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Pompeii

temple, town, portico, discovered, feet, marble, destroyed, little, found and theatres

POMPEII, an ancient city of Naples, overwhelmed in the first century by the same disastrous catastrophe which destroyed Herculaneum. It is said to owe its name to the triumphant pomp in which Hercules led his captives along the eoast after his conquest of Spain ; it was probably situate on an arm of the sea, and served as a port for the inland towns ; which inlet of the sea has been filled up by successive erup tions, besides that which destroyed the town. It is about fourteen miles from Naples, on the road to Nocera. From Naples to Torre del Greco, the highway is almost a street, so close are the villas, villages, and towns to each other. As the road runs along the coast, and at the foot of Vesuvius, every break gives on one side a view of the bay, on the other of the mountain. Torre del Greco still presents, in its shattered houses, half-buried churches, and streets almost choked up with lava, a melancholy instance of the ravages of the eruption. The depth of the destructive torrent in some places, twenty-five feet, so that the entrance into several houses is in the second story, and into one church through the great window over the western door. Some edifices were entirely destroyed: others were surrounded, incrusted, and filled with lava, and may perhaps give a very accurate idea of the state of I Tereuhmeum at the time of its destruction. The town of Torre de] Greco was supposed, by Cluverius. to occupy the site of I I erculaneum, because the distances nearly corresponded ; and inscriptions have been found that seem to corroborate this conjecture. In fhct, making allowances for the extent of the ancient town, there is little more than three. fourths of a mile difference, so that its name and jurisdiction extended probably much fit•ther. In the vicinity of this place are the ruins of ancient barracks, which were the quar ters of a legion of Roman soldiers, and behind the barracks are two theatres, one small, and supposed to have been covered, the other large ; both these edifices were lined with marble, beautifully paved, and in every respect highly-finished. These theatres are exactly of the same form as the 'I'catro Olimpico of Palladio at Verona ; having, like it, a narrow proscenium, and three entrances, one large and the other two less, to the from the scenery behind. These theatres, when discovered, were nearly entire, but though they have been stripped of all their decorations, they still retain all their great characteristic features. Behind the little theatre is a temple of Isis, occupying an angle formed by two streets. Some have supposed that oracles were issued from this tem ple, and have declaimed against the priestcraft that was prac tised here ; but it dues not appear that oracles were ever given at Pompeii, as this was a privilege reserved to the an cient and more renowned temples; besides, oracles had every where ceased before this edifice, or temple, if it. may be so called, was erected ; and, moreover, the entrances into it are too public, and the whole contrivance too gross to dupe the dullest peasant, much less the polished inhabitants of Pom peii. In this building there are niches, where various statues

of Venus, Priapus, &c., were found, which, with the furni ture, marble, and pictures, were transported to Portici. Behind this temple, on one side, is a court surrounded with a portico, supported by sixteen Doric pillars, and, front a sort of pulpit on one side, it may he inferred, that it was intended for some public assembly. Another court follows with a similar por tico, and communicates with the grand portico of the theatre supported by more than sixty stone pillars of the Doric order, but, in proportion, bordering upon Tuscan. Near this por tico lie several fragments of columns of a much larger size, and of bolder proportion ; which, perhaps, belonged to the temple of Neptune, and nay have been thrown down and laid in their present situation by the earthquake, which nearly destroyed this city a few years previous to the eruption that buried it finally. The most perfect and most unit bus object that has yet been discovered is a villa at a. little distance from the town. It consists of three courts ; in the first and largest is a pond, and in the centre an wdicula. or little temple : there are numerous apartments of every description, paved in mosaic, coloured and adorned with various paintings on the walls, all in a very beautiful style. The baths in this villa seem to have been objects of particular attention.

Cicero's Pompeianutn stood in the neighbourhood of this town, and possibly on this very spot. It was a favourite retreat, much frequented by Cicero and his friends. The houses at Pompeii are on a small scale, generally of one, sometimes of two stories; the principal apartments are always behind, enclosing a court, with a portico round it, and a marble cistern in the middle; two had glass windows, in the others shutters only were used ; the pavements are all mosaic, and the walls are stained with mild colours ; the decorations are bassorelievos in stucco, and paintings in medallions. Marble seems to have been common. An extent of about 500 feet of the town wall has been completely cleared. It is from eighteen to twenty feet high, twelve thick, and fortified at short distances with square towers. In the main street, passing in front of the temple of Isis, has been discovered the portico of the theatre. Near the same spot, ten feet below the level of the street, was found a human skeleton, and immediately beneath it a large collection of gold and silver medals in the finest preservation, chiefly of the reign of Dontitian. Under a superb portico, in the quarter of the tombs, a number of skeletons have been dis covered, and among them those of a female and several chil dren. Three linger-rings and several ear-rings were found among the bones. Among the vases discovered, there were two which were full of water, with a small quantity of ashes at the bottom. In one the water was limpid and odourless; in the other it was of a brownish tinge, and had the taste of lye.