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been thoroughly explored in the 19th century by Prince Torlonia, the owner of the soil, who has drawn thence many of the ruined masterpieces of sculpture which adorn his various villas.
The port of Trajan, still called II Trajano, is now a basin of shallow water, surrounded by low underwood ; along its sides the quays and warehouses by which it was once surrounded may still be traced. Near it, by the roadside close to the Villa Torlonia, is placed an inscription recording the cutting of the canals of Claudius (Fossae Claudianse) in A.d. 49.
This inscription has generally been understood to convey that the work of Claudius was due to his anxiety to relieve the inundations of the Tiber; but Burn, in his Rome and the Campagna, explains that the words ' operis portus caussa' would show that the primary object of the fossae was to supply the port with water, and that the advantage of preventing inundations at Rome was only subordinate.
Through a picturesque gateway with effective stone-pines, now called Arco di Nostra Signora, and originally a decorative arch only, we reach the little group of buildings which is all that remains of the mediaeval town of Porto, consisting of the Bishop's Palace, the little Cathedral of Santa Rufina, with a 10th-century tower and an early cemetery. The place, in spite of the walls with which Constantine had surrounded it, was ruined at an early period, owing to the Saracenic invasions, and though many Popes have made attempts to recolonise it, these have always failed. As early as A.d. 1019 there were no inhabitants save a few guards in the tower of Porto, albeit it was the seat of a bishop, and has always given a title to the sub-dean of the College of Cardinals.
The meadows near Porto, which are encircled by the two branches of the Tiber, form the Isola Sacra, a name first given to it by Procopius, who describes it:—
'Tum demum ad naves gradiov, qua fronte bicorui
Dividuns Tiberie dexteriora secat.
but perhaps due to its having become church property.
The island is described by Aethicus, who wrote in the fifth century, as beautiful and fertile—' Libanus Almae Veneris ;' now it is in great part overgrown with asphodel and mallow. The cattle on Isola Sacra are always peculiarly inquisitive when they notice people on foot and in town-clothes. It is best to keep near the palings, or staccionata. The name of its church with the tall mediaeval campanile—S. Ippolito—will recall the famous Bishop of Porto.
In the first half of the third century, during the troubled pontificates of Zephyrinus and Callistus, when various heresies on minute points of Christian doctrine were agitating and dividing the Church, the great defender of the faith, the author of The Refutation of all the Heresies, who did not hesitate to resist and condemn one Pope, and actually excommunicate another, was Hippolytus, Bishop of Porto, who was afterwards (under Maximin) banished to Sardinia, and eventually, according to the poetic story in Prudentius, suffered martyrdom in the suburbs of Rome.
'The Roman Church comprehended, besides its Bishop, forty-six Presbyters, and seven Deacons, with their subordinate officers. Each Presbyter doubtless presided over a separate community, each with its basilica, scattered over the wide circuit of the city; they were the primary Parish Priests of Rome. But besides these were suburbiean Bishops of the adjacent towns, Ostia, Tibur, Porto, and others (six or seven), who did not maintain their absolute independence on the metropolis, each in the seclusion of their own community; they held their synods in Rome, but as yet with Greek equality rather than Roman subordination; they were the initiatory College of Cardinals (who still take some of their titles from these sees), but with the Pope as one of this co-equal college, rather than the dominant, certainly not the despotic, head.
'Of all these suburban districts at this time Portus was the most considerable, and most likely to be occupied by a distinguished prelate. Portus, from the reign of Trajan, had superseded Ostia as the haven of Rome. It was a commercial town of growing extent and opulence, at which most of the strangers from the East who came by sea landed or set sail. Through Portus, no doubt, most of the foreigu Christians found their way to Rome. Of this city, Hippolytus was the bishop, Hippolytus who afterwards rose to the dignity of saint and martyr, and whose statue, discovered in the Laurentian cemetery, now stands in the Lateran. Conclusive internal evidence indicates Hippolytus as the author of the Refutation of all Heresies. If any one might dare to confront the Bishop of Rome, it was the Bishop of Portus.'—Milman, 'Hist, of Latin Christianity.'
Here Dante makes the rendezvous of the happy souls, whom the celestial pilot is presently to transport to purgatory.
'sempre quivi si ricoglie, Qual verso d' Acheronte non si cala.'
—Purg. ii. 104.
The mouth of the Tiber is very different now to that which Virgil describes:—
'Atque hie Aeneas ingentem ex aequore lucum
—Aen. vii. 29.
From Porto, two miles of road, or river, lead to Fiumicino.a fishing village, which derives its name from its situation on the smaller branch of the Tiber, and which stands at the present mouth of the river. A row of modern houses was erected by the late Government, but it commands little view of the sea, owing to the sandbanks. The handsome castellated tower, with a lighthouse on the top, was built by Clement XIV. in 1773, almost on the edge of the sea. It is now seven hundred yards distant.
On the shore, half way between Fiumicino and Palo, the site of ancient Fregenae is marked by the tower and farm of Maccarese, near the mouth of the river Arrone. The latter flows from Bracciano. The marsh called 'Stagno di Maccarese,' noted for snipe, answers to the description of Silius Italicus.
. . . * Obsessae campo squalente Freerellae.'
It was hence that Tarquinius Priscus summoned Turrianus, a native artist, to make a terra-cotta statue of Jupiter for his temple on the Capitol. It became a Roman colony c. B.C. 245. This can be reached from Leprignano on the Via Aurelia from Rome.
The best way of reaching this wonderful place is to go to Palo, on the Civita Vecchia line, by rail, and walk or cycle from thence. Sometimes it is possible to obtain a hired gig at Palo, by writing to order it from Cervetri. Places in the omnibus, 1 lira. Albergo Rossi, Caffe Passeggeri. 2000 inhabitants.
PALO (48 kil. from Rome) consists now of a tiny fishing hamlet, with a xvth century fortress on the sea-coast, marking the site of Alsiom (on the ancient Via Aurelia), where Pompey had a villa, to which he retired in disgust when refused the dictatorship. Julius Caesar possessed a villa here, where he landed on his return from Africa, and to which all the nobles of Rome hastened to greet him. The Emperor Marcus Aurelius also had a villa here, to which several of the epistles of Fronto are addressed, who speaks of the place as ' maritimus et voluptarius locus.' Nothing now remains of the ancient town but some foundations of the villas near the seashore. The origin of Alsium is ascribed by Silius Italicus to Halaesus :—
'Necnon Argolico dilectum litus Halaeso
Even from the station, the white walls of Cervetri may be descried under the low-lying grey hills on the right. The distance by the fields is about four miles, but by the high road it is nearly six. The former path turns off to the right, just after the road has crossed the Vaccina rivulet, and is not difficult to find, but it is impervious in times of flood, as near Cervetri another brook has to be crossed upon stepping-stones. This is the ' Caeretanus Amnjs' of Pliny which is mentioned by Virgil:—
'Est ingens gelidum lucus prope Cacritis amnem,
Religione patrum late sacer; uudique colles
Inclusere cavi et nigra nemus abicte cingunt.
Silvano fama est veteres sacrasse Pelasgos.'
—Aen. viii. 597.
'ft is the Caeritls Amnls on whose bmks Tarcho and his Etruscans pitched their camps, and Aeneas received from his divine mother his godwrought arms, and the prophetic shield eloquent of the future glories of Home,
"clypei non enarrabile textum. Illic res Italas, Romanorumquo triurnphos, Fecer.it Ignipotens."
The eye wanders up the shrub-fringed stream, over bare undulating downs,
the arva lata of ancient song, to the hills swelling into peaks and girt with a broad belt of olive and ilex. There frowned the dark grove of Silvanus, of dread antiquity, and there, on yon red cliffs—the 'ancient heights' of Virgil —sat the once opulent and powerful city of Agylla, the Caere of the Etruscans, now represented, in name and site alone, by the miserable village of Cervetri. All this is hallowed ground—religione patrum late sacer—hallowed, not by the traditions of evanescent creeds, nor even by the hoary antiquity of the site, so much as by the homage the heart ever pays to the undying creations of the fathers of song. The hillocks, which rise here and there on the wide downs, are so many sepulchres of princes and heroes of old, coeval, it may be, with those on the plains of Troy ; and if not, like them, the standing records of traditional events, at least the mysterious memorials of a prior age, which led the poet to select this spot as a fit scene for his verse. The large mound which rises close to the bridge may be the celsus collte whence Aeneas gazed on the Etruscan camp. No warlike sights or sounds now disturb the rural quiet of the scene. Sword and spear are exchanged for crook and ploughshare; and the only sound likely to catch the ear is the lowing of cattle, the baying of sheep-dogs, or the cry of the pecorajo as he marches at the head of his flock, and calls them to follow him to their fold or to fresh pastures. Silvanus. 'the god of fields and cattle,' has still dominion in the laud.'—.Dennis, 'Cities of Etruria.'
The most conspicuous feature in distant views of the town is the ugly castle (1674) of Prince Ruspoli, who is Prince of Cervetri, and to whom most of the land in this neighbourhood belongs. The people all work in gangs, long lines of men and women in their bright costumes digging the land together. Most travellers who come upon them thus, will be struck with the rude songs with which they accompany their work, one often leading, and the rest taking up the refrain in long melancholy cadences.
Cervetri was called Agylla by the Pelasgi, and Caere by the Etruscans. Tradition says that the latter name was given to it because when the Etruscan colonists were about to besiege it, they hailed it, demanding its name, and a soldier on the walls answered Xeupe—' hail!' which, upon its capture, they afterwards chose for the name of the city.
The earliest mention of Agylla is to be found in Herodotus. Its Tyrrhenian inhabitants, having conquered the Phocaeans in battle, cruelly stoned to death the prisoners they brought back with them. Afterwards every living creature who approached the spot where this tragedy had been enacted was seized with convulsions or paralysis. The oracle of Delphi was consulted how the wrath of the gods might be appeased, and the people of Caere were commanded to celebrate the obsequies of the slain, and annually to hold games in their honour, which, says Herodotus, was done until his day.
Virgil indicates its early importance, by describing that its ruler Mezentius sent 1000 men to assist Turnus against Aeneas.
'Haud procul nine saxo incolitur fundata vetusto
—Aen. viii. 478.