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But it is now time to pass on to the marvels in building displayed by our own City, and to make some enquiry into the resources and experience that we have gained in the lapse of eight hundred years; and so prove that here, as well, the rest of the world has been outdone by us: a thing which will appear, in fact, to have occurred almost as many times as the marvels are in number which I shall have to enumerate. If, indeed, all the buildings of our City are considered in the aggregate, and supposing them, so to say, all thrown together in one vast mass, the united grandeur of them would lead one to suppose that we were describing another world, accumulated in a single spot.

Not to mention among our great works, the Circus Maximus, that was constructed by the Dictator Cæsar, one stadium in width and three in length, and occupying, with the adjacent buildings, no less than four jugera, with room for two hundred and sixty thousand spectators seated; am I not to include in the number of our magnificent constructions, the Basilica of Paulus,1 with its admirable Phrygian columns; the Forum of the late Emperor Augustus; the Temple of Peace, erected by the Emperor Vespasianus Augustus—some of the finest works that the world has ever beheld—the roofing, too, of the Vote-Office,2 that was built by Agrippa? not to forget that, before his time, Valerius of Ostia, the architect, had covered in a theatre at Rome, at the time of the public Games celebrated by Libo?3

We behold with admiration pyramids that were built by kings, when the very ground alone, that was purchased by the Dictator Cæsar, for the construction of his Forum, cost one hundred millions of sesterces! If, too, an enormous expenditure has its attractions for any one whose mind is influenced by monetary considerations, be it known to him that the house in which Clodius dwelt, who was slain by Milo, was purchased by him at the price of fourteen million eight hundred thousand sesterces! a thing that, for my part, I look upon as no less astounding than the monstrous follies that have been displayed by kings. And then, as to Milo himself, the sums in which he was indebted, amounted to no less than seventy mil- lions of sesterces; a state of things, to be considered, in my opinion, as one of the most portentous phænomena in the history of the human mind. But it was in those days, too, that old men still spoke in admiration of the vast proportions of the Agger,4 and of the enormous foundations of the Capitol; of the public sewers, too, a work more stupendous than any; as mountains had to be pierced for their construction, and, like the hanging city5 which we recently mentioned, navigation had to be carried on beneath Rome; an event which happened in the ædileship6 of M. Agrippa, after he had filled the office of consul.

For this purpose, there are seven rivers, made, by artificial channels, to flow beneath the city. Rushing onward, like so many impetuous torrents, they are compelled to carry off and sweep away all the sewerage; and swollen as they are by the vast accession of the pluvial waters, they reverberate against the sides and bottom of their channels. Occasionally, too, the Tiber, overflowing, is thrown backward in its course, and discharges itself by these outlets: obstinate is the contest that ensues within between the meeting tides, but so firm and solid is the masonry, that it is enabled to offer an effectual resistance. Enormous as are the accumulations that are carried along above, the work of the channels never gives way. Houses falling spontaneously to ruins, or levelled with the ground by conflagrations, are continually battering against them; the ground, too, is shaken by earthquakes every now and then; and yet, built as they were in the days of Tarquinius Priscus, seven hundred years ago, these constructions have survived, all but unharmed. We must not omit, too, to mention one remarkable circumstance, and all the more remarkable from the fact, that the most celebrated historians have omitted to mention it. Tarquinius Priscus having commenced the sewers, and set the lower classes to work upon them, the laboriousness and prolonged duration of the employment became equally an object of dread to them; and the consequence was, that suicide was a thing of common occurrence, the citizens adopting this method of escaping their troubles. For this evil, however, the king devised a singular remedy, and one that has never7 been resorted to either before that time or since: for he ordered the bodies of all who had been thus guilty of self-destruction, to be fastened to a cross, and left there as a spectacle to their fellow - citizens and a prey to birds and wild beasts. The result was, that that sense of propriety which so peculiarly attaches itself to the Roman name, and which more than once has gained a victory when the battle was all but lost, came to the rescue on this occasion as well; though for this once, the Romans were in reality its dupes, as they forgot that, though they felt shocked at the thoughts of such ignominy while alive, they would be quite insensible to any such disgrace when dead. It is said that Tarquinius made these sewers of dimensions sufficiently large to admit of a waggon laden with hay passing along them.

All that we have just described, however, is but trifling when placed in comparison with one marvellous fact, which I must not omit to mention before I pass on to other subjects. In the consulship8 of M. Lepidus and Q. Catulus, there was not at Rome, as we learn from the most trustworthy authors, a finer house than the one which belonged to Lepidus himself: and yet, by Hercules! within five-and-thirty years from that period, the very same house did not hold the hundredth rank even in the City! Let a person, if he will, in taking this fact into consideration, only calculate the vast masses of marble, the productions of painters, the regal treasures that must have been expended, in bringing these hundred mansions to vie with one that had been in its day the most sumptuous and the most celebrated in all the City; and then let him reflect how that, since that period, and down to the present time, these houses have all of them been surpassed by others without number. There can be no doubt that conflagrations are a punishment inflicted upon us for our luxury; but such are our habits, that in spite of such warnings as these, we cannot be made to understand that there are things in existence more perishable even than man himself.

But there are still two other mansions by which all these edifices have been eclipsed. Twice have we seen the whole City environed by the palaces of the Emperors Caius9 and Nero; that of the last, that nothing might be wanting to its magnificence, being coated with gold.10 Surely such palaces as these must have been intended for the abode of those who created this mighty empire, and who left the plough or their native hearth to go forth to conquer nations, and to return laden with triumphs! men, in fact, whose very fields even occupied less space than the audience-chambers11 of these palaces.

Indeed, one cannot but help reflecting how trifling a portion of these palaces was equal to the sites which the republic granted to its invincible generals, for the erection of their dwellings. The supreme honour, too, attendant upon these grants—as in the case of P. Valerius Publicola, the first consul with L. Brutus, for his many meritorious services; and of his brother, who twice in one consulship defeated the Sabines—was the permission granted, by the terms of the decree, to have the doors of their houses opening from without, and the gates thrown back upon the public street. Such was the most distinguished privilege accorded in those days to triumphal mansions even!

I will not permit, however, these two Caiuses,12 or two Neros, to enjoy this glory even, such as it is; for I will prove that these extravagant follies of theirs have been surpassed, in the use that was made of his wealth by M. Scaurus, a private citizen. Indeed, I am by no means certain that it was not the ædileship of this personage that inflicted the first great blow upon the public manners, and that Sylla was not guilty of a greater crime in giving such unlimited power to his stepson,13 than in the proscription of so many thousands. During his ædileship, and only for the temporary purposes of a few days, Scaurus executed the greatest14 work that has ever been made by the hands of man, even when intended to be of everlasting duration; his Theatre, I mean. This building consisted of three storeys, supported upon three hundred and sixty columns; and this, too, in a city which had not allowed without some censure one of its greatest citizens15 to erect six16 pillars of Hymettian marble. The ground-storey was of marble, the second of glass, a species of luxury which ever since that time has been quite unheard of, and the highest of gilded wood. The lowermost columns, as previously17 stated, were eight-and-thirty feet in height; and, placed between these columns, as already18 mentioned, were brazen statues, three thousand in number. The area19 of this theatre afforded accommodation for eighty thousand spectators; and yet the Theatre of Pompeius, after the City had so greatly increased, and the inhabitants had become so vastly more numerous, was considered abundantly large, with its sittings for forty thousand only. The rest of the fittings of it, what with Attalic20 vestments, pictures, and the other stage-properties,21 were of such enormous value that, after Scaurus had had conveyed to his Tusculan villa such parts thereof as were not required for the enjoyment of his daily luxuries, the loss was no less than three hundred millions of sesterces, when the villa was burnt by his servants in a spirit of revenge.

The consideration of such prodigality as this quite distracts my attention, and compels me to digress from my original purpose, in order to mention a still greater instance of extravagance, in reference to wood. C. Curio,22 who died during the civil wars, fighting on the side of Cæsar, found, to his dismay, that he could not, when celebrating the funeral games in honour of his father, surpass the riches and magnificence of Scaurus—for where, in fact, was to be found such a stepsire as Sylla, and such a mother as Metella, that bidder at all auctions for the property of the proscribed? Where, too, was he to find for his father, M. Scaurus, so long the principal man in the city, and one who had acted, in his alliance with Marius, as a receptacle for the plunder of whole provinces?—Indeed, Scaurus himself was now no longer able to rival himself; and it was at least one advantage which he derived from this destruction by fire of so many objects brought from all parts of the earth, that no one could ever after be his equal in this species of folly. Curio, consequently, found himself compelled to fall back upon his own resources, and to think of some new device of his own. It is really worth our while to know what this device was, if only to congratulate ourselves upon the manners of the present day, and to reverse the ordinary mode of expression, and term ourselves the men of the olden time.23

He caused to be erected, close together, two theatres of very large dimensions, and built of wood, each of them nicely poised, and turning on a pivot. Before mid-day, a spectacle of games was exhibited in each; the theatres being turned back to back, in order that the noise of neither of them might interfere with what was going on in the other. Then, in the latter part of the day, all on a sudden, the two theatres were swung round, and, the corners uniting, brought face to face; the outer frames,24 too, were removed, and thus an amphitheatre was formed, in which combats of gladiators were presented to the view; men whose safety was almost less compromised than was that of the Roman people, in allowing itself to be thus whirled round from side to side. Now, in this case, which have we most reason to admire, the inventor or the invention? the artist, or the author of the project? him who first dared to think of such an enterprize, or him who ventured to undertake it? him who obeyed the order, or him who gave it? But the thing that surpasses all is, the frenzy that must have possessed the public, to take their seats in a place which must of necessity have been so unsubstantial and so insecure. Lo and behold! here is a people that has conquered the whole earth, that has subdued the universe, that divides the spoils of kingdoms and of nations, that sends its laws to foreign lands, that shares in some degree the attributes of the immortal gods in common with mankind, suspended aloft in a machine, and showering plaudits even upon its own peril!

This is indeed holding life cheap; and can we, after this, complain of our disasters at Cannæ? How vast the catastrophe that might have ensued! When cities are swallowed up by an earthquake, it is looked upon by mankind as a general calamity; and yet, here have we the whole Roman people, embarked, so to say, in two ships, and sitting suspended on a couple of pivots; the grand spectacle being its own struggle with danger, and its liability to perish at any moment that the overstrained machinery may give way! And then the object, too, of all this—that public favour may be conciliated for the tribune's25 harangues at a future day, and that, at the Rostra, he may still have the power of shaking the tribes, nicely balanced26 as they are! And really, what may he not dare with those who, at his persuasion, have braved such perils as these? Indeed, to confess the truth, at the funeral games celebrated at the tomb of his father, it was no less than the whole Roman people that shared the dangers of the gladiatorial combats. When the pivots had now been sufficiently worked and wearied, he gave another turn to his magnificent displays. For, upon the last day, still preserving the form of the amphitheatre, he cut the stage in two through the middle, and exhibited a spectacle of athletes; after which, the stage being suddenly withdrawn on either side, he exhibited a combat, upon the same day, between such of the gladiators as had previously proved victorious. And yet, with all this, Curio was no king, no ruler of the destinies of a nation, nor yet a person remarkable for his opulence even; seeing that he possessed no resources of his own, beyond what he could realize from the discord between the leading men.27

But let us now turn our attention to some marvels which, justly appreciated, may be truthfully pronounced to remain unsurpassed. Q. Marcius Rex,28 upon being commanded by the senate to repair the Appian29 Aqueduct, and those of the Anio30 and Tepula,31 constructed during his prætorship a new aqueduct,32 which bore his name, and was brought hither by a channel pierced through the sides of mountains. Agrippa,33 in his ædileship, united the Marcian with the Virgin34 Aqueduct, and repaired and strengthened the channels of the others. He also formed seven hundred wells, in addition to five hundred fountains, and one hundred and thirty reservoirs, many of them magnificently adorned. Upon these works, too, he erected three hundred statues of marble or bronze, and four hundred marble columns; and all this in the space of a single year! In the work35 which he has written in commemoration of his ædileship, he also informs us that public games were celebrated for the space of fifty-nine days, and that one hundred and seventy gratuitous baths were opened. The number of these last at Rome, has increased to an infinite36 extent since his time.

The preceding aqueducts, however, have all been surpassed by the costly work which was more recently commenced by the Emperor Caius,37 and completed by Claudius. Under these princes, the Curtian and Cærulean Waters, with the New Anio,38 were brought from a distance of forty miles, and at so high a level that all the hills were supplied with water, on which the City is built. The sum expended on these works was three hundred and fifty millions of sesterces. If we only take into consideration the abundant supply of water to the public, for baths, ponds, canals, household purposes, gardens, places in the suburbs, and country-houses; and then reflect upon the distances that are traversed, the arches that have been constructed, the mountains that have been pierced, the valleys that have been levelled, we must of necessity admit that there is nothing to be found more worthy of our admiration throughout the whole universe.

Among the most memorable works, too, I, for my own part, should include another undertaking of the Emperor Claudius, although it was afterwards abandoned in consequence of the hatred borne him by his successor;39 I mean the channel that was cut through a mountain as an emissary for Lake Fucinus;40 a work which cost a sum beyond all calculation, and employed a countless multitude of workmen for many years. In those parts where the soil was found to be terreous, it was necessary to pump up the water by the aid of machinery; in other parts, again, the solid rock had to be hewn through. All this, too, had to be done in the midst of darkness within; a series of operations which can only be adequately conceived by those who were witnesses of them, and which no human language can possibly describe.

I pass in silence the harbour that has been formed at Ostia; the various roads, too, that have been cut across mountains; the Tyrrhenian Sea separated by an embankment from Lake Lucrinus;41 and vast numbers of bridges constructed at an enormous expense. Among the many other marvels, too, of Italy, we are informed by Papirius Fabianus, a most diligent enquirer into the operations of Nature, that the marble there grows in the quarries; and those who work in the quarries assure us that the wounds thus inflicted upon the mountains fill up spontaneously. If such is the fact, luxury has good grounds for hoping that it will never be at a loss for a supply of materials for its gratification.

1 L. Æmilius Paulus, who was consul with C. Marcellus, A.U.C. 703. His Basilica, a building which served as a court of law and as an exchange, was erected in the Eighth Region of the City, at the cost of 1500 talents; which were sent to him by Cæsar, Plutarch says, as a bribe to gain him over from the aristocratical party. It was surrounded with an open peristyle of columns of Phrygian marble.

2 "Diribitorium." See B. xvi. c. 76.

3 Scribonius Libo, who was Ædile during the consulship of Cicero.

4 "Mound," or "Terrace." See B. iii. c. 9, where it is ascribed to Tarquinius Superbus; but Strabo seems to attribute its foundation to Servius Tullius.

5 Thebes, in Egypt. See Chapter 20 of this Book.

6 A.U.C. 721. He alludes probably to the cleansing of the sewers beneath the city, which took place, Dion Cassius informs us, in the ædileship of Agrippa.

7 As Hardouin remarks, the story of the Milesian Virgins, as related by Aulus Gellius and Plutarch, is very similar.

8 A.U.C. 676.

9 Caligula. The Palace of Caligula was situate on the Palatine Hill: that of Nero extended from the Palatine Hill to the Esquiline, nearly the whole of which was covered by it. It was left unfinished by Nero, but the Emperor Otho completed it, Martial, Spectac. Ep. 2, speaks in terms of indignation of there being now "but one house in all the City;" but, unfortunately, he gives utterance to it with a view of flattering Domitian.

10 Whence its name, "Aurea," the "golden" Palace.

11 "Sellaria."

12 By this mode of expression, he probably means that they were "birds of a feather"—one as bad as the other.

13 His mother, Metella Cæcilia, became the wife of Sylla.

14 He forgets the Pyramids and the Labyrinth of Egypt, which he has so recently described.

15 See B. xvii. c. 1, and Chapter 3 of the present Book. L. Crassus is the person alluded to.

16 "Four" is the number mentioned in B. xvii. c. 1.

17 In Chapter 2 of this Book.

18 In B. xxxiv. c. 17.

19 "Cavea." The place where the spectators sat; much like the "pit" of our theatres.

20 See B. xxxiii. c. 19

21 "Choragio."

22 He was defeated and slain in Africa by Juba and P. Attius Varus.

23 And, consequently, of more strict manners, and more strict morals.

24 "Tabulis." The wooden frames, probably, which formed the margin of one side of each theatre, and which, when they were brought together, would make a diameter running through the circle which they formed. Hardouin thinks that these theatres are alluded to in Virgil, Georg. B. III. l. 22, et seq.

25 In allusion, probably, to the addresses delivered by Curio, when tribune, from the Rostra, in favour of Cæsar.

26 "Pensiles." Pliny not improbably intends a pun here, this word meaning also "suspended," or "poised"—in reference, probably, to their suspension on the pivots in Curio's theatres.

27 Between Cæsar and Pompey, which he is supposed to have inflamed for his own private purposes.

28 He was prætor B.C. 144; and, in order that he might complete his aqueduct, his office was prolonged another year.

29 This aqueduct was begun by Appius Claudius Cæcus, the censor, and was the first made at Rome; B.C. 313.

30 See B. iii. c. 17. It was commenced by M. Curius Dentatus, B.C. 273, the water being brought a distance of 43 miles. It was afterwards known as the "Anio Vetus," to distinguish it from another aqueduct from the same river, mentioned in this Chapter, and called the "Anio Novus." The former was constructed of Peperino stone, and the water-course was lined with cement. Considerable remains of it are still to be seen.

31 The Aqua Tepula was constructed B.C. 127; so that it is doubtful if Pliny is not here in error.

32 The Aqua Marcia was brought a distance of upwards of 60 miles, from the vicinity of Sublaqueum now Subiaco, and was of such elevation that water could be supplied to the loftiest part of the Capitoline Hill. A considerable number of the arches are still standing. In the vicinity of the city it was afterwards united with the Aqua Tepula and the Aqua Julia; the watercourse of the last being above that of the Aqua Tepula, and that above the course of the Aqua Marcia. See B. xxxi. cc 24, 25.

33 See B. xxxi. cc. 24, 25.

34 See B. xxxi. c. 25.

35 See end of B. iii.

36 Victor mentions 856 public baths at Rome.

37 Caligula.

38 Anio Novus.

39 Nero.

40 See B. ii. c. 106, and B. iii. c. 17. In order to check the sudden rise of its waters, a design was entertained by Julius Cæsar to construct a subterranean canal from the lake into the valley of the Liris, which, unfortunately, was frustrated by his death. Claudius, however, executed the work, by cutting a gallery upwards of an English mile and a half through the limestone rock; a work which, according to Suetonius, occupied thirty thousand workmen continually for eleven years. On opening it with a mock naval combat, an accident happened in which many persons lost their lives, and Claudius himself but narrowly escaped. The emissary answered its purpose for some time, and, though Nero suffered the works to fall into decay, they were repaired by Hadrian. In the middle ages, however, the work fell in, and has not since been restored.

41 See B. iii. c. 9.

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