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JESUIT CONVENT, VELLETRI. 225

is the Jesuit Convent containing a famous Madonna attributed to St. Luke, of which About tells :—

"Un hôte du Campo-Morto appelé Vendetta conçut le projet d'une spéculation hardie. Depuis longtemps, il rançonnait les gens de Vellctri et des environs. Il demandait à celui-ci deux écus, à celui-là dix ou douze. Quiconque avait une récolte sur pied, des arbres chargés de fruits, un frère en voyage, payait sans marchander ce singulier impôt. Cependant Vendetta finit par prendre en dégoût un métier si lucratif. Il rêva de rentrer dans la vie normale avec un revenu modeste et un honnête emploi. Pour atteindre ce but, il ne trouva rien de plus ingénieux que de voler la madone de Velletri et de la déposer en lieu sûr.

"On approchait d'une fête carillonnée où la madone devait paraître aux yeux du peuple avec tous ses diamants. Le sacristain ouvrait la niche et constata avec des cris de douleur que la madone n'y était plus. Grande rumeur dans Velletri. On cherche de tous côtés et l'on ne trouve rien. Le peuple s'émeut; une certaine effervescence se manifeste dans les villages voisins. Le clergé du pays accuse les jésuites de s'être volés eux-mêmes; les jésuites récriminent contre les prêtres de Velletri. Le couvent est envahi, fouillé, bouleversé par un public idolâtre. Enfin le dimanche, à la grand'messe, Vendetta, armé d'un poignard, monte en chaire et se dénonce lui-même. Il prie le peuple d'agréer ses excuses et promet de rendre la madone dès qu'il aura réglé ses comptes avec l'autorité. L'autorité traite avec lui de puissance à puissance. Vendetta demande sa grâce et celle de son frère, une rente de tant d'écus et un emploi du gouvernement. On promet tout, mais Rome désavoue ses agents et ne veut rien ratifier. Cependant la population des montagnes se met en marche, et un flot de paysans menace d'inonder Velletri. Le brigand cède au nombre, révèle la cachette où il a celé la madone, et se rend lui-même à discrétion. Il aura la tête coupée; personne n'en doute à Velletri."—Rome Contemporaine.

The inhabitants of Velletri were formerly famous for their

brigand tendencies: now they are most inoffensive. But a

Roman proverb says

"Velletrani sette volte villani."

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CHAPTER XV.

THE VOLSCIAN HILLS—CORI, NORBA, NINFA, AND SEGNI.

FOR the excursion to Norba it is quite necessary to make an early start, and can anything be more charming than six o'clock on a cloudless morning in April, if, with jingling bells, we drive out of the old town of Velletri and descend into the hollow lanes shaded by fresh green trees and gay with peasants going out in bands to the work of the day. The road winds through dips in the low hills. It is the country which was formerly known as the "Volscorum Ager." We only pass one village, San Giuliandlo. A little beyond this, Rocca Massima is seen on the top of a precipice, but travellers may reach it by a good mountain path, if they are anxious to explore the site of the ancient Arx Carventana. An excellent road ascends to Cori, which soon becomes visible, though its temples cannot be seen from here as Murray describes, for they are on the other side of the hill. Through the olives there is a beautiful view across the Pontine marshes to the sea, with the Circean promontory and the neighbouring islands. Of these, the largest is San Felice. Then comes Ponza, whither Tiberius banished his nephew Nero, the son of Germanicus, and where many Christians lived in exile, or suffered martyrdom, under ASCENT TO CORI. 227

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—-fiori della Madonna (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

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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

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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

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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.

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