Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

sword. Another tablet—to a horse soldier, armed with a spear—shows a conical pointed helmet. A more classically-finished relief gives a close-fitting suit of armour, a round uncrested helmet, and spear. The Roman horsemen carry oval shields; the British foes, who are in three or four places shown trampled under the feet of their conquerors' horses, bear large oblong shields, and are shown fighting naked, as Caesar tells us they did. The figure of the legionary foot soldier shown in Plate A, fig. 4, is defended from the rigours of the British climate by a fur cloak, and in the monument to the standard-bearer Diogenes, he and some of his companions wear similar cloaks. Among the amusements indicated, we may refer to the figure of a dancer, Plate A, fig. i. Another stone gives us the figures of Hermagoras and Felix, brothers, one of whom plays the bagpipes, while the small fragment of the other figure seems to be in the attitude of dancing. The two children, Restita and her sister Martina, play with their pet rabbits. Several fragments of figures of nude athletes exist among the remains, which seem to represent either games of speed and strength or gladiatorial shows, but they are too much mutilated and detached from their structures to say this with certainty.

The mythical and symbolic character of many of these memorials is the last feature to which I can refer in this short paper. Indications of this nature are numerous and varied; among them there are, however, no representations of or references to the deities of the Pagan religion. The only examples of classical legend on tombs are one representing Perseus and Andromeda, and another which may show Heracles slaying the Nemasan lion. Evidences of the existence of Christian belief are alike absent or are very obscure. As a possible instance of the latter, Plate C, fig. 8, has been already referred to. There are, however, two stones, apparently Metopes from a large building, on one of which is cut a stag; on another, Actaeon, with stag's horns, devoured by his dogs. These are not monumental stones, but probably formed part of a temple to Diana, the proportions of which (if it was built in accordance with one of the regular orders) might be recovered by the measurement of these stones.

Of the usually accepted symbols of death, as represented in classical times, many examples are found in these sculptures. The commonest of these among the Chester relics is that showing the shade of the departed resting on a couch, and drinking from a cup, while beside the couch stands a tripod for the funeral offerings. The Pagan idea was that the shades of the dead became as Gods, and entered Elysium, where they rested and feasted. The inscription, therefore, of " Dis" or " Diis Manibus," " To the Gods the Shades," appearing on nearly every Roman tomb, was not a dedication to the Gods of the Roman mythology, but to the Souls or Shades of the dead as Minor Gods, a survival possibly of the cult of ancestor worship. Sculptures of this class are so numerous among the Chester stones that they need not be enumerated. The couch and tripod are shown on Plate A, fig. 3; and the couch alone, together with another type of Death, on Plate A, fig. 2; the other being that of Death as a child—quiet, restful, innocent: often so depicted in Greek art. In many of the monuments this type is found with that of the couch, the cup, and the garlands of Elysium, and in more than one, Death, as a child, is shown giving the cup. Another frequent type is a bird, to represent the fleeting and passing nature of life. In some monuments a bird sits overhead, in the garlands; in others a figure carries a bird in its hand. In Plate A, fig. 2, this symbol is added to those of the couch and the sleeping child. One bird remains with closed wings: the second strikes out its wings for flight. On another stone, a sheaf of corn, cut down and drooping, is carried by one figure, while another carries a bird. These symbols of the gentler kind are mostly of Greek origin.

The Etruscan symbols, indicating death rather as a thing of gloom and horror, are likewise represented in the Chester stones. Of this class, Plate C, fig. 7, furnishes a fine example, where not only the Gorgon's head, but also the fascia of the cornice, seem to be ornamented with snakes. Another tombstone is carved with a grotesque and wrymouthed face: an idea derived from the Etruscans. The horse, or horse's head, another Etruscan symbol, does not appear, but we have the genius of Death extinguishing a torch. In the stone to Aurelius Lucius, referred to above, is a detached face, which has been supposed to represent an actor's mask, but which I take to represent the face of Death. A less usual type, but one which occurs several times in this series, is a kind of cloak or pall descending upon the figure of the deceased, with the skeleton head of a ram or ox in its centre, shown in Plate A, fig. 3. A variation in the bird type occurs in the figure of a harpy, this being a Greek idea; one off1ce of the harpies being to convey the souls of the departed to the shades. Again, a type of the passing or rolling away of life was a wheel or circle. In Plate C, fig. 8, one of the figures places the circle as an offering on the altar; and among the ornaments found on numerous stones, the wheel, circle and wreath predominate.

The few illustrations given have been selected with a view to showing as many as possible of the details to which allusion has been made in the text. Other stones have been lately discovered at Chester of higher artistic merit and greater historical value, but not, perhaps, the writer thinks, so well adapted to illustrate the points he has endeavoured to bring out in these hastily compiled and fragmentary notes.

[graphic][ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »