« ПретходнаНастави »
our plan of Rome. That is of small importance to the average man, and indeed to the average classical scholar. But put together many such additions to our knowledge, here a little and there a little, and your results will be such as everyone will appreciate and admire.
Perhaps, however, the main feature of Roman topographical work in the last ten years has not been discovery of new facts so much as criticism of old facts. The decade has been a breathing space, during which we have had leisure to examine, to catalogue, to explain, the mass of results yielded by the researches of the preceding years. Much has been done in the learned periodicals which are especially devoted to this subject, the Bulletino Communale,' the Notizie degli Scavi' issued by the Lincei Academy, the 'Mittheilungen' of the German Archæological Institute. The articles in these journals are highly technical, and we shall not discuss them in detail. More noteworthy for our purpose are the books named at the head of this article. There is, to begin with, the great map of ancient Rome, executed on the magnificent scale of 1:1,000 by the veteran Professor Lanciani. The minuteness, the accuracy, and the finish of this map attain an excellence wholly undreamt-of in England, and unrivalled even in Italy. Many years went to its making and seven to its publishing. It is now on the verge of completion. Next to it in subject, but widely differing in size, we place the handy volume of two German scholars, containing three maps of Rome and an alphabetical bibliography of all the known buildings in Rome, and all the important references to them in ancient and in recent literature. These are works for the scholar, and for his purposes they are invaluable. For the less learned equally with the scholar we have a most admirable volume, written in English by Professor Lanciani. It is a condensed account, copiously illustrated, of all the great buildings which can now be seen by travellers or are credibly described by earlier writers. In some respects a difficult work, it contains nevertheless a mass of information which can be found nowhere else, and which probably no one but the author could have compiled. No serious man should omit to consult it. For Frenchmen M. Thédénat has written a charming sketch of the Forum-scholarly and lucid, model for such books. These works are not the only ones of their kind. They are representative of many others, and are in some ways the best representatives, and for that reason we have devoted a few sentences to their consideration. Were
this the proper place, we could add the titles of many more by the scholars whom we have named and by others. To our regret we can add no work by any Englishman.
We stand, then, at the conclusion of a period of criticism and cataloguing, and at the commencement, as we hope, of a period of excavation. It is a suitable moment for a general survey, and we proceed to put such a survey before our readers. We shall omit many details and technicalities, and endeavour only to sketch the broad facts as the phrase is) taught us in the last ten years about Rome, prehistoric, Republican, and Imperial.
It was an observation of Strabo, a contemporary of Augustus, that the Romans of the Republic cared only for practical work, and did nothing for the beautification of their city. And indeed few remains of ancient Rome are older than Cæsar and Augustus. The little round church near the Ponte Rotto was probably a Republican temple; the sullen vaults of the Tabularium, below the Capitol tower, may date from the age of Sulla. But in the main Strabo was right: the Roman Republic was one of those states which mark the world but not individual sites with their achievements. The last ten years have not altered this truth. But they have brought fresh light to a period which is even darker than that of the Republic, the period of the origins and early history of Rome. Two distinct lines of investigation have helped here. Researches outside of Rome have illustrated the origin of Rome; researches within have yielded evidence which is not yet fully understood, but which seems to be somehow connected with one famous event—the sack of Rome by Brennus and his Gauls in B.C. 390.
The researches outside Rome may be dismissed briefly, for they lie outside our proper subject. But it may not be amiss to observe that excavations in the Po valley and elsewhere have revealed to us, as it seems, an immigration of Italians from north of the Alps twelve or thirteen centuries before our era and a gradual movement of these tribes southwards and not least to Latium. Similarly, excavations in central Italy seem to have shown that the towns of these Italians grew by extension from a single hill-fort to neighbouring summits which were gradually enclosed in a ring-fence, just as the legends tell us Rome grew herself. And excavations in Italy and in Greek lands, taken together, prove that the influences of the Mycenean civilisation spread from the East to Italy, and that immigrants like the Etruscans did really come thence by sea. In Rome itself, however, nothing has yet been found to prove or disprove these views. Only the ancient 'quadrate' masonry on the Palatine indicates that hill to have been, what the legends call it, the original seat of the Roman community, and the primitive cemeteries on the Esquiline, near the Central Railway Station, testify to an occupation of that quarter before ever the wall of Servius Tullius was erected.
The early remains which have been recently discovered in Rome appear to concern a later age. As we have stated, they may perhaps belong to the event which, more than any other single incident, divides historic from prehistoric Rome : we mean, the sack of the city by the Gauls. These remains were unearthed last year in the Forum, and the discovery is, we think, sufficiently interesting to be described briefly in this article. We owe it largely to the enterprise and good luck of M. Boni. Thinking, in opposition to most authorities, that the excavated portions of the Forum had not been excavated to a proper depth, he determined to dig deeper and ascertain if any antiquities still lay undiscovered beneath the surface. Last January, accordingly, workmen were set to clear away the rude selce' paving of a roadway of late construction in the north-east corner of the Forum, and in the course of this work our discovery was made. Some fifty feet east of the Arch of Severus the workmen found beneath the roadway just mentioned a small pavement or platform, twelve feet square or thereabouts, floored with slabs of streaked black marble and fenced with slabs of white marble set upon edge. Though, of necessity, earlier than the roadway, it proved to be a late work, partly composed of stones from earlier structures and referable to late Imperial times. But its mere existence beneath the roadway was surprising, and its colour excited attention, for the Romans rarely used black marble except as an adjunct, and here was an all-black marble floor. Theories at once spread abroad-we will return to them later. The work was of course continued. Slowly the excavations were carried deeper until in May a remarkable group of monuments was reached. They stand on native soil, with no work of man below them, five feet lower than the black marble floor, and in part directly under it. They are three in number, a tufa platform with two pedestals four feet apart, a conical stone, and thirdly, a four-sided fragment with letters cut on all its sides : all three had been wantonly and intentionally broken at some period or other. Among them and around them lay an extraordinary stratum of miscellaneous objects, no gold or silver or precious stones, but bones of animals, numerous fragments of pottery and tiny bronze statuettes of gods, iron spearheads, brooches, beads, weights of various kinds, rings, knucklebones meant for children's toys, all of them, as it seemed, tossed in promiscuously. Mixed up with these were some chips of marble, which must have intruded themselves long after the stratum, as a whole, was deposited.
Beyond question, these remains take rank among the earlier remains of Rome. The letters of the inscription, the style of the pottery and statuettes, the ornamentation of the pedestals, all testify to a remote antiquity, the fifth or sixth century, perhaps, before our era. Unfortunately none of the objects can be dated with real certainty or precision ; we must therefore rest content with an approximation. Nor has anyone yet succeeded in deciphering the inscription. The letters and language are Latin, but it is old Latin, as unlike the Latin of Cicero or Virgil as the English of Piers Plowman is unlike the English of Shakspere or Milton. We can distinguish forms of words like rex, sacer, iumentum and can guess that there is reference to some religious ritual, such as would be prominent in any primitive community. But we cannot go further with any profit, and those who have tried to do so, and, like Professor Ceci, have offered a complete reconstruction of the text, have ended in pure guesswork. We possess, indeed, only a half or a third of the whole inscription, and, until a lucky accident helps, we must be content to confess that we do not know.
But though details remain obscure, some explanation can be advanced of the whole series of objects. In the first place we may connect them with certain remains mentioned by Roman writers. A contemporary of Augustus tells us that there actually was a spot called the Black Stone-Lapis Niger-close to the point where our black marble floor was found. According to one legend which he notices, this spot had been destined for the tomb of Romulus, but never so used ; another legend apparently connected it with the shepherd Faustulus, foster-father of Rome's founder. Other Roman writers speak of a tomb flanked by lions, which some assigned to Romulus and some to Faustulus, and this tomb again plainly stood in somewhat the same locality as the
ack marble floor. It is no very wild assumption that the Black Stone and the Lion Tomb and the marble floor have some connexion. Nor is it absurd to guess that the VOL. CXCI. NO, CCCXCI.
pedestals of the tufa platform may once have supported the lions assigned to the tomb of Romulus. Putting the facts together, we might make some such conjecture as this: that there was once in the north-east of the Forum a sacred spot, traditionally connected with the age of Romulus and marked by ancient monuments. At some period, when the level of the surrounding surface was raised, these monuments were buried; a black stone took their place, and the memory of it was kept alive even to late Imperial days. Possibly we might even go further. We said that the lower older monuments seemed to have been intentionally destroyed, and that a stratum of miscellaneous objects enveloped them. It is not impossible, though it is not certain, or anything like certain, that these miscellaneous objects represent expiation for a sacrilege—that the Gauls wrecked the monuments and the expiation followed. This is a guess, for which thus much may be urged, that it falls in with certain little probabilities in the dating of certain items.
For the present, the bearing of these discoveries on the early history of Rome is somewhat indefinite; but one thing is certain: the inscription does not prove the existence of Romulus, nor does the discovery overthrow the ordinary modern views of Roman history. An Italian scholar has declared that it marks the bankruptcy of modern German criticism, and shows Livy to be right, Niebuhr and Mommsen to be wrong. We are afraid it does nothing of the sort; it neither proves nor disproves that Romulus or anyone else ever existed at all. Italians are naturally proud of the stately legends which profess to describe Rome's origin, and their desire to obtain confirmation for those legends is quite intelligible. We believe ourselves that certain of those legends contain a real element of fact, and we expect archæology to demonstrate that. But till the demonstration comes, it is a pious opinion and no more. And when it comes, we do not expect it to shatter the broad conclusions which have been reached by the masters of historical study.
Let us briefly explain this matter. It is often said that modern research has disproved or claims to have disproved the traditional history of all early Rome. That is not so. There are, indeed, wild theorists who love to toss tradition to the winds; they, like other extremists, make noises and win notice. But they do not count, except as nuisances. The best historical critics are quite different; they are sceptics only in the old Greek sense of the word, that is, they are enquirers. They believe that traditions, amidst