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with temples, but the country itself was studded with chapels to the rural powers, as it is now with those erected to a Saint or a Madonna. These gods were called Viales. Their little altars, decked with flowers, were thus placed at convenient distances in the public ways for the benefit of travellers, who used to step aside to pay their devotions at these rural shrines, and beg a prosperous termination of their journey*. And as the heathens used to paint the rude statues of their gods with red or some such showy colour, so have I often observed the coarse images of Catholic saints so bedaubed with a gaudy redt, as to resemble, exactly, Virgil's description of the god Pan:
Sanguineis ebuli baccis minioque rubentem.-Ecl. 10.
In passing along the road nothing is more common than to see travellers on their knees before these rustic shrines. None presume to approach them without some mark of reverence; and even those who are most in haste, or at a distance, seldom fail to take off their hats in token of respect.
Besides these images and altars, we frequently see erected by the road side huge wooden crosses decked with flowers, and the trifling offerings of the country people. On viewing these, one can hardly help calling to mind the superstitious veneration paid by the heathens to certain old trunks of trees, or posts*, set up in the highways; or that venerable oak in Ovid, covered with garlands and votive offerings:
* Ut religiosis viantium moris est, cùm aliquis lucus, aut aliquis locus sanctus in viâ oblatus est, votum postulare, donum apponere, paulisper assidere.— Apuleii Florid. i.
Invoco vos, Lares viales, ut me bene juvetis.- Plaut. Merc. v.
+ Fictilem fuisse et ideo miniari solitum.-Plin. N. H. L. xxxv. 12.
Et à Censoribus Jovem miniandum locari.--Ibid, L. xxxiii. 7.
Stabat in his ingens annoso robore quercus;
Reverend with age a stately oak there stood,
“ To the multitude of the gods of old,” says Blunt, must we ascribe that extraordinary catalogue of festivals which have ever been, and, under their successors, the modern saints, still continue to be, destructive of all habits of industry in these countries. The serious ill effects which result from this cause must have come under the notice of every traveller; and so convinced was Augustus heretofore of the same truth, that he abolished thirty of the number, in order that fewer interruptions might be given to the administration of justice—(Sueton, August. sec. 32). Agriculture, too, as might have been expected, suffered severely under their baneful influence; and therefore it is that Virgil endeavours to meet the scruples of the farmer, by pointing out certain occupations in husbandry, which it was lawful to exercise at all sea
* Nam veneror, seu stipes habet desertus in agris,
Seu vetus in trivio florida serta lapis. — Tibull. El. i.
Quippe etiam festis quædam exercere diebus
Even holidays and feasts permission yield,
We have seen that the Saints, by their numbers, furnish one parallel to the old deities; we shall now find that by their reputed lives they afford another.
“ When,” says Blunt, “ I observed such a preamble to a prayer as this, printed and publicly suspended in Christian church, · O most glorious Virgin, S. Rosolia, who fired by the love of thy heavenly spouse, (Christ,) abandonedst the comforts of thy father's house and the pleasures of a court, to live with him in the narrow cavern of Quisquilina, and the savage den of Monte Pellegrino,' &c.:—when I read such verses as these upon
the same tablet,
Scene.—The Cavern of Monte Pellegrino.
Locum intras tenebrosum,
In Pellegrino's gloomy cell,
— when in a consecrated room annexed to the chapel of S. Catherine at Siena, I found it recorded upon a similar tablet, that in that house S. Catherine one day felt an amorous longing (amorose smanie) to see her divine husband; and that two very beautiful angels appeared to comfort her; but she turned to them and said, it is not you I want, but him who created you,' &c.:—when in the same manner I saw it proclaimed, “ that under that roof she had been married to Jesus Christ on the day of the carnival, in the presence of the most blessed Virgin Mary, of King David, who played upon the harp, of St. John the Evangelist, of St. Paul and St. Dominic:'- when on entering the church of S. Rosa at Viterbo, I discovered an altar adorned with such blasphemy as the following:
Quis tamen laudes recolat, quis hujus
Nuptiis junctam voluit superni
But ah! what powers of tongue can paint
- when I witnessed all this, I could not prevent my mind from wandering to the interviews between Diana and Endymion; between Bacchus and Ariadne; between Venus and Adonis; between Jupiter, Apollo, in short, half the heathen gods, and as many favoured mortals, whose names afterwards became emblazoned in the scrolls of mythology*.”
A third parallel is discoverable in the places over which the gods of the heathens and the saints of modern days have been made to preside.
Thus the little oratories, or rural shrines, so frequent throughout Italy, are often found placed under the cover of a tree or a grove, agreeably to the descriptions of the old ædicolæ in sacred as well as profane writerst.
It was a commonly received opinion among the ancients, that the gods delighted to reside on eminences and the tops of mountains; and accordingly we find their shrines very frequently situated on lofty hills, or, to use a scripture phrase, on high-places. Jupiter had a fa
* Aque Chao densos Divům numerabat amores.
Virg. Georg. iv. 347. † Lucus et Ara Dianæ.-Hor.