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[63]

December 17.—We passed a good deal of a bright, lovely forenoon on the Palatine hill, the original nucleus of Rome, and its most splendid centre in its most splendid days; the spot where Virgil has placed Evander's humble dwelling, four hundred years before the supposed age of Romulus, and the spot where Nero began the Aurea Domus, which threatened, as the epigram in Suetonius intimates (Nero, c. 31), to fill the whole city, but now, all alike, a heap of undistinguishable ruins. It is in vain to ask for one monument, or to try to verify one record or recollection;—the house where Augustus lived forty years can be as little marked as that of Romulus; and all reminiscences of Cicero, who dwelt here in the midst of his future enemies—Clodius and Catiline,—of Mecaenas, of Agrippa, and of Horace, are vain and fruitless. The truth is, probably, that, having been the residence of the Emperors from the time of Augustus till the irruption of the Goths and the capture of the city, it was so full of wealth and works of art, that it was particularly exposed to plunder and violence. We walked about in the Farnese Gardens, and saw on all sides, and especially on the declivities of the hill towards the Aventine and the Caelian, huge substructions, into one of which we descended, and were shown, with a miserable taper, frescos and arabesques, which, if not of much merit, prove how much care and ornament were bestowed on the most obscure parts of these luxurious palaces and temples . . . .

December 18.—We went to church this morning, and find it more and more grateful to be allowed to have regular Sundays, though the preaching is Calvinistic, and clumsily so. But last winter we had not even this. After church we walked in the Villa Borghese . . . . .

December 20.—. . . . We visited, this morning, the remains of the Theatre of Marcellus, and of the Portico of Octavia. There is, after all, not a great deal to be seen of them; but the antiquarians are much interested about them always, because the marble plan at the Capitol shows so distinctly what they were; and everybody feels interested in what bears the name of Octavia, the sister of Augustus, whom Shakespeare has so well described in a few lines, and in Marcellus, whom Virgil has immortalized in still fewer.1 The Theatre was begun by Julius Caesar (Dio Cass., 53-30, p. 725, and 43, 49, p. 376), but was finished by Augustus, and dedicated, A. u. c. 741, to the memory of Marcellus, who had been dead ten years (Plin., 8, 23; Suet. Aug., 29). . . . .

The Portico, which Augustus built afterwards, for the accommodation


1 Antony and Cleopatra, Act II. Sc. 2, and Aeneid, Book VI. v. 884.

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