« VorigeDoorgaan »
Parts only of this piece of masonry remain ; but they are sufficient to prove the correctness of the above statement of its original design. The cornices and friezes, found together with the tympanum, assimilated with its magnitude and beauty ; though mutilated in form, and flattened in their sculpture, they exhibit much elegance of pattern, and skill in workmanship; and prove to demonstration that the edifice they adorned must have been constructed before the Arts began to decline among the Romans ; that is, at no great
; distance of time from their first settling themselves at Bath.
The fate and fortune of this temple afford some very curious particulars of local history. The Romans, considering Minerva as the deity presiding over hot springs,? would naturally provide a fane for the worship of the Goddess as speedily as possible after they had taken possession of, a spot, which seemed to be so peculiarly under the tutelage of her divinity. They had already a temple dedicated jointly to Vesta and Pallas, at Rome ; and to this they assimilated, in some measure that which they erected at Bath. As in the former a fire was kept continually burning ; so a perpetual one illuminated our temple also.
The attendants on the services of each indeed were different : Virgins alone being appointed to the one, whilst at Bath, men, and even married ones, were admitted to that honour.? But the most remarkable difference between the services of these two places of heathen worship was this : that in the former the perpetui ignes were supplied with billets of wood ; whilst the altar of the latter was fed by fossil coal,
cherubic emblem of the Sun, and was part of a temple dedicated to Sol. If he had looked into Vignolius de Columna Antonini, page 3, he would have seen the representation of a sculpture in porphyry (found in Nero's baths) of an undoubted head of Medusa, which is nearly a fac-simile of the Bath antiquity.
1 “Quibus fontibus præsul est Minervæ numen."-Solinus.
This appears from an altar among the Bath Antiquities bearing the following inscription :-Diis manibus Caius Calpernius receptus Sacre. dos Deæ Sulinis vixit ann. Ixxv, Calpurnia Conjux faciendum curavit.
probably from the mines of Newton, about three miles distant from Bath ; a circumstance worthy of remark, as it points out the first use of fossil coal in Britain, and entitles Bath to claim the honour of introducing to the knowledge of the Britons one of the most necessary as well as comfortable articles of domestic consumption.
As long as Britain continued subject to the Roman dominion, and classical mythology was the religion of its inhabitants, so long the temple of Minerva at Bath was preserved in its original splendour; but when the mighty empire, according to the Poet,
“ With heaviest sound a giant statue fell,
Push'd by a wild and artless race,
From off its wide, ambitious base,
With many a rude repeated stroke,
then the glory of Minerva's temple was eclipsed by the fortunes of Rome, and participated in the general injury sustained by all the examples of her art and magnificence. But though defaced, it was not destroyed ; since we have a document, not to be disputed, which leads us to suppose that the temple, after being dismantled, had been converted into a place of Christian worship; which demonstrates that its portal at least existed to the middle of the 16th century. An ancient MS, on vellum, the Leger Book of Bath Abbey, belonging to the Marquis of Bath, affords us this most curious piece of information, describing an inscription which, in the year 1582, was then to be found in the portico of the ruined temple of Minerva.' This is the last notice preserved to us of this celebrated structure. As its remains covered a spot
The inscription was as follows: “Est istud Epitaphium sculptum in dextro in ostio ruinosi templi quondam Minerva dedicati ; et adhuc in loco dicto sese studiosis offerens, 1582, 7° Decemb. in Civit Bathon."
(the site of the present Pump-room) applicable to more useful purposes, such of them as remained above ground were removed to other parts, or used in the erection of new buildings which rose upon the spot it had once occupied.
Besides the fragments of the above-mentioned temple, the following altars, inscriptions, and specimens of Roman masonry are also to be seen :
The pediment of a Sacellum, or little temple, dedicated to Luna; with a broad, full, female countenance in the centre, encircled by a crescent.
A Albwuos, or double altar, consecrated to the two gods, Jupiter and Hercules bibax, sufficiently pointed out by the accompanying emblems of the two deities. It was probably consecrated in Bath, during the joint reign of Dioclesian and Maximinian ; the former of whom affected the name of Jove, the other of Hercules. The coarseness of the workmanship shows it to be a production of the latter empire.
The representation of Geta on horseback, a bass-relief. The upper part of the stone only is come down to us, containing the body of the prince and the head of his horse.
A bass-relief of Carausius, dressed in chalmys, which is fastened on the right shoulder with a fibula or clasp. A rudely-carved dolphin on the upper part of the stone seems to point out the profession of the person represented, that of a naval officer.
Two fragments of a portal : one representing a Genius with a strigil (or instrument used in the baths) in his hand ; the other a similar intelligence, with a bunch of grapes.
A Pyla, or Columella, a small plain pillar, which formerly supported the statue of a deity. Its height is between three and four feet.
A sepulchral Cippus, commemorating Caius Calpurnius, a priest of the goddess Sulinis (the local name of Minerva at Bath), who died at the age of seventy-five; the inscription is as follows: Diis Manibus. Caius Calpurnius receptus Sacerdos Dec Sulinis vixit ann. lxxiv. Calpurnia Conjux faciendum curavit.
A votive altar dedicated to the above-mentioned deity, about thirty inches high, and twelve wide, with this inscription : Dece Sulini Minerva Sulinis Maturi filius votum solvit lubens merito.
A votive altar consecrated by a Libertus, or manumitted slave, to the same goddess, in discharge of a vow made for the restoration of his master, Afidius Maximus, a soldier of the sixth legion. Dece Suluni pro salute et incolumitate Aufidii Maximi legionis VITÆ victricis militis Aufidius ejus Libertus votum solvit lubens merito.
Another altar of a similar kind, and consecrated by the same person, in return for the additional privilege of heirship conferred on him by his master. It bears this inscription. Dece Sulini pro salute et incolumitate Karci Aufidii Maximi legionis VITÆ victricis Aufidius ejus adoptatus heres Libertus votum solvit lubens merito.
An inscription carved under the relief figure of a horsesoldier, trampling upon a prostrate foe: only the lower moiety of the figure is preserved. The person represented was a soldier of the Vettonesian horse, a Spanish body, and citizen of Caurium, a town in Lusitania. The inscription runs thusLucius Vitellius Mantani filius Tancinus Cives Hispanice Cauriesis Vettonum Centurio Equitem Annorum XLVI. Stipendorum XXVI. Hic situs est.
A votive altar dedicated to the Cretan Jupiter, and Mars, under his local name Nemetona ; erected by one of the strangers (a native of Treves in Germany) who had visited Aquce Solis, and probably received some benefit from its waters. The inscription is Peregrinus Secundi filius Civis Treveris Jovi Cretico Marti et Nemetona votum solvit libens merito,
A mutilated altar, with an imperfect inscription, having the words na sacratissim avotum solvit, V[arus] Vetticus Benignus L[ubens) M(erito].
A sepulchral monumental stone to the memory of Julius Vitalis, a native of Belgic Britain, and a stipendiary of the
twentieth legion, who died at Bath, in the ninth year of his service, and the twenty-ninth of his age. He belonged to the fabrica, or college of armourers, established in this colony, mentioned a few pages back, and was probably buried at the expense of the community. The inscription is as follows: Julius Vitalis Fabriciensis Legionis Vicesimæ Valeriano Victricis Stipendiorum Novem annorum Viginti Novem Natione Belga ex Collegio Fabriæ elatus. Hic situs est.
A monumental stone commemorating the pious act of Caius Severius, a discharged veteran (having completed his twenty years of service) and centurion, who had restored and re-dedicated a temple which had fallen into disuse and decay. The inscription runs thus : Locum Religiosum per insolentium erutum virtut[e] et n[umine] aug repurgatum reddidit Caius Severinus Emeritus Leg[ionis]."
An altar dedicated to the Solar Minerva ; the inscription is, Sulevis Sulinus Scultor Bruceti filius Sacrum fecit lubens merito.
A votive altar to the memory of a discharged veteran belonging to the twentieth legion, who died at the age of forty-five. Caius Tiberius, his heir, erected this testimony of his affection for his deceased patron. The inscription is imperfect.
1 Mr. Whitaker would infer from this inscription that the insolence of Christianity had overthrown this edifice; an interpretation neither sanctioned by history nor the meaning of words. The first signification insolentia, in Ainsworth's dictionary, is disuse.
2 Most of the sepulchral monuments were dug up to the southward of Walcot Street, the ancient Fosse-way leading to Bath from the east
it being the wise practice of the Romans to bury their dead, not in their towns, but in Pomeria, or cemeteries, adjoining to them; which ranged along the roads, and offered to the passing traveller, in these grave-stones, perpetual memorials of his own mortality. Hence the frequent commencement of classical monumental inscriptions is Siste Viator. The greater part of the other fragments were dug up on the site of the present Pump-room, where stood the temple of Minerva, to which they for the most part belonged.