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VEIL 135

to the level of the stream to enjoy the view through the dark recesses to the light beyond.

"It would be easy to pass the Ponte Sodo without observing it. It is called a bridge; but is a mere mass of rock bored for the passage of the stream. Whether wholly or but partly artificial may admit of dispute. It is, however, in all probability, an Etruscan excavation—a tunnel in the rock, two hundred and forty feet long, twelve or fifteen wide, and nearly twenty high. From above it is scarcely visible. You must view it from the banks of the stream. You at first suspect it to be of natural formation, yet there is a squareness and regularity about it whicli prove it artificial. The steep cliffs of tufa, yellow, grey, or white, overhung by ilex, ivy, and brushwood—the deep, dark-mouthed tamol witli a ray of sunshine, it may be, gleaming beyond—the masses of lichenclad rock, which choke the stream, give it a charm apart from its antiquity."—Dennis* Cities of Ktruria.

Near the Ponte Sodo are remains of an aqueduct of imperial times, confirming the opinion that Veii had a temporary revival during the reign of Tiberius, whose statue, with several inscriptions of his time, has been found here.

About a mile up the stream from this, passing the Roman

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Ponte dell' Isola, Veii.

bridge called Ponte Formello, we reach the tall Etruscan bridge Ponte delP Isola, which crosses the river with an arch twenty-two feet wide. About the same distance in the opposite direction, descending the river, the remains of a ruined Columbarium are seen in the grey rock on the opposite bank, and a little further, on the slope of the hill-side called Poggio Reale, is the Painted Tomb.

Before the entrance of the tomb, which is sometimes known as the Grotta Campana, are the almost shapeless remains of the stone lions which once guarded it. The custode opens a door in the rock and admits one with lights to the interior of two low vaulted chambers hewn out of the tufa, and they are well worth seeing. On either side of the outer room are stone benches, on which, when the tomb was first opened, skeletons were seen lying, but crumbled away in a few minutes. With one of these, who had been a warrior, lay his breast-plate, helmet, and spearVhead, which still remain, and all around were the large earthen jars and vases which yet stand here. The walls are covered with fantastic paintings of figures, with horses, dogs, leopards, and other animals, all of rude execution, but still fresh in form and colour. The inner-chamber is surrounded by a shelf still laden with vases and curious little cinerary sarcophagi, and in its centre stood the brazier in which perfumes were burnt to purify the air.

These aie the sights usually seen at Veii; but if possible another two hours should be devoted to ascending the hill of the Arx, called by the natives Piazza d'Armi, which may be reached by a little path winding through the brushwood above the Columbarium. Of late years this has been decided to be the citadel of Veii, formerly supposed to have occupied the rock of Isola Farnese, which was separated from the rest of the city by a deep glen, so that, had it been the citadel, Camillus by its capture would not, as Livy tells us, have obtained immediate possession of the town.

These desolate heights, now overgrown with thorns and SIEGE OF VEIL 137

thistles, amongst which fragments of precious marbles and alabasters may still be found in abundance, formed the citadel whose fourteen wars are matters of history, and which, having been successfully able to resist the whole forces of Rome during an eight years' siege, was at last only taken (a.c. 393) by a stratagem.

"It was a time of truce round the walls of Veii; and many who from living so near had known each other before the war, would often fall into discourse. In this manner the inhabitants heard of the prodigy of the (Alban) lake: and a soothsayer was impelled by destiny to scoff at the efforts of the Romans, the futility of which was foretold in the prophetic books. Some days after, a Roman centurion invited the soothsayer to come into the plain between the walls and the Roman trenches, to hear an account of a portent that had fallen out at his house, and to teach him in what way to appease the gods: the aruspex was seduced by the reward promised him, and incautiously let himself be led near the Roman lines. On a sudden the stout centurion seized the old man, and dragged him, an easy prey, into the camp. From hence he was carried to Rome before the senate; where he was forced by threats to speak the truth, and, loudly bewailing the destiny that had infatuated him to betray the secret of his nation, confessed that the Veientine books of fate announced that, so long as the lake kept on overflowing, Veii could not be taken, and that if the waters were to reach the sea, Rome would perish. Not long afterwards the ambassadors returned from Delphi, and brought an answer to a like effect: whereupon the tunnel was begun, in order that the lake might cease to overflow, and thai the water drawn from it might be spread through the fields in ditches. This work was carried on unremittingly; and the Veientines learnt that the fatal consummation, on which their ruin hung, was at hand. They sent an embassy to implore forbearance; but they found no compassion. The chief of the envoys, before they quitted the senate-house with the unrelenting answer, warned the Romans once more of the penalty that would inevitably await them: for, as certainly as Veii was now doomed to fall, so surely did the same oracles foretell, that, soon after the fall of Veii, Rome would be taken by the Gauls. Nobody listened to him.

"Camillus was already commanding as dictator before the city, and was unsuspectedly executing the work which opened the way for its destruction. The Romans seemed to be standing quietly at their posts, as if they were waiting the slow issue of a blockade which could not be forced. But the army was divided into six bands; and these, relieving one another every six hours, were labouring incessantly in digging a mine, which was to lead into the citadel of Veii, and there»to open into the temple of Juno.

"Before the assault was made, the dictator inquired of the senate, what was to be done with the spoil. Appius Claudius, the grandson of the decemvir, advised selling it for the benefit of the treasury, that it might supply pay for the army without need of a property-tax. This was opposed by P. Licinius, the most eminent among the plebeian military tribunes: he even declared it would be unfair if none but the soldiers then on the spot were to have a share in the booty, for which every citizen had made some sacrifice or other. Notice, he said, ought, to be given, for all who wished to partake in it to proceed to the camp. This was decreed; and old and young flocked toward the devoted city. Hereupon, as soon as the water was dispersed over the fields, and the passage into the citadel finished, Camillus made a vow to Matuta, a goddess highly revered on the adjacent Tyrrhenian coast, and addressed prayers to Juno, whose temple covered the way destined to lead the Romans into the city, with promises that she should receive higher honours than ever. Nor were his adjurations fruitless. To the Pythian Apollo, whose oracle, when it encouraged the Romans to put faith in the words of the aruspex, demanded an offering for Delphi, he vowed a tenth of the spoil. Then, at the appointed hour, the passage was filled with cohorts: Camillus himself led the way. Meanwhile the horns blew the signal for the assault; and the countless host brought scaling ladders, as if they meant to mount the walls from every side. Here the citizens stood expecting the enemy, while their king was sacrificing in the temple of Juno. The aruspex, when he saw the victim, declared that whoever brought the goddess her share of the slaughtered animal would conquer. This was heard by the Romans underground. They burst forth and seized the flesh; and Camillus offered it up. From the citadel they rushed irresistibly through the city, and opened the nearest gates to the assailants.

"The incredible amount of the spoil even surpassed the expectations of the conquerors. The whole was given to the army, except the captives who had been spared in the massacre, before the unarmed had their lives granted to them, and who were sold on account of the state. All objects of human property had already been removed from the empty walls: the ornaments and statues of the gods alone were yet untouched. Juno had accepted the vow of a temple on the Aventine. But every one trembled to touch her image; for, according to the Etruscan reLA SCALETTA. 139

ligion, none but a priest of a certain house might do so without fear of death. A body of chosen knights, who took courage to venture upon removing it from its place, proceeded to the temple in white robes, and asked the goddess whether she consented to go to Rome. They heard her voice pronounce her assent; and the statue of its own accord followed those who were leading it forth.

"While Camillus was looking down from this temple on the magnificence of the captured city, the immense wealth of which the spoilers were amassing, he called to mind the threats of the Veientines, and that the gods were wont to regard excessive prosperity with displeasure ; and he prayed to the mighty queen of heaven to let the calamity that was to expiate it be such as the republic and he himself could support. When after ending his prayer he turned round to the right, with his head veiled according to custom, his foot stumbled, and he fell. It seemed as if the goddess had graciously appeased destiny with this mishap: and Camillus, forgetting the foreboding which had warned him, provoked the angry powers by the unexampled pomp and pride of his triumph. Jupiter and Sol saw him drive up with their own team of white horses to the Capitol. For this arrogance he atoned by a sentence of con demnation, Rome by her destruction."—Niebuhr's Hist. of Rome, ii. 476.

From this time, with the exception of a brief revival under the Empire, the site of Veii has been utterly desolate. In 117 Florus (in allusion to the Etruscan city) wrote, "Who knows the situation of Veii' It is only to be found in our annals."

. . . "Tarpeia sede perusta Gallorum facibus,Veiosque habitante Camillo, Illic Roma fuit."

Lucan. v. 27.

..." Tunc omne Latinum
Fabula nomen erit; Gabios, Veiosque, Coramque
Pulvere vix tectae poterunt monstrare ruinae."

Id. vii. 392.

There are many other points which may be visited in or near the circle of the ancient city. Such is the Scaletta, a staircase of uncernented blocks of masonry near the Porta Fidenate, which attracted much attention twenty years ago,

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