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Roman Mosaics; Or, Studies in Rome and Its Neighbourhood
The title of this book may seem fanciful. It may even be regarded as misleading, creating the idea that it is a treatise like that of Mr. Digby Wyatt on those peculiar works of art which decorate the old palaces and churches of Rome. But notwithstanding these objections, no title can more adequately describe the nature of the book. It is applicable on account of the miscellaneous character of the chapters, which have already appeared in some of our leading magazines and reviews, and are now, with considerable changes and additions, gathered together into a volume. There is a further suitableness in the title, owing to the fact that most of the contents have no claim to originality. As a Roman Mosaic is made up of small coloured cubes joined together in such a manner as to form a picture, so my book may be said to be made up of old facts gathered from many sources and harmonised into a significant unity. So many thousands of volumes have been written about Rome that it is impossible to say anything new regarding it. Every feature of its topography and every incident of its history have been described. Every sentiment appropriate to the subject has been expressed. But Rome can be regarded from countless points of view, and studied for endless objects. Each visitor's mind is a different prism with angles of thought that break up the subject into its own colours. And as is the case in a mosaic, old materials can be brought into new combinations, and a new picture constructed out of them. It is on this ground that I venture to add another book to the bewildering pile of literature on Rome. But I have another reason to offer. While the great mass of the materials of the book is old and familiar, not a few things are introduced that are comparatively novel. The late Dean Alford made the remark how difficult it is to obtain in Rome those details of interest which can be so easily got in other cities. Guide-books contain a vast amount of information, but there are many points interesting to the antiquarian and the historian which they overlook altogether. There is no English book, for instance, like Ruffini's Dizionario Etimologico-Storico delle Strade, Piazze, Borghi e Vicoli della Citt di Roma, to tell one of the origin of the strange and bizarre names of the streets of Rome, many of which involve most interesting historical facts and most romantic associations of the past. There is no English book on the ancient marbles of Rome like Corsi's Pietre Antiche, which describes the mineralogy and source of the building materials of the imperial city, and traces their history from the law courts and temples of which they first formed part to the churches and palaces in which they may now be seen. Every nook in London, with its memories and points of interest, has been chronicled in a form that is accessible to every one. But there is an immense amount of most interesting antiquarian lore regarding out-of-the-way things in Rome which is buried in the transactions of learned societies or in special Italian monographs, and is therefore altogether beyond the reach of the ordinary visitor. Science has lately shed its vivid light upon the physical history of the Roman plain; and the researches of the archologist have brought into the daylight of modern knowledge, and by a wider comparison and induction have invested with a new significance, the prehistoric objects, customs, and traditions which make primeval Rome and the surrounding sites so fascinating to the imagination. But these results are not to be found in the books which the English visitor usually consults. In the following chapters I have endeavoured to supply some of that curious knowledge; and it is to be hoped that what is givenfor it is no more than a slight sample out of an almost boundless storewill create an interest in such subjects, and induce the reader to go in search of fuller information. Many of the points touched upon have provoked endless disputations which are not likely soon to be settled. Indeed there is hardly any line of study one can take up in connection with Rome which does not bristle with controversies; and a feeling of perplexity and uncertainty continually haunts one in regard to most of the subjects. It is not only in the vague field of the early traditions of the city, and of the medieval traditions of the Church, that this feeling oppresses one; it exists everywhere, even in the more solid and assured world of Roman art, literature, and history. Where it is so difficult to arrive at settled convictions, I may be pardoned if I have expressed views that are open to reconsideration. ......Buy Now (To Read More)
Ebook Number: 16180
Author: Macmillan, Hugh
Release Date: Jul 2, 2005
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