ePub 版

slab deeply carved with letters of ancient form, which tells how S. Romuald, the founder of the Order of Camaldoli, praying by night at that altar, saw in a vision S. Apollinare, who bade him leave the world and become the founder of an order of hermits.'—A. Trollope.

Most of the walls of the nave are occupied by the (chiefly imaginary) portraits of the unbroken succession of 130 Archbishops of Ravenna. But the tribune, and the triumphal arch in front of it, still retain their precious mosaics of the 6th century, when they were erected by Archbishop S. Agnellus - being 'the first picture of the Transfiguration which Italy knew, and that eight centuries before Raphael.'

'From 671 to 677 were probably erected these last mosaic decorations of importance at Ravenna, which, now that the history of art has sustained an irreparable injury in the destruction of St. Paul's at Rome by fire, alone give us any idea of the manner in which whole rows of pictures and symbols in mosaic were employed to ornament the interior of churches. In the spandrils, between the arches of the centre aisle, we observe an almost perfect collection of those earliest symbols of Christian art, from the simple monogram to the Good Shepherd and the Fisherman, while above the arch in a row of medallions are the portraits of the Archbishops of Ravenna: of course not the original works—which, owing to the destruction of the surface of these walls by that enemy of art Sigismund Malatesta, Lord of Rimini, were entirely lost—but apparently correct copies. The heads here, as formerly in the pictures of the Popes in S. Paul's, are given full in front, the profile being totally unknown to that art.

1 The mosaics, however, in and above the apsis are old and genuine— remarkable relics of that time when the church of Ravenna, in league with Byzantium, once more declared itself upon an equality with the Roman Church, and sought by paying honour to its own patron saint, S. Apollinaris (the scholar of S. Peter), to place him upon a level with that apostle. The order and arrangement of these mosaics declare this intention in the clearest way. They exemplify, namely, the glorification of the Church of Ravenna. In the semi-dome of the apsis, upon a blue ground, with light pink and light blue clouds, appears a blue circle studded with gold stars and set in jewels, and, within this, a splendidly decorated cross with a half-length figure of Christ in the centre. On each side of the circle are the half-length figures of Moses and Elijah emerging from the clouds, both, on account of their transfiguration, very youthfully depicted. Far below, upon a meadow with trees, in the centre of the whole, stands S. Apollinaris, his arms raised in benediction, surrounded by fifteen sheep. On the lower walls appear four Ravenna bishops, on a blue ground, under canopies with draperies and chandeliers, and on each side are two larger pictures of the sacrifices of Abel, Melchizedek, and Abraham, and, but little in character with the foregoing, the granting of the Privileges to the Church of Ravenna. In all these works the drawing is in every way inferior to those of the sixth century; the execution, however, very careful, with more middle tones than usual; the four bishops excepted, who are rudely and sketchily treated, and are only distinguished by more powerful and less conventional heads.

'The two side pictures of the lower wall merit a close examination, especially the three sacrifices, which are here combined in one really spirited composition, and in point of execution are decidedly the best. Beneath an open curtain, behind a covered table, sits the venerable white-haired Melchizedek, in diadem and crimson mantle, in act of breaking the bread. On the left, Abel is seen advancing, in figure of a half-naked youth in linen chlamys, carrying a lamb. On the right, Abraham, an old man in white robes, is seen leading his son, who wears a yellow robe. The corresponding picture, the granting of the Privileges, is slighter and inferior in drawing and execution, so that, for example, the outlines of the heads are rudely conspicuous. Three imperial youths, with nimbuses, are advancing from a curtained door of the palace—Constantinus, who is clad in the crimson mantle, Heraclius, and Tiberius. On the right, quietly looking on, stands the Archbishop of Ravenna, surrounded by four ecclesiastics, one of whom is receiving from Constantine a roll with a red inscription, Privilcgia. Here an obvious Byzantine stiffness is apparent, as compared with the two ceremonial pictures in S. Vitale. Upon the wall above the tribune, upon a strip of blue ground, may be seen, glimmering through the dust of a thousand years, a half-length of Christ with the signs of the Evangelists. These are succeeded by the twelve sheep, which are advancing up both sides of the arch of the tribune; two palm-trees are placed lower down. Neither animals nor trees are superior to those within the tribune. On the other hand, in the figures of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, which are introduced lower down at the side of the tribune, we find traces of a good antique taste. Each is holding in his right hand the flag of victory (the Labarum), while the left so grasps the crimson mantle, which is faced with embroidered cloth of gold, that a part of the white tunic is visible. The heads are of youthful beauty.'—Kugler.

It will be observed in this mosaic that the figure of S. Apollinare occupies the central space, hitherto assigned only to Christ .

'He is in the habit of a Greek bishop, that is.in white, the pallium embroidered with black crosses, no mitre, and with grey hair and beard. He stands, with hands outspread, preaching to his congregation

of converts, who are represented by several sheep—the common symbol.'—Jameson's 'Sacred Art?

Nothing remains of the ancient town of Classis, destroyed by Luitprand, king of the Lombards, in 728. The name Classis remained in that of Chiassi, which was applied to the part of the Pineta near this.

Those who only pay a hurried visit to Ravenna may form some idea of the Pineta by entering it near S. Apollinare. Of this most ancient forest no mere verbal description can give an idea. Yet how many have been written, beginning with that of Dante, who must constantly have walked here while the guest of the Polentani :—.

'Vago già di cercar dentro e dintorno

La divina foresta spessa e viva,

Ch' agli occhi temperava il nuovo giorno,

Senza più aspettar lasciai la riva, Prendendo la campagna lento lento, Su per lo suol che d' ogni parte oliva.

Un' aura dolce, senza mutamento
Avere in sé, mi feria per la fronte
Non di più colpo che soave vento:

Per cui le fronde, tremolando pronte,
Tutte quante piegavano alla parte
U' la prim' ombra gitta il santo monte;

Non però dal lor esser dritto sparte
Tanto, che gli augelletti per le cime
Lasciasser d' operare ogni lor arte;

Ma con piena letizia 1' ore prime, Cantando, ricevean intra le foglie, Che tenevan bordone alle sue rime,

Tal, qual di ramo in ramo si raccoglie Per la pineta, in sul lito di Chiassi, Quand' Eolo Scirocco fuor discioglie.

Già m' avean trasportato i lenti passi Dentro all' antica selva, tanto eh' io Non potea rivedere ond' io m' entrassi.

Ed ecco più andar mi tolse un rio, Che 'nver sinistra con sue piccioP onde Piegava 1' erba che 'n sua ripa uscio.

Tutte 1' acque, che son di qua più monde Parrieno avere in sé mistura alcuna, Verso di quella che nulla nasconde;

Avvegna che si muova bruna bruna
Sotto l' ombra perpetua, che mai
Raggiar non lascia Sole ivi, nè Luna.'

1 Purgatorio? xxviii.

Boccaccio chose the Pineta as the scene of his tale of the Nastagio degli Onesti, versified by Dryden in his 'Theodore and Honoria.' Byron, who lived at Ravenna for two years, made it his constant ride. The inscription on his house speaks of it as one of the attractions which drew him to

[graphic][merged small]

Ravenna—' Impaziente di visitare l'antica selva, che inspirò già il Divino et Giovanni Boccaccio.' He has himself bequeathed us his impression of it :—

'Sweet hour of twilight,—in the solitude

Of the pine-forest, and the silent shore
Which bounds Ravenna's immemorial wood,

Rooted where once the Adrian wave flow'd o'er,
To where the last Cesarean fortress stood,

Evergreen forest ! which Boccaccio's lore
And Dryden's lay made haunted ground to me,
How have I loved the twilight hour and thee!

The shrill cicalas, people of the pine,

Making their summer lives one ceaseless song.

Were the sole echoes, save my steed's and mine,
And vesper bells that rose the boughs along:

The spectre huntsman of Onesti's line,

His hell-dogs, and their chase, and the fair throng

Which learn'd from his example not to fly

From a true lover, — shadow'd my mind's eye.'

'Don juan,' canto iii.

'As early as the sixth century the sea had already retreated to such a distance from Ravenna that orchards and gardens were cultivated on the spot where once the galleys of the Caesars rode at anchor. Groves of pine sprung up along the shore, and in their lofty tops the music of the wind moved like the ghost of waves and breakers plunging upon distant sands. This Pinetum stretches along the shore of the Adriatic for about forty miles, forming a belt of variable width between the great marsh and the tumbling sea. From a distance the bare stems and velvet crowns of the pine-trees stand up like palms that cover an oasis on Arabian sands; but at a nearer view the trunks detach themselves from an inferior forest-growth of juniper, and thorn, and ash, and oak, the tall roofs of the stately firs shooting their breadth of sheltering greenery above the lower and less sturdy brushwood. It is hardly possible to imagine a more beautiful and impressive scene than that presented by these long alleys of imperial pines. They grow so thickly one behind another, that we might compare them to the pipes of a great organ, or the pillars of a Gothic church, or the basaltic columns of the Giant's Causeway. Their tops are evergreen and laden with heavy cones, from which Ravenna draws considerable wealth. Scores of peasants are quartered on the outskirts of the forest, whose business it is to scale the pines and rob them of their fruit at certain seasons cf the year. Afterwards they dry the fir-cones in the sun, until the nuts which they contain fall. out. The empty husks are sold for fire-wood, and the kernels in their stony cells reserved for exportation. You may see the peasants, men, women, and boys, sorting them by millions, drying and sifting them upon the open spaces of the wood, and packing them in sacks to send abroad through Italy. The pinocchi or kernels of the stone-pine are used largely in cookery, and those of Ravenna are prized for their good quality and aromatic flavour. When roasted or pounded they taste like a softer and more mealy kind of almonds. The task of gathering this harvest is not a little dangerous. Tliey have to cut notches in the straight shafts, and having climbed, often to the height of eighty feet, to lean upon the branches, and detach the fircones with a pole,—and this for every tree. Some lives, they say, are yearly lost in the business.

'As may be imagined, the spaces of this great forest form the haunt

« 上一頁繼續 »