castle, and Giuliano della Rovere, afterwards Pope Julius II. and then cardinal bishop of Ostia, continued the work. Here, for two years, he took refuge from the persecution of Alexander VI. Afterwards, in 1513, he imprisoned Caesar Borgia here, whose escape, however, was connived at by Cardinal Carbajal, to whose custody he had been entrusted. Nothing remains of the internal decorations save some mouldering frescoes by Baldassare Peruzzi and Cesare da Sesto painted for Cardinal della Rovere, but the outer walls are so covered with escutcheons as 'to form a veritable chapter of pontifical heraldry.' The Government has lately, for the second time, converted the castle into an interesting museum. Conspicuous amongst these emblazonments are the oak-tree (Robur) of della Rovere, and the enwreathed column of Colonna. On the battlements above, masses of the blue-green wormwood, which is a lover of salt air and scanty soil, wave in the wind.

The tiny town, huddled into the narrow fortified space, which forms as it were an outer bastion of the castle, contains the small Church of S. Andrea, a work of Baccio Pontelli (1497), with a rosewindow. Some accounts state that this ancient see was founded by the apostles themselves; others consider that Pope Urban I. (a.d. 222) was its founder, and declare S. Ciriacus to have been its first bishop.1

A quarter of a mile beyond the mediaeval town we enter upon the ancient city, originally at the mouth of the Tiber, of which the excavations were first begun under Poggio Bracciolini in the time of Cosimo de' Medici. It resembles Pompeii and Ravenna in its abandonment by the sea. The long entrance street unearthed is paved with rpolygonal blocks of lava (selce), carefully fitted, and is lined with low ruins of tombs. Here and there a grey sarcophagus like that of Sextus Carminius stands erect; but no building remains perfect in the whole of the great town, which as the Port of Rome once contained eighty thousand inhabitants. Thistles flourish everywhere, and snakes and lizards abound, and glide in and out of the hot unshaded stones. In a few minutes we turn into other and smaller streets, in which there are remains of arcaded porticoes.

In the streets the deep ruts of the chariot-wheels—obliged by the narrow space to run always in the same groove—remain in the pavement. The ground is littered with pieces of coloured marble, and of ancient glass tinted with all the hues of an opal. The banks are filled with fragments of pottery, and here and there of bones. The whole scene is melancholy and strange beyond description.

We must remind ourselves that the ancient bed of the river is but a few yards from us on our right, while immediately on our

1 The towns of Ostia, Portus, Silva Candida, Sabina, Praeneste, Tuseulum, and Albanum, were the sees of seven suffragan bishops, afterwards called cardinal bishops, of whom the Bishop of Rome was in a special sense the Metropolitan.

left stood Gregoriopolis, already mentioned, and the more ancient Ostia. Leaving this point we may pass along to the theatre constructed by Severus on the site of previous ones, and restored by Honorius (405). Thence the street leads us in a few paces to the Temple or Forum of Vulcan, dating from the early second century A.d. The Forum is surrounded on three sides with its columnar portico: and the south side is occupied by the noble temple, the entrance of which is paved with the grandest monolith of Africano marble known, until the excavation of the Basilica JSmilia. It has a vaulted crypt, &c., which can be inspected. Between this and the river rise vast remains of Horrea, or warehouses for grain, &c., many more of which continued to skirt the river-banks; following these we soon reach the Baths, which, however, do not seem to have been very extensive. Beyond them, on our left, a large building adorned with granite columns, and mosaic pavements, is identified by some as the Palace of Commodus. Behind this (west) lies the Mithraeum, excavated in 1886, being in fact the Mithraic chapel. The progress of Mithraism, with its repulsive taurobolium, or baptism with the blood of a bull pouring down warm through a platform on to the candidate, had thus made great strides since the days of Hadrian. Another Mithraic chapel was found in 1888, in the house of the .35grilii. The signs of the Zodiac are seen upon the stone-bench at each side. Continuing toward the river we encounter the Arsenal and Emporium, and may keep our eyes open for brick-stamps and fragments of glass, &c. Having viewed the boatless river that here once had its mouth and multitudinous life, we may turn back, and, making for the centre of the town, discover the Temple of Cybele and the Metroon belonging to it. We may then take our repast in the Temple of Vulcan previous to passing on to fascinating Castel Fusano in its forest of singing pines (where Pliny the younger had his Laurentine villa), now used as a hunting-box by the king.

The ruins of a theatre discovered in 1881, being the spot where SS. Cyriacus, Maximus, and Archelaus were martyred, 'ad arcum ante theatrum,' belong chiefly to a careless 'restoration' of the fifth century, but are interesting from the materials then used, which were plundered from various ancient monuments in the town. They include a number of pedestals (built into the wall of the corridor leading to the orchestra), which once supported statues of distinguished citizens in the Ostian Forum, and are inscribed with eulogies.

Between the proscenium of the theatre and the Tiber, a large Porticus, 240 feet square, has been discovered, apparently of the time of Septimius Severus. On one of the columns is a relief representing the ' Genius Castrorum Peregrinorum'—a half-naked youth, with long curly hair and the bulla round his neck, holding a cornucopia in the left hand, and in the right a patera, which he is using in the act of sacrificing on an altar. An inscription explains how two brothers, Optatianus and Pudens,' milites peregrini,' (Detective Force), consecrated the relief to the genius of their service. The intercolumniations of the east and west wings of the portico were divided off into rooms for the different trade-guilds, and the black and white mosaics on each threshold mention the corporations which respectively occupied them. In the centre of the area are the remains of a temple of Ceres.

Ostia for hundreds of years was the place whence the great Roman expeditions were embarked for the conquest, or the subjugation of nations. Among these we may recall the expedition of Scipio Africanus to Spain, and that of Claudius to Britain (a.d. 46). It was in the time of this Emperor that the town obtained its chief importance. He dearly loved his sea-port, often stayed here, and it was from hence that he was summoned to Rome by the news of the iniquities which led to the death of Messalina. But even in his time the sand was already beginning to accumulate at the mouth of the ever-changing Tiber, and Ostia began to pale before the prosperity of Porto, where he had constructed a splendid harbour. His predecessor, Caligula, had been obliged to use the smallest of war-galleys in bringing the ashes of his mother, Agrippina I., to Rome from the isle of Ponza. The lighter grain-vessels were towed up to Rome; the heavier ones discharged here or outside. In consequence of the changes in the mouth of the Tiber, which no longer observes the graceful course and the woody banks described by Virgil, it is difficult to recognise the site of the ancient harbour. It is disputed through how many channels the river entered the sea; Dionysius, in his 'Periegesis,' declares that it had only one; Ovid alludes to two.

'Ostia contigerat, qua se Tiberinus in altum

Dividit, et campo liberiore natat.'—' Fast.' iv. 291.

'Fluminis ad flexum veniunfc; Tiberina priores

Ostia dixerunt, unde sinister abit.'—' Fast.' iv. 329.

But from these classical recollections the Christian pilgrim will now turn with enthusiasm to later memories, perhaps as precious and beautiful as any the Campagna of Rome can afford, and he will see Augustine (a.d. 354-430), with his mother, Monica, sitting, as in Ary Scheffer's picture, at 'a curtain window,' discoursing together, very sweetly, and 'forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth to those things which are before,' inquiring in the presence of the Truth of what sort the eternal life of the saints was to be, and 'gasping with the mouths of their hearts' after the heavenly streams of the fountain of life. Then, as the dull world and all its delights become contemptible in the vivid nearness into which their converse draws them to the Unseen, he will hear the calm voice of Monica in the twilight telling her son that her earthly hopes and mission are fulfilled, and that she is only waiting to depart,' since that is accomplished for which she had desired to linger awhile in this life, that she might see him a Christian before she died.' He will remember that five days after this conversation, Monica lay in Ostia upon her death-bed, and waking from a long swoon and looking fixedly on her two sons standing by her 'with grief amazed,' said to Augustine, 'Here thou shalt bury thy mother:' and that to those who asked whether she was not afraid to leave her body so far from her own city, she replied, ' Nothing is far to God; nor is it to be feared lest at the end of the world He should not recognise whence to raise me up.' And here 'on the ninth day of her sickness, and the fifty-sixth year of her age, was that religious and holy soul freed from the body.' The bones of Monica were moved afterwards to Koine, to the church which was later on dedicated to her son's memory; but it is Ostia which will always be connected with the last scenes of that most holy life, and it is at Ostia that Augustine describes the 'mighty sorrow which flowed into his heart,' the tears and outcries of ' the boy Adeodatus,'1 as the beloved mother sank into her last sleep; how Euodius calmed their grief by taking up the Psalter, while the mourning household sang the psalm, 'I will sing of mercy and judgment to thee, O Lord,' around the silent corpse; and lastly, how the body was carried to the burial, and they ' went and returned without tears—for the bitterness of sorrow could not exude out of the heart.'

With these recollections in our minds, let us leave Ostia. It is a deeply interesting, but not a beautiful place, and it is a bold contrast, when we have returned once more to the old fortress, and, turning sharply round its walls, traversed the two miles of desolate campagna between it and the pine-wood, to find in Castel Fusano a climax of poetical loveliness. The peasants do all their field labour here in gangs, men and women together, and most picturesque they look, for the costumes which are vanished from Rome are universally worn here, and all the women have their heads shaded by white panni, and are dressed in bright pink and blue petticoats with laced bodices. They have hard work to fight against the deep-rooted asphodels, which overrun whole pastures and destroy the grass. These they collect into heaps and burn. And they have also malaria to struggle against, borne up every night by the mosquitoes of the marsh, which until lately used to render Ostia almost uninhabitable even to the natives, and sometimes deadly to the stranger who passed the night there. But scientific cultivation, and scientific war on the mosquito that carries the miasma, are fast reaping reward for the brave agriculturists.

A bridge, decorated with the arms of the Chigi, takes us across the last arm of the Stagno, with a bold avenue of pines ending upon a green lawn, in the midst of which stands the lonely Chigi chateau. No road, no path even, until lately led to its portal; but all around is green turf, and it looks like the house where the enchanted princess went to sleep with all her attendants for five hundred years, and where she must surely be asleep still. Round it, at intervals, stand gigantic red vases, like Morgiana's oil-jars, filled with yuccas and aloes. The principal staircase formerly was merely a rope-ladder, which at night was drawn up after the

1 The sou of Augustine.


household had retired. Over the parapet wall stone figures look down, set there, it is said, to scare away the Saracens; but for centuries they have seen nothing but tourists or sportsmen, and the wains of beautiful meek-eyed oxen drawing timber from the forest, and wild-boars routing for acorns. All beyond is a vast expanse of wood, huge pines spreading their immense green umbrellas over the lower trees away to the sea-shore; stupendous ilexes contorted by time into a thousand strange vagaries; baytrees bowed with age, and cork-trees hoary with lichen—patriarchs even in this patriarchal forest. And beneath these greater potentates such a wealth of beautiful shrubs as is almost indescribable —arbutus, lentisc, that sweetens water, and phillyrea; tall Mediterranean heath, waving vast plumes of white blossom far overhead; sweet daphne, scenting all around with its pale pink blossoms; myrtle growing in thickets of its own; smilax and honeysuckle, leaping from tree to tree, and forming themselves into a thousand lovely wreaths, and, beneath all, such a carpet of cyclamen, that the air is heavy with its perfume, and we may sit down, if we will, and fill our hands and baskets with the flowers without moving from a single spot. A walk, one mile long, paved with blocks of lava taken from the Via Severiana, leads from the back of the chateau to the sea, and we must follow it, partly to see the rosemary which Pliny describes, still growing close to the shore in abundance, and partly for the sake of a glimpse of the Mediterranean itself (so refreshing after the close air of Roman streets), which rolls in here with long waves upon a heavy sandy shore—that shore where Suetonius1 describes some city youths making a bargain with some fishermen for a cast of their net, and, to their common amazement, landing gold sewn up in a bag. Here a few fisherfolk still have their huts, built of myrtle from the wood, and wattled with reeds of the Stagno. But all the forest is delightful, and one cannot wander enough into its deep recesses, where some giant of the wood is reflected in a solitary pool, or where the trees reach overhead forming long aisles. If time can be given, it is well worth while to follow on horseback the road which leads by Pratica and Piangimino near Ardea to Porto d'Anzio; but in this case it will be necessary to have permission. Such an excursion will give leisure to dwell with the beauties which are generally seen so hurriedly. Virgil should be taken as a companion, who describes the very pines, which cast such long shadows,—

'Evertunt actas ad sldera pinns,'2

and with the poet as a fellow-traveller, perhaps the very desertion and solitude, and the intense silence, only broken by the songs of the birds or the chirp of the cicala, will act as a charm.

[ocr errors]
« 上一頁繼續 »