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Usque coloratis amnis deocxus ab Indis. Virg. Geor. 4. de Nilo. At one end of the gallery stand two antique marble pillars, curiously wrought with the figures of the old Roman arms and instruments of war. After a full survey of the gallery, we were led into four or five chambers of curiosities that stand on the side of it. The first was a cabinet of antiquities, made up chiefly of idols, talismans, lamps, and hieroglyphics. I saw nothing in it that I was not before acquainted with, except the four following figures in brass.
1. A little image of Juno Sispita, or Sospita, which, perhaps, is not to be met with any where else but on medals. She is cloathed in a goat's skin, the horns sticking out above her head. The right arm is broken that probably supported a shield, and the left a little defaced, though one may see it held something in its grasp formerly. The feet are bare. I remember Tully's description of this goddess in the following words: Hercle inquit qudm tibi illam nostram Sospitam quam tu nunquam ne in Somniis vides, nisi cum pelle Caprint, cum hasta, cum scutulo, cum calceolis repandis.
II. An antique model of the famous Laocoon and his two sons, that stands in the Belvidera at Rome. This is the more remarkable, as it is entire in those parts where the statue is maimed. It was by the help of this model that Bandinelli finished his admirable copy of the Laocoon, which stands at one end of this gallery.
III. An Apollo, or Amphion. I took notice of this little figure for the singularity of the instrument, which I never before saw in ancient sculpture. It is not unlike a violin, and played on after the same manner. I doubt, however, whether this figure be not of a later date than the rest, by the meanness of the workmanship.
IV. A Corona Radialis, with only eight spikes to it. Every one knows the usual number was twelve, some say, in allusion to the signs of the Zodiac, and others, to the labours of Hercules.
Ingenti mole Latinus Quadrijugo dehitur curru; cui tempora circum Aurati
bis sex radii fulgentia cingunt, Solis avi specimen
VIRG. En. 12.
Four steeds the chariot of Latinus bear:
To mark his lineage from the god of day. DRYDEN. The two next chambers are made up of several artificial curiosities in ivory, amber, crystal, marble, and precious stones, which all voyage-writers are full of. In the chamber that is shown last, stands the celebrated Venus of Medicis. The statue seems much less than the life, as being perfectly naked, and in company with others of a larger make: it is, notwithstanding, as big
as the ordinary size of a woman, as I concluded from the measure of her wrist; for from the bigness of
any one part it is easy to guess at all the rest, in a figure of such nice proportions. The softness of the flesh, the delicacy of the shape, air, and posture, and the correctness of design in this statue, are inexpressible. I have several reasons to believe that the name of the sculptor on the pedestal is not so old as the statue. This figure of Venus put me in mind of a speech she makes in one of the Greek epigrams.
Γυμνην όιδι Πάρις μι και Ανχίσης και Αδωνις
But where has this Praxiteles been prying? There is another Venus in the same circle, that would make a good figure any where else. There are among the old Roman statues, several of Venus in different postures and habits, as there are many particular figures of her made after the same design. I fancy it is not hard to find among them some that were made after the three statues of this goddess, which Pliny mentions. In the same chamber is the Roman slave whetting his knife and listening, which, from the shoulders upwards, is incomparable. The two wrestlers are in the same room. I observed here, likewise, a very curious bust of Anntus Verus, the young son of Marcus Aurelius, who died at nine years of age. I have seen several other VOL. II.
busts of him at Rome, though his medals are exceeding
The great duke has ordered a large chamber to be fitted up for old inscriptions, urns, monuments, and the like sets of antiquities. I was shown several of them which are not yet put up. There are the two famous inscriptions that give so great a light to the histories of Appius, who made the highway, and of Fabius the dictator ; they contain a short account of the honours they passed through, and the actions they performed. I saw too the busts of Tranquillina, mother to Gordianus Pius, and of Quintus Herennius, son to Trajan Decius, which are extremely valuable for their rarity, and a beautiful old figure made after the celebrated hermaphrodite in the Villa Borghese. I saw nothing that has not been observed by several others in the Argenteria, the tabernacle of St. Lawrence's chapel, and the chamber of painters. The chapel of St. Laurence will be, perhaps, the most costly piece of work on the face of the earth when compleated, but it advances so very slowly, that 'tis not impossible but the family of Medicis may be extinct before their burial place is finished.
The great duke has lived many years separate from the duchess, who is at present in the court of France, and intends there to end her days. The cardinal, his brother, is old and infirm, and could never be induced to resign his purple for the uncertain prospect of giving an heir to the dukedom of Tuscany. The great prince has been married several years without any children, and notwithstanding all the precautions in the world were taken for the marriage of the prince his younger brother (as the finding out a lady for him who was in the vigour and flower of her age, and had given marks of her fruitfulness by a former husband) they have all hitherto proved unsuccessful. There is a branch of the family of Medicis in Naples: the head of it has been owned as a kinsman by the great duke, and it is thought will succeed to his dominions, in case the princes, his sons, die childless; though it is not impossible but in such a conjuncture, the commonwealths that are thrown under the great duchy, may make some efforts towards the recovery of their ancient liberty.
I was in the library of manuscripts belonging to St. Laurence, of which there is a printed catalogue. I looked into the Virgil which disputes its antiquity with that of the Vatican. It wants the “ Ille ego qui quondam,” &c. and the twenty-two lines in the second Æneid, beginning at Jamque adeo super unus eram. I must confess I always thought this passage left out with a great deal of judgment by Tucca and Varius, as it seems to contradict a part in the sixth Æneid, and represents the hero in a passion, that is, at least, not at all becoming the greatness of his character. Besides, I think the apparition of Venus comes in very properly to draw him away immediately after the sight of Priam's murder; for, without such a machine to take him off, I cannot see how the hero could, with honour, leave Neoptolemus triumphant, and Priam unrevenged. But since Virgil's friends thought fit to let drop this incident of Helen, I wonder they would not blot out, or alter a line in Venus's speech, that has a relation to the rencounter, and comes in improperly without it.
Non tibi Tyndarida facies indisa Lacænæ,
Æn. 2. Florence, for modern statues, I think excels even Rome, but these I shall pass over in silence, that I may not transcribe out of others.
The way from Florence to Bolonia runs over several ranges of mountains, and is the worst road, I believe, of any over the Appennines ; for this was my third time of crossing them. It gave me a lively idea of Silius Italicus's description of Hannibal's march.
Quoque magis subiere jugo atque evadere nisi
But still by new ascents the mountain grew,
And a fresh toil presented to their view. I shall conclude this chapter with the descriptions which the Latin poets have given us of the Appennines. We may observe in them all the remarkable qualities of this prodigious length of mountains, that run from one extremity of Italy to the other, and give rise to an incredible variety of rivers that water this delightful country. Nubifer Appenninus.
Ov. Met. lib. 2.
Claup. de Sexto Cons. Hon.