The Youthful Wanderer eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 214 pages of information about The Youthful Wanderer.

The Rome of to-day is about a mile and a half square, and has a population of 245,000 inhabitants.  Ancient Rome occupied much more territory, and its population was at the beginning of the 2nd century about 1-1/2 million.  The ruins of ancient Rome cover a desolate area of several square miles in extent, besides what is covered by the modern city.  Its walls are 15 miles in circuit.

Whatever may be said of the 364 churches of Rome, (including seven called Basilicae, namely:  St. Peter, St. John Lateran, Santa Maria Maggiore, and Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, within the city, and St. Paolo, San Lorenzo and San Sebastian, outside of the walls), all agree, that

The Colosseum

is the elephant among the ruins of the old city.  This stupendous structure is eliptical in form, measuring 615 feet through the longer diameter and 510 feet through the shorter, covering more than 5-1/2 acres of ground.  In the height of its glory 87,000 spectators could he accommodated within its walls!  It is 156 feet high, but has no roof.  The sailors of the imperial fleet used to stretch sail-cloth over it to exclude the burning rays of the sun.  The arena is 279 feet by 174 feet.  This building was begun in A.D. 72, and dedicated by Titus in A.D. 80.  It was inaugurated by gladiatorial combats which lasted 100 days, during which time 5,000 wild animals were killed.  About one third of the building is still preserved, and presents a scene to the beholder of overawing magnificence and grandeur.  When I walked into the Cathedral of Milan, I felt as if its elevated ceiling was about to lift me up, but, standing in the arena of this vast amphitheater, one feels as if its stupendous walls would crush him to the ground.  Close by the Colosseum is the Meta Sudans, and the Arch of Constantine which spans the Via Triumphalis and unites it with Via Sacra (the Sacred Way).  This arch has three passages and is adorned with admirable sculptures.  It was erected in 311, when Constantine declared himself in favor of Christianity.  Following the Sacred way, toward the north, we first come to the arch of Titus and afterwards to

The Roman Forum.

The Sacred Way, it seems, was about 3/8 of a mile in length and extended from the Arch of Constantine or the northern end of the Colosseum near by, to the Capitol.  Near the Capitol stands the Triumphal Arch of Septimius Severus, 75 feet high and 82 feet wide, with three passages.  It was erected in honor of that emperor and his two sons Caracalla and Geta in A.D. 203, to commemorate victories.  It was once surmounted by a brazen chariot with six horses, on which stood Severus, crowned by Victory.  The pavement of the Forum, which has been laid bare by recent diggings, lies some twenty feet lower than the level of the street which now passes at the side of the diggings.  Near the northern end stands the Column of Phocas, 54 feet high, which was erected in 608 in honor of the tyrant Phocas, of the Eastern Empire.  All around the Forum stand what remains of the ancient temples, once dedicated to the deities which it was believed presided over the destinies of Rome, before the advent of Christianity.  The broken pillars of ruined temples are seen on every side.

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The Youthful Wanderer from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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