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interest which is attached to these Etruscan vases, in connection with the subjects which are represented on them, for the collection of these subjects constitutes an almost complete series of mythological history, they present still further in connection with art another powerful motive of interest, for in the different manner in which a similar subject is treated, the almost entire gradation of Etruscan art can be followed from the period in which art, uncultivated and rude, chose in preference subjects barbarous in some way like itself, to that in which art, following in its progress that of civilisation, and ameliorated like the morals of the period, represented subjects less atrocious, or represented them in a less barbarous manner. I shall mention in particular, as in connection with these two extreme periods of art, an unpublished urn of the Museum of Volterra, which represents the human sacrifice offered by Achilles to the manes of Patroclus, a subject in which the barbarous manner of the execution is in perfect harmony with that of the subject; and three urns of a beautiful style and of a beautiful period, representing the death of Agamemnon, that of Elpenor, and Paris recognised by his brothers; subjects frequently repeated, and in the choice of which there may be always remarked that predominant taste of the Etruscans for tragic representations, but which appear to be, from the excellent arrangement, the lively and natural motion of the figures, executed in the school of the Greeks, and under the inspiration of their genius. Sometimes these bassi relievi are painted, sometimes gilt; frequently they are terminated by a figure of a man or woman seated, with a crown or any other symbolic object in their hand, and the head of which, generally of the natural size, seems to be a portrait joined to a body of a smaller size; a deformity which must not be attributed to the art, as it was enforced by the necessity of keeping the entire figure on the cover of the sepulchral urn, but which does not the less constitute a disproportion, and consequently a real monstrosity. For the most part these Greek subjects, treated on Etruscan urns, present some particulars or accessories which differ from the traditions or customs of the Greeks, as we are acquainted with them from the original monuments of this people. We must not infer from this, that the Etruscans had peculiar traditions on the Homeric fables, but that they followed in certain cases traditions different from those which we possess. When one considers how many Greek poems,
without reckoning the tragic and comic plays, are at the present day irrecoverably lost to us, one ought not to be astonished that the Etruscans should have known many things that we are ignorant of; and one ought to be surprised rather, that we do not find anything on their monuments but what we know already. Sometimes, also, the Etruscan artists represented Greek achievements with costumes, arms, accessories, derived from the customs and habits of their own nation. Thus the gate of Thebes, on a basso relievo representing the death of Capaneus, is represented like the ancient gate of Volterra which still remains at the present day, for the Etruscan artist, working at Volterra, must have imitated the model he had before his eyes.
But this kind of want of fidelity of costume is to be found among all nations, and at all periods of art. It is not so very long since we ourselves brought on the stage Æneas in a wig of the time of Louis XIV., Achilles in red buskins, and Cleopatra in a hoop, that we should evince such rigorous criticism with regard to the Etruscans, whose costume did not deviate so far from the truth, and was certainly not so ridiculous. Raphael, in his School of Athens and in his Parnassus, did not, doubtless, make it a point to be faithful to the Greek costume, and we are but slightly struck with it. I shall say further, if it was necessary to pass a severe judgment upon this principle on the productions of our best artists, we should cause great dissatisfaction we should exact from them, that they should acquire extensive information, that they should devote themselves to studies which would completely make them deviate from the principal object of their art. They would doubtless lose in point of talent, what they would gain in point of science; and all being well considered, it would be much better for them and for us, that they should give up the thoughts of becoming learned antiquaries, in order that they might not cease to be skilful painters. I now come to another very celebrated class of Etruscan monuments, which have preserved to us a great number of compositions of the highest interest, in connection with archæology and art; I mean those disks of bronze, with a handle, formerly called pateræ, but which at the present day are unanimously recognised to be mystic mirrors. These mirrors are ornamented on the concave side, with a composition engraved in simple outlines by a process similar to that of modern engraving, with the graver; so that if the ancients
were not led to the discovery and use of engraving, it is very evident that they wanted for that but the will, or the opportunity. The compositions engraved on the mirrors belong all, without exception, to Greek fables, as they also appear to be indebted to Grecian art in the style of the drawing; but the most frequently they bear inscriptions in the Etruscan language, and the costumes of the personages as well as the choice of the principal accessories also belong to Etruscan habits, so that it is natural and necessary to place them in the class of Etruscan monuments, those at least which present the characteristics I have pointed out. The most remarkable of those mirrors are the celebrated patera Cospiana, in the Museum of the Institute of Bologna, representing the birth of Minerva; the patera Borgia, which represents the birth of Bacchus; another on which Vulcan works at the Trojan horse; Hercules between Glory and Pleasure, and many others, the enumeration of which would lead me too far. This class of monuments does not seem to have been hitherto studied with all the attention, all the interest it deserves: it has made known to us, in the most authentic manner, the principal deities of the Etruscan system under the names they bore in that system, and consequently, the connection of the Etruscan religion with that of the Greeks from which it emanated: it has also made us acquainted with some of the Greek fables, of the most ancient cycle, represented under the Etruscan costume: it has given us the genuine elements of the Etruscan alphabet, and consequently the key, which some day will lead to the understanding of the language itself, in the knowledge of which we must confess little progress has been made as yet. Lastly, it is to this class of monuments, generally of the most finished execution, and generally of the most ancient period, that we are indebted for the most perfect models which we hitherto possess of genuine Etruscan design, such as it was practised under the influence, more or less direct, of the Greek school. The study of these valuable monuments cannot be too much recommended, from which we must say that hitherto all the fruit has not been derived, which could have been produced from them. I add to these monuments of bronze, the figures, statues, groups, or statuettes of this material which compose the most numerous series of Etruscan monuments. From the most ancient times, the Etruscans were celebrated for their skill in casting bronze, in working gold and silver, and inde
pendently of the testimonies of the ancients, which are numerous and positive, monuments of this skilfulness have come down to us which admit of no doubt on that point: such are, in the first rank, the famous Chimaera of the Florence gallery, by the side of which we must place the celebrated Wolf of the capitol; the latter monument dates from the time of the republic, while the Chimera is of the time of the empire; the statue called the Haranguer, a work of the age of the Antonines; a statuette of Apollo, in the Cabinet du Roi, a production of the best style and of the best period of the Etruscan art; all works, with the exception of the Wolf, which bear Etruscan inscriptions, without speaking of a number of small statues, with or without inscriptions, but of the same style, of different degrees of merit and antiquity in many collections, principally in those of Florence, of Cortona, and in our own. Among those statuettes, there are a great number which represent warriors in forced attitudes, which are supposed to be gladiators. It is indeed well known, and I have already had occasion to make the remark, that these bloody spectacles derive their origin from Etruria; and it is probable that as these kinds of spectacles were celebrated in particular at the funerals of the rich, the statuettes in question, which are frequently found in tombs, were deposited there as a reminiscence and as a memorial of these funeral games.
These Etruscan bronzes form unquestionably one of the classes of Etruscan monuments in which one may study, with the greatest certainty, the principal peculiarities of this art. They generally belong to a period when the arts flourished in Etruria, if not coeval with the complete independence of the nation, at least under a state of subjection, which had nothing oppressive. They are also wrought with more care, as their religious use would lead one to think. In fine, they alone are sufficient to prove how much the practice of the arts was spread throughout Etruria; and to what degree of skill the science of drawing in general, and the art of casting in particular, were carried by the artists of that country. They did not the less excel in all those usual appliances of the same art which the wants of a very advanced civilisation and the exigences of a very refined luxury would require. The Etruscans were the inventors of war-trumpets, and of several kinds of armour; they were famed for their candelabra of bronze, their vases of gold and silver, chased, and a monument
of their skill in this kind has come down to us; one of the most curious, because it is connected, according to all appearance, with one of the most ancient periods of art, and is in itself an almost unique monument of ancient workmanship in silver. It is a votive chariot recently found near Perugia, covered with very fine plates of silver, sculptured in high relief; one of the principal fragments, which represents two horses running with the riders, and a man thrown down or bent under the horses, has been published by Millingen, to whom it belonged; the ornaments of the costume, as well as the harness of the horses, are small plates of silver-gilt, placed over and fixed on with rivets. It is, in a word, one of the primitive monuments of that polychromatic sculpture, or of many colours, executed sometimes with different metals, sometimes with a mixture of gold and ivory and precious stones, a kind of sculpture which was as pleasing to the genius of antiquity, as it seems repugnant to ours; a taste for which the Etruscans had derived from the Greeks, or from the same source as the Greeks, and which, connected with the practice of painted and coloured sculpture, which is to be found throughout the entire ancient east, in ancient Greece, and even in modern Italy, constituted the principal branch of ancient art, the most curious, and the least known of all. The engraved gems also form among the Etruscan monuments a very interesting series with regard to the subjects they represent, and especially with regard to the style of the design.
These perhaps, among all the Etruscan monuments we possess, reach the remotest period of antiquity, and consequently exhibit, with the most exactness, Etruscan art in all its originality. These gems are cut in the form of a Scarabæus on the flat side of which is engraved with more or less depth, but always in intaglio, a subject generally heroic or mythological. These Etruscan Scarabæi differ in their form, and also in other ways, from the Egyptian Scarabæi, but it is not the less probable that their use was immediately derived from Egypt, through the commerce which the Etruscans had with the East, or by any other mode of communication, and this observation agrees with that I have already adverted to, concerning the high relative antiquity of these objects. We know that the Scarabæus was worn as a kind of talisman or amulet by the warriors; it was, without doubt, for this purpose that this kind of object was in such common use among the