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Portic1

statues, pillars and marble

PORTIC1, a small town of Italy, about six miles from Naples, on the sea-shore, at the foot of Vesuvius. Its prin cipal ornament is a royal palace. Under this town and palace lies buried, at the depth of 70 feet under accumulated beds of lava, the city of Herculaneum, the first victim of the fires of Vesuvius. The Prince d'Elbccuf, after the first dis covery- was made by accident, purchased the spot, and con tinuing the excavations that had been begun, discovered various statues, pillars, and even a whole temple of the finest marble, adorned with statues. Upon the interposition of the Neapolitan government, the work was stopped for twenty years ; however, the excavations were occasionally continued, and a basilica, two temples, and a theatre, were successively discovered, and stripped of their numerous pillars and statues. Streets were observed, that were paved and flagged on the sides, and private houses, and even monuments, explored.

A prodigious number of statues of bronze, of different sizes, pillars of marble and alabaster, and paintings and mosaics, many of them entire and in high preservation, others frac tured and damaged, have been drawn from the edifices of this subterraneous city, and give a high idea of its opulence ; to these we may add many species of ornaments used in dress, of weapons and armour, of kitchen utensils and domes tic furniture, of agricultural and chirurgical instruments. The theatre is at present the only part open to inspection. Of all the articles drawn from Herculaneum, the most curious and valuable are the MSS. Of these many dissolved into dust as soon as they were exposed to the air : while others, though scorched, or rather burnt, resist the action of that element. The number of the latter, it is conjectured, may be about isoo.