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A lane, behind the palace, leads to the Cathedral, S. Maria di Castello—a good specimen of twelfth-century architecture (1121), having three naves and terminal apses. It contains a curious pulpit of 1209, by Giov. da Guidone, with lions on its staircase, a beautiful opus-alexandrinum pavement, an altar with a baldacchino inscribed 1060, and some tombs of bishops. The baptistery is octagonal, surrounded with slabs of different-coloured marble. Separated from the church stands its massive square campanile, shorn of one-third of its original height, and of the statues of horses from Tarquinii, which are said once to have stood on the angles at the summit.
The other churches are S. Pancrazio, in the central town, likewise with a separate campanile; S. Francesco, A.d. 1200; S. Giovanni, 1270; and S. Maria di Valverde, restored by Julius II. 1506 ; and S. Margherita, the present Duomo, containing good frescoes, but restored 1877. In the ex-convent of S. Marco stands a fine sarcophagus belonging to the Mezzopane.
One kilometre distant along the ridge, well out of the town, stands the Villa Bruachi-Falgari, rich in Etruscan antiquities, and possessing a beautiful garden with cypresses, and decorated with Etruscan vases and tombs. It commands a glorious view over the sea and islands toward the promontory of Argentara.
In one of the convent churches in the town, of which the family had been patrons, the body of Letitia Bonaparte—' Madame Mere '— (who died at Rome) with that of her brother, Cardinal Fesch, reposed for some years, but they are now removed to Corsica, to a church which the Cardinal had founded.
The hill of Turchina, separated from that of Corneto by a deep fossa through which flows the Sarriva, was the site of Tarquinii itself. It derives its name from Tarohon, a legendary companion of Aeneas in two wars against Turnus and Mezentius, who is said to have founded the city 1200 B.C., and to have been possessed of such wonderful wisdom, even from childhood, that he was born with a hoary head.1
Silius Italicus2 speaks of 'superbi Tarchontis domus': and Virgil says:—
'Ipse oratores ad me reguique eoronam
—Aen. viii. 505.
Other authorities attribute the foundation of the city to Tages.
'Here, in the neighbourhood of Tarquinii, anil about the period of its foundation, it came to pass, said the Etruscan tradition recorded in the sacred books of the nation, that as a certain peasant was ploughing the land, and chanced to make a furrow deeper than usual, up sprang a wondrous being, a boy in appearance, but a patriarch in wisdom, Tages by name, the son of a Genius, and grandson of Jove. The peasant, amazed at this apparition, uttered a loud cry; a crowd gathered round; and, "in a short time," says Cicero, who relates the story, *' all Etruria was assembled on the spot." The
mysterious boy then made known to them the practice of divination by the inspection of entrails and the Wight of birds; they treasured up all he had said or sung, and committed it to writing: and these records formed the code of the s;icred Discipline of the Etruscans, which regulated their entire polity, civil and religious, and was by them transmitted to the Romans.'—Dennis, 'Cities and Cemetries of Etruria.'
"At nymphas tetigit nova res, et Amazone natus
—Ovid, 'Met.' xv. 552.
From its connection with the legend of Tages and his mystic rites, Tarquinii became the religious metropolis of Etruria, and continued to be regarded as the city especially honoured by the gods.
In the first century of Rome, Demaratus, a rich Corinthian merchant, migrated to Etruria, owing to political dissensions in his own country, and settled at Tarquinii, where he married an Etruscan lady, by whom he had two sons. He first taught the Etruscans alphabetical writing, and he brought with him Cleophantus the painter, and Euchir and Eugrammus, workers in terra-cotta, who instructed the people in their respective arts. The younger son of Demaratus, Lucumo or Lucius, married a noble Etruscan lady named Tanaquil, but nevertheless found every avenue to distinction closed to strangers amongst the Etruscans. Thus, after he had succeeded to his father's wealth, on his elder brother's death, his wife Tanaquil, who had the national gift of reading the future, urged him to emigrate to Rome. An augury confirmed her words; for when they reached the top of the Janiculan, an eagle swooped down, lifted the hat of Lucumo into the air, and, returning, replaced it on his head. He was welcomed to Rome, received the rights of Roman citizenship, changed his name into Lucius Tarquinius, was made guardian of the king's sons, and eventually was himself raised to the throne as Tarquinius Prisons.
The people of Tarquinia, mindful of their consanguinity to the Tarquins, joined with the people of Veii in attempting to reinstate the last king when he was exiled. After this they were frequently at war with Rome, success alternating pretty equal between the two cities. In the fifth century of Rome, Tarquinia fell completely under its dominion. In the eighth and ninth centuries of the Christian era it was devastated by the Saracens, and in 1307 it was entirely deserted and its buildings were utterly destroyed by the people of Corneto, then called Cortuessa, when the seat of the bishopric (founded in 465) was removed, under its fifth occupant, to the new town.
Behind and beyond Corneto stretch the barren rugged heights of Monterozzi, the Necropolis of old Tarquinia. Nothing is to be seen above ground but low mounds scattered over the tableland. The
* number of tombs it contains has, however, been computed at not less than two millions, and the Necropolis is considered to be sixteen miles in extent! Above 2000 tombs have been opened, but only a few can be visited. Of these the most remarkable are:
The Orotta Querciola (1832), so called from its owner, surrounded by a double frieze of frescoes, representing, in the upper series, a banquet with musicians and dancers, and, in the lower, a boar-hunt in an oak-forest, with horses and dogs, and men brandishing spears for the attack and axes for cutting their way through the thickets. The latter fresco has sometimes given the name of ' Grotta della Caccia del Cignale' to this beautiful tomb, which is much injured by damp. It was discovered in April 1831.
The Grotta del Trielinio, or Del Convito Funebre, was discovered in 1832. Five figures at the upper end of the chamber are reclining at a banquet, attended by a boy with a wine jug, while a man is piping to them. Above, are vines, with men gathering the grapes. Along the walls are figures, male and female, violently dancing, in different attitudes, and separated by trees and flowers, with birds on their branches, and rabbits beneath, perhaps indicating that the feast took place al fresco. On either side of the entrance is a man on horseback, and above them, two panthers. The sloping sides of the vaulting are painted with chequers in colours, and its broad central beam is adorned with ivy and lotus leaves.
The Grotta del Morto, opened 1832, is one of the most interesting of the series of tombs, though one of the smallest. In its frescoes an aged Etruscan lies on his deathbed, while his daughter is about to give him a last kiss; other figures stand near in attitudes of grief. The word 'Thanarsela' is written above the head of the lady, and 'Thanaueil' over that of her father. On the opposite side of the chamber naked figures are dancing and drinking at a feast in honour of the dead. Funeral wreaths hang round the walls of the tomb. In this, as in all the tombs, the flesh of the males is painted red, but that of the women left uncoloured. The paintings here are greatly effaced.
The Grotta de' Pompei, or Grotta del Tifone, discovered 1832, is deeper than the others, and of great size. The roof is supported by a square pillar, like those at Cervetri, and a triple tier of stone seats surrounds the chamber. On these are a number of stone sarcophagi, once surmounted by recumbent figures, of which two only remain perfect. One of the paintings which decorate the walls, considered by Dennis to be 'of much later date and higher style of art' than those in the other tombs, represents a miniature procession, in which the dead, a youth and a girl, are driven by demons to Hades. One of them has his claw upon the shoulders of the youth, and brandishes a hammer, the emblem of supernatural power, in the other hand. The heads of both are twined with serpents: — •
'Serpcntelli o ccraste avean per criue
There is something very attractive in this picture, with its lost story. Mrs. Hamilton Gray thinks that Dante must have seen it before he wrote of Francesca da Rimini, and that in the agonised faces of those who are led away he read:—
'Nessun maggior dolore Che ricordarst del tempo felice Nella miseria.'
In front of the central pillar is a square mass of rock which is supposed to have been an altar, on which sacrifices were made to the Manes. The front of the pillar itself bears an Etruscan inscription of nine lines, almost obliterated. Three sides of the pillar also are painted, one with a female figure ending in foliage, the others with Typhons.
'One of these two figures is particularly fine. The attitude of the body— the outspread wings—the dark massy coils of the serpent-limbs—the wild twisting of the serpent-locks—the countenance uplifted with an expression of unutterable woe, as he supports the cornice with his hands—make this figure imposing, mysterious, suhlime. In conception, the artist was the Michael Angelo of Etruria.'—Dennis.
The Grotta del Cardinale, in a hollow which leads toward the site of the city, was discovered in 1699, and finally opened in 1780 by Cardinal Gerampi, Bishop of Corneto. This is the largest of the tombs, being fifty-four feet square, with a low flat ceiling, divided by concentric squares, and supported by four massy pillars of the natural rock.
The paintings in this tomb have been greatly injured by the shepherds, who used to light their fires here, before it was protected by the Papal Government. Only the outlines can be traced, and that with difficulty. The figures represent, for the most part, a contest of good and evil spirits for the souls of the departed, like those which so long after were depicted by Orcagna at Pisa, and by Luca Signorelli at Orvieto. In one striking part of the series a soul is being wheeled in a car before the judge by good and evil genii, who try to draw different ways. The evil genii are all black.
'There is one scene from this tomb of very remarkable character, delineated by Byres,1 which is not now to be verified, as it has too much perished. It represents two children, Cupid and Psyche, the latter with huttertly wings, embracing each other ; riwith a good genius on one side, and an evil one on the other. They appear to have the same symbolical meaning as the Cupid and Psyche of the Greeks, for the evil genius is drawing Cupid, i.e. the bodily appetites and passions, towards the things of this world, represented by a tree and a labourer hurrying along with a huge stone on his head, as if to intimate that man is born to tronble, and his lot below is all vexation of spirit; while, on the other hand, Psyche, or the more exalted part of human nature, draws him back, and her persuasions are seconded by the good genius, who, be it remarked, does not seize the soul, like the antagonist principle, but tries, with oustretched arms and gentle looks, to win it to herself. Behind her is a gate, through which a soul is calmly passing, as if to contrast the tranquil bliss of a future existence with the labour, unrest, and turmoil of this. It is a simple truth, eloquently and forcibly told.'—Dennis.
1 Ilypogaei: or the Sepulchral Caverns of Tarquinia, by James Byres, 1842.