« PreviousContinue »
Egerian grotto 1). He assures us that he saw an inscription in the pavement, stating that the foun. tain was that of Egeria, dedicated to the nymphis. The inscription is not there at this day; but Mont. faucon quotes two lines ?) of Ovid from a stone in the Villa Giustiniani, which he seems to think had been brought from the same grotto.
This grotto and valley were formerly frequented in summer, and particularly the first Sunday in May, by the modern Romans, who attached a sa. lubrious quality to the fountain which trickles from an orifice at the bottom of the vault, and, overflowing the little pools, creeps down the matted grass into the brook below, The brook is the Ovidian Almo, whose name and qualities are lost in the modern Aquataccio. The valley itself is called Valle di Caffarelli, from the dukes of that name who made over their fountain to the Pallavicini, with sixty rubbia of adjoining land.
There can be little doubt that this long dell is the Egerian valley of Juvenal, and the pansing place of Umbritius, notwithstanding the generality of his commentators have supposed the descent of the satirist and his friend to have been into the Arician grove, where the nymph met Hippo. litus, and where she was more peculiarly worshipped.
1) "Poco lontano dal detto luogo si scende ad un casaletto , del
quale sono Padroni li Cafarelli, che con questo nome é chiamato il luogo; vi è una fontana sotto una gran volta autica, che al presente si gode, e li Romani vi vanno l'estate a ricrearsi; nel pavimento di essa fonte si legge in un epitaffio essere quella la fonte di Egeria, dedicata alle ninfe, e questa, dice l'epitaffio, essere la medesima fonte in cui fu convertita.» Memoire, etc. ap. Nardini, pag. 13. He does not give the
inscription. 2) “In villa Justiniana extat ingens lapis quadratus solidus in quo sculpta haec duo Ovidii carmina sunt: Aegeria est quae praebet aquas dea grata Camoenis
Illa Numae conjunx consiliumque fuit. Qui lapis videtur ex eodem Egeriae fonte , aut ejus vicinia isthuc comportatus.
The step from the Porta Capena to the Alban hill, fifteen miles distant, would be too consi. derable, unless we were to believe in the wild conjecture of Vossius, who makes that gate travel from its present station, where he pretends it was during the reign of the Kings, as far as the Ari. cian grove, and then makes it recede to its old site with the shrinking city ?). The tufo, or pumice, which the poet prefers to marble, is the substance composing the bank in which the grotto is sunk.
The modern topographers ?) find in the grotto the statue of the nymph and nine niches for the Muses, and a late traveller 3) has discovered that the cave is restored to that simplicity which the poet regretted had been exchanged for injudicions ornament. But the headless statue is palpably rather a male than a nymph, and has none of the attributes ascribed to it at present visible. The nine Muses could hardly have stood in six niches; and Juvenal certainly does not allude to any individual cave 4). Nothing can be collected from the satirist but that somewhere near the Porta Capena was a spot in which it was supposed Numa held nightly consultations with his nymph, and where there was a grove and a sacred
1) De Magnit. Vet. Rom. ap. Graev. Ant. Rom. tom. ir.
1507. 2) Echinard , Descrizione di Roma e agro Romano, corretto
dall'Abate Venuti, in Roma, 1750. They believe in the grotto and nymph. “Simulacro di questo fonte, essendovi sculpite
le acque a pie di esso.»
Hic ubi nocturnae Numa constituebat amicae,
fountain, and fanes once consecrated to the Muses; and that from this spot there was a descent into the valley of Egeria, where were several ar. tificial caves. It is clear that the statues of the Muses made no part of the decoration which the satirist thought misplaced in these caves; for he expressly assigns other fanes (delubra) to these divinities above the valley, and moreover tells us that they had been ejected to make room for the Jews. In fact, the little temple, now called that of Bacchus, was formerly thought to belong to the Muses, and Nardini ') places them in a poplar grove, which was in his time above the valley.
It is probable, from the inscription and position, that the cave now shown may be one of the “ artificial caverns,» of which, indeed, there is another a little way higher up the valley, under a tuft of alder bushes: but a single grotto of Ege. ria is a mere modern invention, grafted upon the application of the epithet Egerian to these nynıphea in general, and which might send us to look for the haunts of Numa upon the banks of the Thames,
Our English Juvenal was not seduced into mis. translation by his acquaintance with Pope: he carefully preserves the correct plural – «Thence slowly winding down the vale, we view The Egerian grots; oh, how unlike the true!»
The valley abounds with springs ?), and over these springs, which the Muses might haunt from their neighbouring groves, Egeria presided: hence she was said to supply them with water; and she was the nymph of the grottos through which the fountains were taught to flow.
The whole of the monuments in the vicinity of the Egerian valley have received names at will, which have been changed at will. Venuti 3) owns he can see no traces of the temples of Jove, Sa.
1) Lib. ii.
сар. 2 “Undique e solo aquae scatnriunt.» Nardini, lib.iii. cap. iii. 3) Echinard, etc. Cic. cit. p. 297, 299.
turn, Juno, Venus, and Diana, which Nardini found, or hoped to find. The mutatorium of Ca. racalla's circus, the temple of Honour and Vir. tue, the temple of Bacchus, and, above all, the temple of the god Rediculns, are the antiquaries' despair.
The circus of Caracalla depends on a medal of that emperor cited by Fulvius Ursinus, of which the reverse shows a circus, supposed, however, by some to represent the Circus Maximus. It gives a very good idea of that place of exercise. The soil has been but little raised, if we may judge from the small cellular structure at the end of the Spina, which was probably the chapel of the god Consus. This cell'is half beneath the soil, as it must have been in the circus itself, for Diony. sius !) could not be persuaded to believe that this divinity was the Roman Neptune, because his altar was under-ground.
Yet let us ponder boldly.
Stanza cxxvii, line 1. “At all events,» says the author of the Acade. mical Questions, “I trust, whatever may be the fate of my own speculations, that philosophy will regain that estimation which it ought to possess. The free and philosophic spirit of our nation has been the theme of admiration to the world. This was the proud distinction of Englishmen, and the luminous source of all their glory. Shall we then forget the manly and dignified sentiments of our ancestors, to prate in the language of the mother or the nurse about our good old prejudices? This is not the way to defend the cause of truth. It was not thus that our fathers maintained it in the brilliant periods of our history. Prejudice may be trusted to guard the outworks for a short space of time while reason slumbers in the citadel : but if the latter sink into a lethargy, the former will quickly erect a standard for herself. Philosophy,
1) Antiq. Rom. lib. ii. cap. xxxi.
wisdom, and liberty, supports each other: he who will not reason is a bigot; he who cannot, is a fool; and he who daros not, is a slave. » Preface, p. xiv, xv. vol. i. 1805.
Great Nemesis ! Here, where the ancient paid thee homage long.
Stanza cxxxii. lines 2 and 3. We read in Suetonius, that Augustus, from a warning received in a dream '), counterfeited, once a year, the beggar, sitting before the gate of his palace with his hand hollowed and stretched out for charity. A statue formerly in the Villa Borghese, and which should be now at Paris, represents the Emperor in that posture of supplication. The object of this self degradation was the appeasement of Nemesis, the perpetual attendant on good fortune, of whose power the Roman con. querors were also reminded by certain symbols attached to their cars of triumph. The symbols were the whip and the crotalo, which were dis. covered in the Nemesis of the Vatican. The attitude of beggary made the above statue pass for that of Belisarius: and until the criticism of Winkelmann 2) had rectified the mistake, one fiction was called in to support another. It was the same fear of the sudden termination of prosperity that made Amasis king of Egypt warn his friend Polycrates of Samos, that the gods loved those whose 1) Sueton. in Vit. Augusti, cap. 91. Casaubon, in the note,
refers to Plutarch's Lives of Camillus and Aemilius Paulus, and also to his apophthegms, for the character of this deity. The hollowed hand was reckoned the last degree of degra. dation; and when the dead body of the praefect Rufinus was borne about in triumph by the people, the indignity was in.
creased by putting his hand in that position. 2) Storia della Arti, etc. lib. xii. cap. iii. tom. ii. p. 422.
Visconti calls the statue, however, a Cybele. It is given in the Museo Pio - Clement. tom. i. par. 40. The Abate Fea (Spiegazione dei Rami. Storia , etc. tom. iii. p. 513.) calls it a Chrisippus.