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tion. The absolute rotundity of the pedi- that the fictile Scarabæus doubtless facture of the insect must have seemed carries to-day more strange messages the result of a sense little less than pre- for us than did the great original to his ternatural, to people who were not ac- first observers. Being as ignorant of customed to reason away all recogni- what hieroglyphs tell as the man who tion of the preternatural. But that which died when Champollion was born, I do was wonderful to me, the power of not venture a conjecture on the signifiweighing so accurately the load he was cance or value of the “ cartouches "into propel, must have been not a little scribed on the plane surface of the Scaamazing to them, less familiar than we rabæus. There can be no doubt that have become, through subsequent re- they were tokens of rank, and mainly searches in natural history, with the bore direct reference to the history powers of the brute creation.
or condition of the wearer, with occaThirdly, that the Scarabæus pilula sional mystic sentences perhaps servrius was a soldier and hero was less ing at once as signet and amulet. noteworthy in those days than in mod- My purpose, however, is to treat only ern times ; for then he was no man of certain artistic relations, and to me, who was no soldier, and to be brave therefore, the Egyptian Scarabæus is was only a human virtue, but was still only of value as it leads to, and is conmarvellous in an insect.
nected with, the Etruscan. The forAnd, if last, not least of the claims mer is utterly unartistic, - a rude, but of our friend to reverence was the tolerably accurate imitation of the Scastrange line of hieroglyph he left on rabaus pilularius, the specific characthe tabula rasa sea-washed, in column ter being sufficiently developed, the like the message written down an obe- whole value of the work, both in its figlisk; and that the most high priest had ure and the incisions under it, being no key to the cipher only made it more evidently in its significance, and all concurious and more revered.
ditions required of it being sufficiently I do not know that anything so sim- answered by intelligibility. This is, inple ever impressed me more strangely deed, characteristic of all Egyptian sothan the meeting for the first time on the called art. It is not art at all, it is only solitary sands of Antium, amid thoughts writing; and the transfer of the Scaraof Egypt's queen and her sad loves, bæus from Egypt to Etruria only forms this line of curious figures, sand-writ- another evidence of the inevitable anten. And who shall say that the origi- tithesis existing between art and record. nal Cadmus was not our Pilularius ? The identical types which on the Nile Certainly he left a record of the life he told the same story age after age, unled, and the journeys he took, long be- changing in their form as in their meanfore the first emigration from the flood- ing, once in the hands of the Etruscan, fertilized lands around Thebes-on-Nile entered on a course of refinement and carried civilization into northern lands. artistic development into objects of
It may have been from this trick beauty ; but in this they entirely lost of his of writing on the sand that they sight of their original meaning. This is took his image for the signet; or perhaps strikingly the case with the Scarabæus it was only that the broad under-surface which, under the hands of the Etruscan of the stone or smalt of which they cutter, lost at once all specific character. made the Scarabæus was too tempt. He might be Scarabæus anything: he ing to be left vacant, and the portable is not pilularius; and, instead of being shape and size of the stone gave it the made of basalt, porphyry, smalt, and preference over the images of crocodile very rarely of pietra dura, as in Egypt, or cat. Be that as it may, it became he is engraved in carnelian, onyx, sarthe form universal for signets, and bore donyx, and all the rare and lovely variethe monogram or polygram of kings ties of pietra dura, which, being esunnumbered and of chiefs unknown, so sentially the same, change their names with their colors, – but mainly in an cornice, more or less elaborate accordopaque carnelian, admirably calculated ing to the general finish of the stone. to show off the beauty of the workman- I have one in which this cornice of ship. The change from use to orna- .073 inch in width contains an upper ment is abrupt, and perceivable in the and a lower bead and a U moulding of earliest Etruscan examples, and proves which the parts are only one fourth the conclusively to me two disputed points; height of the cornice in breadth, and namely, that the Scarabæus pilularius yet are cut with mathematical regulariand his allied notions came from Egypt ty and completeness. The bead that to Etruria, and that the Etruscan and marks the junction of the wings and Egyptian races were utterly diverse in chest is divided into squares of .0045 origin and antithetic in intellectual char- inch in dimension. If this care is acter. The eminent utilitarianism of the given to the less important part of the latter leaves no room for purely artistic stone, what may we not expect from effort, while the former literally non te- the intaglii which make the more imtiget quod non ornavit. Even the picto- portant objects of the lapidary's work! rial and sculptural representations of the A stone, three fourths of an inch in Egyptians were absolutely subservient length, contains two full-length figures to history or worship; but the Etrus- seated in conversational attitudes, the cans cared so little for their own histo- extended hand of one of which, with ry as to leave us almost no inscribed the thumb and four fingers perfectly monuments, though the remains of their defined, is only .063 inch in length. taste and skill stand side by side with The great inequality between the what we have of Greek work. They power of design and the executive skill seem, indeed, to have been a more ab- and taste in mere ornamentation in the solutely artistic people even than the characteristic Etruscan work is comGreeks, in whom art was exalted by a parable only to those Eastern products certain union with intellectual culture, which I have before alluded to, – the the result of which was, of course, a Persian fabrics. The animals are drawn larger growth and nobler ideal than the without any regard to anatomical or opmore ornamental Etrurian mind could tical truth, — foreshortening taken by a attain. This points to an Eastern origin royal road, and grace thrown overboard. more in kinship with the Persian than The hog is generally shown as fatted the Greek, and to-day only illustrated by out, the legs appearing two on each side the Persian ornamentation.
of the body; and the members of all The Scarabæus then, instead of the animals are stowed away with more dirude, straightforward representation of rect reference to composition of masses the Egyptian workman, assumes a more than of animal organisms. I remember elegant form, with elaborate sculpture of one of a horse, in which, there not beall the insect characteristics, the edges ing room for the four legs in their natof the wings and the lines that divide ural places, one was hung up at the them from the chest being exquisitely side where a vacant space offered itself. beaded and wrought, and the claws The earliest work seems to be done being relieved and modelled with the by a graving process, as if cutting were highest care and most artistic finish. by lines; the later is evidently done by The form of the image, in fact, gener- the drilling operation now in use, and ally resembles more the beautiful green the process is much more apparent, esbeetle which I have often caught in the pecially in the drill - like terminations. mountains around Rome, than his ple- This was probably owing to the use of beian and utilitarian cousin, the Scara- the diamond itself for the incision, inbæus pilularius. The contour of the stead of the steel point and diamond stone beneath the Scarabæus proper is dust, as in modern times, and to the markedly distinguished from the insect great difficulty in getting a point on portion, and ornamented with a relieved the implement.
The purely ornamental manner of tomary for one workman to make the treating the Scarabæus seems to indi- Scarabæus, and another the incision. cate that it had neither religious nor But these are rare, and the trained eye historical value. Had the contrary been of an artist need not be more puzzled the case, we should inevitably have to determine the Greek or Etruscan found some artistic quality sacrificed character of an intaglio, than to disto their meaning, which is not the case tinguish a Florentine picture from a with the intaglio more than with the Venetian. The difference is radical, insect representation. The subjects in- - that between the objective and subclude all the objects known to familiar jective art, - between an Indian shawl life, with all the incidents of martial ex- and a bit of drapery by Paul Veronese.
a perience, — horses, chariots, arms, As to the uses of the Scarabæus, warriors wounded, defeated, dying, vic- we may be sure that they were at first torious, struggling. One I remember intended as signets and mounted as of a surgeon dressing the wound of a rings in the simple and charming way warrior, who throws up his hands in of which we find so many examples in expression of the pain he suffers ; an- the Etruscan tombs, each end of a gold other, of the Genius of Death coming to wire being passed through the perfoHercules ; another still, of two winged rated Scarabæus, and the extremities genii burying a warrior; one, of two secured by being wound round the warriors dividing the dead body of a wire at the opposite side of the stone. third, etc., etc. The style of cutting As soon as they become mere ornagradually changes, probably under the ments, a more elaborate mounting is influence of Greek artists, - who are seen on those worn as rings ; and they known to have emigrated to Etruria appear in bracelets, necklaces, etc., in from Corinth, exiled by their native such profusion and confusion of subtyrants, -and becomes quite Greek in ject, and style and date of workmanship, delicacy of finish and grace of propor- as to show plainly that they had lost all tion; and the subject becomes almost superstitious value or personal signifientirely of Greek history or mythology, cance, and had become, like diamonds - the heroes of the Trojan war figur- and pearls, a part of the gold-worker's ing largely.
material. Some of these are the perfection of What the wealth and luxuriousness intaglio: nothing in the gem-cutting of those cities, now more deeply buried of the Greeks could be more exquisite than Thebes or Nineveh, must have and purely beautiful than they are as been, we can only imagine from the few intaglio. Yet, excellent as is the work, traditions preserved by Roman histothere is an essential difference between rians, – grudging the glory of rivals the Etruscan and Greek design, which so long and masters so often, though no similarity of workmanship will ever finally subjects of the irresistible force conceal,- a difference as radical as that of crescent empire, - and from the goldbetween Roman and Greek sculpture, work known after so many centuries of and still more marked. The Etrus- sepulture. We know that Porsenna can, in its highest artistic development, built himself a tomb in the solid rock, preserves something of an Oriental fan- a labyrinth whose secret no searchers of tasy and want of repose, and invariably modern times have yet found, though falls short of the dignified and purely they have burrowed around Clusium imaginative character of the Greek. It like marmots; and that over this he makes no exception to this rule, that raised himself a monument, — five towthere are Etruscan Scarabæi which have ers of stone, on the top of which was purely Greek intaglii, since we know laid a domed platform of brass, and that there were Greek artists of the above this still towers and other brass, highest rank among those who emi- and higher yet, towers and a crowning grated to Etruria, and that it was cus- bronze dome ; and that from the edges
of all these platforms hung thousands Xaipe, “ Hail!” and ever since the city of bells, rung by the sea-breeze which has been known as Cære (and to its every midday came up, and still comes, present inhabitants as Cerevetere, across the low Etrurian hills, to find Cære vetus). Until the fatal dissension the children she wasted from the land which permitted the Romans to conquer of the Parsee and Chaldee. It is hard Veii, the Etruscan states calmly and to define a “civilization "; and we talk steadily repelled all invasion, — rarely, of the ages of gold and of bronze as as in the time of Porsenna, turning if we knew the history of the whole aside to retaliate on Rome, — and still world and its generations ; but to me pursued their peaceful career, the sages the few glimpses I get through the crev- of Egypt and the artists and poets of ices of the ages that hide Etruria, as Greece giving wisdom and grace to the hills of the Black Forest hide the their daily lives, — their temples the fairies from the German child, indicate richest, their domestic life the fairest, an age more fitting the epithet Golden their political condition the most prosthan any since, and a nation the like of perous, and their commerce the widest which, as of the good-folk, we shall see of all Italy, if not of all Europe. no more on earth. There were confeder- Of it all, we have only the grave into ation without over-centralization ; states which art sought to carry an immorside by side, without mutual hate or sub- tality of its own, and from which religjugation; wealth and power, without the ion strove to banish the drear gloom of corruption that destroys nations; and the uncertain by surrounding the dead military prowess, without the unscrupu- with all the objects familiar to their dailous ambition that cannot live and let ly lives and the incidents which were live. They were instructors of Rome the most antagonistic in impression to in all that Rome knew of civilization; the darkness and silence to which many times masters of the imperial they abandoned the beloved ones only city, without ever envying it its exist when conquest and destruction had ence; mild conquerors, and just law- concealed the portals of their tombs, givers; and the City of the Seven Hills and ancestor and descendant had yieldowed to the proximity of her seven ed to the same oblivion. Among the Etrurian sisters all her early wisdom in most interesting tombs at Tarquinii is politics, all her knowledge of the arts one painted round with a wedding feast, which refine and preserve ; and to their the bridegroom kissing his bride, the love of those arts, and of the peace in wine-cups and garlands, the dance and which they flourish, the permission of song with the timing pipes, in colors her existence in those early centuries fresh and sharp to-day amid the gravewhich preceded the fall of Veii. damps, giving the challenge strangely to
It is not here the place to develop the all-destroyer. One much later in the moral of Etruscan history, or to in- style of decoration has a procession of vestigate the political and social condi- spirits driven by two demons, – Dantion of the Etruscan people ; though the tesque in power and simplicity of conlinks we have of the former, and the ception and evident faith, but telling a glimpses of the latter seen athwart stranger story, in its contrast with the the prejudices and mortified pride of former, than anything we know in the the Roman historians, give the sub- history of the time,
a change from ject a fascinating interest. It is said the golden to the iron days of Etruria. that when the Roman armies invaded The marvellous treasures of these the territory of the northern Etrus- tombs, - though only the few which, by can states, and their commander asked comparative insignificance or fortunate the name of the first city they ap- accident, have escaped the unintelligent proached, the unsuspecting subject of ravage of Roman or of Goth, — are like the Lars replied only, - not under- the scale or bone of Agassiz's saurian ; standing the barbarian language, - and a necklace of Scarabæi alternated with the little pendent fantasies in gold, phlet on the antique gold-work (Dell which we may see in the Campana col- Oreficeria Antica, Discorso di August lection, is the fragment from which we Castellani), says : “But the excavabuild Etruria, taking a little help from tions of Etruria which have preserved, the time-defying walls, and a hint from what with pictures, apparel, and fabrics, the sarcophagus whose mutually em- so many of the antique sacerdotal ornabracing effigies of the two made one ments, add almost nothing to the little tell that position given to woman which we know about the names and uses of
made Rome what she was after the them. Micali says that the mechanfraud of Romulus gave to Romans ism of the whole Etruscan government Etruscan wives.
was beyond doubt priestly in its instiThe Etrurians were the gold-workers tutions. After such a declaration by of all time. Like shawls of Cashmere, one of the most accurate narrators of Greek statuary, Gothic architecture, ancient Italian history, I should scarceand Saracenic tracery, Etruscan gold- ly know what to add to convey an idea work stands absolutely alone, — the re- of the pomp in which the priestly class sult of an artistic instinct deeper than of Etruria lived and robed itself. We any rules or any instruction, and there- can conjecture that the great poitrel in fore not to be improved or repeated. the Etruscan museum in the Vatican, It is characterized by the most subtile the two magnificent bridles of the Camand lovely use of decorative masses and pana museum, all the collars of extraorlines, — not for representation or imita- dinary size and the large bullæ of varition, which are not motives to enter ous forms and dimensions which come into pure ornament, but for the high- from the various collections, and the est effect of beautiful form and rich innumerable vases, pateræ, cups, and color, without giving the eye or mind goblets of gold, silver, and bronze any associative or intellectual sugges- found in the sepulchres, were all imtion. The vice of all modern orna- plements, furniture, and ornaments dementation is, that it insists on mixing voted to the service of religion. And natural history with decoration. It can- such a multitude of objects may give not avoid preaching, as fairy stories some indication both of the multiplicinow-a-days cannot stop without a moral ty of the mysteries and sacred functions, for good children, and consequently is, and of the treasures which must have like them, stupid and unreal. The best been contained in the antique temples, ornamentation is that which is farthest plundered by the barbarians, and then from imitation; and that, in gold-work, destroyed by the intolerant zeal of igis the Etruscan. As we had occasion norant disciples of a new, triumphant to say in the preceding pages, the religion.” Scarabæus marks the difference be- What the wealth of the favored Etrustween the moralizing Egyptian mind can fanes must have been may be conand the beauty-loving Etruscan. And jectured from the fact that Dionysius if we might point a moral in an article carried from one on the sea-coast treasdefiant of morals, it would be in com- ures to the amount of $40,000,000. paring the black, blood-stained history Of the gold-working, Castellani's resof Egypt with the fair record of the Lar- torations and imitations will give us a thian people. Beauty is its own moral tolerable idea, so far as workmanship and its own redeemer, and a mind that is concerned, though he himself conloves it may be corrupted to decay, but fesses to be unable to equal all its cannot be led into brutality or sunk into qualities. I translate an interesting obscurity. Of the magnificence of the passage. living people we can scarcely judge, “Having proposed to ourselves, then, since all we have now is the gorgeous to restore as far as we could, and, so array of those who were robed for the to speak, to renew the antique goldeternal rest. Castellani, in his pam- work, we first set ourselves to search