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even where there appears no natural obstruction to their fusion. Thus, for example, the well-known cemeteries of Pretextatus and of Callistus were excavated, one on the right, the other on the left of the Appian Way, and extended opposite to each other without any communication. If any communication is found between neighbouring or contiguous cemeteries, it is irregular, exceptional, and of a later period, and does
the throwing two distinct catacombs into one.'— Appendix,
pp. 51, 52.
It is this immense necropolis, (that as Rome became Christian, and in proportion to its slower or more rapid advance to Christianity, grew into the necropolis of Rome,) which the Cavaliere de Rossi aspires to include in one vast and accurate topography. He would penetrate, describe, plan, each of the separate provinces of this vast kingdom of the dead. He would make the world as intimately acquainted with the extent, the divisions, the monuments of subterranean Rome, as generations of archæologists have made known to us the Rome of the upper world. It might even seem, from some expressions, that M. de Rossi's ambition would not confine itself to suburban Rome, but dimly contemplates the iconography of Christian catacombs throughout the world. And when we remember that the Cavaliere de Rossi is also engaged in a great and exhaustive work on Christian inscriptions, of which the first volume has appeared (it has unfortunately broken off at the point at which we might expect that its historic interest would begin), we almost tremble at the boldness of these, though collateral indeed, coextensive, schemes. We can only express our devout hope that M. de Rossi may complete what few of us, we fear, can hope to see in their completion.
The Cavaliere de Rossi certainly possesses eminent qualifications for his vast and noble task,-indefatigable industry, sagacity almost intuitive and prophetic, the power of combining minute circumstances, and drawing out grave and important conclusions by a bold induction from mere hints and suggestions, from words and letters; a command of the whole wide and somewhat obscure and scattered world of archæology, which nothing escapes. The atmosphere of Rome,—as is inevitable in the case of a man of such deep and absorbing enthusiasm, exercises over him an influence which at times provokes our severer northern critical spirit, e.g. when he gravely refers to the puerile fables in Tertullian, of the dead body of a saint which lifted its arms in the attitude of prayer; another which moved to make room for a saintly partner in her narrow bed. At times too he pays far more respect to legend than we can admit. (We write as historians and archæologists, not as Protestants.) Yet on the whole it is impossible not to acknow
ledge and to admire his perfect honesty of purpose. If, therefore, here and there we venture to take exception at words or arguments, it is in what we firmly believe to be the interest of truth, and not without the utmost respect and gratitude for his devoted labours. Let us express too our hope, that even in these, to them, hard times, the Roman government will not be niggardly, or, if there be any difficulty, will not be too lofty to decline aid from external quarters for a work of such general Christian interest.
The first section of M. de Rossi's splendid volume gives the history of research and discovery in the Catacombs: he does ample justice to his predecessors in these inquiries, from Bosio, or those who were before Bosio, though Bosio was, in M. de Rossi's fervent language, the Columbus of this new underground world. After Bosio the study and the real science of discovery rather receded than advanced, till the days of M. de Rossi's own leader, the second great discoverer, the Padre Marchi. Marchi's works, though in some points conjectural, and not always happily conjectural, yet showed clearly the right way, on which he has been followed by his as ingenious and more discerning disciple. To all the intermediate inquirers M. de Rossi does fair and ample justice; having ourselves investigated the subject with some care, we can bear witness to his impartiality. He also distributes in general sound and judicious praise or otherwise, to the more recent writers on the Catacombs. * The whole of this section, however (our lessening space admonishes us), we must pass over, yet not without reluctance. We should like to have dwelt on the very curious fact, proved beyond doubt by M. de Rossi, that the first explorers of the Catacombs, the first whose names, written in modern times, appear upon the walls, were neither industrious antiquaries nor the zealous Faithful, eager to show their reverence for the ballowed remains of their Christian ancestors. They were some of those half-Paganising philosophers, somewhat Epicurean we fear, a certain Pompeius Lætus with his disciples, who endeavoured to blend the newly awakening ancient philosophy with Christianity, and Christianity rather receding from than maintaining its endangered ascendancy. Where the Christians used to seek refuge from their heathen persecutors, these heathenising Christians concealed their bold speculative discussions, perhaps certain feastings not less ill-suited to the place, from the jealous vigilance of the Christian authorities.
Nor can we follow our author in his singularly ingenious
* We cannot but be amused with the struggle between M. de Rossi's candour and his courtesy when writing on the spleudid French work on the Catacombs, that of M. Perret-a beautiful book, so beautiful as to be utterly worthless to the archæologist or historian: it wants only two things, truth and fidelity.
elucidation of the site, the names, the topography of the cemeteries, which lie hid near or under every one of the Roman roads. For this purpose he has searched with unwearied industry, the martyrologies, the lists of the Popes, the ritualistic books, down to the Pilgrimages, which border on, if they do not belong to, the Middle Ages. We might demur to the use of these very questionable and suspicious authorities, where history or even art is concerned; but for the traditions of the names by which the cemeteries were known, the saints or martyrs from which they were commonly called, the shrines or churches which were built over them and by which their ancient names were preserved, this legendary lore may be trusted if used with discretion and discrimination.
But we must hasten back to the Appian Way, the scene of M. de Rossi's own extraordinary discoveries. We must confine ourselves to the three great cemeteries on either side of this road; and as we have rapidly, with M. Canina, surveyed the monuments of Roman greatness, in its Pagan days, above the earth, so descend with M. de Rossi under the earth, to the memorials of her no less wonderful greatness when gradually becoming Christianised or entirely Christian. The Christians indeed did not raise the stupendous mounds, the mountains, as it were, of marble, encircled with countless statues, the stately and harmonious and the graceful, if humbler tombs, which lined the whole road from Aricia to the Capenian Gate. But assuredly there is something not less stupendous (we use the word advisedly) in the immense and intricate wilderness of galleries, ambulacra, arched alcoves with their layers of sarcophagi one above another, their lucernaria for light or ventilation, their stairs, straight or winding; and all this not on one level only, but floor beneath floor, one, two, four, five, hewn out on a labyrinthine yet harmonious and economic plan. And all this was designed and executed from reverence and from love of the brethren, to preserve their sacred bodies, as far as might be, whole, undisturbed, inviolate, for the day of resurrection. Let the reader examine the ground-plot of the great cemetery of Callistus, among the plates to M. de Rossi's work. sents the several floors, distinguished by lines of different colours, with all the passages, galleries, alcoves, or wider areas in each. Network is perhaps a feeble description of this vast and intricate maze ; a spider's web seen through the glass of a naturalist, or rather four or five spider-webs, one within the other, would seem a more fitting illustration; all the threads spun out with infinite perplexity, yet with a certain unity, and converging as it were to one common entrance,
The two subjects, however, to which we would confine ourselves, are the history and the archæology of the Catacombs. Their origin, extension, and use, singularly coincide, we rejoice to observe, with the views which we have long formed of the growth, progress, and development of Christianity in Rome. Out of that growth and development they grew and developed themselves naturally and of necessity.
Of the first preaching of Christianity in Rome, and the sudden interruption of that preaching, by the Neronian persecution, the Catacombs, then unformed, can of course give no record. If there be truth in the tradition of the preaching and martyrdom of St. Peter at Rome, the secret of his first burialplace on the Vatican lies beneath the mighty monument to his memory, the ponderous and unmovable dome of St. Peter's. The burial-place of St. Paul, of whose martyrdom there can be no doubt, is assigned, by probable tradition, to the Ostian road, near that spot where that noble old church S. Paolo fuori delle Mura stood, which has risen from its ashes in our days in such majestic splendour. There are indeed obdurate sceptics who, from the silence of St. Paul's Epistles and other not despicable arguments, still doubt whether St. Peter ever was at Rome. That there should be such persons may perhaps be heard in Rome with a contemptuous or compassionate smile of incredulity, such as good St. Augustine wore when men talked of the Antipodes; yet these are men too who believe themselves to be good Christians, and persuade others that they are
so_by the not untrustworthy evidence of their Christian lives. But even the hardest of these Pyrrhonists will scarcely doubt that in the latter half of the second century (as shown by the letter of Dionysius in Eusebius and the passage (in mutilated Latin) of Irenæus) the belief in the foundation of the Roman Church by St. Peter and St. Paul, had become a tenet generally received in the West. Nor can there be any reasonable question that what were supposed to be the remains of the two great Apostles were removed to one of the Catacombs on the Appian Way, to be afterwards carried back for security to Rome. Even this however rests on tradition - but on tradition, which history may accept without reserve. If little is known of those older times (for our real voucher for the Neronian persecution is after all the heathen Tacitus) perhaps less is certain as to that of Domitian. We would fain believe with M. de Rossi, that the Domitilla, the relative of the Emperor, who suffered with the Consul Flavius Clemens for atheism (generally, and we think justly, interpreted Christianity), bequeathed her name to a catacomb on the road to Ardea,
possibly constructed under some villa or garden belonging to her.
But from the accession of Nerva the Church of Rome was in long and undisturbed peace. And here we must protest against the extraordinary and utterly unwarranted language used by many who know no better, by many who must know better, but who with one voice, from mistaken devotion, or indulgence in poetic phrases, we hope not from wilful deception, write and speak of the history of the Christians as one long persecution ; who describe the Catacombs not as their place of repose after death, but of their actual living; as their only dwelling-places, their only churches : who call them for two or three continuous centuries lucifuge, as if always shrouding themselves in darkness from the face of their enemies, -as a people constantly and habitually under the earth. We might have supposed that Old Dodwell's unanswered and unanswerable essay, De Paucitate Martyrum,' had never been written. Poor Dodwell! his fate has been hard, but we fear that he was the author of his own fate. The honest old Nonjuror frightened even the most faithful of the faithful by his wild paradox, that the immortality of the soul depended entirely on baptism—we suspect orthodox baptism. And the Nonjuror unhappily lay in the way
of Lord Macaulay, who, scanning with his searching eye this and his other absurdities, has devoted to him a page or two of withering and undying scorn. Yet if Lord Macaulay, who read almost everything, had read the · Dissertations on Irenæus and Cyprian,' especially the treatise De Paucitate,' he would not have been content with a few extenuating phrases on Dodwell's undoubted sincerity and erudition ; he would have hailed him as perhaps the first who, before Mosheim, let in the light of historic truth into the thick jungle of legend, which darkened and bewildered the early Christian annals. Dodwell's treatise was refuted, as it was said, by the learned Benedictine, Dom Ruinart. But the refutation was the best confirmation of Dodwell's views. The • Sincera acta Martyrum,' might have taken the title, as compared with the Bollandists and other martyrologies, of . De Paucitate Martyrum.'
During all this long period, from Nerva to the middle of the reign of Marcus Aurelius (from 96 to about 166), and so onward to the great persecution under Decius (A.D. 249, 250), the Christians, if exposed here and there, and at times, to local persecutions, were growing in unchecked and still expanding numbers:
* In the following times (the year after the accession of Nerva), during which many good emperors held the sceptre and the sway,