Well, we have quite a strenuous day behind us in spite of taking it easy. We started in at 9 o’clock and took a car to the Church of Gesu, from where the Jesuits spread over the old and new world.
The church is beautifully decorated with frescoes by Gauli. One of the inside altars, or chapeks, the one of St. Ignatius, is a beautiful one. It is decorated with columns of precious marble lapis lazuli, and a globe representing the earth, which is supported by angels, consists of a single block of the previous marble and is the largest block ever seen. This is the richest looking altar which I have seen.
We now walked over to the Campidoglio. At the foot of the staircase are two lions in grey granite, which were placed here to replace the two ancient ones which were transferred to the Capitoline Museum. A staircase to the left is for the most part built of marbles taken from the temples of Venus, of Rome and of Quirinus toward the year 1153.
As we descend the Grand Central incline, we see a fine statue in bronze of Rienzi, which was raised in 1887 by the commune of Rome, also an iron cage with a pair of live wolves which are kept in allusion to the origin of Rome.
On the ballustrade that overlooks the city are the colossal statues of Castor and Pollux made of pentetic marble formerly in the city of Pompei. There are also here two fine trophies of arms, the statues of Constantine Augustus and of Constantine Caesar, found on the Quirinal in the Thermae of Constantine. Finally, two stone columns, which, as the old inscription says, are mile stones, surmounted by a metal ball in which were enclosed the ashes of Trajan, which were found on the Via Apia.
Before us we now have the Tabularium where the bronze tablets of the decrees of the Roman Senate were kept, also the laws and the negotiations for peace and alliances. The lower part of this building dates from 670 years before Christ. That’s some age, isn’t it?
From here you can enter the Capitoline Tower built in 1572. Descending a few steps, we sat down to overlook the Foro Romano. It is a wonderful sight and it filled us with awe, when we remembered that, 2000 years ago, this spot, which now shows only ruins, was full of life, and that here was the center of the great Roman Empire and that at one time St. Paul walked the streets of this ancient Rome, chained to a soldier.
I concluded that it would be worth the money to hire a guide who could help me to “Brush up” my knowledge of ancient history and, with him, we descended from the Capitol Hill and set our feet upon the stones of the “Sacra Via” (holy street) and, passing along, we find a small square where, even to this day, the ancient soil has not been dug up. It must be remembered that at one time this was the dumping ground of a later Rome, and that all these ruins of former grandeur had to be uncovered before they were brought to light again.
Before we proceeded, we look at the foundation of the Tabularium, a building of the most ancient style of square blocks dating back 2300 years. The modern Palazzo Senatorio is built over it. A large basement with eight Ionic Columns indicates what is left of the Temple of Saturums, one of the most ancient in Rome.
We next look at the ruins of the Basilica Julia begun by Julius Caesar and enlarged by Augustus. It was burnt down thrice and finally restored in the year 377. It was lost to view in the 7th century, partly excavated in 1834, in 1850, and, recently, in 1888, it was entirely uncovered. It is the largest building in the Forum, being 300 feet in length by 140 feet in width.
We next looked upon the poor remnants of one of the most remarkable monuments of Rome, the famous pulpit of oratory, the Rostrum. From here, Marc Antonius held the famous funeral oration of Julius Caesar. The Arch of Septimus Serverus, built about 203 by the Emperor in his honor, was decorated on the top by a triumphal chariot, and, on the corner, by four statues all in bronze. The monument, which is one of the best preserved, is rich in beautiful bas reliefs.
Divus Julius Temple, which has been recently brought to light was built on the spot where the body of Julius Caesar was burnt on the pyre. In “Moderus Kunst” you will find a picture of this event, which, now that I have seen the spot, is of much interest to me.
The Temple of Antonius and Taustina, erected in 141 by Abt. Pius, is decorated with excellent bas reliefs. In the middle ages, it was converted into a church, and the floor was raised some 35 feet higher.
We next looked into some old Sepulchers, which have been excavated and in which were found vessels indicating their age to be 3000 years. Some temporary Prison Cells attracted our attention by the explanation from the guide that the prisoners were not kept in them for any length of time for they were either set free shortly, or put to death.
Three columns are all that is left of the magnificent Temple Castor and Pollus, which was built in 469 B.C. after the victory of the rising Republic over the partisans of the Tawquine. The pillars are about 50 feet high. The Temple of Romulus was the first of the pagan temples, which was converted into a church (in 503).
The Basilica Constantine, which was built in 511, had eight gigantic columns of which the only remaining one was moved to the Piazza S. M. Maggiors. The three remaining arches give one an idea of the grandeur of the temple, and it is said that they served as a model in the erection of the Pantheon.
Finally, we reached the most interesting ruins of them all, the Arch of Titus, built after the conquest of Jerusalem in the year A.D. 70. In the bas relief on the right, the more interesting portion of the triumphal procession is shown, that is, the gold table vessels and the seven-armed Candelabre.
In the one on the left, we see Titus in a triumphal car accompanied by lictors soldiers and citizens. Passing along under this arch, we thought of the many noble Romans who have passed to and fro beneath this arch before us, and, as we descend, we see before us the immense Colosseo, the most stupendous structure of the time of the Romans, built by Flavius Vespasian in 72–80, after the Jewish war.
Built for grand gladiatorial spectacles, it also served as the arena of the Christian Martyres. It was dedicated by Titus and inaugurated with wrestlings and games, which lasted one hundred days and in which 5000 wild beasts were slain. It consists of four stories each of different architecture, Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. The circumference of this immense building is more than 1500 feet and the height more than 150. There was room for 50,000 spectators, who entered by 160 openings.
We took a fleeting glance at the Arch of Constantine, built in the memory of his victory over Maxeutiust Licinius. It consists of three arches and is decorated with eight statues of barbarian prisoners. There now, that will give you a little ancient history to digest.
We were pretty well tired and hungry by this time and took a cab for the nearest restaurant. After a good lunch, we went to the Pantheon, which, unfortunately, was closed, so we took a car to look up a lady from America, who is staying with her sister. We went into a grand mansion and were ushered into the parlor, which gave us a fine idea of the luxury in which a modern Roman-American lives.
The furniture was rich and antique, and there were so many valuable and antique bricabracs that I could not possibly mention them. From here, we walked to the Villa Borghese, a grand and beautiful park, and then to the Pincio (the royal gardens of Nero). It contains rare plants and a collection of illustrations of Italians. Here a band was playing, and hundreds of carriages and many Pedestrians crowded the avenue. From a terrace, we had a fine view of Rome. We met Mr. Haueisen from Indianapolis and his daughter, and together we enjoyed the scene and the music as well as the pleasant chat. Home in a cab to be in time for supper and to bed in a hurry, as we were very tired.