Imágenes de páginas

the whole mountain, but totally buried and overwhelmed divers towns and their inhabitants, scattering the ashes more than a hundred miles, and utterly devastating all those vineyards, where formerly grew the most incomparable Greco; when, bursting through the bowels of the earth, it absorbed the very sea, and, with its whirling waters, drew in divers galleys and other vessels to their destruction, as is faithfully recorded. We descended with more ease than we climbed up, through a deep valley of pure ashes, which at the late eruption was a flowing river of melted and burning brimstone, and so came to our mules at the foot of the mountain.

On Sunday, we with our guide visited the so much celebrated Baiæ, and natural rarities of the place adjacent. Here we entered the mountain Pausilypus, at the left hand of which they showed us Virgil's sepulchre erected on a steep rock, in form of a small rotunda, or cupolated column, but almost overgrown with bushes and wild bay trees. At the entrance is this inscription:

Stanisi Cencovius.

Qui cineres ? Tumuli hæc vestigia, conditur olim
Ille hoc qui cecinit Pascua, Rura, Duces.


After we were advanced into this noble and altogether wonderful crypt, consisting of a passage spacious enough for two coaches to go abreast, cut through a rocky mountain near three quarters of a mile (by the ancient Cimmerii as reported, but as others say by L. Cocceius, who employed a hundred thousand men on it), we came to the midway, where there is a well bored through the diameter of this vast mountain which admits the light into a pretty chapel hewn out of the natural rock, wherein hang divers lamps, perpetually burning. The way is paved under foot, but it does not hinder the dust, which rises so excessively in this much-frequented passage, that we were forced at midday to use a torch. At length, we were delivered from the bowels of the earth into one of the most delicious plains in the world: the oranges, lemons, pomegranates, and other fruits, blushing yet on the perpetually green trees; for the summer is here eternal, caused by the natural and adventitious heat of the earth, warmed through subterranean fires, as was shown us by our guide, who alighted, and, cutting up a turf with his knife, and delivering it to me, it was so hot I was hardly able to hold it in my hands. This mountain is exceedingly fruitful in vines, and exotics grow readily.

We now came to a lake, of about two miles in circumference, environed with hills; the water of it is fresh and sweet on the surface, but salt at bottom; some mineral salt conjectured to be the cause, and it is reported of that profunditude in the middle that it is bottomless. The people call it Lago d'Agnano, from the multitude of serpents which, involved together about the spring, fall down from the cliffy hills into it. It has no fish, nor will any live in it. We tried the old experiment on a dog in the Grotto del Cane, or Charon's Cave; it is not above three or four paces deep, and about the height of a man, nor very broad. Whatever having life enters it, presently expires. Of this we made trial with two dogs, one of which we bound to a short pole to guide him the more directly into the further part of the den, where he was no sooner entered, but without the least noise, or so much as a struggle, except that he panted for breath, lolling out his tongue, his eyes being fixed — we drew him out dead to all appearance; but immediately plunging him into the adjoining lake, within less than half an hour he recovered, and, swimming to shore, ran away from us. We tried the same on another dog, without the application of the water, and left him quite dead. The experiment has been made on men, as on that poor creature whom Peter of Toledo caused to go in; likewise on some Turkish slaves, two soldiers, and other foolhardy persons, who all perished, and could never be recovered by the water of the lake, as are dogs; for which many learned reasons have been offered, as Simon Majolus in his book of the Canicular-days has mentioned (Colloq. 15). And certainly the most likely is the effect of those hot and dry vapors which ascend out of the earth, and are condensed by the ambient cold, as appears by their converting into crystalline drops on the top, whilst at the bottom it is so excessively hot that a torch being extinguished near it, and lifted a little distance, was suddenly re-lighted.

Near to this cave are the natural stoves of St. Germain, of the nature of sudatories, in certain chambers partitioned with stone for the sick to sweat in, the vapors here being exceedingly hot, and of admirable success in the gout, and other cold distempers of the nerves. Hence, we climbed up a hill, the very high

way in several places even smoking with heat like a furnace. The mountains were by the Greeks called Leucogæi, and the fields Phlegræan. Hercules here vanquished the Giants, assisted with lightning. We now came to the Court of Vulcan, consisting of a valley nearly a quarter of a mile in breadth, the margent environed with steep cliffs, out of whose sides and foot break forth fire and smoke in abundance, making a noise like a tempest of water, and sometimes discharging in loud reports, like so many guns. The heat of this place is wonderful, the earth itself being almost unsufferable, and which the subterranean fires have made so hollow, by having wasted the matter for so many years, that it sounds like a drum to those who walk upon it; and the water thus struggling with those fires bubbles and spouts aloft into the air. The mouths of these spiracles are bestrewed with variously colored cinders, which rise with vapor as do many colored stones, according to the quality of the combustible matter, insomuch as it is no little adventure to approach them. They are, however, daily frequented both by sick and well; the former receiving the fumes have been recovered of diseases esteemed incurable. Here we found a great deal of sulphur made, which they refine in certain houses near the place, casting it into canes, to a very great value. Near this we were showed a hill of alum, where is one of the best mineries, yielding a considerable revenue. Some flowers of brass are found here; but I could not but smile at those who persuade themselves that here are the gates of purgatory (for which it may be they have erected, very near it, a convent, and named it St. Januarius), reporting to have often heard screeches and horrible lamentations proceeding from these caverns and volcanoes; with other legends of birds that are never seen, save on Sundays, which cast themselves into the lake at night, appearing no more all the week after.

We now approached the ruins of a very stately temple, or theatre, of one hundred and seventy-two feet in length, and about eighty in breadth, thrown down by an earthquake not long since; it was consecrated to Vulcan, and under the ground are many strange meanders; from which it is named the Labyrinth. This place is so haunted with bats, that their perpetual fluttering endangered the putting-out our links.

Hence, we passed again those boiling and smoking hills, till we came to Pozzolo, formerly the famous Puteoli, the landing place of St. Paul, when he came into Italy, after the tempest described in the Acts of the Apostles. Here we made a good dinner, and bought divers medals, antiquities, and other curiosi. ties, of the country people, who daily find such things amongst the very old ruins of those places. This town was formerly a Greek colony, built by the Samians, a reasonable commodious port, and full of observable antiquities. We saw the ruins of Neptune's Temple, to whom this place was sacred, and near it the stately Palace and gardens of Peter de Toledo, formerly mentioned. Afterwards, we visited that admirably built Temple of Augustus, seeming to have been hewn out of an entire rock, though indeed consisting of several square stones. The inscription remains thus: “L. Calphurnius L. F. Templum Augusto cum ornamentis D. D.”; and under it: “L. Coccejus L. C. Postumi L. Auctus Architectus.” It is now converted into a church, in which they showed us huge bones, which they affirmed to have been of some giant.

We went to see the ruins of the old haven, so compact with that bituminous sand in which the materials are laid, as the like is hardly to be found, though all this has not been sufficient to protect it from the fatal concussions of several earthquakes (frequent here) which have almost demolished it, thirteen vast piles of marble only remaining; a stupendous work in the bosom of Neptune! To this joins the bridge of Caligula, by which (having now embarked ourselves) we sailed to the pleasant Baiæ, almost four miles in length, all which way that proud Emperor would pass in triumph. Here we rowed along towards a villa of the orator Cicero, where we were showed the ruins of his Academy; and, at the foot of a rock, his Baths, the waters reciprocating their tides with the neighboring sea. Hard at hand rises Mount Gaurus, being, as I conceived, nothing save a heap of pumices, which here float in abundance on the sea, exhausted of all inflammable matter by the fire, which renders them light and porous, so as the beds of nitre, which lie deep under them, having taken fire, do easily eject them. They dig much for fancied treasure said to be concealed about this place. From hence, we coasted near the ruins of Portus Julius, where we might see divers stately palaces that had been swallowed up by the sea after earthquakes. Coming to shore, we pass by the Lucrine Lake, so famous heretofore for its delicious oysters, now producing few or none, being divided from the sea by a bank of incredible labor, the supposed work of Hercules; it is now half choked up with rubbish, and by part of the new mountain, which rose partly out of it, and partly out of the sea, and that in the space of one night and a day, to a very great altitude, on the twenty-ninth of September, 1538, after many terrible earthquakes, which ruined divers places thereabout, when at midnight the sea retiring near two hundred paces, and yawning on the sudden, it continued to vomit forth fames and fiery stones in such quantity, as produced this whole mountain by their fall, making the inhabitants of Pozzolo to leave their habitations, supposing the end of the world had been come.

From the left part of this we walked to the Lake Avernus, of a round form, and totally environed with mountains. This lake was feigned by the Poet for the gates of hell, by which Æneas made his descent and where he sacrificed to Pluto and the Manes. The waters are of a remarkable black color,— but I tasted of them without danger,- hence they feign that the river Styx has here its source. At one side stand the handsome ruins of a temple dedicated to Apollo, or rather Pluto, but it is controverted. Opposite to this, having new lighted our torches, we enter a vast cave, in which having gone about two hundred paces, we pass a narrow entry which leads us into a room of about ten paces long, proportionably broad and high; the side walls and roof retain still the golden mosaic, though now exceedingly decayed by time. Here is a short cell, or rather niche, cut out of the solid rock, somewhat resembling a couch, in which they report that the Sibylla lay and uttered her Oracles; but it is supposed by most to have been a bath only. This subterranean grot leads quite through to Cuma, but is in some places obstructed by the earth which has sunk in, so as we were constrained back again, and to creep on our bellies, before we came to the light. It is reported Nero had once resolved to cut a channel for two great galleys that should have extended to Ostia, one hundred and fifty miles distant. The people now call it Licola.

From hence we ascended to that most ancient city of Italy, the renowned Cuma, built by the Grecians. It stands on a very eminent promontory, but is now a heap of ruins. A little below stands the Arco Felice, heretofore part of Apollo's Temple, with the foundations of divers goodly buildings; amongst whose heaps are frequently found statues and other antiquities by such as dig for them. Near this is the Lake Acherutia and Acheron. Returning to the shore, we came to the Bagni de Tritoli and

« AnteriorContinuar »