[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]

[Link to a series of help pages]
[Link to the next level up]
[Link to my homepage]

[image ALT: link to previous section]
This webpage reproduces a chapter of
The Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria

by George Dennis

published by John Murray, Albemarle Street
London, 1848.

The text is in the public domain.

[image ALT: link to next section]

p440 Chapter XXIII


[image ALT: zzz]

Vedemo Toscanela tanto anticha

Quanto alcun altra de questo paese.

Faccio Uberti.

About nine or ten miles to the east of Canino lies Toscanella, an Etruscan site of considerable interest. It may be reached in a carriage, either from Viterbo, Corneto, or Canino. This part of the great plain is diversified by oak-woods, which afford a pleasing contrast to the naked sweeps nearer the sea and the Ciminian Mount. Toscanella, with its many lofty towers, is the most conspicuous object in the thinly-peopled plain, and p441may be descried from a great distance. Yet it stands on no eminence, but as usual on the level of the plain, nearly surrounded by profound ravines. It is a mean, dirty town; and its interest lies in its picturesque situation, its Etruscan remains, and its churches, which are choice specimens of the Lombard style. Here and there in the streets is a rich fragment of mediaeval architecture. The walls of the town are of the same period; no trace of the ancient fortifications remain, except on the adjoining height of San Pietro.

In such a bye-road town as this, it were folly to expect a good inn. On my first visit to Toscanella, I procured tolerable accommodation in the house of a butcher, where I had the advantage of being next door to the residence of the Campanari, whose names are known throughout Europe, wherever a love of Etruscan antiquities has penetrated. Latterly an inn has been opened near the Viterbo gate, and is kept by Filippo Pandolfini, who will serve the traveller with a clean bed and decent meal.

It may be well to introduce the reader to the brothers Campanari, of whom I have occasion to make frequent mention.

Signor Carlo, the eldest, is well known in England by his collection of Etruscan antiquities which he exhibited in London some ten years since, and great part of which was eventually purchased by the British Museum. For many years he has been the active director of excavations, which he commenced in conjunction with his late father, Signor Vicenzo, also an ardent labourer in Etruscan fields. Signor Carlo still yearly carries forward his researches on one site or other of ancient greatness, and much has the world benefited by his patient and persevering labours, and the light they have thrown on the history, customs, and inner life of p442the Etruscans. To him must I also take this opportunity of rendering my personal tribute of respect and gratitude for his courtesy, and his kind readiness to impart the results of his long experience. Signor Secondino does not take so active a part in excavating as his elder brother, but devotes his attention to a critical examination of Etruscan monuments; and many valuable papers has he published, principally in the records of the Archaeological Institute. Signor Domenico, the youngest brother, resides in London, and acts as the agent for the Institute in England, as well as for the sale of the articles transmitted by his brothers. Thus, in this fraternal triumvirate, the old adage is verified:

Tre fratelli —

Tre castelli.

Besides their society, which must always render Toscanella a place of interest to the antiquary, these gentlemen have many things rich and rare, the produce of their scavi, to offer to the traveller's notice. Their house is a museum of Etruscan antiquities. The most valuable and portable articles soon pass from their hands; and I shall therefore confine my description to the more stationary monuments. In the vestibule are several stone sarcophagi with figures reclining on the lids; and sundry bas-reliefs in terra-cotta are embedded in the walls. The garden is a most singular place. You seem transported to some scene of Arabian romance, where the people are all turned to stone, or lie spell-bound, awaiting the touch of a magician's wand to restore them to life and activity. All round the garden, under the close-embowering shade of trellised vines, beneath the drooping boughs of the weeping willow, the rosy bloom of the oleander, or the golden fruit of the orange and citron, forming in fact the borders to the flower-beds — there they lie — Lucumones of aristocratic dignity — portly matrons, bedecked with jewels — stout p443youths, and graceful maidens — reclining on the lids of their coffins, or rather on their festive couches — meeting with fixed stony stare the astonishment of the stranger, yet with a distinct individuality of feature and expression, and so life-like withal, that "like Pygmalion's statue waking" each seems to be on the point of warming into existence. Lions, sphinxes, and chimaeras dire, in stone, stand among them, as guardians of the place; and many a figure of quaint character and petrified life, looks down on you from the vine-shaded terraces, high above the walls of the garden. It is as strange a place as may well be conceived, and a lonely walk here by moonlight would try weak nerves and lively imaginations.

[image ALT: zzz]

In the garden wall is a doorway of Etruscan form and moulding, surmounted by a cornice which bears the formula "Ecasuthinesl" in Etruscan characters — all taken from some tomb of Signor Campanari's excavation. The door opens into what seems an Etruscan sepulchre, but is really a cavern formed in imitation of the said tomb, and filled with the identical sarcophagi and other articles found therein, and arranged pretty nearly as they were discovered. It is a spacious vaulted chamber, and contains ten sarcophagi — a family group — each individual reclining in effigy on his own coffin. It is a banqueting hall of the dead; for they lie here in festive attitude and attire, yet in utter silence and gloom, each with a goblet in his hand, from which he seems to be pledging his fellows. This solemn carousal, this mockery of mirth, reminded me of that wild blood-curdling song of Procter's —

"King Death was a rare old fellow —

He sat where no sun could shine;

And he lifted his hand so yellow,

And poured out his cold-black wine!

Hurrah! hurrah!

Hurrah for the coal-black wine!"

p444 In truth, this frozen banquet is not a little startling at first; and he must be of stern stuff whose fancy is not stirred by these "figures that gloomily glare,"

"As seen by the dying lamp's fitful light,

Lifeless, but life-like, and awful to sight,

They seem, through the dimness, about to come down

From the shadowy wall where their images frown."

The figures on Etruscan sarcophagi and urns are, with very few exceptions, represented as at a banquet — generally with patera in hand,1 but the females have sometimes an egg, or piece of fruit instead, as on the walls of the painted tombs; sometimes tablets; or a fan of leaf-like form, like our own Indian fans; or it may be a mirror, which with their rich attire and decorations shows the ruling passion strong in death. In a few instances I have seen a bird in the fair one's hand — passer, deliciae puellae. The men are generally but half-draped,2 and have torques about their necks —

Flexiles obtorti per collum it circulus auri —

or the long breast-garlands worked round with wool, which were worn by Greeks and Romans.3 The females have sometimes torques, sometimes necklaces, long ear-rings of singular form, and bracelets, and both sexes have often many rings on their fingers — censu opimo digitos onerando — a custom which Rome, it is said, derived from Etruria.4 p445The Etruscans, indeed, seem to have had quite an oriental passion for jewellery — a passion which was shared by the Romans,5 and has been transmitted to their modern representatives, as a Sunday's walk on the Corso will abundantly testify. These figures all rest on their left elbow, supported by cushions, and the sarcophagi beneath them are often hewn to imitate couches. Thus, as in the painted tombs, they are represented in the height of social enjoyment, to symbolise the bliss on which their spirits had entered;6 p446or it may be to describe their actual pursuits in another world; and these effigies may image forth not the men but their manes, as the revels in which they were believed to indulge.

Pallida laetatur regio, gentesque sepultae

Luxuriant, epulisque vacant genialibus umbrae.

Grata coronati peragunt convivia Manes.7

These figures are of nenfro, coarsely executed, yet bold and full of character, and all are manifestly portraits. The flesh was originally painted a deep red — the hue of beatification — their drapery purple, blue, yellow, or white, and their ornaments yellow to represent gold; even the differences of complexion were marked, some having the true cerulean hue, and others, like Horace's Lycus,

— nigris oculis nigroque

Crine decori.

This varied clothing, which is said to have been completely preserved at the time of their discovery, is now exchanged, in those which lie in the garden, for an uniform weather-staining of green.8

The principal figure in the tomb is the patriarch of his race, whose name is set forth as "VIPINANAS VELTHUR VLETHURUS AVILS LXV." which would be Latinised by "Vibenna Voltur Volturius (Veturius?), Vixit annos LXV."9 Then his wife, with features worthy of a Cornelia; and various juniors of the family, among whom notice a foppish young of twenty, with twisted torque about his neck, his hair bound with a fillet, and the effects of early indulgence p447visible in his bloated frame; and do not overlook his sister, a pretty girl of fourteen, nor another sweet damsel with Grecian features. Verily, if these be faithful portraits, Italian beauty has not improved in the last three or four-and‑twenty centuries; and the Etruscan fair possessed other charms than such as Tanaquil or Begoë exerted.10

The walls of the tomb are hung with vases, jugs, goblets, of bronze as well as earthenware, while tall amphorae, and full-bellied jars of unglazed clay, with a rabble rout of pots and pans, and sundry bronze candelabra, strigils, flesh-hooks — lie about in glorious confusion.

In the centre of the chamber is a lidless sarcophagus, with a relief of a human sacrifice — a subject rarely met with on Etruscan monuments. Among the crumbled remains of the corpse were fragments of armour, and the jawbone of a horse.

Though these sarcophagi are so numerous on the Campanari's premises, I was surprised to hear that the greater part came from a single tomb. It was opened in 1839, in a neighbouring olive-ground, called Il Calcarello, and contained no less than twenty-seven of these large sarcophagi; those of the women forming a circle in the centre, and those of their lords arranged in a larger circuit around. The ceiling of the tomb had fallen in, though p448supported by three columns, which were not able to uphold the weight of a superincumbent pavement of large rectangular blocks. On this pavement lay a flat circular stone, like a solid wheel or thin millstone, with an Etruscan inscription round its edge, showing it to be the cippus, or tomb-stone to the sepulchre. Its singularity has secured it a place in the Campanari's garden.11

One of these nenfro sarcophagi is among the finest I have seen executed in this coarse material.12 On the lid lies a man of middle age, a true obesus Etruscusturgidus epulis — with "fair round belly with good capon lined," reclining, half-draped, on the festive couch. His face, as usual with these sepulchral effigies, has so much individuality of character, that none can doubt its being a portrait. A striking face it is, too, — with commanding brow, large aquiline nose, mouth speaking intelligence and decision, though somewhat sensual withal, and an air of dignity about the whole countenance, marking him as an aristocrat — one of the Patres Conscripti of Tuscania. No inscription sets forth his name, pedigree or age.

his sarcophagus bears a bas-relief of the slaughter of the Niobides. At each end sits one of the avenging deities, speeding the fatal arrows. In the centre of the group stands a bearded man, in tunic and buskins, perhaps Tantalus the father, but more probably Amphion the p449husband of Niobe; and at his side stands the fond mother herself, "all tears," vainly seeking to shelter her children with her garments, —

Totâ veste tegens, Unam, minimaque relinque!

De multis minimam posco, clamavit, et unam!

She is not represented, according to the received version —

Tra sette e sette suoi figliuoli spenti,

for their number is here but six, three of each sex, which is at variance with all the Greek and Latin authors who have recorded the myth;13 indeed, it is rarely that the Etruscan monumental versions of well-known traditions agree in every particular with those recorded by classic writers. At one end of the sarcophagus is a Centaur contending with two Lapithae, and at the other, Achilles is dragging the corpse of Hector round the walls of Troy; but instead of the body being attached to the chariot by the heels, as Homer represents it, it is here fastened by the neck — a further instance of discrepancy between Greek and Etruscan traditions.14 The style of art marks this p450sarcophagus as of no very early date. It is probably of the time of Roman domination, perhaps even as late as the Empire.15

There is good reason for believing that the sarcophagi were not in general made expressly for the individual whose remains they inclose, as the lids must have been. From the symbolical or mythological character of the subjects in the bas-reliefs, which rarely bear any apparent reference to the individual interred, and from the frequent recurrence of the same scenes, it seems probable that the sarcophagi were manufactured wholesale by the Etruscan undertakers, and when selected by the friends of the deceased, they were fitted with effigied lids to order; or the recumbent figures were rudely struck out, and finished into likenesses of the departed.16 This will account for the not uncommon incongruity between the two parts, which are sometimes even of a different stone. The likeness may have been taken after death, or from those small terra-cotta heads so often found in the tombs, and which were probably moulded from the life. Sarcophagi and urns of terra-cotta are frequently found at Toscanella, but are generally very inferior in style of art to those of stone, displaying much uncouthness and exaggerated attenuation — caricatures of the human form; yet some have been found of great beauty, as that of the wounded youth, commonly called Adonis, in the Gregorian Museum.17 These earthenware coffins are often found with those of nenfro, whence it would appear that the difference was a matter of choice or expense rather than antiquity.18 The former were p451used principally by females. It is clear that interment was much more general at Tuscania than combustion; yet large jars containing the ashes of the dead are often found in the same tomb with sarcophagi.

[image ALT: An engraving of an ancient capital of the composite order, with other lapidary fragments. It is the so‑called column of Paris and Helen from Vulci (Tuscany, central Italy).]

In this garden is a singular capital of a composite column, taken from the painted tomb of Vulci.19 It is of peperino, and between each pair of volutes is a head, male p452and female alternately. From the Phrygian cap of the men, the relic has received the name of "the column of Paris and Helen." Such capitals cannot be of very early date.20 There is a finish and freedom about this which will not allow us to claim for it an origin prior to the Roman conquest of Etruria. The other fragments shown in the annexed wood-cut, are the disc-like cippus found above the tomb in the Calcarello, and a portion of the masonry which encircled a tumulus, interesting as a specimen of Etruscan moulding.21

Signor Valerj, the speziale or apothecary of Toscanella, has generally a collection of Etruscan antiquities, which like those of the Signor Campanari, are for sale. As a man of experience and research, his acquaintance would be valuable to the visitor curious in Etruscan matters.

Several Etruscan sarcophagi of interest are to be seen at the Spedale, near the Viterbo Gate.

Of the origin and history of Tuscania we have no record. The only mention of it in ancient writers is found in Pliny, who classes it among the inland colonies in Etruria;22 and in the Peutingerian Table, which shows it to have been on the Via Clodia, between Blera and Saturnia.23 It is from its tombs alone that we know it to have existed in Etruscan times;24 yet it must have been a place of p453inferior importance, and was probably dependent on Tarquinii.

Of the original town there is no vestige beyond some substructions and rock-hewn sewers, on the height of San Pietro. Here, too, are traces of the Roman colony, in fragments of reticulated walling; and remains of a circus were discovered, a few years since, in the ravine beneath.25 The ancient town must have been larger than the modern, for it comprehended the height of San Pietro, which is without the modern walls, and which, being rather more elevated than the rest of the town, and at the extremity of the tongue of land, was evidently the Arx of Tuscania. That it was continued as a fortress during the middle ages, is proved by the tall, square towers that produce, which encircle, like a diadem, the brow of the hill. Eight are still standing, more or less impaired. They are double, like certain of the Round Towers of Ireland — a tall, slender tower being encased, with no intervening space, in an outer shell of masonry. Lest some should be led away by this analogy to cherish the idea that they are of very ancient construction, or, by a bold leap, should arrive at the conclusion that the Etruscans and Irish had a common origin, I must repeat that the masonry of these towers stamps them indubitably as of the middle ages.26

The richest jewel on this tiaraed height is the church of San Pietro, one of the most interesting ecclesiastical structures of Central Italy. Its style is Italian Gothic, sister to the Byzantine, and elder cousin to the Norman. This church p454cannot compete in grandeur or richness with the celebrated Duomi in the same style, at Pisa, Siena, and Orvieto; yet, in the small and snug way, it is a gem, and will repay the lover of art for an express visit to Toscanella. Its charms lie chiefly in its façade, which though so rich in its general effect, is most grotesque in detail. Beasts, birds, and reptiles move in stone about the marigold window, the round-arched doorways, and the arcaded galleries — here stepping forth from the masonry, there chasing one another up and down the façade. Scarcely a square foot but displays some grotesquery in high or low relief, some grinning head, some uncouth form, some fantastic chimaera. The whole façade is teeming with life. This is not in harmony with the repose of architecture, still less with the solemnity and dignity of ecclesiastical edifices. Perhaps it was to qualify this profane character that a sprinkling is introduced of angels, saints, men, and devils. But what can we say of trifacial heads — grim caricatures of the Trinity — more than once seen on this façade? — or of artisans and tradesmen at their respective avocations, all in caricature? Yet such in a band of reliefs surround the porch of San Pietro.

The aisles of the church are divided by two rows of massive columns of Roman antiquity, probably from some temple which stood on this height. Beneath the choir is a crypt, supported by twenty-eight slender columns of no uniformity. It is called a Roman bath; but looks more like a mosque, or the subterranean bath-rooms of the Alhambra. In the aisle of this church, till lately, stood an Etruscan sarcophagus, with a bas-relief of interest, and an inscription of unusual length.27

p455 Of the same style as S. Pietro, inferior in richness of decoration, yet still more outrageously grotesque, is the church of Santa Marta, in the hollow at the back of San Pietro.

The necropolis lay in the broad, deep ravines round Toscanella, and on the opposite heights. There are many tombs in the cliffs, not with architectural façades, as at Castel d'Asso or Norchia, but with simple door-ways, and interiors presenting little variety — unadorned chambers surrounded by rock-hewn benches. The most remarkable tomb on this site is in the cliffs below the Madonna dell' Olivo, about half a mile from the town. Here, a long sewer-like passage leads into a spacious chamber of irregular form, with two massive columns supporting its ceiling, and a rude pilaster on the wall behind. But the peculiarity of the tomb lies in a cuniculus or passage cut in the rock, just large enough for a man to creep through on all-fours, which, entering the wall on one side, after a long gyration, and sundry branchings now blocked with earth, opens in the opposite wall of the tomb. Till lately, this was the only instance known of anything like a subterranean labyrinth in an Etruscan sepulchre, but it is now quite eclipsed by that in the singular Poggio di Gajella of Chiusi. Be it remembered that the only Etruscan tomb described by the ancients is said to have contained a labyrinth.28 Let the traveller inquire for the Grotta della Regina, and let him provide himself, at Toscanella, with tapers and lucifers, or his excursion will be in vain.29

In the cliffs round the town are several instances of columbaria, such as exist at Veii and Sutri. They are p456large chambers in the rock, filled from floor to ceiling with small niches, like pigeon-holes, capable of holding an urn or pot, but differing from the niches in Roman columbaria, in the absence of the olla-hole. One of these tombs, in the cliff above the Viterbo road, is remarkable for its size, and its division into three chambers, with a massive pillar of rock supporting its roof. As the Romans seem to have taken the idea of their columbari from the Etruscans, it is difficult, in the absence of all sepulchral furniture, to pronounce on the origin of these and similar tombs; yet I think it probable that these niched sepulchres were — in type at least — Etruscan.30

Most of the tombs of Toscanella, however, are sunk beneath the surface of the ground, as at Vulci. Campanari's excavations have been principally in the table-land on the west of the town. Here it was that the tomb with the Niobe sarcophagus, and twenty-six others, were discovered; and here I found Signor Carlo at work on an adjoining sepulchre, which he hoped might yield an equally rich harvest. He was disappointed, however: all was here ruin and disorder. Sarcophagi of stone and terra-cotta broken and inverted — fragments of pottery and bronzes scattered at various depths, — everything was worthless. It was plain that the tomb had been previously rifled, and its contents, not being of value, were wantonly destroyed, and reburied carelessly with the loose earth.

Signor Carlo was at the same time superintending excavations in the neighbouring tenuta of his relative, the Marchese Persiani. Here, in a shallow pit, was found a chest p457of stone, in size and form like a large dog-kennel, yet an imitation of a house or temple; for it had a door moulded at one end, and a gable roof, with beams beneath the eaves. It lay so little below the surface, that it was surprising it had not been brought to light by the plough. The form of this urn is not uncommon. What was most remarkable was, that id did not content the ashes of the dead; for they lay on the ground hard by, covered by a tazza. It was merely a monumental stone.

After witnessing at Vulci the ruthless destruction of every article which bore no pecuniary value, it was pleasing to observe the different spirit in which the excavations at Toscanella were conducted. Here, every article, every fragment, was carefully laid aside by the workmen, to be submitted to Signor Carlo's inspection.

The Etruscan pottery found at Toscanella is of very inferior quality. It is strange that the beautiful, painted vases, unearthed in thousands at Vulci, and never found in this necropolis. Yet the distance is but fourteen or fifteen miles. Are we to suppose that the Tuscanienses could not afford to purchase such valuable furniture? Yet that Tuscania was not poverty-stricken, is clear from the rich bronzes, gold ornaments, and jewellery, found in its subterranean chambers. We must rather regard such differences in sepulchral matters as the result of fashion, prejudice, or caprice.

Some years since, Signor Campanari, wishing to carry on his excavations on a larger scale, set about forming a society or company for the purpose, when the Government, which was suspicious of all associations or leagues whatsoever, stepped forward and at once opposed and furthered his design by offering itself as his coadjutor. In Italy as in Spain —

Allà van leyes

De quieren reyes —

p458 "Laws go where sovereigns please." So he accepted the offer, — and on these terms. Expenses and returns to be shared equally; but Campanari to receive a stated annual sum for his personal superintendence and direction. In the partition of the spoil one party was to make the division, the other the selection; and as Campanari knew the value of such articles better than most men, the Government left the division to him, and reserved to itself the choice. Thus he laboured for some time in the Tenuta di Camposcala at Vulci; and the result was — the Gregorian Museum. The Government used to exchange with him the least valuable articles which had fallen to its share for others of greater beauty and rarity; for its aim was to form a perfect museum, which, while comprehending specimens of the various objects found in Etruscan tombs, should contain articles of first-rate excellence as works of art, or of superior interest as illustrative of the manners, customs, and creed of the ancients. The Prussian and Bavarian governments have acted on the same principle; but with the English, says Campanari, it was "the most for our money." Our government sought number rather than excellence, and rejected some of his most beautiful articles, contenting itself with a large number of inferior value.

The collection in the British Museum, though rich in vases, is far from comprehensive. It needs small experience in Etruscan antiquities to perceive that it contains the sepulchral furniture, not of Etruria at large, but of one circumscribed district. It may well represent the ager Tarquiniensis and Vulcentanus — but beyond that, how deficient! You look in vain for the tall cock-crowned jars, and the black relieved ware of Chiusi and Sarteano — for the square altars or cippi, and the fantastic canopi of the same district, all most peculiarly Etruscan in character — Where are the large, archaic jars of Caere and Veii, or their head-handled urns? — p459where the more modern pottery of Arezzo and Volterra? — where the alabaster urns of the latter place, or the sandstone and travertine ones of Chiusi and Perugia? — These are represented either not at all, or by solitary and inferior articles. In Etruscan bronzes also the Museum is still deficient; and till the very recent acquisition of those from Monte Falterona, it was difficult to gather from it a confirmation of the Tyrrhene renown in toreutics. And yet such superb specimens of Etruscan skill as the lamp of Cortona are within reach. Of mirrors there is scarcely one of extraordinary excellence or interest, such as that of Bacchus and Semele which forms the frontispiece of this volume — though such ought to be possessed by a Museum like the British. But the truth is, that our national trustees are rarely aware of the existence of such relics, till long after their discovery, when they have already passed into other Museums. Since Mr. Millingen's death we have had no agent in Italy, for the purpose of antiquities — and that venerable antiquary was incapable of active research. Many European Governments send competent men from time to time, or maintain them in the country to search for these relics; but we are content to wait till they are brought to us, whereby we lose many an opportunity of obtaining objects of great merit and interest. Our reputation for wealth may secure us the offer of articles on which an extraordinary value is set; but those of inferior price, not always of inferior merit, pass into the hands of more energetic collectors. Why should we not, like some of the German Powers, have travelling-fellows of the Museum, who might yearly visit these classic lands in the season of the relic-harvest, and make acquisitions for national benefit? This system ought to be applied not to Etruria only, but to Magna Graecia, Sicily, Greece, Egypt, and other countries of the ancient world.

p460 The sarcophagi, which are so abundant at Toscanella, are not so saleable as the more portable articles; yet the best will fetch high prices. For that of the Niobides, for example, the Papal Government has offered 70l. or 80l., which is not sufficient to tempt Campanari to part with it; and the matter is still in abeyance. A market for these sarcophagi mi, perhaps, be found in England, for from their picturesque character and durability, they would be admirably adapted to the adornment of pleasure-grounds.

"Imperial Caesar, dead, and used to clay,

Might stop a hole to keep the wind away!"

Conceive the illustrious dead of Etruria, the priestly princes before whom Rome used to tremble, reclining in effigy on the close-shorn turf or the prim walks of some Strawberry Hill — the gaping-stock of bumpkins and the recording tablet of cockney insignificance! Yet better thus, where by some at least they would be appreciated and respected, than to remain in Italy, where, unless they chance to gain admission into a museum, or fall into the hands of some philarchaeist, they would be applied to the basest purposes, like the so‑called "Juliet's Tomb" at Verona. The expense of freight to England, together with land-carriage in Italy, would be under 10l. each sarcophagus, according to Signor Carlo's computation, who has shipped a whole museum to this country; and unless of extraordinary beauty, the total cost of each would average less than 20l.

The man of antiquarian tastes might spend a week or two of winter pleasantly enough at Toscanella, watching the progress of the excavations, exploring the sepulchres and the picturesque ravines, examining or sketching San Pietro and Sta. Maria, and the singular relics in Campanari's garden; and such quiet pursuits might be diversified by excursions to places in the neighbourhood, or by p461an occasional boar-hunt, in company with the squirearchy of Toscanella.

A ride of fifteen or sixteen miles will take him to Montefiascone, by a road too rugged for carriages, yet abounding in beautiful scenery — of which the wild open plain, with its belt of mountains, robed in purple or snow, groves of picturesque cork-trees, a mediaeval castle in ruins, and the lovely lake of Bolsena, with its fairy islets, are the principal features. Viterbo is somewhat nearer, and the road is carriageable, though very inferior in beauty;31 Vetralla is about eighteen miles distant, but the road is a mere bridle-path. Castel d'Asso, Norchia and Bieda, are also within an easy distance, but not of easy access, owing to the numerous, perplexing ravines which intersect the plain; and a guide is indispensable. To Vulci it is fourteen or fifteen miles; and to Corneto about seventeen — both carriage-roads. So that within a morning's ride or drive you have all the most interesting sites of the great Etruscan plain.

The Author's Notes:

1 Inghirami always regarded this patera as for libations; and so also Micali (Mon. Ined. p311). It may be so far as libations were connected with banquets, but the primary meaning of it here is evidently festive.

2 Inghirami (Mon. Etrus. II p628) thinks that this nudity is indicative of apotheosis.

3 See Chapter XVIII. page 365.

4 Florus (I.5),º Livy (I.11), and Dionysius (II. p105) ascribe the use of rings in very early times to the Sabines. Pliny, however, asserts that the custom of wearing rings was derived from the Greeks. He adds, that none of the statues of the early kings, save those of Numa and S. Tullius, were represented with them, not even those of the Tarquins (XXXIII.4, 6), at which he (p445)greatly marvels. It is probable that the custom was introduced into either Greece or Etruria from the East. We learn from these sepulchral statues that rings were usually worn by the Etruscans, as by the Greeks and Romans, on the fourth finger of the left hand (A. Gell. X.10; Macrob. Saturn. VII.13; Isidor. Orig. XIX.32; the reason of which is said to be, that the Egyptians had discovered by dissection, that a certain nerve — Isidore says a vein — led from that finger to the heart; and that digit was singled out the distinction accordingly. Ateius Capito (ap. Macrob. loc. cit.) give a more plausible reason.

5 In early times the Romans emulated Spartan severity, and wore iron rings for signets. It was long ere the senators circled their fingers with gold. Iron was emphatically the metal of the stern Romans of old, and it was a sense of the degeneracy indued by luxury that made Pliny (loc. cit.) exclaim:— "His was the greatest crime in life, who first arrayed his fingers in gold." Even Marius in his triumph over Jugurtha, though an Etruscan crown of gold was held over his head from behind, wore a ring of mere iron; and a similar ring, as Pliny remarks, was probably on the hand of the conqueror, and of the slave who held the crown. After it was disgraceful for a man to wear more than one ring, and women wore none, except what a virgin received from her betrothed, and she might wear two gold ones. Isid. Orig. loc. cit. But, in after times, with the excess of luxury, the Romans used not only to wear a ring on every finger (Mart. V. epig. 6, 5), but many on each joint (Mart. V. epig. 11); and to cover their hands with them, so that Quintilian (XI.3) was obliged to caution would‑be orators on this subject. Martial (XI. epig. 59), speaks of a man who wore six on every finger! and recommends another, who had one of a monstrous size, to wear it on his leg instead of his hand (XI. epig. 37). To such extravagant effeminacy was this habit carried, that even slaves, like Crispinus, had a different set of rings for summer and for winter, those for the latter season being too heavy for hot weather. Juven. Sat. I.28:—

Ventilet aestivum digitis sudantibus aurum,

Nec sufferre queat majoris pondera gemmae.

Well might Juvenal add —

Difficile est satiram non scribere.

6 This is probably the conventional mode of expressing apotheosis. Thus, Horace (Od. III.3, 31) represents Augustus, though living, as a demigod, reclining with Pollux and Hercules:—

Quos inter Augustus recumbens

Purpurem bibit ore nectar.

7 Claudian. Rapt. Proserp. II.326.

8 Bull. Inst. 1839, p24. One figure is said to have been painted black, and to have negro's features.

9 The repetition of the name with an addition is not unique. It is found also on an urn at Perugia — "Ls Varna Varnas Ateial." Vermigl. Sepolcro de' Volumni, p52. So occasionally in Roman names — L. Sextius SextinusQuintus Quinctius Cincinnatus.

10 The beauty of the Etruscan women is attested by Theopompus (ap. Athen. XII c3). Begoë was an Etruscan nymph, who wrote on the Ara Fulguritarum, or art of divination from things stuck by lightning, and her books were preserved at Rome, in the Temple of Apollo (Serv. ad Aen. VI.72). Lactantius (ad Stat. Theb. IV.516) speaks of an Etruscan nymph, who performed such feats as would have made Sullivan the Whisperer stare with astonishment. She whispered the dread name of God into the ear of a bull, and he fell dead at her feet. This nymph Müller (Etrusk. III, 4, 2) thinks was no other than Begoë. Gerhard (Gottheiten der Etrusker, p44) suggests the same. Tanaquil's powers of divination are well known. Liv. I.34; Arnob. adv. Nat. V.18; Claudian. Laus Serenae, 16. Her magic zone, with its amulet properties, is mentioned by Festus, v. Praedia.

11 See the the woodcut at page 451. This disc-like cippus recals to mind the stone laid on the tumulus of Phocus in Aegina, with which Peleus, according to the legend, using it as a discus, struck Phocus and slew him. Pausan. II.29

The inscription on this cippus is Eca. SVthI. Larthial. TAR. . . .S. Sacniv. The fourth word, which is the gentilitial name, was most probably "Tarchnas," or Tarquinius, for there is just space sufficient for the missing letters. This seems to indicate the existence of a branch of the Tarquin family at Tuscania, as well as at Caere, where their tomb has recently been discovered. See Bull. Inst. 1847, pp55‑60.

Tarchnas: but see also Dennis's note on the name in his discussion of the Tomb of the Tarquins at Cervetri.

12 An illustration of it is given in the woodcut at the head of this Chapter; but the bas-relief is in a much better style of art than is there exhibited. The monument is about 7 feet in length.

13 Lasus (ap. Aelian. V. H. XII. c36), Apollodorus (III.5.6), Ovid (Met. VI.182), and Hyginus (Fab. IX. XI), give her seven children of each sex. The same is implied by Euripides (Phoen. 162). Homer (Il. XXIV.604) says they were twelve in number —

Ἓξ μὲν θυγατέρες, ἓξδ᾽ υἱέες ἡβώοντες.

Eustathius (ad locum) and Propertius (II. eleg. 20, 7) follow his version. Sappho (ap. A. Gell. XX.7) increases them to eighteen; Hesiod (ap. Apollod. loc. cit.) to twenty, in which he is followed by Pindar, Mimnermus, and Bacchylides (ap. Aelian. loc. cit.; A. Gell. loc. cit.). Alcman (ap. Aelian. l.c.) reduces the number to half. Herodorusº (ap. Apollod. l.c.) alone, makes the number less than is represented on this sarcophagus — two sons and three daughters. This discrepancy is cited by A. Gellius as an instance of the strange and ridiculous diversity in Greek poetic fables. He adds, that some say there were only three children in all.

14 On an Etruscan amphora, once in Campanari's possession, was a still more singular version of Achilles' triumph. His chariot dragging the corpse was driven by his aurigae round the tomb of Patroclus; while he, though completely armed, and though the steeds were at full gallop, was giving proof of his "swift-footed" powers, by running at its side, looking back on the mangled corpse of his foe. Bull. Inst. 1841, p134 — Braun.

15 From coins of Augustus and other Roman remains found in the tomb, this sarcophagus has been considered as late as that Emperor. Bull. Inst. 1839, p40.— Abeken. See also 1839, p25 (Jahn), for an account of this monument.

16 Micali, Ant. Pop. Ital. II p246.

17 This beautiful urn is shown in Mus. Gregor. I. tav. 93, 1.

18 Pliny (XXXV.46) remarks that many people preferred being interred in coffins of earthern-ware — fictilibus soliis.

19 See p428. The column on which the capital rests in the above cut does not belong to it. Several capitals of similar character have been found in various parts of Italy — one at Salerno, another at Cora, a third, without volutes, is in the Museum of Berlin (Bull. Inst. 1830, p136; Mon. Ined. Inst. II. tav. 20), and a fourth has been recently discovered by Mr. Ainsley, at Sovana (see Chapter XXVI); and fragments of others have been found at Rome and Pompeii.

20 See an article on this subject by Cav. Canina, Ann. Inst. 1835, pp187‑194.

21 For further accounts of the sarcophagi and other antiquities in the possession of the Campanari, see Bull. Inst. 1834, p177; 1839, pp23‑28, Jahn; 1841, pp129‑136, Braun.

22 Plin. III.8.

23 See pp273, 463. Vestiges of this road are to be seen in the glen beneath S. Pietro towards the Marta.

24 Yet Micali (Ant. Pop. Ital. III, p97), without any apparent authority, doubts if "Tuscania can pretend to the primitive antiquity of Etruria." But Müller (Etrusk. einl. 2, 11), an authority of greater weight, assigns it an origin in the earliest times of the Etruscan state. It would seem impossible to doubt the identity of Tuscania with Toscanella. Yet Sarzana in 1783 wrote a thick quarto to prove that Viterbo is the true Tuscania, in answer to a work entitled "Memorie Istoriche della città Tuscania, che ora volgarmente dicesi Toscanella."

25 Bull. Inst. 1839, p28.

26 They have already been taken for Etruscan, and supposed to have been built over Etruscan graves, and to "have formed the centre of some immense sepulchral mound, similar to the Cucumella at Vulci."— Sepulchres of Etruria, p326. Nothing, however, is more improbable. This height, from its relative position, its local character, and the ancient walling and sewers, was obviously a portion of the Etruscan town — most probably the citadel.

27 A description of this sarcophagus has been published by the elder Campanari. "Dell' urna con basso-rilievo ed epigrafe di Arunte, figlio di Lare, trionfatore Etrusco. Roma, 1825."

28 Plin. Nat. Hist. XXXVI.19,4.

29 The tomb receives its name from the figure of a female found painted on the wall, when it was opened ages since, but now utterly obliterated. A plan and plate of this tomb are given by Micali, Ant. Pop. Ital. tav. LXIII.

30 Ut supra, p38. Abeken, while holding the same opinion, regards these Toscanella columbaria as Roman, about the fourth century of the City. Mittelitalien, p258. Similar columbaria have been discovered beneath the surface at Toscanella, but without inscriptions to determine their antiquity — nothing beyond small cinerary pots.

31 At a spot, called Cippolara, about half-way between Toscanella and Viterbo, are many tombs; and here Buonarroti, in 1694 (p99, ap. Dempst. de Etr. Reg. II), found urns and cippi with inscriptions. See Santi Bartoli, Sepolcri Antichi, tav. XCVII.

[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 4 Jan 10