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than three hundred thousand persons could be seated in the Circus Maximus !
But to return to the Coliseum: we went up under the conduct of a guide upon the walls and terraces, or embankments which supported the ranges of seats. The seats have long since disappeared; and grass overgrows the spots where the pride, and power, and wealth, and beauty of Rome sat down to its barbarous entertainments. What thronging life was here then!--what voices, what greetings, what hurrying footsteps up the staircases of the eighty arches of entrance! And now, as we picked our way carefully through the decayed passages, or cautiously ascended some mouldering flight of steps, or stood by the lonely walls-ourselves silent, and, for a wonder, the guide silent too-there was no sound here but of the bat; and none came from without but the roll of a distant carriage, or the convent bell from the summit of the neighbouring Esquiline.
It is scarcely possible to describe the effect of moonlight upon this ruin. Through a hundred rents in the broken walls, through a hundred lonely arches and blackened passage-ways, it streamed in, pure, bright, soft, lambent, and yet distinct and clear, as if it came there at once to reveal, and cheer, and pity the mighty desolation. But if the Coliseum is a mournful and desolate spectacle as seen from within, without, and especially on the side which is in best preservation, it is glorious. We passed around it; and, as we looked upward, the moon shining through its arches, from the opposite side it appeared as if it were the coronet of the heavens, so vast was it, or like a glorious crown upon the brow of night.
I feel that I do not and can not describe this mighty ruin. I can only say that I came away paralyzed, and as passive as a child. A soldier stretched out his hand for a gratuity, as we passed the guard; and when my companion said I did wrong to give, I told him that I should have given my cloak if the man had asked it. Would you break any spell that worldly feeling or selfish sorrow may have spread over your mind, go and see the Coliseum by moonlight.
That we become a part of what has been, Ere ceased the inhuman shout which hailed And grow unto the spot, all-seeing, but
And here the buzz of eager nations ran, In murmured pity, or loud-roared applause,
As man was slaughtered by his fellow
And wherefore slaughtered? wherefore,
Such were the bloody Circus' genial laws, And the imperial pleasure.--Wherefore not?
What matters where we fall to fill the maws
Of worms-on battle-plains or listed spot?
the wretch who won.
He heard it, but he heeded not-his eyes
Were with his heart, and that was far
He recked not of the life he lost, nor prize;
But where his rude hut by the Danube
There were his young barbarians all at play,
There was their Dacian mother-hi their sire,
Butchered to make a Roman holiday.-All this rushed with his blood.-Shall he expire,
Both are but theatres where the chief actors And unavenged?-Arise, ye Goths, and glut
THE STORY OF HORATIUS.
A LEGEND OF ANCIENT ROME.
THE early history of Rome, as recorded by Livy and other Latin writers, was probably compiled from legendary poems that had been transmitted from generation to generation, and often rehearsed at the banquets of the great. The historian Macaulay has aimed at reconstructing some of these poetic legends, which he has given to the world under the title of "Lays of Ancient Rome." As a specimen of these beautiful and stirring poems, the "Story of Horatius" is here given.
It is stated by all the Latin historians, that, a few years after the expulsion of the Tarquins for their despotism and crimes, the neighbouring Etruscans, to which nation they belonged, endeavoured to restore the tyrants to power, and came against Rome with an overwhelming force. The Romans, repulsed at first, fled across a wooden bridge over the Tiber, when the Roman Consul ordered the bridge to be destroyed, to prevent the enemy from entering the city. The continuation of the legend is supposed to be narrated by one of the Roman minstrels, at a period one hundred years later than the events recorded:
But the Consul's brow was sad,
And the Consul's speech was low,
Before the bridge goes down;
And if they once may win the bridge,
Then out spake brave Horatius,
And the temples of his gods!
Hew down the bridge, Sir Consul,
May well be stopped by three;
Then out spake Spurius Lartius,---
"Lo, I will stand at thy right hand,
"Horatius," quoth the Consul,
As thou say'st, so let it be."
For Romans in Rome's quarrel
Spared neither land nor gold,
Then none was for a party;
Then all were for the state;
Meanwhile the Tuscan army,
Right glorious to behold,
A peal of warlike glee,
As that great host, with measured tread,
Where stood the dauntless three.
The three stood calm and silent,
From all the vanguard rose:
To earth they sprang, their swords they
And lifted high their shields, and flew
[But the scorn and laughter of the Etruscans were soon changed to wrath and curses, for their chiefs were quickly laid