THE WONDERS OF POMPEII.
TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL FRENCH.
NEW YORK: CHARLES SCRIBNER & CO., 654 BROADWAY. 1871.
Illustrated Library of Wonders.
Messrs. Charles Scribner & Co.,
654 BROADWAY, NEW YORK.
Each one volume 12mo, Price per volume $1.50
* * * * *
Titles of books. No. of Illustrations
THUNDER AND LIGHTNING, 89 WONDERS OF OPTICS, 70 WONDERS OF HEAT, 90 INTELLIGENCE OF ANIMALS, 54 GREAT HUNTS, 22 EGYPT 3,300 YEARS AGO, 40 WONDERS OF POMPEII, 22 THE SUN, BY A. GUILLEMIN, 58 SUBLIME IN NATURE, 50 WONDERS OF GLASS-MAKING, 63 WONDERS OF ITALIAN ART, 28 WONDERS OF THE HUMAN BODY, 45 WONDERS OF ARCHITECTURE, 50 LIGHTHOUSES AND LIGHTSHIPS, 60 BOTTOM OF THE OCEAN, 68 WONDERS OF BODILY STRENGTH AND SKILL, 70 WONDERFUL BALLON ASCENTS, 80 ACOUSTICS, 114 WONDERS OF THE HEAVENS, 48 * THE MOON, BY A. GUILLEMIN, 60 * WONDERS OF SCULPTURE, 61 WONDERS OF ENGRAVING, 32 * WONDERS OF VEGETATION, 45 * WONDERS OF THE INVISIBLE WORLD, 97 * CELEBRATED ESCAPES, 26 * WATER, 77 * HYDRAULICS, 40 * ELECTRICITY, 71 * SUBTERRANEAN WORLDS, 27
* In Press for early publication
The above works sent to any address, post paid, upon receipt of the price by the publishers.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
Recent Excavations Made at Pompeii in 1860, under the Direction of the Inspector, Signor Fiorelli 25
The Rubbish Trucks Going up Empty 30
Clearing out a Narrow Street in Pompeii 33
Plan of Vesuvius 39
The Forum 42
Discovery of Loaves Baked 1800 Years Ago, in the oven of a Baker 84
Closed House, with a Balcony, Recently Discovered 87
The Nola Gate at Pompeii 96
The Herculaneum Gate Restored 99
The Tepidarium, at the Thermae 126
The Atrium of the House of Pansa Restored 138
Candelabra, Trinkets, and Kitchen Utensils Found at Pompeii 148
Kitchen Utensils found at Pompeii 150
Earthenware and Bronze Lamps Found at Pompeii 154
Collar, Ring, Bracelet, and Ear-rings Found at Pompeii 158
Peristyle of the House of Quaestor, at Pompeii 167
The House of Lucretius 169
The Exaedra of the House of the Poet 185
The Exaedra of the House of the Poet—Second View 189
The Smaller Theatre at Pompeii 206
The Amphitheatre at Pompeii 220
Bodies of Pompeians Cast in the Ashes of the Eruption 239
THE EXHUMED CITY. Page The Antique Landscape.—The History of Pompeii Before and After its Destruction.—How it was Buried and Exhumed.—Winkelmann as a Prophet.—The Excavations in the Reign of Charles III., of Murat, and of Ferdinand.—The Excavations as they now are.—Signor Fiorelli.—Appearance of the Ruins.—What is and What is not found there. 13
Diomed's Inn.—The Niche of Minerva.—The Appearance and The Monuments of the Forum.—The Antique Temple.—The Pagan ex-Voto Offerings.—The Merchants' City Exchange and the Petty Exchange.—The Pantheon, or was it a Temple, a Slaughter-house, or a Tavern?—The Style of Cooking, and the Form of Religion.—The Temple of Venus.—The Basilica.—The Inscriptions of Passers-by upon the Walls.—The Forum Rebuilt. 37
The Plan of Pompeii.—The Princely Names of the Houses.—Appearance of the Streets, Pavements, Sidewalks, etc.—The Shops and the Signs.—The Perfumer, the Surgeon, etc.—An Ancient Manufactory.—Bathing Establishments.—Wine-shops, Disreputable Resorts.—Hanging Balconies, Fountains.—Public Placards: Let us Nominate Battur! Commit no Nuisance!—Religion on the Street. 67
The Custom House.—The Fortifications and the Gates,—The Roman Highways.—The Cemetery of Pompeii.—Funerals: the Procession, the funeral Pyre, the Day of the Dead.—The Tombs and their Inscriptions.—Perpetual Leases.—Burial of the Rich, of Animals, and of the Poor.—The Villas of Diomed and Cicero. 93
The Hot Baths at Rome.—The Thermae of Stabiae.—A Tilt at Sun Dials.—A Complete Bath, as the Ancients Considered It: the Apartments, the Slaves, the Unguents, the Strigillae.—A Saying of the Emperor Hadrian.—The Baths for Women.—The Reading Room.—The Roman Newspaper.—The Heating-Apparatus. 120
Paratus and Pansa.—The Atrium and the Peristyle.—The Dwelling Refurnished and Repeopled.—The Slaves, the Kitchen, and the Table.—The Morning Occupations of a Pompeian.—The Toilet of a Pompeian Lady.—A Citizen Supper: the Courses, the Guests.—The Homes of the Poor, and the Palaces of Rome. 135
ART IN POMPEII.
The Homes of the Wealthy.—The Triangular Forum and the Temples.—Pompeian Architecture: Its Merits and its Defects.—The Artists of the Little City.—The Paintings here.—Landscapes, Figures, Rope-dancers, Dancing-girls, Centaurs, Gods, Heroes, the Iliad Illustrated.—Mosaics.—Statues and Statuettes.—Jewelry.—Carved Glass.—Art and Life. 167
The Arrangement of the Places of Amusement.—Entrance Tickets.—The Velarium, the Orchestra, the Stage.—The Odeon.—The Holconii.—The Side Scenes, the Masks.—The Atellan Farces.—The Mimes.—Jugglers, etc.—A Remark of Cicero on the Melodramas.—The Barrack of the Gladiators.—Scratched Inscriptions, Instruments of Torture.—The Pompeian Gladiators.—The Amphitheatre: Hunts, Combats, Butcheries, etc. 199
The Deluge of Ashes.—The Deluge of Fire.—The Flight of the Pompeians.—The Preoccupations of the Pompeian Women.—The Victims: the Family of Diomed; the Sentinel; the Woman Walled up in a Tomb; the Priest of Isis; the Lovers clinging together, etc.—The Skeletons.—The Dead Bodies moulded by Vesuvius. 232
(IN A BOOKSTORE AT NAPLES.)
A TRAVELLER (entering).—Have you any work on Pompeii?
THE SALESMAN.—Yes; we have several. Here, for instance, is Bulwer's "Last Days of Pompeii."
TRAVELLER.—Too thoroughly romantic.
SALESMAN.—Well, here are the folios of Mazois.
SALESMAN.—Here's Dumas's "Corricolo."
SALESMAN.—How would Nicolini's magnificent work suit you?
TRAVELLER.—Oh! that's too dear.
SALESMAN.—Here's Commander Aloe's "Guide."
TRAVELLER.—That's too dry.
SALESMAN.—Neither dry, nor romantic, nor light, nor heavy! What, then, would you have, sir?
TRAVELLER.—A small, portable work; accurate, conscientious, and within everybody's reach.
SALESMAN.—Ah, sir, we have nothing of that kind; besides, it is impossible to get up such a work.
THE AUTHOR (aside).—Who knows?
WONDERS OF POMPEII.
THE EXHUMED CITY.
THE ANTIQUE LANDSCAPE—THE HISTORY OF POMPEII BEFORE AND AFTER ITS DESTRUCTION.—HOW IT WAS BURIED AND EXHUMED.—WINKELMANN AS A PROPHET.—THE EXCAVATIONS IN THE REIGN OF CHARLES III., OF MURAT, AND OF FERDINAND.—THE EXCAVATIONS AS THEY NOW ARE.—SIGNOR FIORELLI.—APPEARANCE OF THE RUINS.—WHAT IS AND WHAT IS NOT FOUND THERE.
A railroad runs from Naples to Pompeii. Are you alone? The trip occupies one hour, and you have just time enough to read what follows, pausing once in a while to glance at Vesuvius and the sea; the clear, bright waters hemmed in by the gentle curve of the promontories; a bluish coast that approaches and becomes green; a green coast that withdraws into the distance and becomes blue; Castellamare looming up, and Naples receding. All these lines and colors existed too at the time when Pompeii was destroyed: the island of Prochyta, the cities of Baiae, of Bauli, of Neapolis, and of Surrentum bore the names that they retain. Portici was called Herculaneum; Torre dell'Annunziata was called Oplontes; Castellamare, Stabiae; Misenum and Minerva designated the two extremities of the gulf. However, Vesuvius was not what it has become; fertile and wooded almost to the summit, covered with orchards and vines, it must have resembled the picturesque heights of Monte San Angelo, toward which we are rolling. The summit alone, honeycombed with caverns and covered with black stones, betrayed to the learned a volcano "long extinct." It was to blaze out again, however, in a terrible eruption; and, since then, it has constantly flamed and smoked, menacing the ruins it has made and the new cities that brave it, calmly reposing at its feet.
What do you expect to find at Pompeii? At a distance, its antiquity seems enormous, and the word "ruins" awakens colossal conceptions in the excited fancy of the traveller. But, be not self-deceived; that is the first rule in knocking about over the world. Pompeii was a small city of only thirty thousand souls; something like what Geneva was thirty years ago. Like Geneva, too, it was marvellously situated—in the depth of a picturesque valley between mountains shutting in the horizon on one side, at a few steps from the sea and from a streamlet, once a river, which plunges into it—and by its charming site attracted personages of distinction, although it was peopled chiefly with merchants and others in easy circumstances; shrewd, prudent folk, and probably honest and clever enough, as well. The etymologists, after having exhausted, in their lexicons, all the words that chime in sound with Pompeii, have, at length, agreed in deriving the name from a Greek verb which signifies to send, to transport, and hence they conclude that many of the Pompeians were engaged in exportation, or perhaps, were emigrants sent from a distance to form a colony. Yet these opinions are but conjectures, and it is useless to dwell on them.
All that can be positively stated is that the city was the entrepot of the trade of Nola, Nocera, and Atella. Its port was large enough to receive a naval armament, for it sheltered the fleet of P. Cornelius. This port, mentioned by certain authors, has led many to believe that the sea washed the walls of Pompeii, and some guides have even thought they could discover the rings that once held the cables of the galleys. Unfortunately for this idea, at the place which the imagination of some of our contemporaries covered with salt water, there were one day discovered the vestiges of old structures, and it is now conceded that Pompeii, like many other seaside places, had its harbor at a distance. Our little city made no great noise in history. Tacitus and Seneca speak of it as celebrated, but the Italians of all periods have been fond of superlatives. You will find some very old buildings in it, proclaiming an ancient origin, and Oscan inscriptions recalling the antique language of the country. When the Samnites invaded the whole of Campania, as though to deliver it over more easily to Rome, they probably occupied Pompeii, which figured in the second Samnite war, B.C. 310, and which, revolting along with the entire valley of the Sarno from Nocera to Stabiae, repulsed an incursion of the Romans and drove them back to their vessels. The third Samnite war was, as is well known, a bloody vengeance for this, and Pompeii became Roman. Although the yoke of the conquerors was not very heavy—the municipii, retaining their Senate, their magistrates, their comitiae or councils, and paying a tribute of men only in case of war—the Samnite populations, clinging frantically to the idea of a separate and independent existence, rose twice again in revolt; once just after the battle of Cannae, when they threw themselves into the arms of Hannibal, and then against Sylla, one hundred and twenty-four years later—facts that prove the tenacity of their resistance. On both occasions Pompeii was retaken, and the second time partly dismantled and occupied by a detachment of soldiers, who did not long remain there. And thus we have the whole history of this little city. The Romans were fond of living there, and Cicero had a residence in the place, to which he frequently refers in his letters. Augustus sent thither a colony which founded the suburb of Augustus Felix, administered by a mayor. The Emperor Claudius also had a villa at Pompeii, and there lost one of his children, who perished by a singular mishap. The imperial lad was amusing himself, as the Neapolitan boys do to this day, by throwing pears up into the air and catching them in his mouth as they fell. One of the fruits choked him by descending too far into his throat. But the Neapolitan youngsters perform the feat with figs, which render it infinitely less dangerous.
We are, then, going to visit a small city subordinate to Rome, much less than Marseilles is to Paris, and a little more so than Geneva is to Berne. Pompeii had almost nothing to do with the Senate or the Emperor. The old tongue—the Oscan—had ceased to be official, and the authorities issued their orders in Latin. The residents of the place were Roman citizens, Rome being recognized as the capital and fatherland. The local legislation was made secondary to Roman legislation. But, excepting these reservations, Pompeii formed a little world, apart, independent, and complete in itself. She had a miniature Senate, composed of decurions; an aristocracy in epitome, represented by the Augustales, answering to knights; and then came her plebs or common people. She chose her own pontiffs, convoked the comitiae, promulged municipal laws, regulated military levies, collected taxes; in fine selected her own immediate rulers—her consuls (the duumvirs dispensing justice), her ediles, her quaestors, etc. Hence, it is not a provincial city that we are to survey, but a petty State which had preserved its autonomy within the unity of the Empire, and was, as has been cleverly said, a miniature of Rome.
Another circumstance imparts a peculiar interest to Pompeii. That city, which seemed to have no good luck, had been violently shaken by earthquake in the year B.C. 63. Several temples had toppled down along with the colonnade of the Forum, the great Basilica, and the theatres, without counting the tombs and houses. Nearly every family fled from the place, taking with them their furniture and their statuary; and the Senate hesitated a long time before they allowed the city to be rebuilt and the deserted district to be re-peopled. The Pompeians at last returned; but the decurions wished to make the restoration of the place a complete rejuvenation. The columns of the Forum speedily reappeared, but with capitals in the fashion of the day; the Corinthian-Roman order, adopted almost everywhere, changed the style of the monuments; the old shafts covered with stucco were patched up for the new topwork they were to receive, and the Oscan inscriptions disappeared. From all this there sprang great blunders in an artistic point of view, but a uniformity and consistency that please those who are fond of monuments and cities of one continuous derivation. Taste loses, but harmony gains thereby, and you pass in review a collective totality of edifices that bear their age upon their fronts, and give a very exact and vivid idea of what a municeps a Roman colony must have been in the time of Vespasian.
They went to work, then, to rebuild the city, and the undertaking was pushed on quite vigorously, thanks to the contributions of the Pompeians, especially of the functionaries. The temples of Jupiter and of Venus—we adopt the consecrated names—and those of Isis and of Fortune, were already up; the theatres were rising again; the handsome columns of the Forum were ranging themselves under their porticoes; the residences were gay with brilliant paintings; work and pleasure had both resumed their activity; life hurried to and fro through the streets, and crowds thronged the amphitheatre, when, all at once, burst forth the terrible eruption of 79. I will describe it further on; but here simply recall the fact that it buried Pompeii under a deluge of stones and ashes. This re-awakening of the volcano destroyed three cities, without counting the villages, and depopulated the country in the twinkling of an eye.
After the catastrophe, however, the inhabitants returned, and made the first excavations in order to recover their valuables; and robbers, too—we shall surprise them in the very act—crept into the subterranean city. It is a fact that the Emperor Titus for a moment entertained the idea of clearing and restoring it, and with that view sent two Senators to the spot, intrusted with the mission of making the first study of the ground; but it would appear that the magnitude of the work appalled those dignitaries, and that the restoration in question never got beyond the condition of a mere project. Rome soon had more serious cares to occupy her than the fate of a petty city that ere long disappeared beneath vineyards, orchards, and gardens, and under a thick growth of woodland—remark this latter circumstance—until, at length, centuries accumulated, and with them the forgetfulness that buries all things. Pompeii was then, so to speak, lost, and the few learned men who knew it by name could not point out its site. When, at the close of the sixteenth century, the architect Fontana was constructing a subterranean canal to convey the waters of the Sarno to Torre dell' Annunziata, the conduit passed through Pompeii, from one end to the other, piercing the walls, following the old streets, and coming upon sub structures and inscriptions; but no one bethought him that they had discovered the place of the buried city. However, the amphitheatre, which, roofed in by a layer of the soil, formed a regular excavation, indicated an ancient edifice, and the neighboring peasantry, with better information than the learned, designated by the half-Latin name of Civita, which dim tradition had handed down, the soil and debris that had accumulated above Pompeii.
It was only in 1748, under the reign of Charles III, when the discovery of Herculaneum had attracted the attention of the world to the antiquities thus buried, that, some vine-dressers having struck upon some old walls with their picks and spades, and in so doing unearthed statues, a colonel of engineers named Don Rocco Alcubierra asked permission of the king to make excavations in the vicinity. The king consented and placed a dozen of galley-slaves at the colonel's disposition. Thus it was that by a lucky chance a military engineer discovered the city that we are about to visit. Still, eight years more had to roll away before any one suspected that it was Pompeii which they were thus exhuming. Learned folks thought they were dealing with Stabiae.
Shall I relate the history of these underground researches, "badly conducted, frequently abandoned, and resumed in obedience to the same capriciousness that had led to their suspension," as they were? Such are the words of the opinion Barthelemy expressed when writing, in 1755, to the Count de Caylus. Winkelmann, who was present at these excavations a few years later, sharply criticised the tardiness of the galley-slaves to whom the work had been confided. "At this rate," he wrote, "our descendants of the fourth generation will still have digging to do among these ruins." The illustrious German hardly suspected that he was making so accurate a prediction as it has turned out to be. The descendants of the fourth generation are our contemporaries, and the third part of Pompeii is not yet unearthed.
The Emperor Joseph II. visited the excavations on the 6th of April, 1796, and complained bitterly to King Ferdinand IV. of the slight degree of zeal and the small amount of money employed. The king promised to do better, but did not keep his word. He had neither intelligence nor activity in prosecuting this immense task, excepting while the French occupation lasted. At that time, however, the government carried out the idea of Francesco La Vega, a man of sense and capacity, and purchased all the ground that covered Pompeii. Queen Caroline, the sister of Bonaparte and wife of Murat, took a fancy to these excavations and pushed them vigorously, often going all the way from Naples through six leagues of dust to visit them. In 1813 there were exactly four hundred and seventy-six laborers employed at Pompeii. The Bourbons returned and commenced by re-selling the ground that had been purchased under Murat; then, little by little, the work continued, at first with some activity, then fell off and slackened more and more until, from being neglected, they were altogether abandoned, and were resumed only once in a while in the presence of crowned heads. On these occasions they were got up like New Year's surprise games: everything that happened to be at hand was scattered about on layers of ashes and of pumice-stone and carefully covered over. Then, upon the arrival of such-and-such a majesty, or this or that highness, the magic wand of the superintendent or inspector of the works, caused all these treasures to spring out of the ground. I could name, one after the other, the august personages who were deceived in this manner, beginning with the Kings of the Two Sicilies and of Jerusalem.
But that is not all. Not only was nothing more discovered at Pompeii, but even the monuments that had been found were not preserved. King Ferdinand soon discovered that the 25,000 francs applied to the excavations were badly employed; he reduced the sum to 10,000, and that amount was worn down on the way by passing through so many hands. Pompeii fell back, gradually presenting nothing but ruins upon ruins.
Happily, the Italian Government established by the revolution of 1860, came into power to set all these acts of negligence and roguery to rights. Signor Fiorelli, who is all intelligence and activity, not to mention his erudition, which numerous writings prove, was appointed inspector of the excavations. Under his administration, the works which had been vigorously resumed were pushed on by as many as seven hundred laborers at a time, and they dug out in the lapse of three years more treasures than had been brought to light in the thirty that preceded them. Everything has been reformed, nay, moralised, as it were, in the dead city; the visitor pays two francs at the gate and no longer has to contend with the horde of guides, doorkeepers, rapscallions, and beggars who formerly plundered him. A small museum, recently established, furnishes the active inquirer the opportunity of examining upon the spot the curiosities that have already been discovered; a library containing the fine works of Mazois, of Raoul Rochette, of Gell, of Zahn, of Overbeck, of Breton, etc., on Pompeii, enables the student to consult them in Pompeii itself; workshops lately opened are continually busy in restoring cracked walls, marbles, and bronzes, and one may there surprise the artist Bramante, the most ingenious hand at repairing antiquities in the world, as likewise my friend, Padiglione, who, with admirable patience and minute fidelity, is cutting a small model in cork of the ruins that have been cleared, which is scrupulously exact. In fine—and this is the main point—the excavations are no longer carried on occasionally only, and in the presence of a few privileged persons, but before the first comer and every day, unless funds have run short.
"I have frequently been present," wrote a half-Pompeian, a year or two ago, in the Revue des Deux Mondes—"I have frequently been present for hours together, seated on a sand-bank which itself, perhaps, concealed wonders, and witnessed this rude yet interesting toil, from which I could not withdraw my gaze. I therefore have it in my power to write understandingly. I do not relate what I read, but what I saw. Three systems, to my knowledge, have been employed in these excavations. The first, inaugurated under Charles III., was the simplest. It consisted in hollowing out the soil, in extricating the precious objects found, and then in re-filling the orifice—an excellent method of forming a museum by destroying Pompeii. This method was abandoned so soon as it was discovered that a whole city was involved. The second system, which was gradually brought to perfection in the last century, was earnestly pursued under Murat. The work was started in many places at once, and the laborers, advancing one after the other, penetrating and cutting the hill, followed the line of the streets, which they cleared little by little before them. In following the streets on the ground-level, the declivity of ashes and pumice-stone which obstructed them was attacked below, and thence resulted many regrettable accidents. The whole upper part of the houses, commencing with the roofs, fell in among the rubbish, along with a thousand fragile articles, which were broken and lost without there being any means of determining the point from which they had been hurled down. In order to obviate this inconvenience, Signor Fiorelli has started a third system. He does not follow the streets by the ground-level, but he marks them out over the hillocks, and thus traces among the trees and cultivated grounds wide squares indicating the subterranean, islets. No one is ignorant of the fact that these islets—isole, insulae in the modern as well as in the ancient language of Italy—indicate blocks of buildings. The islet traced, Signor Fiorelli repurchases the land which had been sold by King Ferdinand I. and gives up the trees found upon it.[A]
"The ground, then, being bought and the vegetation removed, work begins. The earth at the summit of the hill is taken off and carried away on a railroad, which descends from the middle of Pompeii by a slope that saves all expense of machinery and fuel, to a considerable distance beyond the amphitheatre and the city. In this way, the most serious question of all, to wit, that of clearing away the dirt, is solved. Formerly, the ruins were covered in with it, and subsequently it was heaped up in a huge hillock, but now it helps to construct the very railroad that carries it away, and will, one day, tip it into the sea.
"Nothing can present a livelier scene than the excavation of these ruins. Men diligently dig away at the earth, and bevies of young girls run to and fro without cessation, with baskets in their hands. These are sprightly peasant damsels collected from the adjacent villages most of them accustomed to working in factories that have closed or curtailed operations owing to the invasion of English tissues and the rise of cotton. No one would have dreamed that free trade and the war in America would have supplied female hands to work at the ruins of Pompeii. But all things are linked together now in this great world of ours, vast as it is. These girls then run backward and forward, filling their baskets with soil, ashes, and lapillo, hoisting them on their heads, by the help of the men, with a single quick, sharp motion, and thereupon setting off again, in groups that incessantly replace each other, toward the railway, passing and repassing their returning companions. Very picturesque in their ragged gowns of brilliant colors, they walk swiftly with lengthy strides, their long skirts defining the movements of their naked limbs and fluttering in the wind behind them, while their arms, with gestures like those of classic urn-bearers, sustain the heavy load that rests upon their heads without making them even stoop. All this is not out of keeping with the monuments that gradually appear above the surface as the rubbish is removed. Did not the sight of foreign visitors here and there disturb the harmony of the scene, one might readily ask himself, in the midst of this Virgilian landscape, amid these festooning vines, in full view of the smoking Vesuvius, and beneath that antique sky, whether all those young girls who come and go are not the slaves of Pansa, the aedile, or of the duumvir Holconius."
We have just glanced over the history of Pompeii before and after its destruction. Let us now enter the city. But a word of caution before we start. Do not expect to find houses or monuments still erect and roofed in like the Pantheon at Rome and the square building at Nismes, or you will be sadly disappointed. Rather picture to yourself a small city of low buildings and narrow streets that had been completely burned down in a single night. You have come to look at it on the day after the conflagration. The upper stories have disappeared, and the ceilings have fallen in. Everything that was of wood, planks, and beams, is in ashes; all is uncovered, and no roofs are to be seen. In these structures, which in other days were either private dwellings or public edifices, you now can everywhere walk under the open sky. Were a shower to come on, you would not know where to seek shelter. It is as though you were in a city in progress of building, with only the first stories as yet completed, but without the flooring for the second. Here is a house: nothing remains of it but the lower walls, with nothing resting on them. At a distance you would suppose it to be a collection of screens set up for parlor theatricals. Here is a public square: you will now see in it only bottom platforms, supports that hold up nothing, shafts of columns without galleries, pedestals without statues, mute blocks of stone, space and emptiness. I will lead you into more than one temple. You will see there only an eminence of masonry, side and end walls, but no front, no portico. Where is art? Where is the presiding deity of the place? The ruins of your stable would not be more naked a thousand years hence. Stones on all sides, tufa, bricks, lava, here and there some slabs of marble and travertine, then traces of destruction—paintings defaced, pavements disjointed and full of gaps and cracks—and then marks of spoliation, for all the precious objects found were carried off to the museum at Naples, and I can show you now nothing but the places where once stood the Faun, the statue of Narcissus, the mosaic of Arbelles and the famous blue vase. Such is the Pompeii that awaits the traveller who comes thither expecting to find another Paris, or, at least, ruins arranged in the Parisian style, like the tower of St. Jacques, for instance.
You will say, perhaps, good reader, that I disenchant you; on the contrary, I prevent your disenchantment. Do not prepare the way for your own disappointment by unreasonable expectations or by ill-founded notions; this is all that I ask of your judgment. Do not come hither to look for the relics of Roman grandeur. Other impressions await you at Pompeii. What you are about to see is an entire city, or at all events the third of an ancient city, remote, detached from every modern town, and forming in itself something isolated and complete which you will find nowhere else. Here is no Capitol rebuilt; no Pantheon consecrated now to the God of Christianity; no Acropolis surmounting a Danish or Bavarian city; no Maison Carree (as at Nismes) transformed to a gallery of paintings and forming one of the adornments of a modern Boulevard. At Pompeii everything is antique and eighteen centuries old; first the sky, then the landscape, the seashore, and then the work of man, devastated undoubtedly, but not transformed, by time. The streets are not repaired; the high sidewalks that border them have not been lowered for the pedestrians of our time, and we promenade upon the same stones that were formerly trodden by the feet of Sericus the merchant and Epaphras the slave. As we enter these narrow streets we quit, perforce, the year in which we are living and the quarter that we inhabit. Behold us in a moment transported to another age and into another world. Antiquity invades and absorbs us and, were it but for an hour, we are Romans. That, however, is not all. I have already repeatedly said that Vesuvius did not destroy Pompeii—it has preserved it.
The structures that have been exhumed crumble away in the air in a few months—more than they had done beneath the ashes in eighteen centuries. When first disinterred the painted walls reappear fresh and glowing as though their coloring were but of yesterday. Each wall thus becomes, as it were, a page of illustrated archeology, unveiling to us some point hitherto unknown of the manners, customs, private habits, creeds and traditions; or, to sum all up in a word, of the life of the ancients.
The furniture one finds, the objects of art or the household utensils, reveal to us the mansion; there is not a single panel which, when closely examined, does not tell us something. Such and such a pillar has retained the inscription scratched upon it with the point of his knife by a Pompeian who had nothing else to do; such a piece of wall on the street set apart for posters, presents in huge letters the announcement of a public spectacle, or proclaims the candidature of some citizen for a contested office of the state.
I say nothing of the skeletons, whose attitudes relate, in a most striking manner, the horrors of the catastrophe and the frantic struggles of the last moment. In fine, for any one who has the faculty of observation, every step is a surprise, a discovery, a confession won concerning the public and private life of the ancients. Although at first sight mute, these blocks of stone, when interrogated, soon speak and confide their secrets to science or to the imagination that catches a meaning with half a word; they tell, little by little, all that they know, and all the strange, mysterious things that took place on these same pavements, under this same sky, in those miraculous times, the most interesting in history, viz.: the eighth century of Rome and the first of the Christian era.
[Footnote A: The money accruing from this sale is applied to the Pompeian library mentioned elsewhere.]
DIOMED'S INN.—THE NICHE OF MINERVA.—THE APPEARANCE AND THE MONUMENTS OF THE FORUM.—THE ANTIQUE TEMPLE.—THE PAGAN EX-VOTO OFFERINGS.—THE MERCHANTS' CITY EXCHANGE AND THE PETTY EXCHANGE.—THE PANTHEON, OR WAS IT A TEMPLE, A SLAUGHTER-HOUSE, OR A TAVERN?—THE STYLE OF COOKING AND THE FORM OF RELIGION.—THE TEMPLE OF VENUS.—- THE BASILICA.—THE INSCRIPTIONS OF PASSERS-BY UPON THE WALLS.—THE FORUM REBUILT.
As you alight at the station, in the first place breakfast at the popina of Diomed. It is a tavern of our own day, which has assumed an antique title to please travellers. You may there drink Falernian wine manufactured by Scala, the Neapolitan chemist, and, should you ask for some jentaculum in the Roman style—aliquid scitamentorum, glandionidum suillam taridum, pernonidem, sinciput aut omenta porcina, aut aliquid ad eum modum—they will serve you a beefsteak and potatoes. Your strength refreshed, you will scale the sloping hillock of ashes and rubbish that conceals the ruins from your view; you will pay your two francs at the office and you will pass the gate-keeper's turnstile, astonished, as it is, to find itself in such a place. These formalities once concluded you have nothing more that is modern to go through unless it be the companionship of a guide in military uniform who escorts you, in reality to watch, you (especially if you belong to the country of Lord Elgin), but not to mulct you in the least. Placards in all the known languages forbid you to offer him so much as an obolus. You make your entree, in a word, into the antique life, and you are as free as a Pompeian.
The first thing one sees is an arcade and such a niche as might serve for an image of the Madonna; but be reassured, for the niche contains a Minerva. It is no longer the superstition of our own time that strikes our gaze. Under the arcade open extensive store-houses that probably served as a place of deposit for merchandise. You then enter an ascending paved street, pass by the temple of Venus and the Basilica, and arrive at the Forum. There, one should pause.
At first glance, the observer distinguishes nothing but a long square space closed at the further extremity by a regular-shaped mound rising between two arcades; lateral alleys extend lengthwise on the right and the left between shafts of columns and dilapidated architectural work. Here and there some compound masses of stone-work indicate altars or the pedestals of statues no longer seen. Vesuvius, still threatening, smokes away at the extremity of the picture.
Look more closely and you will perceive that the fluted columns are of Caserta stone, of tufa, or of brick, coated with stucco and raised two steps above the level of the square. Under the lower step runs the kennel. These columns sustained a gallery upon which one mounted by narrow and abrupt steps that time has spared. This upper gallery must have been covered. The women walked in it. A second story of columns, most likely interrupted in front of the monuments, rested upon the other one. Mazois has reconstructed this colonnade in two superior orders—Doric below and Ionic above—with exquisite elegance. The pavement of the square, on which you may still walk, was of travertine. Thus we see the Forum rising again, as it were, in our presence.
Let us glance at the ruins that surround it. That mound at the other end was the foundation of a temple, the diminutive size of which strikes the newcomer at first sight. Every one is not aware that the temple, far from being a place of assemblage for devout multitudes, was, with the ancients, in reality, but a larger niche inclosing the statue of the deity to be worshipped. The consecrated building received only a small number of the elect after they had been befittingly purified, and the crowd remained outside. It was not the palace, but the mere cell of the god. This cell (cella) was, at first, the whole temple, and was just large enough to hold the statue and the altar. By degrees it came to be ornamented with a front portico, then with a rear portico, and then with side colonnades, thus attaining by embellishment after embellishment the rich elegance of the Madeleine at Paris. But the proportions of our cathedrals were never adopted by the ancients. Thus, Christianity rarely appropriates the Greek or Roman temples for its worship. It has preferred the vast basilicas, the royal name of which assumes a religious meaning.
The Romans built their temples in this wise: The augur—that is to say, the priest who read the future in the flight of birds—traced in the sky with his short staff a spacious square, which he then marked on the soil. Stakes were at once fixed along the four lines, and draperies were hung between the stakes. In the midst of this space, the area or inclosure of the temple, the augur marked out a cross—the augural cross, indicating the four cardinal points; the transverse lines fixed the limits of the cella; the point where the two branches met was the place for the door, and the first stone was deposited on the threshold. Numerous lighted lamps illuminated these ceremonies, after which the chief priest, the pontifex maximus, consecrated the area, and from that moment it became settled and immovable. If it crumbled, it must be rebuilt on the same spot, and the least change made, even should it be to enlarge it, would be regarded as a profanation. Thus had the dwelling of the god that rises before us at the extremity of the Forum been consecrated.
Like most of the Roman temples, this edifice is elevated on a foundation (the podium), and turned toward the north. One ascends to it by a flight of steps that cuts in the centre a platform where, perhaps, the altar stood. Upon the podium there remain some vestiges of the twelve columns that formed the front portico or pronaos. Twelve columns, did I say?—three on each side, six in front; always an even number at the facades, so that a central column may not mask the doorway and that the temple may be freely entered by the intercolumnar middle space.
To the right and the left of the steps were pedestals that formerly sustained statues probably colossal. Behind the pronaos could be recognized the place where the cella used to be. Nothing remains of it now but the mosaic pavement and the walls. Traces of columns enable us to reconstruct this sanctuary richly. We can there raise—and it has been done on paper—two colonnades—the first one of the Ionic order, supporting a gallery; the second of the Corinthian order, sustaining the light wooden platform of painted wood which no longer exists. The walls, covered with stucco, still retain pretty decorative paintings. Three small subterranean chambers, of very solid construction, perhaps contained the treasury and archives of the State, or something else entirely different—why not those of the temple? In those times the Church was rich; the Saviour had not ordained poverty as its portion.
What deity's house is it that we are visiting now? Jupiter's, says common opinion, upon the strength of a colossal statue of which fragments have been found that might well have fitted the King of the Gods. Others think it the temple of Venus, the Venus Physica (the beautiful in nature, say aesthetic philosophers) being the patroness of Pompeii. We shall frequently, hereafter, meet with the name of this goddess. Several detached limbs in stone and in bronze, which are not broken at the extremity as though they belonged to a statue, but are polished on all sides and cut in such a manner as to admit of being suspended, were found among the ruins; they were votive offerings. Italy, in becoming Catholic, has retained these Pagan customs. Besides her supreme God, she worships a host of demi-gods, to whom she dedicates her towns and consecrates her temples, where garlands of ex-voto offerings testify to the intercession of the priests and the gratitude of the true believers.
On the two sides of the temple of Jupiter—such is the generally-accepted name—rise arcades, as I have already remarked. The one on the left is a vaulted entrance, which, being too low and standing too far forward, does not correspond with the other and deranges, one cannot exactly make out why, the symmetry of this part of the Forum. The other arcade is evidently a triumphal portal. Nothing remains of it now but the body of the work in brick, some niches and traces of pilasters; but it is easy to replace the marbles and the statues which must have adorned this monument in rather poor taste. Such was the extremity of the Forum.
Four considerable edifices follow each other on the eastern side of this public square. These are, going from south to north, the palace of Eumachia, the temple of Mercury, the Senate Chamber, and the Pantheon.
What is the Eumachia palace? An inscription found at that place reads: "Eumachia, in her name and in the name of her son, has erected to Concord and to august Piety, a Chalcidicum, a crypt and porticoes."
What is a Chalcidicum? Long and grave have been the discussions on this subject among the savans. They have agreed, however, on one point, that it should be a species of structure invented at Chalcis, a city of Eubea.
However that may be, this much-despoiled palace presents a vast open gallery, which was, certainly, the portico mentioned above. Around the portico ran a closed gallery along three sides, and that must have been the crypt. Upon the fourth side—that is to say, before the entry that fronts the Forum—stood forth a sort of porch, a large exterior vestibule: that was probably the Chalcidicum.
The edifice is curious. Behind the vestibule are two walls, not parallel, one of which follows the alignment of the Forum, and the other that of the interior portico. The space between this double wall is utilized and some shops hide themselves in its recesses. Thus the irregularity of the plan is not merely corrected—it is turned to useful account. The ancients were shrewd fellows. This portico rested on fifty-eight columns, surrounding a court-yard. In the court-yard, a large movable stone, in good preservation, with the ring that served to lift it, covered a cistern. At the extremity of the portico, in a hemicycle, stood a headless statue—perhaps the Piety or Concord to which the entire edifice was dedicated. Behind the hemicycle a sort of square niche buried itself in the wall between two doors, one of which, painted on the wall for the sake of symmetry, is a useful and curious document. It is separated into three long and narrow panels and is provided with a ring that should have served to move it. Doors are nowhere to be seen now in Pompeii, because they were of wood, and consequently were consumed by the fire; hence, this painted representation has filled the savants with delight; they now know that the ancients shut themselves in at home by processes exactly like our own.
Between, the two doors, in the square niche, the statue of Eumachia, or, at least, a moulded model of that statue, is still erect upon its pedestal. It is of a female of tall stature, who looks sad and ill. An inscription informs us that the statue was erected in her honor by the fullers. These artisans formed quite a respectable corporation at Pompeii, and we shall presently visit the manufactory where they worked. Everything is now explained: the edifice of Eumachia must have been the Palace of Industry of that city and period. This is the Pompeian Merchants' Exchange, where transactions took place in the portico, and in winter, in the crypt. The tribunal of commerce sat in the hemicycle, at the foot of the statue of Concord, raised there to appease quarrels between the merchants. In the court-yard, the huge blocks of stone still standing were the tables on which their goods were spread. The cistern and the large vats yielded the conveniences to wash them. In fine, the Chalcidicum was the smaller Exchange, and the niches still seen there must have been the stands of the auctioneers. But what was there in common between this market, this fullers' counter, and the melancholy priestess?
Religion at that period entered into everything, even into trade and industry. A secret door put the edifice of Eumachia in communication with the adjacent temple. That temple, which was dedicated to Mercury—why to Mercury?—or to Quirinus—why not to Mercury?—at this day forms a small museum of precious relics. The entrance to it is closed with a grating through which a sufficient view may be had of the bas-relief on the altar, representing a sacrifice. A personage whose head is half-veiled presides at the ceremony; behind that person a child carries the consecrated water in a vase, and the victimarius, bearing an axe, leads the bull that is to be offered up. Behind the sacrificial party are some flute-players. On the two sides of the altar other bas-reliefs represent the instruments that were used at the sacrifices; the lituus, or curved staff of the augur; the acerra, or perfuming censer; the mantile, or consecrated cloth that—let us simply say, the napkin,—and, finally, the vases peculiar to these ceremonies, the patere, the simpulum, and the prefericulum.
That altar is the only curiosity in the temple. The remainder is not worth the trouble of being studied or reconstructed. The mural paintings form an adornment of questionable taste. A rear door puts the temple in communication with the Senaculum, or Senate-house, as the neighboring structure was called; but the Pompeian Senators being no more than decurions, it is an ambitious title. A vestibule that comes forward as far as the colonnade of the Forum; then a spacious saloon or hall; an arch at the end, with a broad foundation where the seats of the decemviri possibly stood; then, walls built of rough stones arranged in net-work (opus reticulatum), some niches without statues—such is all that remains. But with a ceiling of wood painted in bright colors (the walls could not have held up a vaulted roof), and completely paved, completely sheathed with marble, as some flags and other remnants indicate, this hall could not have been without some richness of effect. Those who sat there were but the magistrates of a small city; but behind them loomed up Rome, whose vast shadow embraced and magnified everything.
At length we have before us the Pantheon, the strangest and the least easy to name of the edifices of Pompeii. It is not parallel to the Forum, but its obliquity was adroitly masked by shops in which many pieces of coin have been found. Hence the conclusion that these were tabernae argentariae, the money-changers' offices, and I cannot prove the contrary. The two entrance doors are separated by two Corinthian columns, between which is hollowed out a niche without a statue. The capitals of these columns bear Caesarean eagles. Could this Pantheon have been the temple of Augustus? Having passed the doors, one reaches an area, in which extended, to the right and to the left, a spacious portico surrounding a court, in the midst of which remain twelve pedestals that, ranged in circular order, once, perhaps, sustained the pillars of a circular temple or the statues of twelve gods. This, then, was the Pantheon. However, at the extremity of the edifice, and directly opposite to the entrance, three apartments open. The middle one formed a chapel; three statues were found there representing Drusus and Livia, the wife of Augustus, along with an arm holding a globe, and belonging, no doubt, to the consecrated statue which must have stood upon the pedestal at the end, a statue of the Emperor. Then this was the temple of Augustus. The apartment to the left shows a niche and an altar, and served, perhaps, for sacrifices; the room to the right offers a stone bench arranged in the shape of a horse-shoe. It could not be one of those triple beds (triclinia) which we shall find in the eating saloons of the private houses; for the slope of these benches would have forced the reclining guests to have their heads turned toward the wall or their feet higher than their heads. Moreover, in the interior of this bench runs a conduit evidently intended to afford passage to certain liquids, perhaps to the blood of animals slaughtered in the place. This, therefore, was neither a Pantheon nor a temple of Augustus, but a slaughter-house (macellum.) In that case, the eleven apartments abutting to the right on the long wall of the edifice would be the stalls. But these rooms, in which the regular orifices made in the wall were to hold the beams that sustained the second story, were adorned with paintings which still exist, and which must have been quite luxurious for those poor oxen. Let us interrogate these paintings and those of all these walls; they will instruct us, perhaps, with reference to the destination of the building. There are mythological and epic pieces reproducing certain sacred subjects, of which we shall speak further on. Others show us winged infants, little Cupids weaving garlands, of which the ancients were so fond; some of the bacchanalian divinities, celebrating the festival of the mills, are crowning with flowers the patient ass who is turning the wheel. Flowers on all sides—that was the fantasy of antique times. Flowers at their wild banquets, at their august ceremonies, at their sacrifices, and at their festivals; flowers on the necks of their victims and their guests, and on the brows of their women and their gods. But the greatest number of these paintings appear destined for banquetting-halls; dead nature predominates in them; you see nothing but pullets, geese, ducks, partridges, fowls, and game of all kinds, fruits, and eggs, amphorae, loaves of bread and cakes, hams, and I know not what all else. In the shops attached to this palace belong all sorts of precious articles—vases, lamps, statuettes, jewels, a handsome alabaster cup; besides, there have been found five hundred and fifty small bottles, without counting the goblets, and, in vases of glass, raisins, figs, chestnuts, lentils, and near them scales and bakers' and pastry-cooks' moulds. Could the Pantheon, then, have been a tavern, a free inn (hospitium) where strangers were received under the protection of the gods? In that case the supposed butcher-shop must have been a sort of office, and the triclinium a dormitory. However that may be, the table and the altar, the kitchen and religion, elbow each other in this strange palace. Our austerity revolts and our frivolity is amused at the circumstance; but Catholics of the south are not at all surprised at it. Their mode of worship has retained something of the antique gaiety. For the common people of Naples, Christmas is a festival of eels, Easter a revel of casatelli; they eat zeppole to honor Saint Joseph; and the greatest proof of affliction that can be given to the dying Saviour is not to eat meat. Beneath the sky of Italy dogmas may change, but the religion will always be the same—sensual and vivid, impassioned and prone to excess, essentially and eternally Pagan, above all adoring woman, Venus or Mary, and the bambino, that mystic Cupid whom the poets called the first love. Catholicism and Paganism, theories and mysteries; if there be two religions, they are that of the south and that of the north.
You have just explored the whole eastern part of the Forum. Pass now in front of the temple of Jupiter and reach the western part. In descending from north to south, the first monument that strikes your attention is a rather long portico, turned on the east toward the Forum. Different observers have fancied that they discovered in it a poecile, a museum, a divan, a club, a granary for corn; and all these opinions are equally good.
Behind the poecile open small chambers, of which some are vaulted. Skeletons were found in them, and the inference was that they were prisons. Lower down extends along the Forum the lateral wall of the temple of Venus. In this wall is hollowed a small square niche in which there rose, at about a yard in height from the soil, a sort of table of tufa, indented with regular cavities, which are ranged in the order of their capacity; these were the public measures. An inscription gives us the names of the duumvirs who had gauged them by order of the decurions. As M. Breton has well remarked, they were the standards of measurement. Of these five cavities, the two smallest were destined for liquids, and we still see the holes through which those liquids flowed off when they had been measured. The table of tufa has been taken to the museum, and in its place has been substituted a rough imitation, which gives a sufficient idea of this curious monument.
The temple of Venus is entered from the neighboring street which we have already traversed. The ruin is a fine one—the finest, perhaps, in Pompeii; a spacious inclosure, or peribolus, framing a portico of forty-eight columns, of which many are still standing, and the portico itself surrounding the podium, where rose the temple—properly speaking, the house of the goddess. In front of the entrance, at the foot of the steps that ascend to the podium, rises the altar, poorly calculated for living sacrifices and seemingly destined for simple offerings of fruit, cakes, and incense, which were consecrated to Venus. Besides the form of the altar, an inscription found there and a statue of the goddess, whose modest attitude recalls the masterpiece of Florence, sufficiently authorize the name, in the absence of more exact information, that has been given to this edifice. Others, however, have attributed it to the worship of Bacchus; others again to that of Diana, and the question has not yet been settled by the savans; but Venus being the patroness of Pompeii, deserved the handsomest temple in the little city.
The columns of the peribolus or inclosure bear the traces of some bungling repairs made between the earthquake of 63 and the eruption of 79. They were Doric, but the attempt was to render them Corinthian, and, to this end, they were covered with stucco and topped with capitals that are not becoming to them. Against one of these columns still leans a statue in the form of a Hermes. Around the court is cut a small kennel to carry off the rain water, which was then caught in reservoirs. The wall along the Forum was gaily decorated with handsome paintings; one of these, probably on wood, was burned in the eruption, and the vacant place where it belonged is visible. Behind the temple open rooms formerly intended for the priests; handsome paintings were found there, also—- among them a Bacchus, resting his elbow on the shoulder of old Silenus, who is playing the lyre. Absorbed in this music, he forgets the wine in his goblet, and lets it fall out upon a panther crouching at his feet.
We now have only to visit the temple itself, the house of the goddess. The steps that scaled the basement story were thirteen—an odd number—so that in ascending the first step with the right foot, the level of the sanctuary was also reached with the right foot. The temple was peripterous, that is to say, entirely surrounded with open columns with Corinthian capitals. The portico opened broadly, and a mosaic of marbles, pleasingly adjusted, formed the pavement of the cella, of which the painted walls represented simple panels, separated here and there by plain pilasters. Our Lady of Pompeii dwelt there.
The last monument of the Forum on the south-west side is the Basilica; and the street by which we have entered separates it from the temple of Venus. The construction of the edifice leaves no doubt as to its destination, which is, moreover, confirmed by the word Basilica or Basilaca, scratched here and there by loungers with the points of their knives, on the wall. Basilica—derived from a Greek word which signifies king—might be translated with sufficient exactness by royal court. At Rome, these edifices were originally mere covered market-places sheltered from the rain and the sun. At a later period, colonnades divided them in three, sometimes even into five naves, and the simple niche which, intended for the judges' bench, was hollowed out at the foot of its monuments, finally developed into a vaulted semicircle. At last, the early Christians finding themselves crowded in the old temples, chose the high courts of justice to therein celebrate the worship of the new God, and the Roman Basilica imposed its architecture and its proportions upon the Catholic Cathedral. In the semicircle, then, where once the ancient magistracy held its justice seat, arose the high altar and the consecrated image of the crucified Saviour.
The Basilica of Pompeii presents to the Forum six pillars, between which five portals slid along grooves which are still visible. A vestibule, or sort of chalcidicum extends between these five entrances and five others, indicated by two columns and four pillars. The vestibule once crossed, the edifice appears in its truly Roman grandeur; at first glance the eye reconstructs the broad brick columns, regularly truncated in shape (they might be considered unfinished), which are still erect on their bases and which, crowned with Ionic volutes, were to form a monumental portico along the four sides of this majestic area paved with marble. Half columns fixed in the lateral walls supported the gallery; they joined each other in the angles; the middle space must have been uncovered. Fragments of statues and even of mounted figures proclaim the magnificence of this monument, at the extremity of which there rose, at the height of some six feet above the soil, a tribune adorned with half a dozen Corinthian columns and probably destined for the use of the duumvirs. The middle columns stood more widely apart in order that the magistrates might, from their seats, command a view of the entire Basilica. Under this tribune was concealed a mysterious cellar with barred windows. Some antiquaries affirm that there was the place where prisoners were tortured. They forget that in Rome, in the antique time, cases were adjudged publicly before the free people.
Some of the walls of the Basilica were covered with graphites, that is to say, with inscriptions scratched with the point of a nail or of a knife by loungers on the way. I do not here copy the thousand and one insignificant inscriptions which I find in my rambles. They would teach us nothing but the names of the Pompeian magistrates who had constructed or reconstructed this or that monument or such-and-such a portion of an edifice with the public money. But the graphites of the Basilica merit a moment's attention. Sometimes, these are verses of Ovid or of Virgil or Propertius (never of Horace, singular to say), and frequently with curious variations. Thus, for example:
"Quid pote durum Saxso aut quid mollius unda? Dura tamen molli Saxsa cavantur aqua." (Ovid.)
Notice the s in the saxo and the quid pote instead of quid magis; it is a Greekism.
Elsewhere were written these two lines:
"Quisquis amator erit Scythiae licet ambulet oris: Nemo adeo ut feriat barbarus esse volet."
Propertius had put this distich in an elegy in which he narrated a nocturnal promenade between Rome and Tibur. Observe the word Scythiae instead of Scythicis, and especially, feriat, which is the true reading,—the printed texts say noceat. Thus an excellent correction has been preserved for us by Vesuvius.
Here are other lines, the origin of which is unknown:
"Scribenti mi dictat Amor, monstrat que Cupido Ah peream, sine te si Deus esse velim!"
How many modern poets have uttered the same exclamation! They little dreamed that a Pompeian, a slave no doubt, had, eighteen centuries before their time, scratched, it with a nail upon the wall of a basilica. Here is a sentence that mentions gold. It has been carried out by the English poet, Wordsworth:
"Minimum malum fit contemnendo maximum, Quod, crede mi, non contemnendo, erit minus."
Let us copy also this singular truth thrown into rhyme by some gourmand who had counted without his host:
"Quoi perna cocta est, si convivae adponitur, Non gustat pernam, lingit ollam aut caccabum."
This quoi is for cui; the caccabus was the kettle in which the fowl was cooked.
Here follows some wholesome advice for the health of lovers:
"Quisquis amat calidis noil debet fontibus uti: Nam nemo flammis ustus amare potest."
I should never get through were I to quote them all. But how many short phrases there are that, scratched here and there, cause this old monument to spring up again, by revealing the thoughts and fancies of the loungers and passers-by who peopled it so many years ago.
A lover had written this:
"Nemo est bellus nisi qui amavit."
"Vale, Messala, fac me ames."
A superlative wag, but incorrect withal:
"Cosmus nequitiae est magnussimae."
A learned man, or a philosopher:
"Non est exsilium ex patria sapientibus."
A complaining suitor:
"Sara non belle facis. Solum me relinquis, Debilis...."
A wrangler and disputant threatening the other party with a law-suit:
"Somius Corneilio (Cornelio) jus pendre (perendie?)"
A sceptic who cherishes no illusions as to the mode of administering justice:
"Quod pretium legi?"
A censor, perhaps a Christian, who knew the words addressed by the Jews to the blind man who was cured:
"Pyrrhus Getae conlegae salutem. Moleste fero quod audivi te mortuom (sic). Itaque vale."
A jovial wine bibber:
"Suavis vinari sitit, rogo vas valde sitit."[B]
"Zetema mulier ferebat filium simulem sui nec meus erat, nec mi simulat; sed vellem esset meus, et ego volebam ut meus esset."
"Amianthus, Epaphra, Tertius ludant cum Hedysio, Incundus Nolanus petat, numeret Citus et Stacus Amianthus."
Wordsworth remarks that these two names, Tertius and Epaphras, are found in the epistles of St. Paul. Epaphras (in Latin, Epaphra; the suppressed letter s shows that this Pompeian was merely a slave) is very often named on the walls of the little city; he is accused, moreover, of being beardless or destitute of hair (Epaphra glaber est), and of knowing nothing about tennis. (Epaphra pilicrepus non es). This inscription was found all scratched over, probably by the hand of Epaphras himself, who had his own feelings of pride as a fine player.
Thus it is that the stones of Pompeii are full of revelations with reference to its people. The Basilica is easy to reconstruct and provide with living occupants. Yonder duumviri, up between the Corinthian columns; in front of them the accused; here the crowd; lovers confiding their secrets to the wall; thinkers scribbling their maxims on them; wags getting off their witticisms in the same style; the slaves, in fine, the poor, announcing to the most remote posterity that they had, at least, the game of tennis to console them for their abject condition! Still three small apartments the extremity of which rounded off into semicircles (probably inferior tribunes where subordinate magistrates, such as commissioners or justices of the peace, had their seats); then the school of Verna, cruelly dilapidated; finally a small triumphal arch on which there stood, perhaps, a quadriga, or four-yoked chariot-team; some pedestals of statues erected to illustrious Pompeians, to Pansa, to Sallust, to Marcus Lucretius, Decidamius Rufus; some inscriptions in honor of this one or that one, of the great Romulus, of the aged AEneas,—when all these have been seen, or glanced at, at least, you will have made the tour of the Forum.
You now know what the public exchange was in a Roman city; a spacious court surrounded by the most important monuments (three temples, the bourse, the tribunals, the prisons, etc.), inclosed on all sides (traces of the barred gates are still discernible at the entrances), adorned with statues, triumphal arches, and colonnades; a centre of business and pleasure; a place for sauntering and keeping appointments; the Corso, the Boulevard of ancient times, or in other words, the heart of the city. Without any great effort of the imagination, all this scene revives again and becomes filled with a living, variegated throng,—the portico and its two stories of columns along the edge of the reconstructed monuments; women crowd the upper galleries; loiterers drag their feet along the pavement; the long robes gather in harmonious folds; busy merchants hurry to the Chalcidicum; the statues look proudly down from their re-peopled pedestals; the noble language of the Romans resounds on all sides in scanned, sonorous measure; and the temple of Jupiter, seated at the end of the vista, as on a throne, and richly adorned with Corinthian elegance, glitters in all its splendor in the broad sunshine.
An air of pomp and grandeur—a breath of Rome—has swept over this collection of public edifices. Let us descend from these heights and walk about through the little city.
[Footnote B: For sitiat.]
THE PLAN OF POMPEII.—THE PRINCELY NAMES OF THE HOUSES.—APPEARANCE OF THE STREETS, PAVEMENTS, SIDEWALKS, ETC.—THE SHOPS AND THE SIGNS.—THE PERFUMER, THE SURGEON, ETC.—AN ANCIENT MANUFACTORY.—BATHING ESTABLISHMENTS.—WINE-SHOPS, DISREPUTABLE RESORTS.—HANGING BALCONIES, FOUNTAINS.—PUBLIC PLACARDS: LET US NOMINATE BATTUR! COMMIT NO NUISANCE!—RELIGION ON THE STREET.
You have no need of me for this excursion. Cast a glance at the plan, and you will be able to find your own way. You will there see an oval inclosure, a wall pierced with several entrances designated by the names of the roads which ran from them, or rather of the cities at which these roads terminated—Herculaneum, Nola, Stabiae, etc. Two-thirds of the egg are still immaculate; you discover a black spot only on the extreme right, marking out the Amphitheatre. All this white space shows you the part of Pompeii that has not yet been designated. It is a hillside covered with vineyards, gardens, and orchards. It is only on the left that you will find the lines marking the streets, the houses, the monuments, and the public squares. The text gives us the fancied names attributed to the streets, namely: the Street of Abundance, the Street of Twelve Gods, the Street of Mercury, the Street of Fortune, the Street of Fortunata, Modest Street, etc. The names given to the houses are still more arbitrary. Most of them were christened, under the old system, by the august or illustrious personages before whom they were dug out for the first time. Thus, we have at Pompeii the house of Francis II., that of Championnet, that of Joseph II.; those of the Queen of England, the King of Prussia, the Grand Duke of Tuscany; that of the Emperor, and those of the Empress and of the Princes of Russia; that of Goethe, of the Duchess de Berry, of the Duke d'Aumale—I skip them by scores. The whole Gotha Almanac might there be passed in review. This determined, ramble through the streets at will, without troubling yourself about their names, as these change often at the caprice of antiquaries and their guides.
The narrowness of these streets will surprise you; and if you come hither to look for a Broadway, you had better have remained at home. What we call great arteries of traffic were unknown to the Pompeians, who cut only small paved paths between their houses—for the sake of health, they said. We entertain different views of this question of salubrity.
The greatest width of a Pompeian street is seven yards, and there are some which are comprised, sidewalks and all, within a space of two yards and a half. These sidewalks are raised, very narrow, and paved very variously, according to the wealth or the fancy of the proprietors, who had to keep them in good order. Here are handsome stone flags; further on merely the soil beaten down; in front of the next house are marble slabs, and here and there patches of opus signinum, a sort of rudimentary mosaic, to which we shall refer further on. These sidewalks were intersected with curbstones, often pierced with holes—in front of shops, for instance—perhaps for tethering the cows and donkeys of the peasants who every morning brought the citizens milk or baskets of vegetables to their own doors. Between the sidewalks was hollowed out the street, paved with coarse blocks of lava which time has not worn down. When Pansa went to the dwelling of Paratus his sandals trod the same stones that now receive the impress of our boots. On rainy days this street must have been the bed of a torrent, as the alleys and by-ways of Naples are still; hence, one, sometimes three, thicker blocks were placed so as to enable foot passengers to cross with dry feet. These small fording blocks must have made it difficult for vehicles to get by; hence, the ruts that are still found traceable on the pavement are the marks of wagons drawn slowly by oxen, and not of those light chariots which romance-writers launch forth so briskly in the ancient city. Moreover, it has been ascertained that the Pompeians went afoot; only the quality had themselves drawn about in chariots in the country. Where could room have been found for stables and carriage-houses in those dwellings scarcely larger than your hat? It was in the suburbs only, in the outskirts of the city, that the dimensions of the residences rendered anything of the kind possible. Let us, then, obliterate these chariots from our imagination, if we wish to see the streets of Pompeii as they really were.
After a shower, the rain water descended, little by little, into the gutters, and from the latter, by holes still visible, into a subterranean conduit that carried it outside of the city. One of these conduits is still open in the Street of Stabiae, not far from the temple of Isis.
As to the general aspect of these ancient thoroughfares, it would seem dull enough, were we to represent the scene to our fancy with the houses closed, the windows gone, the dwellings with merely a naked wall for a front, and receiving air and light only from the two courts. But it was not so, as everything goes to prove. In the first place, the shops looked out on the street and were, indeed almost entirely open, like our own, offering to the gaze of the passers-by a broad counter, leaving only a small space free to the left or the right to let the vendors pass in and out. In these counters, which were usually covered with a marble slab, were hollowed the cavities wherein the grocers and liquor-dealers kept their eatables and drinkables. Behind the counters and along the walls were stone shelves, upon which the stock was put away. Festoons of edibles hung displayed from pillar to pillar; stuffs, probably, adorned the fronts, and the customers, who made their purchases from the sidewalk, must have everywhere formed noisy and very animated groups. The native of the south gesticulates a great deal, likes to chaffer, discusses with vehemence, and speaks loudly and quickly with a glib tongue and a sonorous voice. Just take a look at him in the lower quarters of Naples, which, in more than one point of view, recall the narrow streets of Pompeii.
These shops are now dismantled. Nothing of them remains but the empty counters, and here and there the grooves in which the doors slid to and fro. These doors themselves were but a number of shutters fitting into each other. But the paintings or carvings which still exist upon some side pillars are old signs that inform us what was sold on the adjoining counter. Thus, a goat in terra cotta indicated a milk-depot; a mill turned by an ass showed where there was a miller's establishment; two men, walking one ahead of the other and each carrying one end of a stick, to the middle of which an amphora is suspended, betray the neighborhood of a wine-merchant. Upon other pillars are marked other articles not so readily understood,—here an anchor, there a ship, and in another place a checker-board. Did they understand the game of Palamedes at Pompeii? A shop near the Thermae, or public warm baths, is adorned on its front with a representation of a gladiatorial combat. The author of the painting thought something of his work, which he protected with this inscription: "Abiat (habeat) Venerem Pompeianam iradam (iratam) qui hoc laeserit! (May he who injures this picture have the wrath of the Pompeian Venus upon him!)"
Other shops have had their story written by the articles that they contained when they were found. Thus, when there were discovered in a suite of rooms opening on the Street of Herculaneum, certain levers one of which ended in the foot of a pig, along with hammers, pincers, iron rings, a wagon-spring, the felloe of a wheel, one could say without being too bold that there had been the shop of a wagon-maker or blacksmith. The forge occupied only one apartment, behind which opened a bath-room and a store-room. Not far from there a pottery is indicated by a very curious oven, the vault of which is formed of hollow tubes of baked clay, inserted one within the other. Elsewhere was discovered the shop of the barber who washed, brushed, shaved, clipped, combed and perfumed the Pompeians living near the Forum. The benches of masonry are still seen where the customers sat. As for the dealers in soap, unguents, and essences, they must have been numerous; their products supplied not only the toilet of the ladies, but the religious or funeral ceremonies, and after having perfumed the living, they embalmed the dead. Besides the shops in which the excavators have come suddenly upon a stock of fatty and pasty substances, which, perhaps, were soaps, we might mention one, on the pillar of which three paintings, now effaced, represented a sacrificial attendant leading a bull to the altar, four men bearing an enormous chest around which were suspended several vases; then a body washed and anointed for embalming. Do you understand this mournful-looking sign? The unguent dealer, as he was called, thus made up the body and publicly placarded it.
From the perfumery man to the chemist is but a step. The shop of the latter tradesman was found—so it is believed, at all events in clearing out a triple furnace with walled boilers. Two pharmacies or drug-stores, one in the Street of Herculaneum, the other fronting the Chalcidicum, have been more exactly designated not only by a sign on which there was seen a serpent (one of the symbols of AEsculapius) eating a pineapple, but by tablets, pills, jars, and vials containing dried-up liquids, and a bronze medicine chest divided into compartments which must have contained drugs. A groove for the spatula had been ingeniously constructed in this curious little piece of furniture.
Not far from the apothecary lived the doctor, who was an apothecary himself and a surgeon besides, and it was in his place that were discovered the celebrated instruments of surgery which are at the museum, and which have raised such stormy debates between Dr. Purgon and Dr. Pancratius. The first, being a doctor, deemed himself competent to give an account of these instruments, whereat the second, being an antiquary, became greatly irritated, seeing that the faculty, in his opinion, has nothing to do with archaeology. However that may be, the articles are at the museum, and everybody can look at them. There is a forceps, to pull teeth with, as some affirm; to catch and compress arteries, as others declare; there is a specillum of bronze, a probe rounded in the form of an S; there are lancets, pincers, spatulas, hooks, a trident, needles of all kinds, incision knives, cauteries, cupping-glasses—I don't know what not—fully three hundred different articles, at all events. This rich collection proves that the ancients were quite skilful in surgery and had invented many instruments thought to be modern. This is all that it is worth our while to know. For more ample information, examine the volume entitled Memoires de l'Academie d'Herculaneum.
Other shops (that of the color merchant, that of the goldsmith, the sculptor's atelier, etc.) have revealed to us some of the processes of the ancient artists. We know, for instance, that those of Pompeii employed mineral substances almost exclusively in the preparation of their colors; among them chalk, ochre, cinnabar, minium, etc. The vegetable kingdom furnished them nothing but lamp-black, and the animal kingdom their purple. The colors mixed with rosin have occasioned the belief that encaustic was the process used by the ancients in their mural paintings, an opinion keenly combatted by other hypotheses, themselves no less open to discussion; into this debate it is not our part to enter. However the case may be, the color dealer's family was fearfully decimated by the eruption, for fourteen skeletons were found in his shop.
As for the sculptor, he was very busy at the time of the catastrophe; quite a number of statues were found in his place blocked out or unfinished, and with them were instruments of his profession, such as scissors, punchers, files, etc. All of these are at the museum in Naples.
There were artists, then, in Pompeii, but above all, there were artisans. The fullers so often mentioned by the inscriptions must have been the most numerous; they formed a respectable corporation. Their factory has been discovered. It is a peristyle surrounded with rooms, some of which served for shops and others for dwellings. A painted inscription on the street side announces that the dyers (offectores) vote for Posthumus Proculus. These offectores were those who retinted woollen goods. Those who did the first dyeing were called the infectores. Infectores qui alienum colorem in lanam conficiunt, offectores qui proprio colori novum officiunt. In the workshop there were four large basins, one above the other; the water descended from the first to the next one and so on down to the last, there being a fifth sunken in the ground. Along the four basins ran a platform, at the end of which were ranged six or seven smaller basins, or vats, in which the stuffs were piled up and fulled. At the other extremity of the court, a small marble reservoir served, probably, as a washing vat for the workmen. But the most curious objects among the ruins were the paintings, now transferred to the museum at Naples, which adorned one of the pillars of the court. There a workman could be very distinctly seen dressing, with a sort of brush or card, a piece of white stuff edged with red, while another is coming toward him, bearing on his head one of those large osier cages or frames on which the girls of that region still spread their clothes to dry. These cages resemble the bell-shaped steel contrivances which our ladies pass under their skirts. Thus, in the Neapolitan dialect, both articles are called drying-horses (asciutta-panni). Upon the drying-horse of the Pompeian picture perches the bird of Minerva, the protectress of the fullers and the goddess of labor. To the left of the workmen, a young girl is handing some stuffs to a youthful, richly-dressed lady, probably a customer, seated near by. Another painting represents workmen dressing and fulling all sorts of tissues, with their hands and feet in tubs or vats exactly like the small basins which we saw in the court. A third painting shows the mistress of the house giving orders to her slaves; and the fourth represents a fulling press which might be deemed modern, so greatly does it resemble those still employed in our day. The importance of this edifice, now so stripped and dilapidated, confirms what writers have told us of the Pompeian fullers and their once-celebrated branch of trade.
However, most of the shops the use of which has not been precisely designated, were places where provisions of different kinds were kept and sold. The oil merchant in the street leading to the Odeon was especially noticeable among them all for the beauty of his counter, which was covered with a slab of cipollino and gray marble, encrusted, on the outside, with a round slab of porphyry between two rosettes. Eight earthenware vases still containing olives[C] and coagulated oil were found in the establishment of this stylish grocer.
The bathing concerns were also very numerous. They were the coffee-houses of the ancient day. Hot drinks were sold there, boiled and perfumed wine, and all sorts of mixtures, which must have been detestable, but for which the ancients seem to have had a special fancy. "A thousand and a thousand times more respectable than the wine-shops of our day, these bathing-houses of ages gone by, where men did not assemble to shamefully squander their means and their existence while gorging themselves with wine, but where they came together to amuse themselves in a decent manner, and to drink warm water without risk."... Le Sage, who wrote the foregoing sentence, was not accurately informed. The liquors sold at the Pompeian bathing-houses were very strong, and, in more than one place where the points of the amphorae rested, they have left yellow marks on the pavement. Vinegar has been detected in most of these drinks. In the tavern of Fortunata, the marble of the counter is still stained with the traces of the ancient goblets.
Bakeries were not lacking in Pompeii. The most complete one is in the Street of Herculaneum, where it fills a whole house, the inner court of which is occupied with four mills. Nothing could be more crude and elementary than those mills. Imagine two huge blocks of stone representing two cones, of which the upper one is overset upon the other, giving every mill the appearance of an hour-glass. The lower stone remained motionless, and the other revolved by means of an apparatus kept in motion by a man or a donkey. The grain was crushed between the two stones in the old patriarchal style. The poor ass condemned to do this work must have been a very patient animal; but what shall we say of the slaves often called in to fill his place? For those poor wretches it was usually a punishment, as their eyes were put out and then they were sent to the mill. This was the menace held over their heads when they misbehaved. For others it was a very simple piece of service which more than one man of mind performed—Plautus, they say, and Terence. To some again, it was, at a later period, a method of paying for their vices; when the millers lacked hands they established bathing-houses around their mills, and the passers-by who were caught in the trap had to work the machinery.
Let us hasten to add that the work of the mill which we visited was not performed by a Christian, as they would say at Naples, but by a mule, whose bones were found in a neighboring room, most likely a stable, the racks and troughs of which were elevated about two and a half feet above the floor. In a closet near by, the watering trough is still visible. Then again, religion, which everywhere entered into the ancient manners and customs of Italy, as it does into the new, reveals itself in the paintings of the pistrinum; we there see the sacrifices to Fornax, the patroness of ovens and the saint of kitchens.
But let us return to our mills. Mills driven by the wind were unknown to the ancients, and water-mills did not exist in Pompeii, owing to the lack of running water. Hence these mills put in motion by manual labor—the old system employed away back in the days of Homer. On the other hand, the institution of complete baking as a trade, with all its dependent processes, did not date so far back. The primitive Romans made their bread in their own houses. Rome was already nearly five hundred years old when the first bakers established stationary mills, to which the proprietors sent their grain, as they still do in the Neapolitan provinces; in return they got loaves of bread; that is to say, their material ground, kneaded, and baked. The Pompeian establishment that we visited was one of these complete bakeries.
We could still recognize the troughs that served for the manipulation of the bread, and the oven, the arch of which is intact, with the cavity that retained the ashes, the vase for water to besprinkle the crust and make it shiny, and, finally, the triple-flued pipe that carried off the smoke—an excellent system revealed by the Pompeian excavations and successfully imitated since then. The bake-oven opened upon two small rooms by two apertures. The loaves went in at one of these in dough, and came out at the other, baked. The whole thing is in such a perfect state of preservation that one might be tempted to employ these old bricks, that have not been used for eighteen centuries, for the same purpose. The very loaves have survived. In the bakery of which I speak several were found with the stamps upon them, siligo grani (wheat flour), or e cicera (of bean flour)—a wise precaution against the bad faith of the dealers. Still more recently, in the latest excavations, Signor Fiorelli came across an oven so hermetically sealed that there was not a particle of ashes in it, and there were eighty-one loaves, a little sad, to be sure, but whole, hard, and black, found in the order in which they had been placed on the 23d of November, 79. Enchanted with this windfall, Fiorelli himself climbed into the oven and took out the precious relics with his own hands. Most of the loaves weigh about a pound; the heaviest twelve hundred and four grains. They are round, depressed in the centre, raised on the edges, and divided into eight lobes. Loaves are still made in Sicily exactly like them. Professor de Luca weighed and analyzed them minutely, and gave the result in a letter addressed to the French Academy of Sciences. Let us now imagine all these salesrooms, all these shops, open and stocked with goods, and then the display, the purchasers, the passers-by, the bustle and noise peculiar to the south, and the street will no longer seem so dead. Let us add that the doors of the houses were closed only in the evening; the promenaders and loungers could then peep, as they went along, into every alley, and make merry at the bright adornments of the atrium. Nor is this all. The upper stories, although now crumbled to dust, were in communication with the street. Windows opened discreetly, which must, here and there, have been the framework of some brown head and countenance anxious to see and to be seen. The latest excavations have revealed the existence of hanging covered balconies, long exterior corridors, pierced with casements, frequently depicted in the paintings. There the fair Pompeian could have taken her station in order to participate in the life outside. The good housewife of those times, like her counterpart in our day, could there have held out her basket to the street-merchant who went wandering about with his portable shop; and more than one handsome girl may at the same post have carried her fingers to her lips, there to cull (the ancient custom) the kiss that she flung to the young Pompeian concealed down yonder in the corner of the wall. Thus re-peopled, the old-time street, narrow as it is, was gayer than our own thoroughfares; and the brightly-painted houses, the variegated walls, the monuments, and the fountains, gave vivid animation to a picture too dazzling for our gaze.
These fountains, which were very simple, consisted of large square basins formed of five stone slabs, one for the bottom and four for the sides, fastened together with iron braces. The water fell into them from fonts more or less ornamental and usually representing the muzzle of some animal—lions' heads, masks, an eagle holding a hare in his beak, with the stream flowing into a receptacle from the hare's mouth. One of these fountains is surrounded with an iron railing to prevent passers-by from falling into it. Another is flanked by a capacious vaulted reservoir (castellum) and closed with a door. Those who have seen Rome know how important the ancients considered the water that they brought from a distance by means of the enormous aqueducts, the ruins of which still mark all the old territories of the empire. Water, abundant and limpid, ran everywhere, and was never deficient in the Roman cities. Still it has not been discovered how the supply was obtained for Pompeii, destitute of springs as that city was, and, at the same time, elevated above the river, and receiving nothing in its cisterns but the rain-water so scantily shed beneath the relentless serenity of that southern sky. The numberless conduits found, of lead, masonry, and earthenware, and above all, the spouting fountains that leaped and sparkled in the courtyards of the wealthy houses, have led us to suppose the existence of an aqueduct, no longer visible, that supplied all this part of Campania with water.
Besides these fountains, placards and posters enlivened the streets; the walls were covered with them, and, in sundry places, whitewashed patches of masonry served for the announcements so lavishly made public. These panels, dedicated entirely to the poster business, were called albums. Anybody and everybody had the right to paint thereon in delicate and slender red letters all the advertisements which now-a-days we print on the last, and even on many other pages of our newspapers. Nothing is more curious than these inscriptions, which disclose to us all the subjects engaging the attention of the little city; not only its excitements, but its language, ancient and modern, collegiate and common—the Oscan, the Greek, the Latin, and the local dialect. Were we learned, or anxious to appear so, we could, with the works of the really erudite (Fiorelli, Garrucci, Mommsen, etc.), to help us, have compiled a chapter of absolutely appalling science in reference to the epigraphic monuments of Pompeii. We could demonstrate by what gradations the Oscan language—that of the Pompeian autonomy—yielded little by little to the Roman language, which was that of the unity of the state; and to what extent Pompeii, which never was a Greek city, employed the sacred idiom of the divine Plato. We might even add some observations relative to the accent and the dialect of the Pompeians, who pronounced Latin as the Neapolitans pronounce Tuscan and with singularly analogous alterations. But what you are looking for here, hurried reader, is not erudition, but living movement. Choose then, in these inscriptions, those that teach us something relative to the manners and customs of this dead people—dead and buried, but afterward exhumed.
The most of these announcements are but the proclamations of candidates for office. Pompeii was evidently swallowed up at the period of the elections. Sometimes it is an elector, sometimes a group of citizens, then again a corporation of artisans or tradesmen, who are recommending for the office of aedile or duumvir the candidate whom they prefer. Thus, Paratus nominates Pansa, Philippus prefers Caius Aprasius Felix; Valentinus, with his pupils, chooses Sabinus and Rufus. Sometimes the elector is in a hurry; he asks to have his candidate elected quickly. The fruiterers, the public porters, the muleteers, the salt-makers, the carpenters, the truckmen, also unite to push forward the aedile who has their confidence. Frequently, in order to give more weight to its vote, the corporation declares itself unanimous. Thus, all the goldsmiths preferred a certain Photinus—a fishmonger, thinks Overbeck—for aedile. Let us not forget the sleepers, who declare for Vatia. By the way, who were these friends of sleep? Perhaps they were citizens who disliked noise; perhaps, too, some association of nocturnal revellers thus disguised under an ironical and reassuring title. Sometimes the candidate is recommended by a eulogistic epithet indicated by seals, a style of abbreviation much in use among the ancients. The person recommended is always a good man, a man of probity, an excellent citizen, a very moral individual. Sometimes positive wonders are promised on his behalf. Thus, after having designated Julius Polybius for the aedileship, an elector announces that he will bring in good bread. Electoral intrigue went still further. We are pretty well on in that respect, but I think that the ancients were our masters. I read the following bare-faced avowal on a wall: Sabinum aedilem, Procule, fac et ille te faciet. (Make Sabinus aedile, O Proculus, and he may make thee such!) Frank and cool that, it strikes me!
But enough of elections; there is no lack of announcements of another character. Some of these give us the programme of the shows in the amphitheatre; such-and-such a troop of gladiators will fight on such a day; there will be hunting matches and awnings, as well as sprinklings of perfumed waters to refresh the multitude (venatio, vela, sparsiones). Thirty couples of gladiators will ensanguine the arena.