Roman And Latin League - Praeneste
( Originally Published 1910 )
Though Rome was the emporium of Latium, she seems not to have been even among the earliest foundations of the Latin race, which centered in the Alban hills, extended eastward to the Samnite borders in the Apennines beyond Tibur and westward to the seaboard, the Pontine plain and the Tiber, dotting this region with cities at intervals of between three and ten miles, in the palmy days before the Volscian and Aequian invasion.
Of these Latin cities built before Rome or at about the same time, only one, Praeneste, has preserved a semblance of its antique splendor. Of Alba Longa there is hardly a trace except for a few simple graves with early cabin urns, buried under a volcanic eruption which covered them with a stratum of peperino rock. Tusculum, Aricia, Lanuvium, Lavinium, the other principal members of the league, have only faint remnants. In Tibur, the modern Tivoli, we breathe the atmosphere of the imperial villas and at the earliest that of the last days of the Republic in its fascinating temple. But Praeneste, the impregnable fortress par excellence of all Latium, has not only its incomparable site, its cyclopean walls and the remnants of its temple of Fortune, the most magnificent and colossal temple in Italy, but has yielded from its tombs proof of the life of its people in profuse detail and over quite a long period of time.
After the early destruction of Alba it would seem as if Praeneste and Tibur were, next to Rome, the largest and most influential Latin cities, one dominating the Praenestine and the other the Tiburtine hills as Alba had dominated the slopes of the Alban mount. Praeneste annexed the smaller townships in her neighborhood in the same way as Rome was doing and at one time was known to have at least eight towns in her power. She never lost her independence of action by a complete merger in the Latin league, as was shown when she took the part of Rome against the league before the battle of Lake Regillus in 497. She was as necessary to Rome as a bulwark as Rome was to her, when she had to bear the brunt of Aequian and Volscian at-tacks, for while her site was impregnable her rich territory was open to devastation. During the half century of Rome's weakness after the capture by the Gauls, Praeneste was for a time the leader of the Latins in their effort to put an end to Roman supremacy, and her troops at one time came as far as the Colline gate.. Even after the final submission of the Latins to Rome Praeneste never lost her strategic importance, her proud spirit or her wealth.
An excursion to Palestrina, the ancient Praeneste, and a study of her tombs will therefore carry one back by almost infinitesimal stages from imperial Rome to the age of her beginnings, illustrating during all this time the action of the influences of the Orient, of Greece, and of Etruria within the purely Latin sphere. For any one who is willing to abjure the poetry-destroying railway and to get his local flavor with leisurely progress, along the antique way, the easiest road is the Labicana, but the most interesting is the ancient Via Praenestina itself, which is parallel, farther north, even though by taking it one gives up the chance to pass the site of Lake Regillus, where the Romans in 497 B.C. recovered their freedom by defeating the Latin forces that had sided with the Tarquins.
The Via Praenestina starts due east from Porta Maggiore, that most spectacular of the works by early imperial engineers remaining in the city. At one mile out is the Torraccio, among the largest of the early circular mausoleums, with a diameter of one hundred forty-two and one half feet, attributed to the last century of the Republic. Shortly after passing the stream of Aqua Bollicante, which marked the primitive boundary of Rome on this side, the ruins of the imperial villa of the Gordians stand on the slight ridge of the Tor di Schiavi, perhaps the best preserved of such groups of buildings nearer to the city than Hadrian's villa.
At the ninth mile is the viaduct of the Ponte di Nona, built to keep the ancient highway level in crossing a deep valley. It is one of the most stupendous works of the engineers of the late Republic. Though attributed to Sulla at the time of his reconstruction of Praeneste, it may easily be earlier. Its seven arches of Gabii stone with tufa buttresses are of unequal height, owing to the slope, and of harmonious proportions. We see here the .prototype of the marvelous imperial viaducts of the Pont du Gard in South-ern France, of Alcantara, Merida and Segovia in Spain. This favorite local stone, a fine sort of peperino, called Lapis Gabinus, got its name from the neighboring Gabii, three miles beyond, on the low ridge of an extinct volcano, at the modern Castiglione, whose site has such strong sentimental associations with earliest Rome.
Gabii was said to be a colony of Alba more ancient than Rome, to which Romulus and Remus were sent to learn Greek ! The early Roman debt to Gabii was perpetuated in the fundamental ceremonial of laying out a Roman colony. The priest who plowed the sacred fur-row wore his robes after the Gabine fashion even as late as the Empire. At the same time she soon became a thorn in the flesh to Rome, preventing her extention to the northeast. Her legendary capture by the Tarquins and the fact that with Fidenae, Veii and Fregellae she was on the list of cities upon whom the curse of the gods was called, shows the bitterness of this stage of the relation, when the Gabine dress was considered a badge of war. She was soon absorbed and her inhabitants made Roman citizens. Perhaps she was the first city given the franchise in this way, instead of by the transporting of the inhabitants to Rome, as had been the case with Antemnae, Collatia and others.
The historic temple of Juno at Gabii, sung by Virgil, is identified with the only present visible ruin on the site, a solid temple-cella of peperino blocks which, though rent by an earthquake, is still almost complete. It is the only ruin of the sort of the Republican age in or near the Alban hills, beside the similar cella at Aricia. The use of stuccoed columns and capitals of the same peperino is a sign of quite early date, perhaps pre-Gracchan. Below the temple and on its axis was a wide semicircular stone bench, which brings to mind the bench for the sessions of local magistrates in the forum of Assisi, placed in the same relation to the temple.
After leaving Gabii, we pass some picturesque arches of the Claudian aqueduct, and after treading along quite a tract of the ancient paved road, reach another bridge-viaduct—the Ponte Amato, two hundred. and thirty-five feet long, built of the same splendid blocks of the Gabii stone of the same late Republican date as the Ponte di Nona.
As Palestrina is now approached it can be visualized as an ancient city in two forms: either the antique fortress as it was before the destruction by Sulla, with terrace upon terrace of cyclopean walls connected with the citadel, set quite high above the city, by an arrow-like walled causeway; or else as the pleasure ground of the wealthy Romans of the age of Cicero and the early Empire, when the frowning walls and embankments were crowned by the gorgeously, enlarged shrine of Fortune and garlanded with a luxuriant wreath of villas. There are remains with which to reconstruct either of these pictures. The one that interests us now is the first.
Praeneste occupied the most important strategic point in Latium. Like Tibur (Tivoli) she was an advance post toward the land of the enemy—the Aequi. At this point the Apennines after running almost due south sheer off to the east leaving the Praenestine hills as a spur jutting out as if to join hands on the south with the Volscian hills, across the valley of the Sacco, and westward with the crater of the Alban mount. At the end of this Praenestine branch a narrow ridge, after gently falling from the mountain, sweeps up in a final peak seven hundred and sixty-six meters high, just large enough for a citadel, before sinking again nearly three hundred meters to a slope four hundred and seventy-two meters high, on which the bulk of the city was built.
The view from the ancient arx or citadel, now called Castel S. Pietro, is wonderfully extensive. Latium unfolds itself almost as far south as misty Circeii, seen partly along the valley between the Volscian and Alban hills. In fact, the view sweeps from the Sabine range across the valley of the Anio, then over the Tiber toward Veii and to Rome and the Campagna. One can grasp from here the strategic relation-ship of the various peoples. Aequi and Sabines to the north; Etruscans to the northwest; Rome and the Latins to the west; Volscians and Latins interpenetrating on the south ; Hernicans and Volscians to the east. Praeneste held the key. Her very strength, as Strabo says, was an added peril and made her a perpetual storm center. She controlled the Via Latina, the Via Praenestina and Via Labicana. Only starvation could reduce her. Her people lived in a continued state of, high-strung endeavor and in a series of successive crises, as long as Latium played any part in Italian politics. When Pyrrhus, at the high-water mark of his struggle with Rome, was marching northward to capture it, he is said to have reached Praeneste and from its citadel to have had a first and last view of his great enemy, be-fore turning back.
The superposed terraces into which Praeneste is divided remind one of Strabo's saying that it was once called the multi-crowned city. From these terraces a double wall led up the mountain nearly a thousand feet to the citadel, expanding into a circle around its rock. I know of one other such well-defined arrangement, of a citadel at a great height above the city, connected with it by a fortified causeway: it is at Circeii. This wall and that of the citadel can still be traced: like the terrace walls they are of cyclopean masonry of the highly-finished polygonal type. We cannot be at all certain as to their date; but as Praeneste was a flourishing city as early as the sixth and seventh centuries its fortifications seem likely to have been in existence at that period.
The other exceptional architectural feature of Praeneste from the earliest period was its shrine of Fortune. The Fortune of Praeneste was called Fortuna Primigenia, or Fortune the First-born of Jove, the giver of all good gifts to men, the fore-teller of the future, the all-wise oracle. Even Rome was jealous of the renown obtained by this shrine, and forbade its being consulted by her public men. It seems to have been the only temple in 'Latium' which occupied as an oracle a similar position to that held in Greece by the oracles of Delphi, Olympia and Dodona. Such demands on Fate as the imaginative and impulsive Hellenes required, were less necessary to the more exact and material Italians, whose relations to the divine sphere were rather in the nature of clear rationalistic compacts of give and take. But here at Praeneste was the one brilliant exception, the one outlet to the religious senti-ment of the Latin race. The sortes Praenestinae remained famous and venerated long after skepticism had overthrown faith in most things esteemed holy.
The temple seems to have always occupied a large part of the area in the upper section of the center of the city. The modern town of Pales-trine is partly within its ancient limits, and this will give some idea of its extent. It lasted in some form almost through the Middle Ages. A document of about 1300 A.D. deplores its destruction by the vindictiveness of Pope Boniface VIII before whom there still remained large parts of the broad inclined esplanades leading up from one terrace to another, the sweeping hemicycle at the top crowned by a temple said to be like the Pantheon in Rome. Even the fragments that remained after this papal destruction have exercised numberless archæologists since the revival of humanistic studies, and it is interesting to follow through the mazes of the modern town, in cellars, basements and side streets, the traces of the sanctuary. In imagining its reconstruction we must do away with all our preconceived ideas as to classic temples either in Italy or in Greece, and must go to the colossal Hellenistic structures of Asia Minor or even to the staged pyramidal temples and observatories of Babylonia and Assyria. Of course every temple had its sacred inclosure or temenos which usually surrounded a court of no great extent that served as an approach to the temple ; but that of an oracle of wide renown was of quite different proportions and arrangements. Some elements for reconstruction are furnished by old drawings such as the one by Rainaldi, here reproduced.
Those in Greece comprised a long sacred way, winding up to the main shrine and passing minor shrines, treasure-houses and dedicated works of art. But even when these were not on a level there was no such spectacular and sudden rise inside the inclosure, no such unity of architectural composition, no such pyramidal upbuilding, no such simultaneous view of the whole scene, even from a distance. The Latin shrine must have far outshone those of Greece in this general effect if inferior in every other respect.
In its final form, as given to it by Sulla, ,shortly after 82 B.C., it rose in pyramidal shape up the mountain side to a height of nearly four hundred and fifty feet or one hundred and fifty meters. At its base it was over one thousand three hundred feet wide (four hundred and twenty-five meters) ; at its summit about four hundred feet wide (one hundred and twenty-five meters). The crowning hemicycle of the shrine was less than one hundred feet in diameter (thirty meters). Around the base was a large open square in which the first story stood; flanked by wings and entered through a columnar propylaeum. Above this rise five stories of diminishing heights as well as retreating width, connected like some Babylonian temples by esplanades and crowned by the round temple.
The right and left sides of the lower area were each inclosed by a reservoir for the use of the city below. Both are in good condition and among the most important of their kind. One of these can be visited: that occupying the west side of the area. Its length is over three hundred feet (one hundred and six meters) by one hundred feet (thirty-three meters) and it is divided into ten vaulted halls nearly ninety feet (twenty-seven meters) long, connected by doors. The face of this reservoir, which forms the west side of the sacred square, was decorated with seven niches which probably contained statues. On the east side instead of niches there was a portico and a wall decorated with Doric half-columns through which one went down to the reservoir and which is on a lower level than the other. A monumental fountain seems to have occupied the center of the square; and the main or north wall, which formed the face of the first story, was decorated with twenty-nine arcades in three sections ; a central projection with five, and two wings each with twelve arcades. They seem to have connected with chambers for the numerous personnel of the temple and may be called the substructures of the shrine.
The top of this first story can be studied especially in the Barberini gardens, in that of the Cardinal of Palestrina and in the streets near the Porta del Sole. It has a length of about one thousand three hundred and ninety feet (four hundred and twenty-five meters) and a width of eighty-seven meters and had on either side cisterns which cannot now be seen (eighty-one meters by thirty meters). The remains of walls here are of no architectural significance. The modern Corso marks the level of the second story, which seems to have had the same length as the first, but to have been a trifle lower.
The modern cathedral occupies the site of a central hall of the old temple, which has been christened the civil basilica, and on this story there were a number of spectacular buildings, colonnaded porticoes and squares. The arrangement seems to have included an eastern and a western hall on either side of the central basilica. The south wall can be seen in the square, near the cathedral. Parts of the eastern wall (twenty-five meters by thirteen meters) are quite well pre-served and can be visited especially in the buildings of the Seminary. Belonging as it does to Sulla's restoration, it is among the finest remaining examples of the architectural style of the close of the Republic. This is especially true of a group of four Corinthian engaged columns. The interior had large niches probably intended for statues rising from a basement decorated with a frieze of triglyphs and metopes filled with rosettes and paterae similar to many that we find on Etruscan sarcophagi of the third century B.C., and on such Etruscan architecture as the Arch of Augustus at Perugia. These arcaded niches are divided by alternate semi-columns and ,pilasters. At the end was a great square niche inclosing three smaller ones. Delbrück, in his recent work on the Hellenistic architecture of Latium, uses the details of this hall, so pure and severe, as the climax of his series, and it certainly enables us to reconstruct with some degree of certainty the interior of such buildings as the Tabularium in Rome, with which it seems contemporary, though it is doubtful if the Tabularium itself had the magnificence of the Praenestine work. We can judge of this from the mosaic which covered its floor. This intricate and wonderfully executed mosaic of Alexandrian art reproduces an elaborate Egyptian scene, and has been the subject of many monographs. On the other side from this hall a grotto has been found, with another elaborate mosaic pavement : it seems to be one of the early shrines of the goddess. The space between this civil basilica (at the Cathedral) and the lower shrine, represented by the present Seminary, forms the primitive Forum of free Praeneste, as distinguished from the imperial Forum, much lower, at the Madonna dell' Aquila. It is there that have been found the fragments of the famous Roman Calendar of Religious Festivals compiled by Verrius Flaccus.
The arrangement of this story was in a central court sixty-four meters long and twenty-three meters deep, flanked by these two halls as wings and with the basilica rising in the center in front of the solid wall of the main structure. This is faced with engaged columns between which were nine windows of beautiful workmanship, two of which are still entire. Of the third story, called that of the Borgo, there remains very little; it was the thinnest of all. There are numerous cyclopean walls at this level and on the next, which is called the story of the Grottos, in which are series of arcades and of chambers supposed to be for the use of the persons who came to consult the oracle. In one of these are four Corinthian columns.
The approach to the fifth or highest story was heralded by a colonnade of which nothing remains but the memory in the name of a street, the Via del Colonnaro. This level is in the highest part of the modern town and its central structure, the hemicycle, is comprised in the upper Barberini palace, called the Cortina. The area of this level seems to have been free on the south side, from which one gets the wonderful view, and to have been surrounded by basilicas or porticoes on the west and east sides. Several bases and the foundation wall of the hemicycle remain, on both sides of which were arcades of Corinthian columns. The small circular shrine which surmounted the hemicycle and formed a sort of ethereal sixth story has entirely disappeared.
M. Fernique, the French archæologist to whom we are indebted for a valuable résumé of previous studies, has shown that the two upper stories, including hemicycle and round temple, were additions of the time of Sulla, but the main body of the structure up to that point, with its cyclopean retaining walls, belongs to the early temple of the sixth century or earlier, except for certain enlargements such as the halls on the second and fourth stories. In its final form it could be seen from every near point of Latium, from the Alban and the Volscian hills. As a public monument of a grandeur equaling if not surpassing the Roman Capitol, it is unique in its juxtaposition of the cyclopean art of primitive Latium with that of the most exquisite Hellenic art introduced into Latium during the last century of the Republic; two phases that are as impossible of amalgamation as oil and water.
Exactly the same curious contrast is furnished by the works of art and industry found in the necropolis of Praeneste. They form the only large corpus of works thus far discovered from which we can draw to reconstitute Latin life during these pre-Augustan centuries. It is a curious fact that while from one end of Etruria to the other ancient necropoli have been found with a mass of material extending from the eighth century to the first century B.C., from the age of the circular Alban hut and the Villanova urn in the iron age to that of the carved marble cinerary urns, the entire region south of the Tiber and the Anio has yielded practically no corresponding material. The search for the necropoli of the Latin, Volscian and Hernican cities has been almost fruitless except for a few stray tombs and some small groups of no importance. The only exception has been here at Praeneste, where the necropolis has been found, and its tombs yielded objects so startling and spectacular as to make us feel that in the time of the kings either Rome was far inferior in art and culture to Praeneste or else that the Roman was far different from the homely creature we are told he was. To quote Fernique, in the sixth and seventh centuries B.C. Praeneste was a rich and powerful city, in close commercial and artistic relations with the Phoenicians and Etruscans, leading a sumptuous and luxurious life. "At religious ceremonies the priests put on gold ornaments of the most delicate workmanship, the women wore in their hair pins of gold and amber; at banquets they made use of cups and vases of the precious metals worked in relief. In war time the chiefs put on rich armor; their bronze shields were decorated with heads of griffins or other fantastic animals, made more startling by eyes of brilliant enamel; the handles of their poniards were often of amber, and their sheaths were decorated with scenes of the chase or of war."
One can see proofs of this in Rome in the old collection of the Kircherian museum, where the contents of the tomb of a Praenestine chief of this period (Tomba Bernardini), found in 1876, are exhibited. The same sort of objects appeared in the Castellani and, especially, in the Barberini collection, which contains by far the greatest quantity of Praenestine objects.
Nothing that has been yielded by early Italian tombs is more unusual than the gold ornaments that once decorated the official costume of the priests or chiefs of the sixth and seventh centuries, preserved in both these collections, though they may be compared to some of the pieces in the Regulini-Galassi tomb, now in the Vatican. The minutest workmanship is shown in a front-let of gold plate only eight by five inches, which in this small area is decorated with one hundred and thirty-one small figures of lions, horses, sirens and chimeras, arranged in rows and executed with the greatest delicacy. Similar tiny sphinxes and human-faced lions appear on electrum fibulae. The sheaths of his daggers were of silver with men and animals in relief. Even more extraordinary are some similar gold ornaments in the Barberini collection, which must originally have been sewed to garments. There are two shoulder pieces formed by a mass of delicate parallel strips of gold and silver fringe with tiny doves hanging from the ends ; and there is a quadruple line of win the groundwork and nearly a foot long.
While the oriental Character of most of the decoration is evident, it is clearest in an ivory plaque of the Kirchexiano, with the procession of the Nile boat. A other class of sure and characteristic Phoenic an pieces is that of the silver dishes or flat cirxps with scenes in relief. The only two other imtortant finds of such pieces have been the cave of the Idean Zeus in Crete and the Cesnola and other discoveries in Cyprus, especially in Larnaca. All are evidently of Phoenician workmanship and one of the staples of artistic commerce in the eighth and seventh centuries ; in most of them the imitation of Egyptian art is evident, in a few the influence in Latium of Assyria. It is curious to find such proof of the reality of that Etrusco-Phoenician monopoly of trade in the Mediterranean which was brought to an end by the victory of the Greeks over their combined fleets in 435 B.C.
Up to the present time the Praenestine tombs have yielded nothing belonging to the fifth or fourth centuries. After the archaic works just alluded to there is quite a gap. The next group of tombs seems to date from the third and second centuries. But this must be a matter of chance. In some yet unexplored section of the necropolis the tombs of these two middle centuries will surely come to light, for there was no intermission in the prosperity of the city. For the present we must assume the gap and take up the thread again at the time when, after the dissolution of the Latin league in 338 the cities of Latium, including Praeneste, had become part of the Roman system. Praeneste was then reckoned in the class of allied cities (civitas foede-rata) preserving its municipal autonomy, but subject to the periodical supervision of Roman magistrates and supplying a considerable military contingent in time of war.
I cannot omit an heroic episode in this phase of Praenestine history. It was in the Punic wars. To meet the crisis before the battle of Cannae, a supplementary levy seems to have been required by Rome of Praeneste, as it probably .was of the other allied cities. The five hundred Praenestines who formed this cohort were late in setting out and while on their way south heard of the catastrophe at Cannae. They also heard of the defection of Capua to Hannibal. Instead of retreating they occupied the neighboring Casilinum with a detachment of about five hundred Perusian auxiliaries and a few others, and detained Hannibal on his march northward so effectually that, after successively defeating two detachments which he sent against them and Hannibal himself, they obliged him finally to undertake a long siege : ate grass and leather to keep alive and caught in nets the nuts that were sent down the river to them by the Romans who did not dare march to their relief. Perhaps these Praenestines saved Rome, by giving her time to recover from her first panic and organize the defense. This shows of what stern stuff the Praenestines were made, even after they had lost their independence.
But the tombs also show that at this time Praeneste had not abated one whit its love for art, and its high level of culture. With the growing importance of the commercial relations between Southern and Central Italy, through the opening of the Roman highways, Praeneste maintained her supremacy as a cultivator and purveyor of art. The life is of course quite different from that of four centuries before, in its modes of expression, but it keeps abreast of the latest fashions. The most characteristic class of objects found are the famous circular or oval metal boxes called cistae, long considered to have some mystical or religious significance. They are now recognized as nothing but objects of daily use. Some of them contained implements used by men at the bath; others those used by women for their toilet. There are mirrors, perfume boxes, ointment boxes and vases, pins, nail polishers and cleaners, strigils, combs and even bath slippers. Better than in any other single group of antiquities can one here recognize the entire feminine toilet outfit, what the Romans called the mundus muliebris, and they form a fit illustration of the literary sources of early Roman literature so meager for the pre-Augustan age.
The cistae which contained these objects, though articles of commerce, were often extremely artistic. One of them has long had a world-wide reputation as one of the most exquisite products of ancient art; it is the Ficoroni cista of the Kircheriano museum, on which compositions in the graffito are of pure, Greek type. These cistae are typical of the strongest tendency which we observe in this Praenestine art, the tendency toward Hellenism. Out of the earlier medley of Phoenician and Etruscan works the Latin artists and artisans had fashioned for themselves a Latin style which, when we shall know it better, will have a clearly local flavor. We have seen it in the first period especially in the ivory carvings and bronzes, which were less dominated by foreign art. Now we are finding it in vase-paintings, in the graffiti of cistae and mirrors, and in a quantity of objects of daily use that were manufactured at home. By the side of the pure Greek work in the graffiti of the Ficoroni cista we can set the Latin versions of some fifty other cistae. Beside bronzes imported from Etruria we can set many more that are Latino-Greek.
There is every reason to feel, therefore, that Praeneste is the city most capable of giving us a fairly exact counterpart of conditions in Rome, not only on account of its size and wealth but because of its commercial and religious influence and connections. All Latium came to its Oracle of Fortune as all Latium went to Rome; it felt keenly all current artistic, commercial, social, political and religious changes. Students of Rome should not only visit Praeneste, but after impregnating themselves with her atmosphere should study with loving care her antiquities in Rome, especially those of the Kircherian and Barberini collections. Of course there are a few scattered elsewhere, as in the Louvre, at Berlin and St. Petersburg, as well as in private collections ; but the immense majority belong to the Barberini. This is natural because the Barberini princes, with their two palaces in Palestrina itself and their large landholdings outside, have conducted the excavations on their own estates. It is not many years since I was asked by the Barberini to purchase for some American museum their archæological collections including the Palestrina finds, which were practically unknown except to a few specialists. I remember my de-light as drawer after drawer was opened, filled with the unrestored objects of intimate daily use of the Latin men and women of the third century B.C. Last year a dealer in Florence secured them from the family and was holding them there awaiting some arrangement with the Italian government which would either allow the collection to be sold, or would add it to one of the government museums in Rome, where it certainly, should be. It seems that Italy is not to lose it and that it is to be opened at last to the public. This is fortunate because nothing could compensate for its loss.
We can now pass beyond the narrow sphere of the girdle of Latin cities into the field of the colonies, the allies and enemies of Latium and of Rome. In the region we are about to enter, south of the Tiber and the Umbrian plain, the Italian peninsula as far down as the more purely Hellenic district is thickly dotted with ruined cities once built in a peculiarly rugged and imposing style of stone masonry. The large blocks are irregular, polygonal cubes, not laid in regular courses but fitted together, without cement, in apparent disorder. Sometimes the largest blocks are juxtaposed without any attempt to cut and fit them and the interstices are filled in with smaller stones, more or less roughly. Neither beds nor faces are tooled. In other cases the outer faces are left rough but the beds are given a regular surface in the natural direction of the block and each block is carefully joined to the next; the joints being often of the proverbial closeness into which the penknife cannot enter. Then again we find the more developed scheme of smooth-facing the blocks as well as giving them regular beds. There are subvariations to these principal styles, depending on the use of fairly uniform-sized blocks, on a mingling of small and large stones, or on an approach to the regular-course masonry. No unanimity of opinion has been reached as to whether these modes are successive in time, or were used simultanously. There is also heated controversy as to whether all of this polygonal masonry is really very early, or whether it is not quite as late as the regular-course masonry, and its peculiarities due to the kind of stone used, which broke naturally into these polygons.
At all events these ruined cities are of unusual interest. Except for sporadic cases, no others of this type exist in the civilized world except a very, few in Greece, where they belong to the Homeric age, and in Asia Minor, where they were built by the even earlier Hittites. They excited scientific interest in the first decades of the eighteenth century, when the Italian Signora Dionigi, the Frenchman Petit-Radel, the Englishman Gell and our first American amateur archæologist, Middleton, were among those who felt the peculiar glamour of their gloomy majesty.
Purely as works of architecture the Italian group surpasses in grandeur and also in numbers both the Greek and the Asiatic. Finally, what interests us especially in this connection is that this class of city is more intimately connected than any other with Rome.