Page images

of Syracuse, though D’Orville thinks it was a tomb. It confifts of a pedeftal, nine feet square, built with seven courses of stones. It has the zocle entire, and faint traces, of the cornice. Upon this was placed a round building, of which eight courses of the stone-work remain, but much thaken.

After four miles riding from the Agulia, the travellers came to a ridge of high rocks that stretch from east to welt, and entirely shut up the plain. On the summit are the ruins of the walls with which the ancient city of Syracuse was surrounded. An ascent is cut through the rock, at a place called Scala Grecà, where the tower that was surprised by the Romans is supposed to have itood.

From this station the traveller had a full view of Syracuse and its environs. The ancient city was of a triangular form, and its circuit, according to Strabo, amounted to a hundred and eighty ftadia, or twenty-two English miles, and four furlongs. Our author at first suspected this account to be exaggerated, but, after spending two days in tracing the ruins, and making reasonable allowances for the encroachments of the sea, he was convinced of the exactness of the ineasurement. About eighteen thousand inhabitants are now contained in it. In respect of the dwellings, they are far from being proportioned to the archite&ture or opulence of ancient Syracuse. The cathedral, now dedicated to our Lady of the Pillar, was the temple of Minerva, on the summit of which was fixed her ftatue, holding a broad refulgent shield. The church is made out of the old building; the walls of the cella are thrown down, and only as much left in pillars as is necessary to support the roof. This temple is built in the old Doric proportions; its exterior dimensions are a hundred and eighty-five feet in length, and seventy-five in breadth. The columns taper, have twenty flutings, and measure at the base fix feet five inches; their height, including the capital, and a small focle initead of base, is thirty-two feet nine inches. There are also some remains of Diana's temple, but not remarkable.

Near the quay is a large pool of water, defended from the sea by a wall, and almost hidden by houses on every other fide. The water is not salt, but brackish, and fit for no pure pose but washing linen. This is the celebrated fountain of Are. thusa, the paramour of the faithful Alpheus.

One of the memorials of ancieni Syracuse is the catacombs. At stated distances our author came to large circular rooms lined with stucco, and pierced at top to admit light and air. On each side of the walls are recesses cut into the rock, and in the door of those cavities coffins of all fizes have been hollowed Vol. LX. C&. 1785.



out, some even so small as to be fit for bothing but the reception of a cat or a lap dog. In some places there are twenty troughs, one behind another ; skeletons have often been found in them, with a piece of money in their mouths, Mr. Swinburne informs us that he saw a gold can of the time of Icates, that was just taken out of the jaws of a body found in one of the tombs.

The traveller now ascended the hill to a convent of Capuchin friars, the gardens belonging to which are remarkable. They are in some measure subterraneoas, being contained in the areas of immense excavations, made by cutting stone for the ancient city.

In the part of Syracuse anciently called Tycha, the outermost wall, erected by Dionysius the Elder, is visible, without interruption, for fome miles, following all the finuofities of the hill from Scala Græca, through which the traveller entered this ancient inclosure. At a small distance he came to a fecond gate, of which a great part yet remains. He thence traced a street by the marks of wheels deeply worn in the rock, and by the holes in the middle where the beafts that drew the carriages placed their feet. • This indicates, says Mr. Swinburne, that vehicles in common ufe were drawn by horses yoked one before, another.' Upon the supposition that more than one horse was employed in the vehicles, the inference is doubtless conclufive.

At the promontory of Epipolæ our author discovered the traces of a high road. Here, he thinks, stood that part of the wall that had fix doors in it, and was called Hexapylum. A little farther the hill grows contracted, and almost covered with the ruins of a fortress, probably Eurialus. On the south fide of the city, parallel with its ruins, suns a stream brought from Monte Crimiti in fubterraneous channels. It was thus kept out of sight till it entered the walls, left an enemy should discover it, and cut off the supply.

On the kirts of Neapolis, a part of ancient Syracuse, is the extraordinary spot known by the name of the large Latomiæ, which our author thus describes.

• It consists of a very spacious court, or area, round which runs a wall of rock of great height, so artfully cut as to cause the upper part to project very visibly out of the perpendicular line, and thereby defeat every attempt to climb up. Near the fummit of the rock is a channel which conveys part of the waters of the aqueduct to the city, and can with ease at any time be stopped and turned into the latomiæ. In the centre of the court is a shuge insulated stone, and upon it the ruins of a guard-house; vast caverns penetrate into the heart of the rocks,


[ocr errors]

and serve for faltpetre works and roperies; but the excavation that appears molt worthy of our notice, and gives name to the whole place, is that in the north-west corner, called the Ear of Dionyfius. It is eighteen feet wide and fifty-eight high, and runs into the heart of the hill, in the form of a capital S; the fides are chifleled very smooth, and the roof coved, gradually narrowing almost to as sharp a point as a Gothic arch ; along this point runs a groove, or channel, which served, as is fupposed, to collect the sounds that role from the speakers below, and convey them to a pipe in a small double ceil above, where they were heard with the greatest distinctness; but this hearingplace having been too much opened and altered has lost its virtue, as those who have been let down from the top by å rope have found. There is a recels like a chamber about the middle of the cave, and the bottom of the grotto is rounded off. It is impossible, after an attentive survey of this place, to enteri tain a doubt of its having been constructed intentionally for a prifon, and a listening place. Rings are cut out of the angles of the walls, where no doubt the more obnoxious criminals were fastened: the eccho at the mouth of the grotto is very loud; the tearing of a piece of paper made as great a noise as a smart blow of a'cudgel on a board would have done ; a gun gave a report like thunder that vibrated for some seconds, but, farther in, these extraordinary effects ceased. I have read in a Sicilian author of the last century, that an eminent musician čomposed a canon for two voices, which when sung in this cavern, appeared to be performed by four.'

The diocese of Syracuse produces above forty different forts of wine. The honey of the hills is as clear as amber, and of a most delicious flavour. , Vegetables are admirable in their kinds, especially broccoli, which grows to a prodigious fize.

"?rom Syracuse the traveller directed his route by Catania to Mount Etna. After afcending to a great height, his guide pronounced all farther progress impracticable, as certain rocks were then hidden beneath the snow. Mr. Swinburne was therefore obliged to content himself with a diftant survey of the awful scene. Descending the mountain he visited the celebrated chesnut-tree, called from its astonishing size Castagno dicento cavalli, as supposing it capable of sheltering a hundred horfe under its boughs. This wonderful production consists of a trunk, now split to the surface of the earth ; but, as Mr. Swinburne found, by digging all round, united into one body at a very small depth below. Of this trunk are formed five divisions, each of which sends forth enormous branches.

At the town of Taormina, the ancient Tauromenium, are the remains of a theatre placed between two high rocks. The arcades are all composed of brick, the rest of the walls of pebbles, and covered with marble casings. The whole range

of the vomitoria and galleries that encircled the seats is yes standing as high from the ground as the bottom of the second order. The profcenium, which formed the chord of the arch, is almost entire.

• Were I to name a place, says Mr. Swinburne, that poffefses every grand and beauteous qualification for the forming of a picture ; a place on which I should wish to employ the powers of a Salvator or a Pouslin, Taormina Mhould be the object of my choice. Every thing belonging to it is drawn in a large sublime style ; the mountains tower to the very clouds, the castles and ruins rise on mighty masses of perpendicular rock, and seem to defy the attacks of mortal enemies ; Erna, with all its snowy and woody sweeps, fills half the horizon; the sea is stretched out upon an immense scale, and occupies the remainder of the prospect.'

Having visited Melina, Mr. Swinburne took his departure for Italy, where in a hort time he reached Naples, after completing a tour by sea and land of nine huudred and fourteen computed miles. Fatiguing as this excursion must often have been to the traveller, we can say with truth that we have never received greater entertainment from any work of the kind than in the account delivered of it by this agreeable writer. Mr. Swinburne has prosecuted his subject on a plan the moft happily adapted for affording both profit and delight. By the union of history with deicription, and the frequent addition, likewise, of pleasing anecdutes, as well as of political remarks,' he has presented the public with a work not less diftin. guished for useful information than for the attractive qualifications of sentiment and taste, confpicuous through the whole of his narrative.


Archæologia. Vol. VII. (Concluded, from Page 187.) A

Rticle XXI. contains Observations on a Crystal Vase in

the Possession of the Earl of Belborough. By Thomas Pownall, Esq.- Previous to the account of this curious piece of antiquity, Mr. Pownall states some of the custonis observed by the ancients at their convivial entertainments, particularly that of libation ; and he likewise attempts to ascertain the deities to whom this ceremony was usually performed.

With respect to the convivial libations of the ancients, it is generally admitted, that the master of the feast took a patera, or grace-cup, filled with wine; that he poured a little of the liquor on the table, in the same manner as the prieit did upon the altar; and that after tasting the cup, he delivered it to the person next him upon his right hand, who, having fol




lowed his example, it was regularly transmitted round the guests.

Though antiquarian writers are commonly agreed, that the ancients, at their banquets, had three vessels placed on the sideboard, or set upon the table, to make the three libations to the three objects of their devotion, after the eatables were removed, there subfifts among them a difference of opinion, relative not only to the deities thus honoured, but to the stated order in which the several libations were performed. According to the testimony adduced from Virgil, in describing the entertainment given by Dido, those deities were Jupiter Zevios, Bacchus Lætitiz Dator, and Bona Juno. We are informed, however, by Athenæus, that among the Greeks the first libation was made ΑΓάθω Δαίμονι, with cup pure

undiluted wine ; and that afterwards one was made to Jupiter Soter, with a cup of diluted wine. Others say that the firit cup was consecrated to Mercury, the second to the Graces, and the third to Jupiter Soter. But antiquarians differ chiefly about the third; some ascribing it Alba Aaipovi, fome to Juno or Dea Bona, and others to Mercury.

• Amidst all these various and differing opinions, says Mr. Pownall, I will venture to interpose my own, in which they may all meet; which is, that these Trina Numina were the soi Móxsos, the Dei Penetrales, or Penates, the Pii Præstites, or Præsides Hofpitii, Mensæ, & Cubilis. The two Lares, and Mercury their father, were these Trina Numinia. This word Lares, as well as the words Genius and Aaiuw, were all general terms; and were therefore applicable to the numen of any meity, to whom, as to the Dii Præstites, or Penates, this or that city, or house, was more particularly devoted. Under these general ideas Uvid describes them,

“ Mille Lares, Geniumque ducis qui tradidit illos
Urbs habet; et vici Numina Trina colunt.”

Ovid Falt. lib. V. 145. These Lares might have a thousand different names in different parts ; but they, with the “ Genius ducis qui tradidit illos," always made the Trina Numina. The Lares were only two. They were also generally understood to be male and female, the Deus and Dea. Whence Virgil, speaking of an ill-fated person, and describing him as having no Lares, says,

“ Nec Deus hunc hensâ, Dea nec dignata cubili elt.”

• With the Ægyptians these Trina Numina were Mercury and Ofiris and lfis ; at Iljum, the Dii Penates were said to be Apollo and Neptune and Veita. At Carthage they were what the Romans called Jupiter Hospitalis, Bacchus, and Bona Juno. At Athens, Athena was one. Castor and Pollux were also said to be the Gamelli Dei. In short, they were so differ. cat in different countries, according to the different manifesta


T 3

« PreviousContinue »