« PreviousContinue »
after the fall of Jerusalem Titus returned to Italy, and according to the manner of the Romans was honoured with a Triumph. It was the 320th of those remarkable Roman pageants, but none of its predecessors had equalled it in splendour and magnificence.
2. During the night preceding the appointed day all the troops in Rome assembled near one of the gates of the city. Here Titus, clothed in purple and crowned with laurel, visited them, and after commending the valour of those who had shared with him the perils and glory of the war, distributed the crowns and branches of laurel which they were to wear in the great procession of the day.
3. Prayer was then offered to the gods that they would still continue their favour and protection, after which the general repaired to the Triumphal Gate through which it was requisite that the procession should enter the city. Here
“In Jove's gay tunic and embroidered vest
Of Tyrian tapestry, superbly drest,” he entered his chariot of ivory and gold, drawn by four white horses abreast, and the procession moved on.
4. The whole population in holiday attire thronged every available spot from which the procession could be witnessed. The steps of the public buildings and tiers of seats erected for the purpose all along the route were crowded with people. The senators and other leading citizens headed the procession. The greater part of the spoils followed, carried in carriages or on frames, and accompanied by persons bearing boards on which a brief history could be read of all the important objects as they passed.
5. To Josephus the Jew, who was present, the silver and gold and ivory contrived into all sorts of articles, the rare purple hangings, and precious stones seemed to flow past like a mighty river. Among the objects which excited most attention were the lofty structures which exhibited the varied incidents of the late war. Here were represented a happy scene in Palestine laid waste, and multitudes of slaughtered enemies. There cities and fortresses, with their walls overthrown by the Roman engines, sacred edifices enveloped in flames, ships broken or captured, and all, Josephus says, constructed in so lively a style that it exhibited the incidents of the conflict to such as had not seen it as vividly as if they had been present.
6. Then followed bulls for sacrifice, adorned with fillets and garlands on their heads and spread with rich and costly trappings, the priests who accompanied them bearing corn, and wine, and meal, and frankincense. Seven hundred of the tallest and handsomest of the Jewish prisoners, with their leaders Simon and John, were led in chains.
7. The golden Table of Shewbread, the great golden Candlestick, and last of all, the Book of the Law, taken from the Holy Place in the Temple, were carried in solemn procession. After the spoils came men bearing images of Victory, carved in ivory or gold. Vespasian, father of the conqueror, followed, then Titus himself, succeeded by his brother Domitian on horseback. In the rear of the whole procession were the soldiers who had taken part in the campaign, with their headless spears crowned with laurel, shouting “Triumph! Triumph!” and singing hymns to the gods.
8. So they passed along the Sacred Way. As the hill was reached on which stood the temple of Jupiter, on whose lap tho conqueror's votive crowns must be laid, the procession halted. Here Simon and John and others of the captives were dragged, with halters about their necks, to the place of execution, and not until the announcement that death had ended their miseries was made with joyful shouts did the victor proceed.
And what are they,
They are the fallen:
Questions on the lesson :—How long after the capture of Jerusalem was the triumph? How many had been before? H did that of Titus compare with those of former times? What was done during the preceding night? What was done by Titus in the morning? Name of the gate through which the procession was to enter? How was Titus dressed? What of his chariot? By whom was the procession witnessed? Where were the people seated ? Give the order of the procession. What took place when the foot of the hill was reached ?
Triumph, the procession at Rome of a victorious general along the Sacred Way to the Capitol. The honour of a triumph was only granted to the highest magistrates, when not less than 5000 of the enemy had been slain in one battle, when the dominion of the state had been extended, and the war so ended that the Roman troops could now be withdrawn.
Sacred Way, the most celebrated of all the streets of Rome. Its Latin name was Via Sacra.
Temple of Jupiter, on the Capitoline Hill. Here the oxen were sacrificed, a portion of the spoils was offered to Jupiter, and the laurel wreath laid on the lap of the god by the victorious general.
THE ARCH OF TITUS.
1. No Jew ever passes under the Arch of Titus. A French gentleman was about to examine the sculptures on the arch. Suddenly his attention was arrested by the frantic shrieks of a woman who was passing out of the Sacred Way by the side of which the arch stands into a path which leads round it. The object of the woman's displeasure turned out to be a little red-haired girl, apparently her daughter, whose features unmistakably showed her to be a Jewess, and whom her mother was adjuring in the most peremptory tone not to pass beneath the accursed arch.
2. Indeed few neighbourhoods in the world are more suggestive to a Jew of the disaster and degradation to which his nation has been subjected. A few steps from the arch stands the Coliseum, in the erection of which it is said that 10,000 Jews perished from the rigour with which Titus exacted labour at their hands. From the Imperial Palace on the hill which rises above it issued the order for the destruction of Jerusalem. In the Temple of Peace at no great distance were preserved the spoils taken from their temple and city, whilst the sculptures on the arch itself are a perpetual memorial of their countrymen's dishonour, for there they are represented as being dragged to the Capitol, followed by the most sacred objects of their religion carried by heathen hands.
3. The two magnificent bas-reliefs in the interior of the arch which, owing to their protected position, have been well preserved, represent the great triumphal procession on its way through the city to the Capitol. In that on the north side the conqueror is represented as standing in a chariot drawn by four horses, surrounded by guards.
A figure of Victory from behind is placing a crown on his head while the goddess of Rome is guiding the reins.
4. On the bas-relief on the south side are seen the Roman soldiers, wreathed with laurel, and bearing those litters on which the spoils of the conquered nations were exhi
bited. Conspicuous among these may be distinguished the Table of Shewbread, the Golden Candlestick with its well-known seven branches, and an object which is thought to represent the Book of the Law.
5. On the face of the arch which fronts the Coliseum may be read in letters so large and clear that they can be deciphered at a considerable distance from the spot, the words of dedication :-"THE SENATE AND PEOPLE OF ROME, TO DIVINE TITUS VESPASIAN AUGUSTUS, SON OF DIVINE VESPASIAN.”
6. The inscription on the opposite front has long since