Histoire de l'art par les monuments...


Table of the most celebrated catacombs, Pagan and Christian

1. Egyptian Catacombs near Saccara, called the Well of Birds. On the upper part of the plan may be remarked the vases of earth in which were placed the embalmed birds: the vases were connected together by a cement.

2. Another Egyptian Catacomb, a little to the south of the Pyramid of Saccara. From the descriptian of Pococke, the mummies of the common people were arranged upright in the corridors, or placed pellmell in cells, whilst the persons of distinction were placed in separate niches.

3. Plan of the finest part of the Catacombs of Alexandria.

4. Square niche, with a sarcophagus, enriched with pilasters, forming part of the Catacomb No. 3.

5. Another semicircular niche from the same Catacomb. These two niches, as may be seen from the style of their architectre, are not the work of the ancient Egyptians, but of the same people under the empire of the Greeks, a short time after their entrance into Egypt. They seem destined to receive sepulchural urns or sarcophagi of distinguished persons; perhaps, also, they may be arranged as small temples.

6. Section of a part of the Catacombs described by Pococke, on the west of Alexandria.

7. Plan of the same. The regularity of the disposition of the plan is remarkable, and differing in this respect from most of the Catacombs used by the Christians; it is also similar in arrangement to those by the Saracens at Taormina, in Sicily, given at No. 20.

8. General plan of the Catacombs of Syracuse, called the Grottos of St. John. It is difficult to assign a true reason for these immence excavations, nevertheless their form is more regualr than those of the Roman Catacombs: the arrangement of the galleries, the proportion and happy distribution of the ensemble and details, all appear to indicate that from their origin these excavations were expressly destined for the sepulture of a numerous population; and it appears equally evident, that they passed successively from the Pagans to the Christians.

9. Plan of one of the circular halls seen in the above Catacomb.

10. Section of the same hall. Some of these halls may be remarked on the plan, which, from its extent and general size, and height of the galleries, the order and arrangemnt of the cavities for sepulture, gives the idea of a work executed with design and leisure, and with means very different from those at command in producing the Catacombs of Rome.

11. General plan of the Catacombs of Naples, called Cemetery of St. Janvier.

12. Longitudinal section of the Catacomb of St. Janvier.

13. Section of another portion of the same Catacombs.

14. Detail, on a large scale, of the chapel shown in No. 13. Unless the Catacombs of Naples are destined to public sepulture by the first and most ancient inhabitants of the city, it is difficult to arrive at any certain opinion of their origin. Cut out of continuous masses of stone, and divided into roads much more considerable in height and width than those of Rome, since they are sometimes seventeen and eighteen feet by fourteen or fifteen feet, and often consisting of three stories, only one of which is at present open, at the first aspect it would be supposed that these excavations, now the habitations of the dead, were made, like those in so many places, to obtain the stone necessary for the habitation of the living. But as we find this stone nowhere employed, this opinion, notwithstanding, has but little foundation; neither can these excavations, from the immence labour required, have been the work of Christians; nor do we find so clearly as in Rome inscriptions or traces of the martyrs. From this cause M. Pelliceia, author on a learned work on the practice of the primitive church, and of the middle and later ages, believes that these roads, and principally the lowest, were excavated at a very early period by the ancient people of the Campana, to communicate with and mutually succour each other, -- that the Christians did not use them until the third century, and that, in after ages, the zeal of the Neapolitan bishops and clergy added the churches and chapels enriched with sacred paintings: the section No. 14 offers an example of one of these chapels. The large arches and columns which decorate them have a grand and imposing effect, observed in several portions of these catacombs, which nevertheless have not the sentiment of religious horror which those of Rome inspire.

15. General plan and details of the Catacomb of S. Marcellino, near Rome, via Labicana (Aringhi, Roma sotterranea, vol. ii, p. 412.) In the interval of the persecutions, and above all after the liberty accorded to Christianity, the popes, desiring to preserve and embellish the Catacombs, ordered substructures and work sometimes executed with great care. We have here an example taken from the Catacomb of S. Marcellino, on the upper portion of the plan on the left. They also constructed chapels, in which, at times of festivals or retreats, they enlivened by their exhortations and example the devotion of the faithful. At the lower part of this plan is an interior view of one of these chapels, taken from the same Catacomb. Mass is still celebrated here once a year, in the month of June, on the fête day of the saint.

16. View of another chapel of the Catacomb of S. Marcellino; the opening at the top for light and air. These openings are frequently met within the environs of Rome: the places so lighted were called cubicula clara.

17. Plan of part of the Catacomb of St. Saturine, near Rome, via Salara, under the Villa Gangalandi, excavated, like most of the others, in the pozzolana and volcanic tufo, of which the lower soil of Rome and its environs is composed. This Catacomb offers naturalists a means of examining the nature of this soil at great depth, and of easy access.

18. Section of part of the Catacomb of St. Saturine.

19. Plan of the place called Platonia at St. Sebastian, outside the walls of Rome. This place, much decorated by the piety Pope St. Damasius, in the fourth century, is partly subterranean, and placed on the ledt of the choir of the church, between it and the cemetery of St. Caliztus, pope and martyr. "Nobilissimum," according to the expression of d'Aringhi, "quod caeteris tum amplitudine, tum antiquitate praestat." There are also three niches, which have probably been tombs, excavated in the tufo, and lined with brick, a marble bench is placed all around. In the center of this place was the episcopal or pontifical seat, and the walls were lined with marble, from which arose the title of Platonia. St. Damasius, who cultivated the sacred muses, engraved on the marble: HIC HABITASSE PRIVS SANSTOS COGNOSCERE DEBES NOMINE QVISQVE PETRI PARTITER PAVLIQVE REQVIRIS . This is the entrance to the Catacombs of St. Sabastian.

20. Plan and section of a Cemetery at Taormina in Sicily, supposed to have been made by the Saracens when they were masters of the island. Remains of a causeway twelve feet wide may be seen, with cells or sepulchral niches on each side, three or four feet wide, by six or seven feet long. Each of these cells was probably closed by a stone, on which were inscriptions. These tombs are said to have some analogy with the tombs of the Moors, found in the neighbourhood of Granada in Spain.

21. Plan and section of an Etruscan Catacomb, under the ancient Tarquinia, near Corneto. The Etruscans, who afterward adopted the custom of burning the bodies and enclosing them in urns, commensed, like other nations, by burning them in public cemeteries; further details are given of this Catacomb in plate x.

22. Part of a Catacomb at Quesnel in France; the entire plan may be seen in the Memoires de l'Académie des inscriptions et belles lettres, vol. xxvii. We learn from the descriptions of travelers, both ancient and modern, that there is scarcely a country of the world where excavations, of the kind that have been described, do not exist. This excavation (No. 22) presents much analogy with the Catacombs; not that it appears to have been a cemetery, but from its origin, the form of the excavation, and from the uses which it served at different epochs. In early times a quarry from which the inhabitants drew stone, in the ninth and tenth centuries where they took refuge from the incursions of the Romans with their furniture and cattle, and for this purpose they excavated cells of ten, twelve, and thirteen feet long and wide, vaulted into the tufo: the entrances were almost always in some neighbouring church. At the present day these places, which formerly received, and still remain, the name of Territorium sanctae liberationis, serve to assemble the young girls of the neighbouring villages. They bring here their work during the long winter evenings, and here keep the watch, which always finishes by dancing; so that, in all times, these retreats of men have been from time to time a threater of fear, labour, and pleasure. The number of these monuments, differing from the nature of the ground, time, and customs of the several people, are infinite. Those now given have been selected because they give the most just idea of a place of sepulture, sunterranean, public, and religious.

23. Plan and section of the excavations which are, in the present day, made in the neighbourhood of Rome, between the Via Ostienis and the Via Appia.

25. Section of part of the same.

26. View of a chamber in a Catacomb, such as are frequently found in the neighbourhood of Rome.

27. Outer face of sepulchre excavated in the side walls of Christian Catacombs, unopened.

28. Interior of a tomb in which is a skeleton; on the stone which closes the tomb is the monogram of Christ, near the head of a lamb, and at the feet a vase of blood--unequivocal signs of the tomb of a martyr.

29. Another tomb, which had the body nearly destroyed: at the feet a hatchet, emblematical of martyrdom, which was also represented outside by the palm-branch and monogram of Christ.

30. Tomb, partly open, with a Christian inscription on the outside.




Quondam © 2016.07.06