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ASCENT TO CORI.
Tiberius and Caligula. Lastly we see Pandataria, to which Julia, daughter of Augustus, and then wife of Tiberius, was banished by her father. Hither, too, her beautiful daughter, Agrippina, wife of Germanicus, was banished by Tiberius, and here she was starved to death. Here also Octavia, the divorced wife of Nero, and daughter of Claudius and Messalina, was banished by the Empress Poppaea, who forced her to commit suicide by opening her veins.
Thinking of these associations, and stopping to gather honey-suckle—-fart della Madoruia (because it generally flowers in May)—we reach the gates of Cori. We must leave our carriage here, for the streets, chiefly staircases, are too steep for anything but mules and foot passengers. It is best to make our way first to the quaint old inn in the Piazza Romana, to order dinner from the fat, good-tempered landlady with the silver spadello in her hair, and to get the honest old landlord, Filippo Capobianchi, to provide a guide, which is desirable, if time be of importance, and delivers one from the swarm of would-be cicerones who pounce upon the stranger like so many harpies. The inn at Cori is quite tolerable as a resting-place, but is strangely backward in civilized knowledge. A friend of ours who stayed there was astonished by seeing that the eggs when boiled were always bored through with a very small hole, and, asking the reason, was told that of course it must be so, or they would burst in the boiling!
Virgil and Diodorus speak of Cori as a colony of Alba Longa. Pliny asserts that it was founded by the Trojan Dardanus. It was certainly one of the thirty cities of the Latin League in B.c. 493, and Livy speaks of it as in the enjoyment of municipal rights during the second Punic war. During this war it is mentioned as one of the rebellious cities which refused to contribute the necessary supplies. It was taken and sacked many years after by one of the wandering bands of Spartacus. Propertius and Lucan describe it as totally ruined.
Yet there are few places in the neighbourhood of Rome which have so many or such fine remains of antiquity as Cori. In mounting to the upper town, three distinct tiers of its ancient walls may be traced. The first, in the lower town, built of polygonal blocks, has their interstices filled up
with smaller stones; the second, near Santa Oliva, has polygonal blocks alone, very carefully fitted; and the third, at the top of the hill, is still polygonal, but of ruder construction. Behind some wretched houses are two columns still standing, with beautiful Corinthian capitals, a fragment of
the Temple of Castor and Pollux, as is proved by still legible inscriptions. Another capital of the same temple is before a house door a little further up the ascent. The adjoining house to this temple is called the Palace of Pilate. On the top of the hill stands the church of S. Pietro, where the font (in the first chapel on the right) is sustained by a sculptured marble altar, adorned with rams' heads. Behind the church is a small garden, where we find entire the beautiful Doric peristyle of the Temple of Minerva, generally known here as
the Temple of Hercules. Eight columns still remain, four in the front . Here the figure of Minerva, which now stands under the Senators' palace on the Roman Capitol, was found. The ruin is most picturesque, and is grandly situated on a terrace.
"Whence Cora's sentinels o'erlook
Raphael made a sketch of it, which is still extant . As we sat to draw here, the children, who were vainly locked out by the Sacristan, and climbed after us over the wall, got pieces of stone for blocks, and sticks for pencils, and imitated every line we made.
Halfway up the hill is the beautiful old convent of Santa Oliva, whose shrine is in the crypt at Anagni. She was a holy maiden of Cori, to whom the Virgin appeared in 1521. Her cloister, with a double row of arches, is most picturesque, and it contains an old well. The body of the church has a ceiling whose intention is the same as that of the Sistine, representing scenes of Old and New Testament story. In the apse is the Coronation of the Virgin, evidently by a pupil of Pinturicchio; the donor kneels beneath. The aisle of the church, a labyrinth of columns of different sizes and designs, is shown as the Temple of Jupiter. The temples of Cori are all attributed to Sylla. Outside the gate of the town, on the Norba side, is the beautiful bridge called Ponte alia Catena, built of huge masses of tufa, spanning the deep ravine of the Pichionni, and overhung by quaint old houses.
Norba and Norma are five long miles from Cori, and can be reached only on foot or on muleback without making an immense detour. A very steep and intensely stony way leads up the hill-side from near the Ponte alia Catena. The olive-gardens beside it are fringed with wild blue iris—gigli the Italians call them, and the gigli, which are the arms of Florence, are represented as iris. The path emerges on the steep of the mountain, and clambers along, with precipices above and below, amid thq wildest NORBA.
scenery. All around are grey rocks, with short grass between, on which the flocks of goats pasture, whose shepherds, clad in goatskins, are the only human beings we meet here. Hawks swoop overhead. It is a vast view over what looks like a boundless plain, for all the undulations and sinuosities of the country are lost to us at this great height. The village which glitters midway between us and the sea is Cistema, "the Three Taverns" of St. Paul. At length Sermoneta comes in sight on the top of a precipice, and then Norma. Then the ancient Norba, now often called Civita la Penna tfOro, one of the earliest of the Roman colonies, rises on the right. It has been .an utter ruin ever since the time of Sylla, when it was betrayed into the hands of his general, Lepidus, and the garrison put themselves and the inhabitants to the sword. It must have been a tremendous fortress, for the walls are seven thousand feet in circuit, and the blocks of which they are built, and on which time has failed to make any impression, are often ten feet in length. The gates may be traced, and an inner series of walls surrounding the citadel. A square enclosure sunk in the earth is surrounded by Cyclopean walls: its object is unknown. Our guide said that when the Deluge occurred it would have failed to make any impression upon Norba—a very ancient city at that time—so strong was it; but here the rain which fell was made of lead, and the inhabitants, who were giants, were all destroyed, and every house, and all the temples of the ancient religion of that time, and only the walls remained, for they were so strong that not even a leaden deluge could affect them. Hither Ricchi mentions that as late as the beginning of the last century people were wont to use magical arts in the search for hidden treasure.