Ravenna, a Study eBook

Edward Hutton (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 311 pages of information about Ravenna, a Study.

Under the mosaic of the burning of the heretical books we see the mighty sarcophagus of plain Greek marble which once held the body of the Augusta.  This, of old, was richly adorned with carved marbles and perhaps with silver or mosaic; and we know that in the fourteenth century certainly it was possible to see within the figure of a woman richly dressed seated in a chair of cedar and this was believed to be the mummy of the Augusta Galla Placidia.  However, we hear nothing of it before the fourteenth century, and Dr. Ricci suggests that it may have been an imposture of about that time.  It is possible, but perhaps unlikely, for the Augusta was not a saint, and what reason could men have in the thirteenth century, when the very meaning of the empire was about to be forgotten, for such an imposture?  However this may be, the figure remained there seated in its chair during the fourteenth, fifteenth, and the greater part of the sixteenth centuries.  And indeed, it might have been there still but that in 1577 some children, curious about it and anxious to see a thing so wonderful, thrust a lighted taper into the tomb through one of the holes in the marble, when mummy, vestments, chair and all were consumed, and in a moment nothing remained but a handful of dust.

The sarcophagi under the arches on either side, according to various authorities, hold the dust of the emperor Honorius, the brother of the Augusta, and of Constantius her husband, or of the emperor Valentinian III. her son.  It is impossible to decide at this late day exactly who does and who does not lie in these great Christian tombs.

The Mausoleum of the Augusta was long known, though not from its origin, as the sanctuary of SS.  Nazaro e Celso.  When it was so dedicated I am ignorant, but it was not in the time of the Augusta.  Then, in the fifteenth century, when so much was remembered and so much more was forgotten, it bore the title of SS.  Gervasio e Protasio, and this name remained to it till the seventeenth century, when the old title was revived.  To-day although it retains its name of SS.  Nazaro and Celso, it is more rightly and universally known as the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia.




It was, as we have seen, upon March 5, 493, that Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths, entered Ravenna as the representative of the emperor at Constantinople.  One of his first acts seems to have been the erection of a palace designed for his habitation and that of his successors.  Why this should have been so we do not know.  It might seem more reasonable to find the Gothic king taking possession of the imperial palace, close to which the Augusta Galla Placidia had erected the church of S. Croce and her tomb.  Perhaps this had been

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Ravenna, a Study from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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