Old Descriptions of the Site before the Excavations of 1911-1914

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1761 Abbate Domenico De Sanctis, Dissertazione sopra la villa di Orazio Flacco (Rome 1761) 43-44:

1769 Abbé Capmartin De Chaupy, Découverte de la maison de campagne d'Horace (Rome 1769), 3 vols.
vol. 3, p.9-11

1777-84: Allan Ramsay, An Enquiry into the Situation and Circumstances of Horace's Sabine Villa Written during travels through Italy in the years 1775, 76, and 77,. This unpublished work survives in two mss. in Edinburgh: National Library of Scotland, MS. 730. 40 foll.; and Edinburgh University Library La. III.492. 65 pp. The Edinburgh University Library version is the later and better one, dating from 1784.
p.[46-bis]

1792 J. Landucci, Voyage de Rome à Tivoli...au quel on a joint la description de la Villa Adrienne et de celle d'Horace situés dans la Sabine aux environs de Tivoli. Rome, p. 51

1817 Andrea Manazzale, Viaggio da Roma a Tivoli, Palestrina, Frascati, ed altri contorni di Roma (Rome 1817) p. 31

1827-1830 Giuseppe Antonio Guattani, Monumenti sabini (Rome 1827-30) pp. 16-17

1828 Filippo Alessandro Sebastiani, Viaggio a Tivoli (Fulgino 1828) pp. 395-396

1829 J. H. Westphal, Die roemische Kampagne in topographischer und antiquarischer Hinsicht dargestellt (Berlin and Stettin 1829) 115

1834 Sir William Gell, The Topography of Rome and Its Vicinity (London 1834, 1846), vol. 2, p. 350

1840 Roccantonio Frezzini, Sulla villa di Q. Orazio Flacco. Ragionamento (Perugia 1840) 89-90

1842 G. Dennis in H. H. Milman, Life of Horace (London 1869)

1855 Fabio Gori, Viaggio pittorico-antiquario da Roma a Tivoli e Subiaco sino alla famosa grotta di Collepardo (Rome 1855) 21-25

1886 Tito Berti, La Villa di Orazio (Rome 1886) 9-11

1888 Bishop of Clifton, "A Visit to Horace's Farm (from the Roman diary of the Bishop of Clifton)," The Venerabile, Vol. 1, No. 4. April 1924 p.301

1900 Karl Baedeker, Italy. Handbook for Travelers, thirteenth revised edition (Leipzig 1900) p. 409

1913 Robert Vaucher, L'Illustration

 

1761
Abbate Domenico De Sanctis, Dissertazione sopra la villa di Orazio Flacco (Rome 1761) 43-44:
"...Ed affinché nulla resti a desiderarsi di quanto anche in questi ultimi giorni è venuto a mia notizia su tal argomento, finirò col fare onorata menzione degl'ulteriori lumi, che potuto somministrare la lodevolissima cura, e diligenza del Signor Baron di Santodille Ministro Plenipotenziario della Maestà dell'Imperadore Gran Duca di Toscana appresso la Santa Sede, Uomo che in mezzo alle sue cure nutrisce il bel genio dell'erudizione, e delle lettere. Persuasissimo anch'egli che in Licenza situata fosse la Villa di Orazio non à lasciato d'investigarne anche più sicuramente la verità. Poiche avendo osservati i vestigj d'antica Fabrica nel sito appunto da me indicato non molto lungi, ed al di sotto di un Fonte, da cui senza fallo prese il suo nome il Ruscello Digenza, immaginossi che quivi un dì fosse il Casino di Orazio, e ne intraprese lo scavamento. À egli di già scoperte le fondamenta, & un sotteraneo di molto bene intesa struttura, che indicar possono, se non un magnifico, e ricco Edificio, almeno una ben propria, e commoda Abitazione. Vi si osservano ancora gli avanzi di un piccol condotto, che l'Acque del vicino Fonte al Casino portava non solo per gli usi domestici, ma forse ancora per commodo di qualche domestico Bagno, dove Orazio, siccome in Roma solea, così anche in Villa potesse allorchè era affaticato e lasso nell'ore più calde del giorno lavarsi, e sfugire l'intemperie della rabbiosa Canicola. Sicché proseguendo egli, come è per la Republica Letteraria desiderabilissimo, la cominiciata impresa, si può sperare che rinvenir possa qualche monumento più singolare, da cui resti sempre più dimonstrata la situazione della Villa di Orazio in Licenza."

 

1769
Abbé Capmartin De Chaupy, Decouverte de la maison de campagne d'Horace (Rome 1769), 3 vols.
vol. 3, p.9-11:
"Je n'en fus pas étonné, lorsque pénétrant dans la Vallée qui s'ouvre à la gauche de ce Bourg, qui est celle que parcourt la Licence, j'appercus de tous cotés d'autres caractères. D'aprés celui des Aspects je ne craignîs pas de dire à la Compagnie avec laquelle je me trouvois, que la Maison de Campagne qui étoit l'objet de mos recherches dut être placée dans le lieu précis que je montrai de la main; où en effet nous que je montrai de la main; où en effet nous en trouvames les ruines.
Elles étoient à peine visibles, parceque le lieu n'offre à la premiere vue que des débris d'un édifice qui ne remonte par aux anciens Romains quisque c'étoit une Eglise.
J'ai déja eu occasion de dire que c'est une telle apparence qui empecha deux MM. Anglois, qui avoient été les seuls à bien saisir les conséquences qui naissent des points établis par Cluvier & par Holstenius, de faire ma découverte. Mais si je ne pus qu'en être frappé dabord, je me gardai bien de m'en laisser rebuter. Je considerai les ruines de plus près. Leur examen exact ne me découvrÓt pas seulement que l'edifice moderne ruiné, avoit été construit des matéraux tirés de l'ancien, mais que ce dernier conservoit encore des morceaux propres assés considérables. Ce ne fut pas tout. Portant les yeux sur tout ce qui remplit les terreins qui ont fourni la place à d'anciens batimens, je reconnus par tout des marques certaines d'une édifice du tems d'Auguste. Je fis observer en particulier une quantité prodigieuse de ces pierres qui formoient ce qui etoit appelé dans l'Architecture de Vitruve l'ouvrage à rezeau, Opus reticulatum, ainsi que de ces autres qui servoient aux mosaïques des pavés antiques. A ces fragmens caractéristiques, j'en pus joindre d'autres qui n'étoient pas moins concluans au moins par leur manière: c'étoient des troncons de Colomne, des pièces de frise &c. La Fontaine qualifiée par Horace de Vicinus tecto jugis aquae fons, s'étoit presentée la première avec un reste de mur antique qui marquoit l'ornement qu'elle avoit eu anciennement. Des recherches ultérieures porterent la chose à un plus haut degré d'évidence encore, puisqu'elles découvrirent la plupart des murs de fondation qui annoncerent un Chateau antique qui dut avoir deux corps de batiment, un plus considérable pour l'habitation qui se trouvoit un peu au dessus des ruines de l'Eglise de St. Pierre, & un autre mondre à l'endroit des ruines même, que les conduits qui y étoient indiquoient avoir été destiné aux bains. Un travail de campagne à fait trouver depuis de grands morceaux de tuiau de plomb, dont M. l'Architeprêtre de Licence reserva la partie où étoit écrit un nom...."

 

1777-84:
Allan Ramsay, An Enquiry into the Situation and Circumstances of Horace's Sabine Villa Written during travels through Italy in the years 1775, 76, and 77. For more about this text, click here.


p.[46-bis]:
....Within the boundary I have described, and at the south east corner of it is a hill, part of the foot of Mount Lucretilis, called Colle Franchisi. Near the highway from Vico Varo where, in turning the east corner of this hill, we first get sight of the open valley and Horace's Villa, Bernardo Pomfili, the proprietor, told me he had some years ago dug up the stone sides of a Portone or Gate , which pointed from that part of the highway, slanting towards Horace's house, and that there was a neat pavement went from that gate, part of which he had likewise dug up. I had not an opportunity of digging when I was last at Licenza in June 1777, but was shown upon the spot some dozens of these stones, said to have composed this pavement, and which were scattered about in the land. They are a sort of Wedges of about 7 inches deep, the heads of them which formed the outside of the pavements being a square of about 3 inches and a half of the common white rock of these hills which is a coarse marble. The fact, as related by Bernardo would have been of consequence for shewing that Horace's ground extended at least so far south and the more conclusive that at the remains of the Villa itself, which is about three quarters of a mile off there are thousands of stones to be gathered exactly formed like this pretended pavement. But as these stones though very proper for causewaying, are formed precisely like those made use of in the Opus reticulatum to be found in the Mausoleum of Augustus and almost all the buildings of the first Emperors as far down as Caracalla."

 

p.[53c]:
That Horace's House must have had its principal prospect towards the north becomes very manifest upon the first sight of the ground where it stood. For he was deprived of prospect to the southeast by a hillock of his own. His west windows had the Lucretilis too near them, and his south, though the hills are at a mile's distance, afforded nothing that was particularly beautifull whereas those on the north side, looking down the declivity gave a very pleasant view of all the rivulets which form the Digentia with their meadows, and behind them the picturesque hills where now stand the villages of Licenza, Civitella, etc. The last time I was upon this spot, June 27, 1777, I desired the Master of the vineyard to take his spade and lay open a piece of the mosaic pavement, by the lines of which I found that the building had been exactly set by the four points of the Compass. I had, at other times been shown parts of this mosaic composed of flowring foliages. What I saw, upon this occasion was a border of black and white marble....

 

1792


J. Landucci, Voyage de Rome à Tivoli...au quel on a joint la description de la Villa Adrienne et de celle d'Horace situées dans la Sabine aux environs de Tivoli. Rome, p. 51: "Villa d'Horace Dans une Vigne située au pied du mont-Lucretile, on voit quelques vestiges de cette Villa, consistans en différentes chambres pavées en Mosaique. Au milieu du mont Lucretile est une fontaine décrite plusieurs fois par Horace; d'où sort un petit ruisseau qui passoit au milieu de sa Villa, et dont les eaux servoient à ces bains. La fontaine Blanduse est située sur l'autre côté de cette montagne."

1817
Andrea Manazzale, Viaggio da Roma a Tivoli, Palestrina, Frascati, ed altri contorni di Roma (Rome 1817) p. 31:
"...in una vigna situata a' piedi del monte Lucretile, si vede qualche vestigio di questa Villa, consistente in differenti camere pavimentate di mosaico...."

 

1827-1830
Giuseppe Antonio Guattani, Monumenti sabini (Rome 1827-30) pp. 16-17: "Concludiamo che da questi campi Oraziani ove gran parte della sua vita menÚ il genio delle muse latine non devi parti lettore cortese senza osservare, in mancanza di significanti rovine, i pochi rimasugli de' pavimenti a mosaico della sua casa, un pezzo di volta del tempio della Vittoria o sia Vacuna, la iscrizione accennata di Vespasiano addossata al muro de' granaj di Rocca giovine, ed il frammentato bassorilievo poco onorevolmente impiegato / (p. 17) nello stipite di una ferrata della prigione che offre Diana cacciatrice col cane."

 

1828
Filippo Alessandro Sebastiani, Viaggio a Tivoli (Fulgino 1828) pp. 395-396:
"...mi aveva assicurato il sig. cav. Gell gentiluomo inglese, persona di vastissima erudizione, e gia' nota per le sue produzioni geografiche, che vi aveva rilevato un altro pezzo di mosaico ornato di piccoli grifi, ma o fosse, che il guidatore non lo conoscesse, o che quest'avanzo venisse distrutto, io non fui cosÏ fortunato da poterlo vedere."

 

1829
J. H. Westphal, Die roemische Kampagne in topographischer und antiquarischer Hinsicht dargestellt (Berlin and Stettin 1829) 115:
"In Rocca Giovane, einer auf steilem Felsen gelegenen Ortschaft beim Eingange des Thals, ist fast mit Gewissheit das Fanum Vacunae anzunehmen: die Fons Blandusiae aber entspricht einer klaren Quelle unterhalb Civitella, wo also die Villa des Horaz sein musste. Truemmer derselben sind nicht mehr vorhanden; denn es moechte schwer zu beweisen sein, dass einige unfoermliche Reste von Mauerwerk mit netzfoermiger Arbeit, welche sich in dieser Gegend finden, grade ihr und keinem andern Gebaeude zugehoert haetten."

 

1834
Sir William Gell, The Topography of Rome and Its Vicinity (London 1834, 1846), vol. 2, p. 350:
"The ruins of this famous villa consist only of a Mosaic pavement, and of two capitals and two fragments of Doric columns lying among the bushes....The pavement has been much ruined by the planting of a vineyard, and can only be seen on removing the earth which covers it. The groundwork is white, with a border of animals in black."

 

1840
Roccantonio Frezzini, Sulla villa di Q. Orazio Flacco. Ragionamento (Perugia 1840) 89-90:
"Io non saro' ardito tanto da prender l'assunto di sostenere che la casa di campagna di Orazio fosse precisamente in un punto, ove si additano pochi sassi ammonticchiati, ed un picciolo resto di mosaico. Sorse non lungi dal Lucretile nel medio evo una Chiesa intitolata ai Santi Pietro e Marcellino, di cui non rimangono vestigia. I pochi sassi e l'avanzo del mosaico potrebbero ben riferirsi a questa Chiesa, ed avrebbero potuto i materiali della casa di Orazio esser serviti a costruirla. Allorche' io avro' provato che la villa di Orazio era nella Valle appie' del Lucretile, e presso Licenza, e' tanto quanto basta nella mancanza assoluta persino di ruderi che ne determinino il punto."

1842

G. Dennis in H. H. Milman, Life of Horace (London 1869):

"...If you follow the banks of the Anio, eight miles above Tivoli you reach Vico Varo -- the Varia mentioned by the poet as in the neighborhood of his Farm, and probably at that time the nearest town. It is now a small place, standing on a steep rock, overhanging the road, and still preserving fragments of its ancient walls of rectangular masonry. You presently leave the Anio, and enter a valley which opens to the north. On a height which rises to the right stand two villages, Cantalupo and Bardela; the latter is supposed to be the Mandela, which the poet describes as rugosus frigore pagus; and, certes, it stands in an airy position, at the point of junction of the two valleys. You soon come to a small stream, of no remarkable character, but it is the Digentia, the gelidus rivus, at which the poet was want to slake his thirst -- me quoties reficit -- and which flows away through the meadows to the foot of said hill of Bardela -- quem Mandela bibit. You are now in the Sabine valley, so fondly loved and highly prized.

Cur valle permutem Sabina

Divitias operosiores?

Why would I exchange burdensome riches for my Sabine valley.

A lofty ridge forms the left-hand barrier of the valley. It is Lucretilis. Sir John Hobhouse says it is now called Campanile -- but every peasant will point you out "Lucretile". It has no striking features to attract the eye -- with its easy swells, undulating outline, and slopes covered with wood, it well merits the title of amoenus, though that was doubtless due to its grateful shade, rather than to its appearance. Ere long you espy, high up beneath the brow of the mountain, a village perched on a precipitous grey cliff. It is Rocca Giovane, now occupying the site of the ruined temple of Vacuna, of which more anon. Five or six miles up this valley bring you to the foot of a conical height, on which stands said town of Licenza; while still loftier heights tower behind; from which the village of Civitella, apparently inaccessible, looks down on the valley like an eagle from its eyrie. In the foreground a knoll crested with chestnuts, rising some eighty or hundred feet above the stream, marks the site of the much-sung Farm. This knoll stands at the bend of the stream; or rather at the point where several rivulets unite to form the Digentia. Behind the knoll stood the Farm. A few remains of brick wall, a scattered fragment or two of columns not of marble or other foreign materials, but of ordinary travertine, and a small piece of mosaic pavement, mark the exact site.

Non ebur neque aureum

Mea renidet in domo lacunar;

Non trabes Hymettiae

Premunt columnas ultima recisas

Africa.

Nor gold nor ivory inlaid,

Nor cedars from Hymettus torn,

Nor Libyan marble colonnades

My humble home adorn.

The Farm is situated on a rising ground, which sinks with a gentle slope to the stream, leaving a level intervening strip, now yellow with the harvest. In this I recognize the pratum apricum which was in danger of being overflowed. The aprica rura were probably then, as now, sown with corn -- purae rivus aquae, et segetis certa fides meae. Here it must have been that the poet was want to repose after his meal: prope rivum somnus in herba; and here his personal efforts, perhaps to dam out the stream, provoked his neighbors to a smile."

 

1855
Fabio Gori, Viaggio pittorico-antiquario da Roma a Tivoli e Subiaco sino alla famosa grotta di Collepardo (Rome 1855) 21-25:

"VILLA DI ORAZIO
Due ore lungi da Vicovaro la strada, rotabile per tre sole miglia, nel resto sassosa, penetra una vallata cinta ovunque da monti aspri ed orridi. Nel mezzo elevasi sopra un colle di roccia calcare il Castello nomato Licenza per dritto di feudo spettante ai Borghese. Nella valle la vite con infausto omaggio si marita agli olmi ed ai salci, verdeggia il grano turco, due ruscelli, meschiate le acque, fecondano l'arida terra e portano il medesimo nome cha hanno dato al Castello. Chi crederebbe quest'angolo celebre nell memorie della Letteratura? Chiunque tu sii, italiano o straniero, benche' appresa non abbi la dignitosa favella del Lazio, se un poco d'istruzione poetica ricevesti, ignoto non deveti essere il nome del sublime Lirico, a cui fu patria Venosa, Orazio Flacco. Oltre la villetta di Tivoli, egli un'altra ne possedeva in Sabina, frequentemente in essa deliziavasi, quando la cocente estate e l'incostante autunno impallidir faceano Roma. Appena arrivato al detto recesso de' monti, presso il laghetto volgente la Mola, ti si presenta un bosco. Il viottolo che lo traversa, ti conduce al podere, ove credesi probabile torreggiasse or quadra ora rotonda secondo il capriccio la Casa del Poeta. Il Garzone che n'e' custode, alla tua richiesta rompe con la marra la terra e mostra un bel frammento di musaico. Fattagli la domanda, se vi e' altro da vedere, ei ti risponde che scavando profondamente il suolo, si trovano altri pezzi del pavimento di musaico, e resti di antico edifizio, gli stessi che vi scopri' il Baron di Santedille. Ti guida poi ai frantumi d'una Chiesuola del medio evo, finalmente a traverso de' campi alla Fonte Ratini. E' questa in sito elevato, composta di un semicircolo di muri attorniato da sedili. Il fonte, raccolto in alto da un canale, venia scaricato in un ricettacolo, dal qual distribuivasi in diversi tubi a formar graziose cadute. Mancata la cura necesaria, accolgono ora l'acqua gli usati fori, se non che per le ingiurie degli anni e della medesima corrente, non possono farle percorrere il primitivo giro, ma la rigettano senza regola ad ogni apertura, lasciando vegetare una quantita' di erbe prasite. Per tale ragione il piazzale racchiuso nel semicerchio e' rimasto allagato, e fa d'uopo camminar su qualche sasso sporgente chi voglia sedere su due ampii deschi di travertino che adornavano questa delizia degli Orsini. Sur uno di essi assiso puoi riguardare il Casino edificato dalla stessa Famiglia e dipinto dal Manente. Ma vendendolo in istato d'abbandono, la tua immaginazione traccera' nella Vale Ustica, ove piu' le piace, le cinque case degli abitatori, indi la mgion del Poeta col pino che la ombreggiava sacro a Diana. Vedrai nel campo ferace di poma e non di viti gli schiavi imitando il Padrone rompere le zolle ed opporre repari al gonfio torrente affinche' seco non trasporti i seminati. Pe' fianchi del Lucretile all'ombra di alberi eccelsi fumera' l'ara in onore di Fauno, e da quel Nume protette sbrancate le mogli del fetido capro vagheranno frugando per le selve gli ascosi corbezzoli e'l timo. Quindi se ami cercare le piu' celate latebre delle montagne, bellezze orribili nelle spaccature e risalti delli scogli ognora ti si affacceranno.... Nel ritorno verso Vicovaro quasi a meta' della strade troverai un sentiero che volge su per la montagna a Rocca Giovane. All'ingresso del Cstello si presenta una lapide affissa al muro, la quale rammenta che l'Impertore Cesare Vespasiano Augusto Pontefice Massimo...restituÏ a sue spese l'Edicola della Vittoria caduta per vetusta'...La lapide adunque indicandoci che quel fano venne rialzato dall'Imperatore Vespasiano c'insegna il luogo dove Orazio ispiravano le Muse. E lungi mezzo miglio dal Castello in un vigneto il Contandino presso ad alcuni rottami di fabbriche ti addita il sito dove fu ritrovata l'iscrizione....

 

1886

Tito Berti, La Villa di Orazio (Rome 1886) 9-11:

 

Il mosaico della prima camera ha un lato di metri 4,90 e l'altro di metri 3,50; è in alcune parti deteriorato, in altre intatto; il disegno è di un semplicità e finezza meravigliosa. Dopo una fascia che corre lungo la parete più piccola, si staqccano tre ordini di circoli che s'intrecciano vagamente; succede a questi una banda di varie striscie bianche e nere, nel mezzo della quale corre una fascia tutta formata di triangoletti che s'inseguono, poggiando il vertice sulla base del successivo; questo è forse il frammento che vide il Nibby. Dopo la banda si disegnano delle stelle formate da otto rombi i cui lati inferiori si stringono al centro, mentre gli esterni servono a combinare dei quadri, le faccie dei quali ric ompongono i romb i di altre stelle. Il lavoro è di finissima fattura, in cubetti bianchi e neri, i quali hanno i loro lati di sei millimetri. Il mosaico delle seconda camera è conservato in modo quasi perfetto, e somiglia a quella forma geometrica che chiamasi communemente greca. Anche questo è composto di cubetti bianchi e neri di circa sette millimetri di lato, uniti in forma di fascie che si piegano ad angolo, e con alternazione graziossima. La varia direzione dei triangoletti che, come nel primo mosaico, poggiano l'uno sull'altro, e corrono lungo queste fascie, è di effetto delicato e mirabile. Questo mosaico, salvo che in alcuni dettagli, è identico per disegno, per conservazione, per fattura al mosaico che forma il pavimento del tablinio di quel bell'avanzo del palazzo dei Cesari, che il chiarissimo commendator Rosa ha dichiarato essere i ruderi della conservatissima casa paterna di Tiberio. Io non ho altro da giungere, per ora.

...Una devastazione lenta, ma continua, che dura da anni, spoglia a poco a poco questo luogo carissimo delle reliquie rimastte. Di già il piccolo frammento di mosaico, --che ora si scuopre ora si ricopre per uccellare il forestiere, --sotto il continuo insulto della vanga ha perduto gran parte dei suoi cubetti preziosi. Il rimanente del mosaico della camera, smosso dalle radici di due olivi crescenti ed indiscreti, si smembra e diventa a poco a poco un mucchio informe di inutili tassellini. Ugual pericolo corre il mosaico della seconda camera. Già non si sa più ove sia il mosaico ornato di piccoli grifi che il Gell vide circa cinquant'anni indietro; nè, per quanto io ne so, vi più memoria del muro circolare che avea fermata l'attenzione dello Chaupy. Qui, come nella prossima vigna di San Pietro, ove ho detto trovarsi altri avanzi antichi, tuto va a rifascio. I cunei dell'opera reticolata vengono adoperati per selciare le strade, i grossi mattoni tolti dalle antiche fabbriche servono alle nuove costruzioni campestri. Non si sa più nulla dei tubi di piombo (posteriori certo, ma utili per la storia del luogo) che lo Chaupy vide dall'arciprete di Licenza e che portavano l'iscrizione T. Claudi Burri; un solo frammento di altro tubo di piombo, che travasi innestato alla casa di Orazio, è conservato in Licenza presso Vincenzo Onorati. Che è avvenuto dello stile di cui ci racconta il Sebastiani e che fu donato a un religioso? Non parlo di altri oggetti tolti dal luogo che ornano le stanze di abitazioni private. Qui pare che tutti abbiano voluto sbramare la loro sete di distruzione. Cinquant'anni indietro un chirurgo, certo Valentino de Angelis, abbatte gran parte delle mura dilette; e un prete avido, certo Giovambattista Marcotulli di Percile, quasi nella stessa epoca raccoglie e getta in una calcara tutti gli abbandonati avanzi di marmo che si trovavano nei dintorni.Eppure i borghigiani di Licenza e di Roccagiovine sentono affetto per questi avanzi, e additano orgogliosi il bel castagneto e il dolce dorso ove sorgeva la casa campestre di Orazio. Curvi sotto le tfatiche, rudi nel volto, abbronzati dal sole, questi buoni popolani rammentano Orazio come se fosse vissuto ieri in questi luoghi; e sognano che il colle Menichetta, posto al di là del Licenza sopra la piana Otto, rammenti il nome di una diletta di Orazio; e raccontano, come se lo vedessero, che su per la strada dei Ratini, Orazio s'incontrava con la dea Vacuna. Vi è stato taluno che mentre era intento al lavoro di quersti campi, ha creduto di vedere davanti a sè la larva di Orazio, sorridergli e disparire...

 

1888

Bishop of Clifton, "A Visit to Horace's Farm (from the Roman diary of the Bishop of Clifton)," The Venerabile, Vol. 1, No. 4. April 1924 p.301.

May 1st. Tuesday. Steamed out of the Station about 6 after a substantial breakfast and after passing Salone where lie the springs of the Trevi Water, Lunghezza and the fetid Aquae Albulae, made a bend to the right beneath Monticelli, and so wheeled up into the hills to Tivoli. Here we snatched a glimpse or two as we sped from tunnel to tunnel, of the pretty cascatelle and of the bounding Anio -- then moving north-east in a course roughly parallel to the Via Valeria, by Castel Madama and Santo Polo, arrived about 8 at Vicovaro. A picturesque bit awaited us after alighting and just before we entered the village: -- the quaint old houses, resting some of them on remains of stout walls composed of blocks of travertine, the bridge, towards which the road descends, discovering traces of old Roman work, and the swift blueish river that just before reaching the bridge sweeps round the foot of a prominence and then flows on in a straight line through its avenue of poplars. We toiled up into the town and saw little different from aught one sees in these mountain-crowning abodes, fair when far off but foul when nigh -- dilapidated houses, narrow and dirty little streets, curious women, dirty boys, and sable swine -- until we reached the Chapel of St. James built I should say in the fifteenth or perhaps the fourteenth century by an Archbishop of Trani, an Orsini of the Counts of Tagliacozzo. (Taliocociadae comites, Ursina propago &c.). So much I gathered from the inscription surmounting the gorgeous door of this pretty octagonal building, which is in the Italian Gothic style. A goodly number of small statues grace the facade, some of them the worse for wear and tear. After praying a few moments before the Madonna inside, proceeded up the road which is commanded by the Chapel, until we came to the Parish Church, large and commodious, but bare and needing repairs, and the Bolognetti Palace -- no very elegant if an at all imposing mansion. Passing these we wound along the road, I "wiring into" bread and cheese the while, until we came in view of the Convent of San Cosimato which is most picturesquely situated on a precipitous and huge cliff, topped with ilex and cypress, at the base of which rushes the Anio through a narrow gorge. We stood to admire it for a few minutes-- Dr: Giles told us it is the spot where; as tradition relates, those wicked monks attempted poison St. Benedict, -- and then advancing along the road, descended by a bypath to look at the falls just under the cliff. Here there is a bridge, modern, but nigh it are remains of an arch or two belonging to an old Roman one. As we remounted to the road, the Drollboy informed us that he had felt a drop or two of rain, and indeed the sky looked threatening in the extreme. However we turned into the Convent Church, in which the dull roar of the waters beneath is ever audible, and then came out to take our observations anew. Rain was now falling pretty fast, and as we stood under trees in front of the little portico, despond sate in every visage, especially when the Rector began to talk of retreating to Vicovaro and ding there. Here was a go! We were at the entrance of the Sabine Vale, opposite was Mandela, the "rugosus frigore pagus" (a description now more applicable to the village of Saracenesco perched upon a lofty conical peak); beneath ran the Digentia, which is still quaffed by the folk of Mandela; a walk of under two hours would have brought us to the "latebrae dulces" of the Venusian bard: -- and we had to turn back! Some more patient waiting however, and the rain began to subside and finally ceased, so that without considerable loss of time we were able to set out again. As we took the turn into the valley I read out to the Rector the description of Judge Lawton's visit to Horace's Farm -- a description which some six years ago I cut out of the Times, little thinking then that I was one day to tread over the very ground examined by him and his friend. The valley winds a good deal, and as one advances, narrows considerably. On either side the mountains are stony and by no means thickly wooded. The course of the Licenza, like that of most mountain torrents when they reach the open ground, is marked by a broad whitening tract, formed by the stones it has whirled along and worn smooth in the rainy seasons, and leaves little ground on either side for cultivation -- none of the fields being protected by a dam, as was the portion of Horace's domains along which its cold waters ran. At one point where it neared the road, I went down and drank of the stream health to the old poet's shade, and as I walked along beneath Rocca Giovine (nigh which Signor Rosa places the farm) read up that ever pleasing sixth satire of the second Book, "Hoc erat in votis". Wherever the exact site of the farm may be, I thought, these are the "ardui Sabini": on these broad giants old Flaccus gazed as he trotted up here on his bob-tailed mule; this is the "rus" he was wont to yearn after amid the smoke and wealth and roar of Rome. At length a turn to the left shuts off from us the whole of the valley along which we have so far been wending, and we find ourselves in a delightful amphitheatre amidst the hills. Those on the left side retain their stony and somewhat bare character, whilst those on the right are fairly wooded up to their summits and are more pointed and picturesque. They are some of the minor peaks that on this side of it cluster beneath the great Monte Gennaro. At the far end of this retreat ("angulus iste") upon a rocky hill stands the village of Licenza, whilst higher up to its left on another hill that forms part of the rugged background is the deserted and dreary looking little hamlet of Civitella. We climbed up to Licenza and eventually succeeded in finding a house where wine was to be got; for knowing how poorly these places are provided with victuals we had carried our dinners with us. The room was small but pleasant after the heat. We sate at two tables, and mine hostess brought in the lush, whilst we unpacked our provender, and a crowd of village urchins watched our operations from the door. The wine was really "vile Sabinum" the thinnest stuff mortal ever gulped, and if this was all Flaccus had to offer his luxurious patron, I can fancy the latter vowing in vengeance to set before his entertainer some dish like to that with which he had already burnt his weak vitals. Our beef, fowl, and "cartwheel" consumed, and the last glass gone round, for in spite of the vileness of the Sabine juice we drank it nobly, we quitted the osteria, descended the hill and crossed the stream again, each one wending then to the spot he listed to enjoy an hour's repose. I immediately made with Clayton for the traditional site of the Villa, a spur running down to the vale from the hill of its right side, above the road, in front of the village of Digentia. Following a little watercourse born of a fountain higher up, which they point out as the veritable Bandusia, we came to a part of the vineclad slope where fragments of stone and marble told of the existence here at some time of a dwelling house, Horace's or not who shall say? As we pottered about, a native addressed us and inquired if we were searching for Horace's villa. The interview resulted in our following him to a vineyard, in the soil of which he disclosed with a pick the remains of a tesselated pavement. He informed us that the pavement extended beneath the whole surface of the vineyard, on which we requested him to dig up at another spot and then at another. We were satisfied that the pavement was not a sham, although he had at first contrived to hit upont that portion of it that was in the best state of preservation. Half a franc renumerated this descendent of the "masculine race of rustic soldiers"; he took it and looked hard at it and at us, but we walked away and lay down on the grass beneath the chestnut shade, with our faces towards the broad bare hills of the left side of the valley. Though I had been up since 3 o'clock I failed to sleep; yet the view and the gentle breeze were delightful, and it will be long before I forget that lounge on the tender grass amid the first flowerets of the springtide, -- a lounge which I shall ever call to mind as I read again the lines: "O rus quando ego te adspiciam? quandos licebit Nunc veterum libris, nunc somno et inertibus horis Ducere sollicitae jucunda oblivia vitae". On descending to the road, I found I had lost my return ticket to Rome, and though I clomb up again and roved about the ground I had trodden, no vestige of it appeared. Horace's shade at its tricks, no doubt! Did his jolly ghost wish to detain me there as a kindred spirit towards whom he felt an attraction, or was he punishing me for not lingering so lovingly now over his pages as I was wont of yore? However that be, I left the ground and began my walk back through the valley, oft gazing back on the scene which I probably shall never look upon again and feeling something of a pang on that account -- especially when I arrived at the turn in the road, passing which I seemed to pass away from that "delicious nest" forever. I walked alone and not over joysome nearly the whole way to where the road abuts on the Via Valeria, opposite Mandela, and long I looked on the castellated mansion of the side of the broad spreading hill and the parish church that peaks its summit. At Vicovaro, whither the five worthy yeomen of Horace's realm used once to repair in order to sit in council, we tried more lush, but found it little superior to that of Licenza. Ride home was unsatisfactory, as I was very sleepy and could not get a comfortable position. The natives that were with us in the same compartment acted as a restraint upon all merriment and jollity, and one of them smoked a poisonous cigar, out of which he contrived by allowing it to go out and then relighting it to extract the enjoyment of a whole bundle. I hope he may never smoke any better. After alighting in Rome we bowled along the National Way in a "legno" and set foot in the house at about a quarter to ten. At ten we supped and at half past said prayers and retired little loth to our pallets;

 

1900 Karl Baedeker, Italy. Handbook for Travelers, thirteenth revised edition (Leipzig 1900) p. 409:
"Rocca Giovane is a small village charmingly situated on a precipitous rock. An old inscription, formerly built into the Palazzo, refers to the restoration of a temple of Victoria by Vespasian. According to Varro, Victoria is identical with the Sabine goddess Vacuna, and consequently Rocca Giovane is supposed to be the Fanum Vacunae of Horace (Epist. I.10). A guide should be obtained to take us to the chapel of Madonna della Casa..., the Colle del Poetello, and the Fonte degli Oratini. These names refer to the villa of Horace, which, however, more probably lay in the bottom of the valley near Licenza. The ancient remains are insignificant."

 

1913 Robert Vaucher, L'Illustration vol. 451 (May 17, 1913)

[Note: We have not included Vaucher's photographic illustrations of the site.]

Plan-croquis des fouilles de la villa d'Horace, relevé sur place, le 11 mail 1913, par M. Robert Vaucher.

1. Entree de la villa (destruite par des glissements de terrains). - 2. Le cryptoportique. - 3. Gardin.- 4. Piscine. - 5. Triclinium - 6. Partie habitée par les maîtres. - 7. Partie reservée aux serviteurs - 8. Caldarium. - 9. Égouts. - 10. Conduite emmenant l'eau de la piscine. - 11. Collecteur des eaux. - 12. Bains vespasiens. - 13. Frigidarium. - 14. Porte de l'eglise construite sur le frigidarium. - 15. Crypte creusée dans la piscine. - 16. Terrains restant à fouiller.

La Villa D'Horace

Rome, 12 Mai 1913

La visite de la reine Marguerite à la villa d'Horace a récemment attiré l'attention de l'habitation du grande poète. M. Angiolo Pasqui, le distingué directeur de fouilles de la province de Rome, a bien voulu me consacrer une journée, afin que L'Illustration, la première, pût donner à ses lecteurs une vision exacte de ce que l'on découvre actuellement. Depuis Rome, le chemin de fer de l'Adriatique nous transporte jusqu'à Mandela, dans la Sabine. De là, au trot régulier de nos mulets, nous nous acheminons à travers des vallées pittoresques, qui vont se resserrant de plus en plus. Bientôt, le pays devient sauvage; de loin en loin, sur les sommets des montagnes, dont quelques-unes ont plus de 1,000 mètres d'altitude, de petits villages sont perchés en nids d'aigles. Nous arrivons enfin au pied du mont Lucretile, où les travaux, commencées en mai 1911, sont actuellement assez avancés pour permettre d'apprécier l'importance des découvertes faites. Il y a longtemps que l'on a cherché dans le monde archéologues quel ponvait bien être l'emplacement de la villa d'Horace. Déjà, dans le courant du quinzième siècle, Daleandro Alberti avait voulu résoudre le probleme, mais sans succès. En 1776, de Sanctis étudia la topographie du terrain et établit que la villa d'Horace devait se trouver près de Licenza. Il est intéressant de remarquer qu'un peintre français, J. Ph. Hackert, fit, en 1780, quelques peintures dans la vallée de Licenza, dont l'une, intitulée: "Vue de la situation de la maison de campagne d'Horace", nous montre un joli paysage situé au pied du Lucretile, exactment à l'endroit où les fouilles se poursuivent actuellement. Il semple done que, en 1780 déjà, on ait été sur la bonne voie. Malheureusement, M. Pietro Rosa affirmait, en 1857, que la villa d'Horace se trouvait à Rocca-Giovane, village situé à quelques kilomètres de Licenza. Les déclarations d'Horace dans plusieurs de ses écrits s'inservent en faux contre cette thèse. Le grand lyrique dit, en-effet, que, pour se rendre chez lui, il quitte la Via Valeria à Varia et gagne, par une succession ininterrompue de vallées entourées de montagnes sauvages, le temple de Vacuna, puis continue jusque'au mont Lucretile à un endroit où, dit-il, se trouve sa villa "dont le côté droit est illuminé par le soleil levant et le côté gauche couvert des ombres du couchant". Le temple de Vacuna a été retrouvé à Rocca-Giovane, où une inscription de Vespasien rappelle les restaurations que l'empereur a fait exécuter au temple de la Victoire: la Vacuna dei Sabini. Une fois ce temple découvert, il était impossible de continuer à situer la villa d'Horace à Rocca-Giovane, puisque le poète lui-même déclare qu'elle se trouve au delà, sur la route qui, de Varia (actuellement Vicovaro), conduit dans la haute Sabine. Or, des monuments et tombeaux d'une grande importance, portant souvent des inscriptions, en particulier le temple dédié à Flora, la déesse sabine, ont été retrouvés dernièrement le long de cette route, et confirment encore l'existence, dans cette direction, de la villa d'Horace. Enfin, les derniers doutes disparaissent lorsqu'on voit la Licanza (ancienne Digentia) roulant ses eaux mugissantes à 120 mètres de la villa repérée, et qu'on se rappelle que la poète a souvent parlé de ce torrent dans se ¶vres. Il a dit expressément que sa modeste maison se trouvait près des rives fraîches de la Digentia, dont les eaux vont se perdre à Mandela. Ces eaux qui, selon Horace, avient des qualités médicinales, calmant spécialement les maux de tête et d'estomac, possèdent encore ces propriétés aujourd'hui. C'est ce torrent aussi qui fournissait l'eau à la villa et aux bains qui furent établis tout auprès. Horace a vécu pendant trente aus dans sa villa de Licenza et y écrit beaucoup d'odes. Il y courut deux dangers mortels: il fut attaqué par un loup dans une forêt du Lucretile, et risqua, une autre fois, d'être écrasé par un grand noyer qui faillit tomber sur lui. Pour témoigner sa reconnaissance d'avoir été sauvé de ce second péril, le poète sacrifia dès lors chaque année un chevreau aux dieux des fôrets. Dans les environs de sa villa, Horace possédait cinq autres propriétés; aussi pouvait-il être représenté au Conseil de Varia par cinq chefs de famille. Ses domaines se trouvant sur les bords de la Digentia, le poète connut certains des ennuis inhérents à la propriété rurale: il se plaint, en effet, d'avoir souvent à remettre en état se terrains, dévastés par les eaux grossies du torrent. D'autre part, on peut voir un mur de clôture, qu'il dut faire construire afin de protégér ses moutons contre les incursions des loups, nombeux dans les bois touffus de Lucretile. Il est intéressant de noter que les traditions populaires ont toujours gardé le nom de villa d'Horace au verger planté d'oliviers et de noyers où l'on a entrepis le fouilles avec tant de succès. Horace, comme Agrippa et Mécène, légua son patrimoine à Auguste lui-même. Ses terrains devinrent done biens impériaux. Grâce au respect inspiré par le nom d'Horace, la villa resta intacte, tandis qu'on bâtissait à côté un établissement de bains publics, qu'il eût été plus aisé de construire sur les fondements mêmes de la maison du poète. La villa d'Horace forme un rectangle parfait, autour duquel un mur d'enceinte à contreforts devait empêcher les glissements de terre. Le jardin, qui occupe environ les quatre cinquèmes du terrain, est lui-même entouré d'un cryptoportique (ou galerie voûtée) et contient une très vaste piscine. Devant la maison, qui est un peu plus élevée que le jardin, et à laquelle on accède par quelques gradins, le cryptoportique existe aussi, afin de donner plus de fraîcheur en été. Le bâtiment est divisé en deux parties, dont l'une, à droite, est réservée aux maitres. Dans l'autre habitaient le villicus et les esclaves. Dans la première partie se trouvent plusieurs chambres à coucher et un grand triclinium. Les mosaïques de toutes ces salles sont de marbre finement travaillé et rappellent la belle époque d'Auguste, tandis que celles des chambres réservées aux serviteurs sont d'un travail beaucoup plus grossier. A côté de ces chambres, séparés par un corridor, se voient les bains avec caldarium pour hommes et pour femmes. Le cryptoportique était pavé de petits carrés de marbre, alternant avec des morceaux de palombino (qui est un calcaire du pays). Les piliers étaient de marbre. La grande piscine, située au centre du jardin, a deux mètres de profondeur. De beaux marbres ont été retrouvés à l'intérieur de la maison. Malheuresment, en 1857, l'abbé Marco Tulli, archiprêtre de Licenza, voulant y construire une église, fit faire des fouilles sur l'emplacement de la villa d'Horace, et, avec les marbres mis à jour, fabriqua la chaux qui lui était nécessaire. Les murs sont faits en reticolato (matériaux prismatiques donnant aux surfaces l'aspect d'un réseau), caractéristique de l'epoque d'Auguste. Encore faut-il remarquer que, tandis qu'à Rome le reticolato est en tuf, il est, ici, taillé dans du calcaire très dur. C'est done intentionnelle,ent qu'un l'a employé, afin d'être en rapport avec l'architecture. La villa n'a subi dès lors aucune reconstruction. Adjacentes à la maison d'Horace se trouvent des constructions postérieures, séparées, dont une partie est du temps de Vespasien. L'autre, plus récente, date des Antonins. Ces ruines longent le jardin du poète et sont les restes d'un grand bain. On y a relevé l'emplacement d'une vaste salle, autoure de laquelle couraient des canaux pour la conduite des eaux et de la vapeur nécessaire au chauffage. Dans une piscine peinte en bleu, on élevait des poissons, probablement pour amuser les visiteurs. Tandis que le caldarium est resté intact, le frigidarium a subi de nombreuses transformations. Celui-ci a la forme d'un rectangle, avec des niches dans chaque angle et, au milieu, la piscine. Plus tard, une église fut construite sur le frigidarium lui-même, et de la piscine, on fit une sorte de crypte que l'on employa comme cimitière. Cette crypte fut trouvée pleine de squelettes, portant au cou des colliers avec médailles, qui permettaient de faire remonter la construction de l'église au sixième ou septième siècle, soit au temps des Goths et des Lombards. Les mosaïques qui couvrent le fond sont très grossières. On rencontre chaque jour des objets de toutes espèces au fur et à mesure que les fouilles avancent. M. Pasqui a réuni dans le pittoresque village de Licenza une collection très complète d'objets ayant appartenu à Horace. Il y a une tête en marbre de l'impératice Sanonina qui est assez intéressante. Les ustensiles domestiques (cuillers, candélabres, clefs, anneaux, poids marqués et portant le sceau du vérificateur) sont nombreux. Le grand poète avait même de jolies pierres pour le jeu des osselets. Des vases gaulois bien conservés peints à la barbotine, et remontant au deuxième et au troisième siècle, voisinent avec un glyrarium, sorte de vase de terre cuite renversé, employé comme cage afin d'engraisser rapidement les oiseaux et n'ayant que quelques trous pour laisser passer la nourriture. Déjà les anciens connaissaient done des procédés pour l'élevage intensif. Des briques ont été recueillies avec la signature: "Numeri Nevi". Elles sont donc parmi les plus anciennes que l'on connaisse. M. Pasqui me montre également de ravissants camées et une bague en or de grande valeur, trouvés dans la villa elle-même. Une pierre tombale, représentant les quatre saisons, nous donne des conseils de résignation: "Certes, vous devrez tous mourir, dit l'inscription, mais du moins vous avez vécu. Dans la vie, l'on mange et l'on boit bien: aussi devez-vous être heureux d'avoir vécu..." Nous voici arrivées au bout de notre excursion et, tandis que le soleil se couche derrière le mont Lucretile, je me hâte de faire un croquis de l'emplacement de la villa d'Horace, car il est impossible d'en obtenir le plan. "J'ai une modeste maison de campagne", écrit Horace; en effet, la villa n'est pas très grande, -- juste la place, dans la partie réservée aux serviteurs, pour loger les huit esclaves que possédait le poète. Les travaux sont loin d'etre terminés, et l'on peut espérer que le gouvernement italien, vu les beaux résultats déjà obtenus par M. Pasqui, se hâtera de permettre -- financièrement -- de poursuivre les fouilles qui nous réservent peut-être encore d'agréables surprises. Il y a deux ans; le promeneur attentif aurait à peine remarqué, sur une colline ombragée d'oliviers et de noyers, deux piliers dépassant le sol de 50 centimètres, et il ne se serait certainment pas douté que des mosaïques se trouvaient merveilleusement conservées, dans cet endroit retiré, à deux mètres sous terre. Le sol italien est encore riche en trésors, et l'ère de découvertes n'est point close.

       

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