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FIDEM^E. 175

is seen, not a single habitation of man. Still, how memory peoples the waste! That stream, which, marking its devious valley with a line of bare wintry trees, enters the Tiber opposite to the marshy meadow under our feet, is the Crimera—name of fatal omen, and yet eloquent of heroic daring. On that stream the race of the Fabii, who had undertaken on their own account the war with the people of Veii, perished, all, to the number of 306, being cut off by an ambush of the enemy.

"Further to the right, another stream, more faintly marked, comes into the Tiber on the other side. That is the Allia, a name of even more fatal sound; for on its banks took place that great defeat by the Gauls which issued in the taking of Rome.

"This scene surveyed, we descend again into the valley, and climb the lower opposite hill, which was evidently the site of Fidena=. Here, as in several other places in the Campagna, we find mysterious ranges of rock-caverns communicating with one another, and opening into vast halls, now the stalls of cattle. It would seem that this was Fiden*. Yet, how should these holes represent a city? Whence issued the legions that met the legions of Rome? Where are the walls—where the materials of the houses? One ruin only appears containing anything like masonry, and that apparently of the Middle Ages. Were these caves, hewn in the tufa, the ancient city? Then were the inhabitants little more than savages; then were the narratives of the historians impossible and self-contradicting. The whole matter is wrapped in impenetrable darkness."—Dean Alford.

Horace speaks of Fidenae as if it was almost deserted in his time :—

"Scis Lebedus quam sit Gabiis desertior atque
Fidenis vicus—"

1 Epist. ii. 7.

but in the reign of Tiberius it appears to have been a municipal town :—

"Hujus qui trahitur prcctextam sumere mavis,
An Fidenarum, Gabiorumque esse potestas."

Juvenal, Sat. x. 99.

and that its population was considerable is attested by the greatness of a public calamity which took place there.

"The retirement of Tiberius was followed by a succession of public calamities. ... A private speculator had undertaken, as a matter of profit, one of the magnificent public works, which in better times it was the privilege of the chief magistrates or candidates for the highest offices to construct for the sake of glory or influence. In erecting a vast wooden amphitheatre in the suburban city of Fidenae, he had omitted the necessary precaution of securing a solid foundation; and when the populace of Rome, unaccustomed, from the parsimony of Tiberius, to their favourite spectacles at home, were invited to the diversions of the opening day, which they attended in immense numbers, the mighty mass gave way under the pressure, and covered them in its ruins. Fifty thousand persons, or, according to a lower computation, not less than twenty thousand, men and women of all ranks, were killed or injured by this catastrophe."—Merivale's Hist. of the Romans, ch. xiv.



(This is a delightful day's excursion from Rome, and comprises much of interest. It may be easily made in a carriage with two horses. Monte Rotondo may be visited between two trains on the Ancona line of railway.)

THE ancient road which led from Rome to Nomentum was called the Via Nomentana. It issued from the city by the now closed gate of the Porta Collina, and separating from the Via Salaria, proceeded almost in a direct line to its destination. The modem road nearly follows the Roman Way. It was on this side that the Italian troops approached Rome, on the day which so many patriotic spirits regarded as the dawn of freedom for Rome.

11 The blind, and the people in prison,

Souls without hope, without home,
How glad were they all that heard!
When the winged white flame of the word
Passed over men's dust, and stirred
Death; for Italia was risen,

And risen her light upon Rome.

The light of her sword in the gateway

Shone, an unquenchable flame,
Bloodless, a sword to release,
A light from the eyes of peace,
To bid grief utterly cease,
And the wrong of the old world straightway

1'ass from the face of her fame:
VOL. 1. 12

Hers, whom we turn to and cry on,

Italy, mother of men:
From the sight of the face of her glory,
At the sound of the storm of her story,
That the sanguine shadows and hoary
Should flee from the foot of the lion,

Lion-like, forth of his den."

Swinburne, "The Halt before Rome."

Below the basilica of S. Agnese (see Walks in Rome, ii. 26) we cross the Anio by the picturesque Ponte Nornentana or Lomentana, occupying the site of the ancient bridge, but in itself medieval, with forked battlements. The green slopes beyond the bridge are those of the Mons Sacer, where the famous secession and encampment of the plebs, in B.C. 549, extorted from the patricians the concessions of tribunes who were to represent the interests of the people.

"The spot on which this great deliverance had been achieved became to the Romans what Runnymede is to Englishmen: the top of the hill was left for ever unenclosed and consecrated, and an altar was built on it, and sacrifices offered to Jupiter, who strikes men with terror and again delivers them from their fear; because the commons had fled thither in fear, and were now returning in safety. So the hill was known for ever by the name of the Sacred Hill."—Arnold's Hist. of Rome, i. 149.

Passing the Casale dei Pazzi, and the tomb known as Torre Nomentana, we reach, on the right, the disinterred Basilica of S. Alessandro (see Walks in Rome, ii. 32). A little beyond this, after passing the farm called Cesarini, the road divides. The turn to the right passes under the Montes Corniculani, of which the nearest height is occupied by S. Angelo in Cappoccia, considered by Nibby (quoted by Murray), without any authority, to occupy the site of the Latin city Medullia. It finally leads to Palombara, a town of the Sabina, once a fortress of the Savelli, but now belonging to F1CULEA. MENTANA. 179

the Borghese, most beautifully situated at the foot of Monte Gennaro.

Following (to the left) the Via Nomentana, where the ancient pavement is now very perfect, we reach Casa Nuova, and, about 11 miles from Rome (on the left) the fine mediaeval tower called Torre Lupara, built of alternate courses of brick and stone. The next hill is called Monte Gentile, and is the supposed site of the Latin city of Ficalca or Ficulnea, which is frequently mentioned both by Livy and Dionysius in the early history of Rome. Gell speaks of the ground near Torre Lupara as "strewn with tiles and pottery—perhaps one of the surest indications of an ancient city." It has been supposed, from an inscription found near the farm Cesarini referring to a charitable institution of M. Aurelius for " Pueri et Puellae Alimentarii Ficolensium," and from the expression " Ficulea vetus " used by Livy (i. 38), and " Ficelias veteres" by Martial (vi. 27), that there may have been a second town called Ficulea, built in later times nearer the capital. Ficulea was the seat of an early bishopric. It is said to derive its name from the wild figs, which are still found in abundance on its supposed site. In the acts of Pope Caius and St. Lawrence the Martyr it is called "Civitas Figlina extra Portam Salariam." The Via Nomentana is sometimes spoken of as Via Ficulea.

Beyond Monte Gentile, the road passes through forests of oaks, a great contrast to the bare Campagna, till, when it first comes in sight of the village of Mentana, it reaches the height which was the site of the battle, in which, Oct. 1867, the Papal troops, assisted by the French, entirely defeated the Italians under Garibaldi.

Some blocks of marble in the village street are the only

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