Chapter XVIII. Rome.

The sun set soon after we had passed Orbetello, and the moon rose about the same time. We had still two hours to Civita Vecchia and four hours to Rome, but I shall never forget the happiness and emotional excitement that prevailed among our passengers, as we were approaching the city of the Caesars and of the Popes, on that pleasant moonlight evening. The light of the full moon cast a charm about every scene, and as we watched the appearance of tropical species of plants and trees under the subdued and enchanted light of the moon and stars, we felt that we were about to enter the celestial city under eminently fascinating circumstances. At 10:00 o'clock we were intently looking from the windows, each for the first glimpse of Rome. Will we reach the Tiber soon? As our train leaped upon the bridge and my French companion first saw the glassy surface of the historic stream, he, half distracted by solemnity of the occasion, exclaimed with a forced but feeble effort, "THE TIBER, the Tiber!" None was his own, and the enraptured Professor, sinking from the effects of an ecstatic swoon, grasped hold of me and with labored enunciation spoke in a low voice, saying, "I feel in-ex-pres-si-ble e-mo-sions!"

At 10:20 we entered the shed of the great Railway Station. It was my good fortune to meet a German porter who conducted me and my new companion to an excellent hotel (Albergo Torino E Trattoria duetto da Abrate - Via Principe Amedo in prossimita alla Stazione) where we took rooms together.

One sees a thousand strange and curious things at Rome that my limited space will preclude me from describing or mentioning, even. The gable-end of the Stazione (Station) has in base relief a representation of the traditional she-wolf nursing the twin brothers, Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome.

Emblems unique and obscure in design, may be seen in almost every street. I saw in one place the hands of a clock dial in the form of snakes.

I did more justice to my eyes than to my feet, during my first day in Rome. The Column of Marcus Aurelius, the Post-Office, Castello S. Angelo, St. Peter, the Vatican, the Colosseum (Amfiteatro Flavia, orColiseo) and the fountains, arches and ruins of ancient heathen temples that I passed on my way, gave me a pretty good practical idea of the Rome that I had read about in the books. Only the approaching darkness and the dread of walking alone through the suburbs of Rome under cover of night, could induce me on the evening of the first day to tear myself away from the crumbling heaps of stones which constitute the ruins of ancient Rome, so charming and grand to behold.

It required about three days of close study before I could readily identify on my map of ancient Rome, the temples of Vespasian, of Saturn, of Castor and Pollux, of Julius Caesar, of Faustina, and of Venus and Roma; the triumphal arches of Titus, of Severus and of Constantine; the Meta Sudarite, and the Column of Phocas, in the Roman Forum; also the Column of Trajan and other objects in the Forum of Trajan, and numerous other ruins of ancient Rome, including the aqueducts, baths, and the little round Temple of Vesta (?) on the left bank of the Tiber.

The Rome of to-day is about a mile and a half square, and has a population of 245,000 inhabitants. Ancient Rome occupied much more territory, and its population was at the beginning of the 2nd centuryabout 1-1/2 million. The ruins of ancient Rome cover a desolate area of several square miles in extent, besides what is covered by the modern city. Its walls are 15 miles in circuit.

Whatever may be said of the 364 churches of Rome, (including seven called Basilicae, namely: St. Peter, St. John Lateran, Santa Maria Maggiore, and Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, within the city, and St. Paolo, San Lorenzo and San Sebastian, outside of the walls), all agree, that

The Colosseum

is the elephant among the ruins of the old city. This stupendous structure is eliptical in form, measuring 615 feet through the longer diameter and 510 feet through the shorter, covering more than 5-1/2 acres of ground. In the height of its glory 87,000 spectators could he accommodated within its walls! It is 156 feet high, but has no roof. The sailors of the imperial fleet used to stretch sail-cloth over it to exclude the burning rays of the sun. The arena is 279 feet by 174 feet. This building was begun in A.D. 72, and dedicated by Titus in A.D. 80. It was inaugurated by gladiatorial combats which lasted 100 days, during which time 5,000 wild animals were killed. About one third of the building is still preserved, and presents a scene to the beholder of overawing magnificence and grandeur. When I walked into the Cathedral of Milan, I felt as if its elevated ceiling was about to lift me up, but, standing in the arena of this vast amphitheater, one feels as if its stupendous walls would crush him to the ground. Close by the Colosseum is the Meta Sudans, and the Arch of Constantine which spans the Via Triumphalis and unites it with Via Sacra (the Sacred Way). This arch has three passages and is adorned with admirable sculptures. It was erected in 311, when Constantine declared himself in favor of Christianity. Following the Sacred way, toward the north, we first come to the arch of Titus and afterwards to

The Roman Forum.

The Sacred Way, it seems, was about 3/8 of a mile in length and extended from the Arch of Constantine or the northern end of the Colosseum near by, to the Capitol. Near the Capitol stands the Triumphal Arch of Septimius Severus, 75 feet high and 82 feet wide, with three passages. It was erected in honor of that emperor and his two sons Caracalla and Geta in A.D. 203, to commemorate victories. It was once surmounted by a brazen chariot with six horses, on which stood Severus, crowned by Victory. The pavement of the Forum, which has been laid bare by recent diggings, lies some twenty feet lower than the level of the street which now passes at the side of the diggings. Near the northern end stands the Column of Phocas, 54 feet high, which was erected in 608 in honor of the tyrant Phocas, of the Eastern Empire. All around the Forum stand what remains of the ancient temples, once dedicated to the deities which it was believed presided over the destinies of Rome, before the advent of Christianity. The broken pillars of ruined temples are seen on every side.

The Tabularium.

The only relics still extant of the ancient Capitol of Rome are the ruins of the Tabularium, erected B.C. 78, by the consul Q. Lutatius Catulus for the reception of the state archives. The modern Capitol covers a part of it. The Tarpeian Rock, from which the condemned used to be thrown by the ancient Romans, is close by this edifice, if the Rupe Tarpeia still pointed out is the veritable one.

Adjoining the Tabularium is the Schola Xantha, "With the Colonnade of the Twelve Gods, whose images Vettius Agorius Praetextatus, the praefectus urbi, and one of the principal champions of expiring paganism, erected here in A.D. 367." The Twelve Gods stand in base relief, on a beautiful vase in the corridor of the Capitoline Museum, in the following order: Jupiter, Juno, Minerva, Hercules, Apollo, Diana, Mars, Venus, Vesta, Mercury, Neptune and Vulcan. It is a remarkable coincidence(?), that there are: First, Twelve Lunations in a year; Second, Twelve Months in a year; Third, Twelve Constellations in the heavens; Fourth, Twelve Gods in the ancient mythology; Fifth, Twelve Labors of Hercules; Sixth, see Law of the Twelve tables(?), Encyclopaedia Britannica on Burying; Seventh, Twelve Sons of Jacob; Eighth, Twelve Tribes of Israel; Ninth, Twelve Apostles of Christ; Tenth, Twelve Virtues and Twelve Vices represented in base reliefs in Notre Dame, Paris; Eleventh, Twelve Colossal statues facing the tomb of Napoleon I.; and Twelfth, Twelve units in a dozen.

It is strange enough that there are a dozen dozen of these curious dozens!

Did Pythagoras not also have twelve spheres to make his sphere-music?

Between the Tabularium and the Forum, about 150 feet southeast from the former, and near the Arch of Severus, are the "remains of

The Rostra,

or orator's tribune, a name derived from the iron prows of the war-ships of Antium with which the tribune was adorned after the capture of that town in B.C. 338. At the end of it was the Umbilicus urbis Romae, or ideal center of the city and empire, the remains of which are recognizable. At the other end, below the street, are a few traces of the Miliareum Aureum, or central mile-stone of the roads radiating from Rome, erected by Augustus in B.C. 28. It is however doubtful whether these names are correctly applied to these remains."

The Temple of Caesar

is situated on the east side of the Forum, with its front toward the Capitol. To this, "Caesar, in addition to other alterations made by him, transferred the tribune of the orators. This was now named the Rostra Julia, and from it, on the occasion of the funeral of the murdered dictator on the 19th or 20th March, B.C. 44, Mark Antony pronounced the celebrated oration which wrought so wonder-fully on the passions of the excited populace. A funeral pyre was hastily improvised, and the unparalleled honor accorded to the illustrious dead of being burned in view of the most sacred shrines of the city. A column with the inscription 'parenti patriae' was afterwards erected here to commemorate the event. At a later period Augustus erected this temple in honor of 'Divus Julius,' his defied uncle and adopted father, and dedicated it to him in B.C. 29, after the battle of Actium. At the same time he adorned the rostra with prows of the captured Egyptian vessels." - Baedeker.

The Baths of Caracalla.

As an example of the magnificence of the ancient Roman baths, we may take the Thermae of Caracalla which could accommodate 1,600 bathers at a time! This establishment, now the largest mass of ruins in Rome, except the Colosseum, was 720 feet long and 372 feet wide. A flight of 98 steps lead to the roof which (the roof) has now tumbled down. This structure covered over six acres of ground, and had its porticoes, race course, &c., surrounded by a wall. The total area of the grounds is nearly 27 acres!

The Baths of Diocletian, erected in the 4th century, were 6,000 feet in perimeter and its number of daily bathers were 3,000.

The Pyramid of Cestius.

"The Egyptian pyramidal form was not unfrequently employed by the Romans in the construction of their tombs." That of Cestius, who died within the last thirty years before Christ, is 116 feet high and 98 feet square at the base. It is constructed with bricks and covered with marble blocks.

Upon the Cemetery of St. Lorenzo, "the great modern burial-ground of Rome," I saw one or several small monuments or head stones which were in the form of pyramids. Here, as in Catholic burial-grounds generally in Europe, crosses take the place of memorial stones, except some of the latest interments are marked by marble slabs and monuments.

The Catacombs

or underground burial-places of Rome, are not quite as interesting as many suppose who have read large chapters and heard long addresses upon the subject. The passages are almost innumerable, intersecting each other in every direction and ranging in some places many stories above each other, but still, as you pass along in the dim light of a little taper, it appears much like a subterranean stone-quarry containing pigeon-holes for the dead.

The Temple of Vesta.

The little round temple referred to on page 244, was once supposed to have been the temple of Vesta, but it is now quite certain that this was a mistake. It is 50 feet in diameter and each of its 20 Corinthian columns which constitute the circular colonnade around it, is 32 feet high. Wherever the Temple of Vesta may have stood, it is evident that from its eternal fires was borrowed the custom, still extant in Catholic churches, of keeping up a perpetual flame by means of tapers. Six Vestal Virgins sworn to perpetual virginity, used to watch the sacred flame upon the altar in the Temple of Vesta, and it is an impressive sight to see the same sacred and eternal flame still burning around the High Altar in St. Peter's. From what may still be seen in Europe in general, and at Rome in particular, it is evident that all or nearly all of the emblems, forms and ceremonies of the early Catholic Church were borrowed from ancient mythology.

Obelisks and Fountains.

The many magnificent fountains of Rome are all adorned with groups representing characters of ancient mythology, as is the case with nearly all the fountains of Europe and America, even unto this day, and the half a dozen or more obelisks of Rome are likewise monuments of the heathen origin of modern civilization. These, it seems, were first erected and dedicated to the sun, as we may infer from the fact that globes representing the sun surmount them. Since the introduction of the Christian religion, a figure of St. Peter with the cross is placed upon some of them. Hence, the development of religious ideas stands chronologically thus: First, Sun-worship and afterwards the elevation of St. Peter, and of the Cross. Judging from what we see on ancient monuments and in the churches, it is perhaps a fair question, whether St. Peter, the Virgin and other saints were not at one time quite as much the' object of worship, as Christ himself?

St. Peter's.

"St. Peter's stands on the site of the circus of Nero, where many Christians were martyred and where St. Peter is said to have been buried after his crucifixion." An oratory (chapel?) stood here as early as A.D. 90. In 309 a basilica, half the size of what St. Peter's now is, was begun by Constantine. It was the grandest church of that time. "The crypt is now the only remnant of this early basilica." The building of the present edifice was commenced in 1506 by Julius II. Michael Angelo worked 17 years at it (to 1564). It was completed and "consecrated by Pope Urban VIII., on 18th November, 1626, on the 1300th anniversary of the day on which St. Silvester is said to have consecrated the original edifice."

This church contains 29 altars, besides the high altar. "Its area is 212,321 sq. ft., while that of the cathedral of Milan is 117,678, St. Paul's at London 108,982, St. Sophia at Constantinople 96,497, and the Cathedral of Cologne 73,903 sq. ft." The nave is 87 feet wide and 150 feet high, and the dome is 138 feet in diameter (5 feet less than that of the Pantheon) and some 450 feet high. One might fill a volume in describing its rich marble pavement, its 148 massive columns, its gilded chapels and ceiling, its fine sculpture, and the thousand and one objects in and about it that render it the most imposing as well as the largest church in the world. Imagine yourself in the middle of a church occupying over five acres, whose High Altar stands under a brass canopy 95 feet high, and weighing 93 tons, and whose Confessio is surrounded by 89 burning lamps! The total cost of the edifice is about $85,000,000. [It should always be remembered that labor has been twice to three times as cheap in Europe as it is now in this country]. "The expense of erecting this church was so heavy that Julius II. and Leo X. resorted to the sale of indulgences to raise the money, and this lead to the Reformation."

The Lateran

is the church of the Pope as bishop of Rome, and here his coronation takes place. "It takes the precedence even of St. Peter, in ecclesiastical rank, being, as the inscription on its facade sets forth, 'c Ominum Urbis Et Urbis Ecclesiarum Mater Et Caput.'"

If St. Peter's had not the advantage of a piazza that is unrivaled in magnificence, I think the lofty facade of the Lateran would present a view of more imposing grandeur, even, than that stately structure. The interior of this church is very beautiful. It must not be supposed that St. Peter's has no rivals in beauty. Even in Rome it does not seem to stand alone. Of the 363 other churches in the great city of churches, there are numbers that vie with it in the beauty and perfection of some particular portions.

Santa Maria Maggiore.

"The Virgin appeared simultaneously to the devout Roman patrician Johannes and to Pope Liberius in their dreams, commanding them to erect a church to her on the spot where they should find a deposit of snow on the following morning (August 5th)." The Basilica Liberiana which was erected in obedience of this vision, was succeeded by a church named S. Maria Mater Dei (A.D. 432) and later by the present edifice. Almost every church in Rome has its legend. I have seen no other church that seemed so rich in gold, precious alabaster and many other kinds of beautiful and costly stones. Its panelled roof is gilt with the first gold brought to Spain from South America, and presented to the Pope by Ferdinand and Isabella.

Near S. Maria Maggiore is the church of

S. Antonio Abbate,

to which are brought the horses, mules, cows, etc., during the week following the feast of the saint (January 17-23). On the 23rd, the Pope and many persons of the higher classes send their horses here to be blessed and sprinkled with holy water.

The Scala Santa

referred to on page 189 of this book, are in a church near the Lateran. They were brought to Rome by the Empress Helena and may only be ascended on the knees. They are partly covered with boards, to save the stones from being worn away by the thousands that ascend it. Two adjoining stairways are for the descent.

S. Pietro in Vincoli

was founded about 442, as the receptacle for the chains of St. Peter, which had been presented by Eudoxia, wife of Valentinian III., to Pope Leo I. This church contains the famous statue of Moses with horns, by Michael Angelo. Mediaeval Christian artists generally represented Moses with horns, owing to an erroneous translation of Exodus XXXIV., 35. Michael Angelo represented these horns upon the head of Moses as having been about three inches in length.

S. Maria in Aracoeli

probably occupies the site of the Temple of Jupiter. Its present altar encloses an ancient altar which is said to have been erected by Augustus. "According to a legend of the 12th century, this was the spot where the Sibyl Tibur appeared to the emperor, whom the senate proposed to elevate to the rank of a god, and revealed to him a vision of the Virgin and her Son."

This church is approached by a very high flight of steps rising from the foot of those leading to the piazza of the modern Capitol, and "the interior is vast, solemn, and highly picturesque. It was here, as Gibbon tells us, that on the 15th of October, 1764, as he sat musing amidst the ruins of the Capitol, while the barefooted friars were singing vespers, the idea of writing the 'Decline and Fall' of the city first started to his mind."

The Vatican

has been the residence of the Popes since their return from Avignon, in France, where they had resided from 1309 to 1377. It is now the most extensive palace in the world, being three stories high and 1,151 feet long by 767 feet wide, covering over 20 acres! The palace comprises 20 courts, eight grand staircases and two hundred smaller ones, and is said to contain 11,000 halls, chapels, saloons and private apartments. Since the Italian occupation, Pope Pius IX. considers himself a prisoner in his own palace, though strange to say, there are no doors locked except those which he locks himself on the inside! King Victor Emanuel, though, excommunicated by the Pope in the most indecent language that ever fell from human lips, has done no violence to the person of the Pope, and now contents himself as an outsider of the church.

The masses can now no longer "go to Rome to see the Pope," for he neither ventures forth from his palace into the city for exercise and pleasure, as he used to, neither does he hold any public receptions. My French companion who had come to Rome for the purpose of making a present of several hundred dollars to the Pope, insisted on my accompanying him, as he was allowed a private interview, but I could not avail myself of the opportunity.

The galleries and museums of the palace are the richest in the world, in Roman and Christian antiquities. Here are the paintings which have rendered Raphael and Angelo immortal to fame. They are almost innumerable. These masters translated the Bible into pictures, and here are the originals of many of the cuts that adorn our finely illustrated family Bibles. Michael Angelo painted 22 months (1508-11) at the ceiling of the Sixtine Chapel. In the Loggie, Raphael represents God in the person of an old man wearing a long gray beard and attired in the oriental costume.


The principal museums in Rome are the Christian and the Gregorianum Lateranense in the Lateran; the Etruscan, the Egyptian and the Museum of Christian Antiquities in the Vatican; and the Capitoline Museum, on Capitoline Hill. The vast stores of ancient art contained in these, brings the beholder back again to the strange scenes of the distant past, as do perhaps no other museums in the world. To do justice to these collections would require many weeks, and a mere catalogue of their contents would cover many pages. Among the most interesting apartments of the Capitoline Museum, are the Room of the Dying Gladiator, the Room of the Philosophers, the Room of the Busts of the Emperors, the Room of Venus, &c. Baedeker guides the tourist through Rome by means of 312 pages of description in fine print. It may be proper to observe here, that Murray leads the visitor in the same way through London by means of a guide-book of 316 pages, and Galignani has 438 pages on Paris, exclusive of the tables of contents.

In regard to the brilliant and magnificent churches of Italy, which, for beauty, throw those of the rest of the world into the shade, I will here add that their overawing grandeur assisted materially in making man a humble and submissive being; and possibly taught him to take the first steps from ancient barbarity toward civilization and refinement.

Several square miles of ancient Rome lying in ruins, is now unoccupied, and many of the roads which intersect this desolate area are lined on both sides by walls from 7 to 10 or 12 feet in height. They are plastered white and overgrown by the ivy; and as one walks along in these, he may well occupy his time in watching a species of little reptiles that are very nimble but shy, running up the high smooth walls as easily as along the ground. They are harmless, no doubt, but I dreaded them quite as much as if I had been in a similar danger of treading upon snakes! They dart like arrows across the streets, and in their reckless haste of attempting to cross the street to avoid me, they frequently came near losing their lives under my feet! They are about 3 to 6 inches long, we will say; have four legs as near as I could count, and are very slim, resembling the snake in form and the frog in features. Good-by, Old Rome!

I spent 8 days in London, 17 in Paris and 6 in Rome; doing to one city about as much justice as to the other, in those various periods of time; but if one would come to Rome first, he would not be able to tear himself away in less than a few weeks. No one should travel any other way than against the course of civilization, on his first visit to Europe. In my course from Liverpool to Rome I enjoyed new sights in a constant flow, like that of a steady rain. I do not believe that it would be well for an American to be abruptly transported to Rome and awake one morning there. The strange sights would assail him suddenly, like a flood of angry waters!