Imagens das páginas

loss of its statues and some of its other original or

naments; which would still improve the magnifi

cence of its effect.
The bronze ornaments of the dome were removed

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.

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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
an attic, in which are wrought, at equal distances,
fourteen oblong square niches, between each of which
were four marble pilasters, and between the pillars,
marble tables of various kinds. This attic had a
complete entablature; but the cornice projected less
than that of the grand order below. The spherical
roof springs from the cornice, which is divided by
bands that cross each other like the meridians and
parallels of an artificial terrestrial globe. The spa-
ces between the bands decrease in size as they ap-
proach the top of the roof, to which they do not
reach, there being a considerable space left plain,
between them and the great opening.
The walls below were formerly decorated with
works of carved brass or silver, and the roof was co-
vered on the outside with plates of gilded bronze. The
portico is composed of sixteen columns of granite,
four feet in diameter, eight of which stand in front,
with an equal intercolumniation. To these columns
is a pediment, whose tympanum, or flat, was orna-
mented with bass-reliefs in brass: the cross beams,
which formed the ceiling of the portico, were covered
with the same metal, and so were the doors. Such
was the Pantheon, the richness and magnificence of
which induced Pliny, and others, to rank it among
the wonders of the world. This temple subsisted in
all its grandeur, till the incursion of Alaric, who
plundered it of its precious metals. The building
continues to this day; but it was, in the beginning
of the seventh century, converted, by Boniface IV.
into a Christian church, and dedicated to the “Wir-
gin Mary, and all the saints.”
e causes which have chiefly conduced to the
establishment and continuance of idolatry are thus
1. The first cause of idolatry was the or
ly, and vain glory of men, who have -

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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,

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worshipped him with divine honours after his death,
which is thus accounted for : o
After Ninus had conquered many nations far and
near, and built the city called after his name, Nine-
veh; in a public assembly of the Babylonians he
extolled his father Belus, the founder of the empire
and city of Babylon, beyond all measure, representing
him not only worthy of perpetual honour among all
posterity, but also of an immortality among the gods
above. He then exhibited a statue of him, curiously
and neatly made, to which he commanded them to
pay the same reverence that they would have given
to Belus while alive; he also appointed it to be a
common sanctuary to the miserable, and ordained,
“that if at any time an offender should fly to this
statue, it should not be lawful to force him away to
punishment.” This privilege easily procured so
great a veneration to the dead prince, that he was
thought more than a man, and, therefore, was cre-
ated a god, and called Jupiter, or, as others write,
Saturn of Babylon; where a most magnificent tem-
ple was erected to him by his son.
After this beginning of Idolatry, several nations
formed to themselves gods; receiving into that num-
ber not only mortal and dead men, but brutes also ;
and even the most mean and pitiful inanimate things.
For it is evident from the authority of innumerable
writers, that the Africans worshipped the heavens as
a god; the Persians adored fire, water, and the
winds; the Lybians, the sun and moon; the The-
bans, sheep and weasels; the Babylonians of Mem-
phis, a whale ; the inhabitants of Mendes, a goat;
the Thessalanians, storks; the Syrophoenicians, doves;
the Egyptians, dogs, cats, crocodiles and hawks;
nay, leeks, onions, and garlic. Which most sense-

less folly Juvenal wittily exposes.

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