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loss of its statues and some of its other original or
naments; which would still improve the magnifi
cence of its effect.
in the pontificate of Urban VIII. for the purpose of
forming the canopy of the great altar in St. Peter's. We know that the bronze gates ornamented with
bass-relief, were taken away by Genseric, king of the
Wandals, and were lost in the sea of Sicily.
THE Fabulous Pantheon, is, as its name imports, the Temple of all the Gods, which the superstitious folly of men have feigned through a gross ignorance of the true and only God. It may be right to give some account of the Pantheon, of which you have a view in the plate that faces the title page. It is uncertain by whom this beautiful edifice was erected: some suppose it to have been built by Agrippa, the son-in-law of Augustus; but others contend that he only enlarged and adorned it, and added to it a magnificent portico. Its body is cylindrical, and its roof or dome spherical; its inner diameter was one hundred and forty-four feet, and the height from the pavement to the grand aperture, On its top, was also one hundred and forty-four feet. Its exterior was built after the Corinthian order o architecture. The inner circumference is divided into seven grand niches, six of which are flat at the top, but the seventh, which is opposite to the entrance, is arched. Before each niche are two columns of antique yellow marble, fluted, and of one entire block. The whole wall of the temple, as high as the grand - isive, is cased with different kinds of
entirely of porphyry. Above the grand cornice rises
who is the inexhausted fountain of all good, the honours which they have attributed to muddy streams: “Digging,” as the prophet Jeremiah complains, “to themselves broken and dirty cisterns, and neglecting and forsaking the most pure fountain of living waters.” It ordinarily happened after this manner: if any one excelled in stature of body, if he were endued with greatness of mind, or noted for clearness of wit, he first gained to himself the admiration of the ignorant vulgar; this admiration was by degrees turned into a profound respect, till at length they paid him greater honour than men ought to receive, and ranked the man among the number of gods; while the more prudent were either carried away by the torrent of the vulgar opinion, or were unable or afraid to resist it.
2. The sordid flattery of subjects toward their princes, was a second cause of Idolatry. To gratify their vanity, to flatter their pride, and to soothe them in their self-conceit, they erected altars, and set the images of their princes on them; to which they offered incense, in like manner as to the gods; and not unfrequently, while they were living.
3. A third cause of Idolatry, was an immoderate love of immortality in many; who studied to attain it, by leaving effigies of themselves behind them; imagining that their names would still be preserved from the power of death and time, so long as they lived in brass, or in statues of marble, after their funerals.
4. A desire of perpetuating the memories of excellent and useful men to future ages, was the fourth
cause of Idolatry. For to make the memory of “
such men eternal, and their names immortal, they made them gods, or rather called them so. The contriver and assertor of false gods was Ni, the first king of the Assyrians, who, to render . * of his father Belus, or Nimrod, immortal,
worshipped him with divine honours after his death,
less folly Juvenal wittily exposes.