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

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

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

[image ALT: link to previous section]
previous
Chapter
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]
next
Chapter

p167 Chapter XLI

VOLTERRA. — VOLATERRAE.

The Museum.


[image ALT: zzz]
ETRUSCAN MARINE DEITY.

D' Italia l' antico

Pregio, e l' opra che giova.

Filicaja.

Miratur, facilesque oculos fert omnia circum

Aeneas, capiturque locis; et singula laetus

Exquiritque auditque virûm monimenta priorum

Virgil.

Some consolation for the loss of the tombs which have been opened and reclosed at Volterra is to be derived from the Museum, to which their contents for the most part have been removed. Here is treasured up the accumulated sepulchral spoil of more than a century. The collection was in great part formed by Monsignor Guarnacci, a prelate of Volterra, and has since received large additions, so that it may now claim to be the most valuable collection of Etruscan antiquities in the world.1

p168 Valuable, not in a marketable sense, for a dozen of the Vulcian vases and paterae in the Gregorian Museum would purchase the contents of any one of its nine or ten rooms; and the collection at Munich, or that in the British Museum, would fetch more dollarsa in the market than the entire Museum of Volterra, with the Palazzo Pubblico to boot. But for the light they thrown on the manners, busts, religious creed, and traditions of the ancient Etruscans, the storied urns of Volterra are of infinitely more value than the choicest vases ever moulded by the hand of Eucheir, or touched by the pencil of Eugrammos. The latter almost invariably bear scenes taken from the mythical cycle of the Greeks, and, with rare exceptions, throw no light on the history or on the inner life of the Etruscans. The urns of Volterra, Chiusi, and Perugia, on the other hand, are more genuine — native in conception and execution, often indeed bearing subjects from the Greek mythology, but treated in a native manner, and according to Etruscan traditions. Thus the Museum of Volterra is a storehouse of facts, illustrative of the civilisation of ancient Etruria. I cannot agree with Maffei, that "he who has not been to Volterra knows nothing of Etruscan figured antiquity"2 — this is too like the unqualified boastings of the other Peninsula.b He was a townsman of Volterra, and his evidence may be suspected of p169partiality. Yet it may fairly be said, that this Museum is more instructive than any other collection of Etruscan antiquities in Italy or in other lands, and that Volterra on this account yield in interest to no other Etruscan site. He who has seen it may be content to pass by many other sites, and he who has not visited it, must bear in mind that, however much he may have seen, he has yet much to see.

I do not propose to lead the reader through the nine or ten rooms of the Museum in succession, and describe the articles seriatim; nor do I pretend to give him every detail of those I notice; it will suffice to call his attention to those of greatest interest, pointing out their subjects and characteristic features; assuring him that not a single visit, or even two or three, will suffice to make him acquainted with the Museum, but that continued study will only tend to develop new facts and supply him with further sources of interest.

The urns, of which there are said to be more than four hundred, are sometimes of the local rock called panchina, but more generally of alabaster, which is only to be quarried in this neighbourhood. Thus no doubt can be entertained of their native and local character.3 They are miniature sarcophagi, resembling those of Tarquinii and Toscanella in everything but material and size; being intended to p170contain not the entire body, but merely the ashes of the deceased, a third of the dimensions suffices, —

Mors sola fatetur

Quantula sunt hominum corpuscula.

These "ash-chests" are rarely more than two feet in length; so that they merit the name, usually applied to them, of urnlets — urnette. Most have the effigy of the deceased recumbent on the lid. Hence we learn something of the physiognomy and costume of the Etruscans; though we should do wrong to draw inferences as to their symmetry from the stunted distorted figures often presented to us. The equality of woman in the social state of Etruria may also be learned from the figures on these urns. It is evident that no inferior respect was paid to the fair when dead, that as much labour and expense were bestowed on their sepulchral decorations as on those of their lords. In fact, it has generally been remarked that the tombs of females are more highly ornamented and richly furnished than those of the opposite sex. Their equality may also be learned from the tablets which so many hold open in their hands4 — intimating that they were not kept in ignorance and degradation, but were educated to be the companions rather than the slaves of the men. Nay — if we may judge from these urns, the Etruscan ladies had the advantage of their lords; for whereas the p171latter are rarely represented with tablets or a scroll, but generally recline in luxurious indolence, with chaplet around their brows, torque about their neck, and a patera, or the more debauched rhyton in one hand. with sometimes a wine-jug in the other; the females, though a few seem to have been too fond of creature comforts, are, for the most part, guiltless of anything beyond a fan, an egg, a pomegranate, a mirror, or it may be tablets or a scroll. Though the Etruscan fair ones were not all Tanaquils or Begoës, they were probably all educated — at least among the higher orders. Let them not, however, be suspected of cerulean tendenciesc — too dark or deep a hue was clearly not in fashion; for the ladies who have the tablets in one hand, generally hold a pomegranate, the emblem of fertility, in the other, to intimate that the grand duties of woman were not to be neglected — at least I think this interpretation may be put on these Etruscan "belles and pomegranates."5

On these urns the female figures are always decently draped, while the men are generally but half clad. Most of the figures and reliefs were originally coloured and gilt, but few now retain more than very faint traces of such decoration.

As to the reliefs on the urns, it may be well to consider them in two classes; those of purely Etruscan subjects, and those which illustrate well-known mythological legends; though it is often difficult to pronounce to which class a particular monument belongs. We will first treat of the latter.

It has been truly remarked, that from Etruscan urns might be formed a series of the most celebrated deeds of the mythical cycle, from Cadmus to Ulysses. Many p172links in such a chain might be furnished by the Museum of Volterra, which also contains other monuments illustrative of the doings of the divinities of Grecian fable. I can only notice the most striking.

The Rape of Proserpine.— The gloomy king of Hades is carrying off his struggling bride in his chariot; the four steeds, lashed to a gallop by a truculent Fury with outspread wings, who acts as charioteer, are about to pass over a Triton, whose tail stretches in vast coils almost across the scene. In another relief of the same subject a snake takes the place of the sea-monster.6

Aurora.— The goddess who "gives light to mortals and immortals," is rising in her chariot from the waves, in which dolphins are sporting.7

Cupid and Psyche.— One relief represents the god of p173love embracing his bride; each having but a single wing.8

Actaeon attacked by his dogs.— This scene is remarkable only for the presence of a winged Fury, who sits by with a torch reversed.9 On another urn Diana with a lance stands on one side, and an old man on the other.10

Centaurs and Lapithae.— A subject often repeated. In conformity Ovid's description, some of the monsters are striving to escape with the females they have seized, while others are hurling rocks at Theseus and his fellows.11 From the numerous repetitions of certain subjects on Etruscan urns, sometimes precisely similar, more frequently with slight variations, it is evident that there was often one original type of the scene, probably the work of some celebrated artist.

Perseus and Andromeda.— The maiden is chained to the walls of a cavern; the fearful monster is opening his huge jaws to devour her, when Perseus comes to her rescue. Contrary to the received legend, she is here draped. Her father Cepheus sits by, horror-struck at the impending fate of his daughter. The presence of a winged demon — probably the Juno of the maiden — is an Etruscan peculiarity. On another similar relief, the protecting spirit is wanting but some palm-trees mark the scene to be in Ethiopia.12

p174 The mythical history of Thebes has afforded numerous subjects to these Etruscan urns — perhaps chosen for the moral of retributive justice throughout expressed.

Cadmus.— Here he is contending with the dragon of Mars, which has enfolded one of his companions in its fearful coils.13 There he is combating with the armed men who sprung from the teeth of the dragon which Minerva ordered him to sow — his only weapon being the plough with which he had opened the furrows. This scene, however, will apply to Jason, as well as to Cadmus, for the former is said to have sown half the teeth of the same dragon, and to have reaped the same fruits. This is a very common subject on Etruscan urns, especially on those of terra-cotta.14

p175 Oedipus and the Sphinx.— The son of Laius is solving the riddle put to him by

"That sad inexplicable beast of prey,"

whose "man-devouring" tendencies are seen in a human skull beneath her paws. A Fury with a torch stands behind the monster.15

Oedipus slaying Laius.— He has dragged his father from his chariot, and thrown him to the earth; and is about to plunge his sword into his body, heedless of the warning of a Juno, who lays her hand on his shoulder, as if to restrain his fury. Another winged being, a male, whose brute ears mark him as allied to "Charun," stands by the horses' heads.16

Amphiaraus and Eriphyle.— In some of these scenes a female, reclining on her couch, is thought to represent the treacherous

"Eriphyle, that for an ouche of gold,

Hath privily unto the Grekis told

Where that her husbond hid him in a place,

For which he had at Thebis sory grace."

For behind her stands a figure, thought to be Polynices, with the necklace of Harmonie in his hand, with which he had bribed her; and on the other side is a man muffled, as if for a journey, who is supposed to represent Amphiaraus.17

p176 The Seven before Thebes.— There are three urns with this subject. One, which represents the assault of Capaneus on the Electrian Gate of Thebes, is very remarkable. The moment is chosen when the hero, who had defied the power of Jove, and has endeavoured to scale "the sacred walls," is struck by a thunderbolt, and falls headlong to earth; his ladder also breaking with him. The amazement and awe of his comrades are well expressed. The gate of the city is evidently an imitation of the ancient one of Volterra, called Porta all'Arco; for it is represented with the three mysterious heads around it, precisely in the same relative positions.18 In the other two urns Capaneus is wanting, though an assault on the gate is represented; but the original type is still evident, though the three heads are transferred to the battlements above, and are turned into those of warriors resisting the attack of the besiegers. In one of these scenes a female, probably Antigone, is looking out of a small window by the side of the gate. And in both, the principal figure among the besiegers grasps a severed head by the hair, and is about to hurl it into the city.19

p177 Polynices and Eteocles.— The fatal combat of the Theban Brothers is a subject of most frequent occurrence on Etruscan urns, and there are many instances in this Museum. They are generally represented in the act of giving each other the death-wound. A Charun, or a Fury, or it may be two, are present.20

The Trojan War has also furnished scenes for some of these urns, though this class of subjects is not so frequently represented on urns or sarcophagi as on vases.

The Rape of Helen.— A scene often repeated. "The faire Tyndarid lasse," is hurried on board a "brazen-beaked ship" — attendants are carrying vases and other goods on board —

— crateres auro solidi, captivaque vestis

Congeritur —

all is hurry and confusion — but Paris, marked by his Phrygian cap, is seated on the shore in loving contemplation of

the face that launched a thousand ships,

And burnt the topmost towers of Ilium"

Sometimes the fond pair are represented making their escape in a quadriga.21

p178 One scene represents the death of Polites, so beautifully described by Virgil.22 The youth has fled to the altar for refuge, the altar of his household gods, by which stand his venerable parents; but the relentless Pyrrhus rushes on, thirsting for his blood — Priam implores mercy for his son — even his guardian genius steps in to his aid, and holds out a wheel to his grasp. The urn tells no more, but leaves the catastrophe — finis Priami fatorum — to the imagination of the beholder.23

A scene very similar to this shows Paris, when a shepherd, ere he had been rendered effeminate by the caresses of Helen, defending himself against his brothers, who, enraged that a stranger should have carried off the prizes from them in the public games, sought to take his life. The palm he bears in his hand, as he kneels on the altar to which he had fled for refuge, tells the tale. The venerable Priam comes up and recognises his son. A Juno, or guardian spirit, steps between him and his foes.24

Ulysses and the Syrens is a favourite subject. The hero is represented lashed by his own command to the p179mast of his vessel, yet struggling to break loose, that he may yield to the three enchantresses and their "warbling charms."25

The great hero of Homeric song is also represented in the company of Circe,

"The daughter of the Sun, whose charmed cup

Whoever tasted lost his upright shape;"

for his companions, her victims, stand around, their heads changed

"Into some brutish form of wolf or bear,

Or ounce, or tiger, hog, or bearded goat.

All other parts remaining as they were."

The death of Clytemnestra.— This is a favourite subject, chosen, doubtless, as illustrative of the doctrine of retribution. In one scene the matricide is reclining on her couch, when Orestes and Pylades rush in with drawn swords; one seizes her, the other her paramour Aegisthus, and a winged Fate stands by to betoken their end.26 In another, she lies a corpse on her bed, the avengers are returning from the slaughter. But the most remarkable monument is a large, broken urn, on which Orestes — "Urste" — is represented in the act of slaying his mother, "Clutmsta," and his companion is putting to death Aegisthus. At one end of the same relief the two friends, "Urste" and "Puluctre" (Pylades), are kneeling on an altar, with swords turned against their own bosoms, making expiation, with the truculent, brute-eared "Charun," with his fatal hammer raised, and a Fury with flaming torch, and hissing serpent, are rising from the abyss at their feet.27 On the broken fragment adjoining this urn is a p180warrior also kneeling on an altar, with two other figures falling around him, to which are attached the names "Acns" and "Priumnes."28

Orestes persecuted by the Furies.— There are here not three only of these avengeful deities, but five, armed with torches or hammers, attacking the son of Agamemnon, who endeavours to defend himself with the sword.29

Many of the urns bear mythological subjects purely native. The most numerous class is that of marine deities, generally figured as women from the middle upwards, but fishes' tails instead of legs —

Desinit in piscem mulier formosa superne.

A few, however, are represented of the male sex, as that in the woodcut at the head of this chapter. These beings are generally winged also, probably to show their super-human power and energy; and smaller wings often spring from their temples — a common attribute of Etruscan divinities, symbolical, it may be, of a rapidity and power p181of intellectual action, far transcending that of mortals.30 They have not serpent-locks, or the resemblance of their heads to that of the Greek Medusa would be complete; but they have sometimes a pair of snakes knotted around their brows, and uprearing their crests, just like those which are the distinctive mark of Egyptian gods and monarchs. This trifold divinities bear sometimes a trident or anchor, a rudder or oar, to indicate their dominion over the sea — sometimes a sword, or it may be, a firebrand or mass of rock, to show their might over the earth also, and their power of destruction, or their malignant character; which they further display by brandishing these weapons over the head of their victims. They are often represented with a torque about their necks. Marine deities would naturally be much worshipped by a people, whose power lay greatly in their commerce and maritime supremacy; and accordingly the active imaginations of the Etruscans were thus led to symbolise the destructive agencies of nature at sea. For these are evidently beings to be propitiated, whose vengeance is to be averted; very unlike the gentle power to which the Italian sailor now looks for succour in the hour of peril —

In mare irato, in subita procella,

Invoco te, nostra benigna stella!

It is highly probable that these sea-gods were of Etruscan origin; yet as we are ignorant of their native appellations, it may be well to designate them, as is generally done, by the names of the somewhat analogous beings of Grecian mythology, to which, however, they do not answer in every respect. The females then are p182usually called Scylla,31 though wanting the peculiar characteristic of that monster, who

Pube premit rabidos inguinibusque canes.

The male sea-divinities, which are of less frequent occurrence, are commonly called Glaucus.32 On one urn such a being is enfolding a struggling warrior in the coils of each tail.33 In another, he has thus entangled two figures of opposite sexes, and is seizing them by the hair.34 One of these deities, illustrated in the woodcut at the head of this chapter, has an eye in either wing, a symbol, it may be, of all-searching power, added to that of ubiquitous energy.35

When, instead of fishes' tails, the woman's body terminates in snakes, she is commonly called Echidna, the p183sister of Medusa and the Gorgons, the mother of Cerberus, the Hydra, the Chimaera, the Sphinx, and other mythical monsters, and herself,

πέλωρον, ἀμήχανον, οὐδὲν ἐοικὸς

Θνητοῖς ἀνθρώποις, οὐδ᾽ ἀθανάτουσι θεοῖσι,

Σπῆι ἐνι γλαφυρῶ θείην κρατερόφρον Ἔσιδναν·

Ἥμισυ μὲν νύμφην, ἑλιώπιδα, καλλιπάρῃον,

Ἥμισυ δ᾽ αὒτε πέλωρον ὅφιν, δεινόν τε μέγαν τε,

Ποικίλον, ὠμηστὴν, ζαθέης ὑπὸ κεῦθεσι γαίης.36

"Stupendous, nor in shape resembling aught

Of human or of heavenly; monstrous, fierce

Echidna; half a nymph, with eyes of jet

And beauty-blooming cheeks; and half again

A speckled serpent, terrible and vast,

Gorged with blood-banquets; trailing her huge folds

Deep in the hollows of the blessed earth."

Akin to her is the male divinity, the

"Typhon huge, ending in snaky twine,"

already treated of in describing the tombs of Corneto.37 He is said to have been her lover, and the progenitor of all those monsters,

"Horrible, hideous, and of hellish race,

Born of the brooding of Echidna base."

As the fish is emblematical of the depths of the sea, so the serpent would seem to symbolise those of the land; and we shall probably not be mistaken in regarding these snake-tailed beings as personifying the subterranean powers of nature, such as have to do with fissures and caverns, and especially such as regard volcanic disturbances.38 That these destructive agencies should have been deified in a p184land which, in various ages, has experienced from them terrible catastrophes, and which, on every hand, bears traces of their effects, is no more than might be expected; and their relation to the sepulchre among a people who always committed their dead to the caverns of the rock, or to the bowels of the earth, will be readily understood.

Some of these urns have the heads alone of these wing-browed divinities, which, in certain cases, degenerate into mere masks. One head, with serpents tied beneath the chin, is not unlike Da Vinci's celebrated Medusa in the Florence Gallery. Other urns bear representations of dolphins sporting on the waves, marine-horses, or hippocampi.39

Et quae marmoreo fert monstra sub aequora pontus —

symbols, it may be, of maritime power, but more probably of the passage of the soul to another state of existence; which is clearly the case where one of these monsters bears a veiled figure on his back.40

Other twofold existences are of the earth. Centaurs, of both sexes, not combating their established foes the Lapithae, but forming the sole or chief subject in the scene; sometimes with wings; sometimes robed with a lion's skin, and holding a large bough. Etruscan centaurs, be it observed, especially those on early monuments, have generally the fore-legs of a man, the hind ones only of a horse.41 Like the sea-monsters, the centaur may be a symbol of the passage of the soul.42

p185 Griffons are also favourite subjects on these urns. That they are embodiments of some evil and destructive power, is evident in their compound of lion and eagle. And thus they are generally represented; now, like beasts of prey, tearing some animal to pieces; now overthrowing the Arismaspes, who sought to steal the gold they guarded.43

One small urn has the legs and seat of a couch carved in relief on its front, and a complete of small birds below, apparently picking up the crumbs. These have been interpreted as "the sacred fowls of Etruscan divination" — the birds from whose motions was learned the will of the gods.44 But to me they seem inserted merely to fill the vacant space beneath the banqueting-couch.

The reliefs illustrative of Etruscan life are the most interesting monuments in this collection. They may be divided into two classes; those referring to the customs, pursuits, and practices of the Etruscans in their ordinary life, and those which have a funereal import. It is not always easy to draw the distinction.

To commence with their sports. There are numerous representations of boar-hunts, of which the Etruscans of old were as fond as their modern descendants. The Tuscus p186aper, though celebrated in ancient times, can hardly have abounded as much as at present, when he has so much more uncultivated country for his range; for the Maremma, which was of old well populated, is now for the greater part a desert. Some of these scenes may have reference to Meleager and the boar of Calydon, or to the exploit of Hercules with the fierce beast of Erymanthus; for the subject is variously treated. Its frequent occurrence on urns, as well as on vases and in painted tombs, shows how much such sports were owing to the Etruscan taste.45

Other reliefs represent the games of the circus, which resembles that of the Romans, having a spina, surmounted by a row of cones or obelisks. In some of these scenes are bull-fights; in others, horse-races, or gladiatorial combats. The two latter games the Romans borrowed from the Etruscans.46

These urns, though not being of early date they can hardly be cited as proofs, yet tend to confirm the high probability that the circus, as well as its games, was of Etruscan origin. We know that the Romans had no such edifices before the accession of Tarquin, the first of the Etruscan dynasty, who built the Circus Maximus, and "sent for boxers and race-horses to Etruria;"47 and we p187know also, from the frequent representations of them in the painted tombs, that such sports must have been common in that land; so that it is a fair conclusion that similar structures to that Tarquin raised for their display, already existed there. As an Etruscan, he is likely to have chosen for his model some circus with which he was well acquainted — probably that of Tarquinii, his native city, and the metropolis of the Confederation. That no vestiges of such structures are extant may be accounted for by supposing them to have been of wood, as the scaffolding of the original Circus Maximus is said to have been.48

Processions there are of various descriptions — funeral, triumphal, and judicial. In one of the latter, four judges or magistrates, wrapt in togas, are proceeding to judgment. Before them march two lictors, each with a pair of rods or wands, which may represent the fasces without the secures or hatchets, just as they were carried by Roman lictors, before one of the consuls when in the City.49 They are preceded by a slave, bearing a curule chair, another insigne of authority, and, like the lictors and fasces, of Etruscan origin.50 Other slaves carry the scrinium or p188capsa, a cylindrical box for the documents, and pugillares, or wax tablets for noting down the proceedings.51

On another urn the four magistrates are returning from judgment, having descended from their seats on the elevated platform. The lictors, who precede them in this case, bear forked rods. They are encountered by a veiled female, with her two daughters, and two little children of tender age — the family, it must be, of the criminal come to implore mercy for the husband and father.52

Here are also triumphal processions, which history tells us the Etruscans had as well as the Romans;53 and which, in fact, are generally attributed to the former people,54 though there is no positive evidence of such an origin, beyond the introduction into such processions of golden or gilt chariots, drawn by four horses; the earlier triumphs having been on foot.55 Here are instances of both modes, the victor being preceded by cornicines or trumpeters, by fifers and harpers, and where he is in a chariot, by a lictor also with a wand.56 The Etruscanism of the scene lies in p189the winged genius, who, with a torch in her hand, is seated on one of the horses.57 It may be that the scene is rather funereal than festive, and that the figure in the chariot with the attributes of triumph is intended to represent a soul entering on a new state of existence. This is rendered more probably by the analogy of the funeral procession in the Grotta del Tifone at Corneto, where souls are attended by demons, one with a torch, and by figures bearing wands, preceded by a cornicen.58

Of marriages, no representation, which has not a mythical reference, has yet been found on the sepulchral urns of Etruria, though most of the earlier writers on these antiquities mistook the farewell-scenes, presently to be described, where persons of opposite sexes stand hand in hand, for scenes of nuptial festivity.59

There are several representations of sacrifices; the priest pouring a libation on the head of the bull about to be slain. In one case the victim is a donkey — the delight of the garden-god, —

Caeditur et rigido custodi ruris asellus.

In another scene, a beast like a wolf is rising from a well, but is restrained by a chain held by two men, while p190a third pours a libation on his head, and a fourth strikes him down with an axe. It is evidently no ordinary sacrifice, for all the figures are armed.60

Here also is seen the dreadful rite of human sacrifice, too often performed by the Etruscans, as well as by the Greeks and Romans.61 The men who sit with their hands bound behind their backs, and on whose heads the priestesses are pouring libations, are probably captives about to be offered to a deity, or to the Manes of some hero. It may be the Trojans whom Achilles sacrificed to the shade of Patroclus; it may be Orestes and Pylades at the altar of Diana. Observe the altar in this scene. It is precisely like a Roman Catholic shrine, even to the very cross in the midst, for the panelling of the wall shows that form in relief.62

p191 In another scene the victim lies dead at the foot of the altar, and a winged genius sits in a tree hard by. Micali takes this to represent the oracle of Faunus, Inghirami that of Tiresias.63

Not all these sacrificial scenes are of this sanguinary character. Offerings of various descriptions are being brought to the altar, and in one case a tall amphora stands upon it.

On one urn, on which a young girl reclines in effigy, is a school scene, with half a dozen figures sitting together holding open scrolls; seeming to intimate that deceased had been cut off in the bloom of life, ere her education was complete.64 In this, as in certain other cases, there seems a relation between the figure on the lid and the bas-relief below, though in general the reliefs, especially when the subject is from the Grecian mythology, bear no apparent reference to the superincumbent effigy.65

Banqueting scenes are numerous, and bear a close resemblance to those in the painted tombs of Tarquinii and Clusium. There are generally several couches with a pair of figures of opposite sexes on each — a corroboration from p192another source of the high social civilisation of the Etruscans66 — and there are children of various ages standing around, sometimes embracing each other; pictures of domestic facility, such as are rarely seen on the monuments of antiquity. The usual musicians are present — subulones, with the double pipes; citharistae, with the lyre; and players of the syrinx or Pandean pipes — all, as well as the banqueters, crowned with garlands of roses. Tables, bearing refreshments, stand by the side of the couches, together with scamna or stools, on which the musicians stand, or by which the attendants ascend to fill the goblets of the banqueters, elevated as they are by lofty cushions.67 Just such tables and stools are often represented in relief against the bench of rock on which the body or sarcophagus was laid in the tomb — the banqueting hall of the dead.68

The most interesting scenes, because the most touching and pathetic, are those which depict the last moments of the deceased. A female is stretched on her couch; her father, husband, sisters or daughters are weeping around her; her little ones stand at her bed-side, unconscious how soon they are to be bereft of a mother's tenderness — a moment near at hand, as is intimated by the presence of a winged genius with a torch on the point of expiring. Sometimes the dying woman is delivering to her friend her tablets, open as though she had just been recording her thoughts upon them. This death-bed scene is a favourite subject. It may be remarked that the couches p193are sometimes recessed in alcoves, and sometimes canopied over like bed-steads, though in a more classical style. Behind the couch is often a column surmounted by a pine-cone, a common funereal emblem.69 Most of such scenes, however, bear but a metaphorical reference to the dread event. It has been already mentioned that souls are often symbolised by figures on horseback.70 On an urn, on the lid of which he reclines in effigy, a youth is represented on horseback about to start on that journey from which "no traveller returns," when his little sister rushes in, and strives to stay the horse's steps — in vain, for the relentless messenger of Death seizes the bridle and hurries him away. It is a simple tale, touchingly told; its truthful earnestness and expressive beauty are lost in the bare recital.

"An unskilled hand, but one informed

With genius, had the marble warmed

With that pathetic life."

There are many family-separations, all of deep interest. The most common is the parting of husband wife, embracing for the last time. That such is the import is proved by the fatal horse, in waiting to convey him or her to another world; and a Genius, or it may be p194grim Charun himself, in readiness as conductor, and a slave, with a large sack on his shoulders, to accompany him — intimating the length and dreariness of the journey — while his relations and little ones stand around, mourning his departure. Here the man is already mounted, driven away by Charun with his hammer, while a female genius affectionately throws her arm round the neck of disconsolate window, and tries to assuage her grief.71 Here again the man has mounted, and a group of females rush out frantically to stop him. In some the parting takes place at a column, the bourn that cannot be repassed; the living on this side, the dead on that; or at a doorway, one within, the other without, giving the last squeeze of the hand ere the door closes upon one for ever.72

There are many versions of this final separation, and the horse, or some other feature in the scene, is sometimes omitted; but the subject is still intelligibly expressed.73

Numerous urns represent the passage of the soul alone, without any parting-scene;74 and in these old Charun, grisly, savage, and of brutish aspect, with his hammer raised to strike, and often with a sword in the other hand, generally takes part; now leading the horse by the bridle, or clutching it by the mane; more often driving it before him, while a spirit of gentle aspect, and with torch p195inverted, takes the lead.75 The slave with a sack on his shoulder generally follows the funeral procession, and refers either to the length of the journey which requires such provision, or to the articles of domestic use with which the tomb was furnished, as he often carries a vase or pitcher in his hand. In some cases a vase, in others a Phrygian cap, lies under the horse's feet, as if to express that the delights and pursuits of this world were for ever abandoned, and cast aside as worthless; and on one urn a serpent occupies the same place, intimating the funeral character of the scene.76

As the good and bad demons on these urns are not to be distinguished by their colour, as in the painted tombs, they are to be recognised either by their attributes, by their features and expression, or by the offices they are performing. The good are handsome and gentle, the evil ill-favoured and truculent. Charun, in particular, has satyresque features and brute's ears, and in one case a horn on his forehead. The hammer or sword are his usual attributes, as well as those of his ministers; some of whom bear a torch instead, the general emblem of Furies.77 But the good spirits, in many cases, also hold a torch; indeed, this seems merely a funereal emblem, to distinguish between the living and the dead. As the flame symbolises the vital spark, the demon, in these farewell scenes, who stands p196on the side of the living holds his torch erect; he on the side of the dead has it inverted. The spirit, therefore, who leads the fatal horse, has it always turned downwards.78 When two demons with torches, thus differently arranged, are in the same scene, they seem to indicate the very moment of the soul's departure — now here, now there —

"Like snow that falls upon the river —

A moment white — then melts for ever!"

It may be observed, that the good spirits are almost always females, or Junones, an Etruscan compliment to man's ministering angel; but the fearful attendants of Charun are, in most cases, males.

There are funeral processions of a different character. A covered car or waggon, open in front, and drawn by two horses or mules — what the Romans called a carpentum, and the modern Spaniards would term a galera — is accompanied by figures on foot. In one instance it is preceded by a litter, out of which a female is looking; and in several it is encountered by a man on horseback. In this car is seen reclining, now a mother with her child, now an elderly couple, but generally a single figure, the counterpart in miniature of the recumbent effigy on the lid of the urn. I would interpret it as representing the transport of the actual ash-chest or sarcophagus to the sepulchre, which seems confirmed by the drowsy air and drooping heads of the horses. Nor is this view opposed by the figures with musical instruments, nor by an armed man, who in one case follows the car.79 On one urn the funeral p197procession is manifestly represented, for the deceased is stretched on a bier, carried on men's shoulders. These car-scenes, as far as I can learn, are peculiar to Volterra; for I have seen them on no any site.80

Though cinerary urns are so numerous in this collection, there are but two sarcophagi, properly so called; both found in the tomb of the Flavian family in 1760.81 The recumbent figures on the lids are of opposite sexes. On the sarcophagus of the male is a procession of several figures, each with a pair of wands, not twisted like those in the Grotta Tifone at Corneto, or on the sculptured tomb of Norchia; except one who bears a short thick staff, which may be intended for a lictor's fascis. They precede a figure in a toga, which seem to represent a soul; unless there be some analogy to the procession of magistrates already described, and they represent the infernal judge on his way to sit in sentence.82 For the soul is figured at p198one end of the sarcophagus, under the conduct of an evil genius with a hammer, yet not Charun, since he has not brute's ears, nor is he of truculent or hideous aspect, like the genuine Charun, who is to be seen with all his unmistakeable attributes at the opposite end of the monument.83

The other sarcophagus, on which reclines a female, has reliefs of unusual beauty, whose Greek character marks them as of no very early date. There are two distinct groups; in one, a mother with her little ones around her, is taking an embrace of her husband — in the other, she is seated mournfully on a stool, fondling her child, which leans upon her lap. The one portrays her in the height of domestic felicity; the other in the lonely condition of a widow, yet with some consolation left in the pledges of her love. Or if the first represent the farewell embrace, though there is no concomitant to determine it as such, in the second is clearly set forth the greatness of her loss, and the bitterness of her bereavement.

It is such scenes as these, and others before described, which give so great a charm to this collection. The Etruscans seem to have excelled in the palpable expression of natural feelings. How unmeaning the hieroglyphics on Egyptian sarcophagi, save to the initiated! How deficient the sepulchral monuments of Greece and Rome in such universal appeals to the sympathies! even their epitaphs, from the constant recurrence of the same conventional terms, may often be suspected of insincerity.84 But the ouches of nature on these Etruscan urns, so simply but eloquently expressed, must appeal to the sympathies of all — they are p199chords to which every heart must respond; and I envy not the man who can walk through this Museum unmoved, without feeling a tear rise to his eye,

"And recognising ever and anon

The breeze of Nature stirring in his soul."

The interest of the urns of Volterra lies rather in their reliefs than in their inscriptions. Some, however, have this additional interest. It has already been said that this Museum contains the urns found in the tomb of the Caecinae, that ancient and noble family of Volterra, which either gave its name to, or received it from, the river which washes the southern base of the hill;85 a family to which belong two "most noble men" of the name of Aulus Caecina, the friends of cc; the elder defended by his eloquence; the younger honoured by his correspondence. The latter it was who wrote a libel on Julius Caesar, and was generously pardoned by him; and who availed himself of his hereditary right, as an Etruscan patrician, to dabble in the science of thunderbolts. The name is found more than once on these urns, and is thus written in Etruscan —


[image ALT: zzz]

or "Aule Ceicna." But it also occurs in its Latin form on others of these monuments — on a beautiful altar-like cippus, and on a cinerary urn.86 Others of the Caecinae distinguished themselves under the Empire in the field, in the senate, or p200in letters.87 This family has continued to exist from the days of the Etruscans, almost down to our times; though it now appears to be extinct. I learned the general opinion to be at Volterra, that the last of his race was a bishop, who died in 1765. His epitaph in the Cathedral calls him, "Phil. Nic. Coecina.º Patric. Volat. Zenopolit. EpusZZZ, &c." Fantozzi, the custode of the Museum, however, assures me that he remembers a priest of this name some twenty years since; and as he is a barber, he should, ex officio, be well informed on such points. In Dempster's time, more than two centuries since, the family was flourishing — "hodie nobilitate suâ viget" — and two of its members, very studious men, and "ad bonas artes nati," were his intimate friends. One of them rejoiced in the ancient name of Aulus Cecina.88

Another Etruscan family of Volterra, of which there are several urns, is the


[image ALT: zzz]

or "Cracna;" the Gracchus, or it may be, the Gracchanus, of the Romans.

The Flavian has been already mentioned, as one of the p201Etruscan families of Volterra. In its native form, as found on these urns, it was written "Vlave."89

The inscriptions on these urns are generally cut into the stone, and filled with black or red paint, more frequently the latter, to make them more legible; so that they are often preserved with remarkable freshness.90

These cinerary urns of Volterra cannot lay claim to a very remote antiquity. They are unquestionably more recent than many of those of other Etruscan sites. This may be learned from the style of art — the best, indeed the only safe criterion — which is never of that archaic character found on certain reliefs on the altars or cippi of Chiusi and Perugia. The freedom and mastery of design, and the skill in composition, at times evinced, bespeak the period of Roman domination; while the defects display not so much the rudeness of early art, as the carelessness of the time of decadence.91

p202 There are other sepulchral monuments of a different character in this Museum — stelae, or slabs, with Etruscan inscriptions, and cippi of club-like, or else phallic form.

Of terra-cotta are the figures of an old man and woman reclining together as at a banquet, and probably forming the lid of an urn. They are full of expression. Monuments in this material are rarely found at Volterra; yet there are a few urns of very small size, with the often repeated subjects of the Theban brothers, and Cadmus or Jason destroying the teeth-sprung warriors with the plough. The figures on the lids are generally wrapt in togas, and recline, not as at a banquet, but as in slumber.

One of the most singular monuments in the Museum is a bas-relief of a bearded warrior, which, from the Etruscan inscription annexed, would seem to be a stele, or flat tombstone.92 He holds a lance in one hand, and his sword, which hangs at his side, with the other. The peculiar quaintness of this figure, approximating to the Egyptian, or rather to the Persepolitan or Babylonian in style, yet with strictly Etruscan features, causes it justly to be regarded as of high antiquity. It is very similar to the warrior in relief found near Fiesole, and now in the Palazzo Bonarroti at Florence, though of a character decidedly less archaic.93

The capital of a column, somewhat like Corinthian, but with heads among the foliage, as in that of Toscanella, is worthy of particular attention.

There is a headless statue of a female with a child in her arms, of marble, with an Etruscan inscription on her right sleeve. It was found in the amphitheatre. The p203child is swaddled in the same unnatural manner which is still practised by Italian mothers.94

There is not much pottery in the Museum; enough to show the characteristic features of Volterran ware, but nothing of extraordinary interest. The painted vases of this site are very inferior to those of Vulci, Tarquinii, or Chiusi. The clay is coarse, the varnish neither lustrous nor durable, the design of peculiar rudeness and rusticity. Staring silhouette heads, or a few large figures carelessly sketched, take the place of the exquisitely designed and delicately finished groups on the best vases of Vulci. Of the early styles of Etruscan pottery — the Egyptian and the Archaic Greek — with black figures on the yellow ground of the clay, Volterra yields no examples. Yellow figures on a black ground betray a more recent date, and the best specimens seem but unskilful copies of Etruscan or Greek vases of the latest style. Everything marks the decadence of the ceramographic art.95


[image ALT: An engraving of a candle-holder, or candelabrum, about 1.5 meters tall, of the Etruscan period, in the Museum of Volterra, in Pisa province (Tuscany, central Italy).]

Etruscan candelabrum.

Yet there is an ancient ware of great beauty, almost peculiar to Volterra. It is of black clay, sometimes plain, sometimes with figures in relief; but in simple elegance of p204form, and brilliancy of varnish, it is not surpassed by the ancient pottery of any other site in Etruria.d

There is a fair collection of figured specula, or mirrors, in this Museum — some in a good style of art. The most common subject is a winged Las, or Fate. The other bronzes are not extraordinarily numerous or valuable; and consist of candelabra, strigils, small figures of Lares or other divinities, ex‑votos, and the usual furniture of Etruscan tombs.

There are numerous Etruscan coins — many belonging to the ancient Volaterrae, and found in the neighbourhood. They are all of copper, cast, not struck — some are dupondii, or double asses, full three inches in diameter, with a beardless Janus-head, capt by a petasus, on the obverse, and a dolphin, with the word Velathri —


[image ALT: zzz]

in large letters around, on the reverse. The smaller coins, from the as down to the uncia, differ from these in having a club, or a crescent, in place of the dolphin. The Janus-head is still the arms of Volterra. The dolphin marks the maritime power of the city.96

p205 Among the minor curiosities are spoons, pins, and dice of bone; astragali, or huckle-bones, which furnished the same diversion to the Greeks, Etruscans, and Romans, as to school-boys in our own day; and various articles in variegated glass.

There is also a collection of Etruscan jewellery — chains, fibulae, rings for the fingers and ears, all wrought in gold; but these articles are not found in such abundance at Volterra, as on some other Etruscan sites. The most curious and beautiful jewellery this necropolis has yielded is preserved in the Uffizj Gallery at Florence.

In the Casa Cini there was a valuable collection of urns and other Etruscan relics, but since Signor Giusto's death the greater part of them has been sold. In the Casa Giori, there was also a collection of urns.97

p206 APPENDIX TO CHAPTER XLI.

NotThe Charun of the Etruuscans.

The Charun of the Etruscans was by no means identical with the Charon of the Greeks. Dr. Ambrosch, in his work, "De Charonte Etrusco," endeavours to show that there was no analogy between them though referring the origin of the Etruscan, as of the Greek, to Egypt (Diod. Sic. I C2, P2, ed. Rhod.), whence Charon was introduced into Greece, together with the Orphic doctrines, between the 30th and 40th Olympiad (660‑620 B.C.); and though he thinks the Etruscan Charun owes his origin immediately to the scenic travesties of the Greek dramatic poets. Dr. Braun (Ann. Inst. 1837, 2, p269), however, who rejects this Orphic origin of the Etruscan Charun, and thinks him Cabiric, maintains the analogy between him and the aged ferryman of Hellenic mythology. But in the Etruscan system he is not merely "the pilot of the livid lake;" his office is also to destroy life; to conduct shades to the other world; and, moreover, to torment the souls of the guilty.

Like the ferryman of the Styx, the Etruscan Charun is generally represented as a squalid and hideous old man, with flaming eyes, and savage aspect; but he has, moreover, the ears, and often the tusks, of a brute, and has sometimes negro features and complexion, and frequently wings — in short, he answers well, cloven feet excepted, to the modern conception of the devil. See the frontispiece to this volume. He is principally, however, distinguished by his attributes, chief of which is the hammer or mallet; but he has sometimes a sword in addition, or in place of it; or else a rudder, or oar, which indicates his analogy to the Charon of the Greeks; or a forked stick, perhaps equivalent to the caduceus of Mercury, to whom as an infernal deity he also corresponds; or, it may be, a torch, or snakes, the usual attributes of a Fury.

He is most frequently introduced as intervening in cases of violent death, and in such instances we find his name recorded; as in the relief p207with the death of Clytemnestra, described at page 179, and as on a purely Etruscan vase from Vulci, in which Ajax is depicted immolating a Trojan captive, while "Charun" stands by, grinning with savage delight. Mon. Ined. Inst. II. tav. 9.

He is also often represented as the messenger of Death, leading or driving the horse on which the soul is mounted (ut supra, pp194‑6); or, as on a vase at Rome, and another from Bomarzo, now at Berlin, accompanying the car in which the soul is seated (Ann. Inst. 1837, 2, p261; cf. vol. I. p320) or attending the procession of souls on foot into the other world, as shown in the Grotta de' Pompej, of Corneto (Vol. I pp310 et seq.; cf. Ann. Inst. 1834, p275); though this scene both Braun and Ambrosch regard as not so much a real representation of the infernal minister and his charge, as a sort of theatrical masquerade, such as were used in Bacchic festivals.

Charun, in the Etruscan mythology, is also the tormentor of guilty souls; and his hammer or sword is the instrument of torture. Such scenes are represented in the Grotta Cardinale at Corneto (Vol. I p320; cf. Byers' Hypogaei of Tarquinia, Pt. II. pl. 6, 7, Pt. III. pl. 5, 6; Inghir. Mon. Etrus. IV.tav. 27); and in the Grotta Tartaglia at the same place (Vol. I p348; Dempst. II. tab. 88; Inghir. IV.tav. 24), as well as on a Nolan vase in the Museo Mastrilli, and on another in the Musée Pourtalès-Gorgier; in all which instances the victim is supplicating for mercy (Ann. Inst. 1837, 2, p268).

In many of these scenes it is difficult to distinguish between Charun and other infernal demons, his attendants, with hammers or other analogous attributes. For two or more are sometimes introduced in the same scene, as in that which forms the frontispiece to this volume, and as in the Grotta Cardinale at Corneto, where many such beings, of both sexes, are similarly armed. They may generally be supposed the attendants on Charun. Müller, ine, takes many of these demons on Etruscan monuments to represent Mantus, the King of Hades (Etrusk. III.4, 10), as the Romans introduced a figure of Pluto, armed with a hammer, at their gladiatorial combats, to carry off the slain (Tertull. ad Nat. I.10). Gerhard also (Gottheit d. Etrusk. pp16, 56, taf. VI.2, 3) thinks it is Mantus that is often represented on these urns, especially where he is crowned, though he distinguishes the beings with hammers and other attributes generally by the name of Charun. Both Müller and Gerhard refer the origin of the "Manducus" (Fest. ap. P. Diac. sub voce; Plaut. Rud. II.6, 51), the ridiculous effigy, with wide jaws and chattering teeth, borne in the public games of the Romans, to this source, and consider it as a caricature of the Etruscan p208Charun, or leader of souls — Manducus — quasi Manium Dux. Charun must be regarded rather as a minister of Mantus, Roman as identical with him. He is often represented on Etruscan urns, accompanied by female demons or Fates, who, in other cases, are substituted for him. Dr. Ambrosch fancied that the sex of the demons indicated that of the defunct; but female Fates or Furies are often introduced into scenes which represent the death of males, as in the mutual slaughter of the Theban Brothers. The eyes in the wings of Charun, or of a female demon, his substitute, have already been mentioned, as intimating superhuman power and intelligence (ut supra, p182).

Müller suggests that the Charon of the early Greek traditions may have been a great infernal deity, as in the later Greek poems; and thinks the Χαρώνει (Χαρώνειοι κλίμακες?) or Charontic door, of the Greek theatre, indicates a greater extension of the idea than is usually supposed.

It is singular that Charun has never been found designated on Etruscan mirrors, those monuments which present us, as Chevalier Bunsen remarks, with a figurative dictionary of Etruscan mythology (Bull. Inst. 1836, p18). This must be explained by the non-sepulchral character of these articles. The Etruscan lady, while dressing her hair or painting her cheeks, would scarcely relish such a memorial of her mortality under her eyes, but would prefer to look at the deeds of gods or heroes, or the loves of Paris and Helen. Occasionally, however, it must be confessed that scenes of a funereal character were represented on these mirrors.

Charun is sometimes introduced as guardian of the sepulchre — as in the painted tomb of Vulci (Vol. I p428); and also in a tomb at Chiusi, opened in 1837, where two Charuns, as large as life, were sculptured in high relief in the doorway, threatening the intruder with their hammers (Ann. Inst. 1837, 2, p258).

It has been remarked by Müller, as well as by Platner in his "Beschreibung der Stadt Rom," that the Charon Michael Angelo has introduced into his celebrated picture of the Last Judgment, has much more of the conception of his Etruscan forefathers, than of the Greek poets.

The hammer is considered by Dr. Braun rather as a symbol, or distinctive attribute, than as an instrument, yet it is occasionally represented as such. In one instance it is decorated with a fillet (Ann. Inst. 1837, 2, p260); in another, encircled by a serpent (Bull. Inst. 1844, p97). In every case it appears to have an infernal reference; in the Greek mythology it is either the instrument of Vulcan, of the Cyclops, or of Jupiter Serapis; but as an Etruscan symbol it is referred p209by Braun to the Cabiri, in whose mysterious worship he thinks Charun had his seat and origin. Gerhard, who has embraced the doctrine of the northern origin of the Etruscans, a doctrine so fashionable among the Germans, suggests the analogy of Thor with his hammer; and reminds us that in the northern mythology there was also a ferryman for the dead; that female demons, friendly and malignant, were in readiness to carry off the soul; and that even the horse, as in Etruria, was present for the swift ride of the dead (Gottheiten der Etrusker, pp17, 57).

For further details concerning the Etruscan Charun, see the work of Dr. Ambrosch, "De Charonte Etrusco," and the review of it by Dr. Emil. Braun, Ann. Inst. 1837, 2, pp253‑274, to which I am considerably indebted for this note. Dr. Ambrosch's work I am not acquainted with, except through this excellent article by Dr. Braun.


The Author's Notes:

1 The excavations at Volterra were commenced about 1728, in consequence of the interest excited by the publications of Dempster and Buonarroti. (p168)They were continued for more than thirty years; and such multitudes of urns were brought to light that they were used as building materials. It was seeing them lie about in all directions that first excited Gori's curiosity, and led him to the study of Etruscan antiquities. Even in 1743, he said that so many urns had been discovered in the last three years, that the Museum of Volterra surpassed every other in Etruscan relics (Mus. Etrus. III. p92); though it was not till 1761 that Monsignor Guarnacci presented his collection to the Comune of the city. After that time interest flagged in Etruscan antiquities, but of late years it has revived, and excavations have been carried on briskly, chiefly by Signor Giusto Cinci.

2 Maffei, Osserv. Letter. V. p315. The remark was made when the Museum had but sixty urns; now it has more than four hundred.

3 This panchina is an arenaceous tufo of aqueous formation, more or less reddish. The alabaster quarries are at Spicchiajola, 3 miles distant, and at Ulignano, 5 or 6 miles from Volterra, both in the Val d'Era. A few of the Etruscan urns are of travertine, which is found at Pignano, 6 miles to the east, in the same valley. Inghirami, indeed, suggests that these urns may be the work of Greeks settled at Volterra, after its conquest by the Romans (Mon. Etrus. I p541); but such a supposition is unnecessary, inasmuch as the Hellenic mythology was well known to the Etruscans; and the style of art of these urns, and mode of treating the subjects — neither of which is Greek — are opposed to this view.

4 What I call tablets Micali (Ant. Pop. Ital. III p180) takes to be a mirror in the form of a book. But no mirrors of this form have ever been discovered; and it is difficult to believe that an article so frequently represented on Etruscan urns, would never have been found in tombs, if it had been of metal, like other ancient mirrors. Besides, it is well known that the tablets of the ancient were of this form. If, then, these were tablets — tabulae, pugillares — they must have been made of wood, coated with wax, which will account for no specimens of them having been found in Etruscan sepulchres. Two such tablets, however, of the time of Marcus Aurelius, have come down to us, preserved in gold mines in Transylvania. See Smith's Dictionary of Antiquities v. Tabulae.

5 See Micali, Ital. av. Rom. tav. 43; Ant. Pop. Ital. tav. 105, for an illustration of this fact — a lady of the Caecina family, with tablets and a pomegranate.

6 Illustrated by Inghirami, Mon. Etrus. I. tav. 9, 53; VI. tav. D. 5; Gori, I. tab. 78; III. cl. 3, tab. 3. This is one of the most common subjects on Etruscan sepulchral monuments. It is thought to symbolise the descent of the soul to the other world; and as such would be a peculiarly appropriate subject for the urns of young females. The Fury driving the quadriga, seems an illustration of that passage in Claudian (Rapt. Proserp. II.215), where Minerva thus addresses Pluto —

quae te stimulis facibusque profanis

Eumenides movêre? tuâ cur sede relictâ

Audes Tartareis coelum incestare quadrigis?

But this monument must be much earlier than the poem. The monster and the serpent may be explained by another passage in the same writer (II.157), where the "rule of souls" drives over the groaning Enceladus — the fish's tail, which marks a Triton, having probably been substituted by the sculptor through caprice or carelessness for the serpent-tail of a Giant —

Sub terris quaerebat iter, gravibusque gementem

Enceladum calcabat equis; immania findunt

Membra rotae; pressâque gigas cervice laborat,

Sicaniam cum Dite ferens; tentatque moveri

Debilis, et fessis serpentibus impedit axem.

Inghirami (I. pp104, 443), who puts an astronomical interpretation on all these myths, sees in the Rape of Proserpine an emblem of the autumnal equinox, which view he founds on Macrobius, Saturn. I.18. In this case the serpent would be an emblem of the sun. Cf. Macrob. I.20.

7 She has here not merely a pair of steeds, as represented by Homer (Odys. XXIII.246), but drives four in hand. For illustrations see Inghirami, I. tav. 5; Micali, Ital. av. Rom. tav. 25.

8 So it is represented by Inghirami, I. tav. 52. I have not a distinct recollection of this urn.

9 Inghir. I. tav. 70. This may be Diana herself, who was sometimes represented with wings by the Greeks (Pausan. V.19), and frequently by the Etruscans, an instance of which is shown in the woodcut, at page 440, of Vol. I.

10 Inghir. I. tav. 65; Gori, I. tab. 122.

11 Ovid. Met. XII.223 et seq.; Gori, I. tab. 152, 153; III. cl. 3, tab. 1, 2.

12 Perseus in the one case has all his attributes — pileus, talaria, harpe, and Gorgonion — in the other, the last two only. Gori, I. tab. 123; III. c13, tab. 1; Inghirami, I. tav. 55, 56. Ovid (Met. IV.690) represents both the parents of the maiden as present. It may have been so in the original scene which was the type of these reliefs, and the Juno may (p174)be an Etruscan version of the mother. For the analogy between Perseus and Bellerophon, see Ann. Inst. 1834, pp328‑331. Duc de Luynes; cf. Bull. Inst. 1842, p60. The scene of this exploit of Perseus is said to have been at Joppa, in proof of which the skeleton of the monster was shown there at the commencement of the Empire, and was brought to Rome to feed the appetite of that people for the marvellous. Its dimensions are chronicled by Pliny. N. H. IX.4; Mela, I.11; cf. Strab. I p43; XVI p759.

Another urn represents Perseus, with the gorgonion in his hand, attacked by two warriors; a female genius steps between him and his pursuers. Inghir. I. tav. 54.

13 Inghir. I. tav. 62, p519. Inghirami (I. p657) offers a second interpretation of this scene — that it may be Adrastus slaying the serpent of Nemea, and that the figure in its coils is the young Opheltes. Gori, I. tab. 156.

14 Lanzi took this scene to represent Jason; Inghirami referred it to Cadmus; Passeri and Winckelmann to Echetlus, or Echetlaeus, the mysterious rustic who, in the battle of Marathon, with his plough alone made fearful slaughter of the Persians (Pausan. I.32, 5; cf. I.15, 3); Zoega, to some Etruscan hero of whom history is silent. See Inghir. Mon. Etr. I pp402, 527 et seq. It is likely to represent a mythical rather than an historical event. Dr. Braun doubts if the instrument in the hands of the unarmed man be a plough, and takes the figure to represent Charun himself, or one of his infernal attendants, who is about to take possession of one of the warriors who is slain. Ann. Inst. 1837, 2, p264. This scene, and the death of the Theban brothers, are the most common of all on Etruscan monuments, and will be found in every collection of such antiquities. There are several of it in the British Museum. For illustrations see Dempster, Etrur. Reg. tab. 64; Inghir. I. tav. 63, 64; VI. tav. L 3; Gori, I. tab. 157.

15 The subject is repeated, with the omission of the skull. Inghir. I. tav. 67, 68.

16 Inghir. I. tav. 66; Gori, III. cl. 4, tab. 21, 1. Gerhard takes this figure to be Mantus, the king of the Etruscan Hades, and what he holds in his hands to be shields, or large nails. Gottheit. d. Etrus. p63, taf. VI.2.

17 Inghir. I. tav. 19, 20, 74, 75, 76, 77, pp182, et seq.; Micali, Ital. av. Rom. tav. 36. Inghirami follows Lanzi in interpreting this scene as the parting of Amphiaraus and Eriphyle. Gori (II. p262), however, took it for a version of the final parting-scene so often represented on Etruscan monuments, without any reference to Greek mythology. It has also been regarded as the death of Alcestis. Ann. Inst. (p176)1842, pp40‑7, — Grauer, cf. Mon. Ined. Inst. III. tav. XL. B. The parting of Amphiaraus and his wife was one of the scenes which adorned the celebrated Chest of Cypselus, but there he was represented as ready to take vengeance on her. Pausan. V.17.

18 Inghir. I. tav. 87; Micali, Ital. av. Rom. tav. 29; Ant. Pop. Ital. tav. 18. Though the gate in this scene is a perfect arch, there are no voussoirs expressed. The freedom and vigour of design in this relief show it to be out of no early date. Inghirami (I. p678, et seq.) infers this from the presence of warriors on horseback, for such are never represented by Homer. But mounted warriors appear in monuments of the highest antiquity. The date of this urn is more safely determined by the style of art. For illustrative descriptions of this scene see Aeschyl. Sept. ad Theb. 423‑456, and the prolix yarn of Statius, Theb. X.828 — ad finem. Pausan. IX.8. The subject of Capaneus has been found also on Etruscan scarabaei. One of them bears the name "Capne" in Etruscan characters. Bull. Inst. 1834, p118.

19 Inghir. I. tav. 88,90; Micali, Ital. av. Rom. tav. 30, 31; Gori, I. tab. 132. Inghirami (I. p681) thinks the female at the window is intended for Antigone counting the besiegers. He remarks that (p177)both Greeks and Romans were wont to hurl the heads of their slaughtered foes into beleaguered cities, in order to infuse terror into the besieged; an instance of which is seen on Trajan's Column, where Roman soldiers are casting the heads of the Dacians into their city. From this he unnecessarily infers that these urns are of the same date as that celebrated column. The style of art proves them to be of no very early period; one of them is among the most beautiful urns yet discovered at Volterra.

20 Gori, I. tab. 33; Inghirami, I. tav. 92, 93; VI. tav V.2. In the very similar representation of this combat on the Chest of Cypselus, a female demon or Fate, having the fangs and claws of a wild beast, was introduced behind one of the brothers. Pausan. V.19. This and Jason or Cadmus fighting with the teeth-sown warriors, are the most common subjects on Etruscan urns — chosen, thinks Inghirami (I. p403), as illustrative of the brevity of human life, and its continual warfare.

21 Gori, Mus. Etrus. I. tab. 138, 139; III. class. 3, tab. 5. Gori interprets this scenes as the fate of Auges and her son Telephus.

22 Gori, III. cl. 3, tab. 7.

23 Virg. Aen. II.526‑558.

24 Gori, Mus. Etrus. I. tab. 171; III. cl. 4, tab. 16, 17. The demon in this scenes is by many regarded as Nemesis. Gori interprets this scene as "Sacra Cabiria."

25 Gori, I. tab. 174; III. class. 3, tab. 9;º cl. 4, tab. 18, 19. This is a scene frequently occurring on Etruscan urns; and is found also on bronze mirror-cases, of which I have seen several instances — two now in the British Museum. It has been explained as the death of Pyrrhus, at Delphi, and the female demon is supposed to represent the Pythia, at whose command the son of Achilles was slain.— Pausan. I.14. But in most of these scenes the Juno is manifestly protecting the youth, and in one instance throws her arm round his neck. Yet in others, the office of the demon, or demons, for there are sometimes two, is more equivocal; and they have been interpreted as Furies urging on the brothers of Paris to take revenge. Mus. Chius. I. tav. 81. In such cases the scene will well admit of interpretation as the death of Pyrrhus, and the man who slays him, would be either the priest of the temple (Pausan. X.24), or Machaereus (Strab. IX. p421). Micali (Ital. av. Rom. tav. 48) takes this scene to represent Orestes at Delphi. In the urn, which he illustrates, the Juno has an eye in each outspread wing, just as in the marine deity, drawn in the woodcut at the head of this chapter.

26 Gori, I. tab. 147.

27 Gori, III. cl. 3, tab. 11, 2.

28 Micali, Italia, av. Rom. tav XLVII; Ant. Pop. Ital. tav CIX., tom. III. p183; Inghirami, Mon. Etr. VI. tav. A. 2; Raoul-Rochette, Mon. Ined. pl. XXIX; Ann. Inst., 1837, 2, p262 — Braun. Greek names are by (p180)no means uniformly expressed on Etruscan monuments. On one mirror, which represents the same mythical event as this urn, the names are spelt "Urusthe and "Clutumsta" (Gerhard, Etrusk. Spieg. taf. XCCXXXVII); and on another, "Urusthe and "Cluthumustha;" and a fierce demon, named "Nathum," with huge fangs, and hair on an end, stands behind the avenger, and brandishes a serpent over the murderess's head. Gerh. Etrusk. Spieg. taf. CCXXXVIII; Gottheiten der Etrusker, taf. VI.5, pp11, 63; Bull. Inst., 1842, p47. Gerhard takes this demon to be a female, and equivalent to Mania. A totally different interpretation has been found for this urn. Etrusco-Celts, if they will, may pronounce the inscriptions to be choice Irish, and may hug themselves in the discovery that Urste means "stop the slaughter!" — Clutmsta, "stop the pursuit!" — Puluctre, "all are prisoners!" (Etruria Celtica, II. p166) — but few will be inclined to reject the old-fashioned interpretation of Orestes and Clytemnestra.

29 Inghir. I. tav. 43; Micali, Ant. Pop. Ital. tav 109. There are some kindred scenes, where two armed men, kneeling on an altar, are defending themselves against their foes. One of them being sometimes represented with a head in his hand, seems intended for Perseus. Gori, I. tab. 150, 175; Inghir. I. tav. 58, 59; VI. tav. A. 5.

30 Inghir. I. tav. 25; cf. Gori, I tab. 151.

31 The wings may be considered an Etruscan characteristic, for they are rarely found attached to similar figures on Greek monuments. Forchhammer, who takes the dolphins' tails to be symbols of torrents, regards the wings as emblems of evaporation. Ann. Inst., 1838, p290.

32 Scylla, with the Greeks, seems to have been the embodied emblem of the sea, or of its monsters; and she thus personifies the perils of a maritime life. Ann. Inst., 1843, p182.

33 Glaucus is very rarely represented on ancient works of art. Never has he been found on painted vases — only on medals, gems, Etruscan urns, and in an ancient painting in the Villa Adriana. Ann. Inst., 1843, p184. M. Vinet, who writes the articles cited, regards Glaucus as the personification of the colour of the sea (pp173, 181). He thinks the word expressed "that clear hue, verging on green or blue, but in which white predominates, which the sky or the surface of the waves assumes under certain conditions, and at certain hours of the day. On viewing these effects of light, the people, who of the seven-hued rainbow had formed Iris, could not possibly have refrained from increasing the abundant series of the cerations,º and Neptune henceforth counted a now subject in his empire."

34 Were it not for the sex of the monster this scene might represent the companions of Ulysses encountering Scylla; or it may be an Etruscan version of the same myth. Gori (I. tab. 148), however, represents it as a female.

35 Micali, Ital. av. Rom. tav. 23.

36 Micali, Ital. av. Rom. tav. 24. This writer (Ant. Pop. Ital. III p180) regards the eye in the wings as a symbol of celerity and foresight; Inghirami (I. p79), of circumspection. On another urn in this Museum, the eye is represented on the wing of a Charun, who is conducting a soul to the other world, (Micali, op. cit. tav. 104, 1; Inghir. I. tav. 8); and on another, where a female demon protects Paris from the assaults of his brothers (ut supra, p178). It is found also on the wing of a Charun interfering in a battle-scene, on a Volterran urn, from the tomb of the Caecinae, now in the Museum of Paris. Micali, op. cit. tav. 105; Ital. av. Rom. tav. 43.

37 Hesiod. Theog. 295, et seq.

38 See vol. I. pp303‑5.

39 In a cavern under a hollow rock was Echidna's abode. Hesiod. Theog. 301. It is well established that Typhon, and the other Giants were, in the Greek mythology, symbols of volcanic agencies. See vol. I., p304.

40 The idea of the hippocampus on ancient monuments was probably suggested by the singular fish of that name, which abounds in the Mediterranean, and whose skeleton resembles a horse's head and neck placed on a fish's tail. See Inghir. VI. tav. D. 2, 3.

41 Inghir. I. tav. 6; cf. Braun, Ann. Inst. 1837, 2, p261.

42 So the Centaur was represented in early Greek works — the chest of Cypselus, for instance. Pausan. V.19.

43 It is evident from the frequent introduction of this chimaera on funeral (p185)monuments that it had a conventional relation to the sepulchre. Virgil (Aen. VI.286) represents Centaurs stalled with other monsters, at the gate of Hell —

Centauri in foribus stabulant, Scyllaeque biformes, &c.

Inghirami (Museo Chiusino, I. p91) regards them as symbols of autumn.

44 Inghir. Mon. Etrus. I. tav. 39, 41, 42, 99; Gori, I. tab. 154, 156; III cl. e, tab. 4. The Arimaspes on these urns are not one-eyed, as represented by the ancients. Herod. III.116; IV.1327; Plin. VII.2; Pausan. I.24.

Inghirami takes these scenes to symbolise the weakness of humanity to contend with Fate; though in pursuance of his system of astronomical interpretation he regards the griffon as an emblem of the power of the sun in the vernal equinox, and where it is devouring a stag he takes it to mean spring overcoming winter (I. pp328, 723). Servius (ad Virg. Buc. VIII.27) says those monsters were sacred to Apollo.

45 Inghir. I. tav. 36, pp308‑311. He remarks that out of six hundred urns this alone displays the holy birds.

46 In one of these boar-hunts the beast is attacked by two winged boys, who are thought to be Cupids catching the boar which killed Adonis. Theocr. Idyl. XXX; Inghir. I. tav. 69, p586. Macrobius (I.21), who gives the astronomical symbolism of the legend, tells us that the boar was an emblem of winter; and on this account, thinks Inghirami (I. p594), he is represented on sepulchral monuments, to indicate the season when in fact annual inferiae or parentalia were held in honour of the dead. Gori, III. cl. 3, tab. 4.

47 Liv. I.35; Nicol. Damasc. ap. Athen. IV.C13, p153. Before the introduction of the amphitheatre, in the time of Augustus, the Romans often held their gladiatorial combats in the circus, as here represented. See Vol. I p95. Inghirami (I. tav. 98, p718) gives a scene from an urn, in the Cinci collection at Volterra, where two gladiators are contending over a vase."

48 Liv. loc. cit.Ludicrum fuit equi pugilesque ex Etruriâ maxime acciti. Cf. Dion. Hal. III p200.

49 Dion. Hal. loc. cit. The only Etruscan monument which shows us how the spectators were accommodated at the public games, is the painted tomb at Corneto, called the Grotta delle Bighe, and that represents them seated on simple platforms, apparently of wood — just such as are now raised at a horse-race or other spectacle in Florence or Rome, but with curtains to shade them from the sun. See Vol. I p327.

These circus-scene ought, perhaps, to be classed with the funereal subjects; for it is not improbable that they represent the games in honour of the deceased. In one scene, where a spina is introduced, it has manifestly a figurative allusion; for a man and woman are taking their last farewell at it, as if to intimate that the soul had reached its goal and finished its course. Inghir. tav. 100.

50 Cicero, de Repub. II.31; Val. Max. IV.1, 1; Plutarch. Publicola; Dion. Hal. V.p278. So they are represented also on an Etruscan cippus, described at page 114; and also on an urn with a banqueting-scene, which Inghirami interprets as the curse of Oedipus (I. tav. 72, 73; cf. Gori, III. cl. 3, tav. 14).

51 Liv. I.8; Flor. I.5; Dion. Hal. III p195; Strabo, V.p220; Sil. (p188)Ital. VIII.486‑8; Diodor. Sic. V. p316. ed. Rhod.; Macrob. Saturn. I.6; cf. Sallust. Catil. 51.

52 This scene is illustrated by Micali, Ital. av. Rom. tav. 40; Ant. Pop. Ital. tav. 112, 1; Gori, III. cl. 4, tab. 23, 27.

53 Micali, Ant. Pop. Ital. tav. 112, 2; Gori, III. cl. 4 tab. 15.

54 Flor. I.5; Appian. de Reb. Pun. LXVI; cf. Plin. XXXIII.4.

55 Dempster, Etrur. Reg. I. p328; Gori, Mus. Etr. I. p370. Müller (Etrusk. II.2, 7) considers the Roman triumph to be either immediately derived from Etruria, or to be a continuation of the pageants which the kings of Rome had received from that land.

56 Plutarch. Romul.; Flor. I.5. Dionysius (II. p102) says Romulus triumphed in a quadriga (cf. Propert. IV. eleg. I.32); but Plutarch opposes this, and cites ancient statues of that monarch to prove that he triumphed on foot. The introduction of the quadriga from Etruria is generally ascribed to the elder Tarquin.

57 The description Appian (loc. cit.) gives of a triumph in the Etruscan style, corresponds nearly with the scenes on these urns. The victor, he says, was preceded by lictors in purple tunics, and then, in imitation of an Etruscan pageant, by a chorus of harpers and satyrs belted and wearing golden chaplets, dancing and singing as they went. One in the midst of them wore a long purple robe, and was adorned with golden bracelets and torques. Such men, he says, were called Lydi, because the Etruscans were colonists from Lydia. These (p189)were followed by men bearing vessels of incense, and last of all came the victorious general in his quadriga, clad in his toga picta, and tunica palmata, with a golden crown of oak leaves on his brow, and an ivory sceptre, adorned with gold, in his hand. See Müller, Etrusk. IV.1, 2. Illustrations of these urns will be found in Micali, Ital. av. Rom. tav. 34, 35; Gori, I. tab. 178, 179; III. cl. 3, tab. 28.

58 Müller thinks this female demon may be a Victory. On another urns in this museum, a quadriga, in which stands a warrior, is drawn by a Fury, with a torch, into an abyss. Lanzi (ap. Inghir. I p669) interpreted it as the death of Amphiaraus — Amphiaraëae fata quadrigae. Ingh. I. tav. 84; Gori, III. cl. 3, tab. 12.

59 See Vol. I pp311‑3. This painting has been supposed to represent the triumphal entrance of souls into the unseen world. Bull. Inst. 1839, p47. Urlichs.

60 Buonarroti, Passeri, Gori, even Lanzi and Micali, made this mistake. See Inghirami, I. pp191, 208.

61 Inghir. I. tav. 60; VI. tav. E 5, 4; Gori, III. cl. 3, tab. 10. Dempster (tab. 25) gives plate of a Perugian urn, with a similar scene; but the monster has a human body with a dog's head. It is not easy to explain this very singular subject. Buonarroti (p24, ap. Dempst. II) sees in the victim the monster Volta, which is said to have ravaged the land of Volsinii, and to have been destroyed by Porsenna. Plin. II.54. Passeri (Acheront. p59, ap. Gori, Mus. Etr.) interprets it as the demon of Temessa, called Lybas, which was clad in a wolf's skin, and was overcome by Euthymus, the pugilist. Pausan. VI.6. Inghirami takes it to represent Lycaon protected by Mars, with Ceres as a Fury by his side.

62 Maffei (Osserv. Letter. IV. p65) indignantly rejects this charge against his forefathers: "They cannot, and they ought not to attribute so unworthy and barbarous a custom to our Etruscans, without any foundation of authority!" It is true there is no recorded evidence of such a practice among the Etruscans, unless the Roman captives, put to death — immolati — in the form of Tarquinii, may be regarded as offered to the gods. Liv. VII.19. But monuments abundantly establish the fact. Müller, indeed, thinks the Romans learned this horrid rite from the Etruscans (Etrusk. III.4, 14). Inghirami (I. p716), though admitting it to be an Etruscan custom, thinks it had gone out of practice before the date of these urns. Yet we know it had not entirely fallen into disuse in Greece or Rome till Imperial times.

63 Gori, I. tab. 170. Two of these reliefs, illustrated by Inghirami (I. tav. 96. 97), may perhaps represent a human sacrifice. In one, a man is on his knees amid some warriors; and slaves are bearing, one a ladder, another a jar on his shoulder, and a large mallet in his hand, and a boy plays the double pipes. The other relief has the same features, but the victim is falling to the earth, apparently just struck by the (p191)sword of one of the group. Gori (I. tab. 146) calls this scene "the death of Elpenor." Another relief, which represents a youth stabbing himself on an altar, is interpreted by Lanzi and Inghirami (I. p673, tav. 86) as the self-sacrifice of Menoeceus, son of Creon.

64 Micali, Ital. av. Rom. tav. 41; Inghir. I. tav. 78, p654.

65 Gori, III. cl. 2, tab. 12.

66 The relation is seen also in some of the car-scenes presently to be described; but, with rare exceptions, there seems to be no relation beyond that of juxta-position, between the urn and its lid. Besides the incongruity of subject, the material is often not the same. The style of art betrays a wide difference of excellence, and even of antiquity. Inghirami cites a case of a young girl reclining on the lid of an urn, which bears an epitaph for a person of more than 70; and explains such anomalies by regarding these recumbent figures, not as portraits of individuals, but as idealities — the men as heroes, the women as souls (I. p399; cf. 408, tav. U. 3, 2). But in the case cited, it is more likely that the lid was shifted from one urn to the other, in the removal from the sepulchre. The frequent incongruities, however, render it very probable that the urns were kept in store, and fitted with lids to order.

67 See Vol. I p286.

68 Inghirami, I. tav. 72, 73, 82; VI. tav. Y. 3; Micali, Ital. av. Rom. tav. 37, 38; Ant. Pop. Ital. tav. 107; Gori, III. cl. 4, tab. 14. Two of these banquet-scenes Inghirami takes to represent Oedipus pronouncing a curse on his sons, which happened at a banquet. Another, he thinks, represents Ulysses in disguise, at the banquet of Penelope's suitors. Inghir. VI. tav. F.

69 See Vol. I pp59, 272; Vol. II p40.

70 Inghir. I. tav. 95; Gori, III. cl. 4, tab. 13, 23. Such an alcove is also shown in an urn, illustrated by Gori (III. cl. 3, tab. 6), where a man seems to be taking farewell of his wife, who reclines on the couch. Another somewhat similar relief is interpreted by Inghirami (I. tav. 61, p514), as Stheneboea, the wanton wife of Proetus, despatching Bellerophon to Lycia.

71 The horse on sepulchral monuments has been thought to show the equestrian rank of the deceased, or to denote the elevation of the soul to divine dignity. Inghir. I p179. But for the most part it was probably no further symbolical, than as significant of a journey. Ann. Inst. 1837, 2. p259. It was frequently introduced on funeral urns by the Greeks and Romans; the latter probably borrowed it from the Etruscans. Sometimes the beast's head alone is represented, looking in at a window upon a funeral feast, as in a celebrated relief in the Villa Albani. Inghir. VI. tav. G. 3. On one of these urns the horse is represented trampling over prostrate bodies, as if to intimate the passage through the regions of the dead. Inghir. I p246, tav. 27.

72 Inghir. I. tav. 28.

73 Inghir. I. tav. 38; VI. tav Q 2, I.3; Gori, I. tab. 84, 189.

74 Micali, Ital. av. Rom. tav. 39; Gori, I. tab. 169; III. cl. 4, tab. 20, 21. Visconti interprets these parting-scenes as representing in general the parting of Protesilaus and Laodamia (ap. Inghir. I p297). Inghirami considers them from being always of opposite sexes, to symbolize the separation of the soul and body (I. p724).

75 It may be observed that the costume of these souls is generally the simple toga, often muffling the face — not as travellers are conventionally distinguished on Greek painted vases by petasus, staff, sandals, and dishevelled hair. See Ann. Inst. 1835, p78. In one case, however, the deceased appears to have been a warrior, for he is attended by two squires on foot, with his shield and lances, besides two slaves at the ends of the scene. Inghir. I. tav. 18.

76 The genius is not always introduced. Inghirami takes it to represent, sometimes a Fury, sometimes one of the Virtues! (I. pp80, 139).

77 For illustrations of these urns, see Inghir. Mon. Etrus. I. tav 7, 8, 14, 15, 17, 18, 22, 23, 27, 28, 29, 32, 37; Micali, Ital. av. Rom. tav. 26; Gori, I. tab. 84; III. cl. 3, tab. 11; cl. 4, tab. 24. In one of these reliefs (Ingh. I. tav 28), Dr. Braun recognises the re-meeting of souls in the other world. Ann. Inst. 1837, 2, p260. This would be more likely in tav. 33, 34. The demons are not always in the same scene with the other figures; as where a muffled soul on horseback occupies the front of the urn, Charun one of its ends, and a genius, with torch inverted, the other. Micali, Ant. Pop. Ital. tav. 104, 2, 3.

78 For the characteristics of the Etruscan Charun, see the Appendix to this Chapter.

79 This might be supposed to mark an evil demon, but I think it has more probably reference to the surrounding figures than to the genius himself. He is here a minister of Death, it is true, but not a malignant spirit who revels in destruction, like the hammer-bearing Charun, who also attends the soul.

80 In general it is essentially distinguished (p197)from the horse-scenes by the absence of Charun and his ministers, or of attendant genii, and of figures taking farewell. There is nothing to hint that it is more than a representation of actual life. In one instance only does it seem to refer to the passage of the soul, and there the car is preceded by a demon with two small shields, and followed by another with a torch. The car may not in every instance be the hearse; in some, where several figures are reclining within it, it may answer to the mourning coach, conveying the relatives of the deceased, for we know that the Romans used carpenta in funeral processions. Sueton. Calig. 15.

81 For illustrations see Micali, Ital. av. Rom. tav 27, 28. Gori, I. tab. 169; III. cl. 4, tab. 22. On a vase from Vulci, in the Archaic style, a scene very similar is depicted. The corpse is stretched on a bier, placed on wheels and drawn by with mules; mourners on foot are accompanying it, all with their hands to their heads in token of grief; together with a subulo with double-pipes, followed by a number of warriors lowering their lances. Micali, Ant. Pop. Ital. III p150, tav 96, 1.

82 The tomb contained moreover forty urns all with inscriptions. These are the only genuine Etruscan sarcophagi Inghirami ever saw from the tombs of Volterra; so universal was the custom of burning. Mon. Etrus. I pp9, 34.

83 Inghirami (I. p31, tav. 3) takes this for a funeral procession preceding the corpse. He represents the three figures in the middle as holding swords in their right hands, and sticks in their left, and he thinks them gladiators who were to fight at the tomb or pyre, first with sticks, then with more deadly weapons.

84 Inghirami (I. tav. 32) gives one of these end scenes.

85 Hear a Roman's description of Greek inscriptions. "Inscriptiones apud Graecos mira felicitas: . . inscriptiones, propter quas vadimonium deseri possit. At quum intraveris, dii deaeque! quam nihil in medio invenies!" Plin. N. H. praefat.

86 Müller (Etrusk. I p416) thinks it more probable that the family gave its name to the river, than the river to the family. An Englishman's experience would lead him rather to the opposite conclusion. One of this family, Decius Albinus Caecina, at the beginning of the fifth century after Christ, had a villa on the banks of the river (Rutil. I.466); and Müller (i. p406) remarks, but on what authority is not obvious, that this estate seems to have been in the possession of the family for a thousand years.

87 The cippus has already been mentioned at page 159. The urn bears this (p200)inscription —

A · CAECINA · SELCIA · ANNOS · XII.

The figure on this urn is that of a youth. The relief displays one of the car-scenes — a proof, among many others, that after the Roman conquest the Etruscans adhered to their funeral customs. On another urn the same name — AV · CEICNA · SELCIA — occurs in Etruscan characters. One of the modern gates of Volterra is called "Porta à Selci." Can it have derived its name from the ancient family of Selcia, rather than from the blocks of its masonry, or of the pavement?

88 Dempster (Etrur. Reg. I. p231) gives a detailed account of the various individuals of this illustrious family, who are mentioned by ancient writers; but still better notices will be found in Dr. Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography. Cf. Müller, Etrusk. I pp416‑8.

89 Dempster, I. p233. An A. Caecina wrote the history of his native city "Notizie Istoriche di Volterra" — perhaps it was Dempster's friend. Inghirami (I. p7) mentions a Lorenzo Aulo Cecina, a proprietor at Volterra, who made excavations in 1740.

90 Among the Etruscan inscriptions in this museum, I observed the names of "Urinati," which occurs also at Bomarzo, Castel d'Asso, Chiusi, and Perugia (see Vol. I pp222, 242); "Setres," found also at Chiusi; "Tlapuni," written "Tlaboni," in some of the Latin inscriptions; Cneunae, Laucina, Saucni, Phelmuia, Ranazuia, and others, which I have seen on no other Etruscan site.

91 Inghirami who will admit nothing about these monuments to be merely decorative, but puts a symbolical interpretation on every feature, considers this red paint to represent the blood which was offered to the manes of the deceased (I. p129). Pliny (XXXIII.40), however, tells us that minium was used in this way in sepulchral and other inscriptions, to make the letters more distinct.

92 Inghirami, whose criterion seems to be chiefly the presence or absence of the beard, assigns a very late date to these urns of Volterra. In truth he regards them rather as Roman than Etruscan; and as he considers certain bas-reliefs, even when of very archaic character, to be subsequent to the year 454 of Rome, because the males are represented beardless; so these, he infers by comparison, must be of a very late date — the best, of the days of the first Emperors; the worst, of the time of Alexander Severus and downwards. Mon. Etrus. I pp252, 689, 709. The fallacy of this test of the beard in determining the age of monuments has already been shown. Vol. I p344; Vol. II p114. Inghirami also thinks those urns the oldest, which have reliefs at the ends, because they must have been made when the tombs were not crowded, and the urns could be placed far enough apart for the decorations to (p202)be seen. I. pp82, 247. But this, as a test of antiquity, is not to be relied on.

93 Inghirami (IV. p84) suggests that it may have formed the door, or closing slab, of a tomb, and the warrior may represent the guardian Lar.

94 It is illustrated by Gori, III. cl. 4, tav. 18, 2; Inghirami, VI. tav. A; Micali, Ital. av. Rom. tav. 14, 2; Ant. Pop. Ital. 51, 2.

95 Dempster, tab. 42; Gori, III. p60, cl. I. tab. 9; Gerhard, Gottheit. d. Etrusk. taf. III.1. Some have thought this statue represented Nortia, or the Fortune of the Etruscans — because the Fortune of Praeneste is described by Cicero (de Divin. II.41) as nursing the infant Jove. Pausanias (IX.16) says this goddess at Thebes was represented bearing the infant Plutus in her arms. Buonarroti, p20, ap. Dempst. II; Gori, loc. cit. Lanzi (II. p546) thought this statue might be Diana, or Ceres, or Juno with the infant Hercules, but that it could not be easily referred to any one goddess in particular. So also Passeri, Paralip. in Dempst. p77. Gerhard, however, thinks it represents Ilithiyaº or Juno-Lucina, the goddess of Pyrgi. Gottheiten der Etrusker, pp39, 60. The marble of which this statue is formed is not that of Carrara, be a grey description, such as is said to be quarried in the Tuscan Maremma. In Alberti's time this statue was lying in one of the streets of Volterra, together with a statue of Mars, "very cunningly wrought, and sundry urns of alabaster, storied with great art, on which are certain characters, understood by none, albeit many call them Etruscan."

96 Micali (Mon. Ined. p216) says that most beautiful Greek vases have been occasionally found on this site. They were probably importations. Vases like those of Volterra have been discovered at Tarquinii. Inghir. VI. tav. O 3.

97 Volterra present as more complete series of coins than any other Etruscan city. But they are all of copper; none of gold or silver. The as has sometimes (p205)the prow of a ship on the reverse, as in that of early Rome; and sometimes a single head, instead of the Janus, on the obverse. This Janus-head was put on coins, says Athenaeus (XV. c13, p692), because Janus was the first to coin money in bronze; on which account many cities of Greece, Italy, and Sicily assumed his head as their device. Cf. Macrob. Saturn. I.7. But Servius (ad Virg. Aen. XII.198) gives a much more reasonable explanation — that it symbolised the union of two people under one government, and this interpretation is received by modern writers. Lanzi. Sagg. II p98. Melchiorri, Bull. Inst. 1839, p113. The dolphin is understood to mark a city with a port — in any case it is an Etruscan symbol — Tyrrhenus piscis. These coins with the legend of "Velathri" were at first ascribed to Velitrae of the Volsci, but their reference to Volaterrae is now unquestioned. Ut supra, page 144.

These coins of Velathri are illustrated by Lanzi, II. tav. 7; Dempster, I. tab. 56‑9; Guarnacci, Origini Italiche, II. tav. 20‑22; Inghirami, III tav. 1, and 4; Marchi and Tessieri, Aes grave, cl. III. tav. 1. See also Müller, Etrusk. I p332; Lepsius, Ann. Inst. 1841, p105; Bull. Inst. 1838, p189; Mionnet, Suppl. I. pp205‑7.

98 One of these represented Polyphemus issuing from his cave, and hurling rocks at Ulysses in his ship. A Juno interposes, with drawn sword. In this Etruscan version of the myth, the Cyclops has two eyes! Micali, Ital. av. Rom. tav. 45. Another urn showed carpenters and sawyers at their avocations; this is interpreted by Micali (op. cit. tav. 4), as the building of the ship Argo. I have seen a similar urn in the museum of Leyden.


Thayer's Notes:

a more dollars: It surprises me to see this currency mentioned so early by an English author in connection with the sale of antiquities; he may, however, not have had U.S. money in mind, but some variety of German thaler.

b the other Peninsula: Spain — with which our author, in many places in this book, shows himself intimately acquainted.

c cerulean tendencies: This bizarre turn of phrase probably needs footnoting for the average modern reader. Dennis means to say that these women were not what were called in his time "bluestockings"; i.e., women of any serious erudition. God forbid women should know anything more than was needed to add a sparkle of intelligence to their other charms — about which our author in fact then goes on to be more specific.

d This style of Etruscan and Italic pottery is now usually referred to as "bucchero ware". For a further bit of explanatory text and 4 beautiful examples see the page at the British Museum.


[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 1 Dec 12