Sidor som bilder
PDF

command of his fellow-citizens. The Grand Dukes, and particularly the third Cosmo, had operated so entire a change in the Tuscan character, that the candid Florentines, in excuse for some imperfections in the philanthropic system of Leopold, are obliged to confess that the sovereign was the only liberal man in his dominions. Yet that excellent prince himself had no other notion of a national assembly, than of a body to represent the wants and wishes, not the will, of the people.

XXIII.
BATTLE OF THRASIMENE.

“An earthquake reel'd unheededly away.”
Stanza lxiii. line 5.

“And such was their mutual animosity, so intent were they upon the battle, that the earthquake, which overthrew in great part many of the cities of Italy, which turned the course of rapid streams, poured back the sea upon the rivers, and tore down the very mountains, was not felt by one of the combatants.”* Such is the description of Livy. It may be doubted whether modern tactics would admit of such an abstraction.

The site of the battle of Thrasimene is not to be mistaken. The traveller from the village under Cortona to Casa di Piano, the next stage on the way to Rome, has for the first two or three miles, around him, but more particularly to the right, that flat land which Hannibal laid waste in order to induce the Consul Flaminius to move from Arezzo. On his left, and in front of him, is a ridge of hills bending down towards the lake of Thrasimene, called by Livy “ montes Cortonenses,” and now named the Gualandra. These hills he approaches at Ossaja, a village which the itineraries pretend to have been so denominated from the bones found there: but there have been no bones found there, and the battle was fought on the other side of the hill. From Ossaja the road begins to rise a little, but does not pass into the roots of the mountains until the sixty-seventh milestone from Florence. The ascent thence is not steep but perpetual, and continues for twenty minutes. The lake is soon seen below on the right, with Borghetto, a round tower, close upon the water; and the undulating hills partially covered with wood, amongst which the road winds, sink by degrees into the marshes near to this tower. Lower than the road, down to the right amidst these woody hillocks, Hannibal placed his horse +, in the

* “Tantusque fuit ardor animorum, adeo intentus pugnac animus, ut eum terrae motum qui multarum urbium Italiae magnas partes prostravit avertitgue cursu rapido amnes, mare fluminibus invexit, montes lapsu in genti proruit, nemo pugnantium senserit.” Tit. Liv. lib. xxii. cap. xii.

[ocr errors]

tery

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

jaws of, or rather above, the pass, whicn was between the lake and the present road, and most probably close to Borghetto, just under the lowest of the “tumuli.”* On a summit to the left, above the road, is an old circular ruin, which the peasants call “the Tower of Hannibal the Carthaginian.” Arrived at the highest point of the road, the traveller has a partial view of the fatal plain, which qpens fully upon him as he descends the Gualandra. He soon finds himself in a vale enclosed to the left, and in front, and behind him by the Gualandra hills, bending round in a segment larger than a semicircle, and running down at each end to the lake, which obliques to the right and forms the chord of this mountain arc. The position cannot be guessed at from the plains of Cortona, nor appears to be so completely enclosed unless to one who is fairly within the hills. It then, indeed, appears “a place made as it were on purpose for a snare,” locus insidiis natus. “Borghetto is then found to stand in a narrow marshy pass close to the hill, and to the lake, whilst there is no other outlet at the opposite turn of the mountains than through the little town of Passignano, which is pushed into the water by the foot of a high rocky acclivity.” + There is a woody eminence branching down from the mountains into the upper end of the plain nearer to the side of Passignano, and on this stands a white village called Torre. Polybius seems to allude to this eminence as the one on which Hannibal encamped, and drew out his heavy-armed Africans and Spaniards in a conspicuous position. † From this spot he despatched his Balearic and light-armed troops round through the Gualandra heights to the right, so as to arrive unseen and form an ambush amongst the broken acclivities which the road now passes, and to be ready to act upon the left flank and above the enemy, whilst the horse shut up the pass behind. Flaminius came to the lake near Borghetto at sunset; and, without sending any spies before him, marched through the pass the next morning before the day had quite broken, so that he perceived nothing of the horse and light troops above and about him, and saw only the heavy-armed Carthaginians in front on the hill of Torre. § The consul began to draw out his army in the flat, and in the mean time the horse in ambush occupied the pass behind him at Borghetto. Thus the Romans were completely inclosed, having the lake on the right, the main army on the hill of Torre in front, the Gualandra hills filled with the light-armed on their left flank, and being prevented from receding by the cavalry, who, the farther they advanced, stopped up all the outlets in the rear. A fog rising

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

from the lake now spread itself over the army of the consul, but the high lands were in the sunshine, and all the different corps in ambush looked towards the hill of Torre for the order of attack. Hannibal gave the signal, and moved down from his post on the height. At the same moment all his troops on the eminences behind and in the flank of Flaminius rushed forwards as it were with one accord into the plain. The Romans, who were forming their array in the mist, suddenly heard the shouts of the enemy amongst them, on every side, and before they could fall into their ranks, or draw their swords, or see by whom they were attacked, felt at once that they were surrounded and lost. There are two little rivulets which run from the Gualandra into the lake. The traveller crosses the first of these at about a mile after he comes into the plain, and this divides the Tuscan from the Papal territories. The second, about a quarter of a mile further on, is called “the bloody rivulet;” and the peasants point out an open spot to the left between the “Sanguinetto” and the hills, which, they say, was the principal scene of slaughter. The other part of the plain is covered with thick-set olive-trees in corr grounds, and is nowhere quite level, except near the edge of the lake. It is, indeed, most probable that the battle was fought near this end of the valley, for the six thousand Romans, who, at the beginning of the action, broke through the enemy, escaped to the summit of an eminence which must have been in this quarter, otherwise they would have had to traverse the whole plain, and to pierce through the main army of Hannibal. The Romans fought desperately for three hours; but the death of Flaminius was the signal for a general dispersion. The Carthaginian horse then burst in upon the fugitives, and the lake, the marsh about Borghetto, but chiefly the plain of the Sanguinetto and the passes of the Gualandra, were strewed with dead. Near some old walls on a bleak ridge to the left above the rivulet many human bones have been repeatedly found, and this has confirmed the pretensions and the name of the “stream of blood.” Every district of Italy has its hero. In the north some painter is the usual genius of the place, and the foreign Julio Romano more than divides Mantua with her native Virgil.” To the south we hear of Roman names. Near Thrasimene tradition is still faithful to the fame of an enemy, and Hannibal the Carthaginian is the only ancient name remembered on the banks of the Perugian lake. Flaminius is unknown; but the postilions on that road have been taught to show the very spot where Il Console Romano was slain. Of all who fought and fell in the battle of Thrasimene, the historian himself has, besides the generals and Maharbal, preserved indeed only a single name. You overtake the Carthaginian again on the same road to Rome. The antiquary, that is, the hostler of the posthouse at Spoleto, tells you that his town repulsed the victorious enemy, and shows you the gate still called Porta di Annibale. It is hardly worth while to remark that a French travel writer, well known by the name of the President Dupaty,

* About the middle of the twelfth century the coins of Mantua bore on one side the image and figure of Virgil. Zecca d’Italia, pl. xvii. i. 6. Voyage dans le Milanais, &c. par A. Z. Millin, tom. ii. pag. 294. Paris, 1817.

[ocr errors]

saw Thrasimene in the lake of Bolsena, which lay conveniently on his way from Sienna to Rome.

XXIV.
STATUE OF POMPEY.

“And thou, dread statue ! still existent in
The austerest form of naked majesty.”
Stanza lxxxvii. lines 1. and 2.

The projected division of the Spada Pompey has already been recorded by the historian of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Mr. Gibbon found it in the memorials of Flaminius Vacca; and it may be added to his mention of it, that Pope Julius III. gave the contending owners five hundred crowns for the statue, and presented it to Cardinal Capo di Ferro, who had prevented the judgment of Solomon from being executed upon the image. In a more civilised age this statue was exposed to an actual operation: for the French, who acted the Brutus of Voltaire in the Coliseum, resolved that their Caesar should fall at the base of that Pompey, which was supposed to have been sprinkled with the blood of the original dictator. The mine-foot hero was therefore removed to the arena of the amphitheatre, and, to facilitate its transport, suffered the temporary amputation of its right arm. The republican tragedians had to plead that the arm was a restoration: but their accusers do not believe that the integrity of the statue would have protected it. The love of finding every coincidence has discovered the true Caesarean ichor in a stain near the right knee; but colder criticism has rejected not only the blood, but the portrait, and assigned the globe of power rather to the first of the emperors than to the last of the republican masters of Rome. Winklemann w is loth to allow an heroic statue of a Roman citizen, but the Grimani Agrippa, a contemporary almost, is heroic; and naked Roman figures were only very rare, not absolutely forbidden. The face accords much better with the “hominem integrum et castum et gravem?,” than with any of the busts of Augustus, and is too stern for him who was beautiful, says Suetonius, at all periods of his life. The pretended likeness to Alexander the Great cannot be discerned, but the traits resemble the medal of Pompey..f The objectionable globe may not have been an ill applied flattery to him who found Asia Minor the boundary, and left it the centre of the Roman empire. It seems that Winkelmann has made a mistake in thinking that no proof of the identity of this statue with that which received the bloody sacrifice can be derived from the spot where it

* Storia delle Arti, &c. lib. ix. cap. 1. pag. 321, 322. tom. ii.
f Cicer. Epist. ad Atticum, xi. 6.
t Published by Causeus, in his Museum Romanum.

was discovered.* Flaminius Vacca says sotto una cantina, and this cantina is known to have been in the Vicolo de' Leutari, near the Cancellaria; a position corresponding exactly to that of the Janus before the basilica of Pompey's theatre, to which Augustus transferred the statue after the curia was either burnt or taken down. † Part of the Pompeian shade t, the portico, existed in the beginning of the XVth century, and the atrium was still called Satrum. So says Blondus." At all events, so imposing is the stern majesty of the statue, and so memorable is the story, that the play of the imagination leaves no room for the exercise of the judgment, and the fiction, if a fiction it is, operates on the spectator with an effect not less powerful than truth.

[ocr errors][merged small]

“And thou, the thunder-stricken nurse of Rome 1”
Stanza lxxxviii. line 1.

Ancient Rome, like modern Sienna, abounded most probably with images of the foster-mother of her founder; but there were two she-wolves of whom history makes particular mention. One of these, of brass in ancient work, was seen by Dionysius || at the temple of Romulus, under the Palatine, and is universally believed to be that mentioned by the Latin historian, as having been made from the money collected by a fine on usurers, and as standing under the Ruminal fig-tree. T The other was that which Cicero ** has celebrated both in prose and verse, and which the historian

* Storia delle Arti, &c. lib. ix. cap. i. pag. 321,322. tom. ii. f Sueton. in vit. August. cap. 31. and in vit. C. J. Caesar. cap. 88. Appian says it was burnt down. See a note of Pitiscus to Suetonius, pag. 224. 1. “Tu modo Pompeia lenta spatiare sub umbra.” Ovid. Art, Amand. § Roma Instaurata, lib. ii. fo. 31. | X&Aziz rolózoro, aro. Aziz, texxotze. Antiq. Rom, lib. 1. *I “Ad ficum Ruminalem simulacra infantium conditorum urbis sub uberibus lupae posuerunt.” Liv. Hist. lib. x. cap. lxix. This was in the year U. C. 455 or 457. ** “Tum statua Nattac, tum simulacra Deorum, Romulusque et Remus cum altrice bellua vi fulminis ictis conciderunt.” De Divinat. ii. 20. “Tactus est ille etiam qui hanc urbem condidit Romulus, quem inauratum in Capitolio parvum atque lactantem, uberibus lupiris inhiantem fuisse meministis.” In Catilin. iii. 8. “Hic silvestris erat Romani nominis altrix Martia, quae parvos Mavortis semine natos Uberibus gravidis vitali rore rigebat Que tum cum pueris flammato fulminis ict Concidit, atque avulsa pedum vestigia liquat. De Consulatu, lib. ii. (lib. i. de Divinat, cap. ii.)

« FöregåendeFortsätt »