The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Part 13 out of 13

Calcis in obsequium marmora dura coquit.
Impia tercentum si sic gens egerit annos
Nullum hinc indicium nobilitatis erit.]

[Footnote 37: Vagabamur pariter in illa urbe tam magna; quae, cum
propter spatium vacua videretur, populum habet immensum, (Opp p.
605 Epist. Familiares, ii. 14.)]

[Footnote 38: These states of the population of Rome at different
periods are derived from an ingenious treatise of the physician
Lancisi, de Romani Coeli Qualitatibus, (p. 122.)]

IV. I have reserved for the last, the most potent and
forcible cause of destruction, the domestic hostilities of the
Romans themselves. Under the dominion of the Greek and French
emperors, the peace of the city was disturbed by accidental,
though frequent, seditions: it is from the decline of the latter,
from the beginning of the tenth century, that we may date the
licentiousness of private war, which violated with impunity the
laws of the Code and the Gospel, without respecting the majesty
of the absent sovereign, or the presence and person of the vicar
of Christ. In a dark period of five hundred years, Rome was
perpetually afflicted by the sanguinary quarrels of the nobles
and the people, the Guelphs and Ghibelines, the Colonna and
Ursini; and if much has escaped the knowledge, and much is
unworthy of the notice, of history, I have exposed in the two
preceding chapters the causes and effects of the public
disorders. At such a time, when every quarrel was decided by the
sword, and none could trust their lives or properties to the
impotence of law, the powerful citizens were armed for safety, or
offence, against the domestic enemies whom they feared or hated.
Except Venice alone, the same dangers and designs were common to
all the free republics of Italy; and the nobles usurped the
prerogative of fortifying their houses, and erecting strong
towers, ^39 that were capable of resisting a sudden attack. The
cities were filled with these hostile edifices; and the example
of Lucca, which contained three hundred towers; her law, which
confined their height to the measure of fourscore feet, may be
extended with suitable latitude to the more opulent and populous
states. The first step of the senator Brancaleone in the
establishment of peace and justice, was to demolish (as we have
already seen) one hundred and forty of the towers of Rome; and,
in the last days of anarchy and discord, as late as the reign of
Martin the Fifth, forty-four still stood in one of the thirteen
or fourteen regions of the city. To this mischievous purpose the
remains of antiquity were most readily adapted: the temples and
arches afforded a broad and solid basis for the new structures of
brick and stone; and we can name the modern turrets that were
raised on the triumphal monuments of Julius Caesar, Titus, and
the Antonines. ^40 With some slight alterations, a theatre, an
amphitheatre, a mausoleum, was transformed into a strong and
spacious citadel. I need not repeat, that the mole of Adrian has
assumed the title and form of the castle of St. Angelo; ^41 the
Septizonium of Severus was capable of standing against a royal
army; ^42 the sepulchre of Metella has sunk under its outworks;
^43 ^* the theatres of Pompey and Marcellus were occupied by the
Savelli and Ursini families; ^44 and the rough fortress has been
gradually softened to the splendor and elegance of an Italian
palace. Even the churches were encompassed with arms and
bulwarks, and the military engines on the roof of St. Peter's
were the terror of the Vatican and the scandal of the Christian
world. Whatever is fortified will be attacked; and whatever is
attacked may be destroyed. Could the Romans have wrested from
the popes the castle of St. Angelo, they had resolved by a public
decree to annihilate that monument of servitude. Every building
of defence was exposed to a siege; and in every siege the arts
and engines of destruction were laboriously employed. After the
death of Nicholas the Fourth, Rome, without a sovereign or a
senate, was abandoned six months to the fury of civil war. "The
houses," says a cardinal and poet of the times, ^45 "were crushed
by the weight and velocity of enormous stones; ^46 the walls were
perforated by the strokes of the battering-ram; the towers were
involved in fire and smoke; and the assailants were stimulated by
rapine and revenge." The work was consummated by the tyranny of
the laws; and the factions of Italy alternately exercised a blind
and thoughtless vengeance on their adversaries, whose houses and
castles they razed to the ground. ^47 In comparing the days of
foreign, with the ages of domestic, hostility, we must pronounce,
that the latter have been far more ruinous to the city; and our
opinion is confirmed by the evidence of Petrarch. "Behold," says
the laureate, "the relics of Rome, the image of her pristine
greatness! neither time nor the Barbarian can boast the merit of
this stupendous destruction: it was perpetrated by her own
citizens, by the most illustrious of her sons; and your ancestors
(he writes to a noble Annabaldi) have done with the battering-ram
what the Punic hero could not accomplish with the sword." ^48 The
influence of the two last principles of decay must in some degree
be multiplied by each other; since the houses and towers, which
were subverted by civil war, required by a new and perpetual
supply from the monuments of antiquity. ^*

[Footnote 39: All the facts that relate to the towers at Rome,
and in other free cities of Italy, may be found in the laborious
and entertaining compilation of Muratori, Antiquitates Italiae
Medii Aevi, dissertat. xxvi., (tom. ii. p. 493 - 496, of the
Latin, tom. . p. 446, of the Italian work.)]
[Footnote 40: As for instance, templum Jani nunc dicitur, turris
Centii Frangipanis; et sane Jano impositae turris lateritiae
conspicua hodieque vestigia supersunt, (Montfaucon Diarium
Italicum, p. 186.) The anonymous writer (p. 285) enumerates,
arcus Titi, turris Cartularia; arcus Julii Caesaris et Senatorum,
turres de Bratis; arcus Antonini, turris de Cosectis, &c.]

[Footnote 41: Hadriani molem . . . . magna ex parte Romanorum
injuria . . disturbavit; quod certe funditus evertissent, si
eorum manibus pervia, absumptis grandibus saxis, reliqua moles
exstisset, (Poggius de Varietate Fortunae, p. 12.)]

[Footnote 42: Against the emperor Henry IV., (Muratori, Annali d'
Italia, tom. ix. p. 147.)]

[Footnote 43: I must copy an important passage of Montfaucon:
Turris ingens rotunda . . . . Caeciliae Metellae . . . .
sepulchrum erat, cujus muri tam solidi, ut spatium perquam
minimum intus vacuum supersit; et Torre di Bove dicitur, a boum
capitibus muro inscriptis. Huic sequiori aevo, tempore
intestinorum bellorum, ceu urbecula adjuncta fuit, cujus moenia
et turres etiamnum visuntur; ita ut sepulchrum Metellae quasi arx
oppiduli fuerit. Ferventibus in urbe partibus, cum Ursini atque
Colum nenses mutuis cladibus perniciem inferrent civitati, in
utriusve partia ditionem cederet magni momenti erat, (p. 142.)]

[Footnote *: This is inaccurately expressed. The sepulchre is
still standing See Hobhouse, p. 204. - M.]

[Footnote 44: See the testimonies of Donatus, Nardini, and
Montfaucon. In the Savelli palace, the remains of the theatre of
Marcellus are still great and conspicuous.]

[Footnote 45: James, cardinal of St. George, ad velum aureum, in
his metrical life of Pope Celestin V., (Muratori, Script. Ital.
tom. i. P. iii. p. 621, l. i. c. l. ver. 132, &c.)

Hoc dixisse sat est, Romam caruisee Senatu Mensibus exactis heu
sex; belloque vocatum (vocatos) In scelus, in socios fraternaque
vulnera patres; Tormentis jecisse viros immania saxa; Perfodisse
domus trabibus, fecisse ruinas Ignibus; incensas turres,
obscuraque fumo Lumina vicino, quo sit spoliata supellex.]
[Footnote 46: Muratori (Dissertazione sopra le Antiquita
Italiane, tom. i. p. 427 - 431) finds that stone bullets of two
or three hundred pounds' weight were not uncommon; and they are
sometimes computed at xii. or xviii cantari of Genoa, each
cantaro weighing 150 pounds.]

[Footnote 47: The vith law of the Visconti prohibits this common
and mischievous practice; and strictly enjoins, that the houses
of banished citizens should be preserved pro communi utilitate,
(Gualvancus de la Flamma in Muratori, Script. Rerum Italicarum,
tom. xii. p. 1041.)]
[Footnote 48: Petrarch thus addresses his friend, who, with shame
and tears had shown him the moenia, lacerae specimen miserable
Romae, and declared his own intention of restoring them, (Carmina
Latina, l. ii. epist. Paulo Annibalensi, xii. p. 97, 98.)

Nec te parva manet servatis fama ruinis Quanta quod integrae fuit
olim gloria Romae Reliquiae testantur adhuc; quas longior aetas
Frangere non valuit; non vis aut ira cruenti Hostis, ab egregiis
franguntur civibus, heu! heu' - Quod ille nequivit (Hannibal.)
Perficit hic aries.]

[Footnote *: Bunsen has shown that the hostile attacks of the
emperor Henry the Fourth, but more particularly that of Robert
Guiscard, who burned down whole districts, inflicted the worst
damage on the ancient city Vol. i. p. 247. - M.]

Chapter LXXI: Prospect Of The Ruins Of Rome In The Fifteenth

Part II.

These general observations may be separately applied to the
amphitheatre of Titus, which has obtained the name of the
Coliseum, ^49 either from its magnitude, or from Nero's colossal
statue; an edifice, had it been left to time and nature, which
might perhaps have claimed an eternal duration. The curious
antiquaries, who have computed the numbers and seats, are
disposed to believe, that above the upper row of stone steps the
amphitheatre was encircled and elevated with several stages of
wooden galleries, which were repeatedly consumed by fire, and
restored by the emperors. Whatever was precious, or portable, or
profane, the statues of gods and heroes, and the costly ornaments
of sculpture which were cast in brass, or overspread with leaves
of silver and gold, became the first prey of conquest or
fanaticism, of the avarice of the Barbarians or the Christians.
In the massy stones of the Coliseum, many holes are discerned;
and the two most probable conjectures represent the various
accidents of its decay. These stones were connected by solid
links of brass or iron, nor had the eye of rapine overlooked the
value of the baser metals; ^50 the vacant space was converted
into a fair or market; the artisans of the Coliseum are mentioned
in an ancient survey; and the chasms were perforated or enlarged
to receive the poles that supported the shops or tents of the
mechanic trades. ^51 Reduced to its naked majesty, the Flavian
amphitheatre was contemplated with awe and admiration by the
pilgrims of the North; and their rude enthusiasm broke forth in a
sublime proverbial expression, which is recorded in the eighth
century, in the fragments of the venerable Bede: "As long as the
Coliseum stands, Rome shall stand; when the Coliseum falls, Rome
will fall; when Rome falls, the world will fall." ^52 In the
modern system of war, a situation commanded by three hills would
not be chosen for a fortress; but the strength of the walls and
arches could resist the engines of assault; a numerous garrison
might be lodged in the enclosure; and while one faction occupied
the Vatican and the Capitol, the other was intrenched in the
Lateran and the Coliseum. ^53

[Footnote 49: The fourth part of the Verona Illustrata of the
marquis Maffei professedly treats of amphitheatres, particularly
those of Rome and Verona, of their dimensions, wooden galleries,
&c. It is from magnitude that he derives the name of Colosseum,
or Coliseum; since the same appellation was applied to the
amphitheatre of Capua, without the aid of a colossal statue;
since that of Nero was erected in the court (in atrio) of his
palace, and not in the Coliseum, (P. iv. p. 15 - 19, l. i. c.

[Footnote 50: Joseph Maria Suares, a learned bishop, and the
author of a history of Praeneste, has composed a separate
dissertation on the seven or eight probable causes of these
holes, which has been since reprinted in the Roman Thesaurus of
Sallengre. Montfaucon (Diarium, p. 233) pronounces the rapine of
the Barbarians to be the unam germanamque causam foraminum.
Note: The improbability of this theory is shown by Bunsen,
vol. i. p. 239 - M.]

[Footnote 51: Donatus, Roma Vetus et Nova, p. 285.

Note: Gibbon has followed Donatus, who supposes that a silk
manufactory was established in the xiith century in the Coliseum.

The Bandonarii, or Bandererii, were the officers who carried the
standards of their school before the pope. Hobhouse, p. 269. -

[Footnote 52: Quamdiu stabit Colyseus, stabit et Roma; quando
cadet Coly seus, cadet Roma; quando cadet Roma, cadet et mundus,
(Beda in Excerptis seu Collectaneis apud Ducange Glossar. Med. et
Infimae Latinitatis, tom. ii. p. 407, edit. Basil.) This saying
must be ascribed to the Anglo-Saxon pilgrims who visited Rome
before the year 735 the aera of Bede's death; for I do not
believe that our venerable monk ever passed the sea.]

[Footnote 53: I cannot recover, in Muratori's original Lives of
the Popes, (Script Rerum Italicarum, tom. iii. P. i.,) the
passage that attests this hostile partition, which must be
applied to the end of the xiith or the beginning of the xiith

Note: "The division is mentioned in Vit. Innocent. Pap. II.
ex Cardinale Aragonio, (Script. Rer. Ital. vol. iii. P. i. p.
435,) and Gibbon might have found frequent other records of it at
other dates." Hobhouse's Illustrations of Childe Harold. p. 130.
- M.]

The abolition at Rome of the ancient games must be
understood with some latitude; and the carnival sports, of the
Testacean mount and the Circus Agonalis, ^54 were regulated by
the law ^55 or custom of the city. The senator presided with
dignity and pomp to adjudge and distribute the prizes, the gold
ring, or the pallium, ^56 as it was styled, of cloth or silk. A
tribute on the Jews supplied the annual expense; ^57 and the
races, on foot, on horseback, or in chariots, were ennobled by a
tilt and tournament of seventy-two of the Roman youth. In the
year one thousand three hundred and thirty-two, a bull-feast,
after the fashion of the Moors and Spaniards, was celebrated in
the Coliseum itself; and the living manners are painted in a
diary of the times. ^58 A convenient order of benches was
restored; and a general proclamation, as far as Rimini and
Ravenna, invited the nobles to exercise their skill and courage
in this perilous adventure. The Roman ladies were marshalled in
three squadrons, and seated in three balconies, which, on this
day, the third of September, were lined with scarlet cloth. The
fair Jacova di Rovere led the matrons from beyond the Tyber, a
pure and native race, who still represent the features and
character of antiquity. The remainder of the city was divided as
usual between the Colonna and Ursini: the two factions were proud
of the number and beauty of their female bands: the charms of
Savella Ursini are mentioned with praise; and the Colonna
regretted the absence of the youngest of their house, who had
sprained her ankle in the garden of Nero's tower. The lots of
the champions were drawn by an old and respectable citizen; and
they descended into the arena, or pit, to encounter the wild
bulls, on foot as it should seem, with a single spear. Amidst
the crowd, our annalist has selected the names, colors, and
devices, of twenty of the most conspicuous knights. Several of
the names are the most illustrious of Rome and the ecclesiastical
state: Malatesta, Polenta, della Valle, Cafarello, Savelli,
Capoccio, Conti, Annibaldi, Altieri, Corsi: the colors were
adapted to their taste and situation; the devices are expressive
of hope or despair, and breathe the spirit of gallantry and arms.

"I am alone, like the youngest of the Horatii," the confidence of
an intrepid stranger: "I live disconsolate," a weeping widower:
"I burn under the ashes," a discreet lover: "I adore Lavinia, or
Lucretia," the ambiguous declaration of a modern passion: "My
faith is as pure," the motto of a white livery: "Who is stronger
than myself?" of a lion's hide: "If am drowned in blood, what a
pleasant death!" the wish of ferocious courage. The pride or
prudence of the Ursini restrained them from the field, which was
occupied by three of their hereditary rivals, whose inscriptions
denoted the lofty greatness of the Colonna name: "Though sad, I
am strong:" "Strong as I am great:" "If I fall," addressing
himself to the spectators, "you fall with me;" - intimating (says
the contemporary writer) that while the other families were the
subjects of the Vatican, they alone were the supporters of the
Capitol. The combats of the amphitheatre were dangerous and
bloody. Every champion successively encountered a wild bull; and
the victory may be ascribed to the quadrupeds, since no more than
eleven were left on the field, with the loss of nine wounded and
eighteen killed on the side of their adversaries. Some of the
noblest families might mourn, but the pomp of the funerals, in
the churches of St. John Lateran and St. Maria Maggiore, afforded
a second holiday to the people. Doubtless it was not in such
conflicts that the blood of the Romans should have been shed;
yet, in blaming their rashness, we are compelled to applaud their
gallantry; and the noble volunteers, who display their
magnificence, and risk their lives, under the balconies of the
fair, excite a more generous sympathy than the thousands of
captives and malefactors who were reluctantly dragged to the
scene of slaughter. ^59

[Footnote 54: Although the structure of the circus Agonalis be
destroyed, it still retains its form and name, (Agona, Nagona,
Navona;) and the interior space affords a sufficient level for
the purpose of racing. But the Monte Testaceo, that strange pile
of broken pottery, seems only adapted for the annual practice of
hurling from top to bottom some wagon-loads of live hogs for the
diversion of the populace, (Statuta Urbis Romae, p. 186.)]
[Footnote 55: See the Statuta Urbis Romae, l. iii. c. 87, 88, 89,
p. 185, 186. I have already given an idea of this municipal code.

The races of Nagona and Monte Testaceo are likewise mentioned in
the Diary of Peter Antonius from 1404 to 1417, (Muratori, Script.
Rerum Italicarum, tom. xxiv. p. 1124.)]
[Footnote 56: The Pallium, which Menage so foolishly derives from
Palmarius, is an easy extension of the idea and the words, from
the robe or cloak, to the materials, and from thence to their
application as a prize, (Muratori, dissert. xxxiii.)]

[Footnote 57: For these expenses, the Jews of Rome paid each year
1130 florins, of which the odd thirty represented the pieces of
silver for which Judas had betrayed his Master to their
ancestors. There was a foot-race of Jewish as well as of
Christian youths, (Statuta Urbis, ibidem.)]
[Footnote 58: This extraordinary bull-feast in the Coliseum is
described, from tradition rather than memory, by Ludovico
Buonconte Monaldesco, on the most ancient fragments of Roman
annals, (Muratori, Script Rerum Italicarum, tom. xii. p. 535,
536;) and however fanciful they may seem, they are deeply marked
with the colors of truth and nature.]

[Footnote 59: Muratori has given a separate dissertation (the
xxixth) to the games of the Italians in the Middle Ages.]

This use of the amphitheatre was a rare, perhaps a singular,
festival: the demand for the materials was a daily and continual
want which the citizens could gratify without restraint or
remorse. In the fourteenth century, a scandalous act of concord
secured to both factions the privilege of extracting stones from
the free and common quarry of the Coliseum; ^60 and Poggius
laments, that the greater part of these stones had been burnt to
lime by the folly of the Romans. ^61 To check this abuse, and to
prevent the nocturnal crimes that might be perpetrated in the
vast and gloomy recess, Eugenius the Fourth surrounded it with a
wall; and, by a charter long extant, granted both the ground and
edifice to the monks of an adjacent convent. ^62 After his death,
the wall was overthrown in a tumult of the people; and had they
themselves respected the noblest monument of their fathers, they
might have justified the resolve that it should never be degraded
to private property. The inside was damaged: but in the middle of
the sixteenth century, an aera of taste and learning, the
exterior circumference of one thousand six hundred and twelve
feet was still entire and inviolate; a triple elevation of
fourscore arches, which rose to the height of one hundred and
eight feet. Of the present ruin, the nephews of Paul the Third
are the guilty agents; and every traveller who views the Farnese
palace may curse the sacrilege and luxury of these upstart
princes. ^63 A similar reproach is applied to the Barberini; and
the repetition of injury might be dreaded from every reign, till
the Coliseum was placed under the safeguard of religion by the
most liberal of the pontiffs, Benedict the Fourteenth, who
consecrated a spot which persecution and fable had stained with
the blood of so many Christian martyrs. ^64
[Footnote 60: In a concise but instructive memoir, the abbe
Barthelemy (Memoires de l'Academie des Inscriptions, tom. xxviii.
p. 585) has mentioned this agreement of the factions of the xivth
century de Tiburtino faciendo in the Coliseum, from an original
act in the archives of Rome.]
[Footnote 61: Coliseum . . . . ob stultitiam Romanorum majori ex
parte ad cal cem deletum, says the indignant Poggius, (p. 17:)
but his expression too strong for the present age, must be very
tenderly applied to the xvth century.]

[Footnote 62: Of the Olivetan monks. Montfaucon (p. 142) affirms
this fact from the memorials of Flaminius Vacca, (No. 72.) They
still hoped on some future occasion, to revive and vindicate
their grant.]

[Footnote 63: After measuring the priscus amphitheatri gyrus,
Montfaucon (p. 142) only adds that it was entire under Paul III.;
tacendo clamat. Muratori (Annali d'Italia, tom. xiv. p. 371)
more freely reports the guilt of the Farnese pope, and the
indignation of the Roman people. Against the nephews of Urban
VIII. I have no other evidence than the vulgar saying, "Quod non
fecerunt Barbari, fecere Barberini," which was perhaps suggested
by the resemblance of the words.]

[Footnote 64: As an antiquarian and a priest, Montfaucon thus
deprecates the ruin of the Coliseum: Quod si non suopte merito
atque pulchritudine dignum fuisset quod improbas arceret manus,
indigna res utique in locum tot martyrum cruore sacrum tantopere
saevitum esse.]

When Petrarch first gratified his eyes with a view of those
monuments, whose scattered fragments so far surpass the most
eloquent descriptions, he was astonished at the supine
indifference ^65 of the Romans themselves; ^66 he was humbled
rather than elated by the discovery, that, except his friend
Rienzi, and one of the Colonna, a stranger of the Rhone was more
conversant with these antiquities than the nobles and natives of
the metropolis. ^67 The ignorance and credulity of the Romans are
elaborately displayed in the old survey of the city which was
composed about the beginning of the thirteenth century; and,
without dwelling on the manifold errors of name and place, the
legend of the Capitol ^68 may provoke a smile of contempt and
indignation. "The Capitol," says the anonymous writer, "is so
named as being the head of the world; where the consuls and
senators formerly resided for the government of the city and the
globe. The strong and lofty walls were covered with glass and
gold, and crowned with a roof of the richest and most curious
carving. Below the citadel stood a palace, of gold for the
greatest part, decorated with precious stones, and whose value
might be esteemed at one third of the world itself. The statues
of all the provinces were arranged in order, each with a small
bell suspended from its neck; and such was the contrivance of art
magic, ^69 that if the province rebelled against Rome, the statue
turned round to that quarter of the heavens, the bell rang, the
prophet of the Capitol repeated the prodigy, and the senate was
admonished of the impending danger." A second example, of less
importance, though of equal absurdity, may be drawn from the two
marble horses, led by two naked youths, who have since been
transported from the baths of Constantine to the Quirinal hill.
The groundless application of the names of Phidias and Praxiteles
may perhaps be excused; but these Grecian sculptors should not
have been removed above four hundred years from the age of
Pericles to that of Tiberius; they should not have been
transferred into two philosophers or magicians, whose nakedness
was the symbol of truth or knowledge, who revealed to the emperor
his most secret actions; and, after refusing all pecuniary
recompense, solicited the honor of leaving this eternal monument
of themselves. ^70 Thus awake to the power of magic, the Romans
were insensible to the beauties of art: no more than five statues
were visible to the eyes of Poggius; and of the multitudes which
chance or design had buried under the ruins, the resurrection was
fortunately delayed till a safer and more enlightened age. ^71
The Nile which now adorns the Vatican, had been explored by some
laborers in digging a vineyard near the temple, or convent, of
the Minerva; but the impatient proprietor, who was tormented by
some visits of curiosity, restored the unprofitable marble to its
former grave. ^72 The discovery of a statue of Pompey, ten feet
in length, was the occasion of a lawsuit. It had been found
under a partition wall: the equitable judge had pronounced, that
the head should be separated from the body to satisfy the claims
of the contiguous owners; and the sentence would have been
executed, if the intercession of a cardinal, and the liberality
of a pope, had not rescued the Roman hero from the hands of his
barbarous countrymen. ^73

[Footnote 65: Yet the statutes of Rome (l. iii. c. 81, p. 182)
impose a fine of 500 aurei on whosoever shall demolish any
ancient edifice, ne ruinis civitas deformetur, et ut antiqua
aedificia decorem urbis perpetuo representent.]

[Footnote 66: In his first visit to Rome (A.D. 1337. See
Memoires sur Petrarque, tom. i. p. 322, &c.) Petrarch is struck
mute miraculo rerumtantarum, et stuporis mole obrutus . . . .
Praesentia vero, mirum dictu nihil imminuit: vere major fuit Roma
majoresque sunt reliquiae quam rebar. Jam non orbem ab hac urbe
domitum, sed tam sero domitum, miror, (Opp. p. 605, Familiares,
ii. 14, Joanni Columnae.)]

[Footnote 67: He excepts and praises the rare knowledge of John
Colonna. Qui enim hodie magis ignari rerum Romanarum, quam
Romani cives! Invitus dico, nusquam minus Roma cognoscitur quam

[Footnote 68: After the description of the Capitol, he adds,
statuae erant quot sunt mundi provinciae; et habebat quaelibet
tintinnabulum ad collum. Et erant ita per magicam artem
dispositae, ut quando aliqua regio Romano Imperio rebellis erat,
statim imago illius provinciae vertebat se contra illam; unde
tintinnabulum resonabat quod pendebat ad collum; tuncque vates
Capitolii qui erant custodes senatui, &c. He mentions an example
of the Saxons and Suevi, who, after they had been subdued by
Agrippa, again rebelled: tintinnabulum sonuit; sacerdos qui erat
in speculo in hebdomada senatoribus nuntiavit: Agrippa marched
back and reduced the - Persians, (Anonym. in Montfaucon, p. 297,

[Footnote 69: The same writer affirms, that Virgil captus a
Romanis invisibiliter exiit, ivitque Neapolim. A Roman magician,
in the xith century, is introduced by William of Malmsbury, (de
Gestis Regum Anglorum, l. ii. p. 86;) and in the time of
Flaminius Vacca (No. 81, 103) it was the vulgar belief that the
strangers (the Goths) invoked the daemons for the discovery of
hidden treasures.]

[Footnote 70: Anonym. p. 289. Montfaucon (p. 191) justly
observes, that if Alexander be represented, these statues cannot
be the work of Phidias (Olympiad lxxxiii.) or Praxiteles,
(Olympiad civ.,) who lived before that conqueror (Plin. Hist.
Natur. xxxiv. 19.)]

[Footnote 71: William of Malmsbury (l. ii. p. 86, 87) relates a
marvellous discovery (A.D. 1046) of Pallas the son of Evander,
who had been slain by Turnus; the perpetual light in his
sepulchre, a Latin epitaph, the corpse, yet entire, of a young
giant, the enormous wound in his breast, (pectus perforat
ingens,) &c. If this fable rests on the slightest foundation, we
may pity the bodies, as well as the statues, that were exposed to
the air in a barbarous age.]

[Footnote 72: Prope porticum Minervae, statua est recubantis,
cujus caput integra effigie tantae magnitudinis, ut signa omnia
excedat. Quidam ad plantandas arbores scrobes faciens detexit.
Ad hoc visendum cum plures in dies magis concurrerent, strepitum
adeuentium fastidiumque vertaesus, horti patronus congesta humo
texit, (Poggius de Varietate Fortunae, p. 12.)]
[Footnote 73: See the Memorials of Flaminius Vacca, No. 57, p.
11, 12, at the end of the Roma Antica of Nardini, (1704, in

But the clouds of barbarism were gradually dispelled; and
the peaceful authority of Martin the Fifth and his successors
restored the ornaments of the city as well as the order of the
ecclesiastical state. The improvements of Rome, since the
fifteenth century, have not been the spontaneous produce of
freedom and industry. The first and most natural root of a great
city is the labor and populousness of the adjacent country, which
supplies the materials of subsistence, of manufactures, and of
foreign trade. But the greater part of the Campagna of Rome is
reduced to a dreary and desolate wilderness: the overgrown
estates of the princes and the clergy are cultivated by the lazy
hands of indigent and hopeless vassals; and the scanty harvests
are confined or exported for the benefit of a monopoly. A second
and more artificial cause of the growth of a metropolis is the
residence of a monarch, the expense of a luxurious court, and the
tributes of dependent provinces. Those provinces and tributes
had been lost in the fall of the empire; and if some streams of
the silver of Peru and the gold of Brazil have been attracted by
the Vatican, the revenues of the cardinals, the fees of office,
the oblations of pilgrims and clients, and the remnant of
ecclesiastical taxes, afford a poor and precarious supply, which
maintains, however, the idleness of the court and city. The
population of Rome, far below the measure of the great capitals
of Europe, does not exceed one hundred and seventy thousand
inhabitants; ^74 and within the spacious enclosure of the walls,
the largest portion of the seven hills is overspread with
vineyards and ruins. The beauty and splendor of the modern city
may be ascribed to the abuses of the government, to the influence
of superstition. Each reign (the exceptions are rare) has been
marked by the rapid elevation of a new family, enriched by the
childish pontiff at the expense of the church and country. The
palaces of these fortunate nephews are the most costly monuments
of elegance and servitude: the perfect arts of architecture,
sculpture, and painting, have been prostituted in their service;
and their galleries and gardens are decorated with the most
precious works of antiquity, which taste or vanity has prompted
them to collect. The ecclesiastical revenues were more decently
employed by the popes themselves in the pomp of the Catholic
worship; but it is superfluous to enumerate their pious
foundations of altars, chapels, and churches, since these lesser
stars are eclipsed by the sun of the Vatican, by the dome of St.
Peter, the most glorious structure that ever has been applied to
the use of religion. The fame of Julius the Second, Leo the
Tenth, and Sixtus the Fifth, is accompanied by the superior merit
of Bramante and Fontana, of Raphael and Michael Angelo; and the
same munificence which had been displayed in palaces and temples
was directed with equal zeal to revive and emulate the labors of
antiquity. Prostrate obelisks were raised from the ground, and
erected in the most conspicuous places; of the eleven aqueducts
of the Caesars and consuls, three were restored; the artificial
rivers were conducted over a long series of old, or of new
arches, to discharge into marble basins a flood of salubrious and
refreshing waters: and the spectator, impatient to ascend the
steps of St. Peter's, is detained by a column of Egyptian
granite, which rises between two lofty and perpetual fountains,
to the height of one hundred and twenty feet. The map, the
description, the monuments of ancient Rome, have been elucidated
by the diligence of the antiquarian and the student: ^75 and the
footsteps of heroes, the relics, not of superstition, but of
empire, are devoutly visited by a new race of pilgrims from the
remote, and once savage countries of the North.

[Footnote 74: In the year 1709, the inhabitants of Rome (without
including eight or ten thousand Jews,) amounted to 138,568 souls,
(Labat Voyages en Espagne et en Italie, tom. iii. p. 217, 218.)
In 1740, they had increased to 146,080; and in 1765, I left them,
without the Jews 161,899. I am ignorant whether they have since
continued in a progressive state.]

[Footnote 75: The Pere Montfaucon distributes his own
observations into twenty days; he should have styled them weeks,
or months, of his visits to the different parts of the city,
(Diarium Italicum, c. 8 - 20, p. 104 - 301.) That learned
Benedictine reviews the topographers of ancient Rome; the first
efforts of Blondus, Fulvius, Martianus, and Faunus, the superior
labors of Pyrrhus Ligorius, had his learning been equal to his
labors; the writings of Onuphrius Panvinius, qui omnes
obscuravit, and the recent but imperfect books of Donatus and
Nardini. Yet Montfaucon still sighs for a more complete plan and
description of the old city, which must be attained by the three
following methods: 1. The measurement of the space and intervals
of the ruins. 2. The study of inscriptions, and the places where
they were found. 3. The investigation of all the acts, charters,
diaries of the middle ages, which name any spot or building of
Rome. The laborious work, such as Montfaucon desired, must be
promoted by princely or public munificence: but the great modern
plan of Nolli (A.D. 1748) would furnish a solid and accurate
basis for the ancient topography of Rome.]

Of these pilgrims, and of every reader, the attention will
be excited by a History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman
Empire; the greatest, perhaps, and most awful scene in the
history of mankind. The various causes and progressive effects
are connected with many of the events most interesting in human
annals: the artful policy of the Caesars, who long maintained the
name and image of a free republic; the disorders of military
despotism; the rise, establishment, and sects of Christianity;
the foundation of Constantinople; the division of the monarchy;
the invasion and settlements of the Barbarians of Germany and
Scythia; the institutions of the civil law; the character and
religion of Mahomet; the temporal sovereignty of the popes; the
restoration and decay of the Western empire of Charlemagne; the
crusades of the Latins in the East: the conquests of the Saracens
and Turks; the ruin of the Greek empire; the state and
revolutions of Rome in the middle age. The historian may applaud
the importance and variety of his subject; but while he is
conscious of his own imperfections, he must often accuse the
deficiency of his materials. It was among the ruins of the
Capitol that I first conceived the idea of a work which has
amused and exercised near twenty years of my life, and which,
however inadequate to my own wishes, I finally delivere to the
curiosity and candor of the public.

Lausanne, June 27 1787

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