« AnteriorContinuar »
But if, as some opinion, King Ahasuerus were Artaxerxes Memnon, that found a life and reign answerable unto his great memory, our magnified Cyrus was his second brother, who gave the occasion of that memorable work, and almost miraculous retreat of Xenophon. A person of high spirit and honour, naturally a king, though fatally prevented by the harmless chance of post-geniture; not only a lord of gardens, but a manual planter thereof, disposing his trees, like his armies, in regular ordination. So that while old Laertes hath found a name in Homer fot pruning hedges, and clearing away thorns and briars ; while King Attalus lives for his poisonous plantations of aconites, henbane, hellebore, and plants hardly admitted within the walls of Paradise ; while many of the ancients do poorly live in the single names of vegetables ; all stories do look upon Cyrus as the splendid and regular planter.
According whereto Xenophon 2 describeth his gallant plantation at Sardis, thus rendered by Strebæus. “ Arbores pari intervallo sitas, rectos ordines, et omnia perpulchrè in Quincuncem 8 directa.” Which we shall take for granted as being accordingly rendered by the i Plutarch's Life of Artaxerxes. 2 In Economico.
3 ορθοι δε οι σιχοι are the Greek words.
most elegant of the Latins, and by no made term, but in use before by Varro. That is, the rows and orders so handsomely disposed, or five trees so set together, that a regular angularity, and thorough prospect, was left on every side. Owing this name not only unto the quintuple number of trees, but the figure declaring that number, which being double at the angle, makes up the letter X, that is, the emphatical decussation, or fundamental figure.
Now though, in some ancient and modern practice, the area, or decussated plot might be a perfect square, answerable to a Tuscan pedestal, and the quinquernio or cinque point of a dye, wherein by diagonal lines the intersection was rectangular ; accommodable unto plantations of large growing trees, and we must not deny ourselves the advantage of this order ; yet shall we chiefly insist upon that of Curtius 1 and Porta, in their brief description hereof. Wherein the decussis is made within in a longilateral square, with opposite angles, acute and obtuse at the intersection, and so upon progression making a rhombus or lozenge figuration, which seemeth very agreeable unto the original figure. Answerable whereunto we observe the decussated characters in many consulary coins, and even in i De Hortis.
2 In Villa,
those of Constantine and his sons, which pretend their pattern in the sky; the crucigerous ensign carried this figure, not transversely or rectangularly intersected, but in a decussation, after the form of an Andrean or Burgundian cross, which answereth this description.
Of this quincuncial ordination the ancients practised much, discoursed little ; and the moderns have nothing enlarged; which he that more nearly considereth, in the form of its square rhombus, and decussation, with the several commodities, mysteries, parallelisms, and resemblances, both in art and nature, shall easily discern the elegancy of this order.
That this was in some ways of practice in divers and distant nations, hints or deliveries there are from no slender antiquity. In the hanging gardens of Babylon, from Abydenus, Eusebius, and others, Curtius describeth this rule of decussation. In the memorable garden of Alcinous, anciently conceived an original fancy from Paradise, mention there is of well-contrived order ; for so hath Didymus and Eustachius expounded the emphatical word. Diomedes, describing the rural possessions of his father, gives account in the same
1 Decussatio ipsa jucundum ac peramænum conspectum præbuit. ---De Hortis, lib. 6.
language of trees orderly planted. And Ulysses being a boy, was promised by his father forty fig-trees, and fifty rows of vines producing all kinds of grapes.
That the eastern inhabitants of India made use of such order, even in open plantations, is deducible from
Theophrastus ; who, describing the trees whereof they made their garments, plainly delivereth that they were planted kar' õpxovs, and in such order that at a distance men would mistake them for vineyards. The same seems confirmed in Greece from a singular expression in Aristotle 1 concerning the order of vines, delivered by a military term representing the orders of soldiers, which also confirmeth the antiquity of this form yet used in vineal plantations,
That the same was used in Latin plantations is plainly confirmed from the commending pen of Varro Quintilian, and handsome description of Virgil,
“ Indulge ordinibus, nec secius omnis in unguem, Arboritus positis, secto via limite quadret."
i Polit. 7.
The quincuncial form adopted in the Arts It is employed in various
contrivances; in architecture-In the crowns of the ancients ; their beds, seats, lattices—In nets, by lapidaries and sculptorsIn the rural charm against dodder ; in the game of pentalithismus; in ligatures and forcipal instruments—In the Roman battalia, ana Grecian cavalry-In the Macedonian phalanx ; the ancient cities built in square, or parallelogram--In the labyrinth of Crete, probably in the ark, the table of shew bread, and those of the law
-Several beds of the ancients mentioned. That the networks and nets of antiquity were little different in the form from ours at present, is confirmable from the nets in the hands of the retiary gladiators, the proper combatants with the secutores. To omit the ancient conopeion or gnat-net of the Ægyptians, the inventors of that artifice; the rushy labyrinths of Theocritus ; the nosegay nets, which hung from the head under the nostrils of princes; and that uneasy metaphor of reticulum jecoris, which some expound the lobe, we the caul above the liver. As for that famous network of Vulcan, which inclosed Mars and Venus, and caused that unextinguishable laugh in heaven,-since the gods themselves could not discern it, we shall not pry into it: although why Vulcan bound them, Neptune loosed them, and Apollo should first discover them, might afford no vulgar mythology.