A Year's Journey through France and Part of Spain, Volume II (of 2) eBook

Philip Thicknesse
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 108 pages of information about A Year's Journey through France and Part of Spain, Volume II (of 2).

The Amphitheatre of Arles was of an oval form, composed of three stages; each stage containing sixty arches; the whole was built of hewn stone of an immense size, without mortar, and of a prodigious thickness:  the circumference above, exclusive of the projection of the architecture, was 194 toises three feet, the frontispiece 17 toises high and the area 71 toises long and 52 wide; the walls were 17 toises thick, which were pierced round and round with a gallery, for a convenience of passing in and out of the seats, which would conveniently contain 30,000 men, allowing each person three feet in depth and two in width; and yet, there remain at this day only a few arches quite complete from top to bottom, which are of themselves a noble monument.  Indeed one would be inclined to think that it never had been compleated, did we not know that the Romans left nothing unfinished of that kind; and read, that the Emperor Gallus gave some superb spectacles in the Amphiteatre of Arles, and that the same amusements were continued by following Emperors.  Nothing can be a stronger proof than these ruins, of the certain destruction and corruption of all earthly things; for one would think that the small parts which now remain of this once mighty building would, endure as long as the earth itself; but what is very singular is, that this very Amphitheatre was built upon the ruins of a more mighty building, and perhaps one of a more substantial structure. Tempus edax rerum, tuque invidiosa vetustas omnia destruis.  In the street called St. Claude, stood a triumphal arch which was called L’Arche admirable; it is therefore natural to conclude, that the town contained many others of less beauty.  There are also within the walls large remains of the palace of Constantine.  A beautiful antique statue of Venus was found here also, about an hundred and twenty years ago.—­That a veritable fine woman should set all the beaux and connoisseurs of a whole town in a flame, I do not much wonder; but you will be surprized when I tell you that this cold trunk of marble, (for the arms were never found) put the whole town of Arles together by the ears; one Scavant said it was the goddess Diana, and wrote a book to prove it; another insisted upon it, that it was the true image of Venus; then starts up an Ecclesiastic, who you know has nothing to do with women, and he pronounced in dogmatical terms, it was neither one nor the other; at length the wiser magistrates of the town agreed to send it as a present to their august monarch Lewis the XIVth; and if you have a mind to see an inanimate woman who has made such a noise in the world, you will find her at Versailles, without any other notice taken of her or the quarrels about her, than the following words written (I think) upon her pedestal, La Venus d’Arles.  This ended the dispute, as I must my letter.

LETTER XXXVI.

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A Year's Journey through France and Part of Spain, Volume II (of 2) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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