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Bill Thayer

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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.

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p325 Chapter L


The City.

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I pray you let us satisfy our eyes

With the memorials and the things of fame,

That do renown this city.


Musaeum ante omnia.º


I must transport my reader from the banks of the Fiora, where I left him at the close of the last Chapter, to the door of the Convent of S. Antonio in the little of Città della Pieve, some forty miles to the north-east, and within the Roman frontier. He will have no reason to regret the change of scene. He will have no reason to regret the change of scene. He will find himself on a lofty height, commanding a wide, deep valley, with many a slope and undulation, among which

"sweet Clanis wanders

Through corn,º and vines, and flowers."

p326 Chiusi, once the proud capital of Porsena, crests an olive-clad eminence on the right; and on the other hand is a long range of wooded heights studded with towns — Cetona, with its impending castle nearest the eye; Sarteano, on the hill-brow beyond; still farther, Chianciano and Montepulciano, apparently blended into one — all representatives of Etruscan towns, and all nestling beneath the majestic Alpine mass of Monte Cetona.1

Città la Pieve retains no traces of remote antiquity, though Etruscan urns have been found in its neighbourhood.2 But as it contains numerous works of Pietro Perugino, who was born here, to say nothing of his genuine letters and paint-pots, the traveller from Orvieto to Chiusi will probably be induced to halt for the night. Let him eschew the inn called La Luna, which is a mere bettola, and knock at an opposite house with the name of "Valentini" over the door, where he will find bed and board, average comfort, and abundant attention.

It is but six miles from La Pieve to Chiusi, and the road is delightful, through woods of brave old oaks, baring their lichen-clad boughs to the bright winter sky; the luxuriant vale of Chiana, and the broad Thrasymene with its islands, in the distance; and the Apennines stretching their snow half across the horizon. The frontier is crossed in the valley below Chiusi.3

p327 Chiusi is the representative of Clusium, the city of the magnanimous Porsena, one of the most ancient in Italy, among the Twelve of the Etruscan Confederation;4 indeed it would appear that for a time

"The banner of proud Clusium

Was highest of them all."

Its original name was Camars,5 whence it has been p328inferred that it was founded by the Umbri, the earliest inhabitants of Etruria.6 Whatever its original, it is certain that from a very remote age it was a city of great might and importance, and that it maintained this condition throughout the period of Etruscan independence. Though Virgil represents it as assisting Aeneas against Turnus,7 the earliest notice of it that can be regarded as p329historic is that with Arretium, Volaterrae, Rusellae, and Vetulonia, it sent aid to the Latins against Tarquinius Priscus.8 We hear no more of it till the Tarquins, on their expulsion from Rome, induced Porsena, its king or chief Lucumo, to espouse their cause. That war, its stirring events, its deeds of heroism, are among the cherished memories of our boyhood, and need no record here. Yet modern criticism snatches from us

"Those old credulities to nature dear,"

and teaches us to regard the deeds of Horatius, Scaevola, Cloelia, Publicola, as mere fictions of the old Roman minstrels, sung in the heroic "Lay of the Tarquins."9

When Clusium next appears in history it is as the occasion of the destruction of Rome by the Gauls. It was in the year 363 (B.C. 391), just after the capture of Veii, that one Aruns, a native of Clusium, having been dishonoured by a youthful Lucumo, his pupil, who had debauched his wife, and not being able to obtain justice from the law, owing to the young noble's rank and influence in the state, determined to have his revenge, even at the sacrifice of his country. The prototype of Count Julian, who for vengeance sold Spain to the Moslem, he induced the Senonian Gauls to take up his cause, tempting them by the figs, the oil, and above all the rich wine of Tuscany — the royal Montepulciano, it may have been — to march against Clusium. The citizens, terrified at the strange and ferocious aspect, and the vast hosts of these unlooked-for p330foes, sent to beg succour of Rome, though bound to her by no tie of friendship or alliance. Flattered by this compliment to their power and martial spirit, the Romans in an evil hour interfered, and diverting the fury of the Gaulish hordes from Clusium to themselves, opened the way for the capture and destruction of the Seven-hilled City.10

In what year Clusium fell under the Roman yoke is not recorded; not, however, immediately after the fatal rout of the Etruscans in the year 445 (B.C. 309) at the Vadimonian Lake, though Perusia was in consequence compelled to surrender;11 for in the year 459 (B.C. 295) a Roman legion was left before Clusium, during the war with the Etruscans, and was there cut to pieces by the Senonian Gauls, their allies.12 In the same year also, after the great rout of the Gauls and Samnites in the territory of Sentinum, the Clusini, in conjunction with the Perusini, sustained a defeat from Cn. Fulvius the Roman propraetor.13 We hear no more of Clusium in the time of Etruscan independence; for the next notice of it is that the Gauls marched a third time to this city, just before their defeat near Telamon in 529.14 Clusium, with the other cities of Etruria, assisted Rome in the Second Punic War, supplying the fleet of Scipio with corn, and fir for ship-building.15 More than a century later Sylla defeated an army of his foes near Clusium, which, it is probable, had joined others of the Etruscan cities in espousing the cause of Marius.16 p331Inscriptions prove Clusium to have continued in existence under the Empire, nor does she seem, like too many of her fellows, ever to have been utterly desolated or deserted, but has preserved her name and site from the remotest antiquity to the present day.17 Yet so fallen and reduced was this illustrious city in the middle ages, principally through the pestilent vapours of the neighbouring lakes and marshes, that for eight centuries and more, says Repetti, she might be called "a city of sepulchres." Chiusi is even cited by Dante, as an instance of the melancholy decay of cities —

Se tu riguardi Luni ed Urbisaglia

Come son ite, e come se ne vanno

Diretro ad esse Chiusi e Sinigaglia,

Udir come le schiatte si disfanno,

Non there is parrà nuova cosa nè forte,

Poscia che le cittadi termine hanno.

Since the draining of the Val di Chiana, she has risen from her low estate, and though she no longer holds her head proudly among the cities of Italy, she has an air of snugness and respectability, with two or three thousand inhabitants, and an inn, the Leon d'Oro, of more than ordinary bye-road comfort.

In his excursions to the numerous and widely scattered points of Etruscan interest, the visitor cannot do better p332than have at his elbow Giambattista Zeppoloni, the "souter Johnny" of Chiusi, who claims to be at once "shoemaker, saddler, cicerone and landed proprietor."

Chiusi retains few traces of Etruscan times on her site, beyond the contents of her museums, drawn from the sepulchres around. Of her ancient fortifications some fragments are extant, but these are not sufficiently abundant or continuous to determine the precise extent or limits of the city. Where still standing, they form the foundations of the mediaeval walls. The fragment of most easy access is beneath the Duomo, near the Porta delle Torri, or di Pacciano. It is composed of rectangular blocks of travertine, a few of large size, but generally small and shallow — all without cement.18 Another portion of the ancient walls is to be seen beneath the Prato, or public promenade. This is also of travertine, of similar and rather more regular masonry; but still of small blocks, rarely exceeding three feet in length, and never so much as two in height.19 It can be seen from the Giardino Paolozzi, adjoining the Prato. Beneath this garden, which seems the site of the ancient Acropolis, and is still called La Fortezza, are some buttresses of Roman work, under which are also a few courses of the earlier, or Etruscan masonry.

The style of all these fragments is very similar to that of Perugia and Todi, and very unlike that of the more p333northern cities — Fiesole, Volterra, or Cortona; the blocks being much smaller, the courses more uniform, and the sharpness of the edges, preserved by the hardness of the travertine, giving the whole a much more modern appearance.

In the Piazza del Duomo are more traces of this ancient masonry, and in many of the buildings of the city, as well as in the fences without the walls, are large blocks of travertine, probably from the ancient fortifications, as this is not a local stone.

There are many relics of early days, scattered through Chiusi. Fragments of architectural decorations built into the houses. Over a well in the main street is a sphere of stone resting on a cube, with a sphinx, in a quaint style, carved on each side. On Signor Paolozzi's gate are two similar monuments, with lions instead of sphinxes.20 But on the Prato hard by, are numerous sarcophagi and urns, and a menagerie of wild beasts, more like those with which "the learned stock the constellations" than anything that ever trod terrestrial desert — the most uncouth savageness ever beheld or conceived, grotesque caricatures of ferocity — the majesty of the king of beasts relaxed to a ridiculous grin — buffos of the leo species.

In the Paolozzi garden is a so‑called "Labyrinth." The mere word brought to mind the celebrated Tomb of Porsena, described by Varro as existing at Clusium, and I eagerly rushed into the cavern. To my disappointment it was merely a natural hollow in the rock, of some extent, p334but without a sign of labyrinthine passages.21 But in the cliffs of this very height, immediately beneath the Palazzo Paolozzi, are some singular subterranean passages, running far into the heart of the rock, yet being half filled with water they have never been penetrated. It is asserted, however, that there are seven of these strade, but whether running parallel like the Sette Sale at Rome, or radiating from one point like the Seven Dials of the Great Metropolis, I could not ascertain. The only passage I saw was hollowed in the sandy rock, and rudely shaped into a vault; the marks of the chisel being very distinct. Rumour says there are many other such passages; the whole city, indeed, is supposed to be undermined by them, and by subterranean chambers, though what purpose they may have served is a mystery no one can fathom.22

p335 Chiusi, unluckily for the sight-seer, has not, like Volterra, its Etruscan relics gathered into one public Museum,a but scattered in numerous private collections. By far the largest and most important is the property of Signor Ottavio Casuccini. Next to his ranks that of Signor Paolozzi; and these two alone have a permanent character, the others varying from year to year, increased by fresh discoveries, or diminished by sales. The collections of miscellaneous character are those of the Conte Ottieri, Don Luigi Dei, the Signori Luccioli and Ciofi. Those of Capitano Sozzi and Signor Galanti are now in the "Gabinetto," in the high street. The bishop has a number of choice vases, and the canons Pasquini and Mazzetti, and the arch-priest Carducci, besides the ordinary articles, are rich in scarabaei.23 None of these collections are difficult of access. A request from a stranger will meet with prompt attention, and he will be received with all that courtesy and urbanity which distinguish the Tuscan character.

Museo Casuccini

This, the largest private collection of Etruscan antiquities in Italy, second in the number and interest of its urns only to the Museum of Volterra, is the produce of many a season's excavation, by Signor Pietro Bonci Casuccini, the grandfather of the present proprietor. To visit it should be the first object of every traveller who would gain an acquaintance with the peculiarities of the p336Etruscan relics of Chiusi. On entering, he is instructed "how to observe" by this notice —

O voi che quà movete il passo amico

I pregi ad ammirare del bello antico,

Quì posate ogn' impaccio, e sia per gli occhi

Libero il giro, ma la man non tocchi.

This collection is crammed into three chambers. The object that first arrests the eye, is the figure of a female, almost as large as life, seated in the midst of the room, holding out a pomegranate, as if to present it to whoever approached her. The first feeling excited is one of astonishment at its singularity; the next, of amusement at its droll quaintness — its more than Egyptian rigidity — its utter want of anatomical expression. It looks like a stone effigy, not of that form which tempted angels to sin, but of a jointed doll, or an artist's lay-figure.24 Further examination proves this stiffness to arise from the arms, feet, head, and even the crown, being in separate pieces, removable at pleasure, fixed in their places by metal pins. This figure is at once the effigy of the deceased, and the urn to contain her ashes, which were found within it; in truth, it is but a variety of the Etruscan practice of representing the dead reclining upon their own coffins. The limbs were jointed, probably from the inability of the artist to carve them from the same block, or from the brittleness of the material, which would not allow of it. p337The pedestal of the chair on which the figure sits is decorated with bas-reliefs — chariot and foot-races — of corresponding archaic character. Red paint is to be traced on the drapery, sandals, and seat; and the whole monument was probably originally coloured. It is of cispo, or fetid limestone, a yellowish brittle material, much used in the most ancient monuments of this district.25 Upright Etruscan statues in stone, be its observed, are extremely rare; most of those extant being of bronze or terra-cotta.

From this Museum the traveller will learn that the p338tombs of Chiusi and its neighbourhood yield articles more singular, quaint, and archaic in character, than those of any other part of Etruria, with the exception of Veii and Caere.

The most remarkable of se early monuments are the square or round pedestals of cippi, sometimes supposed to be altars. They are almost invariably of the fetid limestone, peculiar to this district. Their interest lies in being, next to the bronzes, the earliest and most genuinely national works of the Etruscan chisel. Though possibly of different epochs, a characteristic archaicism is always preserved: the figures are in very low, almost flat relief, and with a strong Egyptian rigidity and severity. The style, in fact, may be said to be peculiar to these monuments, and in some measure may be owing to the material, which would not admit of the finish and delicacy of the high reliefs in alabaster and travertine.26 The subjects are also purely national — religious or funeral rites and ceremonies — scenes of civil or domestic life — figures in procession, marching to the sound of the double-pipes, or dancing with Bacchanalian furor to the same instrument and the lyre.27 There is no introduction of Greek myths, so frequently represented on the sepulchral urns.

p339 One of these square monuments has, on each of its sides, a couple of warriors on horseback, turning from each other. They retain traces of red colour, and are in a better style than usual.28

Another pedestal displays a judicial scene — two judges, with wands of office, sitting on a platform, with their secretary, who has stylus and tablets to take notes of the proceedings; a lictor or attendant stands by with a rod in each hand. Before the bench a warrior fully armed — helm, spear, shield, and greaves — appears to be awaiting judgment. A woman behind him, dancing with castanets to the music of a subulo, seems to mark him as some hero or victor in the public games. The judges are consulting as to his merits; and their decree seems to be favourable, for the officer of the court is pointing to half a dozen skins or leathern-bottles, beneath the platform, which, full of oil, probably constitute his reward.29

A bas-relief, not forming part of one of these monuments, but similar in style, represents several figures at a banquet, with hands and paterae raised in that peculiar manner characteristic of early Etruscan art.30 Another fragment represents a youth, with veiled head, falling to the ground.31 On a third relief, in this archaic style, is a race of trigae, or three-horse chariots — a very rare subject. The resemblance of the details to those of similar scenes in the painted tombs of Chiusi, is remarkable; though the p340latter are by no means in so early a style of art.32 Akin to this is a relief with a contest of wrestlers.

But the most common subject represented on these monuments is the death-bed. The corpse is stretched on its couch, the helmet and greaves lie neglected beneath it, the relatives stand mourning around, and the praeficae, or wailing-women, are tearing their hair. In another similar scene, a child is closing the eyes of its parent, while the figures around are tearing their hair and beating their breasts.33

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On a round cippus are fragments of three warriors, marching to the sound of the double-pipes; probably part of a funeral procession. It is in a very rigid style of art.34 One of the figures is shown in the annexed woodcut.

A glance round this Museum will show that the Etruscans of Chiusi, as of Volterra, were wont to burn rather than p341bury their dead. The cinerary urns are most numerous, piled up from floor to ceiling, but of sarcophagi there are but two or three examples. The most remarkable of these bears on its lid the headless figure of a female, richly draped and ornamented, and in too good a style to be of early date. The jewellery carved about her neck is very curious, and its counterpart in gold has been found in the tombs of Chiusi. The relief on the body of the monument represents the farewell embrace of a married pair. He is designated "Larth Aphuna;" in Etruscan characters; she has the feminine inflexion, "Aphunei;" and it is probable, as there is not the usual inscription to set forth the name and family of the deceased, that this figure represents the lady who reclines in effigy above. She is gently drawn from her husband's arms by a female winged demon, the messenger of Death, whose name is almost obliterated.35 Another woman, named "Thanch"36 — a contraction of Thanchvil, or Tanaquil — probably their daughter, lays her hand on the old man's shoulder, as if to rouse him from his sorrow, and remind him of the ties which yet bind him to life. Four others of his family stand by, three of them males, each with a scroll in his hand. One of these, called "Larce Aphuna," is evidently the son of the severed couple.37 Next to this group stands a female demon, p342looking on, with some nondescript instrument under her arm.38 She is named "Vanth." In the corner of the scene a Fury or Fate, called "Culmu," with flaming torch on her shoulder, and large shears in her hand, is issuing from a gateway, the portal of Death.39

On another sarcophagus is a male recumbent figure, larger than life, with remarkably fine head and features. Like the former, it must be of the times of Roman domination, though with an Etruscan inscription attached.

The sepulchral urns of Chiusi are usually of travertine, or sandstone, rarely of alabaster; yet are much like those of Volterra in size and character, and differ chiefly in being generally of an earlier style of art. They more frequently retain traces of colour, both on the recumbent figures, which were painted red, and on the reliefs below. The subjects of these reliefs are very similar, often identical; and were I to give a detailed account of the "ash-chests: of this Museum, it would be little more than a repetition of what has been said of those of Volterra. I shall therefore have some regard for my reader's patience, and confine my descriptions to a few of the most remarkable monuments.

p343 It has been often asserted, that the recumbent figures on Etruscan urns and sarcophagi are portraits of the deceased. The correspondence of sex and age with the inscriptions, and the individual peculiarities of physiognomy, attest this beyond a doubt. Here is a singular instance of portraiture. An elderly gentleman is represented blind.40 Yet he was no Oedipus or Belisarius; he was not dependent on others for support as well as guidance. He seems to have been a noble, for he wears a large signet-ring; and as a Lucumo, he was probably skilled in augury — perhaps a Tiresias, a blind seer of the will of heaven, who knew alike the past, the present, and the future —

Ὅς ᾔδη τας τ᾽ ἐόντα, τας τ᾽ ἐσσόμενα, προς τ᾽ ἐόντα.

One of these urns bears the effigies of a wedded pair reclining on it, as on the banqueting couch. Both are half draped and decorated with ornaments. She lies on his bosom, while he has one hand on hers, the other holding a patera, — a specimen of Etruscan connubials highly edifying. The relief below displays a furious combat, a contrast, perhaps, intentionally introduced to show the turmoil and struggle of this life, as opposed to the blissful repose of a future existence, which the Etruscans could only express by scenes of sensual pleasure.41

These urns of Chiusi have not so frequently subjects from the Greek mythical cycle, as those of Volterra. Yet there are a few of favourite subjects — Pyrrhus slaying Polites42 — Paris kneeling on an altar defending himself against his brothers43 — combats of Greeks with Amazons, p344now one, now the other victorious44 — Centaurs carrying off women45 — and sundry illustrations

"Of the dark sorrows of the Theban line."46

An unusual subject is Hercules slaying Laomedon, who has fled for refuge to an altar, hard by the ashes of his forefathers; and a female demon is standing, with torch inverted, at each end of the scene.47

In one relief reclines a man with a patera in one hand, and a pen or feather in the other.48

Many of these urns have combats, sometimes, it may be, representing a well-known event in classic mythology;49 sometimes, an ordinary contest between warriors, without any individual reference, or illustrative of some unknown native tradition —

"The reflext of a legend past

And loosely settled into form."

Of such a character appears the scene, where two men kneeling on an altar, one holding a severed head in his hand, are defending themselves against their foes.50

p345 The ministers of death are generally represented at such scenes, ready to carry off their victims, or rushing in between the combatants.51 Sometimes demons of opposite characters are present, both waiting, it would seem, to claim the soul. Charun, with his hammer, plays a conspicuous part, and is often attended by a female demon with a torch; as in a farewell-scene, where the departing soul stands in the very gate of Death, guarded on either hand by one of these fearful spirits.52

In truth there is no lack of such monsters in this Museum, which is an excellent school for the study of Etruscan demonology. What with urns, sarcophagi, and pottery, we seem to have here specimens

"Of all the demons that are found

In fire, air, flood, or underground."

A favourite subject is Scylla, here wielding an anchor in each hand, as if combating an invisible foe; there, armed with an ora, contending with two warriors. She is sometimes winged, sometimes not; always with a double fishes tail.53

Other marine emblems are abundant — winged sea-horses — dolphins — hippocampi; and on one urn is a horse galloping, with a dolphin above it — a double emblem of Neptune.54

Nor is there any lack of terrestrial monsters — Gorgon's heads, winged and snaked, sometimes set in acanthus-leaves — centaurs — griffons devouring stags or women, or p346overcoming warriors — and a chimaera with human head, lion's body, and the hind parts of a dragon.

patera is a very common device on these urns, and it is generally set between a pair of peltae, or half-moon shields.55 The favourite sport of hunting the wild-boar is not omitted in these sepulchral reliefs.56

The urns of terra cotta are very numerous. They are miniatures of those in stone, being rarely more than twelve or fifteen inches long, but the figures on the lids are not generally reclining as at a banquet, but are stretched in slumber, muffled in togas.57 A few of unusually large size are even in a sitting posture, decorated with very long and highly-wrought torques, and with rings, which for size might be coveted by Pope or Sultan.58 There is never much variety of subject on these urns. They were multiplied abundantly from the same moulds. The mutual slaughter of Polynices and Eteocles, and Jason or Cadmus vanquishing with the plough the teeth-sprung warrior, are the most frequent devices.59 These little urns were all painted — both the figure on the lid, and the relief below; and many retain vivid traces of colouring — red, blue, purple, and yellow.

Some of the inferior sort of cinerary urns of terra cotta are bell-shaped, with inscriptions in red paint.

p347 There are some curious sphinxes in stone, with wings curled up like elephants' trunks; they were found in the tombs of the Poggio Gajella.60

There are also numerous sepulchral tiles, two or three feet long, bearing Etruscan inscriptions — one in the ancient style called boustrophedon,61 rarely found on the monuments of this people.

The pottery in this Museum is deserving of particular attention. It is not of the beautiful, painted description so abundantly found at Vulci, though such vases are by no means rare at Chiusi. It is chiefly of coarse, black, unbaked ware, of uncouth forms, grotesque decorations, rude workmanship, and no artistic beauty, yet of extraordinary interest as illustrative of Etruscan art in its earliest and purest stages, ere it had been subjected to Hellenic influence.62 Such ware is peculiar to Chiusi, Sarteano, Castiglioncel del Trinoro, and the neighbouring Etruscan sites. It consists of tall, slender-necked amphorae, with cock-crowned lids, or of quaint, knobbed jars — as unlike the Greek in form as in decoration; with strange figures in relief — grinning masks, scowling, tusk-gnashing gorgons, divinities of most ungodlike aspect, sphinxes, pegasi, chimaeras of many a wild conception, travesties of the human form and face divine, and many an uncouth specimen of beast, fowl, fish and flower — symbols, it may be, of the earliest creed and rites of the Etruscans, or dim allusions to their long forgotten myths.63 All this is novel p348to the stranger — he finds himself in a new world of Etruscan art; for this ware is not to be seen in the Museo Gregoriano at Rome, in the Louvre, in the British Museum, nor in any other of Italy, with the exception of Florence, where, however, it is seen but imperfectly. The smaller ware the jugs, pots, and goblets, with handles moulded into every form of life, real or unreal, and bands of minutes figures of mysterious import and more than Egyptian rigidity and shapelessness — is not less archaic and curious, though not confined to this district of Etruria.

Perhaps the most curious articles in this ware are the focolari or recipienti; of which, however, there are no superior specimens in this collection. And how, oh reader! shall I make thee understand what a focolare is? It is a square, paw-footed, wall-sided tray, half open in front, set p349about with prominent figures of veiled women, supposed to represent Larvae, the spirits of the dead,64 or of winged demons, masks, or chimaeras; and it contains, that is, when found in the tomb, the strangest set of little odds and ends of crockery, which Mrs. Hamilton Gray naturally enough mistook for a tea-service.65 Indeed the resemblance to that useful piece of furniture is striking, though the sugar-basins inconveniently outnumber the cups and saucers; but there are these, as well as milk-jugs, and spoons and ladles, of the same black ware. It is just such a quaint, clumsy, primitive thing as you could imagine — peculiarities of art apart — might have served as a tea-tray in the time of Alfred, if our sturdy Saxon ancestors could have condescended to such effeminate potations. certain strange articles, however, quite upset the tea-tray — unguentaria, or perfume-bottles — vases in the form of cocks,66 ducks, and other animals — and flat strips or tablets of black pottery, sometimes scratched with Etruscan inscriptions, which have been jocularly styled — in ignorance of their purpose — "visiting-cards."

The purpose of these focolari is matter of dispute. Some think them intended for the toilet, and the pots and pans for perfumes; others take them for culinary apparatus, or braziers; while a third consider them as purely sepulchral in application and meaning. If the latter view be correct, I should still regard them as imitations of domestic furniture once actually in use, and rather pertaining to the triclinium than to the toilet. Being raised p350from the ground by their claw-feet, they seem intended to stand over a fire. In domestic life they were probably used to keep meats or liquids hot, like some of the braziers in the Museo Borbonico. At the sepulchre, they may have served the same purpose for the funeral feast, or they may have been for fumigation, equivalent to the censers, or wheeled cars of bronze, sometimes found in early Etruscan tombs.67

Not all the pottery in this Museum is of this archaic, un-Hellenic character. There are specimens of figured vases and tazze in the various styles of Etrusco-Greek art. For while Chiusi has a pottery peculiar to itself, it produces almost every description that is found in other Etruscan cemeteries, from the plain black or yellow ware of Volterra, to the purest Greek vases of Tarquinii and Vulci; and it is a singular fact that the largest vase, the most rich in figures and inscriptions ever discovered in Etruria, "the king of Etruscan vases," was from the soil of Chiusi.68 It must be admitted, however, that the painted ware of this district is by no means so abundant, or in general so excellent, either for clay, varnish, or design, as that of some other Etruscan sites,69 though occasionally articles of extreme beauty are brought to light.

p351 Among the curiosities of pottery here is a rhyton, or drinking-cup, in the shape of a man's leg, kneeling, with a human face at the upper part of the thigh.70 Rhyta, terminating in animals' heads are common enough, but of this form, they are very rare.

In the middle room are copies of paintings found in the Etruscan tombs of Chiusi.

This Museum is rich in bronzes; — tripods — jugs — strainers — strigils — a large round shield, embossed — weapons — idols, though these are not numerous — and specula, or mirrors, some figured, and some gilt. Neither the gold ornaments, nor the scarabaei, are numerous.

As in every other collection of Etruscan antiquities in Italy, public or private, there is here no catalogue, and unless the traveller have the guidance of some learned friend, he is left to put his own knowledge to the test; for the guardians of these treasures are mere doorkeepers; and in the Museo Casuccini the visitor will look in vain for a ray of antiquarian light from the flashing eyes of the fair custode.

The choicest vases in the possession of the Casuccini are not in this Museum, but in his Palazzo. The most beautiful is one in the best Greek style, representing the Judgment of Paris; indeed this is one of the finest works of art ever rescued from the tombs of Clusium. The happy shepherd is not alone with "the three Idaean ladies," as Spenser calls them, for Mercury, Cupid, a warrior, a female thought to be Oenone, and a Victory, are also present to inspect their charms. This vase was found in the singular labyrinthine tumulus, cardinal Poggio p352Gajella.71 Another beautiful vase represents the birth of Ericthonius.72

[image ALT: zzz]

But the most remarkable monument here is a large jug in the peculiar black ware of Chiusi, studded with grinning masks, and banded with figures, in a group of six, repeated three times round the body of the vase. The first of these figures, shown in the above wood-cut, is a monster in p353human shape with the head of a beast, supposed to be a dog, which, from its resemblance to the Egyptian god, is generally called Anubis.73 Next to him is a winged deity, probably Mercury the conductor of souls; then a Fury with Gorgon's head, and wings springing from her breast, is gnashing her teeth for her prey, and with hands upraised seems about to spring upon it. The rest of the group represents a veiled female between two warriors, who though in the semblance of this world are supposed to have reference to the next. Various are the interpretations put upon this singular scene; but from the manifestly remote antiquity of the monument, it is probable that it bears no reference to any subject in the Greek mythical cycle, but illustrates some doctrine or fable in the long perished creed of the mysterious Etruscans.74

Museo Paolozzi

The collection next in interest at Chiusi is that of Signor Flavio Paolozzi, once much more extensive than at present. It still contains, however, some excellent specimens of early Etruscan art.

Among the most remarkable is one of the square cippi p354of fetid limestone, with archaic reliefs, representing the death of an Etruscan lady. She is stretched on a couch — her spirit has just fled — several women, perhaps hired mourners, are wailing around her, tearing their cheeks and hair — a subulo at the foot of the couch is endeavouring to drown their cries in the shriller notes of his double-pipes — while in contrast with all this extravagance of sound and gesture, a little boy leans on his mother's couch, with one hand to his head; and his subdued attitude proclaims as strongly as stone can speak, the intensity of his grief. His feelings, as Inghirami remarks, could not have been better expressed by the most skilful artist of our days. On another face of the monument are praeficae, with dishevelled hair, beating their breasts, wringing their hands, and tearing their cheeks and garments. A third side shows some togaed figures with wands, and an augur with his lituus — taking part in the funeral rites. What the females on the fourth side are about is hard to determine. They appear to be parting the raiment of the deceased among them.75

On this cippus stands another, of round form, and of a much later style, representing women dancing to the sound of the syrinx. On this is a slab with a bilingual sepulchral inscription, Etruscan and Latin.76 Another p355fragment of a relief represents a faun dancing behind a Menad, on one side; and a magnate on a curule chair, with attendants around him, on the other.77

One urn displays the attack on a city, which is defended by a figure hurling stones on the assailants. A Fury is present to mark the slaughter.

Another monument bears a subject not very common. A bull is represented overturning a chariot. The driver is thrown to earth, and a genius with a torch bestrides his body. It is the death of Hippolytus, whose horses took fright at the bull of Neptune. His history is thus quaintlyb told by Spenser:—

"Hippolytus a jolly huntsman was,

That wont in charett chace the foming bore;

He all his peeres in beauty did surpas:

But ladies love, as losse of time, forbore.

His wanton stepdame loved him the more;

But when she saw her offred sweets refusd,

Her love turnd to hate, and him before

His father fierce of treason false accusd,

And with her gealous termes his open eares abusd;

Who, all in rage, his sea-god syre besought

Som cursed vengeaunce on his sonne to cast;

From surging gulf two monsters streight were brought

With dread whereof his chasing steedes aghast

Both charett swifte and huntsman overcast.

His goodly corps, on ragged cliffs yrent,

Was quite dismembred, and his members chast

Scattered on every mountaine as he went,

That of Hippolytus was lefte no moniment."

One urn bears none of the usual reliefs, but is carved into the form of a banqueting-couch, with elegant legs, cushions, and the scamnum, or small low stool beneath it, p356for the Ganymede or Hebe to stand on while replenishing the goblets of the revellers.78

[image ALT: An engraving of a very stylized ceramic pot in the shape of the torso of a man with very thin arms almost clasped across his stomach, the head of the man being the lid. It is a depiction of an Etruscan canopic jar.]

In this collection are some curious specimens of Canopi, or head-lidded jars. They are of the same full-bellied form as those of Egypt, but always of pottery, instead of stone or alabaster; and they are surmounted, not by the heads of dogs or other animals, but always by those of men, or what are intended for such. The jar itself represents the bust, which is sometimes further marked by nipples, and by the arms either moulded on the jar, as in the annexed wood-cut, or attached to the shoulders by metal pins. These are all cinerary urns, and there is a hole either in the crown, or at each shoulder, to let off the effluvium of ashes. The heads are portraits of the deceased, though some imagine them to represent Pluto or Proserpine, according to the sex, seeing that the soul of the deceased had passed into the charge of those deities.79

p357 There are numerous small urns of terra-cotta, with the subjects usual on such monuments.80

The pottery here is chiefly of the black ware of this district, with or without reliefs; some with a metallic varnish, bright as if fresh from the maker's hands.

The Paolozzi collection was once renowned for its bronzes; and there are still many remaining — mirrors — pateraecandelabra — cauldrons, and other articles of culinary or sacrificial use — figures purely Egyptian, domestic animals, and other votive offerings — and many small figures of gods or Lares, of marine monsters, and other chimaeras, which the Etruscans delighted to honour, or which were symbols of their creed. There is also a cabinet of medals, coins, and scarabaei, which can be inspected only with the proprietor's special permission.

In the high street has recently been opened a "Gabinetto," or shop for the sale of Etruscan relics; chiefly from the collections of Captain Sozzi and Signor Galanti.81 p358The articles are principally of pottery and bronze, and the prices are attached; and very moderate. It would be well for the visitor who intends carrying away with him reminiscences of the city of Porsena, to cast an eye round this chamber before making purchases elsewhere; as he may thus learn somewhat of the market-prices of such anticaglia. Here is a singular canopus with a pendant of bronze in one ear, and bracelets of the same metal. But the strangest monument is a pot of uncoloured clay, with a large female figure standing on the lid, of most archaic character, with arms attached by metal pins; holding in one hand an apple or other fruit. Her body is hollow, and the effluvium of the ashes in the urn passed off through a hole in her crown. She rises like a giantess from a circle of eleven Lilliputian females with hands on their breasts; and round the outer edge of the urn stand seven other similar figures, alternating with large heads of snakes or dragons, with open jaws. All these figures are removable at pleasure, being merely attached to the urns by pegs. This is one of the most remarkable articles to be seen at Chiusi; in truth, though its details find analogies elsewhere in Etruria, as a whole it is unlike every other monument of this antiquity yet discovered, and in the uncouth rudeness of its figures and their fantastic arrangement, you seem to recognise rather the work of New Zealand or Hawaii, than a production of classical antiquity.82

Count Ottieri's collection is very interesting for its p359archaic articles. Here are three Egyptian-like figures of fetid limestone, four feet and a half high, extremely like that from the Grotta d'Iside, at Vulci, and if not by the same hand, evidently of the same period.83 Here are also some bas-reliefs, — the chief of them having a banqueting-scene of very rigid style, the figures in which have red borders to their robes — one of many illustrations of the toga praetexta, which the Romans received from the Etruscans.84 And here, moreover, besides the usual black ware of Chiusi, are some painted vases — a beautiful patera, with banqueting-scenes — a pelike, representing Ganymede holding his hoop, seized by Jupiter — and a large skyphos with athletae; all in the Perfect style.

The visitor should not omit to see the painted vases in the possession of the Bishop, taken from his excavations in the Poggio Paccianesi; nor the pottery and bronzes in the houses of Signor Luccioli and Don Luigi Dei. Signor Ciofi has also some bronzes; and he who studies beetles will find no lack of matter in the cabinets of the reverend canons Carducci, Mazzetti, and Pasquini. As all, or most, of these gentlemen are willing to part with their treasures, no offence will be given by inquiring the prices of the articles.85

The Author's Notes:

1 The road from Pitigliano to Chiusi is hardly carriageable throughout. It runs through Sorano, crosses the high road to Florence near the Ponte Centino, skirts the base of the wild mountain of Radicófani, through San Casciano de' Bagni and Cetona, to Chiusi. Another track runs through Acquapendente, but is to be avoided because it enters the Roman territory, and exposes the traveller to the annoyance of two custom-houses. The entire distance may be done in one day, by starting early. The Baths of San Casciano are proved by numerous remains to be of ancient date. Repetti (I p225; V.p25) takes them for the Fontes Clusini mentioned by Horace (Epist. I.15.9).

2 Lanzi, Sagg. II p53. Its name, derived from Civitas Plebis, seems also to indicate a classical origin.

3 Chiusi is 40 miles from Arezzo, 22 from Cortona, about 35 from Orvieto, 5 from Cetona, as many from Sarteano, 8 from Chianciano, 12 from Montepulciano, 20 from Radicofani, 23 from Acquapendente, 20 from Pienza, 48 from Siena, and 88 from Florence.

Polybius (II.25) says Clusium was three days journey from Rome; Strabo (V.p226) calls it 800 stadia, or 100 miles, which is less than the distance by the modern road, and than by the ancient Via Cassia, according to the Antonine Itinerary.

Baccanas XXI
Sutrio XII
Forum Cassii XI
Vulsinios XXVIII
Clusium XXX

The Peutingerian Table, in the part of this road after Sutrium, is defective and very incorrect.

Ad Sextum VI
Veios VI
Vacanas VIIII
Sutrio XII
Vico Matrini
Foro Cassii IIII
Aquas Passaris XI
Volsinis VIIII
Pallio fl.
Clusio VIIII

4 That Clusium was one of the Twelve is manifest from the prominent part she took in the war which Etruria, under her chieftain Porsena, waged against Rome. The very name of Clusium struck terror into the Senate — "non unquam alias ante tantus terror senatum invasit, adeo valida res tum Clusina erat, magnumque Porsenae nomen." Liv. II.9. A city, whose ruler headed the forces of the whole Etruscan State, cannot have been of second-rate importance. See Florus, I.10; Dion. Hal. V.pp303, 304. Plutarch (Publicola) also says Lars Porsena had the greatest power among the princes of Italy. There is no reason however to believe, that though Clusium on this occasion took a prominent part among the cities of the Confederation, she was, as Dempster (II. p71) infers, the metropolis of Etruria. This city has further claims to rank among the Twelve, as being one of the five which assisted the Latins against the first Tarquin. Dion. Hal. III p189.

5 Liv. X.25; cf. Polyb. II.19, 5. Niebuhr (III. p377), however, thinks that Polybius here refers to Camerinum in Umbria, and says Livy remembers at an improper time that Clusium was called Camars in Etruscan.

There are certain coins with the type of a wild boar, on both sides, and the legend KA or KAM, which are ascribed to Camars, or Clusium. Yet the legend is peculiar in running from left to right, and if the letters are (p328)Etruscan, the word would be KAS. One of those illustrated by Lanzi, to the legend KA on one side, adds that of RAET, in Etruscan letters, on the other. Müller (Etrusk. I p332) hints that the KAS may possibly have reference to Cisra, the native name of Caere (ut supra, p22) — which city, as he remarks, had certainly as much necessity for coins as Clusium — and that "Karaet" may find its equivalent in Caerete. Certain coins, however, with this type have the legend KAM in Etruscan characters, and running from right to left. Lanzi thinks the wild boar was an appropriate type for Clusium, characteristic of the country. See Lanzi, Saggio, II. pp24, 56; tav. I.1, 2; Guarnacci, Orig. Ital. II. p206 tav. VIII; Mionnet, Med. Ant. p97; Suppl. I. p196. Yet Millingen has pronounced, on what authority does not appear, that these coins are all counterfeits. Numis. Anc. Italie, p170. There are two other series of coins which have been assigned respectively to Clusium Vetus and Clusium Novum. On the obverse is a wheel, on the reverse an anchor, with the mark of value and the legend CH or CHA on Etruscan characters. Marchi and Tessieri, Aes Grave, cl. III. tav. VII‑IX; cf. Bull. Inst. 1839, p124. But Lepsius thinks the attribution of these coins to Camars cannot be justified on any ground. Verbreitung des Italischen Münzsystems, p68; Ann. Inst. 1841, p108.

6 Cluver, II. p567; Cramer, I. p219. Müller (Etrusk. einl. 2, 12) considers the ancient name of the city, Camars, to be a proof that the Camertes of Umbria had once occupied it. Cluver thinks that these Camertes, the original inhabitants of Camars, were driven across the Tiber by the Tyrrhene-Pelasgi, and retained their ancient name in their new settlement; and that the Pelasgi gave the city the name of Clusium, from Clusius, son of Tyrrhenus the Lydian, as Servius states (ad Aen. X.167), who however leaves its origin doubtful between Clusius and Telemachus. That Camars or Camers was an Umbrian rather than a Pelasgic name is the more probable, as Lepsius assures us it is not derived from the Greek. Ann. Inst. 1836, p201. Mention is made of these Camertes of Umbria by Livy, IX.36; Pliny, III.19; Cicero, pro Balbo, 20; Strabo, V.p227; Sil. Italic. VIII.463; Frontin. Strat. I.2, 2. Pliny (loc. cit.) also mentions a Clusiolum above Interamna in Umbria. The Camers of Umbria is supposed by Cramer (I. pp262, 274) to have occupied the site of Camerata, a town between Todi and Amelia, but Cluver (II p613) thinks it identical with Camerinum, now Camerino, on the borders of Picenum.

7 Virg. Aen. X.167. Virgil elsewhere (X.565) says Clusium had a king Osinius.

8 Dion. Hal. III p189.

9 Niebuhr (I p551) maintains that of this war, from beginning to end, not a single incident can pass for historical. It is evident that the ancients had some such suspicions themselves, for Florus (I.10) speaks of the heroes, as "prodigies and miracles, which were they not in our annals would now-a‑days be accounted fables" — Tunc illa Romana prodigia atque miracula, Horatius, Mucius, Cloelia; quae nisi in annalibus forent, hodie fabulae viderentur.

10 Liv. V. 33, 35; Dion. Hal. Excerp. Mai. XII.24, 256; Flor. I.13; Plut., Camillus; Diod. Sic. XIV. p321, ed. Rhod. Dionysius' version of the story of Aruns differs somewhat from that of Livy.

11 Liv. IX.39, 40.

12 Liv. X.25, 26.

13 Liv. X.30.

14 Polyb. II.25.

15 Liv. XXVIII.24; cf. Sil. Ital. VIII.479. The grain, indeed, of Clusium was celebrated for its whiteness. Columella, de Re Rusticâ, II.6. Martial (XIII.8) also recommends the meal of Clusium.

16 Vel. Paterc. II.28; Appian. Bell. Civ. I.89. An inscription has been found which shows that Clusini raised a statue to Sylla, two years (p331)after this battle, or 80 B.C. Repetti, I. p714.

17 Repetti, loc. cit. This writer thinks the colony of Clusium Novum spoken of by Pliny (III.8) was established by Sylla. Clusium is mentioned also by Ptolemy (p72, ed. Bert.), and by the Antonine and Theodosian Itineraries. The catacombs in the neighbourhood of Chiusi, moreover, prove its existence in the early ages of the Christian era; which is confirmed by the Church of S. Mustiola, built in the year 765. It has been supposed that the site of the original Camars, was not at Chiusi, but at Sarteano (Bull. Inst. 1840, p4); but I see no valid ground for this opinion, which is founded on the discovery at the latter place of a number of Etruscan urns of the family, "Cumere." See Chapter LIII. p406.

18 I am surprised to find Repetti (I. p720) describing this masonry as "of large polygons;" when it is as horizontal as that of Perugia or Todi, though not so regular. He also errs in calling it the only fragment of the Etruscan walls. The travertine must have been brought from a distance, probably from Sarteano, for the hill of Chiusi is of that friable sandstone containing marine deposits, which prevails in this district of Italy.

19 Though of opus quadratum, it is not isodomon, and the blocks are arranged without any symmetrical relation to those above or beneath them. The finest portion is below a brick arch, at the further end of the Prato. The courses vary from 15 to 21 inches in height.

20 Inghirami (Mon. Etrus. VI. tav. P 5) gives a plate of similar monument, with a sphinx, a lion, a griffon, and an augur with his lituus, on each side respectively. The style of art is very archaic. These were probably Etruscan cippi, or tomb-stones. They remind us of the sphere and cylinder on the tomb of Archimedes, at wyk — i.e. on the real sepulchre discovered by Cicero (Tusc. Quaest. V.23), not that shown now-a‑days under the name.

21 On complaining of this I was told that a passage had been discovered here, a few years since, but it was not penetrated, being full of water; I could perceive no traces of it. In this garden are remains of Roman baths.

22 One entrance to these underground "streets" is near the church of San Francesco. Another is on the Piazza del Duomo. In 1830, in lowering this Piazza, four round holes, 2 feet in diameter, were discovered, and they were found to be for lighting a square chamber, vaulted over with great blocks of travertine, and divided by an arch. It was nearly full of earth, but in it were found a large flask of glass, fragments of swords, pieces of marble, broken columns. About 100 feet distant was another light-hole, giving admission to a second vault, about 27 feet deep, but so large that its extent could not be ascertained. In the Bishop's garden, closed to the Piazza, another subterranean chamber, very profound and spacious, was opened, and on one side of it was a small well. Signor Flavio Paolozzi has also discovered two underground sts, about 3 feet wide and 10 high, partly built up with large squared blocks of travertine. Capitano Sozzi takes them to be conduits, because many pipes of lead and terra cotta were found in them, and because water still chokes them. Bull. Inst. 1831, pp99‑102. Perhaps it is these two which rumour has multiplied into seven. Under the house of the Nardi Dei is also known to be a passage, opened forty or fifty years since; and it is said that a revered prelate ventured to penetrate it, but found it so labyrinthine, that had he not provided himself with a clue, he would never have seen again the light of day. It is by some pretended that these subterranean passages form part of the Labyrinth of Porsena, but that this opinion is unfounded will be shown in a subsequent Chapter. They are much more (p335)probably connected with the system of sewerage; and the subterranean chambers may have been either cellars to houses or favissae to temples. However, the idea of a labyrinth has been connected with such passages, for more than a century past. See Maffei, Osserv. Letter. V. p314. From the description, they seem to bear a close analogy to the Buche de' Saracini which are hollowed in the base of the hill on which Volterra stands. Ut supra, pp165, 166.

23 Captain Cecchini has now disposed of his collection.

24 This figure has been styled by Mrs. Hamilton Gray (Sepulchres of Etruria, p475), "the gem of Chiusi," and said to be "in a beautiful style of art." It were paying that lady a poor compliment to believe she took a note to the effect. Her lively imagination, in after contemplation of the figure, invested it with a halo it does not possess. Nor could I perceive any of that moral beauty which almost melted Mrs. Gray to tears. Instead of regarding it as "the most beautiful and solemn manner of embellishing death, that ever entered a mortal's head," I could see in it only a caricature of humanity — a woman made her own coffin — interesting only for its singularity, its undoubted antiquity, and archaic style of art.

25 For a plate of this monument see Micali, Mon. Ined. tav. XXVI. The height of the figure is about four feet. Bull. Inst. 1838, p73. Micali (p152) regards its position in the chair as indicative of the supreme beatitude of the soul. Inghirami gives illustrations of a very similar statue found near Chiusi (Museo Chiusino, tav. XVII. XVIII); which he takes to represent Proserpine, and thinks the ashes of the deceased were deposited in the effigy of the Queen of Hades, because the soul was supposed to be committed to her keeping. Bull. Instit. 1831, p55. Micali (op. cit. tav. XXVI.2) also represents a similar figure of a man, found in a tomb at Chiusi; the face a portrait, and the body being hollow. A colossal statue of a male, with jointed arms and in sitting position, was discovered in 1839. One of this description, of most archaic style, the bust of which is the lid, and the lower half of the body, the urn, has recently been placed in the British Museum. Another of these statue-urns has been found of alabaster, yet of very curious and Egyptian-like style. Bull. Inst. 1840, p150. Similar figures have also been found at Chiusi, of much inferior size, — one a female, with a pomegranate in her hand, very like this in the Museo Casuccini, but only 20 inches high. Bull. Inst. 1836, p29; 1837, p21. There is a close affinity between these early works of the Etruscan chisel, and those of a corresponding period in Hellenic art. Let any one compare with these the terra-cotta figures of Minerva and another female found at Athens, and illustrated by Stackelberg in his Graeber der Hellenen, taf. LVII. LVIII. They are only 5 or 6 inches high, but are in similar attitudes, and of a very analogous style of art; but are painted red, white, blue, and green, and the ornaments are gilt. Sir C. Fellows gives a cut of a similar figure in terra cotta, found in a tomb near Abydos. Asia Minor, p81.

The most remarkable monument of this description from the tombs of Chiusi, was a group, the size of life, representing a man on a couch, embracing a winged genius who was sitting on his hip. A boy and dog stood at their feet. Even this was a cinerary urn, for in the drapery of the couch, where it was folded on the man's thigh, was a hole with a stopper, which gave access to the ashes. Bull. Inst. 1837, p21. What has become of this singular coffin, I cannot learn.

26 So brittle is this stone that it is rare to find a monument formed of it in a perfect state. Whence it has been unnecessarily imagined that these pedestals were purposely broken before being placed in the tomb. Such monuments are found throughout the Val di Chiana, and some even at Perugia.

27 One of this subject is given by Micali, Ant. Pop. tav. LIV. LV; and in the Museo Chiusino, tav. II‑V. On the top of the monument are traces of animals, probably lions, couchant. In this case it can hardly have served as a pedestal, and must have been a cippus.

Inghirami gives a plate of a very singular monument of this description — a square cippus, with a female figure sitting on the top, holding a chaplet. In the relief below, are two females sitting opposite, and holding a chaplet between them. Inghirami thinks these two are in Tartarus, and the upper one in Elysium. Against the sides of the monument stand two large figures, as if supporters to the female on the top. Mus. Chius. p185, tav. CXCI. I do not remember to have seen this curious relic.

28 Micali, Ant. Pop. Ital. tav. LII.1. Inghirami (Mus. Chius. tav. I) takes them for Castor and Pollux; but needlessly, thinks Gerhard. Bull. Inst. 1831, p54.

29 Micali, Mon. Ined. tav. XXIV.1. This writer considers this relief to hint either at some honourable deed in the life of the deceased, or to represent his judgment in Tartarus, in which case he connects the scene unnecessarily with the mythology of Egypt. See Braun's strictures on him. Ann. Inst. 1843, p359.

30 Micali, Ant. Pop. Ital. tav. LVIII.1; Mus. Chius. tav. XXXVIII.

31 Micali, op. cit. tav. LII.4; Mus. Chius. tav. XXX. Beneath him is an Etruscan inscription.

32 Micali, Mon. Ined. tav. XXIV.2. The aurigae have the reins round their bodies; the horses' tails are knotted; and the trees which are introduced are as much like paddles as those in the painted tombs.

33 On this monument one of the figures is represented with a full face, though the style of art is so very archaic. I recollect no other instance of this in early Etruscan paintings or reliefs, except in the cases of Gorgons, whose faces are always represented in full.

34 Micali (Mon. Ined. tav. XXV.1) pronounces this to be in the best archaic style. In the same plate Micali gives an illustration of another of these monuments, with warriors on foot and (p341)horseback, some armed with swords and Argolic shields, like that in the above wood-cut, but others with a battle-axe in one hand and a bow in the other. This monument was, and may be still, in the possession of Dr. Emil Braun, of Rome, who pronounces it to be of "the most magnificent style of which the Etruscans were ever capable." Ann. Inst. 1843, p359.

35 Migliarini and Valeriani (Museo Chiusino, II. p213) give this name as Fasti (Fausta), and regard it as the praenomen of the dying wife.

36 Part of her name is obliterated, but the feminine termination . .EI, probable of Aphunei, is remaining. She has been taken for the sister, and the men for the brothers of the husband. Mus. Chius. loc. cit. "Aphuna" seems equivalent to the Latin, Aponius, or Apponius.

37 The other males are called "Vel. Arntni," and "Larsa . . . . ." The female is designated "Larthi Purnei." But if, as I read it, it be "Pursnei," (p342) her name will be equivalent to Lartia Porsena, the feminine of the celebrated chieftain of Chiusi, Lars Porsena.

38 It bears some resemblance to the instruments of torture used by the demons in the Grotta Tartaglia of the cliff. Vol. I. p348.

39 Migliarini and Valeriani think the name of Culmu belongs not to the Fury, but to the gateway. Mus. Chius. II p213. For illustrations see that work, tav. XIII. XIV; and Micali, Ant. Pop. Ital. tav. LX. This monument is evidently of a late period in Etruscan art, as is proved by the attitudes, full faces, and flow of drapery. The shears seem also an adoption from Greek fable, whether alluding to Atropos, who cuts the thread of life spun out by her sister Clotho, or to Proserpine, who severs the hair from the head of the doomed. Virg. Aen. IV.698; Stat. Sylv. II.1, 147. The late date of this monument is also shown by the material — marble, which is found in very few works of the Etruscan chisel; never in those of high antiquity. There are several other urns in this collection of treasures, which, however, does not appear to be from the quarries of Luna.

40 Mus. Chius. tav. XXIX. He is not, however, represented blind in this plate.

41 Mus. Chius. tav. XXV. XXVI. Inghirami interprets this combat as Amphiaraus before Thebes, with the severed head of Menalippus in his hand.

42 Mus. Chius. tav. XV. Inghirami calls it the death of Astyanax.

43 Mus. Chius. tav. LXXXI.

44 Mus. Chius. tav. XLIII. CXCII. There is a sarcophagus with this subject.

45 Mus. Chius. tav. XCIII. CLIX.

46 Museo Chiusino, tav. LXXVII. CLXXXIX.

47 So this urn is explained by Inghirami (Mus. Chius. tav. LXIII). Were it not for the lion's skin, it might be interpreted as the common subject of Pyrrhus and Polites.

48 Micali (Mon. Ined. tav. XLVIII.4, p307) calls this not a pen, but a "sacred bough," and thinks the figure represents the deceased who had entered into a purified state.

49 One of these combats is interpreted as Achilles overcoming Aeneas (Mus. Chius. tav. XXVII), but there is nothing so to distinguish it. Micali, who also illustrates this monument (Ant. Pop. Ital. tav. LIX.5, 6, 7), does not attach any particular signification.

50 There are some urns with this subject in the Museum of Volterra, ut supra, p180 n2. Inghirami puts a strange interpretation on it — Perseus contending with the followers of Bacchus, or the opposition the Bacchic rites encountered in Greece, from the adherent to the old Pelasgic religion! Mon. Etrus. I. tav. LVIII. LIX; VI. tav. A 5. It seems akin to another scene in this Museum, which he interprets as Amphiaraus before Thebes. Mus. Chius. I. tav. XXV.

51 As on an urn where a winged Fury with a torch rushes in between the Theban Brothers, dying by each other's hands. Mus. Chius. tav. LXXVII. CXC.

52 These demons have occasionally neither wings, buskins, nor anything but the attributes in their hands to distinguish them from ordinary mortals.

53 See Mus. Chius. tav. CXVII., and tav. CXI. for an illustration of one of these urns, in which the monster, being apparently a male, represents rather Glaucus than Scylla. Ut supra, p182.

54 Mus. Chius. tav. CLXXXVIII.

55 The patera in these scenes, has been taken by a fanciful writer, whose theories distort his vision, to represent a nautical compass! Etruria Celtica, II p270.

56 Mus. Chius. tav. CCIV.

57 The toga, which was originally an Etruscan article of dress, borrowed by the Romans, was used, in Juvenal's time, as a shroud alone in great part of Italy (Sat. III.171) —

Pars magna Italiae est, si verum admittimus, in quâ

Nemo togam sumit, nisi mortuus.

Its reference to the sepulchre may perhaps be shown by these recumbent figures.

58 The art displayed in these large figures is superior to that usually seen in the urns of stone. Indeed these terra-cotta monuments seem in general of later date.

59 Here, however, there is a little variety — parting-scenes at gateways — marine monsters — griffons — gorgonia — a lion's head between two peltae — a gate, without any figure, but a simple fillet hung on each side.

60 See the wood-cut at p395.

61 Bull. Inst. 1829, p180. These tiles are discovered either in tombs as covers to urns, or in niches in the rock — two or three being arranged so as to form a little penthouse over a cinerary urn; and the epitaph, instead of being on the urn, is sometimes inscribed on a tile.

62 If the early ware of Caere and the coast should be referred to the Pelasgic inhabitants of the land, rather than to the Etruscans, as Professor Lepsius is of opinion (Tyrrhen. Pelas. p44), this of Clusium cannot be of inferior antiquity.

63 Illustrations of this ware are given (p348)at pages 92, 101, 352. See also Micali, Ant. Pop. Ital. tav. XXII‑XXVI; Mon. Ined. tav. XXVIII‑XXXXI; Mus. Chius. tav. XII. XIX‑XXI. XLV. LXXXII. This ware is not baked, but merely sun-dried, and unglazed, though slightly varnished. It is generally designated "creta nera." Micali thinks it was not of ordinary use, but merely for sepulchral rites. It is certain that it is more illustrative of the religious creed of the Etruscans than any other pottery found in the land. Inghirami took the chimaeras on this ware for "the chaotic monsters which preceded the order of nature" (Mus. Chius. I p11). The cock, which crests so many of these jars, is thought by the same writer to have been an augury of prosperity to the dead. It had certainly a sepulchral reference, but in what way it is symbolical is not very evident; perhaps of the funeral games, as Gerhard remarks (Bull. Inst. 183, p58) that the cock of Greek and Etruscan art was the symbol of athletic and gymnastic exercises.

It is said that this black ware is formed of no peculiar earth, and that when broken it sometimes shows a gradation of colour from the surface to the centre, where it is of the natural yellow of the clay. Depoletti and Ruspi, who differ from the ordinary opinion in considering it to be baked, think the black hue was thus obtained. When moulded, the vase was put into a receptacle of larger size; the intervening space, as well as the vase itself, was filled with shavings, or sawdust, and the whole plastered over with mud, so as to prevent the escape of the smoke. Being then placed in the furnace, the woody matter carbonising by slow and equal heat, coloured the vase with its smoke. They ascertained by experiment that by this process the desired effect might be obtained. Bull. Inst. 1837, pp28‑30.

64 Mus. Chius. I p17. Here represented, thinks Inghirami, to remind survivors of their duties in performing the sepulchral rites. Gerhard thinks they may have reference to the sacerdotal costume. Bull. Inst. 1831, p58.

65 Sepulchres of Etruria, p444.

66 The middle pot in the woodcut at page 325, is in the form of a cock, though, being fore-shortened, it is not very clearly shown, but the beak, crest, and wings are visible.

67 Inghirami thinks they were not actually used as braziers, but were left in the tomb at the closed of the funeral ceremonies, as substitutes for those of bronze which had been used. Mus. Chius. I p29. These wheeled cars or censers — θαυματήρια — have been found in the most ancient tombs, viz. — the Grotta d'Iside at Vulci (Vol. I. p423), and the Grotta Regulini-Galassi at Cervetri (ut supra, p48; cf. Mus. Chius. tav. XXXIX; Micali, Mon. Ined. tav. CIII p66); and specimens of the ordinary braziers of Etruscan sepulchres are to be seen in almost every Museum of such antiquities. Illustrations of focolari are given by Micali, Ant. Pop. Ital. tav. XXVI. øXXVIIø. See also Mus. Chius. tav. XXXI. øXXXIIø. øXLø.

68 Ut supra, pp39, 115, et seq. It was found at a spot called Fonte Rotella, about a mile west of Chiusi.

69 Micali, Mon. Ined. p212. It has been remarked that on the painted vases and paterae of Chiusi, it is common to find just twelve figures on the outside, Bull. Inst. 1840, p149.

70 Micali, Ant. Pop. Ital. tav. CI.12; Mus. Chius. tav. LXXVI. Micali takes the face to be that of Bacchus, and thinks its position is manifestly symbolical of the mysterious birth of that deity.

71 An illustration and description of this vase are given by Dr. Braun in his work on the Poggio Gajella, Rome, 1840. See also Bull. Inst. 1840, p148.

72 Ann. Inst. 1841, pp91‑98 Braun; Mon. Ined. Inst. III. tav. XXX.

73 There is no necessary relation, however, to Anubis; for there was a tradition among the ancients that monsters of this description were common in mountainous regions. Ctesias, the Greek writer on India, declared there were more than a hundred thousand of them. Plin. VII.2. The head of this figure, however, being as much like a bull's as a dog's, may mark it as the Minotaur, which is usually so represented on painted vases.

74 Illustrations, descriptions, and opinions of this vase are given by Inghirami, Mus. Chius. p29, tav. XXXIII. XXXIV; Micali, Ant. Pop. Ital. III p20, tav. XXII; Bull. Inst. 1830, p63. Levezow interpreted it as Perseus, attended by Minerva, about to cut off the Gorgon's head; Mercury and a genius or Gorgon in front; the swans indicating the neighbourhood of the Tritonian lake. The Duc de Luynes saw in it Ulysses conducted by Circe or a Sibyl to the infernal regions, indicated by the Gorgon, Fear, the Minotaur, and the Stymphalian birds. Ann. Inst. 1834, pp320‑3. Cavedoni also regards it as the descent of some hero to the lower world. Ann. Inst. 1841, p59.

75 This cippus has been illustrated by Inghirami, Mus. Chius. I. tav. 53‑56, and by Micali, Ant. Pop. Ital. tav. 56. It is very similar to a relief at Perugia. Mon. Etrus. VI. tav. Z 2. But it still more resembles, as regards two of its sides, another cippus from Chiusi, once in the Mazzetti collection, and now in the Museum of Berlin. Abeken, Mittelitalien, taf. VIII; Micali, Mon. Ined. tav. XXII. Bull. Inst. 1840, p150. The praeficae beat their breasts, it is said, to squeeze out the milk, and tore their flesh to make the blood flow, because the souls of the dead were supposed to be pleased with milk and blood. Serv. ad Virg. Aen. V.78; Varro, ap. eund. III.67. By the laws of Solon and by the Twelve Tables women were forbidden thus to tear their cheeks, and to wail the dead. Cic. de Leg. II.23.

76 The Etruscan would run thus —

vl · alphni · nuvi ·
cainal ·

if render into Latin letters. The (p355)Latin inscription is

C · ALFIVS · A · F ·


One may not be a translation of the other; though Kellermann thinks otherwise. Bull. Inst. 1833, p51.

77 Micali, Ant. Pop. Ital. tav. 53, 1.

78 Mus. Chius. tav. CXXXIX.

79 Inghirami thought the jar symbolised the world, and the head the presiding deity. It is true that in the Egyptian canopi, the lids are generally the heads of known divinities, but from the analogy of the Etruscan sarcophagi and urns, and of the heads in terra-cotta, it is much more reasonable to suppose them here to be portraits. "The great variety of the countenances," says Micali, "the different ages, the various modes of wearing the hair, the purely national character of the physiognomy, the agreement of the facial angle, leave no doubt that these are veritable portraits — so much the more important, as they faithfully and without any embellishment, show us the physical type of our forefathers." Ant. Pop. Ital. III p11. Illustrations of canopi are given by Inghirami, Mus. Chius. tav. 49, 67; Mon. Etrus. VI. tav. G 5; Micali, Ant. Pop. Ital. tav. 14, 15; Mon. Ined. tav. 33. They are generally in the black ware of this district, but a few (p357)are of yellow clay. The eyes are of yellow clay. The eyes are sometimes represented by coloured stones. Some have been found resting on stools of earthenware; others placed on small chairs, in form very like those of rock in the tombs of Cervetri (ut supra, pp. 34, 35, 59), either of oak, preserved by a coating of calcareous matter, or of terra-cotta. Bull. Inst. 1843, p68. They must be curule chairs, and indicative of the dignity of the subject. Such jars evidently bear a close analogy to the sitting statues, like that in the Museo Casuccini, which are also cinerary urns. The style of art likewise shows a similar epoch. Yet Micali (Mon. Ined. p151), while admitting the canopi to be of very early date, pronounces the statues to be as late as the seventh or eighth century of Rome. Abeken (Mittelitalien, p275), on the other hand, thinks the canopi not to be of the earliest days of Etruscan art. All analogy, however, is opposed to his opinion.

80 There was formerly a remarkable monument of this material in the Paolozzi collection. In the centre of the scene sat a woman with a babe at her breast, taking farewell of her husband who stood by her side. Hard by sat Charun, with his wonted hammer in one hand, and an oar in the other — a fact which removes all doubt as to the Etruscan Charon being akin to the Greek — and he was waiting to conduct his victim to the Gate of Hell, which yawned close at hand, surrounded with the heads of wild beasts, and surmounted by Furies, brandishing their torches and threatening their expected victim. Bull. Inst. 1840, p153 — Braun.

81 I looked in vain in the Gabinetto (p358)for some monuments I had seen in Signor Sozzi's possession, on a former visit to Chiusi. On one urn, the soul of a female was represented being led by the minister of death through the portal of the lower world. Another relief showed a female on her death-bed, and two others pouring ointments upon her head — which recalls to mind the origin of the Roman Catholic sacrament of extreme unction — while a third stood at the foot of the couch, waving a fan to cool the dying one. Micali (Mon. Ined. tav. XLVIII.3) gives an illustration of this monument.

82 This urn stands about three feet in height. It is illustrated by Micali, Mon. Ined. p188, et seq. tav. 33; cf.  (p359)Bull. Inst. 1843, p3; Ann. Inst. 1843,. Micali takes the small female figures for Junones; and reminds us that the number seven was a sacred or mystic number among the Etruscans as well as among the Jews and other people of antiquity, being supposed to have relation to the term of human life. Censorin. de Die Nat. cap. XI; Varro ap. eund. cap. XIV. Cicero calls seven — numerus rerum omnium fere nodus. Repub. VI.18; ap. Macrob. Somn. Scipio. I.6; II.4.

83 See Vol. I. p422.

84 Liv. I.8; Flor. I.5; Plin. VIII.74; IX.63.

85 There was a marble cube in the Canonico Carducci's garden, which is said to be quite sublime for the magnificent style of its reliefs. Bull. Inst. 1840, p151. Notices of the articles discovered during the last twenty years at Chiusi and its neighbourhood will be found in the publications of the Archaeological Institute at Rome.

Thayer's Notes:

a Chiusi's Etruscan relics are not gathered into one single public museum: Not then, and maybe not exactly now, since there are surely many that have evaded the centralizing process; but in the 21c that really isn't true any more. The visitor can enjoy one of the richest, most attractive and informative museums in central Italy, whose well-informed (if eagle-eyed) staff also conducts excursions, with often no reservation required, to some of the area's Etruscan tombs. Warmly recommended: see my diary for further details, including a color photo of a painted "ash-chest".

b quaintly: It is sad to see Dennis fall into such a gross error in judgment: not only is Spenser's beautiful verse not quaint, but though older, it is far less self-conscious and thus wearing rather better than Dennis's own prose.

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