyrus. Taste has not
    been displayed in the bear-pit architecture of its
    circular enclosure.

    [2] This is not strictly true of Achradina, where some
    _débris_ may still be found worth excavating.

There are few students of Thucydides and Grote who would not be
surprised by the small scale of the cliffs, and the gentle incline
of Epipolæ--the rising ground above the town of Syracuse, upon the
slope of which the principal operations of the Athenian siege took
place.[1] Maps, and to some extent also the language of Thucydides,
who talks of the [Greek: prosbaseis] or practicable approaches to
Epipolæ, and the [Greek: krêmnoi], or precipices by which it was
separated from the plain, would lead one to suppose that the whole
region was on each hand rocky and abrupt. In reality it is extremely
difficult to distinguish the rising ground of Epipolæ upon the
southern side from the plain, so very gradual is the line of ascent
and so comparatively even is the rocky surface of the hill.
Thucydides, in narrating the night attack of Demosthenes upon the
lines of Gylippus (book vii. 43-45), lays stress upon the necessity
of approaching Epipolæ from the western side by Euryâlus, and again
asserts that during the hurried retreat of the Athenians great
numbers died by leaping from the cliffs, while still more had to
throw away their armour. At this time the Athenian army was encamped
upon the shore of the Great Harbour, and held trenches and a wall
that stretched from that side at least halfway across Epipolæ. It
seems therefore strange that, unless their movements were impeded by
counterworks and lines of walls, of which we have no information,
the troops of Demosthenes should not, at least in their retreat,
have been able to pour down over the gentle descent of Epipolæ
toward the Anapus, instead of returning to Euryâlus. Anyhow, we can
scarcely discern cliffs of more than ten feet upon the southern
slope of Epipolæ, nor can we understand why the Athenians should
have been forced to take these in their line of retreat. There must
have been some artificial defences of which we read nothing, and of
which no traces now remain, but which were sufficient to prevent
them from choosing their ground. Slight difficulties of this kind
raise the question whether the wonderful clearness of Thucydides in
detail was really the result of personal observation, or whether his
graphic style enabled him to give the appearance of scrupulous
accuracy. I incline to think that the author of the sixth and
seventh books of the History must have visited Syracuse, and that if
we could see his own map of Epipolæ, we should better be able to
understand the difficulties of the backward night march of
Demosthenes, by discovering that there was some imperative necessity
for not descending, as seems natural, upon the open slope of the
hill to the south. The position of Euryâlus at the extreme point
called Mongibellisi is clear enough. Here the ground, which has been
continually rising from the plateau of Achradina (the northern
suburb of Syracuse), comes to an abrupt finish. Between Mongibellisi
and the Belvedere hill beyond there is a deep depression, and the
slope to Euryâlus either from the south or north is gradual. It was
a gross piece of neglect on the part of Nikias not to have fortified
this spot on his first investment of Epipolæ, instead of choosing
Labdalum, which, wherever we may place it, must have been lower down
the hill to the east. For Euryâlus is the key to Epipolæ. It was
here that Nikias himself ascended in the first instance, and that
afterwards he permitted Gylippus to enter and raise the siege, and
lastly that Demosthenes, by overpowering the insufficient Syracusan
guard, got at night within the lines of the Spartan general. Thus
the three most important movements of the siege were made upon
Euryâlus. Dionysius, when he enclosed Epipolæ with walls, recognised
the value of the point, and fortified it with the castle which
remains, and to which, as Colonel Leake believes, Archimedes, at the
order of Hiero II., made subsequent additions. This castle is one of
the most interesting Greek ruins extant. A little repair would make
it even now a substantial place of defence, according to Greek
tactics. Its deep foss is cut in the solid rock, and furnished with
subterranean magazines for the storage of provisions. The three
piles of solid masonry on which the drawbridge rested, still stand
in the centre of this ditch. The oblique grand entrance to the foss
descends by a flight of well-cut steps. The rock itself over which
the fort was raised is honeycombed with excavated passages for
infantry and cavalry, of different width and height, so that one
sort can be assigned to mounted horsemen and another to foot
soldiers. The trap-doors which led from these galleries into the
fortress are provided with rests for ladders that could be let down
to help a sallying force or drawn up to impede an advancing enemy.
The inner court for stabled horses and the stations for the
catapults are still in tolerable preservation. Thus the whole
arrangement of the stronghold can be traced not dimly but
distinctly. Being placed on the left side of the chief gate of
Epipolæ, the occupants of the fort could issue to attack a foe
advancing toward that gate in the rear. At the same time the
subterranean galleries enabled them to pour out upon the other side,
if the enemy had forced an entrance, while the minor passages and
trap-doors provided a retreat in case the garrison were overpowered
in one of their offensive operations. The view from Euryâlus is
extensive. To the left rises Etna, snowy, solitary, broadly vast,
above the plain of Catania, the curving shore, Thapsus, and the sea.
Syracuse itself, a thin white line between the harbour and the open
sea, a dazzling streak between two blues, terminates the slope of
Epipolæ, and on the right hand stretch the marshes of Anapus rich
with vines and hoary with olives.

    [1] Epipolæ is in shape a pretty regular isosceles
    triangle, of which the apex is Mongibellisi or Euryâlus,
    and the base Achradina or the northern quarter of the
    ancient city. Thucydides describes it as [Greek: chôrion
    apokrêmnou te kai hyper tês poleôs euthus
    keimenou ... exêrtêtai gar to allo chôrion kai mechri
    tês poleôs epiklines te esti kai epiphanes pan eisô' kai
    ônomasta hypo tôs Syrakosiôn dia to epipolês tou allou
    einai Epipolai] (vi. 96).

By far the most interesting localities of Syracuse are the Great
Harbour and the stone quarries. When the sluggish policy and faint
heart of Nikias had brought the Athenians to the verge of ruin, when
Gylippus had entered the besieged city, and Plemmyrium had been
wrested from the invaders, and Demosthenes had failed in his attack
upon Epipolæ, and the blockading trenches had been finally
evacuated, no hope remained for the armament of Athens except only
in retreat by water. They occupied a palisaded encampment upon the
shore of the harbour, between the mouth of the Anapus and the city;
whence they attempted to force their way with their galleys to the
open sea. Hitherto the Athenians had been supreme upon their own
element; but now the Syracusans adopted tactics suited to the narrow
basin in which the engagements had to take place. Building their
vessels with heavy beaks, they crushed the lighter craft of the
Athenians, which had no room for flank movements and rapid
evolutions. A victory was thus obtained by the Syracusan navy; the
harbour was blockaded with chains by the order of Gylippus; the
Athenians were driven back to their palisades upon the fever-haunted
shore. Their only chance seemed to depend upon a renewal of the
sea-fight in the harbour. The supreme moment arrived. What remained
of the Athenian fleet, in numbers still superior to that of their
enemies, steered straight for the mouth of the harbour. The
Syracusans advanced from the naval stations of Ortygia to meet them.
The shore was thronged with spectators, Syracusans tremulous with
the expectation of a decisive success, Athenians on the tenter-hooks
of hope and dread. In a short time the harbour became a confused
mass of clashing triremes; the water beaten into bloody surf by
banks of oars; the air filled with shouts from the combatants and
exclamations from the lookers-on: [Greek: olophurmos, boê, nikôntes,
kratoumenoi, alla hosa en megalô kindunô mega stratopedon polyeidê
anagkaizoito phthengesthai.] Then after a struggle, in which
desperation gave energy to the Athenians, and ambitious hope
inspired their foes with more than wonted vigour, the fleet of the
Athenians was finally overwhelmed. The whole scene can be reproduced
with wonderful distinctness; for the low shores of Plemmyrium, the
city of Ortygia, the marsh of Lysimeleia, the hills above the
Anapus, and the distant dome of Etna, are the same as they were upon
that memorable day. Nothing has disappeared except the temple of
Zeus Olympius and the buildings of Temenitis.

What followed upon the night of that defeat is less easily realised.
Thucydides, however, by one touch reveals the depth of despair to
which the Athenians had sunk. They neglected to rescue the bodies of
their dead from the Great Harbour, or to ask for a truce, according
to hallowed Greek usage, in order that they might perform the
funeral rites. To such an extent was the army demoralised. Meanwhile
within the city the Syracusans kept high festival, honouring their
patron Herakles, upon whose day it happened that the battle had been
fought. Nikias neglected this opportunity of breaking up his camp
and retiring unmolested into the interior of the island. When after
the delay of two nights and a day he finally began to move, the
Syracusans had blockaded the roads. How his own division capitulated
by the blood-stained banks of the Asinarus after a six days' march
of appalling misery, and how that of Demosthenes surrendered in the
olive-field of Polyzelus, is too well known.

One of the favourite excursions from modern Syracuse takes the
traveller in a boat over the sandy bar of the Anapus, beneath the
old bridge which joined the Helorine road to the city, and up the
river to its junction with the Cyane. This is the ground traversed
by the army first in their attempted flight and then in their return
as captives to Syracuse. Few, perhaps, who visit the spot, think as
much of that last act in a world-historical tragedy, as of the
picturesque compositions made by arundo donax, castor-oil plant,
yellow flags, and papyrus, on the river-banks and promontories. Like
miniature palm-groves these water-weeds stand green and golden
against the bright blue sky, feathering above the boat which slowly
pushes its way through clinging reeds. The huge red oxen of Sicily
in the marsh on either hand toss their spreading horns and canter
off knee-deep in ooze. Then comes the fountain of Cyane, a broad
round well of water, thirty feet in depth, but quite clear, so that
you can see the pebbles at the bottom and fishes swimming to and fro
among the weeds. Papyrus plants edge the pool; thick and tufted,
they are exactly such as one sees carved or painted upon Egyptian
architecture of the Ptolemaic period.

With Thucydides still in hand, before quitting Syracuse we must
follow the Athenian captives to their prison-grave. The Latomia de'
Cappuccini is a place which it is impossible to describe in words,
and of which no photographs give any notion. Sunk to the depth of a
hundred feet below the level of the soil, with sides perpendicular
and in many places as smooth as though the chisel had just passed
over them, these vast excavations produce the impression of some
huge subterranean gallery, widening here and there into spacious
halls, the whole of which has been unroofed and opened to the air of
heaven. It is a solemn and romantic labyrinth, where no wind blows
rudely, and where orange-trees shoot upward luxuriantly to meet the
light. The wild fig bursts from the living rock, mixed with
lentisk-shrubs and pendent caper-plants. Old olives split the masses
of fallen cliff with their tough, snakelike, slowly corded and
compacted roots. Thin flames of pomegranate-flowers gleam amid
foliage of lustrous green; and lemons drop unheeded from femininely
fragile branches. There too the ivy hangs in long festoons, waving
like tapestry to the breath of stealthy breezes; while under foot is
a tangle of acanthus, thick curling leaves of glossiest green,
surmounted by spikes of dull lilac blossoms. Wedges and columns and
sharp teeth of the native rock rear themselves here and there in the
midst of the open spaces to the sky, worn fantastically into notches
and saws by the action of scirocco. A light yellow calcined by the
sun to white is the prevailing colour of the quarries. But in shady
places the limestone takes a curious pink tone of great beauty, like
the interior of some sea-shells. The reflected lights too, and
half-shadows in their scooped-out chambers, make a wonderful natural
chiaroscuro. The whole scene is now more picturesque in a sublime
and grandiose style than forbidding. There is even one spot planted
with magenta-coloured mesembrianthemums of dazzling brightness; and
the air is loaded with the drowsy perfume of lemon-blossoms. Yet
this is the scene of a great agony. This garden was once the
Gethsemane of a nation, where 9000 free men of the proudest city of
Greece were brought by an unexampled stroke of fortune to slavery,
shame, and a miserable end. Here they dwindled away, worn out by
wounds, disease, thirst, hunger, heat by day and cold by night,
heart-sickness, and the insufferable stench of putrefying corpses.
The pupils of Socrates, the admirers of Euripides, the orators of
the Pnyx, the athletes of the Lyceum, lovers and comrades and
philosophers, died here like dogs; and the dames of Syracuse stood
doubtless on those parapets above, and looked upon them like wild
beasts. What the Gorgo of Theocritus might have said to her friend
Praxinoe on the occasion would be the subject for an idyll _à la_
Browning! How often, pining in those great glaring pits, which were
not then curtained with ivy or canopied by olive-trees, must the
Athenians have thought with vain remorse of their own Rhamnusian
Nemesis, the goddess who held scales adverse to the hopes of men,
and bore the legend 'Be not lifted up'! How often must they have
watched the dawn walk forth fire-footed upon the edge of those bare
crags, or the stars slide from east to west across the narrow space
of sky! How they must have envied the unfettered clouds sailing in
liquid ether, or traced the far flight of hawk and swallow, sighing,
'Oh that I too had the wings of a bird!' The weary eyes turned
upwards found no change or respite, save what the frost of night
brought to the fire of day, and the burning sun to the pitiless cold

A great painter, combining Doré's power over space and distance with
the distinctness of Flaxman's design and the colouring of Alma
Tadema, might possibly realise this agony of the Athenian captives
in the stone quarries. The time of day chosen for the picture should
be full noon, with its glare of light and sharply defined vertical
shadows. The crannies in the straight sides of the quarry should
here and there be tufted with a few dusty creepers and wild
fig-trees. On the edge of the sky-line stand parties of Syracusan
citizens with their wives and children, shaded by umbrellas, richly
dressed, laughing and triumphing over the misery beneath. In the
full foreground there are placed two figures. A young Athenian has
just died of fever. His body lies stretched along the ground, the
head resting on a stone, and the face turned to the sky. Beside him
kneels an older warrior, sunburned and dry with thirst, but full as
yet of vigour. He stares with wide despair-smitten eyes straight
out, as though he had lately been stretched upon the corpse, but had
risen at the sound of movement, or some supposed word of friends
close by. His bread lies untasted near him, and the half-pint of
water--his day's portion--has been given to bathe the forehead of
his dying friend. They have stood together through the festival of
leave-taking from Peiræus, through the battles of Epipolæ, through
the retreat and the slaughter at the passage of the Asinarus. But
now it has come to this, and death has found the younger. Perhaps
the friend beside him remembers some cool wrestling-ground in
far-off Athens, or some procession up the steps of the Acropolis,
where first they met. Anyhow his fixed gaze now shows that he has
passed in thought at least beyond the hell around him. Not far
behind should be ranged groups of haggard men, with tattered clothes
and dulled or tigerish eyes, some dignified, some broken down by
grief; while here and there newly fallen corpses, and in one hideous
corner a great heap of abandoned dead, should point the ghastly
words of Thucydides: [Greek: tôn nekrôn homou ep angêlois

Every landscape has some moment of its own at which it should be
seen for the first time. Mediæval cities, with their narrow streets
and solemn spires, demand the twilight of a summer night.
Mediterranean islands show their best in the haze of afternoon, when
sea and sky and headland are bathed in aërial blue, and the
mountains seem to be made of transparent amethyst. The first sight
of the Alps should be taken at sunset from some point of vantage,
like the terrace at Berne, or the castle walls of Salzburg. If these
fortunate moments be secured, all after knowledge of locality and
detail serves to fortify and deepen the impression of picturesque
harmony. The mind has then conceived a leading thought, which gives
ideal unity to scattered memories and invests the crude reality with
an æsthetic beauty. The lucky moment for the landscape of Girgenti
is half an hour past sunset in a golden afterglow. Landing at the
port named after Empedocles, having caught from the sea some
glimpses of temple-fronts emergent on green hill-slopes among
almond-trees, with Pindar's epithet of 'splendour-loving' in my
mind, I rode on such an evening up the path which leads across the
Drago to Girgenti. The way winds through deep-sunk lanes of rich
amber sandstone, hedged with cactus and dwarf-palm, and set with old
gnarled olive-trees. As the sunlight faded, Venus shone forth in a
luminous sky, and the deep yellows and purples overhead seemed to
mingle with the heavy scent of orange-flowers from scarcely visible
groves by the roadside. Saffron in the west and violet in the east
met midway, composing a translucent atmosphere of mellow radiance,
like some liquid gem--_dolce color d' oriental berillo_. Girgenti,
far off and far up, gazing seaward, and rearing her topaz-coloured
bastions into that gorgeous twilight, shone like the aërial vision
of cities seen in dreams or imaged in the clouds. Hard and sharp
against the sallow line of sunset, leaned grotesque shapes of
cactuses like hydras, and delicate silhouettes of young olive-trees
like sylphs: the river ran silver in the hollow, and the
mountain-side on which the town is piled was solid gold. Then came
the dirty dull interior of Girgenti, misnamed the magnificent. But
no disenchantment could destroy the memory of that vision, and
Pindar's [Greek: philaglaos Akragas] remains in my mind a

    [1] Lest I should seem to have overstated the splendour of
    this sunset view, I must remark that the bare dry
    landscape of the south is peculiarly fortunate in such
    effects. The local tint of the Girgenti rock is yellow.
    The vegetation on the hillside is sparse. There is nothing
    to prevent the colours of the sky being reflected upon the
    vast amber-tinted surface, which then glows with
    indescribable glory.

The temples of Girgenti are at the distance of two miles from the
modern town. Placed upon the edge of an irregular plateau which
breaks off abruptly into cliffs of moderate height below them, they
stand in a magnificent row between the sea and plain on one side,
and the city and the hills upon the other. Their colour is that of
dusky honey or dun amber; for they are not built of marble, but of
sandstone, which at some not very distant geological period must
have been a sea-bed. Oyster and scallop shells are embedded in the
roughly hewn masonry, while here and there patches of a red deposit,
apparently of broken coralline, make the surface crimson. The
vegetation against which the ruined colonnades are relieved consists
almost wholly of almond and olive trees, the bright green foliage of
the one mingling with the greys of the other, and both enhancing the
warm tints of the stone. This contrast of colours is very agreeable
to the eye; yet when the temples were perfect it did not exist.
There is no doubt that their surface was coated with a fine stucco,
wrought to smoothness, toned like marble, and painted over with the
blue and red and green decorations proper to the Doric style. This
fact is a practical answer to those æsthetic critics who would fain
establish that the Greeks practised no deception in their arts. The
whole effect of the colonnades of Selinus and Girgenti must have
been an illusion, and their surface must have needed no less
constant reparation than the exterior of a Gothic cathedral. The
sham jewellery frequently found in Greek tombs, and the curious
mixture of marble with sandstone in the sculptures from Selinus, are
other instances that Greeks no less than modern artists condescended
to trickery for the sake of effect. In the series of the metopes
from Selinus now preserved in the museum at Palermo, the flesh of
the female persons is represented by white marble, while that of the
men, together with the dresses and other accessories, is wrought of
common stone. Yet the basreliefs in which this peculiarity occurs
belong to the best period of Greek sculpture, and the groups are not
unworthy for spirit and design to be placed by the side of the
metopes of the Parthenon. Most beautiful, for example, is the
contrast between the young unarmed Hercules and the Amazon he
overpowers. His naked man's foot grasps with the muscular energy of
an athlete her soft and helpless woman's foot, the roughness of the
sandstone and the smoothness of the marble really heightening the
effect of difference.

Though ranged in a row along the same cornice, the temples of
Girgenti, originally at least six in number, were not so disposed
that any of their architectural lines should be exactly parallel.
The Greeks disliked formality; the carefully calculated
_asymmetreia_ in the disposition of their groups of buildings
secured variety of effect as well as a broken surface for the
display of light and shadow. This is very noticeable on the
Acropolis of Athens, where, however regular may be the several
buildings, all are placed at different angles to each other and the
hill. Only two of the Girgenti temples survive in any degree of
perfection--the so-called Concordia and the Juno Lacinia. The rest
are but mere heaps of mighty ruins, with here and there a broken
column, and in one place an angle of a pediment raised upon a group
of pillars. The foundations of masonry which supported them and the
drums of their gigantic columns are tufted with wild palm, aloe,
asphodel, and crimson snapdragon. Yellow blossoming sage, and mint,
and lavender, and mignonette, sprout in the crevices where snakes
and lizards harbour. The grass around is gemmed with blue pimpernel
and convolvulus. Gladiolus springs amid the young corn-blades
beneath the almond-trees; while a beautiful little iris makes the
most unpromising dry places brilliant with its delicate greys and
blues. In cooler and damper hollows, around the boles of old olives
and under ruined arches, flourishes the tender acanthus, and the
road-sides are gaudy with a yellow daisy flower, which may perchance
be the [Greek: elichrysos] of Theocritus. Thus the whole scene is a
wilderness of brightness, less radiant but more touching than when
processions of men and maidens bearing urns and laurel-branches,
crowned with ivy or with myrtle, paced along those sandstone roads,
chanting pæans and prosodial hymns, toward the glistening porches
and hypæthral cells.

The only temple about the name of which there can be no doubt is
that of Zeus Olympius. A prostrate giant who once with nineteen of
his fellows helped to support the roof of this enormous fane, and
who now lies in pieces among the asphodels, remains to prove that
this was the building begun by the Agrigentines after the defeat of
the Phoenicians at the Himera, when slaves were many and spoil was
abundant, and Hellas both in Sicily and on the mainland felt a more
than usual thrill of gratitude to their ancestral deity. The
greatest architectural works of the island, the temples of Segeste
and Selinus, as well as those of Girgenti, were begun between this
period and the Carthaginian invasion of 409 B.C. The victory of the
Hellenes over the barbarians in 480 B.C., symbolised in the victory
of Zeus over the enslaved Titans of this temple, gave a vast impulse
to their activity and wealth. After the disastrous incursion of the
same foes seventy years later, the western Greek towns of the island
received a check from which they never recovered. Many of their
noblest buildings remained unfinished. The question which rises to
the lips of all who contemplate the ruins of this gigantic temple
and its compeer dedicated to Herakles is this: Who wrought the
destruction of works so solid and enduring? For what purpose of
spite or interest were those vast columns--in the very flutings of
which a man can stand with ease--felled like forest pines? One sees
the mighty pillars lying as they sank, like swathes beneath the
mower's scythe. Their basements are still in line. The drums which
composed them have fallen asunder, but maintain their original
relation to each other on the ground. Was it earthquake or the hand
of man that brought them low? Poggio Bracciolini tells us that in
the fifteenth century they were burning the marble buildings of the
Roman Campagna for lime. We know that the Senator Brancaleone made
havoc among the classic monuments occupied as fortresses by
Frangipani and Savelli and Orsini. We understand how the Farnesi
should have quarried the Coliseum for their palace. But here, at the
distance of three miles from Girgenti, in a comparative desert, what
army, or what band of ruffians, or what palace-builders could have
found it worth their while to devastate mere mountains of sculptured
sandstone? The Romans invariably respected Greek temples. The early
Christians used them for churches:--and this accounts for the
comparative perfection of the Concordia. It was in the age of the
Renaissance that the ruin of Girgenti's noblest monuments occurred.
The temple of Zeus Olympius was shattered in the fifteenth century,
and in the next its fragments were used to build a breakwater. The
demolition of such substantial edifices is as great a wonder as
their construction. We marvel at the energy which must have been
employed on their overthrow, no less than at the art which raised
such blocks of stone and placed them in position.

While so much remains both at Syracuse and at Girgenti to recall the
past, we are forced here, as at Athens, to feel how very little we
really know about Greek life. We cannot bring it up before our fancy
with any clearness, but rather in a sort of hazy dream, from which
some luminous points emerge. The entrance of an Olympian victor
through the breach in the city walls of Girgenti, the procession of
citizens conducting old Timoleon in his chariot to the theatre, the
conferences of the younger Dionysius with Plato in his guarded
palace-fort, the stately figure of Empedocles presiding over
incantations in the marshes of Selinus, the austerity of Dion and
his mystic dream, the first appearance of stubborn Gylippus with
long Lacedæmonian hair in the theatre of Syracuse,--such picturesque
pieces of history we may fairly well recapture. But what were the
daily occupations of the Simætha of Theocritus? What was the state
dress of the splendid Queen Philistis, whose name may yet be read
upon her seat, and whose face adorns the coins of Syracuse? How did
the great altar of Zeus look, when the oxen were being slaughtered
there by hundreds, in a place which must have been shambles and
meat-market and temple all in one? What scene of architectural
splendour met the eyes of the swimmers in the Piscina of Girgenti?
How were the long hours of so many days of leisure occupied by the
Greeks, who had each three pillows to his head in 'splendour-loving
Acragas'? Of what sort was the hospitality of Gellias? Questions
like these rise up to tantalise us with the hopelessness of ever
truly recovering the life of a lost race. After all the labour of
antiquary and the poet, nothing remains to be uttered but such
moralisings as Sir Thomas Browne poured forth over the urns
discovered at Old Walsingham: 'What time the persons of these
ossuaries entered the famous nations of the dead, and slept with
princes and counsellors, might admit a wide solution. But who were
the proprietaries of these bones, or what bodies these ashes made
up, were a question above antiquarism; not to be resolved by man,
nor easily perhaps by spirits except we consult the provincial
guardians, or tutelary observators.' Death reigns over the peoples
of the past, and we must fain be satisfied to cry with Raleigh: 'O
eloquent, just, and mighty death! whom none could advise, thou hast
persuaded; what none hath dared, thou hast done; and whom all the
world hath flattered, thou only hast cast out of the world and
despised: thou hast drawn together all the far-stretched greatness,
all the pride, cruelty, and ambition of men, and covered it all over
with these two narrow words, _hic jacet_.' Even so. Yet while the
cadence of this august rhetoric is yet in our ears, another voice is
heard as of the angel seated by a void and open tomb, 'Why seek ye
the living among the dead?' The spirit of Hellas is indestructible,
however much the material existence of the Greeks be lost beyond
recovery; for the life of humanity is not many but one, not
parcelled into separate moments but continuous.


Athens, by virtue of scenery and situation, was predestined to be
the motherland of the free reason of mankind, long before the
Athenians had won by their great deeds the right to name their city
the ornament and the eye of Hellas. Nothing is more obvious to one
who has seen many lands and tried to distinguish their essential
characters, than the fact that no one country exactly resembles
another, but that, however similar in climate and locality, each
presents a peculiar and well-marked property belonging to itself
alone. The specific quality of Athenian landscape is light--not
richness or sublimity or romantic loveliness or grandeur of mountain
outline, but luminous beauty, serene exposure to the airs of heaven.
The harmony and balance of the scenery, so varied in its details and
yet so comprehensible, are sympathetic to the temperance of Greek
morality, the moderation of Greek art. The radiance with which it is
illuminated has all the clearness and distinction of the Attic
intellect. From whatever point the plain of Athens with its
semicircle of greater and lesser hills may be surveyed, it always
presents a picture of dignified and lustrous beauty. The Acropolis
is the centre of this landscape, splendid as a work of art with its
crown of temples; and the sea, surmounted by the long low hills of
the Morea, is the boundary to which the eye is irresistibly led.
Mountains and islands and plain alike are made of limestone,
hardening here and there into marble, broken into delicate and
varied forms, and sprinkled with a vegetation of low shrubs and
brushwood so sparse and slight that the naked rock in every
direction meets the light. This rock is grey and colourless: viewed
in the twilight of a misty day, it shows the dull, tame uniformity
of bone. Without the sun it is asleep and sorrowful. But by reason
of this very deadness, the limestone of Athenian landscape is always
ready to take the colours of the air and sun. In noonday it smiles
with silvery lustre, fold upon fold of the indented hills and
islands melting from the brightness of the sea into the untempered
brilliance of the sky. At dawn and sunset the same rocks array
themselves with a celestial robe of rainbow-woven hues: islands,
sea, and mountains, far and near, burn with saffron, violet, and
rose, with the tints of beryl and topaz, sapphire and almandine and
amethyst, each in due order and at proper distances. The fabled
dolphin in its death could not have showed a more brilliant
succession of splendours waning into splendours through the whole
chord of prismatic colours. This sensitiveness of the Attic
limestone to every modification of the sky's light gives a peculiar
spirituality to the landscape. The hills remain in form and outline
unchanged; but the beauty breathed upon them lives or dies with the
emotions of the air from whence it emanates: the spirit of light
abides with them and quits them by alternations that seem to be the
pulses of an ethereally communicated life. No country, therefore,
could be better fitted for the home of a race gifted with exquisite
sensibilities, in whom humanity should first attain the freedom of
self-consciousness in art and thought. [Greek: Aei dia lamprotatou
bainontes habrôs aitheros]--ever delicately moving through most
translucent air--said Euripides of the Athenians: and truly the
bright air of Attica was made to be breathed by men in whom the
light of culture should begin to shine. [Greek: Iostephanos] is an
epithet of Aristophanes for his city; and if not crowned with other
violets, Athens wears for her garland the air-empurpled
hills--Hymettus, Lycabettus, Pentelicus, and Parnes.[1]
Consequently, while still the Greeks of Homer's age were Achaians,
while Argos was the titular seat of Hellenic empire, and the mythic
deeds of the heroes were being enacted in Thebes or Mycenæ, Athens
did but bide her time, waiting to manifest herself as the true
godchild of Pallas, who sprang perfect from the brain of Zeus,
Pallas, who is the light of cloudless heaven emerging after storms.
And Pallas, when she planted her chosen people in Attica, knew well
what she was doing. To the far-seeing eyes of the goddess, although
the first-fruits of song and science and philosophy might be reaped
upon the shores of the Ægean and the islands, yet the days were
clearly descried when Athens should stretch forth her hand to hold
the lamp of all her founder loved for Europe. As the priest of Egypt
told Solon: 'She chose the spot of earth in which you were born,
because she saw that the happy temperament of the seasons in that
land would produce the wisest of men. Wherefore the goddess, who was
a lover both of war and wisdom, selected and first of all settled
that spot which was the most likely to produce men likest herself.'
This sentence from the 'Timæus' of Plato[2] reveals the
consciousness possessed by the Greeks of that intimate connection
which subsists between a country and the temper of its race. To us
the name Athenai--the fact that Athens by its title even in the
prehistoric age was marked out as the appanage of her who was the
patroness of culture--seems a fortunate accident, an undesigned
coincidence of the most striking sort. To the Greeks, steeped in
mythologic faith, accustomed to regard their lineage as
autochthonous and their polity as the fabric of a god, nothing
seemed more natural than that Pallas should have selected for her
own exactly that portion of Hellas where the arts and sciences might
flourish best. Let the Boeotians grow fat and stagnant upon their
rich marshlands: let the Spartans form themselves into a race of
soldiers in their mountain fortress: let Corinth reign, the queen of
commerce, between her double seas: let the Arcadians in their oak
woods worship pastoral Pan: let the plains of Elis be the
meeting-place of Hellenes at their sacred games: let Delphi boast
the seat of sooth oracular from Phoebus. Meanwhile the sunny but
barren hills of Attica, open to the magic of the sky, and beautiful
by reason of their nakedness, must be the home of a people powerful
by might of intelligence rather than strength of limb, wealthy not
so much by natural resources as by enterprise. Here, and here only,
could stand the city sung by Milton:--

  Built nobly, pure the air, and light the soil,
  Athens, the eye of Greece, mother of arts
  And eloquence, native to famous wits
  Or hospitable, in her sweet recess,
  City or suburban, studious walks and shades.

We who believe in no authentic Pallas, child of Zeus, may yet pause
awhile, when we contemplate Athens, to ponder whether those old
mythologic systems, which ascribed to godhead the foundation of
states and the patronage of peoples, had not some glimpse of truth
beyond a mere blind guess. Is not, in fact, this Athenian land the
promised and predestined home of a peculiar people, in the same
sense as that in which Palestine was the heritage by faith of a
tribe set apart by Jehovah for His own?

    [1] This interpretation of the epithet [Greek:
    iostephanos] is not, I think, merely fanciful. It seems to
    occur naturally to those who visit Athens with the
    language of Greek poets in their memory. I was glad to
    find, on reading a paper by the Dean of Westminster on the
    topography of Greece, that the same thought had struck
    him. Ovid, too, gives the adjective _purpureus_ to

    [2] Jowett's translation, vol. ii. p. 520.

Unlike Rome, Athens leaves upon the memory one simple and
ineffaceable impression. There is here no conflict between Paganism
and Christianity, no statues of Hellas baptised by popes into the
company of saints, no blending of the classical and mediæval and
Renaissance influences in a bewilderment of vast antiquity. Rome,
true to her historical vocation, embraces in her ruins all ages, all
creeds, all nations. Her life has never stood still, but has
submitted to many transformations, of which the traces are still
visible. Athens, like the Greeks of history, is isolated in a sort
of self-completion: she is a thing of the past, which still exists,
because the spirit never dies, because beauty is a joy for ever.
What is truly remarkable about the city is just this, that while the
modern town is an insignificant mushroom of the present century, the
monuments of Greek art in the best period--the masterpieces of
Ictinus and Mnesicles, and the theatre on which the plays of the
tragedians were produced--survive in comparative perfection, and are
so far unencumbered with subsequent edifices that the actual Athens
of Pericles absorbs our attention. There is nothing of any
consequence intermediate between us and the fourth century B.C. Seen
from a distance the Acropolis presents nearly the same appearance as
it offered to Spartan guardsmen when they paced the ramparts of
Deceleia. Nature around is all unaltered. Except that more villages,
enclosed with olive-groves and vineyards, were sprinkled over those
bare hills in classic days, no essential change in the landscape has
taken place, no transformation, for example, of equal magnitude with
that which converted the Campagna of Rome from a plain of cities to
a poisonous solitude. All through the centuries which divide us from
the age of Hadrian--centuries unfilled, as far as Athens is
concerned, with memorable deeds or national activity--the Acropolis
has stood uncovered to the sun. The tones of the marble of
Pentelicus have daily grown more golden; decay has here and there
invaded frieze and capital; war too has done its work, shattering
the Parthenon in 1687 by the explosion of a powder magazine, and the
Propylæa in 1656 by a similar accident, and seaming the colonnades
that still remain with cannon-balls in 1827. Yet in spite of time
and violence the Acropolis survives, a miracle of beauty: like an
everlasting flower, through all that lapse of years it has spread
its coronal of marbles to the air, unheeded. And now, more than
ever, its temples seem to be incorporate with the rock they crown.
The slabs of column and basement have grown together by long
pressure or molecular adhesion into a coherent whole. Nor have weeds
or creeping ivy invaded the glittering fragments that strew the
sacred hill. The sun's kiss alone has caused a change from white to
amber-hued or russet. Meanwhile, the exquisite adaptation of Greek
building to Greek landscape has been enhanced rather than impaired
by that 'unimaginable touch of time,' which has broken the
regularity of outline, softened the chisel-work of the sculptor, and
confounded the painter's fretwork in one tint of glowing gold. The
Parthenon, the Erechtheum, and the Propylæa have become one with the
hill on which they cluster, as needful to the scenery around them as
the everlasting mountains, as sympathetic as the rest of nature to
the successions of morning and evening, which waken them to
passionate life by the magic touch of colour.

Thus there is no intrusive element in Athens to distract the mind
from memories of its most glorious past. Walk into the theatre of
Dionysus. The sculptures that support the stage--Sileni bending
beneath the weight of cornices, and lines of graceful youths and
maidens--are still in their ancient station.[1] The pavement of the
orchestra, once trodden by Athenian choruses, presents its
tessellated marbles to our feet; and we may choose the seat of
priest or archon or herald or thesmothetes, when we wish to summon
before our mind's eye the pomp of the 'Agamemnon' or the dances of
the 'Birds' and 'Clouds.' Each seat still bears some carven
name--[Greek: IEREÔS TÔN MOUSÔN] or [Greek: IEREÔS ASKAÊPIOU]--and
that of the priest of Dionysus is beautifully wrought with Bacchic
basreliefs. One of them, inscribed [Greek: IEREÔS ANTINOOU], proves
indeed that the extant chairs were placed here in the age of
Hadrian, who completed the vast temple of Zeus Olympius, and filled
its precincts with statues of his favourite, and named a new Athens
after his own name.[2] Yet we need not doubt that their position
round the orchestra is traditional, and that even in their form they
do not differ from those which the priests and officers of Athens
used from the time of Æschylus downward. Probably a slave brought
cushion and footstool to complete the comfort of these stately
armchairs. Nothing else is wanted to render them fit now for their
august occupants; and we may imagine the long-stoled greybearded men
throned in state, each with his wand and with appropriate fillets on
his head. As we rest here in the light of the full moon, which
simplifies all outlines and heals with tender touch the wounds of
ages, it is easy enough to dream ourselves into the belief that the
ghosts of dead actors may once more glide across the stage.
Fiery-hearted Medea, statuesque Antigone, Prometheus silent beneath
the hammer-strokes of Force and Strength, Orestes hounded by his
mother's Furies, Cassandra aghast before the palace of Mycenæ,
pure-souled Hippolytus, ruthful Alcestis, the divine youth of Helen,
and Clytemnestra in her queenliness, emerge like faint grey films
against the bluish background of Hymettus. The night air seems vocal
with echoes of old Greek, more felt than heard, like voices wafted
to our sense in sleep, the sound whereof we do not seize, though the
burden lingers in our memory.

    [1] It is true, however, that these sculptures belong to a
    comparatively late period, and that the theatre underwent
    some alterations in Roman days, so that the stage is now
    probably a few yards farther from the seats than in the
    time of Sophocles.

    [2] It is not a little surprising to come upon this relic
    of the worship of the young Bithynian at Athens in the
    theatre still consecrated by the memories of Æschylus and

In like manner, when moonlight, falling aslant upon the Propylæa,
restores the marble masonry to its original whiteness, and the
shattered heaps of ruined colonnades are veiled in shadow, and every
form seems larger, grander, and more perfect than by day, it is well
to sit upon the lowest steps, and looking upwards, to remember what
processions passed along this way bearing the sacred peplus to
Athene. The Panathenaic pomp, which Pheidias and his pupils carved
upon the friezes of the Parthenon, took place once in five years, on
one of the last days of July.[1] All the citizens joined in the
honour paid to their patroness. Old men bearing olive-branches,
young men clothed in bronze, chapleted youths singing the praise of
Pallas in prosodial hymns, maidens carrying holy vessels, aliens
bending beneath the weight of urns, servants of the temple leading
oxen crowned with fillets, troops of horsemen reining in impetuous
steeds: all these pass before us in the frieze of Pheidias. But to
our imagination must be left what he has refrained from sculpturing,
the chariot formed like a ship, in which the most illustrious nobles
of Athens sat, splendidly arrayed, beneath the crocus-coloured
curtain or peplus outspread upon a mast. Some concealed machinery
caused this car to move; but whether it passed through the Propylæa,
and entered the Acropolis, admits of doubt. It is, however, certain
that the procession which ascended those steep slabs, and before
whom the vast gates of the Propylæa swang open with the clangour of
resounding bronze, included not only the citizens of Athens and
their attendant aliens, but also troops of cavalry and chariots; for
the mark of chariot-wheels can still be traced upon the rock. The
ascent is so abrupt that this multitude moved but slowly. Splendid
indeed, beyond any pomp of modern ceremonial, must have been the
spectacle of the well-ordered procession, advancing through those
giant colonnades to the sound of flutes and solemn chants--the
shrill clear voices of boys in antiphonal chorus rising above the
confused murmurs of such a crowd, the chafing of horses' hoofs upon
the stone, and the lowing of bewildered oxen.

    [1] My purpose being merely picturesque, I have ignored
    the grave antiquarian difficulties which beset the
    interpretation of this frieze.

To realise by fancy the many-coloured radiance of the temples, and
the rich dresses of the votaries illuminated by that sharp light of
a Greek sun, which defines outline and shadow and gives value to the
faintest hue, would be impossible. All we can know for positive
about the chromatic decoration of the Greeks is, that whiteness
artificially subdued to the tone of ivory prevailed throughout the
stonework of the buildings, while blue and red and green in
distinct, yet interwoven patterns, added richness to the fretwork
and the sculpture of pediment and frieze. The sacramental robes of
the worshippers accorded doubtless with this harmony, wherein colour
was subordinate to light, and light was toned to softness.

Musing thus upon the staircase of the Propylæa, we may say with
truth that all our modern art is but child's play to that of the
Greeks. Very soul-subduing is the gloom of a cathedral like the
Milanese Duomo, when the incense rises in blue clouds athwart the
bands of sunlight falling from the dome, and the crying of choirs
upborne upon the wings of organ music fills the whole vast space
with a mystery of melody. Yet such ceremonial pomps as this are as
dreams and the shapes of visions, when compared with the clearly
defined splendours of a Greek procession through marble peristyles
in open air beneath the sun and sky. That spectacle combined the
harmonies of perfect human forms in movement with the divine shapes
of statues, the radiance of carefully selected vestments with hues
inwrought upon pure marble. The rhythms and the melodies of the
Doric mood were sympathetic to the proportions of the Doric
colonnades. The grove of pillars through which the pageant passed
grew from the living rock into shapes of beauty, fulfilling by the
inbreathed spirit of man Nature's blind yearning after absolute
completion. The sun himself--not thwarted by artificial gloom, or
tricked with alien colours of stained glass--was made to minister in
all his strength to a pomp, the pride of which was the display of
form in manifold magnificence. The ritual of the Greeks was the
ritual of a race at one with Nature, glorying in its affiliation to
the mighty mother of all life, and striving to add by human art the
coping-stone and final touch to her achievement. The ritual of the
Catholic Church is the ritual of a race shut out from Nature,
holding no communion with the powers of earth and air, but turning
the spirit inwards and aiming at the concentration of the whole soul
upon an unseen God. The temple of the Greeks was the house of a
present deity; its cell his chamber; its statue his reality. The
Christian cathedral is the fane where God who is a spirit is
worshipped; no statue fills the choir from wall to wall and lifts
its forehead to the roof; but the vacant aisles, with their
convergent arches soaring upwards to the dome, are made to suggest
the brooding of infinite and omnipresent Godhead. It was the object
of the Greek artist to preserve a just proportion between the god's
statue and his house, in order that the worshipper might approach
him as a subject draws near to his monarch's throne. The Christian
architect seeks to affect the emotions of the votary with a sense of
vastness filled with unseen power. Our cathedrals are symbols of the
universe where God is everywhere pavilioned and invisible. The Greek
temple was a practical, utilitarian dwelling-house, made beautiful
enough to suit divinity. The modern church is an idea expressed in
stone, an aspiration of the spirit, shooting up from arch and
pinnacle and spire into illimitable fields of air.

It follows from these differences between the religious aims of
Pagan and Christian architecture, that the former was far more
favourable to the plastic arts. No beautiful or simple incident of
human life was an inappropriate subject for the sculptor, in
adorning the houses of gods who were themselves but human on a
higher level; and the ritual whereby the gods were honoured was
merely an exhibition, in its strength and joyfulness, of mortal
beauty. Therefore the Panathenaic procession furnished Pheidias with
a series of sculptural motives, which he had only to express
according to the principles of his art. The frieze, three feet and
four inches in height, raised forty feet above the pavement of the
peristyle, ran for five hundred and twenty-four continuous feet
round the outside wall of the cella of the Parthenon. The whole of
this long line was wrought with carving of exquisite delicacy and
supreme vigour, in such low relief as its peculiar position, far
above the heads of the spectators, and only illuminated by light
reflected from below, required. Each figure, each attitude, and each
fold of drapery in its countless groups is a study; yet the whole
was a transcript from actual contemporary Athenian life. Truly in
matters of art we are but infants to the Greeks.

The topographical certainty which invests the ruins of the Acropolis
with such peculiar interest, belongs in a less degree to the whole
of Athens. Although the most recent researches have thrown fresh
doubt upon the exact site of the Pnyx, and though no traces of the
agora remain, yet we may be sure that the Bema from which Pericles
sustained the courage of the Athenians during the Peloponnesian war,
was placed upon the northern slope looking towards the Propylæa,
while the wide irregular space between this hill, the Acropolis, the
Areopagus, and the Theseum, must have formed the meeting-ground for
amusement and discussion of the citizens at leisure. About
Areopagus, with its tribunal hollowed in the native rock, and the
deep cleft beneath, where the shrine of the Eumenides was built,
there is no question. The extreme insignificance of this little
mound may at first indeed excite incredulity and wonder; but a few
hours in Athens accustom the traveller to a smallness of scale which
at first sight seemed ridiculous. Colonus, for example, the Colonus
which every student of Sophocles has pictured to himself in the
solitude of unshorn meadows, where groves of cypresses and olives
bent unpruned above wild tangles of narcissus flowers and crocuses,
and where the nightingale sang undisturbed by city noise or labour
of the husbandman, turns out to be a scarcely appreciable mound,
gently swelling from the cultivated land of the Cephissus. The
Cephissus even in a rainy season may be crossed dryshod by an active
jumper; and the Ilissus, where it flows beneath the walls of the
Olympieion, is now dedicated to washerwomen instead of water-nymphs.
Nature herself remains, on the whole, unaltered. Most notable are
still the white poplars dedicated of old to Herakles, and the
spreading planes which whisper to the limes in spring. In the midst
of so arid and bare a landscape, these umbrageous trees are
singularly grateful to the eye and to the sense oppressed with heat
and splendour. Nightingales have not ceased to crowd the gardens in
such numbers as to justify the tradition of their Attic origin, nor
have the bees of Hymettus forgotten their labours: the honey of
Athens can still boast a quality superior to that of Hybla or any
other famous haunt of hives.

Tradition points out one spot which commands a beautiful distant
view of Athens and the hills, as the garden of the Academy. The
place is not unworthy of Plato and his companions. Very old olives
grow in abundance, to remind us of those sacred trees beneath which
the boys of Aristophanes ran races; and reeds with which they might
crown their foreheads are thickly scattered through the grass.
Abeles interlace their murmuring branches overhead, and the planes
are as leafy as that which invited Socrates and Phædrus on the
morning when they talked of love. In such a place we comprehend how
philosophy went hand in hand at Athens with gymnastics, and why the
poplar and the plane were dedicated to athletic gods. For the
wrestling-grounds were built in groves like these, and their cool
peristyles, the meeting-places of young men and boys, supplied the
sages not only with an eager audience, but also with the leisure and
the shade that learning loves.

It was very characteristic of Greek life that speculative philosophy
should not have chosen 'to walk the studious cloister pale,' but
should rather have sought out places where 'the busy hum of men' was
loudest, and where youthful voices echoed. The Athenian transacted
no business, and pursued but few pleasures, under a private roof. He
conversed and bargained in the agora, debated on the open rocks of
the Pnyx, and enjoyed discussion in the courts of the gymnasium. It
is also far from difficult to understand beneath this over-vaulted
and grateful gloom of bee-laden branches, what part love played in
the haunts of runners and of wrestlers, why near the statue of
Hermes stood that of Erôs, and wherefore Socrates surnamed his
philosophy the Science of Love. [Greek: Philosophoumen aneu
malakias] is the boast of Pericles in his description of the
Athenian spirit. [Greek: Philosophia meta paiderastias] is Plato's
formula for the virtues of the most distinguished soul. These two
mottoes, apparently so contradictory, found their point of meeting
and their harmony in the gymnasium.

The mere contemplation of these luxuriant groves, set in the
luminous Attic landscape, and within sight of Athens, explains a
hundred passages of poets and philosophers. Turn to the opening
scenes of the 'Lysis' and the 'Charmides.' The action of the latter
dialogue is laid in the palæstra of Taureas. Socrates has just
returned from the camp at Potidæa, and after answering the questions
of his friends, has begun to satisfy his own curiosity:[1]--

When there had been enough of this, I, in my turn, began to
make inquiries about matters at home--about the present state of
philosophy, and about the youth. I asked whether any of them
were remarkable for beauty or sense--or both. Critias, glancing at
the door, invited my attention to some youths who were coming
in, and talking noisily to one another, followed by a crowd. 'Of
the beauties, Socrates,' he said, 'I fancy that you will soon be able
to form a judgment. For those who are just entering are the
advanced guard of the great beauty of the day--and he is likely
not to be far off himself.'

  'Who is he?' I said; 'and who is his father?'

  'Charmides,' he replied, 'is his name; he is my cousin, and
  the son of my uncle Glaucon: I rather think that you know him,
  although he was not grown up at the time of your departure.'

  'Certainly I know him,' I said; 'for he was remarkable even
  then when he was still a child, and now I should imagine that he
  must be almost a young man.'

  'You will see,' he said, 'in a moment what progress he has
  made, and what he is like.' He had scarcely said the word, when
  Charmides entered.

  Now you know, my friend, that I cannot measure anything, and
  of the beautiful, I am simply such a measure as a white line is of
  chalk; for almost all young persons are alike beautiful in my eyes.
  But at that moment, when I saw him coming in, I must admit
  that I was quite astonished at his beauty and stature; all the world
  seemed to be enamoured of him; amazement and confusion reigned
  when he entered; and a troop of lovers followed him. That grown-up
  men like ourselves should have been affected in this way was
  not surprising, but I observed that there was the same feeling
  among the boys; all of them, down to the very least child, turned
  and looked at him as if he had been a statue.

  Chaerephon called me and said: 'What do you think of him,
  Socrates? Has he not a beautiful face?'

  'That he has indeed,' I said.

  'But you would think nothing of his face,' he replied, 'if you
  could see his naked form: he is absolutely perfect.'

    [1] I quote from Professor Jowett's translation.

This Charmides is a true Greek of the perfect type. Not only is he
the most beautiful of Athenian youths; he is also temperate, modest,
and subject to the laws of moral health. His very beauty is a
harmony of well-developed faculties in which the mind and body are
at one. How a young Greek managed to preserve this balance in the
midst of the admiring crowds described by Socrates is a marvel.
Modern conventions unfit our minds for realising the conditions
under which he had to live. Yet it is indisputable that Plato has
strained no point in the animated picture he presents of the
palæstra. Aristophanes and Xenophon bear him out in all the details
of the scene. We have to imagine a totally different system of
social morality from ours, with virtues and vices, temptations and
triumphs, unknown to our young men. The next scene from the 'Lysis'
introduces us to another wrestling-ground in the neighbourhood of
Athens. Here Socrates meets with Hippothales, who is a devoted lover
but a bad poet. Hippothales asks the philosopher's advice as to the
best method of pleasing the boy Lysis:--

  'Will you tell me by what words or actions I may become
  endeared to my love?'

  'That is not easy to determine,' I said; 'but if you will bring
  your love to me, and will let me talk with him, I may perhaps be
  able to show you how to converse with him, instead of singing
  and reciting in the fashion of which you are accused.'

  'There will be no difficulty in bringing him,' he replied; 'if you
  will only go into the house with Ctesippus, and sit down and talk,
  he will come of himself; for he is fond of listening, Socrates. And
  as this is the festival of the Hermæa, there is no separation of
  young men and boys, but they are all mixed up together. He will
  be sure to come. But if he does not come, Ctesippus, with whom
  he is familiar, and whose relation Menexenus is, his great friend,
  shall call him.'

  'That will be the way,' I said. Thereupon I and Ctesippus
  went towards the Palæstra, and the rest followed.

  Upon entering we found that the boys had just been sacrificing;
  and this part of the festival was nearly come to an end. They
  were all in white array, and games at dice were going on among
  them. Most of them were in the outer court amusing themselves;
  but some were in a corner of the Apodyterium playing at odd-and-even
  with a number of dice, which they took out of little wicker
  baskets. There was also a circle of lookers-on, one of whom was
  Lysis. He was standing among the other boys and youths, having
  a crown upon his head, like a fair vision, and not less worthy of
  praise for his goodness than for his beauty. We left them, and
  went over to the opposite side of the room, where we found a quiet
  place, and sat down; and then we began to talk. This attracted
  Lysis, who was constantly turning round to look at us--he was
  evidently wanting to come to us. For a time he hesitated and had
  not the courage to come alone; but first of all, his friend Menexenus
  came in out of the court in the interval of his play, and when
  he saw Ctesippus and myself, came and sat by us; and then Lysis,
  seeing him, followed and sat down with him; and the other boys
  joined. I should observe that Hippothales, when he saw the
  crowd, got behind them, where he thought that he would be out of
  sight of Lysis, lest he should anger him; and there he stood and

Enough has been quoted to show that beneath the porches of a Greek
palæstra, among the youths of Athens, who wrote no exercises in dead
languages, and thought chiefly of attaining to perfect manhood by
the harmonious exercise of mind and body in temperate leisure,
divine philosophy must indeed have been charming both to teachers
and to learners:--

  Not harsh and crabbed, as dull fools suppose,
  But musical as is Apollo's lute,
  And a perpetual feast of nectared sweets
  Where no crude surfeit reigns.

There are no remains above ground of the buildings which made the
Attic gymnasia splendid. Nor are there in Athens itself many statues
of the noble human beings who paced their porches and reclined
beneath their shade. The galleries of Italy and the verses of the
poets can alone help us to repeople the Academy with its mixed
multitude of athletes and of sages. The language of Simætha, in
Theocritus, brings the younger men before us: their cheeks are
yellower than helichrysus with the down of youth, and their breasts
shine brighter far than the moon, as though they had but lately left
the 'fair toils of the wrestling-ground.' Upon some of the
monumental tablets exposed in the burying-ground of Cerameicus and
in the Theseum may be seen portraits of Athenian citizens. A young
man holding a bird, with a boy beside him who carries a lamp or
strigil; a youth, naked, and scraping himself after the games; a boy
taking leave with clasped hands of his mother, while a dog leaps up
to fawn upon his knee; a wine-party; a soul in Charon's boat; a
husband parting from his wife: such are the simple subjects of these
monuments; and under each is written [Greek: CHRÊSTE
CHAIRE]--Friend, farewell! The tombs of the women are equally plain
in character: a nurse brings a baby to its mother, or a slave helps
her mistress at the toilette table. There is nothing to suggest
either the gloom of the grave or the hope of heaven in any of these
sculptures. Their symbolism, if it at all exist, is of the least
mysterious kind. Our attention is rather fixed upon the commonest
affairs of life than on the secrets of death.

As we wander through the ruins of Athens, among temples which are
all but perfect, and gardens which still keep their ancient
greenery, we must perforce reflect how all true knowledge of Greek
life has passed away. To picture to ourselves its details, so as to
become quite familiar with the way in which an Athenian thought and
felt and occupied his time, is impossible. Such books as the
'Charicles' of Becker or Wieland's 'Agathon' only increase our sense
of hopelessness, by showing that neither a scholar's learning nor a
poet's fancy can pierce the mists of antiquity. We know that it was
a strange and fascinating life, passed for the most part beneath the
public eye, at leisure, without the society of free women, without
what we call a home, in constant exercise of body and mind, in the
duties of the law-courts and the assembly, in the toils of the camp
and the perils of the sea, in the amusements of the wrestling-ground
and the theatre, in sportful study and strenuous play. We also know
that the citizens of Athens, bred up under the peculiar conditions
of this artificial life, became impassioned lovers of their city;[1]
that the greatest generals, statesmen, poets, orators, artists,
historians, and philosophers that the world can boast, were produced
in the short space of a century and a half by a city numbering about
20,000 burghers. It is scarcely an exaggeration to say with the
author of 'Hereditary Genius,' that the population of Athens, taken
as a whole, was as superior to us as we are to the Australian
savages. Long and earnest, therefore, should be our hesitation
before we condemn as pernicious or unprofitable the instincts and
the customs of such a race.

    [1] [Greek: Tên tês poleôs dunamin kath' hêmeran ergô
    theômenous kai erastas gignomenous autês].--Thuc. ii. 43.

The permanence of strongly marked features in the landscape of
Greece, and the small scale of the whole country, add a vivid charm
to the scenery of its great events. In the harbour of Peiræus we can
scarcely fail to picture to ourselves the pomp which went forth to
Sicily that solemn morning, when the whole host prayed together and
made libations at the signal of the herald's trumpet. The nation of
athletes and artists and philosophers were embarked on what seemed
to some a holiday excursion, and for others bid fair to realise
unbounded dreams of ambition or avarice. Only a few were
heavy-hearted; but the heaviest of all was the general who had
vainly dissuaded his countrymen from the endeavour, and fruitlessly
refused the command thrust upon him. That was 'the morning of a
mighty day, a day of crisis' for the destinies of Athens. Of all
that multitude, how few would come again; of the empire which they
made so manifest in its pride of men and arms, how little but a
shadow would be left, when war and fever and the quarries of
Syracuse had done their fore-appointed work! Yet no commotion of the
elements, no eclipse or authentic oracle from heaven, was interposed
between the arrogance of Athens and sure-coming Nemesis. The sun
shone, and the waves laughed, smitten by the oars of galleys racing
to Ægina. Meanwhile Zeus from the watchtower of the world held up
the scales of fate, and the balance of Athens was wavering to its

A few strokes of the oar carry us away from Peiræus to a scene
fraught with far more thrilling memories. That little point of rock
emergent from the water between Salamis and the mainland, bare,
insignificant, and void of honour among islands to the natural eye,
is Psyttaleia. A strange tightening at the heart assails us when we
approach the centre-point of the most memorable battlefield of
history. It was again 'the morning of a mighty day, a day of crisis'
for the destinies, not of Athens alone, but of humanity, when the
Persian fleet, after rowing all night up and down the channel
between Salamis and the shore, beheld the face of Phoebus flash
from behind Pentelicus and flood the Acropolis of Athens with fire.
The Peiræius recalls a crisis in the world's drama whereof the great
actors were unconscious: fair winds and sunny waves bore light
hearts to Sicily. But Psyttaleia brings before us the heroism of a
handful of men, who knew that the supreme hour of ruin or of victory
for their nation and themselves had come. Terrible therefore was the
energy with which they prayed and joined their pæan to the
trumpet-blast of dawn that blazed upon them from the Attic hills.
And this time Zeus, when he heard their cry, saw the scale of Hellas
mount to the stars. Let Æschylus tell the tale; for he was there. A
Persian is giving an account of the defeat of Salamis to Atossa:--

  The whole disaster, O my queen, began
  With some fell fiend or devil,--I know not whence:
  For thus it was; from the Athenian host
  A man of Hellas came to thy son, Xerxes,
  Saying that when black night shall fall in gloom,
  The Hellenes would no longer stay, but leap
  Each on the benches of his bark, and save
  Hither and thither by stolen flight their lives.
  He, when he heard thereof, discerning not
  The Hellene's craft, no, nor the spite of heaven,
  To all his captains gives this edict forth:
  When as the sun doth cease to light the world,
  And darkness holds the precincts of the sky,
  They should dispose the fleet in three close ranks,
  To guard the outlets and the water-ways;
  Others should compass Ajax' isle around:
  Seeing that if the Hellenes 'scaped grim death
  By finding for their ships some privy exit,
  It was ordained that all should lose their heads.
  So spake he, led by a mad mind astray,
  Nor knew what should be by the will of heaven.
  They, like well-ordered vassals, with assent
  Straightway prepared their food, and every sailor
  Fitted his oar-blade to the steady rowlock.
  But when the sunlight waned and night apace
  Descended, every man who swayed an oar
  Went to the boats with him who wielded armour.
  Then through the ship's length rank cheered rank in concert,
  Sailing as each was set in order due:
  And all night long the tyrants of the ships
  Kept the whole navy cruising to and fro.
  Night passed: yet never did the host of Hellene
  At any point attempt their stolen sally;
  Until at length, when day with her white steeds
  Forth shining, held the whole world under sway.
  First from the Hellenes with a loud clear cry
  Song-like, a shout made music, and therewith
  The echo of the rocky isle rang back
  Shrill triumph: but the vast barbarian host
  Shorn of their hope trembled; for not for flight
  The Hellenes hymned their solemn pæan then--
  Nay, rather as for battle with stout heart.
  Then too the trumpet speaking fired our foes,
  And with a sudden rush of oars in time
  They smote the deep sea at that clarion cry;
  And in a moment you might see them all.
  The right wing in due order well arrayed
  First took the lead; then came the serried squadron
  Swelling against us, and from many voices
  One cry arose: Ho! sons of Hellenes, up!
  Now free your fatherland, now free your sons,
  Your wives, the fanes of your ancestral gods,
  Your fathers' tombs! Now fight you for your all.
  Yea, and from our side brake an answering hum
  Of Persian voices. Then, no more delay,
  Ship upon ship her beak of biting brass
  Struck stoutly. 'Twas a bark, I ween, of Hellas
  First charged, dashing from a Tyrrhenian galleon
  Her prow-gear; then ran hull on hull pell-mell.
  At first the torrent of the Persian navy
  Bore up: but when the multitude of ships
  Were straitly jammed, and none could help another,
  Huddling with brazen-mouthed beaks they clashed
  And brake their serried banks of oars together;
  Nor were the Hellenes slow or slack to muster
  And pound them in a circle. Then ships' hulks
  Floated keel upwards, and the sea was covered
  With shipwreck multitudinous and with slaughter.
  The shores and jutting reefs were full of corpses.
  In indiscriminate rout, with straining oar,
  The whole barbarian navy turned and fled.
  Our foes, like men 'mid tunnies, draughts of fishes,
  With splintered oars and spokes of shattered spars
  Kept striking, grinding, smashing us: shrill shrieks
  With groanings mingled held the hollow deep,
  Till night's dark eye set limit to the slaughter.
  But for our mass of miseries, could I speak
  Straight on for ten days, I should never sum it:
  For know this well, never in one day died
  Of men so many multitudes before.

After a pause he resumes his narrative by describing Psyttaleia:--

  There lies an island before Salamis,
  Small, with scant harbour, which dance-loving Pan
  Is wont to tread, haunting the salt sea-beaches.
  There Xerxes placed his chiefs, that when the foes
  Chased from their ships should seek the sheltering isle,
  They might with ease destroy the host of Hellas,
  Saving their own friends from the briny straits.
  Ill had he learned what was to hap; for when
  God gave the glory to the Greeks at sea,
  That same day, having fenced their flesh with brass,
  They leaped from out their ships; and in a circle
  Enclosed the whole girth of the isle, that so
  None knew where he should turn; but many fell
  Crushed with sharp stones in conflict, and swift arrows
  Flew from the quivering bowstrings winged with murder.
  At last in one fierce onset with one shout
  They strike, hack, hew the wretches' limbs asunder,
  Till every man alive had fallen beneath them.
  Then Xerxes groaned, seeing the gulf unclose
  Of grief below him; for his throne was raised
  High in the sight of all by the sea-shore.
  Rending his robes, and shrieking a shrill shriek,
  He hurriedly gave orders to his host;
  Then headlong rushed in rout and heedless ruin.

Atossa makes appropriate exclamations of despair and horror. Then
the messenger proceeds:--

  The captains of the ships that were not shattered,
  Set speedy sail in flight as the winds blew.
  The remnant of the host died miserably,
  Some in Boeotia round the glimmering springs
  Tired out with thirst; some of us scant of breath
  Escaped, with bare life to the Phocian bounds,
  And land of Doris, and the Melian Gulf,
  Where with kind draughts Spercheius soaks the soil.
  Thence in our flight Achaia's ancient plain
  And Thessaly's stronghold received us worn
  For want of food. Most died in that fell place
  Of thirst and famine; for both deaths were there.
  Yet to Magnesia came we and the coast
  Of Macedonia, to the ford of Axius,
  And Bolbe's canebrakes and the Pangæan range,
  Edonian borders. Then in that grim night
  God sent unseasonable frost, and froze
  The stream of holy Strymon. He who erst
  Recked nought of gods, now prayed with supplication,
  Bowing before the powers of earth and sky.
  But when the hosts from lengthy orisons
  Surceased, it crossed the ice-incrusted ford.
  And he among us who set forth before
  The sun-god's rays were scattered, now was saved.
  For blazing with sharp beams the sun's bright circle
  Pierced the mid-stream, dissolving it with fire.
  There were they huddled. Happy then was he
  Who soonest cut the breath of life asunder.
  Such as survived and had the luck of living,
  Crossed Thrace with pain and peril manifold,
  'Scaping mischance, a miserable remnant,
  Into the dear land of their homes. Wherefore
  Persia may wail, wanting in vain her darlings.
  This is the truth. Much I omit to tell
  Of woes by God wrought on the Persian race.

Upon this triumphal note it were well, perhaps, to pause. Yet since
the sojourner in Athens must needs depart by sea, let us advance a
little way farther beyond Salamis. The low shore of the isthmus soon
appears; and there is the hill of Corinth and the site of the city,
as desolate now as when Antipater of Sidon made the sea-waves utter
a threnos over her ruins. 'The deathless Nereids, daughters of
Oceanus,' still lament by the shore, and the Isthmian pines are as
green as when their boughs were plucked to bind a victor's forehead.
Feathering the grey rock now as then, they bear witness to the
wisdom and the moderation of the Greeks, who gave to the conquerors
in sacred games no wreath of gold, or title of nobility, or land, or
jewels, but the honour of an illustrious name, the guerdon of a
mighty deed, and branches taken from the wild pine of Corinth, or
the olive of Olympia, or the bay that flourished like a weed at
Delphi. What was indigenous and characteristic of his native soil,
not rare and costly things from foreign lands, was precious to the
Greek. This piety, after the lapse of centuries and the passing away
of mighty cities, still bears fruit. Oblivion cannot wholly efface
the memory of those great games while the fir-trees rustle to the
sea-wind as of old. Down the gulf we pass, between mountain range
and mountain. On one hand, two peaked Parnassus rears his cope of
snow aloft over Delphi; on the other, Erymanthus and Hermes' home,
Cyllene, bar the pastoral glades of Arcady. Greece is the land of
mountains, not of rivers or of plains. The titles of the hills of
Hellas smite our ears with echoes of ancient music--Olympus and
Cithæron, Taygetus, Othrys, Helicon, and Ida. The headlands of the
mainland are mountains, and the islands are mountain summits of a
submerged continent. Austerely beautiful, not wild with an Italian
luxuriance, nor mournful with Sicilian monotony of outline, nor yet
again overwhelming with the sublimity of Alps, they seem the proper
home of a race which sought its ideal of beauty in distinction of
shape and not in multiplicity of detail, in light and not in
richness of colouring, in form and not in size.

At length the open sea is reached. Past Zante and Cephalonia we
glide 'under a roof of blue Ionian weather;' or, if the sky has been
troubled with storm, we watch the moulding of long glittering
cloud-lines, processions and pomps of silvery vapour, fretwork and
frieze of alabaster piled above the islands, pearled promontories
and domes of rounded snow. Soon Santa Maura comes in sight:--

  Leucatæ nimbosa cacumina montis,
  Et formidatus nautis aperitur Apollo.

Here Sappho leapt into the waves to cure love-longing, according to
the ancient story; and he who sees the white cliffs chafed with
breakers and burning with fierce light, as it was once my luck to
see them, may well with Childe Harold 'feel or deem he feels no
common glow.' All through the afternoon it had been raining, and the
sea was running high beneath a petulant west wind. But just before
evening, while yet there remained a hand's-breadth between the sea
and the sinking sun, the clouds were rent and blown in masses about
the sky. Rain still fell fretfully in scuds and fleeces; but where
for hours there had been nothing but a monotone of greyness,
suddenly fire broke and radiance and storm-clouds in commotion.
Then, as if built up by music, a rainbow rose and grew above
Leucadia, planting one foot on Actium and the other on Ithaca, and
spanning with a horseshoe arch that touched the zenith, the long
line of roseate cliffs. The clouds upon which this bow was woven
were steel-blue beneath and crimson above; and the bow itself was
bathed in fire--its violets and greens and yellows visibly ignited
by the liquid flame on which it rested. The sea beneath, stormily
dancing, flashed back from all its crest the same red glow, shining
like a ridged lava-torrent in its first combustion. Then as the sun
sank, the crags burned deeper with scarlet blushes as of blood, and
with passionate bloom as of pomegranate or oleander flowers. Could
Turner rise from the grave to paint a picture that should bear the
name of 'Sappho's Leap,' he might strive to paint it thus: and the
world would complain that he had dreamed the poetry of his picture.
But who could _dream_ anything so wild and yet so definite? Only the
passion of orchestras, the fire-flight of the last movement of the C
minor symphony, can in the realms of art give utterance to the
spirit of scenes like this.


Aar, the, i. 20

Abano, ii. 98

Abruzzi, the, ii. 34; iii. 230, 235, 236

Acciaiuoli, Agnolo, ii. 226

Acciauoli, the, iii. 98

Accolti, Bernardo, ii. 83

Accona, iii. 72, 74

Accoramboni, Camillo, ii. 91:
  Claudio, ii. 89:
  Flaminio, ii. 91, 99, 100, 103 foll., 118 foll., 126:
  Marcello, ii. 91 foll., 99, 102, 103, 105:
  Mario, ii. 91:
  Ottavio, ii. 91:
  Scipione, ii. 91:
  Tarquinia, ii. 89, 92, 103:
  Vittoria, ii. 89-125

Achilles, iii. 286

Achradina, iii. 321, 324

Aci, iii. 287

Aci Castello, iii. 284

Acis and Galatea, iii. 284, 285

Acropolis, the, iii. 339, 344, 347

Actium, iii. 364

Adda, the, i. 50, 51, 62, 63, 174

Addison, i. 3

Adelaide, Queen of Lothair, King of Italy, ii. 169, 178

Adelaisie (wife of Berald des Baux), i. 80

Adrian VI. (Pope), ii. 251

Adriatic, the, ii. 1, 3, 56, 59

Æneas, iii. 319

Æschylus, iii. 162, 271, 345, 358-362

Affò, Padre Ireneo, ii. 363 _note_

Agrigentines, the, iii. 335

Agrigentum, iii. 266

Ajaccio, i. 104-120

Alamanni, Antonio, ii. 328

Alban Hills, ii. 32

Albany, Countess of, i. 352

Alberti, house of the, ii. 213

Alberti, Leo Battista, i. 216; ii. 14, 18, 21-29; iii. 102

Albizzi, the, ii. 50, 209, 213 foll., 221, 224

Albizzi, Maso degli, ii. 213-215

Albizzi, Rinaldo degli, ii. 215, 218, 220, 221, 256

Albula, ii. 127, 128;
  Pass of, i. 53

Aleotti, Giambattista, ii. 180

Alexander the Great, iii. 262

Alexander VI., ii. 47, 74, 184, 191, 193, 237, 363 _note_

Alexandria, ii. 19; iii. 189, 190, 201, 253

Alfieri, i. 342, 345-359

Alfonso of Aragon, i. 195, 203; ii. 189, 235

Alps, the, i. 1-67, 122, 123, 126, 133, 209, 258; ii. 8, 129, 168 _et

Amadeo, Gian Antonio, i. 146, 150, 151, 191-193, 243

Amalasuntha, daughter of Theodoric the Ostrogoth, ii. 2, 13

Amalfi, i. 103 _note_; iii. 250-261

Ambrogini family, iii. 101

Ambrogini, Angelo. (_See_ Poliziano, Angelo)

Ambrogini, Benedetto, iii. 101, 102

Ampezzo, the, i. 268

Ana-Capri, iii. 231, 232, 271

Anapus, the, iii. 326, 328

Anchises, iii. 319

Ancona, i. 196, 198; ii. 14, 38, 45, 55, 102, 199; iii. 111

Ancona, Professor d', ii. 276 _note_

Andrea, Giovann', i. 318

Andreini, ii. 269

Angeli, Niccolo, iii. 151

Angelico, Fra, i. 100, 240; ii. 49; iii. 35, 61, 147-149, 151, 248

Angelo, S., ii. 96

Angelo, Giovan. (_See_ Pius IV.)

Angiolieri, Cecco, iii. 1, 2

Anguillara, Deifobo, Count of, i. 202

Anjou, house of, ii. 188

Ansano, S., iii. 70

Anselmi, ii. 158

Antegnate, i. 197

Antelao, i. 268, 283

Antibes, i. 102

Antinoë, iii. 191, 205

Antinoopolis, iii. 191, 205

Antinous, iii. 184-197, 200-229

Antipater, iii. 322, 362

Antiquari, Jacobo, iii. 126 _note_

Antonio da Venafro, ii. 47

Aosta, i. 2

Apennines, the, i. 45, 99, 133; ii. 7, 8, 37, 45, 56, 62, 65, 66, 132
  foll., 145, 168; iii. 91 _et passim_

Apollonius of Tyana, iii. 216

Apulia, i. 87 _note_; iii. 305

Aquaviva, Dominico d', ii. 94

Aquila, i. 196

Aragazzi, Bartolommeo, iii. 95-100

Aragon, Kings of, i. 79

Arausio, i. 68

Archimedes, iii. 325

Arcipreti family, the, iii. 113

Ardoin of Milan, iii. 299, 300

Aretine, the, ii. 83

Aretino, Pietro, ii. 91

Aretino, Spinello, iii. 304

Aretusi, Cesare, ii. 149 _note_

Arezzo, ii. 214; iii. 7, 91, 96, 151 _note_;
  Bishop of, iii. 74

Ariosto, i. 71; ii. 66, 160, 168, 261, 264, 265, 267, 269, 273, 280,
  336, 343

Aristides, iii. 196

Aristophanes, i. 84 _note_; iii. 161, 341, 351, 353

Aristotle, i. 249; ii. 74; iii. 309

Aristoxenus, iii. 262, 263

Arles, i. 76-81;
  King of, i. 79

Arno, the, iii. 91;
  valley of, iii. 41

Arosa, valley of, i. 33

Arqua, i. 167, 168

Arrian, iii. 205

Aruns, iii. 94

Ascham, Roger, ii. 265, 266

Asciano, iii. 86, 87

Asinarus, iii. 327

Assisi, i. 137; ii. 35, 39, 43, 44, 46; iii. 35, 68, 111, 114, 140

Asso, the, iii. 108

Asti, i. 347, 348; ii. 193, 197

Astolphus, ii. 2

Athens, i. 243; iii. 156, 169, 182, 188, 207, 323, 339-364

Athens, Duke of, ii. 207, 208, 233 _note_

Atrani, iii. 251, 254

Attendolo, Sforza, i. 195; ii. 71

Atti, Isotta degli, ii. 17 and _note_, 20

Augustine, S., i. 232

Augustus, Emperor, ii. 1, 14; iii. 215

Aurelius, Marcus, iii. 164, 200

Ausonias, iii. 268

Aversa, iii. 253, 299, 300

Avignon, i. 69-71, 77, 81, 86; ii. 136; iii. 51, 74

Azzo (progenitor of Este and Brunswick), ii. 175

Azzo (son of Sigifredo), ii. 169

Badrutt, Herr Caspar, i. 55

Baffo, i. 259, 260

Baganza, the, ii. 184

Baglioni, the, ii. 16, 47, 71, 236; iii. 81, 113-115, 119-136

Baglioni, Annibale, iii. 132:
  Astorre, iii. 113, 114, 121, 122,
  125, 126:
  Atalanta, iii. 116, 124, 127-129:
  Braccio, iii. 134:
  Carlo Barciglia, iii. 124:
  Constantino, iii. 131:
  Eusebio, iii. 131:
  Filene, iii. 132:
  Galeotto, iii. 124, 132:
  Gentile, ii. 42, iii. 122, 132:
  Gian-Paolo, ii. 47, 220, iii. 116, 117, 122, 125, 127, 128, 130-132:
  Gismondo, iii. 122, 126, 127:
  Grifone, iii. 124:
  Grifonetto, ii. 47, iii. 113, 114, 124-129:
  Guido, iii. 121, 126, 127:
  Ippolita, iii. 131:
  Malatesta, ii. 253, 254, iii. 127, 132:
  Marcantonio, iii. 122, 125, 130:
  Morgante, iii. 119 _note_ 2:
  Niccolo, iii. 120:
  Orazio, iii. 127, 132:
  Pandolfo, iii. 120:
  Pietro Paolo, ii. 41:
  Ridolfo (1), iii. 120, 121:
  Ridolfo (2), iii. 133, 134:
  Simonetto, iii. 123, 124, 126:
  Taddeo, iii. 131:
  Troilo, iii. 122, 127

Baiæ, iii. 242

Balzac, ii. 160

Bandello, i. 155, 157, 158, 270; ii. 116, 265, 271, 277

Bandinelli, Messer Francesco, iii. 10-12

Barano, the, ii. 56-58

Barbarossa, Frederick, ii. 69, 201; iii. 7, 271, 290, 306 _note_ 2

Bari, Duke of. (_See_ Sforza, Lodovico)

Bartolo, San, iii. 59

Bartolommeo, Fra, iii. 63, 99

Basaiti, i. 269

Basella, i. 193

Basinio, ii. 18

Basle, i. 1, 2

Bassano, i. 340

Bastelica, i. 109, 113, 115

Bastia, Matteo di, i. 216

Battagli, Gian Battista, i. 216

Battifolle, Count Simone da, iii. 11

Baudelaire, iii. 280

Baveno, i. 19

Bayard, i. 113

Bazzi, Giovannantonio. (_See_ Sodoma)

Beatrice, Countess, iii. 144

Beatrice, Dante's, ii. 6

Beatrice of Lorraine, ii. 170

Beaumarchais, i. 228, 229, 234

Beaumont and Fletcher, ii. 267, 269

Becchi, Gentile, ii. 192

Beethoven, i. 10, 249; ii. 160

Belcari, Feo, ii. 305

Belcaro, iii. 66, 68

Belisarius, ii. 2; iii. 290

Bellagio, i. 186

Bellano, i. 186

Belleforest, ii. 116

Bellini, Gentile, i. 269, 270

Bellini, Gian, i. 263, 269; ii. 55, 135

Bellinzona, i. 180

Bembo, Pietro, ii. 82, 85

Benci, Spinello, iii. 94

Benedict, S., iii. 73, 81, 85, 248

Benevento, iii. 251, 252, 299

Benincasa, Jacopo (father of S. Catherine of Siena), iii. 50

Benivieni, ii. 305

Bentivogli, the, ii. 47, 178, 224

Bentivogli, Alessandro de', i. 155, 156

Bentivogli, Ercole de', ii. 224

Bentivoglio, Ermes, ii. 47

Benzone, Giorgio, i. 194

Beral des Baux, i. 79, 80

Berangère des Baux, i. 80

Berceto, ii. 131, 133

Berenger, King of Italy, ii. 169

Berenger, Raymond, i. 80

Bergamo, i. 190-207; ii. 82

Bernardino, S., iii. 69, 113

Bernardo, iii. 69-75

Bernardo da Campo, i. 61

Berne, i. 20

Bernhardt, Madame, ii. 108

Berni, ii. 270

Bernina, the, i. 37, 55-57, 60, 64, 126; ii. 128

Bernini, ii. 159

Bersaglio, i. 268

Bervic, ii. 149

Besa, iii. 190, 191, 205

Besozzi, Francesco, i. 156

Bevagna, ii. 35, 38

Beyle, Henri, ii. 102

Bianco, Bernardo, i. 177

Bibbiena, Cardinal, ii. 82, 83

Bibboni, Francesco, or Cecco, i. 327-341

Bion, i. 152; ii. 303

Biondo, Flavio, ii. 28

Bisola, Lodovico, ii. 150

Bithynia, iii. 208

Bithynium, iii. 187, 208

Blacas (a knight of Provence), i. 80

Blake, the poet, i. 101, 265; ii. 273; iii. 166, 260

Boccaccio, ii. 7, 160, 208, 260, 261, 265, 270, 272, 273, 277, 334; iii.
  16, 50, 248, 293

Bocognano, i. 109-111, 115

Bohemond, Prince of Tarentum, iii. 297, 298

Boiardo, Matteo Maria, ii. 30, 66, 269, 343

Boldoni, Polidoro, i. 183

Bologna, i. 121, 155, 192, 196, 326; ii. 29, 47, 85, 185, 224

Bologna, Gian, ii. 86

Bolsena, iii. 140, 141;
  Lake of, iii. 22

Bona of Savoy (wife of Galeazzo Maria Sforza), ii. 230

Bondeno de' Roncori, ii. 178

Bonifazio (of Canossa), ii. 169, 170

Bordighera, i. 102, 103

Bordone, Paris, ii. 109

Borgia family, ii. 66, 117, 363 _note_

Borgia, Cesare, ii. 47, 48, 73, 74, 80, 83, 126, 363 _note_; iii. 131

Borgia, Lucrezia, ii. 363 _note_

Borgia, Roderigo, i. 220. (_See also_ Alexander VI.)

Borgognone, Ambrogio, i. 146-148; iii. 64

Bormio, i. 61, 180

Borromeo family, iii. 14

Borromeo, Carlo, i. 182

Borromeo, Count Giberto, i. 182

Boscoli, i. 341; ii. 246

Bosola, i. 149

Botticelli, Sandro, i. 266; ii. 29, 30; iii. 180 _note_

Bötticher, Charles, iii. 225

Bourbon, Duke of, i. 158;
  Constable of, ii. 252

Bracciano, Duke of, ii. 91 foll., 104

Bracciano, second Duke of, ii. 93, 99, 101

Braccio, i. 195, 197, 204, 207; ii. 47; iii. 81

Braccio, Filippo da, iii. 124-126

Bracciolini, Poggio, iii. 96, 336

Bragadin, Aloisio, ii. 101

Bramante, i. 216, 243

Brancacci, Cardinal, iii. 96

Brancaleone, Senator, iii. 336

Brancaleoni family, ii. 66, 69

Bregaglia, i. 35;
  valley of, i. 184

Brenner, the, ii. 168

Brenta, the, i. 258

Brescia, i. 63, 200; ii. 103, 169

Brest, Anna Maria, ii. 149

Brianza, the, i. 185, 186

Brolio, iii. 94

Bronte, iii. 279

Browne, Sir Thomas, i. 44; iii. 337

Browning, Robert, ii. 102, 270, 273, 281; iii. 173

Browning, Mrs., ii. 270, 271; iii. 173

Bruni, Lionardo, iii. 96, 98, 99

Buol family, the, i. 35, 36, 40, 41, 49, 61

Buol, Herr, i. 34-36

Buonaparte family, the, i. 119, 120

Buonarroti, Michel Angelo, i. 176, 193, 221, 236, 243, 326; ii. 21, 30,
  40, 152, 158, 160, 161, 178, 253, 332; iii. 20, 22, 145, 146, 150, 154,

Buonconvento, iii. 72, 76

Burano, i. 258

Burgundy, Duke of, i. 202, 203

Burne-Jones, ii. 29

Busti, Agostino, i. 159, 161, 193

Byron, i. 280; ii. 7, 13, 15, 146, 162, 270, 271

Cadenabbia, i. 121, 173

Cadore, i. 267

Cæsarea, ii. 1

Cagli, ii. 56, 69, 74

Cajano, ii. 221

Calabria, iii. 305;
  mountains of, 288

Calabria, Duke of, iii. 11

Calascibetta, iii. 302

Caldora, Giovanni Antonio, i. 202

Caldora, Jacopo, i. 196

Caligula, i. 134-136; iii. 2, 156, 163, 197, 273, 274

Calles (Cagli), ii. 57

Camargue, the, i. 78, 81

Camerino, Duchy of, i. 185; ii. 47, 73

Campagna, the, ii. 32

Campaldino, ii. 206

Campanella, iii. 20, 270

Campèll (or Campbèll) family, the i. 61, 62 and _note_

Campione, i. 175

Canale, Messer Carlo, ii. 363 _note_

Cannaregio, i. 268, 269, 339

Cannes, i. 103 _note_; ii. 143

Canonge, Jules, i. 81

Canossa, ii. 163-179

Cantù, i. 340

Cap S. Martin, i. 90

Capello, Bianca, ii. 93, 126

Capponi, Agostino, ii. 246

Capponi, Niccolo, ii. 253

Capri, ii. 58; iii. 242, 256, 269-276

Caracalla, i. 135; iii. 197

Cardona, Viceroy, ii. 244

Carducci, Francesco, ii. 253, 325

Carini, Baronessa di, ii. 276

Carlyle (quoted), i. 72

Carmagnola, i. 197, 200, 208; ii. 71

Carmagnuola, Bussoni di, ii. 17 and _note_

Carpaccio, Vittore, i. 269, 270; ii. 42

Carpegna, ii. 64

Carpi, Duchy of, i. 185; ii. 168

Carpi, the princes of, i. 202

Carrara range, the, ii. 134, 146, 218, 238

Casamicciola, iii. 234, 239

Casanova, i. 259, 260

Cascese, Santi da, ii. 224

Casentino, iii. 92

Cassinesi, the, iii. 248

Cassius, Dion, iii. 191, 193, 195-197, 219

Castagniccia, i. 110

Castagno, Andrea del, ii. 233

Castellammare, i. 103 _note_; iii. 232, 250, 276

Casti, Abbé, ii. 270

Castiglione, i. 144, 145; ii. 68, 80, 82; iii. 106, 108

Castro Giovanni, mountains of, iii. 279, 302, 304, 320

Catania, i. 87 _note_; iii. 279, 280, 288, 302, 304, 325

Catherine, S. (of Alexandria), i. 136, 142, 153, 155-157, 178; iii. 55,

Catherine, S. (of Sienna), i. 70; iii. 48-65

Catria, iii. 73

Catullus, iii. 180

Cavalcanti, Guido, ii. 261, 308, 325, 343

Cavicciuoli, Messer Guerra, iii. 2

Cavro, i. 109

Cécile (Passe Rose), i. 81

Cefalú, iii. 291

Cellant, Contessa di, i. 157-159

Cellant, Count of, i. 158

Cellini, Benvenuto, i. 2, 189, 240, 241, 328; ii. 25

Celsano, i. 329

Celsus, iii. 211, 219, 220

Cenci, the, ii. 17, 89

Cenci, Beatrice, ii. 102, 270

Ceno, the, ii. 183, 195

Centorbi, iii. 302

Cephalonia, iii. 363

Cephissus, the, iii. 350

Cerami, iii. 304

Cervantes, ii. 160

Cesena, ii. 15, 62

Cetona, iii. 103

Chalcedon, iii. 212

Châlons, the, i. 79

Chapman, George, ii. 268

Charles IV., iii. 6

Charles V., i. 184, 185, 187, 188, 319, 338, 339; ii. 75, 202, 255, 257

Charles VIII., ii. 67, 132, 183, 189 and _note_, 191-197, 238, 328

Charles of Anjou, iii. 315 _note_

Charles the Bold, i. 202

Charles Martel, i. 75

Charles of Valois, ii. 207

Chartres, i. 243

Chateaubriand, ii. 13

Chatterton, ii. 273

Chaucer, ii. 258, 260, 261, 270, 272

Chiana, the, iii. 91; valley of, iii. 90, 97

Chianti, iii. 94

Chiara, S., ii. 36, 37

Chiarelli, the, of Fabriano, ii. 236

Chiavari, iii. 256

Chiavenna, i. 35, 53, 63, 180, 184; ii. 130, 131

Chioggia, i. 257-261

Chiozzia, i. 350, 351

Chiusi, i. 86; ii. 50, 51, 52; iii. 22, 90, 92;
  Lake of, iii. 91, 94, 101

Chiusure, iii. 77, 78, 80

Chivasso, i. 19

Christiern of Denmark, i. 205

Chur, i. 49, 65

Cicero, iii. 321

Ciclopidi rocks, iii. 284

Cima, i. 263

Cimabue, iii. 35, 144

Ciminian Hills, ii. 88; iii. 22

Cini family. (_See_ Ambrogini)

Cinthio, ii. 265, 272, 277

Ciompi, the, ii. 208, 209

Cisa, i. 340

Città della Pieve, ii. 51

Città di Castello, ii. 47, 71

Ciuffagni, Bernardo, ii. 30

Clair, S., ii. 37 and _note_

Clairvaux, Abbot of, iii. 70

Claudian, ii. 57, 343, 344

Clemens Alexandrinus, iii. 204, 217, 219

Clement VI., iii. 74, 132

Clement VII., i. 221, 316, 317, 321; ii. 233, 239, 247 foll.; iii. 138
  _note_, 247

Climmnus, the, ii. 35, 39

Cloanthus, iii. 319

Clough, the poet, ii. 273

Clusium, iii. 93, 94

Coire, i. 183

Col de Checruit, the, i. 15

Coleridge, S.T., ii. 273; iii. 173

Colico, i. 64, 183

Collalto, Count Salici da, i. 337

Colleoni family, the, i. 194

Colleoni, Bartolommeo, i. 192-208; ii. 71

Colleoni, Medea, i. 193, 204

Collona family, ii. 187

Colma, the, i. 18

Colombini, iii. 69

Colonna, Francesco, iii. 103

Colonna, Giovanni, iii. 125, 254

Colonus, the, iii. 350

Columbus, i. 97; ii. 237

Commodus, i. 135; iii. 164

Comnena, Anna, iii. 297

Como, i. 136, 174-189

Como, Lake of, i. 50, 64, 122, 173, 174, 179, 181, 183-186

Conrad (of Canossa), ii. 178

Conrad, King of Italy, iii. 305

Conradin, iii. 298

Constance, daughter of King Roger of Sicily, iii. 297, 318

Constance of Aragon, wife of Frederick II., iii. 307 _note_

Constantinople, ii. 186; iii. 311

Contado, iii. 90

Copton, iii. 205

Corfu, i. 87 _note_, 103 _note_

Corgna, Bernardo da, iii. 125

Corinth, iii. 212, 322, 342, 362

Cormayeur, valley of, i. 9, 14-16

Correggio, i. 137, 140, 163; ii. 126, 147-162

Corsica, i. 85, 102-120; ii. 286

Corte, i. 110, 111

Corte Savella, ii. 96

Cortina, i. 268

Cortona, ii. 48-51, 214; iii. 90, 92, 151 _note_

Cortusi, the, iii. 6

Corviolo, ii. 170, 178

Coryat, Tom, i. 49

Costa (of Venice), Antonio, ii. 150

Costa (of Rome), ii. 33, 146

Courthezon, i. 81

Covo, i. 197

Cramont, the, i. 15

Credi, Lorenzo di, iii. 35

Crema, i. 194, 209-222

Cremona, i. 209, 213, 215; iii. 6

Crimisus, the, iii. 304, 319

Crotona, iii. 319

Crowne, the dramatist, ii. 159

Cuma, iii. 212

Curtius, Lancinus, i. 159, 193

Cyane, the, iii. 328

Cybo, Franceschetto, ii. 239

Dalcò, Antonio, ii. 150

Dandolo, Gherardo, i. 198

Dandolo, Matteo, iii. 133

Daniel, Samuel (the poet), ii. 263

Dante, i. 29, 80; ii. 5, 6, 13, 15, 23, 65, 70, 136, 137, 160, 170, 206,
  207, 261, 262, 269, 273, 277, 305, 343; iii. 2, 19, 25, 36, 43 _note_,
  67, 69, 73, 111, 144, 149, 173, 241, 317

D'Arcello, Filippo, i. 195

Davenant, Sir William, ii. 267

David, Jacques Louis, i. 71, 72

Davos, i. 20, 28-47, 49, 53, 58, 65, 183

Davos Dörfli, i. 53

De Comines, Philippe, ii. 190, 193-197; iii. 45 _note_, 69

De Gié, Maréchal, ii. 199

De Musset, iii. 163, 235

De Quincey, ii. 113; iii. 273 _note_

De Rosset, ii. 103

Dekker, Thomas, ii. 267

Del Corvo, ii. 136

Della Casa, Giovanni, i. 331, 333

Della Porta, i. 193

Della Quercia, i. 192

Della Rocca, Giudice, i. 112, 113

Della Rovere family, ii. 66 (_see also_ Rovere)

Della Seta, Galeazzo, i. 329

Demetrius, iii. 113

Demosthenes, iii. 323, 324, 326, 327

Desenzano, i. 173

Dickens, Charles, iii. 39

Dionysius, iii. 322, 325

Dischma-Thal, the, i. 49

Dolce Acqua, ii. 136

Dolcebono, Gian Giacomo, i. 153

Domenico da Leccio, Fra, iii. 83

Dominic, S., i. 221; iii. 61

Donatello, i. 150, 178; ii. 29, 30, 41; iii. 96, 97, 100

Doni, Adone, iii. 114

Doré, Gustave, i. 264; ii. 15

Doria, Pietro, i. 260

Doria, Stephen, i. 113

Dorias, the, i. 97

Dossi, Dosso, i. 166, 170, 172

Drayton, Michael, ii. 263

Druids, the, iii. 29

Drummond, William (the poet), ii. 263

Dryden, i. 2, 6; ii. 7, 270

Duccio, iii. 144, 145

Dürer, Albert, i. 345; ii. 275; iii. 260

Eckermann, ii. 157, 162

Edolo, i. 63

Edrisi, iii. 308, 309

Egypt, iii. 189, 190, 192, 210 foll.

Eichens, Edward, ii. 150

Eiger, the, i. 12

Electra, ii. 135

'Eliot, George,' ii. 270

Emilia, ii. 16

Emilia Pia, ii. 82

Empedocles, i. 87; iii. 172, 173, 174, 181, 337

Empoli, iii. 41, 87

Engadine, the, i. 48, 55, 56, 61, 183; ii. 128

Enna, iii. 302, 303 and _note_

Ennius, iii. 173, 181

Enza, the, ii. 166

Enzio, King, iii. 298

Epicurus, iii. 173, 174, 181

Eridanus, ii. 131

Eryx (Lerici), ii. 142

Este, i. 167

Este family, the, i. 166; ii. 68, 251, 268

Este, Azzo d', iii. 6:
  Beatrice d', i. 150:
  Cardinal d', ii. 91:
  Ercole d', i. 202, ii. 236:
  Guelfo d', ii. 177:
  Guinipera d', ii. 17;
  Lucrezia d', ii. 77, 83:
  Niccolo d', ii. 236

Estrelles, the, i. 102

Etna, iii. 93, 103, 198, 279-287, 319, 325, 327

Etruscans, the, i. 49

Euganeans, the, i. 258, 281, 282; ii. 168

Eugénie, Empress, i. 119

Eugenius IV., i. 199; ii. 70, 220

Euhemerus, iii. 173

Euripides, ii. 142, 159 _note_, 335; iii. 89, 215, 340

Eusebius, iii. 197, 219

Everelina, ii. 166

Fabretti, Raffaello, iii. 209

Faenza, ii. 47

Fairfax, Edward, translator of Tasso, ii. 265

Fano, ii. 57, 59, 69

Fanum Fortunæ (Fano), ii. 57

Farnese, Alessandro, i. 317:
  Julia, i. 193:
  Odoardo, ii. 180:
  Pier Luigi, iii. 133:
  Ranunzio, ii. 180:
  Vittoria, ii. 76

Farnesi family, ii. 75, 90, 117, 180; iii. 336

Faro, the, iii. 301, 320

Favara, iii. 309

Federighi, Antonio, iii. 62

Federigo of Urbino. (_See_ Urbino)

Feltre, Vittorino da, ii. 70

Ferdinand, Grand Duke of Tuscany, ii. 78

Ferdinand of Aragon, ii. 189, 191, 192, 193, 234; iii. 274, 276

Fermo, ii. 47, 90

Ferrara, i. 166, 167, 171; ii. 67, 68, 168, 169, 185, 221; iii. 6

Ferrara, Duke of, i. 206

Ferrari, Gaudenzio, i. 137-139, 141, 162-164, 177

Ferretti, Professor, ii. 179

Ferrucci, Francesco, i. 343; ii. 254

Fesch, Cardinal, i. 118

Fiesole, i. 86

Filelfo, Francesco, ii. 25

Filibert of Savoy, ii. 91

Filiberta, Princess of Savoy, ii. 247

Filippo, i. 149

Filonardi, Cinzio, iii. 133

Fina, Santa, iii. 59

Finiguerra, Maso, i. 218

Finsteraarhorn, the, ii. 136

Fiorenzuola, ii. 197, 284

Flaminian Way, ii. 55, 57

Flaxman, ii. 15

Fletcher, the dramatist, i. 358; ii. 267

Florence, i. 121, 316, 318, 319; ii. 5, 50, 145, 185, 187, 198, 201-257,
  259, 305, 306; iii. 7, 10, 21, 132, 151 _note_, 317 _note_, _et passim_

Florence, Duke of, i. 187

Fluela, the, i. 29, 37, 54

Fluela Bernina Pass, the, i. 53

Fluela Hospice, i. 59

Foglia, the, ii. 65

Foiano, ii. 50

Folcioni, Signor, i. 217

Folengo, ii. 270

Folgore da San Gemignano, ii. 53; iii. 1-20, 67, 70

Foligno, ii. 37-41, 45, 46, 52

Fondi, i. 318

Ford, John (the dramatist), ii, 267, 277

Forio, iii. 236, 237

Fornovo, ii. 132, 180-200

Fortini, iii. 68

Forulus (Furlo), ii. 57

Forum Sempronii (Fossombrone), ii. 57

Foscari, the, ii. 98

Fosdinovo, ii. 134-137

Fossato, ii. 52

Fossombrone, ii. 57, 58, 69, 85, 91

Fouquet, i. 80

Francesco, Fra, i. 269

Francesco da Carrara, iii. 6

Francesco Maria I. of Urbino. (_See_ Urbino)

Francesco Maria II. of Urbino. (_See_ Urbino)

Francia, Francesco, ii. 33

Francis I. of France, i. 113, 183, 184

Francis of Assisi, S., i. 99, 100; ii. 23, 44; iii. 57, 58, 61, 113

François des Baux, i. 81

Frederick, Emperor, i. 80

Frederick II., Emperor, iii. 297, 315 and _note_, 316-318

Frere, J.H., ii. 270

Friedrichs, iii. 224

Frisingensis, Otto, iii. 7

Friuli, i. 351

Furka, ii. 130

Furlo, ii. 55

Furlo Pass, ii. 57, 58

Fusina, i. 281

Gaeta, i. 318; iii. 235

Galatea, i. 91

Galileo, ii. 27

Galli Islands, iii. 270

Gallio, Marchese Giacomo, i. 179

Gallo, Antonio di San, iii. 90, 102

Gallo, Francesco da San, ii. 253; iii. 247

Garda, i. 173;
  Lake of, ii. 98, 169

Gardon, the, valley of, i. 75

Garfagnana, ii. 168

Garigliano, iii. 247

Gaston de Foix, i. 160, 161, 193; ii. 2, 10

Gattamelata (Erasmo da Narni), i. 197; ii. 41, 71

Gellias, iii. 337

Gelon, iii. 290, 304

Genoa, i. 97, 105, 113, 259; ii. 185; iii. 250, 253, 317 _note_

Gentile, Girolamo, ii. 236

George of Antioch, iii. 307, 311

Gérard, ii. 149

Gerardo da Camino, iii. 6

Ghiacciuolo, ii. 15

Ghibellines, ii. 15, 54, 69, 202 foll.; iii. 17, 43 _note_, 73, 110

Ghiberti, Lorenzo di Cino, ii. 30; iii. 145, 146

Giannandrea, bravo of Verona, ii. 85

Giardini, iii. 287

Giarre, iii. 279

Gibbon, Edward (cited), i. 346

Ginori, Caterina, i. 323, 324

Ginori, Lionardo, i. 323

Giordani, i. 326

Giorgione, i. 345; iii. 247

Giottino, ii. 233 _note_

Giotto, i. 152; ii. 43, 206; iii. 35, 145, 248

Giovanni da Fogliani, ii. 47

Giovenone, i. 139

Giovio, i. 322

Girgenti, iii. 266, 291, 302, 304, 320, 321, 332-338

Giulio Romano, i. 140, 152

Glastonbury, iii. 29, 47

Gnoli, Professor, i. 327 _note_; ii. 102 _note_, 103

Godfrey, the Hunchback, ii. 170

Godfrey, Duke of Lorraine, ii. 170

Goethe, i. 5, 6, 10, 11, 131, 164, 237; ii. 26, 157, 160, 162; iii. 172,
  173, 320

Goldoni, i. 259, 345-359

Golo, the, valley of, i. 111

Gonfalonier of Florence, ii. 83, 206, 209, 243, 245, 253

Gonzaga family, ii. 68

Gonzaga, Alessandro, i. 186:
  Elisabetta, ii. 73:
  Francesco, ii. 73, 194, 196, 197, 345, 363 _note_:
  Giulia, i. 318:
  Leonora, ii. 76

Gorbio, i. 85, 91

Gozzoli, Benozzo, i. 137; ii. 35

Graubünden, the, i. 50

Gravedona, i. 181

Gray, the poet, i. 3; ii. 273

Greece, and the Greeks, i. 101, 102, 240, 244; ii. 18; iii. 155 foll.,
  260 foll., 285-287, 290-292, 320 foll., 339-364

Greene, Robert, ii. 265, 266, 267

Gregory VII., ii. 172, 173-176 (_see also_ Hildebrand)

Gregory XI., iii. 51

Gregory XIII., ii. 88, 95, 96, 97

Grenoble, i. 111

Grigioni, the, i. 49

Grindelwald, iii. 275

Grisons, Canton of the, i. 48, 49, 50, 183, 184, 186, 188

Grivola, the, i. 126

Grosseto, iii. 66

Grote, the historian, iii. 323

Grumello, i. 48, 64

Guarini, ii. 267

Guazzi, the, i. 329

Gubbio, ii. 35, 45, 52-55, 69, 85, 89, 97

Guelfs, ii. 15, 54, 202 foll.; iii. 17, 110, 112

Guérin, ii. 43

Guicciardini, Francesco, i. 319; ii. 75, 255

Guiccioli, Countess, ii. 7

Guidantonio, Count, ii. 70

Guido, iii. 184

Guidobaldo I. (_See_ Urbino)

Guidobaldo II. (_See_ Urbino)

Guillaume de Cabestan, i. 80

Guiscard, Robert, iii. 262, 297, 298, 300

Gyas, iii. 319

Gylippus, iii. 323, 324, 326, 337

Hadrian, iii. 164, 185, 187-205, 208, 210, 212, 224, 225, 226, 228, 343,

Halycus, the, iii. 319

Handel, iii. 40

Harmodius, ii. 135; iii. 155

Harrington, Sir John, ii. 265

Harvey, Gabriel, ii. 265

Hauteville, house of, iii. 252, 253, 254, 290, 294 foll.

Hazlitt, ii. 109

Hegesippus, iii. 188

Helbig, iii. 187

Heliogabalus, i. 135; iii. 164

Henry II. of France, i. 316

Henry III., ii. 170

Henry IV., King of Italy, ii. 170, 173-177; iii. 300 _note_

Henry V., Emperor, ii. 178

Henry VI. (of Sicily), iii. 297, 318

Henry VII., Emperor, iii. 72, 76

Hermopolis, iii. 205

Herodotus, iii. 319

Herrick, Robert, ii. 324

Hesiod, ii. 338; iii. 172, 173

Hiero II., iii. 325

Hildebrand, ii. 163, 171, 172; iii. 300 _note_ 2, 305

Himera, the, iii. 304

Hispellum (Spello), ii. 38

Hoby, Thomas, ii. 265

Hoffnungsau, i. 66

Hohenstauffen, house of, ii. 188, 202; iii. 290, 297, 315

Homer, i. 84 _note_; iii. 155, 226, 286, 287, 320

Honorius, Emperor, ii. 2, 57

Horace, ii. 273; iii. 180

Howell, James, ii. 266

Hugh, Abbot of Clugny, ii. 175, 176

Hugo, Victor, iii. 164

Hunt, Leigh, ii. 15, 146, 270

Hymettus, iii. 351

Ibn-Hamûd, iii. 304

Ictinus, iii. 267, 343

Il Medeghino. (_See_ Medici, Gian Giacomo de')

Ilaria del Caretto, iii. 98

Ilario, Fra, ii. 136, 137

Ilissus, the, iii. 350

Imola, ii. 231

Imperial, Prince, i. 119

Inn river, the, i, 54, 55

Innocent III., ii. 203

Innocent VIII., ii. 184

Innsprück, i. 111

Isabella of Aragon, ii. 192

Isac, Antonio, ii. 149

Ischia, iii. 233, 234, 236, 238, 241

Isella, i. 19

Iseo, Lake, i. 173, 174

Ithaca, iii. 364

Itri, i. 318, 319

Jacobshorn, the, ii. 131

James 'III. of England,' ii. 83

Joachim, Abbot, iii. 141, 142

Joan of Naples, i. 81, 195

John XXII., iii. 74

John XXIII., iii. 96

John of Austria, Don, ii. 77

Jonson, Ben, ii. 267, 268

Jourdain (the hangman of the Glacière), i. 72

Judith of Evreux, iii. 303

Julia, daughter of Claudius, ii. 36

Julian, iii. 197

Julier, ii. 127, 128

Julius II., i. 221; ii. 74, 83, 220; iii. 131

Jungfrau, the, i. 12

Justin Martyr, iii. 197, 219

Justinian, ii. 10, 12

Juvara, Aloisio, ii. 150

Juvenal, iii. 181, 199

Keats, the poet, ii. 262, 263, 270, 273

Kelbite dynasty, iii. 292, 301

Killigrew, the dramatist, ii. 159

Klosters, i. 30, 46

La Cisa, the pass, ii. 132, 133

La Madonna di Tirano, i. 61, 62

La Magione, ii. 46-48

La Rosa, i. 59

La Spezzia, ii. 137-139, 143

La Staffa family, the, iii. 113

Lacca, iii. 236

Lamb, Charles, ii. 110

Lampridius, iii. 197

Landona, iii. 127

Lanini, i. 139-142, 162

Lanuvium, iii. 209

Lars Porsena, ii. 52, 93

Laschi, the, i. 329

Le Prese, i. 60

Leake, Colonel, iii. 325

Lecco, i. 183, 185, 186, 188

Legnano, ii. 198

Lenz, i. 65

Leo IX., iii. 300

Leo X., i. 221; ii. 75, 88, 246; iii. 132

Leonardo. (_See_ Vinci, Leonardo da)

Leoncina, Monna Ippolita, ii. 308

Leopardi, Alessandro, i. 207, 326; ii. 62

Lepanto, ii. 77, 93

Lepidus, ii. 27

Lerici, ii. 139, 142-145

Les Baux, i. 77-81; ii. 136

Leucadia, iii. 364

Levezow, Von, iii. 211

Leyva, Anton de, i. 187

Lido, the, i. 280, 283-286; ii. 1

Liguria, the, i. 97; ii. 178, 283

Lilyboeum, iii. 294 _note_

Lioni, Leone, i. 188

L'Isle, i. 72

Livorno, ii. 145, 214

Livy, iii. 94, 171

Lo Spagna, iii. 114

Lodi, i. 216

Lomazzo, i. 137

Lombardy, i. 19, 49, 61, 121, 122, 129, 133-172, 209; ii. 129, 132, 147,
  165, 168, 182

Lorenzaccio, ii. 41

Lorenzetti, Ambrogio, iii. 8, 36, 43, 44

Lorenzo, Bernardo di, iii. 105

Loreto, ii. 97

Lothair, King of Italy, ii. 169

Louis XI, ii. 237

Louis of Anjou, i. 195

Lovere, i. 174

Loyola, Ignatius, iii. 61

Lucan (quoted), i. 92

Lucca, ii. 145, 168, 170, 203, 211, 214, 218, 286; iii. 4, 98

Lucca, Pauline, i. 224, 226, 227, 229, 233, 234, 237

Lucera, iii. 315 and _note_

Lucius III., iii. 312

Lucretius, iii. 157-183

Lugano, i. 125, 128, 156, 180

Lugano, Lake, i. 122, 125, 169, 185

Luigi, Pier, ii. 180

Luini, i. 141, 148, 153, 154, 155, 156, 157, 162, 164-166, 177, 178;
  iii. 184

Luna, Etruscan, ii. 131

Luziano of Lauranna, ii. 78

Lyly, John, ii. 268

Lysimeleia, iii. 327

Macedonia, iii. 323

Machiavelli, ii. 16, 41, 75, 117, 219, 220, 225, 231, 250; iii. 131

Macugnaga, i. 18, 20; iii. 282

Madrid, iii. 223

Magenta, i. 127

Maggiore, Lake, i. 124, 173

Magnanapoli, ii. 95, 96, 103

Magnani, Giuseppe, ii. 150

Magra, the, ii. 133, 134, 136, 238

Maitani, Lorenzo, iii. 142

Majano, Benedetto da, ii. 30

Malamocco, i. 257, 280, 281

Malaspina family, ii. 134, 136

Malaspina, Moroello, ii. 136

Malaterra, Godfrey, iii. 298

Malatesta family, ii. 15-17, 62, 66, 69, 71, 278; iii. 121

Malatesta, Gian Galeazzo, ii. 16

Malatesta, Giovanni, ii. 15

Malatesta, Sigismondo Pandolfo, i. 135, 202, 203; ii. 14, 16-21, 72;
  iii. 7

Malfi, Duchess of, i. 149

Malghera, i. 339

Malipiero, Pasquale, i. 200

Maloja, i. 55, ii. 128, 129;
  the Pass of, i. 53

Malpaga, i. 205, 206

Manente, M. Francesco, i. 329

Manfred, King, ii. 203

Manfredi, the, ii. 47

Manfredi, Astorre, i. 202; iii. 197

Manfredi, Taddeo, ii. 231

Maniaces, iii. 299, 301

Mansueti, i. 269

Mantegna, i. 176; ii. 100, 197; iii. 180

Mantinea, iii. 207

Mantua, i. 340; ii. 68, 70, 74, 168, 185, 345

Mantua, Dukes of, i. 186, 243

Mantua, Marquis of, ii. 194-196, 199

Marcellinus, Ammianus, iii. 197, 205

Marcellus, iii. 186

March, the, ii. 16, 187

Marches of Ancona, ii. 199

Marecchia, the, ii. 14

Maremma, the, ii. 286; iii. 69, 103

Marenzio, iii. 37

Margaret of Austria, ii. 180

Maria, Galeazzo, i. 149

Maria, Gian, i. 149

Maria Louisa, Duchess of Parma, ii. 149

Marianazzo, robber chieftain, ii. 88

Mariano family, the, i. 139

Marignano, i. 186

Marignano, Marquis of. (_See_ Medici, Gian Giacomo de')

Mark, S., ii. 19

Marlowe, Christopher, ii. 159, 181, 258, 267, 268 and _note_; iii. 228

Maroggia, i. 175

Marseilles, i. 2

Marston, the dramatist, ii. 113, 267, 268

Martelli, Giovan Battista, i. 334, 335

Martelli, Luca, i. 340

Martial, i. 2; iii. 268

Martin V., iii. 95

Martinengo, i. 203

Martinengo family, i. 204

Martini, Biagio, ii. 149

Masaccio, i. 144, 145

Masolino da Panicale, i. 144, 145; ii. 55

Mason (artist), ii. 32, 129

Massinger, Philip, ii. 267

Matarazzo, iii. 121, 122, 128, 130, 134

Matilda, Countess, ii. 165, 168, 170-173, 179; iii. 300 _note_ 2

Matteo of Ajello, iii. 308 _note_, 311

Mauro, S., iii. 248

Mayenfeld, i. 65

Mazara, iii. 281

Mazzorbo, i. 282

Medici family, i. 187, 315-344; ii. 66, 90, 117, 187, 208, 209 foll.,
  245, 247, 278

Medici, Alessandro de', i. 315-327, ii. 83, 248, 251, 255:
  Battista de', i. 188:
  Bernardo de', i. 180:
  Bianca de', ii. 233:
  Casa de', i. 317:
  Catherine de', i. 316, ii. 76, 255:
  Clarina de', i. 182:
  Claudia de', ii. 77:
  Cosimo de', i. 319, ii. 225 _note_, iii. 67, 247:
  Cosimo (the younger) de', i. 326, 330, 340, ii. 255, 257:
  Ferdinand de', (Cardinal), ii. 93:
  Francesco di Raffaello de', i. 321, ii. 93, 104:
  Gabrio de', i. 188:
  Gian Giacomo de' (Il Medeghino), i. 179-188, iii. 67:
  Giovanni de', ii. 215, 216, 239, 244, 245, 246 (_see also_ Leo X.):
  Giovanni de' (general), ii. 249:
  Giuliano, son of Piero de', ii. 83, 226, 232, 233, 239, 318, 334:
  Giuliano de' (Duke of Nemours), ii. 239, 244, 245, 247:
  Giulio dei (_see_ Clement VII.):
  Ippolito de', i. 316-319, ii. 83, 248, 251, 255:
  Isabella de', ii. 93, 104, 105:
  Lorenzino de', i. 315, 319-335, 338, 341-344, ii. 83, 255:
  Lorenzo de' (the Magnificent), ii. 67, 184, 185, 187, 216, 218,
    226 foll., 305, 311, 325, 326, 330, iii. 101:
  Lorenzo de' (Duke of Urbino) (_see_ Urbino):
  Maddalena de', ii. 239:
  Piero de', ii. 184, 191, 192, 226, 227, 238, 328, iii. 101:
  Pietro de', iii. 247:
  Salvestro de', ii. 208

Mediterranean, the, i. 2; ii. 145

Melfi, iii. 300

Melo of Bari, iii. 299

Meloria, the, iii. 253

Menaggio, i. 181, 186, 188

Menander, iii. 72

Mendelssohn, i. 10

Mendrisio, i. 122, 175

Menoetes, iii. 319

Mentone, i. 83-93, 94, 98, 102, 103, 106; iii. 250

Menzoni, ii. 285

Mer de Glace, iii. 282

Meran, i. 111

Mercatello, Gentile, ii. 70

Mesomedes, iii. 201

Messina, iii. 288, 292 and _note_, 301

Mestre, i. 339

Metaurus, or Metauro, the, ii. 38, 58

Mevania (Bevagna), ii. 38

Michelangelo. (_See_ Buonarroti, Michel Angelo)

Michelhorn, ii. 127

Michelozzi, Michelozzo, iii. 96

Middleton, Thomas, ii. 267

Mignucci, Francesco, ii. 90

Milan, i. 14, 19, 20, 50, 121, 124, 136, 152-161, 168, 178, 180, 184,
  195, 203, 212, 213, 223 foll.; ii. 185, 186, 190, 191, 224; iii. 151
  _note_, 253, 348

Milan, Dukes of, i. 49, 149, 180, 186, 200; ii. 214

Millet, iii. 77

Milton, ii. 160, 258, 262, 263, 269, 274; iii. 25, 35, 37, 38, 158, 169,

Mino da Fiesole, ii. 81

Mirandola, Duchy of, i. 185; ii. 168

Mirandola, the Counts of, i. 202

Mirandola, Pico della, ii. 21

Mirano, i. 294

Miseno, iii. 238, 239, 242

Mnesicles, iii. 343

Mnestheus, iii. 319

Modena, i. 170, 172; ii. 168, 169, 221

Molsa, Francesco Maria, i. 326

Monaco, i. 92, 102

Mondello, iii. 294

Monreale, ii. 10; iii. 291, 311-314

Mont Blanc, i. 14, 126, 134:
  Cenis, ii. 174:
  Cervin, i. 169:
  Chétif, i. 14:
  Finsteraarhorn, i. 169:
  Genêvre, ii. 193:
  S. Michel, ii. 167:
  de la Saxe, i. 14:
  Solaro, iii. 230:
  Ventoux, ii. 22

Montalcino, iii. 76, 79, 92

Montalembert, iii. 249

Montalto, Cardinal, ii. 90, 91, 95, 98, 103 (_see also_ Sixtus V.)

Montdragon, i. 68

Monte Adamello, i. 174, ii. 168:
  Amiata, iii. 42, 69, 76, 80, 90, 91, 93, 103, 104, 106, 108:
  d'Asdrubale, ii. 66:
  Aureo, iii. 253:
  Calvo, ii. 55:
  Carboniano, ii. 168:
  Cassino, iii. 248:
  Catini, iii. 4:
  Catria, ii. 66, 68, 69, iii. 111:
  Cavallo, ii. 94:
  Cetona, ii. 51, iii. 90, 91:
  Coppiolo, ii. 64:
  Delle Celle, ii. 168:
  di Disgrazia, i. 64:
  Epomeo, iii. 234, 236, 237-240, 241:
  Fallonica, iii. 103, 110:
  Gargano, iii. 299:
  Generoso, i. 121-132, 173:
  Leone, i. 174:
  Nerone, ii. 66:
  Nuovo, iii. 242:
  Oliveto, i. 166, ii. 82, iii. 8, 69, 73, 74 foll., 151 _note_:
  d'Oro, i. 105, 111:
  Pellegrino, ii. 176, iii. 294:
  Rosa, i. 8, 18, 105, 125, 126, 129, 134, 169:
  Rosso, iii. 279:
  Rotondo, i. 111, ii. 33:
  Salvadore, i. 125, 128:
  Soracte, ii. 51:
  Viso, i. 126, 134, 169, 174

Montefalco, ii. 35-37, 39, 45, 46

Montefeltro family, ii. 62, 64, 66, 69-72

Montefeltro, Federigo di, i. 207, 208

Montefeltro, Giovanna, ii. 73

Montélimart, i. 68

Montepulciano, ii. 50, 214; iii. 68, 69, 77, 87-102, 109, 110

Montferrat, Boniface, Marquis of, i. 202

Monti della Sibilla, ii. 46

Monza, i. 199

Moors, the, i. 85, 94; iii. 296, 299, 301

Morbegno, i. 49, 51, 64, 186

Morea, the, ii. 18; iii. 339

Morris, William, ii. 271

Morteratsch, the, i. 56

Mozart, i. 223, 227, 229, 231-237, 249; ii. 153

Mühlen, ii. 128

Mulhausen, i. 1

Murano, i. 268, 282, 333; ii. 1

Murillo, ii. 153

Mürren, i. 9, 11, 14

Musset, De, i. 342

Mussulmans, iii. 290, 291, 294 _note_, 302, 305, 307, 316

Naples, ii. 185, 188, 189, 191, 193, 234, 282; iii. 221, 231, 239, 243,
  253, 254, 256, 270, 276, 289, 317 _note_

Naples, Queens of, i. 79

Napoleon Buonaparte, i. 50, 106, 118, 119, 120

Narni, i. 86; ii. 34, 38

Nash, Thomas, ii. 265

Nassaus, the, i. 79

Navone, Signor Giulio, iii. 4 _note_

Naxos, iii. 288

Negro, Abbate de, iii. 78, 79

Nera, the, ii. 34, 37, 46

Nero, i. 135; iii. 156, 164

Neroni, Diotisalvi, ii. 226, 256

Niccolini, i. 342

Niccolo da Bari, S., iii. 238

Niccolo da Uzzano, ii. 215

Nice, i. 83, 106; iii. 250

Nicholas II., iii. 300

Nicholas V., ii. 28, 187, 236

Nicholas the Pisan, iii. 260

Nicolosi, iii. 283

Nikias, iii. 288, 324, 326, 327

Nile, the, iii. 190, 201, 205

Niolo, i. 112, 115

Nisi, Messer Nicholò di, iii. 2, 3

Nismes, i. 74-77

Noel, Mr. Roden, i. 10

Norcia, ii. 35, 46; iii. 92

Normans (in Sicily), iii. 290 foll.

Novara, i. 19, 124

Oberland valleys, i. 12

Oddantonio, Duke of Urbino, ii. 70

Oddi family, the, iii. 113, 119, 122, 134

Odoacer, ii. 2

Offamilio, iii. 311

Oglio, the, iii. 6

Olgiati, i. 341

Oliverotto da Fermo, ii. 47, 48

Ombrone, the, iii. 108; Val d', iii. 90

Oortman, ii. 149

Orange, i. 68, 69

Orange, Prince of, i. 79, 316; ii. 253, 254

Orcagna, iii. 36

Orcia, the, iii. 104, 108

Ordelaffi, Cicco and Pino, i. 202

Origen, iii. 211, 219, 220

Orlando, ii. 42, 43

Ornani, the, i. 114

Orpheus, ii. 346-364

Orsini, the, ii. 47, 91, 157

Orsini, Alfonsina, ii. 239:
  Cardinal, ii. 47:
  Clarice, ii. 227:
  Francesco, ii. 48:
  Giustina, iii. 125:
  Lodovico, ii. 99, 100, 101, 104, 105, 108:
  Paolo, ii. 47, 48:
  Paolo Giordano (_see_ Bracciano, Duke of):
  Troilo, i. 327 _note_, ii. 93 and _note_:
  Virginio (_see_ Bracciano, second Duke of)

Orta, i. 173

Ortler, the, i. 126; ii. 168

Ortygia, iii. 321, 326, 327

Orvieto, i. 86; ii. 51, 136, 362; iii. 5, 82, 111, 137-154

Otho I., ii. 169

Otho III., ii. 15

Otranto, ii. 235

'Ottimati,' the, ii. 242 foll., 251, 254, 255, 257

Overbeck, iii. 187

Ovid, ii. 338, 344; iii. 149, 268, 320, 341 _note_ 1

Padua, i. 152, 197, 260; ii. 41, 98, 99, 101, 104, 168, 218, 221; iii. 6

Pæstum, iii. 250, 259, 261-269

Paganello, Conte, ii. 102

Paglia, the, iii. 137

Painter, William, ii. 117, 265, 272

Palermo, ii. 10; iii. 252, 290-318

Palestrina, iii. 37

Palladio, i. 75, 256; ii. 29

Pallavicino, Matteo, ii. 91

Palma, i. 263, 269

Palmaria, ii. 142

Palmer, Richard, Bishop of Syracuse, iii. 306 _note_

Pancrates, iii. 201, 204, 205

Panizzi, ii. 43

Panormus, iii. 291

Pantellaria, iii. 294 _note_

Paoli, General, i. 111, 115

Paris, i. 20

Parker, ii. 266

Parma, i. 163; ii. 131, 147-162, 168, 180, 184, 196

Parma, Duke of, ii. 76

Parmegiano, ii. 150, 158, 159

Parmenides, iii. 171, 173

Passerini, Silvio (Cardinal of Cortona), ii. 251

Passerini da Cortona, Cardinal, i. 316

Passignano, ii. 48

Pasta, Dr., i. 123, 124 _note_

Patmore, Coventry, iii. 136

Patrizzi, Patrizio, iii. 72

Paul III., i. 318; ii. 88; iii. 120, 133

Pausanias, iii. 207

Pavia, i. 146-151, 158, 176, 184, 189, 198, 212, 351; ii. 182

Pavia, Cardinal of, ii. 75

Pazzi, Francesco, ii. 232, 233, 256, 335

Pazzi, Guglielmo, ii. 233

Peiræeus, iii. 357

Pelestrina, i. 258

Pelusium, iii. 189

Pembroke, Countess of, ii. 265

Penna, Jeronimo della, iii. 124

Pentelicus, i. 210

Pepin, ii. 2

Peretti family, ii. 90, 94

Peretti, Camilla, ii. 90, 98

Peretti, Francesco, ii. 90, 92 foll., 103

Pericles, iii. 343, 350

Persephone, iii. 290

Persius, iii. 165, 172

Perugia, i. 188, 214, 350; ii. 35, 38, 46, 52, 163; iii. 53, 68, 92,

Perugino, i. 149, 239; ii. 42, 57, 59, 159; iii. 114, 116, 117-119, 184

Perusia Augusta, ii. 45, 46

Peruzzi, i. 152; ii. 49

Pesaro, ii. 59, 69, 76

Pescara, Marquis of, i. 184

Petrarch, i. 72, 73, 74 and _note_, 86, 168; ii. 22, 261, 262, 269, 273,
  280, 303, 332, 344, 365-368; iii. 254-256, 308, 316

Petrucci, Pandolfo, ii. 47; iii. 82

Phædrus, iii. 188, 351

Pheidias, i. 239, 246; iii. 155, 346, 349

Philippus, iii. 319

Philistis, Queen, iii. 337

Philostratus, ii. 293

Phlegræan plains, iii. 235, 239

Phoenicians, iii. 290, 291, 335

Piacenza, i. 142-144, 195, 340; ii. 180, 197

'Piagnoni,' the, ii. 253, 254

Piccinino, Jacopo, ii. 234

Piccinino, Niccolò, i. 207; ii. 70

Piccolomini family, iii. 107

Piccolomini, Æneas Sylvius, ii. 23 (_see also_ Pius II.)

Piccolomini, Ambrogio, iii. 72, 74

Piedmont, i. 129

Pienza, iii. 77, 92, 102, 104-107

Piero della Francesca, ii. 72, 322

Piero Delle Vigne, iii. 316

Pietra Rubia, ii. 64

Pietra Santa, ii. 238

Pietro di Cardona, Don, i. 158

Pignatta, Captain, i. 319

Pindar, iii. 162, 215, 289, 332

Pinturicchio, Bernardo, ii. 42; iii. 62, 105, 114

Piranesi, i. 77; ii. 181

Pisa, i. 340; ii. 170, 203, 211, 214, 239, 244; iii. 145, 253, 304, 311

Pisani, the, ii. 30; iii. 71

Pisani, Vittore, i. 259

Pisano, Andrea, iii. 144

Pisano, Giovanni, iii. 112, 144

Pisano, Niccola, ii. 170; iii. 144, 146

Pisciadella, i. 60

Pistoja, ii. 281, 283, 287

Pitré, Signor, ii. 281 _note_

Pitta, Luca, ii. 226, 256

Pitz d'Aela, ii. 127

Pitz Badin, ii. 130

Pitz Languard, i. 55

Pitz Palu, i. 56

Pius II., i. 202; ii. 18; iii. 62, 104, 105

Pius IV., i. 182, 188

Pius IX., iii. 196

Placidia, Galla, ii. 8, 11

Planta, i. 49

Plato, i. 249; iii. 337, 341, 351, 352, 353

Pletho, Gemisthus, ii. 19 and _note_

Plinies, the, i. 177

Plutarch, iii. 199

Po, the, i. 50, 124, 134; ii. 1, 168; iii. 94

Poggio. (_See_ Bracciolini, Poggio)

Polenta, Francesca da, ii. 15

Politian, iii. 102

Poliziano, Angelo, ii. 233, 237, 273, 305, 306, 308, 309, 312, 314, 318,
  322, 323, 324, 334, 335, 338, 340, 342-344, 345-364; iii. 101

Polyphemus, i. 91

Pompeii, iii. 232, 244

Pompey, iii. 189

Pontano, iii. 242, 243 _note_

Ponte, Da, i. 227, 236

Pontremoli, i. 340; ii. 133, 183, 194

Pontresina, i. 49, 53, 55

Pope, Alexander, i. 6; ii. 273; iii. 172

Porcari, Stefano, ii. 236

Porcellio, ii. 18

Porlezza, i. 184

Portici, iii. 232

Porto d' Anzio, iii. 273

Porto Fino, ii. 142

Porto Venere, ii. 140-142

Portogallo, Cardinal di, iii. 98

Portus Classis, ii. 1, 8, 11, 12

Poschiavo, i. 49, 60

Poseidonia, iii. 261 foll.

Posilippo, iii. 231, 270, 309

Poussin (cited), i. 262

Poveglia, i. 257

Pozzuoli, iii. 232, 241, 242, 243

Prato, ii. 244, 245

Procida, iii. 238, 239, 242

Promontogno, ii. 130

Provence, i. 68-82

Provence, Counts of, i. 79

Psyttaleia, iii. 358

Ptolemy, iii. 205

Puccini (Medicean) party, the, ii. 222

Pulci, ii. 269, 270

Pythagoras, ii. 24

Quattro Castelli, ii. 165, 171

Quirini, the, i. 331

Rabelais, iii. 161

Radicofani, iii. 69, 90, 91, 103, 106, 111

Ragatz, i. 65

Raimond, Count of Provence, iii. 305

Raimondi, Carlo, ii. 150

Rainulf, Count, iii. 299, 300

Raleigh, Sir Walter, ii. 264

Rametta, iii. 302

Rapallo, iii. 256

Raphael, i. 138-140, 149, 152, 239, 266; ii. 27, 37, 46, 56, 82, 83, 85,
  126, 147, 152, 159; iii. 35, 114, 117, 123, 129, 141, 145, 146, 227, 228

Ravello, iii. 259

Ravenna, i. 160; ii. 1-13, 75, 244; iii. 315

Raymond, iii. 52, 53

Recanati, ii. 63

Redi, iii. 95

Reggio d'Emilia, ii. 165, 167-169, 196; iii. 288

Regno, the, i. 196

Rembrandt, i. 345; ii. 156, 275

René of Anjou, King, i. 202

Reni, Guido, ii. 86

Rhætia, i. 49

Rhætikon, the, i. 29

Rhine, the, i. 2

Rhone, the, i. 70, 71, 76, 78

Riario, Girolamo, ii. 231, 232

Ricci, the, ii. 213

Ridolfi, Cardinal, i. 318

Ridolfi, Pietro, iii. 11

Rienzi, i. 70

Rieti, valley of, ii. 34

Rimini, i. 350, 353; ii. 14-31, 60, 70

Rimini, Francesca da, ii. 270

Riviera, the, i. 2, 97, 104; ii. 143

Riviera, mountains of, ii. 142

Robbia, Luca della, ii. 29

Robustelli, Jacopo, i. 61

Rocca d' Orcia, iii. 106, 108

Roccabruna, i. 83, 91, 92

Rodari, Bernardino, i. 175

Rodari, Jacopo, i. 175

Rodari, Tommaso, i. 175, 176

Roger of Hauteville, iii. 295 and _note_, 296 foll.

Roger (the younger) of Hauteville, King of Sicily, iii. 252, 253, 293,
  305, 307-311, 318

Rogers, Samuel, ii. 270

Roland, ii. 42, 43

Roma, Antonio da, i. 328, 329

Romagna, ii. 16, 73, 185, 187, 199

Romano, i. 197

Romano, Giulio, i. 243

Rome, i. 2, 49, 68, 75, 139; ii. 10, 32, 88, 89, 187, 259; iii. 22
  foll., 85, 156, 323

Ronco, the, ii. 1, 10

Rossellino, Bernardo, iii. 62, 105, 106

Rossetti, Dante Gabriel, ii. 262, 263, 270; iii. 1, 3, 17 foll.

Rousseau, i. 5, 6; ii. 27; iii. 157

Rovere, Francesco della. (_See_ Sixtus IV.)

Rovere, Francesco Maria (Duke of Urbino). (_See_ Urbino)

Rovere, Giovanni della, ii. 73

Rovere, Livia della, ii. 77

Rovere, Vittoria della, ii. 78

Rubens, i. 345

Rubicon, the, ii. 14

Rucellai family, ii. 28

Rumano, i. 204

Rusca, Francesco, i. 177

Ruskin, Mr., i. 10, 125

Rydberg, Victor, iii. 224 _note_, 227

Sabine Mountains, ii. 32, 33, 39, 88

Sacchetti, iii. 12, 13, 16

Saintrè, Jehan de, iii. 13

Salamis, iii. 358, 362

Salerno, iii. 250, 262, 268, 299

Salimbeni, house of, iii. 7

Salimbeni, Niccolò de', iii. 3

Salis, Von, family, i. 50

Salis, Von, i. 49

Salò, ii. 98

Salviati, Cardinal, i. 318

Salviati, Francesco (Archbishop of Pisa), ii. 232, 233

Salviati (Governor of Cortona), ii. 50

Salviati, Madonna Lucrezia, i. 320

Salviati, Madonna Maria, i. 320

Samaden, i. 48, 53, 55

Samminiato, iii. 98

Sampiero, i. 112, 113-115

Sanazzaro, ii. 264 and _note_ 1

S. Agnese, i. 85

S. Erasmo, i. 256, 283

S. Gilles, i. 81, 82

S. Pietro, i. 258

S. Spirito, i. 257

San Gemignano, iii. 3, 59

San Germano, iii. 246, 305

San Giacomo, i. 63

San Lazzaro, i. 280

San Leo, ii. 64

San Marino, ii. 60, 62-64

San Martino, i. 173

San Michele, i. 268

San Moritz, i. 55, 58

San Nicoletto, i. 283, 286

San Quirico, iii. 77, 92, 102, 107-110

San Remo, i. 87 _note_, 93-98, 105; iii. 256

San Rocco, i. 265

San Romolo, i. 98-100, 103

San Terenzio, ii. 143, 144

Sangarius, the, iii. 187

Sanseverino, Roberto, i. 158

Sansovino, i. 337 _note_, ii. 17 _note_

Sant' Elisabetta, i. 283

Santa Agata, ii. 64, 90

Santa Lucia, iii. 232

Santa Maura, iii. 363.

Santi, Giovanni, ii. 56, 59

Sappho, iii. 363

Saracens, iii. 252, 263, 294, _note_, 302 foll., 308, 321

Sardinia, ii. 189, 286

Saronno, i. 137, 156, 161-166

Sarto, Andrea del, i. 345; iii. 100

Sarzana, ii. 131, 134, 143, 183, 238

Sassella, i. 48, 62

Sasso Rancio, i. 173

Savonarola, i. 171; ii. 122, 193, 237, 238, 239-242

Scala, Can Grande della, iii. 6

Scaletta, pass of the, i. 49

Scaligers, the, iii. 318

Scalza, Ippolito, iii. 147

Scandiano, Count of, ii. 67

Scheffer, Ary, ii. 15

Scheggia, ii. 55

Schiahorn, the, i. 54

Schwartzhorn, the, i. 54

Schyn, ii. 127

Sciacca, iii. 281

Scolastica, S., iii. 73

Scott, Sir Walter, ii. 273

Sebastian, S., iii. 184, 185

Seehorn, the, i. 29

Seelisberg, i. 14

Segeste, iii. 291, 319, 335

Selinus, iii. 291, 333, 335, 337

Serafino, Fra, ii. 83

Serbelloni, Cecilia, i. 180

Sergestus, iii. 319

Serio, river, i. 204

Sermini, iii. 68

Sesia, the, i. 19

Sestri, i. 103 _note_; iii. 250

Sforza family, the, i. 146, 155, 179, 184, 185, 197, 244

Sforza, Alessandro, i. 202, ii. 72:
  Battista, ii. 72:
  Beatrice, i. 176:
  Cardinal Ascanio, ii. 91:
  Francesco, i. 149, 181, 186, 198, 200, 203, 208, ii. 17 _note_, 71,
    185, 224:
  Galeazzo, ii. 236:
  Galeazzo Maria, ii. 185, 230, 236, iii. 117:
  Giovanni Galeazzo, ii. 185, 192:
  Ippolita, i. 155:
  Lodovico, i. 149, ii. 185, 186, 191, 193, 194, 236, 238:
  Polissena, ii. 17:
  Zenobia, iii. 124, 125, 128

Shakspere, ii. 258, 262, 263, 267, 268, 271-274, 277, 335; iii. 36, 37,
  166, 280, 282

Shelley, i. 5, 10, 25, 26, 87, 166, 232; ii. 138, 140, 143-145, 270,
  271, 273; iii. 172, 186

Shirley, the dramatist, ii. 159

Sicily, i. 103 _note_; ii. 66, 189, 276, 281 _note_, 282; iii. 252, 279
  foll., 286, 288, 290 foll., 319 foll.

Sidney, Sir Philip, ii. 263, 264, 266

Siena, i. 166, 187, 192; ii. 42, 185, 214, 281, 286; iii. 1, 7, 10, 12,
  41-65, 66 foll., 92, 105 _et passim_

Sigifredo, ii. 168

Signorelli, i. 239; ii. 49, 362; iii. 35, 81, 82, 85, 145, 147-152, 154

Silarus, the, iii. 264

Silchester, i. 214

Silvaplana, ii. 128, 129

Silvretta, the, i. 31

Silz Maria, ii. 129

Simaetha, i. 140

Simeto, the, iii. 279, 304

Simon Magus, iii. 216

Simonetta, La Bella, ii. 318, 322, 335, 343

Simonides, iii. 167

Simplon, the, i. 19, 125

Sinigaglia, ii. 48; iii. 131

Sirmione, i. 173

Sixtus IV., i. 221; ii. 73, 231, 232, 234, 235

Sixtus V., ii. 90, 95, 98

Smyrna, iii. 212

Sobieski, Clementina, ii. 83

Socrates, iii. 155, 329, 351, 352, 353, 354

Soderini, Alessandro, i. 332, 334, 335, 338, 341

Soderini, Maria, i. 320

Soderini, Niccolo, ii. 226

Soderini, Paolo Antonio, ii. 192

Soderini, Piero, ii. 243-245

Sodoma, i. 141, 152, 165, 166; iii. 63, 81, 82-84, 184

Sogliano, ii. 15

Solari, Andrea, i. 148

Solari, Cristoforo (Il Gobbo), i. 149, 176

Solferino, i. 127

Solon, ii. 163; iii. 172, 341

Solza, i. 194

Sondrio, i. 49, 61, 63

Sophocles, ii. 160, 161; iii. 215, 287, 345 _notes_ 1 and 2, 350

Sordello, i. 80

Sorgues river, i. 72

Sorrento, iii. 233, 250, 276-278

Sozzo, Messer, iii. 10, 11

Sparta, iii. 323

Spartian, iii. 192, 193, 197

Spartivento, iii. 288

Spello, ii. 35, 38, 39, 41-43, 45, 46

Spenser, Edmund, ii. 258, 262, 264

Spezzia, Bay of, ii. 135, 146

Splügen, i. 64

Splügen, the, i. 50, 53, 64; valley of, i. 184

Spolentino, hills of, iii. 92

Spoleto, ii. 35, 38, 45, 46, 170; iii. 111, 120

Sprecher von Bernegg, i. 49

Stabiæ, iii. 246

Staffa, Jeronimo della, iii. 125

Stelvio, the, i. 9, 50, 61

Stephen des Rotrous, Archbishop of Palermo, iii. 306 _note_ 1

Stimigliano, ii. 34

Strabo, iii. 206

Strozzi family, ii. 75

Strozzi, Filippo, i. 318, 321, 326, 344

Strozzi (Governor of Cortona), ii. 50

Strozzi, Palla degli, ii. 222

Strozzi, Pietro, i. 332

Strozzi, Ruberto, i. 331

Suardi, Bartolommeo, i. 154

Subasio, ii. 45

Suetonius, i. 134-136; iii. 164, 196, 199, 272, 274

Sufenas, iii. 209

Superga, the, i. 133, 134

Surrey, Earl of, ii. 261-263, 271

Susa, vale of, i. 134

Süss, i. 55

Swinburne, Mr., ii. 270, 273

Switzerland, i. 1-67, 105, 129

Sybaris, ancient Hellenic city of, ii. 2 _note_; iii. 261

Syracuse, i. 87 _note_; iii. 262, 279, 288, 290, 291, 294 _note_, 304,

Tacitus, iii. 199

Tadema, Alma, i. 210

Tanagra, iii. 209

Tancred de Hauteville, iii. 294, 295

Taormina, iii. 287, 288, 304

Tarentum, iii. 263

Tarentum, Prince of, i. 79

Tarlati, Guido, iii. 74

Taro, the, i. 340; ii. 132, 183, 184, 195

Tarsus, iii. 212

Tasso, ii. 83, 264, 265, 267, 269, 273, 274, 280, 332, 337, 343

Tavignano, the, valley of, i. 111

Tedaldo, Count of Reggio and Modena, ii. 169

Tennyson, Lord, i. 4; ii. 23, 270, 273, 296; iii. 173

Terlan, i. 63

Terni, ii. 34, 253

Terracina, i. 318; iii. 235

Tertullian, iii. 219

Theocritus, i. 84, 94; ii. 304, 330, 335, 337, 355; iii. 319

Theodoric the Ostrogoth, ii. 2, 10, 11, 13

Theognis, iii. 172

Thomas à Kempis (quoted), i. 98, 100

Thomas of Sarzana, ii. 28

Thrasymene, ii. 45, 46, 48; iii. 90, 91, 101, 111

Thucydides, iii. 321-324, 327, 328, 331

Thuillier, Prefect, i. 109

Tiber, the, ii. 33, 46; iii. 112

Tiberio d'Assisi, ii. 35

Tiberius, ii. 14; iii. 271-274

Ticino, the, i. 124, 211

Tieck, F., iii. 224

Timoleon, iii. 288, 290, 304, 319, 337

Tintoretto, i. 138, 236, 262-267, 269, 281; ii. 147, 156; iii. 158

Tinzenhorn, ii. 127

Tirano, i. 49-53, 61, 62

Titian, i. 337 _note_; ii. 76, 83, 130, 153, 154; iii. 180, 247

Titus, iii. 190

Tivoli, i. 87 _note_; ii. 32; iii. 189, 198, 201, 210

Todi, iii. 111

Tofana, i. 268, 283

Tolomei family, iii. 69

Tolomei, Cristoforo, iii. 70

Tolomei, Fulvia, iii. 70

Tolomei, Giovanni, iii. 8, 70 (_see also_ Bernardo)

Tolomei, Nino, iii. 8, 70

Tommaseo, ii. 283

Tommaso di Nello, iii. 11

Torcello, i. 171, 172, 282; ii. 1

Torre dell' Annunziata, iii. 232

Torre del Greco, iii. 232

Torrensi family, the, iii. 119

Toscanella, iii. 109

Toschi, Paolo, ii. 148-150

Totila, iii. 81

Tourneur, ii. 267

Trajan, ii. 14; iii. 188

Trani, iii. 311

Trapani, iii. 319

Trasimeno, ii. 50

Trastevere, ii. 96

Trebanio, ii. 19

Trelawny, ii. 144, 146

Tremazzi, Ambrogio, i. 327 _note_

Trento, i. 340

Trepievi, the, i. 184, 188

Trescorio, i. 204

Tresenda, i. 63

Trevi, ii. 35, 39, 46, 97; iii. 111

Treviglio, i. 209

Treviso, iii. 6

Trezzo, i. 194

Trinacria, iii. 290

Trinci family, ii. 38, 41

Trinci, Corrado, ii. 40

Troina, iii. 302, 303

Tuldo, Nicola, iii. 53-55

Tunis, iii. 275

Turin, i. 134, 138, 348

Turner, J.M.W., iii. 138, 364

Tuscany, i. 187; ii. 45, 169, 234, 244, 276 foll.; iii. 41 foll., 68,

Tuscany, Grand Duke of, ii. 99, 170, 256

Tyrol, the, i. 89

Tyrrhenian sea, the, ii. 183

Ubaldo, S., ii. 54

Uberti, Fazio degli, iii. 10, 16

Udine, i. 351

Ugolini, Messer Baccio, ii. 362

Uguccione della Faggiuola, ii. 136; iii. 4

Ulysses, iii. 288, 320

Umbria, i. 149; ii. 32-59; iii. 68, 119 _note_ 1

Urban II., iii. 304

Urban IV., ii. 177; iii. 141, 142

Urban V., i. 70; ii. 78

Urbino, i. 203; ii. 45, 58, 66-69, 74, 78-87, 185

Urbino, Counts of, ii. 15, 70

Urbino, Federigo, Duke of, i. 203, 207, 316, 317, 326; ii. 48, 66-68,
  70-73, 78-81, 231

Urbino, Prince Federigo-Ubaldo of, ii. 77, 78

Urbino, Francesco Maria della Rovere, Duke of, ii. 73-76, 85

Urbino, Francesco Maria II., Duke of, ii. 76-78, 86

Urbino, Guidobaldo, Duke of, ii. 73, 74, 79, 80, 83, 84

Urbino, Guidobaldo II., Duke of, ii. 76, 82

Urbino, Lorenzo de' Medici, Duke of, ii. 75, 76, 247

Valdarno, ii. 218

Valdelsa, iii. 69

Valentinian, iii. 191

Valentino, ii. 64

Valperga, Ardizzino, i. 158

Valsassina, the, i. 184

Valtelline, the, i. 35, 48-51, 53, 58, 61, 64, 180, 184, 186, 188; ii.
  168; iii. 94

Valturio, ii. 18

Varallo, i. 19, 136, 138, 164

Varani, the, ii. 47, 71

Varano, Giulia, ii. 76

Varano, Madonna Maria, ii. 85

Varano, Venanzio, ii. 85

Varchi, i. 320-322, 325, 326; iii. 45 _note_

Varenna, i. 173, 186

Varese, i. 144;
  Lake of, i. 124, 173, 174

Vasari, Giorgio, ii. 26, 28; iii. 83, 84, 145

Vasco de Gama, ii. 237

Vasto, Marquis del, i. 187

Vaucluse, i. 72-74

Velino, the, ii. 34, 46

Venice, i. 44, 167, 171, 200, 201, 206, 254-315; ii. 1, 2 and _note_,
  16, 42, 102; iii. 253, 309, 317 _note_, _et passim_

Ventimiglia, i. 102

Vercelli, i. 136-142; ii. 173; iii. 82

Vergerio, Pier Paolo, i. 331

Verne, M. Jules, ii. 139

Vernet, Horace, i. 71

Verocchio, i. 193, 207

Verona, i. 212; ii. 168; iii. 6, 318

Verucchio, ii. 62

Vespasian, ii. 57

Vespasiano, Florentine bookseller, ii. 80

Vesuvius, iii. 230, 232, 234, 235, 239, 242, 245, 276

Vettori, Paolo, ii. 245

Via Mala, the, ii. 57

Viareggio, ii. 145, 146

Vicenza, i. 75, 328-330

Vico, i. 109, 112, 115

Vico Soprano, ii. 129

Victor, Aurelius, iii. 193, 195

Vietri, iii. 250

Vignole, i. 283

Villa, i. 48, 62

Villafranca, i. 83

Villani, Giovanni, iii. 8

Villani, Matteo, ii. 208; iii. 8, 16

Villeneuve, i. 70

Villon, iii. 1

Vinci, Leonardo da, i. 139, 148, 154, 349; ii. 19, 21, 27, 50, 152, 156;
  iii. 82, 228, 238

Vinta, M. Francesco, i. 330

Vire, Val de, ii. 291

Virgil, i. 246; ii. 6, 63, 285, 304, 338, 343; iii. 75, 144, 155, 162,
  172, 180, 181, 186, 215, 268, 309, 320

Visconti family, the, i. 146, 181, 195; ii. 16, 178, 185, 224, 278; iii.
  119, 253

Visconti, Astore, i, 181, 182

Visconti, Bianca Maria, i. 199

Visconti, Ermes, i. 157

Visconti, Filippo Maria, i. 195, 197-199; ii. 215, 224, 235

Visconti, Gian Galeazzo, i. 149, 152; ii. 213

Visconti, Gian Maria, ii. 236

Vitelli, the, ii. 41, 47, 71

Vitelli, Alessandro, ii. 250

Vitelli, Giulia, iii. 132

Vitelli, Vitellozzo, ii. 47, 48

Vitellius, iii. 164

Vittoli, the, i. 114, 115

Vivarini, i. 269

Voltaire, iii. 161

Volterra, ii. 163, 214, 231; iii. 66, 69, 79, 92, 103

Volterra, Bebo da, i. 328-330, 333-341

Volterrano, Andrea, i. 336

Volturno, iii. 239

Volumnii, the, iii. 112

Walker, Frederick, ii. 129; iii. 76

Walter of Brienne. (_See_ Athens, Duke of)

Walter of the Mill, Archbishop of Palermo, iii. 306 _note_, 308

Webster, the dramatist, i. 220; ii. 103-126, 267, 271, 277

Weisshorn, the, i. 54

Whitman, Walt, ii. 24; iii. 172

Wien, i. 45

Wiesen, i. 65; ii. 127

William of Apulia, iii. 298, 299, 305

William the Bad and William the Good of Sicily, iii. 305, 306, 308, 311

Winckelman, iii. 188

Wolfgang, i. 30

Wolfswalk, the, i. 31

Wordsworth, i. 5, 6, 10, 11; ii. 262, 263, 273; iii. 172, 173

Wyatt, Sir Thomas, ii. 261, 262

Xenophanes, iii. 171, 173, 353

Xiphilinus, iii. 192

Zafferana, iii. 282, 283

Zante, iii. 363

Zeno, Carlo, i. 260

Zeus Olympius, iii. 290

Zizers, i. 65

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