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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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 p92  Chapter XXXVII


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Florence, beneath the sun,
Of cities, fairest one!

— Shelley.

Di te, Donna dell' Arno, anch' io favello.
Tu, in regio trono alteramente assisa,
L' imperioso ciglio
Volgi all' Etruria!

— Filicaja.

Florence, the Athens of modern Italy, in the days of Etruscan greatness and of the earliest civilization of the  p93 land, was nought. She cannot claim an origin higher than the latter years of the Roman Republic.​1 Yet she may be regarded in some sort as the representative of the ancient Etruscan city of Faesulae, whose inhabitants at an early period removed from their rocky heights to the banks of the Arno​2 — an emigration in which Dante, in his Ghibelline wrath, finds matter of vituperation —

        quello ingrato popolo maligno,
Che discese di Fiesole ab antico,
E tiene ancor del monte e del macigno —

 p94  though it would puzzle a poet now to find any analogy in the courteous and polished Florentines to the rugged crags of Fiesole.

It is not my province to make further mention of Florence, than to notice the relics of Etruscan antiquity preserved within the city, or discovered in the neighbourhood.

The collection of such objects in the possession of the Grand Duke is kept in the Gallery of the Uffizj; and though a meagre notice of it is to be found in the Guide Books, I should not be justified in omitting to particularise rather more fully the most interesting articles.

At the further end of the long Gallery in the western wing are

The Urns.

The greater part of these are from Volterra, being a selection made in 1770 from the abundant fruits of the excavations then carrying forward, and at that time were reputed the most beautiful relics of Etruscan antiquity extant.​3 A few have been subsequently added from the same city, as well as from Chiusi. They are either of travertine, alabaster, or of a yellow tufaceous stone. Out of nearly fifty, very few are of remarkable beauty or interest. Indeed, he who has visited Volterra or Chiusi, will find little to admire in the urns of the Uffizj. The figures on the lids are of the stumpy, contracted form usual in the "ash-chests" of Volterra. All are reclining, as at a banquet. The males, as usual, hold a goblet; the females, generally a fan or a mirror in one hand, and a pomegranate in the other; though one, of more depraved taste, holds a rhyton, or drinking-cup.​4 Most retain traces of the minium with which they were coloured.

 p95  The reliefs on the urns are, for the most part, in a wretched style of art; yet, as illustrative of the Etruscan belief and traditions, they are not without interest. Many represent parting scenes. The deceased is taking a last farewell of a relative, when the minister of Death, hammer in hand, steps between them, and a door hard by indicates the entrance to the unseen world. In another case the Genius rushes between the friends, seizes one, and at the same moment another demon extinguishes  p96 a torch. Here a husband is taking leave of his wife, ere he mounts the steed which is to convey him to the land whence no traveller returns — or a like fond pair are pressing hands for the last time at a column, the funeral pine-cone on which indicates the nature of their farewell. There, the winged messenger of Hades enters the chamber, and waves her torch over the head of the dying one, — or two sons are performing the last sad rites to their father; one is piously closing his eyes, and the other stands by comforted by a good spirit, while the Genius of Death is also present, sword in hand, to indicate the triumph he has just achieved.5

The subjects are sometimes mythological. Winged hippocampi, or sea-monsters — Scylla with double fishes tail, in the midst of a shoal of merry dolphins​6 — Castor and Pollux resting on their shields, with a winged Fate seated between them — griffons, and other chimaeras, or winged Genii guarding the urn which contains the ashes of the dead.

Here Paris has taken refuge at an altar, to escape from his brethren, who are enraged at his carrying off the palm from them in the public games. His good Genius steps in to save the victorious shepherd. There the young Polites is slain by Pyrrhus; the altar to which he had fled, and the wheel of Fortune on which he relied availing him nothing. Here is the boar of Calydon at bay, falling beneath the lance and double-axe (bipennis) of his pursuers. There Ulysses in his gallery is struggling to free himself from his voluntary bondage, eager to yield to the allurements of "the Syrens three," who, in the guise  p97 of women, with flute, lyre, and Pandean pipes, sit on the cliffs of their fatal island. Here is a scene where "the King of men" — lo gran Duca de' Greci, as Dante terms him — is about to immolate his virgin-daughter —

Onde pianse Ifigenia il suo bel volto,
    E fe pianger di sè e i folli e i savi,
Ch' udir parlar di così fatto colto.

And there you may see Clytemnestra slain on her guilty couch; the avengers of blood, according to this version of the legend, being three! On another urn Orestes and Pylades are represented sitting as victims, with their hands bound, at an altar; the libation is poured on their heads, and the sword is raised by the priestesses of Diana. On a fourth urn the drama is advanced another step. Iphigenia discovers it is her brother she is about to sacrifice, and she stands leaning on his head, with her hands clasped, in deep dejection, hesitating between love and duty. The second priestess have still her weapon raised to slay Pylades; and a third brings in a tray with libations and offerings. The daughter of Agamemnon is naked; but her fellows are attired in all respects like the Lasas and Furies, commonly represented in Etruscan funeral scenes. This monument is in a very superior style of art to most of its neighbours.

The subjects on others of these monuments are not easy of explanation.​7 One urn is in the shape of a little  p98 temple, with all the wood and tile-work of the roof represented in stone.8

The Vases

are all contained in one small chamber. The Tuscan Government has not availed itself of the opportunity it possesses of forming the finest collection of Etruscan antiquities in the world. Most of the articles discovered in the Duchy pass into foreign countries, — little or nothing finds its way to Florence. With this apathy on the part of the Government, the collection of vases cannot be expected to be extensive or remarkably choice. Yet it is characteristic. Most of the Etruscan sites within the limits of Tuscany are here represented by their pottery; and there are even some good vases from other districts of Italy; partly, I believe, collected, of old, by those princely patrons of art, the Medici.

The chief glory of this collection strikes the eye on entering. It is a huge, wide-mouthed amphora, perhaps largest painted vase ever found in Etruria — certainly  p99 unrivalled in the variety and interest of its subjects, and the abundance of its inscriptions. It is about twenty-seven inches in height, and little less in diameter; and has six bands of figures all in the Second or Archaic Greek style — black, tinted with white and red, on the yellow ground of the clay. It has eleven distinct subjects, eight of which are heroic, some quite novel; and no fewer than one hundred and fifteen explanatory epigraphs; besides the names of the potter and artist. The design, as in all vases of this style, is quaint and hard, yet the figures are full of expression and energy, and are often drawn with much minuteness and delicacy. Unfortunately it was found broken in numerous pieces; it has been tolerably well restored, but some fragments are still wanting to complete it. Yet even in its imperfect state it is so superb a monument, that the Tuscan Government was induced to relax its purse-strings, and purchase it for one thousand scudi.

This vase may be called an Iliad, or rather an Achilleid, in pottery, for its subjects have especial reference to the great hero of the Trojan War — from the youthful deeds of his father, and the marriage of his parents, down to his own death, interspersed with mythological episodes, as was the wont of the bard,

"Whose poem Phoebus challenged for his own."

This "king of Etruscan vases," as it has not unaptly been termed, was found at Chiusi in 1845, by Signor François.9

There are many other painted vases in this collection. Among them I may point out some amphorae, or wine-jars,  p100 with combats under the walls of Troy — councils of the gods — battles of the gods with the giants — two in a remarkable state of preservation, one with a gate of four warriors, the other with Mercury and Minerva standing by a war-chariot — and two very small, but pretty, representing a winged Apollo playing the lyre, and a nymph. Of hydriae, or water-jars, distinguished by their three handles, the most remarkable are, one which represents Mercury pursuing the nymph Herse, whose sisters run to acquaint their father; and a beautiful one, of the form called calpis, with Triptolemus on his winged car. Of mixing-jars — craters, celebae, stamni — with wide mouths, the best display the contest of the Centaurs and Lapithae, — Bacchic subjects, — a solemn procession, — and priestesses making libations at an altar. The wine-jugs — oenochoae — distinguished by their single handle and spout, bear — some, Bacchic scenes; one, Hercules "taking a cup of kindness" with his patron, the "grey-eyed" goddess; another, a marriage-scene, the bride veiled, attended by her pronuba, or bridesmaid, giving her hand at a column. There are also some good drinking-bowls — cylices and canthari. The most beautiful of these painted vases are from Vulci; and two huge amphorae from Basilicata contrast their florid adornments with the more chaste and simple pottery of Etruria.

[image ALT: A woodcut of an elegant pot-bellied jar with a human head and a lid with a small sitting bird. It is an Etruscan canopic jar from Chiusi.]

Canopus from Chiusi.

Arezzo may be recognized in an elegant vase of red ware, with heads and fruit in relief. Volterra has contributed sundry articles exhibiting the characteristic defects of her pottery — rudeness and carelessness of design, coarseness of clay, inferiority of varnish, and ungainliness of form. There are some of her favourite silhouette jugs, and little monstrosities in the shape of ducks, with a female head painted on each wing. Of the very early and uncouth black ware of Chiusi, Sarteano, Chianciano, and that district,  p101 there are numerous and excellent specimens; and it is these which give this collection its chief interest, for this very characteristic and peculiarly Etruscan pottery is not to be seen in the Museo Gregoriano at Rome, in the British Museum, or in any other national collection in Europe, as far as I am aware. Here are the tall cock-crowned vases, with veiled larvae or spirits of the dead, demons, beasts, chimaeras, and other strange devices, surrounding or studding them in relief as is shown in the curious jug at the head of this chapter.​10 Some are Canopi, or vases shaped like the head and shoulders of a man, the effigy of the dead whose ashes are contained within. One of them, shown in the annexed wood-cut, has less peculiarity than usual, and has the body adorned with figures in relief. The lid is in the form of a cap, tufted by a bird.​11 There are also, in the same black ware,  p102 a pair of focolari or fumigators, one round, the other square, with their incomprehensible tea-tray contents — cullenders — some singular stands which, for want of a better name and acquaintance of their use, are called "asparagus-holders," — large basket-like vases or trays, commonly called, for similar reasons, ciste mistiche, — and a variety of drinking-cups with bands of minute figures in relief, which are found also on other sites in Etruria. Not the least interesting of these Chiusi vases, is a cinerary pot, with "Tarchu" inscribed on it — a name rarely met with before the recent discovery at Cervetri of the Tomb of the Tarquins.​12 Nor must I forget two oblong tablets of black ware, with Etruscan inscriptions; commonly called lavagne, or "slates," but which Professor Migliarini, the Director of Antiquities, jocosely terms "visiting-cards." By the side of this very ancient black pottery, there are articles in a very different and much later style, whose elegant forms and reliefs, and brilliant varnish, betray a Greek origin or influence. They are said to come from Pompeii. There is also a Roman amphora, with a female painted on it, in the style of the frescoes of Pompeii.

Among the minor articles, notice numerous votive offerings, chiefly portions of the human frame, — heads, portraits of the deceased, often found in sepulchres, — many small figures of household gods, — lamps, — masks, — cattle, — all in baked clay, — eggs still unbroken, — a curious little group in ivory from an Etruscan tomb at Chiusi, representing two sleeping children attacked by a wolf and her young ones, — and two beautiful little cups of variegated glass.  p103 

The Bronzes.

The ancient bronzes in the Uffizj are in a small chamber — Greek, Etruscan, and Roman, mingled indiscriminately. The most remarkable objects, however, are Etruscan, found within the Grand Duchy. In the centre of the room stand several works of high celebrity. The Chimaera, found at Arezzo in 1534, is the legitimate compound, having the body of a lion, a goat's head springing from its back, and a serpent for a tail — the latter, however, is a modern restoration. The figure is full of expression. The goat's head is already dying, and the rest of the creature is writhing in agony from two wounds it has received from the spear of Bellerophon. The style of art much resembles that of the celebrated Wolf of the Capitol, but is somewhat less archaic; and its origin is determined by the word "Tinscvil" in Etruscan characters on the fore leg.13

The Arringatore, or Orator, is a brief statue, the size of life, of a senator or Lucumo, clad in tunic and pallium, and high-laced sandals, and with one arm in the attitude of haranguing. On the border of the pallium is an Etruscan inscription, which in Roman letters would run thus:—

"Aulesi. Metelis. Ve. Vesial. Clensi. Cen. Phleres. Tece. Sansl. Tenine. Tuthines. Chislvics" —

showing this to be the statue of Aulus Metellus, son of Velius, by a lady of the family of Vesius. Notwithstanding this proof of its origin, the monument is of no early date, but probably of the period of Roman domination, before the native language had fallen into disuse.​14 It was found in 1573, near the shores of the Thrasymene.

 p104  A much more archaic figure is that of Minerva, found at Arezzo about the same time as the Chimaera. From her attitude she might also be engaged in haranguing. Though regarded as Greek, this statue has much of the quaint character of Etruscan art.

The naked youth, sometimes called Mercury, was found at Pesaro, and is probably Roman. So is also the fine torso, discovered in the sea near Leghorn, the inside still encrusted with shells, — and the horse's head, of great spirit and beauty.

In the glass-cases around the room, the works of various ages and people are so mingled, as to require an experienced eye to pronounce which are Etruscan. There are sundry tripods, and candelabra of various merit — cauldrons — spear-heads, and daggers — lamps — mirrors, both figured and plain — paterae, with elegant handles — a phiala of silver — strigils of bronze — sacrificial flesh-hooks — caps of chariot-wheels in the form of dogs' heads — handles of bronze amphorae, with masks in the scrolls — and sundry situlae or small pails, one of silver, another scratched with archaic figures.

Two sistra are probably Roman, and so are most of the little figures of deities and Lares, here so numerous. Some, however, are genuine Tuscanica signa, to be distinguished principally by their archaic, and often grotesque character. Some are as rudely misshapen as those from the Nuraghe of Sardinia; others are fearfully elongated — a sure criterion of high antiquity; others have all the Egyptian rigidity. Many of the females are holding out their gowns with one hand as if preparing for a dance; yet with their feet closely set, and their limbs too stiff for motion, they remind one of the young lady who, when about to be led  p105 forth in a quadrille, remained fixed, immovable — would not stir a step; her face suddenly clouded with dismay and alarm, which was not shared in by those around her, when she whispered the cause of her seeming waywardness — "her garters had hooked together," and she was leg-locked! There are also many Genii with diadems, and patera in hand; one with a child in his arms; two winged Lasas, bearing the corpse of a warrior; beside numerous sphinxes, chimaeras, centaurs, and other fantastic monsters. Among them is a bull with a human head, which, from the arms of a man clasped round his neck, must represent the river-god Achelous, conquered by Hercules.

There are two small figures of Etruscan warriors; the larger, more than a foot high, is very similar to the beautiful Mars from Monte Falterona, now in the British Museum; and to a painted figure in the Tomb of the Monkey at Chiusi. His helmet has a straight cockade on each side, almost like asses' ears; he wears a scaled cuirass, but his thighs are bare; his legs are defended by greaves; he carries a large embossed Argolic buckler; but the weapon held in his right hand is gone.15

Much inquiry has been made of late years by English travellers for a certain "compass" in this collection, by which the Etruscans steered to Carnsore Point in the county of Wexford. The first party who asked for this curious instrument met with a prompt reply from Professor Migliarini, the Director of Antiquities in Tuscany. He ordered one of his officers to show the signori the Room of the Bronzes, and particularly to point out the Etruscan compass. "Compass!" — bussola! — the man stared and hesitated, but on the repetition of the command led the way, persuaded of his own ignorance, and anxious to discover  p106 the article with which he was not acquainted. The search was fruitless — no compass could be discerned, and the English returned to the Professor, complaining of man's stupidity. The learned Director, indicating the case and shelf where it was to be found, ordered him to return with the party. A second search proved no more successful; and the officer, half dubiously, was obliged to confess his ignorance. Whereon the Professor went with the party to the room, and taking down a certain article, exhibited it as the compass. "Diamine!" cried the man, "I always took that for a lamp, an eight-branched lamp," — not daring to dispute the Professor's word, though strongly doubting his seriousness. "Know then in future," said Migliarini, "that this has been discovered by a learned Englishman to be an 'Etrusco-Phoenician nautical compass,' used by the Etruscans to steer by on their voyages to Ireland, which was a colony of theirs, and this inscription, written in pure Irish or Etruscan, which is all the same thing, certifies the fact — 'In the night on a voyage out or home in sailing happily always in clear weather is known the course of going.' "16

In the Cabinet of Gems in the Uffizj, there are a few of Etruscan antiquity, among them the well-known one of two Salii carrying six ancilia on a pole between them.​17 Here  p107 are also some beautifully wrought ornaments in gold, from the tombs of Volterra.

Besides the collection in the Uffizj, the Grand Duke has a few Etruscan relics in his private laboratory, principally brought from the Maremma. I have not seen them, but the tone in which I have heard of them spoken of by high authority, as "roba di Maremma" was expressive of their quality than of the place of their discovery; and satisfied me that there was not much to see.

In the court of the Palazzo Buonarroti at Florence, is a slab of sandstone with the figure of an Etruscan warrior in relief. He is almost naked, with only a cloth about his loins; his hair hangs loosely down his back; he holds a spear in one hand and a lotus-flower, with a little bird on the stalk, in the other. The clumsiness, the Egyptian rigidity of this figure, mark it as of high antiquity; an inscription proves it to be Etruscan. It was discovered ages since at Fiesole.18

Monte Falterona.

Relics of Etruscan art are not always found in sepulchres — the celebrated lamp of Cortona and the numerous scarabaei of Chiusi are evidences to the contrary. But the most abundant collection of non-sepulchral relics that Etruria has produced was discovered in the summer of 1838 — not in the neighbourhood of a city or necropolis — not even in any of the rich plains or valliesº which anciently teemed with population, but, strange to say! near the summit of one  p108 of the Apennines, one of the loftiest mountains in Tuscany, which rises to the height of 5,400 feet, and from which, Ariosto tells us, both seas are visible.​19 This is Monte Falterona, about twenty-five or thirty miles east of Florence, the mountain in which the Arno takes its rise, as Dante says —

Un fiumicel che nasce in Falterona.

On the same level with the source of this celebrated river is a lake, or tarn, called Ciliegeto, on whose banks a shepherdess, sauntering in a dreamy mood, chanced to cast her eye on something sticking in the soil. It proved to be a little figure in bronze. She carried it home; and taking it in her simplicity for the image of some holy man of God, set it up in her hut to aid her private devotions. The parish-priest, paying a pastoral visit, observed this mannikin, and inquired what it was. "A saint," replied the girl; but incredulous of its sanctity, or not considering it a fit object for a maiden's adoration, he carried it away with him. The fact got wind in the neighbouring town of Stia del Casentino, and some of the inhabitants agreed to make researches on the spot. A single day sufficed to bring to light a quantity of such images and other articles in bronze, to the number of three hundred and thirty-five, lying confusedly on the shores of the lake, just beneath the surface. They then proceeded to drain the lake, and discovered in its bed a prodigious quantity of trunks of fir and beech trees, heaped confusedly on one another, with their roots often uppermost as if they had been overthrown by some mighty convulsion of nature; and on them lay many other similar figures in bronze; so that the total number of articles in this metal here discovered amounted  p109 to between six and seven hundred. They were mostly human figures of both sexes, many of them of gods and Penates, varying in size from two to three to seventeen inches in height. But how came they here? was the question which puzzled every one to answer. At first it was thought they had been cast into the lake for preservation during some political convulsion, or hostile invasion, and afterwards forgotten. But further examination showed they were mostly of a votive character — offerings at some shrine, for favours expected or received. Most of them had their arms extended as if in the act of presenting gifts; others were clearly representations of beings suffering from disease, especially one who had a wound in his chest, and a frame wasted by consumption or atrophy; and there were, moreover, a number of decided ex‑votos — heads and limbs of various portions of the human body, and many images of domestic animals, also of a votive character. All this implied the existence of a shrine on this mountain, surrounded, as the trees seemed to indicate, by a sacred grove, like that of Feronia or Soracte, and of Silvanus at Caere;​20 and it seemed that, by one of those terrible convulsions to which this land has from age to age been subject, the shrine and grove had been hurled down into this cavity of the mountain. It is well known that such catastrophes have in past ages occurred on Monte Falterona. For it is composed of stratified sandstone (macigno), and argillaceous schist (bisciajo), which latter, being very friable, has given way under the pressure of the superincumbent mass, and caused tremendous landslips, by which extensive forests have been precipitated down the slopes.​21 No traces, however, of a shrine, or of any habitation, were discovered with the relics in this lake.

 p110  There were some articles of very different are mixed with these figures, the existence of which on such a site was still more difficult to explain. Such were fragments of knives and swords, and the heads of darts, all of iron, in great numbers, not less, it is said, than two thousand, much injured by rust; besides great chains, and fibulae, and shapeless pieces of bronze from two ounces to two pounds in weight, recognised by antiquaries as the primitive money of Italy — the aes rude, which preceded the coined metal, or aes signatum, and was valued by its weight — together with fragments of the better-known coinage. Broken pottery, too, of the coarsest description, was mingled with the other articles, and also found scattered at some distance from the lake.

The weapons have been accounted for in various ways — as the relics of some battle fought on the spot, which, be it remembered, was border-ground for ages;​22 or as the offering of some military legion;​23 or as indicating that the shrine here was sacred to the god of war.24

A solution of the mysteries of this lake has been offered by Dr. Emil Braun, the learned secretary of the Archaeological Institute of Rome; and it is so novel and ingenious that I must give it to the reader.

He commences by observing that the trees found in the lake had been completely deprived of vitality, the water  p111 having absorbed all the resinous parts which they possessed when green. He considers that the convulsion of the dislocation of the mountain, which hurled them into this spot, must have occurred long prior to the period when the bronzes and other articles were here deposited, otherwise the latter would have been buried beneath the former, and not regularly set around the lake. He thinks that the lake was formed at the time that the landslip occurred, and that its waters acquired a medicinal quality from the trees it contained, the parts which gave them that virtue being identical with those from which modern chemistry extracts creosote. Now, the diseases which are shown in the ex‑votos, are just such, he observes, as are remediable by that medicine. The stiptic water of Pinelli, so celebrated for stopping the hemorrhage of recent wounds, has a base of creosote; and hither, it seems, flocked crowds of wounded warriors, who left their weapons in acknowledgement of their cure. The virtues of the same medicine, in curbing the attacks of phthisis, are now recognised by medical men of every school; and by patients labouring under this disorder the lake seems to have been especially frequented. Creosote also is a specific against numerous diseases to which the fair sex are subject, and such seem, from the figures, to have resorted in crowds to these waters. To free his theory from the charge of caprice or fantasy, the learned doctor cites the case of a similar lake in China, which is known to have imbibed marvellous medicinal qualities from the trunks of trees casually immersed in its waters.25

 p112  I leave it to medical readers, alloeopathicº and homoeopathic, to determine the correctness of this theory; to me it seems that se non è vero, è ben trovato.

I must add a word on the bronzes. Most are very rude, like the offerings of peasants, but a few are in the best Etruscan style. One antiquary considers them to show every stage of art, from its infancy to its perfection under Greek influence, and again to its decline.​26 Another perceives no traces of Roman, much less of Imperial times, but refers them all to a purely native origin.​27 Certain it is that some show the perfection of Etruscan art. Such is the figure of a warrior, with helmet, cuirass, and shield, generally called Mars,​28 which may rival that of the said deity in the Florence gallery, — a Hercules, with the lion's skin over his shoulders — the "saint," I believe, of the pastorella, though "not in saintly garb,"​29 — a Diana, said to resemble the celebrated archaic statue of marble found at Pompeii, — and a woman's leg and arm of great beauty.​30 These, with a few more of the choicest produce of the lake, are now to be seen in the British Museum, in the "Room of the Bronzes," of which they form the chief ornament.31

A still more recent discovery has been made on one of the Apennines, between Monte Falterona and Romagna, where many coins were found, principally asses, but among them a very rare quincussis, like that in the Bacci collection at Arezzo, which till now has been unique.32

 p113  Eighteen miles on the road from Florence to Arezzo is the little town of Figline, which had never been suspected of possessing Etruscan antiquities in its neighbourhood, till in 1843 a sepulchre was discovered on a hill hardly a mile beyond it. The roof had fallen in, but it was evident that the tomb had been formed of masonry, the hill being of too soft an earth to admit of excavated sepulchres; the pavement was of opus incertum — a very singular feature, which I have never seen, or heard of as existing elsewhere in an Etruscan tomb.​33º But a still more remarkable thing was that around one of the urns which had a female recumbent figure on the lid, was scattered an immense quantity of gold leaf in minute fragments, twisted and crumpled, which seemed to have been thrown over the figure in a sheet or veil, and to have been torn to pieces by the fall of the roof, which had destroyed most of the urns. It was of the purest gold, beaten out very thin; and the fragments collected weighed about half a pound.

Other Etruscan relics have been discovered in the neighbourhood of Florence in past times. Buonarroti — the painter's nephew — states, that, in 1689, at a spot called St. Andrea à Morgiano, in the heights above Antella, a village a few miles to the south-east of Florence, he saw an Etruscan inscription cut in large letters in the rock.​34 At Antella has also been found a stele, or monumental stone, with bas-reliefs, in two compartments — one representing a  p114 pair of figures on the banqueting-couch, and a slave standing by; the other, a pair sitting opposite, with a table between them. It is of very archaic character, and the Egyptian rigidity of the figures and cast of the countenances is very marked. It is now in the possession of Signor Peruzzi of Florence.35

At San Martino alla Palma, five or six miles from Florence, a little to the left of the road to Leghorn, some monuments of Etruscan art have been found — a female statue of marble, headless, with a dove in her hand, and an inscription on her robes;​36 and a singular, circular, altar-like cippus, four feet high, with figures in high relief — a warrior, preceded by two lictors, and followed by two citizens, one of whom is embracing him. It has an Etruscan inscription above.37

At San Casciano, eight or ten miles on the road to Siena, Etruscan inscriptions and bronzes have been found in ages past;​38 and about the ruins of a castle, called Pogna, or Castro Pogna, on a height two miles to the west of Tavarnelle, on the same road, numerous Etruscan urns have been found, as far back as three or four hundred years since. They are said to have been of marble and of elegant character, and to have had peculiarities of form  p115 and style. The castle was destroyed in 1185. The site must have been originally Etruscan.39


Note — The François Vase.

This monument is of such splendour and interest, that it demands a detailed description. Like the painted pottery of Etruria in general, it represents subjects from the mythological cycle of the Greeks, and all its inscriptions are in the Greek character.

To begin with the neck of the vase, which has two bands of figures:— The upper contains, on one side, the Hunt of the boar of Calydon. All the heroes, and even the dogs, have their appellations attached. The most prominent are Peleus, Meleagros, Atalate,º Melanion, Akastos, Asmetos, Simon, and the great Twin-brothers, Kastor and Poludeukes (Pollux). At each end of this scene is a sphinx. On either side is a subject which is explained as the Return of Theseus from the slaughter of the Minotaur, and the rejoicing consequent on his triumph. A ship full of men is approaching the land; Phaidimos jumps ashore; another casts himself into the sea, in his eagerness to reach the beach, on which a band of thirteen youths and maidens — all named seriatim — are dancing in honour of the hero Theseus, who plays the lyre, with Ariane (Ariadne) at his side.

The second band has, on one side, the Battle of the Centaurs and Lapithae, all with names attached. Here again Theseus is prominent in the fight. On the other side, are the Funeral Games in honour of Patroclus, represented by a race of five quadrigae, driven by Oluteus, Automedon, Diomedes, Damasiposº and Hipo . . on; while Achileusº himself stands at the goal with a tripod for the victor, and other tripods and vases are seen beneath the chariots.

 p116  The third and principal band represents the Marriage of Peleus and Thetis. The goddess is sitting in a Doric temple. Before the portico, at an altar, designated Βωμ. ., on which rests a cantharus, stands her mortal spouse, his hand held by the Centaur Chiron, who is followed by Iris, with her caduceus; the Nymphs Hestia and Chariklo, and another of indistinct name; Dionisosº bearing an amphora on his shoulders; and the three Horai. Next comes a long procession of deities in quadrigaeZeus and Hera in the first, attended by Oraniaº and Kaliope.º Who follow in the next two chariots, is not clear — the name of Anphitriteº is alone legible; but both are attended by the other Muses. Ares and Aphrodite occupy the fourth car; Hermes and his mother Maia, the sixth; and the name of Ocheanosº is alone left to mark the occupants of the seventh. Hephaistos mounted on his donkey terminates the procession.

On the fourth band, Achilles is displaying his proverbial swiftness of foot, by pursuing a youth who is galloping with a pair of horses towards the gates of Troy. The same subject has been found on other vases; but this is the first to make known the youth as Troïlos. The son of Peleus is followed by his mother Thetis, by Athena, Hermes, and Rhodia — all near a fountain, with its Greek designation — κρήνη — where Troilus seems to have been surprised. Under his steeds' feet lies a water-jar, called ὑδρία, which has been cast away in terror by a female who is near him. The walls of Troy, to which he hastens, are painted white, and are of regular Greek masonry. The gate is not arched, but has a flat lintel. From it issue Hektor and Polites, armed for the rescue of their brother. Outside the gate, on a seat or throne marked Θάκος, sits the venerable Priamos, talking with his son Antenor. At the fountain are two of the Trojans (Troon) — one is filling a jar, the water flowing from spouts like panthers' heads.

On the other side of the fountain, is the Return of Hephaistos to Heaven. Zeus and Hera occupy a throne at one end of the scene, and behind them stand Athena, Ares, and Artemis; while before them stand Dionisosº and Aphrodite, as if to plead for the offending son of Jove. He follows on an ass, attended by Silenoi and the Nymphs (Niphai).º

The fifth band contains the common subject of beasts of various descriptions engaged in combat, or devouring their prey — griffons, sphinxes, lions, panthers, boars, bulls, &c.

The sixth band is on the foot of the vase, and represents the Pigmies, mounted on goats for chargers, encountering their foes, the Cranes. Neither of these last two bands has inscriptions. The potter's and  p117 painter's names are on the principal band. The vase speaks for itself, and says, 
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	"Clitias drew me," and 
[image ALT: Facsimile of Greek text ΕΡΛΟΤΙΜΟΣΜΕΠΟΙΕΣΕΝ (sic), for ΕΡΓΟΤΙΜΟΣ ΜΕ ΠΟΙΕΣΕΝ.]
	"Ergotimos made me." The inscriptions run, some from right to left, but most from left to right, generally according to the direction of the figures to which they are attached.

On one handle of the amphora, is a winged Diana grasping two panthers by the neck, and on the other the same figure holding a panther and a stag.​40 And beneath these groups is Aias (Ajax) bearing the dead body of Akileus.º Within each handle is a Fury, with open mouth, gnashing teeth, wings spread, and in the act of running — the same figure that occurs so often on Etruscan vases and bronzes. An illustration of it has been given in the eyed cylix from Vulci, at page 397 of Vol. I; and a further specimen is presented in the subjoined cantharus, or goblet.

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The Author's Notes:

1 Frontinus (de Coloniis, p13, ed. 1588) says Florentia was a colony of the Triumvirate, established under the Lex Julia; which has led some to conclude that such was the date of her foundation. Yet Florus (III.21) ranks her with Spoletium, Interamnium, and Praeneste, those "most splendid municipia of Italy," which, in the civil wars of Marius and Sylla, suffered from the vengeance of the latter. Some editions have "Fluentia," but this can be no other than Florentia, as the same name is given by Pliny (III.8) in his list of the colonies in Etruria — Fluentini praefluenti Arno oppositi. Repetti, however, embraces the opinion of Salutati, and of Borghini, that it was the Ferentinum of the Volsci, to which Florus in the said passage alludes; and he thinks the origin of Florence is to be dated from the colony of the Triumvirate (Dizionario, II. pp108, 150). Cluver (II p508) admits the higher antiquity. Mannert (Geog. p393) thinks the city dates its origin from the Ligurian wars. In the reign of Tiberius, Florentia was an important colony or municipium, one of those which sent deputies to Rome, to deprecate alterations in the course of the tributaries of the Tiber; their plea being that if the Clanis were diverted into the Arnus, it would bring destruction on their territory. Tacit. Ann. I.79. She is subsequently mentioned by Pliny (XIV.4, 7), by Ptolemy (p72), by the Antonine Itinerary and the Peutingerian Table. Vestiges of her Roman magnificence remain in the ruins of the amphitheatre near the Piazza di Santa Croce.

Livy (X.25) speaks of an Etruscan town, Aharna, or as some readings have it, Adharnaha, which Lanzi translates Ad Arnum, and hints that it may be Florence, though not giving this as his opinion (Sagg. I p377; II. p394). But Livy refers to the year 459, at which time the vale of the Arno must have been a marsh, as it was in the year 537, when Hannibal invaded Etruria (Liv. XXII.2); and no town could have occupied the present site of Florence.

2 The fact is not stated by the ancients, but has for ages been traditional. Inghirami (Guida di Fiesole, p24) refers the emigration to the time of Sylla; Repetti (II. p108) to that of Augustus. According to old Faccio degli Uberti, the city received its name from the "flower-basket" in which it is situated.

Al fine gli habitanti per memoria
Che lera posta en un gran cest de fiori,
Gli dono el nome bello unde sen gloria.

3 Inghirami, Monumenti Etruschi, I. p11.

4 The rhyton is a drinking-cup, originally, perhaps, in the form of a cow's (p95)horn, as it is often so represented in the hands of Bacchus on the painted vases, but it frequently terminates in the head of a dog, fox, bull, stag, boar, eagle, cock, or griffon. In this case it is in the form of a horse's head and forequarters — a favourite shape with the Etruscans. It is sometimes represented in ancient paintings with the wine flowing in a slender stream from the extremity, but I do not recollect to have seen one so perforated. As it could only stand when inverted, it was necessary to drain it to the bottom before it could be laid down. It may therefore be regarded as indicative of a debauch. By the Greeks it was considered proper to heroes only. Athen. XI. c2, p461. From these female effigies holding paterae, and even rhyta, we learn somewhat of the habits of the Etruscan ladies. Indeed, if we may believe all that has been said about them, they were "terrible ones to drink," and were apt to be forward in pledging any gentleman to whom they took a fancy, not waiting, as modest ladies ought, till they were challenged to take wine. Theopompus, ap. Athen. XII c3, p517. Very different was the condition of the Roman woman in early times. She was not allowed to drink wine at all, unless it were simple raisin-wine. And, however she might relish strong drinks, she could not indulge even by stealth; first, because she was never entrusted with the key of the wine-cellar; and secondly, because she was obliged daily to greet with a kiss all her own, as well as her husband's male relatives, down to second cousins; and as she knew not when or where she might meet them, she was forced to be wary, and abstain altogether. For had she tasted but a drop, the smell would have betrayed her — "there would have been no need of slander," says Polybius (ap. Athen. X. c11, p440). The precautionary means, it may be thought, were worse than the possible evil they were intended to guard against. So strict, however, were the old Romans in this respect, that a certain Egnatius Mecenius is said to have slain his wife, because he caught her at the wine-cask — a punishment which was not deemed excessive by Romulus, who absolved the husband of the crime of murder. Another Roman lady who, under the pretence of taking a little wine for her stomach's sake and frequent infirmities, indulged somewhat too freely, was mulcted to the full amount of her dowry. Plin. XIV.14. On an amphora from Volterra, in this same collection, two naked females are represented pledging each other in these rhyta.

5 This scene is illustrated by Micali, Ant. Pop. Ital. tav. LIX.4.

6 One of these marine goddesses, with a pair of wings on her brows, and an anchor in each hand — the decoration of an urn in this collection — is illustrated by Micali, Italia avanti I Romani, tav. XXII; Ant. Pop. Ital. tav. CX.

7 In one case a man, sitting on an altar, is about to slay a child in his lap, to the great alarm of two females; some armed men rush up to the rescue. A temple is represented behind, in perspective. Some are battle-scenes. A quadriga is upset — old Charun, "griesly grim," seizes one of the horses by the ear and nose — a man strikes at them with one of the broken wheels — and a female Fury, or Fate, stands behind him, with her weapon raised, as if to smite them. In one strange combat, a minstrel-boy with a lyre mingles in the fray. In another, a warrior drags a female, not an Amazon, from her chariot — the horses are trampling on a fallen man, and a Fury directs their course. Here, two combatants are separated by a female demon rushing between (p98) them. There, two others are fighting, and a monster in human form, with a ram's head, perhaps one of Circe's victims, stands by with a stone in his hand. One scene, where a man is presenting a goblet to a female seated in a grotto, recalls Comus and the lady, were it not that another man is approaching stealthily, to transfix her with a spear.

Some of the urns described by Italian antiquarians as in this Museum, are no longer to be seen here. Such is a parting scene at a door. A woman, about to enter the fatal gate of Hades, is taking farewell of her husband and family; while Charun, or the minister of Death, with his hammer on his shoulder, is on the point of striking her down with a sword. Inghir. Mon. Etrus. I. tav. XXXVIII. Another very interesting urn, no longer in this Museum, represented the blinding of Oedipus. Two armed men hold the old man, while a third thrusts a dagger into his eye; his two little sons are running up, each with his hand to his head, to express his grief; and a female is also rushing forward to save him, but is held back by a slave. Inghir. I. tav. LXXI; Micali, Ital. av. Rom. tav. XLVI; Gori, I. tab. 142. It will be seen that this differs from the Greek version of the story which represents the ill-fated son of Laius, as blinding himself with his own hand. Sophoc. Oedip. Tyr. 1270; Aeschyl. Sept. ad Theb. 783‑4.

8 In one of the reliefs on these urns, an arched gateway is represented, with rusticated voussoirs — an architectural fact worthy of attention.

9 Further notices of this remarkable vase will be found in Bull. Inst. 1845, pp113‑119 (Braun); and pp210‑214 (Gerhard). See also the Appendix to this Chapter.

10 The black ware of which these vases are made is unglazed and imperfectly varnished, often incapable of containing liquid; whence it may be inferred that much of this pottery was made expressly for sepulchral purposes. Such appears to be the character of the vase represented at page 92. The animals in the lower band are panthers, carrying stags, conveniently packed on their shoulders, as a fox carries a goose. Wild beasts with their prey are most common sepulchral emblems, not only on Etruscan but on Greek and Oriental monuments. See Vol. I p359. The heads in the upper band seem to have an analogy with the silhouettes on the painted pottery of Volterra. The three things between them appear to be alabastra — common sepulchral furniture. The horse is a well-known funereal emblem, indicative of the passage from one state of existence to another. The eyes scratched on the spout have evidently an analogy to those so often painted on the Hellenic vases; and have doubtless the same symbolic meaning. See Vol. I Chapter XXII. page 438. Micali, in treating of this vase (Mon. Ined. p176), takes them for a charm against the evil eye. The heads which stud the handle and top of this vase are supposed to be those of Larvae, or the spirits of the defunct.

11 This Canopus is described by Micali, Mon. Ined. p172 et seq. tav. XXIX.

12 The inscription given in Roman letters, would read thus:— "Mi Tesan Keia Tarchu Menaia." Micali (Mon. Ined. p386, tav. LV.7), who gives a drawing of the pot, thinks the inscription must refer to some client or freedman of the gens Tarquinia. But it seems rather to mention some one of the name of Tarchon.

13 See Lanzi, Saggio, II. p236; Micali, Ant. Pop. Ital. III p61, tav. XLII.2; Inghir. III. tav. XXI.

14 Lanzi (Sagg. II p547) regards (p104)this statue as votive, and gives the inscription in Etruscan characters (tav. III.7). It is also given by Micali (op. cit. p64, tav. XLIV.2).

15 See Micali, Italia av. Rom. tav. XXI; Ant. Pop. Ital. tav. XXXIX.

16 Sir William Betham, when he found this mare's nest (Etruria Celtica, II. p268), had evidently made acquaintance with the relic only through published illustrations, which all present but one view of it. Had he personally inspected it, he must have confessed it an eight-branched lamp, with the holes for the wicks, and reservoir for the oil. The inscription runs in a circle round the bottom, and in Roman letters would be — Mi. Sutril. Velthuri. Thura. Turce. Au. Velthuri. Phnisual. In the centre is a Medusa's head, with wings on the temples, as on the lamps in the Tomb of the Volumni at Perugia. This monument has been illustrated by several of the early writers on Etruscan antiquities. Dempster, de Etruriâ Regali, I. tab. VIII; Gori, Museum Etruscum, I. p. xxx; Lanzi, Saggio, II. tav. XIV.3.

17 This is illustrated by Lanzi, II. tav. IV.1; but better by Inghirami, VI. tav. B 5, 6; and Gori, I. tab. CXCVIII.1.

18 Buonarroti, Michael Angelo's nephew (p95, Explic. ad Dempst. II), could not tell the date of its discovery; he only knew he had received it from his ancestors. The relief is about 3 ft. 9 in. high. The Etruscan inscription would run thus in Roman letters — Larthi Asses, or Anises. Micali (Ant. Pop. Ital. III p80, tav. LI) takes the lotus and bird to be mystic emblems of the resurrection of the soul. This monument is illustrated also by Gori, Mus. Etrus. III. p. ii, tab. XVIII.1; and Micali, Ital. av. Rom. tav. XIV.1.

19 Inghirami, the astronomer, called it 2825 braccia, 8 soldi above the level of the sea.

20 That of Silvanus was girt about with firs. Virg. Aen. VIII.599.

21 Repetti (II. p91) records three of these landslips; the first on 15th May, (p110)1335, when a spur of the mountain slid down more than four miles, burying a town with all its inhabitants, and rendering the waters of the Arno turbid for more than two months; the second on 18th May, 1641; the latest on 15th May, 1827, when the Arno was again reddened for several weeks with the mud. From the quantity of water that came down with the first of these landslips, it is highly probable that the same causes were in operation here that brought about the fall of the Rossberg in Switzerland, where the clayey strata, lying beneath the heavier conglomerate, were converted into mud by the percolation of water, and ceased to be able to afford support. The season of the year in which each of these Italian landslips occurred, just after the fall of the early rains, confirms this view.

22 Bull. Inst. 1838, p70 — Migliarini.

23 Bull. Inst. 1838, p66 — Inghirami.

24 Bull. Inst. 1842, p180.

25 Bull. Instit. 1842, pp179‑184. The opinion that the bronzes were deposited as votive offerings around the lake, is borne out by a similar fact mentioned by ancient writers. The sacred lake and grove of Venus Aphacitis, in Coelo-Syria, between Biblos and Heliopolis, stood near the summit of Mount Lebanon, and in its waters votaries were wont to deposit their gifts, which were not only of bronze, gold, and silver, but also of linen and bissus; and (p112) a yearly festival was long held there, which was ultimately suppressed by Constantine. See Bull. Inst. 1845, p96 (Cavedoni), and the authorities there cited.

26 Migliarini, Bull. Inst. 1838, p69.

27 Micali, Mon. Ined. p89.

28 Idem. tav. XII.

29 Idem. tav. XV.

30 For notices of this curious lake and its contents, see Bull. Inst. 1838, pp65‑68 (Inghirami); Bull. Inst. 1838, pp69‑70 (Migliarini); Bull. Inst. 1842, pp179‑184 (Braun); Micali, Mon. Ined. tav. XII‑XVI. pp86‑102; Braun's review of the same, Ann. Inst. 1843, p354.

31 The rest of the collection is also in London, in the hands of Signor Domenico Campanari.

32 Micali, Mon. Ined. p89.

33 Migliarini, Bull. Inst. 1843, pp35‑7. It may be that the so‑called opus incertum of the pavement was only a collection of small stones put down at random, for no mention is made of cement, which forms the basis of the Roman masonry known by that name.

34 Buonar. p95, Explicat. ad Dempst. tom. II. Passeri (p65, ap. Gori, Mus. Etrus. III. tab. XV), however, represents it as merely a huge stone cut from the rock, 15 Roman feet long, by 6 high, with letters 6 inches in height. The inscription translated into Roman letters would be

TULAR . MP . A . VIS . VL .

It was found on the estate of the Capponi family.

35 Inghirami gives illustrations of this singular stele (Mon. Etrus. VI. tav. C.D. E.) This is an instance of the fallacy of the mode of determining the antiquity of monuments from the presence or absence of the beard. Inghirami pronounces that this cannot be earlier than the fifth century of the City, because the males here are beardless; and barbers are said by Pliny (VII.59) to have been introduced into Rome in the year 454; whereas the style of art, a much safer criterion, shows this monument to be of much earlier date, and of undoubted Etruscan antiquity. See Vol. I p344.

36 Buonarroti (pp13, 29, tab. XLIII) took this figure for Venus, or the nymph Begoë, of whom mention has already been made — Vol. I p447.

37 Buonar. p29, tab. XLVI. The lictors had no axes in their fasces. Both these monuments were formerly in the possession of the Della Stufa family. Where they are now I do not know.

38 Idem, p96.

39 Buonar. pp33, et seq. Repetti (IV. p498) says that the ruins of the castle are now called Le Masse del Poggio di Marcialla. Near Panzano, some miles to the east, a marble cippus, with an Etruscan inscription, was discovered in 1700. Buonar. p96. The "marble" in these monuments was probably alabaster.

40 The winged Artemis on the Chest of Cypselus held in this way a lion in one hand, and a panther in the other. Pausan. V.19. Such figures seem to have their type in the Babylonian cylinders, where they are often represented, throttling lions or swans.

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