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"Hie tua Tiburtes Faunos chelys et juvat ipsum
Statius, Silv. I. 3.
The inhabitants of Tibur frequently incurred the anger of Rome by assistance they gave to the Gauls upon their inroads into Latium, ana they were completely subdued by Camillus in B.C. 335. Ovid narrates how when they were requested to send back the Roman pipers, "tibicines," who had seceded to Tibur from offence which they had taken at an edict of the censors, they made them drunk, and took them thus in carts to Rome.
"Exilio mutant urbem, Tiburque recedunt!
Alliciunt somnos tempus, motusque, merumque,
Potaque se Tibur turba redire putat.
Et mane in medio plaustra fuere foro."
Fasti, vi. 665.
The second line of this passage expresses the fact that
"Quid referam veteres Romanae gentis, apud quos
Pont. 1. El. 3.
Brutus and Cassius are said to have fled thither after the murder of Caesar. Under the earlier emperors, Tibur was the favourite retreat of the wealthy Romans,—the Richmond of Rome—and, as such, it was celebrated by the poets. It was also the scene of the nominal imprisonment of Zenobia,
the brave and accomplished Queen of Palmyra, who lived here like a Roman matron, after having appeared in the triumph of Aurelian. She was presented with a beautiful villa by the Emperor. "Here the Syrian queen insensibly sunk into a Roman matron, her daughters married into noble families, and her race was not yet extinct in the fifth century." * In an earlier age, Syphax, king of Numidia, died here B.C. 201, having been brought from Africa to adorn the triumph of Scipio. The town was surrendered by the Isaurian garrisons, which Belisarius had placed there, to the Goths under Totila, who both burnt and rebuilt it . In the eighth century the name was changed to Tivoli. In the wars of the Guelphs and Ghibellines it bore a prominent part and was generally on the imperial side.
The climate of Tivoli was esteemed remarkably healthy, and was considered to have the property of blanching ivory.
"Quale micat, semperque novum est, quod Tiburis aura
Sil. Ital. xii. 229. •
"Lilia tu vincis, nee adhuc delapsa ligustra,
Martial, viii. 28.
But since the existence of malaria, modern poetry has told a different tale:—
"Tivoli di mal conforto,
As we ascend the hill, its wonderful beauty becomes more striking at every turn.
"The hill of Tivoli is all over picture. The town, the villas, the ruins, the rocks, the cascades, in the foreground; the Sabine hills, the three Monticelli, Soracte, Frascati, the Campagna, and Rome in the
• Gibbon, ch. xi.
VOL. L 13
distance; these form a succession of landscapes superior, in the delight produced, to the richest cabinet of Claude's. Tivoli cannot be described: no true portrait of it exists: all views alter and embellish it: they are poetical translations of the matchless original. Indeed, when you come to detail the hill, some defect of harmony will ever be found in the foreground or distance, something in the swell or channelling of its sides, something in the growth or the grouping of its trees, which painters, referring every object to its effect on canvas, will often condemn as bad Nature. In fact, the beauties of the landscape are all accidental. Nature, intent on more important ends, does nothing exclusively to please the eye. No stream flows exactly as the artist would wish it: he wants mountains where he finds only hills: he wants hills where he finds a plain. Nature gives him but scattered elements, the composition is his own."—Forsyth.
Close to the gate of the town, on the right, is the picturesque five-towered Castle, built by Pius II. (1458-64).
A street, full of mediaeval fragments, leads to the Regina and on to the Sibylla, which all artists will prefer, and which has never merited the description of George Sand :—
"L'affreuse auberge de la Sibylle, un vrai coupe-gorge de l'OperaComique."
It stands on the very edge of the precipice :—
"The green steep whence Anio leaps
This is an almost isolated quarter of the town, occupying a distinct point of rock, called Castro Vetere, which is supposed to have been the arx of citadel of ancient Tibur —the Sicelion of Dionysius. Here, on the verge of the abyss, with coloured cloths hanging out over its parapetwall, as we have so often seen it in pictures, stands the beautiful—the most beautiful—little building, which has been known for ages as the Temple of the Sibyl. It was once encircled by 18 Corinthian columns, and of these 10
still remain. In its delicate form and its rich orange colour,
standing out against the opposite heights of Monte Peschia
vatore, it is impossible to conceive anything more picturesque,
and the situation is sublime, perched on the very edge
of the cliff, overhung with masses of clematis and ivy,
through which portions of the ruined arch of a bridge are
just visible, while below the river foams and roars. Close
behind the circular temple is another little oblong temple
of travertine, with Ionic columns, now turned into the Church
of S. Giorgio. Those who contend that the circular temple
was dedicated to Vesta, or to Hercules Saxonus, call this the
Temple of the Sibyl: others * say it is the Temple of Tibur
tus, the founder of the city; others, that it was built in honour
of Drusilla, sister of Caligula. We know from Varro that the
roth and last of the Sibyls, whose name was Albunea, was
worshipped at Tivoli, and her temple seems to be coupled by
the poets with the shrine of Tiburtus above the Anio.
"Illis ipse antris Anienus fonte relicto,
Statins, Silv. I. 3.
Close to the temples a gate will admit visitors into the beautiful walks begun by General Miollis, and finished under the Papal government. Those who are not equal to a long round, should not enter upon these, and in taking a local guide it should be recollected that there is scarcely the slightest ground for anything they say, and that the names they give to villas and temples are generally the merest conjecture.
* Nibby. Dintorni, iii. 205.
The walks, however, are charming, and lead by a gradual descent to the caves called the Grottoes of Neptune and the Sirens, into the chasm beneath which the Anio fell magnificently till 1826,* when an inundation which carried away a church and twenty-six houses led the Papal government to divert the course of the river in order to prevent the temples from being carried away also, and to open the new artificial cascade, 320 feet high, in 1834. The Anio at Tivoli, as the Velino at Terni, has extraordinary petrifying properties, and the mass of stalactites and petrified vegetation hanging everywhere from the rocks adds greatly to their wild picturesqueness.
"Puisque vous me dites que vous avez sous les yeux tous les guides et itinéraires de l'Italie pour suivre mon humble pérégrination, je dois vous prévenir que, dans aucun vous ne trouverez une description exacte de ces grottes, par la raison que les éboulements, les tremblements de terre, et les travaux indispensables à la sécurité de la ville, menacée de s'écrouler aussi, ou d'être emportée par l'Anio, ont souvent changé leur aspect. Je vais tâcher de vous donner succinctement une idée exacte; car, en dépit des nouveaux itinéraires qui prétendent que ces lieux ont perdu leur principal intérêt, ils sont encore une des plus ravissantes merveilles de la terre.
"Je vous ai parlé d'un puits de verdure; c'est ce bocage, d'environ un mille de tour à son sommet, que l'on a arrangé dans l'entonnoir d'un ancien cratère. L'abîme est donc tapissé de plantations vigoureuses, bien libres et bien sauvrages, descendant sur les flancs de montagne presque à pic, au moyen des zig-zags d'un sentier doux aux pieds, tout bordé d'herbes et de fleurs rustiques, soutenu par les terrasses naturelles du roc pittoresque, et se dégageant à chaque instant des bosquets qui l'ombragent pour vous laisser regarder le torrent sous vos pieds, le rocher perpendiculaire à votre droite, et le joli temple de la Sibylle au-dessus de votre tête. C'est à la fois d'une grâce et d'une majesté, d'une âpreté et d'une fraicheur qui résument bien les caractères de la nature italienne. Il me semble qu'il n'y a ici rien d'austère et de terrible qui ne soit tout à coup .tempéré on dissimulé par des voluptés souriantes.
* This fall, though natural, was itself the result of an inundation in A D. 105, which is recorded by Pliny the Younger. (Ep. viii. 17.)