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the key-stone of the arch, though this more probably represents Apollo than Jupiter.
To enjoy Fallen properly, one must make the circuit of the walls, which are nearly triangular, and which, on the side which overhangs the stream, rise almost perpendicular with the tufa rocks. Here and there they are hollowed into tombs and niches, while on the other side of the narrow ravine are tall cliffs full of small caverned sepulchres. In the distance beyond the broomy heights, soars Soracte, ever one of the most beautiful of mountains. Below flows the rivulet Miccino, one of the waters which Pliny describes as
Porta di Giove, Fallen.
having the power of imparting a white colour to cattle. In the southern wall of the city is the Porta del Bove, so called from the bull's head upon its key-stone. Fallen was a city constructed entirely upon the Etruscan model, but was built in the year of Rome 512, after the destruction of the ancient city, when it was called Falerium Novum. Zonaras, who describes the capture of Falerium Vetus, says that 'the ancient city situated on a steep and lofty height was destroyed, and another built on a site easy of access.' The name of the ancient city was transferred with the inhabitants, and when the town on the earlier site rose from its ruins, in the 9th century, it was with the name of Civita Castellana. The second town was erected by the Romans, but at a time when Etruscan arts were most admired and copied, and it was probably raised on or near the site of some small Etruscan citadel, to which many of the tombs in its rockbarriers may have belonged.
'One longs to have a painter here, to catch the warm glow of the great wall, lichened and weather-stained, as it descends into the verdure, and then into the deep shadow of the underlying ravine ; then the same is again repeated, but with all the varieties of receding colour, as, promontory after promontory, the defences run up the glen; till at length a barrier of high rocks closes in its head, over which, after a belt of wooded country, rises the graceful group of Soracte, in loveliest, tenderest blue. But no painter can give us the fragrance of the springflowers which fills the air, nor the gushing notes of many nightingales from the balmy thickets below.'—Dean Alfortl.
It is about g m. from Civita Castellana to the summit of Soracte. A carriage, 10 frs., may be taken as far as S. Oreste, where it must be left to wait. The ascent thence is most easy.
The road emerges from Civita Castellana through an Etruscan cutting in the rock which is lined with tombs. As we advance the beautiful details of Soracte become even more defined. Those who look at it from Rome have no idea whatever of the majestic character of the mountain as seen from this side, where it rises abruptly in the midst of the rich green plain of the table-land. Dennis compares it to the rock of Gibraltar. Ampere says that it resembles a blue island in the Aegean Sea. At first it is a sharp blue wedge against the sky, darkened by the woods with which it is covered, then it lengthens out into several peaks of sharp cliff succeeding one another and crowned by white convents and hermitages. The lower slopes are rich and green. They melt gradually into thick olive groves, which terminate in steeps of bare gray rock, white and dazzling when the sun falls upon them.
It is a sign of severe winter when Soracte is capped with snow :—
'Vides, ut alta stet nive candidum
But all snow will have melted before the charms of the fresh spring have attracted visitors to Civita Castellana, and the lower slopes of the mountain will be breaking into such a loveliness of tender green as is quite indescribable. Though of no great altitude, Soracte, from its isolation, its form, and its glorious colour, is far more impressive than many mountains which are five times its height.
'Athos, Olympus, Etna, Atlas, made
Byron, 'Childe Harold,' c. iv.
Separated from the main mass of the mountain on the Roman side is an attendant rock supporting the picturesque little town of S. Oreste, which has given its modern name to Soracte. At the foot of this smaller hill is the fountain of Felonica, marking the site of Feronia, where the peasants of the surrounding districts offered their first-fruits to the great Sabine goddess, who would seem to have been identical with Proserpine.
'The most important of all the Italian fairs was that which was held at Soracte in the grove of Feronia, a situation than which none could be found more favourable for the exchange of commodities among the three great nations. That high isolated mountain, which appears to have been set down by nature herself in the midst of the plain of the Tiber as a goal for the pilgrim, lay on the boundary which separated the Etruscan and Sabine lands (to the latter of which it appears mostly to have belonged), and it was likewise easily accessible from Latium and Umbria. Roman merchants regularly made their appearance there, and the wrongs of which they complained gave rise to many a quarrel with the Sabines.'—Mommsen's ' Hist. of Borne,' ch. xiii.
It was narrated by Strabo, that pilgrims to Feronia, possessed with her spirit, could walk with bare feet, uninjured, over burning coals. The goddess was honoured with such valuable offerings of gold and silver that Hannibal thought it worth while to turn aside hither, to plunder the famous shrine.
'Annibal alia au pied du Soracte piller le sanctuaire de Feronia; les paysanes capenates, aussi devotes a la grande deesse sabine que leurs descendants peuvent l'etre a Saint Oreste, offraient a ce sanctuaire celebre les premices de leurs moissons. Elle recevait aussi des oflrandes en or et en argent. Annibal traita le sanctuaire de Feronia comme le general Buonaparte devait traiter un jour le sanctuaire de Notre-Dame de Lorette; il le depouilla.'—Ampire,' Hist. Rome,' iii. 100.
From S. Oreste one must follow a foot-path which turns up to the left by a small chapel. It is about two miles to the top of the mountain. Most of the convents are in ruins. S. Lucia is the first which comes in sight, on the crest of the nearest peak, then 5. Romana on the eastern slope. Then, by the pilgrims' road, which winds through an avenue of ancient ilexes and elms, the traveller reaches S. Maria delle Grazie, where the hospitable monks, endeared to the whole surrounding country by their active life of charity, offer refreshments to wayfarers.
The summit was once occupied by the temple of Apollo, the 'guardian of holy Soracte,' whither the Hirpini, as the people of the surrounding district were called, came to offer their annual sacrifices, and were, on that account, says Pliny, exempted from military service and other public duties.
'Summe deum, sancti custos Soractis Apollo,
Virgil, 'Aen.' xi. 785.
'Turn Soracte satum, praestantem corpore et armis,
Sil. Ital. v. 175.
On the supposed site of the ancient temple, 2,270 feet above the level of the sea, perched on the highest points of the perpendicular crags, its walls one with their precipices, now stands the monastery of S. Silvestro. It is a sublime position, removed from and above everything else. Hawks circle around its huge cliffs, and are the only sign of life. On a lower terrace are the church and hermitage of S. -Antonio, ruined and deserted. To these solitudes came Constantine to seek for Sylvester the hermit, whom he found here in a cave and led away to raise to the Papal throne, walking before him as he rode upon his mule, as is represented in the ancient frescoes of the Quattro Incoronati at Rome.
'Sylvester, who had been elected bishop of Rome, fled from the persecution, and dwelt for some time in a cavern near the summit of Soracte. While he lay there concealed, the Emperor Constantine was attacked by a horrible leprosy: and having called to him the priests of his false gods, they advised that he should bathe himself in a bath of children's blood, and three thousand children were collected for this purpose. And, as he proceeded in his chariot to the place where the bath was to be prepared, the mothers of these children threw themselves in his way with dishevelled hair, weeping, and crying aloud for mercy. Then Constantine was moved to tears, and he commanded that the children should be restored to their mothers with great gifts, in recompense of what they had suffered.
'On that same night, as he lay asleep, S. Peter and S. Paul appeared at his bedside, and they stretched their hands over him, and said—"Because thou hast feared to spill the innocent blood, Jesus Christ has sent us to bring thee good counsel. Send to Sylvester, who lies hidden among the mountains, and he shall show thee the pool, in which having washed three times, thou shalt be clean of thy leprosy; and henceforth thou shalt adore the God of the Christians, and thou shalt cease to persecute and oppress them." Then Constantine, awaking from this vision, sent to search for Sylvester. And he, when he saw the soldiers of the Emperor, supposed it was to lead him to death ; but when he appeared before the Emperor, Constantine saluted him, and said, "I would know of thee who are those two gods who appeared to me in the vision of the night?" And Sylvester replied, "They were not gods, but the apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ." Then Constantine desired that he would show him the effigies of these two apostles; and Sylvester sent for the pictures of S. Peter and S. Paul, which were in the possession of certain pious Christians. Constantine, having beheld them, saw that they were the same who had appeared to him in his dream. Then. Sylvester baptized him, and he came out of the font cured of his malady.'—Jameson's 'Sacred Art.'