Dissertation on the Helicon of Rafael  

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Dissertation on the Helicon of Rafael by D'hancarville.

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THE HELICON ONE OF EIGHT DISSERTATIONS ON THE PAINTINGS BY RAFAEL , IN THE CHAMBERS OF THE VATICAN. 23.428 . bu 4 20 DISSERTATION ON THE HELICON OF RAFAEL , WRITTEN IN THE FRENCH LANGUAGE BY THE LATE BARON D'HANCARVILLE , AND TRANSLATED WITH SOME ALTERATION BY WOLSTENHOLME PARR ESQ", THE DEPOSITARY OF HIS MANUSCRIPTS. LAUSANNE , PRINTED BY HIGNOU. 1824. 2 LIST OF THE MANUSCRIPTS. EIGHT DISSERTATIONS ON THE 1. Helicon. or the Parnassus. 2. Philosophy. or the School of Athens. 3. Religion. or the Dispute on the Sacrament. 4. Deliverance of St. Peter. 5. Heliodorus. 6. Attila. 7. Miracle of Bolsena. 8. Burning of the suburb. Explanation of the Zodiac painted by Rafael , in the Sala Borgia. Illustration of the chapel in the Arena at Padua , painted by Giotto. Remarks on some Egyptian monuments late in the Villa Altichieri near Padua.

EXTRACT FROM A WORK OF THE TRANSLATOR , NOT YET PUBLISHED , UPON THE LANGUAGE OF ART. WHEN I first perused Mr. D'Hancarville's explanation of Rafael's School of Athens , the mind was overwhelmed by a tumultuons tide of pleasure admiration and surprise. Judgement was disabled by the novelty ofthat dissertation and criticism rendered for a while impossible. As soon as I recovered from the agitation ofthose feelings , I began to wonder whether Mr. D'Hancarville had himself opened this singular vein of instruction , or , what appeared to me still morc extraordinary , whether such a study, having been once cultivated , had afterwards fallen into disuse. The shortest way of resolving my doubts on this subject , was to discover the spring by which the mind of our author was moved in these intercsting enquiries. I did not find that he was guided by any general rule , or that he had conceived in his mindany formal methodical system which could serve as a general key to the storchouses of painters. In his favorite authors Pliny , and Pausanias , there is nothing which had transported others into similar ecstasies. He had indeed probably read Philo Judæus (*) , and his remarks , on that passage of Scripture , where the Hebrews are said to have seen the voice of God. His works prove his persuasion that the Painter should endeavor to render voice visible. His interpretations , (accustomed , as he was , to profound meditation , and to find in whatever he saw or heard more meaning than meets the eye or the ear) , were the happy result of genius combined with extensive knowledge. Upon this conviction , I continued to enjoy the pleasure of his conversation without any special motive , reading with cagerness his compositions as they were progressively finished

(*) Phil. Jud. de mig. Ab. Vol. I. Page 443. Edit. MAN. Exodus 18-20. III finished. One year before his death he retired to Padua for social reasons , which , more than any other , seem to have governed his whole life , and several months elapsed without my seeing him , except one day at dinner in Venice , where he returned , only that he might have a pretext for quitting his lodgings in the former city. He went back immediately and retired to his last place of abode. On his falling ill I visited him once or twice , and left him on those occasions , though not without hopes of his recovery , yet with mortifying apprehensions of his danger. When he grew worse , his friends solicited him to take some measures of precaution for securing his manuscripts. For some time he paid no attention to these remonstrances , but at last expressed a wish to see the writer ofthese pages. When I appeared , he consigned to me , in an irregular manner , the most important part of his papers. I returned with them to Venice while our common friends were requesting him to make a will. As he positively refused to do this , it was necessary for me to revisit him , though affairs of my own rendered it extremely inconvenient. I found him dying ? IV and in great serenity of mind. His conversation was even more rational and attached to his subject than on the former occasion. I received his positive and final instructions taking the best measures for the entire collection of his papers , which , as he died the same night , I hoped then to have carried away with me. I received all the assistance , that generons kindness could afford , from the Austrian Vice-Governor of the Province , though I did not succeed in my endeavours , from the delicate scruples of a Gentleman who would not allow the remainder of the effects to be deposited in his house. This occasioned great delay afterwards in procuring the manuscripts. And if I had not met with aid and zcalons attention from persons not in any degree bound to exert them in my favor , they would probably have been lost. He died in the night of the 13th October 1805 in the 78th year af his age and was buried in the Church of St. Nicholas at Padua with some solemnity , though not a stone tell where he lies. If we may rationally measure our grief by the quantity of mind of which we are deprived by the loss of friends , we shall sel- dom find an instance where sorrow ought to be so excessive. The Jesuits had the honour of his education , and , although he frequently acknowledged with gratitude his obligations to them on that account , yet he adopted the popular prejudices against them. I sometimes insisted that the assassination of the king of Portugal was an execrable scheme contrived and executed by Frederic of Prussia , Voltaire and their accomplices , that they might load the followers of Ignatius with all the odium of that detestable project. This he strenuously contradicted , and always defended the Lettres Provinciales against my most moderate objections. Ofhis life and fortunes I know scarcely any thing with certainty , though it was easy to discover that they must have been exceedingly various and sometimes of a doubtful character. He quitted France in the year ninety of the last century , where the political Academicians of Paris made the most earnest attempts to retain him as an advocate for their cause. When Baillie promised him riches influence and dominion , he constantly answered, « Mon cher Baillie , vous aurez la téte coupée ». Very respectable French Gentlemen have of VI fen spoken of him to me as their only literary countryman who had behaved honestly in the French revolution. All his actions and opinions were marked with a character of vehemence and enthusiasm, and this disposition made him fall into the snares of Baillie and Pau 9 who wished him to defend the chronology of Justinus , in speaking ofthe descent of the Scythians into the southern parts of Asia. These two wished to invalidate the authority of Scripture , in concert with all those who were the cnemies of monastic institutions. It was almort impossible to live with him. without exciting in his bosom some fits of resentment and disgust , but his subsequent behaviour verified Goldsmith's chapter that « Reconciliation is the easiest thing in the world where there is love at bottom . » It was a barbarous cruelty to suffer himto go away beforc he was pacified. The complex and involved nature of his reflections formed the most striking contrast with the plainness and simplicity of his moral character. The most ignorant deceiver might overreach him , and when he afterwards discovered the cheat , he would laugh at the immoral stupidity that stooped VII to meanness for so trifling an advantage. He seemed perfectly convinced , in general , that his al- conversation paid for his entertainment , though the greatest pleasure that he enjoyed , was certainly that of making some agreeable present. He never considered the price of what he purchased for himself, but was always beyond measure delighted , if he could make a good bargain for a friend. If , as it some times happened , he quitted us after a winter dinner to embark in the boat that passes in the night time from Venice to Padua , and we furnished him with any trifle to render his voyage less uncomfortable , he thought , as we did , that he amply repaid us by an affectionate promise to take care of himself. He loved to hear opinions , and in appearance adopted most readily those which flowed from the most scanty sources. Real weakness he was always very cautions of mortifying. To some , whom he really esteemed,he was even clamorous for advice , yet sure to reject it the moment it was offered. Some days afterwards he would make amends by accepting it for some new reasons of his own or by disapproving of it upon reasonable grounds. The surest way of VIII gaining his heart was to shew him in a book some passage connected with the subject then under his consideration ; the advice was , in this case , more solid and less personal. Such was his natural disposition to benevolence , that if his mind was galled by the slightest degree of partial resentment , it was an infectious poison that tainted all his humours and disqualified him utterly for social enjoyment. Thus provoked and disabled he sometimes condemned himself to gloomy solitude , and, when elegant houses and tables invited him , lived for months in a coarseness and penury of diet that the poorest man in England would disdain. Invitatus ad hæc aliquis de ponte negabit. The readiest , ifnot the only , way ofrecalling him from this voluntary exile was to ask some favor ofhim. When an opportunity of being serviceable presented itself, the impetuosity of that desire erased from the tablet of his me→ mory every other sentiment. He loved frequently to balance his accounts of sentimental obligation , and , finding himself sometimes really and often , from the liberality of his own imagination , on the debtor side , he was per- is petually on the wing to shew his gratitude. He was rigorously attached to truth , and so convinced of the verity of his own stories and explanations , that nothing could offend him more than to praise his invention. I am sorry that so high an authority as Madam Albrizzi has , in her Portraits , asserted the contrary. was , He had very high notions of the rights and privileges offriendship. When his work « Sur l'origine et progrès des arts de la Grèce » was yet but a Manuscript , he shewed it to one of his friends , who objected to some fact or some opinion. The dispute was vehement , as it always on his part. When he arrived at his own lodgings , he thought that he had been in the wrong. He considered that his friend was a good friend , while the book might be bad ; but , even if it were a good book , it could not possibly be worth a good friend. Upon this evidence the work was condemned ; he burnt it with great composure , and the next morning repaired in triumph to the field ofdispute , to give an account of the process and its termination. To oblige that friend , he wrote it over again , and such was his impatience to Χ allay the anxiety occasioned , that some of its defects must be attributed to that motive. He once said to me , that he could hardly tell whether he had been a rational Christian or not , in the earlier part of his life ; but that he was so upon immoveable grounds of conviction , since he had examined and explained the Theology of Rafael. I got possession of all his papers relative to Rafael in the month of February 1806 , for which purpose I was obliged to remain at Venice , when the French supplanted the Austrian government in that city. I had scarcely time to arrange them properly , before I was arrested , teased and dragged about , under the escort of guards and nonsense , till I was , at last , settled with some degree of tranquillity in Cremona. I carried his works on Giotto's painting along with me , which , wanting revision , I put into form , with some intention of printing them on my return to Padua ; but , being then a prisoner , I was unable to pay for the engravings ; nor did I think it right , afterwards , to accept of an offer from Napoleon's government to have them executed for me. I knownot if his Privy Counsellor Scopulo , who XI who made to me the communication , be at this moment alive , but I shall always think the offer extremely liberal in every branch of the Administration , in the Emperor , the Viceroy and their Counsellors of State. If ever this book should meet the eye ofthose individuals who, in Cremona , Padua and Venice soothed my ill humour and afflictions , I hope they will believe me , when I tell them that every pulsation of my heart is that of my gratitude.

THE HELICON. MOUNT HELICON in Baotia was , according to Pausanias , the most agreeable of all the mountains ofGreece. The beauty ofthe grounds and groves was unrivaled ; the fountains of Aganippe and Hippocrene supplied , to those who drank of them , that inspiration which Hesiod received at the ear from the rustling leaves of its consecrated laurels. The Aloides first founded here the worship of the Muses , who were then only three , Meditation , Memory and Song. When their number was increased to nine , they bare not only each a particular name , but formed a corporation under the title of Heliconides or the daughters of Heliand the mountain itself was called the Temple of the Muses , where their statues and 3 * con , 2 THE HELICON. altars were seen , along with those of Apollo their conductor. It was here also that public bodies or individuals erected statues to the honour of celebrated poets or musicians. No poisonous plant could grow, or venomous reptile live , within this sacred precinct , which seemed to be a guarantee that no impurity could ever stain with dishonour those embellishing and ornamental arts , which were intended to promote the interests of morality. I must here take the liberty of opposing tradition,and deny that this painting represents Mount Parnassus, which was a mountain of a different description , arid, stony and disagreeable , in the district of Phocis. In Mount Helicon , and not in Parnassus , was a cave or grotto dedicated to Linus the oldest Lyric poet of Greece. The site , which Rafael was compelled to occupy with this painting, is a lateral wall ofthe chamber, indented by a window cut to a great depth, according to the measure and thickness ofthe walls which support the immensity of such a structure as the Vatican. The Grotto of Linus is therefore represented by this window , and we can not to much admire the art of that admirable Genius , who was able to convert a local defor- THE HELICON. 3 mity into a rational ornament and illustration of his subject. The talents of Linus for Poetry and Music were so extraordinary , that they excited the jealousy and vengeance of Apollo , which occasioned his death , and Rafael has represented in a bas-relief, on one ofthe uprights ofthe window two figures pouring a libation on the tomb of Linus , while the fate of Marsyas is seen on the opposite side. These are harsh proofs of the potency of that Divinity who sits above them ; but , by painting the arms of Julius only on the transverse , under the figures of Apollo and the Muses , he has attributed to the Pope the inclination of Apollo to patronize the arts , along with the milder power and beneficial influence of the heathen deity. It was usual in Greece , so late as the time of the Antonines , to celebrate the anniversary of Linus , by sacrificing to him within the Grotto , and the most celebrated poets were then assembled to support their pretensions to superior merit by a recital of their compositions. Sappho is here represented at the entrance of the Grotto , as opening the festival. She wrote a poem entitled Oetolinus , or the misfortunes of Linus , which was for a long time sung upon 4 THE HELICON. that occasion , and which she is now unfolding. This circumstance gives her a peculiar claim to the seat which she occupies ; though , in representing her , the Painter has attended princi pally to the high tone of passion which animates the celebrated fragment preserved by Longinus and translated into every modern language of Europe. Her loose attire and disordered hair , her inflamed complexion and irregularity of feature shew the agitation of her spirit. Every fibre vibrates , every nerve trembles. It is the rapture of genius that struggles with the impetuosity oflove , not to suppress but to heighten each other. Why her eye is now fixed on Corinna , perhaps a specific motive might be assigned by those who are familiar with the history of Lesbos. Boileau , Addison and the other translators of Sappho must , I think , yield the palm to Rafael , who , in his language , has given us the very image , mark and pressure of the original. Of the four figures near Sappho , the most prominent and relieved is Pindar , who is known by the magnificence of his dress , vastly superior in this respect to all the rest , except Homer's. Pindar converses with Corinna , THE HELICON. 5 and has his head a litle shaded , in allusion to their contentions for the prize of poetry at Thebes , in which she was five times victorious. He is likewise placed a little lower than his Antagonist , though he steps with an apparent ambition to surpass her. We see that he listens with respect to her advice , which she seems to communicate with an amiable candour. Pindar was the author of many works that are lost , and wrote seventeen Tragedies and a Treatise on Politics . He is the bearer of two volumes. That in his left hand contains perhaps, some ofthose pieces whichwere brought forward in his unsuccessful competitions with Corinna , while the book in his right contains the odes that are the basis of his fame , and , apparently in the opinion of Corinna herself, give him the privilege of approaching to the height where Homer stands. Pausanias , speaking of Corinna , describes a portrait of her in Tanagra her native town , in which her head was bound with a fillet resembling a diadem , to shew the victories which she had gained as a poetical gladiator. That fillet is here exchanged for a laurel wreath. From her portrait , he judged her to be the handsomest woman 6 THE HELICON. of the time in which he lived , and , in looking at her now , we readily approve his taste. Dicæarchus , an antient author , says , that the Theban Women were generally tall, well made , with light hair and fair complexion , and the portrait drawn here by Rafael is in conformity with this description. I do not suppose that Rafael knew of this passage , for he probably copied the physiognomy of Laura , the favorite theme of Petrarca , that he might honour his countryman with a place in this group of immortal Lyrics. In separating him from his natural station among the moderns on the other side , he has given him an excuse for leaving his friends , to have the pleasure of approaching a person that brought her to his recollection. The words of Dicæarchus will give pleasure to every scholar , because there is a real foundation in history for this resemblance , and Laura might have passed for a native ofThebes. The laurel crown of Corinna would have strengthened this natural fancy in Petrarca , who perpetually mingles in his verses these two objects of his affection . Petrarca has the monastic hood and can not be mistaken , as his portrait has been multiplied by many copies of THE HELICON. 7 of that which his friend Simon Memmi made of him, when he was crowned Prince of the poets at Rome. The Laurel tree , by which he is shaded , is the loftiest in the woods of Helicon , and , under it , Petrarca formed his perfect stile of harmony. Corinna gives this foreigner an opportunity of studying her beauties and excellencies , as well as those of Pindar , while she is paying proper attention to her respectable countryman. She points with two of her fingers , to Archilochus the inventor of Lyric poesy , and to Homer , as the model of sublime and elegant diction . Pindar received the title ofPrince of the Lyric poets , as Homer did of the Heroic , and , on that account , they both are clothed by the Painter with all the magnificence that drapery can bestow. Archilochus is here represented as the inventor ofnew rhythms in music and new metres in poetry , not as the author of the furious Iambics in which he wrapt his malignity. Perhaps , in the general character of his features , some degree of a spiteful and vindictive spirit may be discovered ; but , as the conversation between Corinna and Pindar is favorable to him , he appears now in the 4 8 THE HELICON. best tempered light , and seems to offer precedency to both of them. By this delicate management , Rafael has preserved his priority in point of time , while he insinuates , that he was surpassed by those who composed after him. The malignant and insupportable calumnies of Archilochus are indeed almost proverbially known , and were carried to such excess , that they provoked an abused enemy to deprive him of his life. The Pythian priestess condemned his assassin to some penalties of expiation , because Archilochus was a man sacred to the Muses. We are now in their temple , and he is therefore represented, only as possessed ofthose ornamental qualities , which secured to him their protection. By thus placing the finest Lyric poets at the entrance of the grotto of Linus , the inventor of that species of poetry , Rafael has unequivocally shewn his intention of representing this excavation of the mountain by the window ofthe chamber ; according to the positive assertion. of Pausanias , that it existed in Mount Helicon. The front of the rock , which is excavated , presents a steep precipice , to shew the difficulty of reaching the summit reserved for THE HELICON. of that which his friend Simon Memmi made of him, when he was crowned Prince of the poets at Rome. The Laurel tree , by which he is shaded , is the loftiest in the woods of Heliand , under it , Petrarca formed his perfect stile of harmony. 9 Corinna gives this foreigner an opportunity of studying her beauties and excellencies , as well as those of Pindar , while she is paying proper attention to her respectable countryman. She points with two of her fingers , to Archilochus the inventor of Lyric poesy , and to Homer , as the model of sublime and elegant diction. Pindar received the title of Prince of the Lyric poets , as Homer did of the Heroic , and , on that account , they both are clothed by the Painter with all the magnificence that drapery can bestow. Archilochus is here represented as the inventor of new rhythms in music and new metres in poetry , not as the author of the furious Iambics in which he wrapt his malignity. Perhaps , in the general character of his features , some degree of a spiteful and vindictive spirit may be discovered ; but , as the conversation between Corinna and Pindar is favorable to him , he appears now in the 4 10 THE HELICON.. clares the divine excellence of his poetry. Nothing here can be compared to the dignity of his countenance and character. His tunique is of gold ; his royal mantle of celestial blue , lined with white , embroidered with variety of splendor. He reigns with absolute sway on the mountain of the Muses. His blindness , instead of disfiguring his countenance , displays his own inexhaustible fountains of light and intellect ; unassisted by sight , he embraces the universe with the grasp of fancy , and objects , invisible to himself, are presented by him with a grace and vivacity of colouring , that robs sight of its exclusive privilege. Homer, clothed in all the majesty of nature , gives issue to a bursting strain of harmony, which fires the auditors with his own rapture, and mingles extasy with attention. There is , under the laurel nearest to him, a young man who listens , collects and copies his effusions. He is not a poet , because he is uncrowned , but has the appearance of being the attendant and secretary of him who sings. We know, that , in Greece , many persons earned their livelihood by copying Homer's poems , and , as the poet was blind , it was necessary THE HELICON. 9 heroic poetry. Very few indeed have reached it , and Homer , by his superior elevation , shews that he is without a rival. He is placed on a level with Apollo and the Muses themselves. All the poets are below him , and only two are suffered to approach him. Dionisius of Halicarnassus says , « He had no model to copy , and no imitator has yet been able to copy him. He is the splendor of the Sun himself, of whose supremacy none can be jealous » . The highest honours were paid to him by all antiquity , and the study ofhis works not only formed the taste of every eminent writer , but even served to give a legislative authority to Solon and Lycurgus. By carefully diffusing his works over their respective cities , they gained popularity enough , to ensure obedience to the laws which they enacted. The most celebrated artists drewfrom him , not only proper subjects , but the very form and expression , that gave perennial fame to themselves and their monuments. Rafael has therefore dressed him in a royal robe , and made him superior to human nature. The leaves of his laurel wreath take the shape of luminous rays, like the garland of Apollo himself, which de4* 12 THE HELICON, the marbles of Arundel assign as the age of Homer. Solon and Pisistratus , assisted by Aristarchus and Zenodotus , arranged them in their present order , and , excluding all other poems , ordered them alone to be sung in the great processions of the Panathenaa. The accurate corrections of Aristotle prepared a perfect copy for his pupil Alexander , and they seemed to be then only worthily enshrined , when , after the conquest of the east , they were placed in the precious casket of Darius. Virgil occupies the second place in the rank of poets , and is placed near to Homer , but is far from possessing the same dignity. He is a little sunburnt, and seems to have a plainness , too little removed from rusticity , for the accomplished elegance of his versification. Perhaps in this character we peruse the author of the Georgics. His mantle of verdant green may allude to the livery of those pasture lands where , in imitation of Theocritus , he assembled the peasants and shepherds of his Bucolics. But his finger points to the Epic muse to whose patronage he asserts his claim , by the majestic march of the Æneid. Dante, to whom Virgil's face is turned , as- THE HELICON. 13 cends the mountain with a slow and timid step , as if diffident of himself. He is lower than Virgil , whom he took for his model , but not at a great distance from Homer and the Latin poet. He approaches Virgil with respect , acknowledges him to be his master , and intreats him to be his guide , in the same words which he addressed to him in the first Canto of the Inferno , and which Rafael has transfused into the language of painting. Virgil consents , and, from the movement of his hand , may be supposed to select and point to the Muse of Comedy , as well as of that ofEpic poetry , thereby shewing Dante the road he is to take , to reach them both ; for his poem is , in it's character , Epic , though published under the title ofthe Divina Commedia. Dante's dress , different from that of the Greek and the Latin poet , is an accurate representation of the costume of Florence in the XIIth and XIVth centuries ; and the whole of his deportment distinguishes the sober piety of Christian theology , from the bustle of the political Æneid and the ecstasies of pagan mythology. Behind Virgil is the head of Ariosto , expressing a fanciful and inattentive stare. He 14 THE HELICON. is placed at a distance from Homer , nor does he enter into conversation with Virgil or Dante , for neither of them had served as his model. He appears to be one of their suite , rather than in their company , and stands apparently unconnected with the splendor that surrounds him. He is represented by his biographer , as of a melancoly temper , fond of solitude and meditation. Such is the character of the portrait , painted when he was about thirty one years of age , and almost thirty years before his life was written. His splendid imagination and detailed sublimity give him a right , in point of genius , to be placed among the Epic poets ; but his inclination to amuse with diversity of subjects and his rejection of unity of action , exclude him from a station in their line of array , and he is placed , as it were , alone , because his great work is so singularly constituted , as to defy association with any known species of composition. Rafael has thus shewn his personal attachment to this champion of chivalry, this leader of romantic poets into the wild regions ofimpossible adventure , without exceeding the limits of a just criticism. Poetry, THE HELICON. 15 Poetry , here represented , comprises the modern as well as the ancient. For that reason " Rafael thought himself justified in introducing a modern instrument along with those in use among the ancients. This sort of violin , invented about the time of Rafael , afterwards improved , and acknowledged as superior to all other instruments for leading an orchestra , and giving the tone to symphony , he has placed in the hands of Apollo himself, as the ancients would have donc , if they had been acquainted with its excellence. It was not vulgarized in the days of Rafael as it is at present ; and the Bellini , before him , had acknowledged its superior value , by placing one , somewhat similar , in the hands of Angels , as Dominichino and Guido have likewise since done , in their celestial concerts upon the Cælian hill. There is , in the inclination of Apollo's head , an indication of his listening to , whilst he is accompanying , the hymn of the poet , from whom he takes the tone , and whose extended fingers not only command attention , but , giving the rhythm or measure , and marking the time, indicate the species ofmusic denominat 5 16 THE HELICON . ed Enharmonic , which , as Plato informs us , was employed in the invocation of the Gods. It diffused a holy calm over the soul , and its effect is particularly marked in the countenances of Homer , Apollo and the Muse Euterpe on his left. That of the blind bard is full of solemnity and piety. In that ofApollo , are expressed celestial content and satisfaction ; while the Muse Euterpe evinces the voluptuons delight she experiences , in the fixed reverence with which she regards the God of music. Clio , seated on the right of Apollo , but turning her face to the instrument she holds , shews that history does not want inspiration , and looks principally to the business of human life. Her right of conferring immortality on mortals is announced by her trumpet, which she grasps with the authority of absolute dominion. The exact simplicity of her hair and dress is set forth with all the delicate nicety required from historians , in the arrangement of those actions and events that form their subject. Her beauty has a grave betoken- and masculine character , ing strong sense and discretion. Her dress is white , to express truth ard candor , and sle THE HELICON. 17 is seated at her ease , because meditation and study require tranquillity and conveniences. For a different reason the active and impassioned Melpomene is standing , and , by being exclusively attentive to Clio , she informs us , that the tragic Muse should take all her subjects from the Muse of history. Employing for her principal agents none but persons of high rank , she is clothed in purple. The position of her hands , the one holding a tragic mask , and the other pointing to herself , shews , that , although she draws her subjects from their historical source , yet she must , by a new modification , animate the characters and communicate to them a more elevated language of her own. Near to Clio and Melpomene is Polyhymnia , possessing and communicating all the higher and deeper tones of passion , and all the varieties of harmony , Αρμονίην πάσαισι Πολύμνια δώκεν αοιδαις. The colour of her robe is therefore represented as assuming change of hues , according to the light in which she is placed. She appears to be about the same age with Euterpe , who presides over instrumental music , but older than 5 * 18 THE HELICON. her other sisters. As far indeed as we are enabled to trace the history of Greek poetry , song and instrumental music were never separated from it. Linus , Amphion and Orpheus were all poets , singers , instrumental musicians. and , likewise , legislators , philosophers and theologians. This shews the greater antiquity of song and music , for , though Hesiod in fact ascribes to the Muses the office of chanting laws and religious rites , yet we must suppose that more trifling suhjects , not deemed so worthy of being recorded , first engaged the attention of mankind. Uniting herself closely to Polyhymnia , and leaning affectionately on her shoulder , stands the young Muse Terpsichore , who seems to acknowledge , that she is indebted to her sister for the regulated measure of her steps , and that , without her support , she has no station in society. Though the dance , gay or grave , can not exist without musical measure , yet all the varied powers of Polyhymnia are independent of the dance ; for which reason , she does not appear to return the embrace of Terpsichore. The first , who presents herself on the other THE HELICON. 19 side of the laurel , is the tender and affectionate Erato , who derives her name from Eros , the Greek title of Cupid. Her hair is bound with an ornamented fillet , and collected into a knot , on the crown of her head , as he is often represented on the antient medals. She is in the bloom of youth , and in her countenance is perceived a sort of secret sentiment which she scarcely seems to comprehend , and which the God of Love can alone explain to her. She is looking indeed at Apollo , but has her head turned towards Terpsichore her sympathetic friend , and the companion of her pleasures. Erato presides over the poetry that love so copiously inspires ; and almost immediately over her , on the summit of the arch , a Cupid is placing on his own head a crown of victory and pleasure , which reminds us of the exquisite touches in the songs of Sappho , Anacreon , Catullus and Ovid . As the Erotical poem of this last author is particularly dedicated to the Muse Erato , and as he succeeded in his amour with Julia , the niece of Augustus Cæsar , in consequence of her assistance , the « Art of Love » may be the volume which she seems half concealing in her bosom. 20 THE HELICON. " Next to Erato is placed Thalia , who , in her character of the comic Muse looks abroad into human society for something to copy. Her head is inclined , as if she sought the best light for well surveying the original , which her masterly pencil means to pourtray , without being perceived by the object of her criticism. Her countenance exhibits a natural vivacity with a certain slyness of mimicry without malice , obvious to every one but to the subject of her mirth. Adopting imaginary portraits and feigned names , she exposes those general defects which disfigure the face of society without holding up to public scorn the personal failings of any individual. She has in her right hand a mask , taken from vulgar life , and torn from hypocrisy and dissimulation. Her head dress is that of the lower order of females ; for , to make a particular application of her raillery less possible , she copies only the middle and lower classes of life , which are neither known to history or fame. The heroic Calliope is placed by her side 9 who derives her name from the lofty language of Epic poetry. Her countenance is full of an awful beauty , while the ornaments ofher hair THE HELICON. 21 and the magnificence of her dress are much beyond the rest , in artifice and stateliness. Homer is dressed like a king , and she as a queen , a title expressly given her by Horace. He invokes Calliope as a Goddess , at the commencement of the Iliad , and only as a Muse , when he begins the Odyssey , to distinguish the less dignified character of the latter. She is placed at a distance from him , to shew, that he is now neither engaged in reciting the Iliad nor the Odyssey , but one of his own hymns to the Gods , once so celebrated thronghout Greece. She has a round shield , like that of Achilles , hanging by a clasp from her girdle , which Rafael perhaps selected , as the most interesting passage to the arts that can be found in his works , or for a general reason , because war is the proper subject of Epic poetry. " Calliope looks with an air of protection on some modern poets , who are seen on the declivity of the mountain , and have reached it by a path recently discovered. Rafael has taken occasion to place here a certain number of his own friends , distinguished for poetical talent , to whom Calliope indicates the region , and the promise of immortality. 22 THE HELICON. In this action of the Muse's hand , he has united the sublime in painting to the expression of his friendship , and has done for his friends , what Homer has done for his heroes , without servilely copying him. The names of all the Muses are expressed by the character of their figures. The mostmajestic marks, by her greatness , the superior loftiness of her thoughts and the sublimer objects of her studies. Urania considers the phanomena ofheaven , with the courses of the stars and planets , and declares astronomy to be the noblest and most useful of all the sciences. Looking in a direction contrary to the God of light , because she applies to her studies in the night time , she turns to the north. Astronomers look in that direction , to observe the Lesser Bear which never sinks into the ocean , and the Pole Star , which guides the mariner in his way ; and whose uses were taught to him by this Muse of sublimity and sky. Her deportment is taciturn and solemn ; her constitution strong and vigorous , to support the fatigues of her deep researches , and to bear the severe suffering of nightly cold and watching. She is not so delicate , either in appearance or THE HELICON. 23 or dress , as her sisters. Her robes , for she has two , are of a coarser material , to guard her from rain and frost. Her features , seen only in profile , are of a more rustic kind , and her limbs large , to indure toil and hardships. Her hands are concealed , as are her labours , and her visage is in the shade , because the most important results of her astronomical calculations depend on observations made in the night. The divisions ofthe sphere are to be traced in the arrangement of her hair , whose plaitings particularly represent , in their directions , the Equator , the obliquity ofthe Ecliptic , and the Meridian. On the left of Apollo is seated the Muse Euterpe , to whom Polyhymnia especially dedicates the care of instrumental music. With an air of indifference she places her lyre on her lap , and seems so totally wrapt in admiration of the powers of the God of music on the newly invented instrument , that she has suspended herresolution to accompany the song ofHomer. The gradations to the form ofthe instrument are intended to be shewn , by the difference between the lyre of Euterpe , and the Lesbian lute of Sappho. 6 24 THE HELICON In that poet , who is placed near Euterpe, and , with his finger upon his lips , addresses the expression to the person below him , with the superiority of some higher and delegated power , we may recognise Horace , who promises , in his first Ode , to become a great Lyric bard , unless she debars him from the use of her double Pipe. The face is copied from a bust of him , once possessed bythe Cesi family at Rome , and since transported to Bareith. Though his stature does not quite accord with the portrait of Horace , yet it was intended for him , as it was Rafael's practice to express dignity and merit by tallness of person. He is certainly a Latin poet , for he is habited in a Roman toga , which is girt round his waist , according to the usage of the inhabitants of the country in which Horace wrote his philosophical epistles , and , particularly , his art of poetry. Before we can comprehend why Horace be represented with his finger on his lips , it is necessary to become acquainted with the principal figure of the group , with which that action is closely connected. The grotto of Linus divides two classes of poets from each other , and we have already THE HELICON. shewn , that the Lyric poets are on the other side. The figure , that forms the pendant or companion to Sappho , as guarding the mouth of the cave , is of a very large size , and almost gigantic. Hesiod was born at Ascra , and reported to be descended from the Titans and from Atlas , which he himself intimates , by calling the family of his brother Perses a divine one. Pausanias tells us , that the tripod , which Hesiod had gained by a prize poem at Chalcis in Eubæa , and consecrated to the Heliconides , was still visible , in his own time , before the grotto of Linus. In the Bas-relief, called the Apotheosis of Homer which takes place on mount Helicon , this tripod and the statue of Hesiod are seen. By such prerogatives Hesiod seems to be peculiarly entitled to act with authority in this place ; but this local and circumstantial authority is not a basis grand enough, to support Rafael's conceptions. In Hesiod , who first reduced to system that species ofcomposition , he has personified the commanding attitude of didactic poetry. As the village of Ascra wes situated at the foot of Helicon , he may be supposed to be giving precepts in agriculture from his Georgics , 6 * 3 26 THE HELICON.. while he is shewing how they are exempli fied in his own fields. He is placed more im mediately under Urania , because no antient poet has equalled him in the accurate knowledge of Astronomy. His extreme old age , which Cicero calls the Hesiodea Senectus is beautifully expressed , by the whiteness of his hair , his beard and his eyebrows , and by their con-, trast with the apparent vigour of his frame. Hesiod , with the look ofa master , consider , the effect of his maxims on the person with whom he is talking. He too is crowned as a poet , and seems to be as full of complacency. and admiration, as the highest dignity and merit can justify a poet or a philosopher in exacting ; forhe approaches , as if his whole ambition were only to satisfy Hesiod's expectations. Aratus, taking Hesiod for his model, has written a didactic poem on celestial phænomena , and the prognostics founded upon them: which subjects, reduced to practice , are the labours ofagriculture regulated by the science of astronomy. There is no difference of opinion or language between them. They are in perfect concord , as becomes countrymen and friends. The person, near them , is not so completely of their THE HELICON. 27 party. Hesiod had been reproved by the more delicate theologians of paganism , for speaking with too much liberty of religious mysteries ; aud Horace (who has a double cord round his neck , as a mark of initiation in the mysteries of Ceres) , is here declaring his abhorrence of those who should betray the secret of the Eleusinian Goddess. « With such » 9 says he, « I « should not have courage to sail in the same « vessel , or sleep under the same roof ». The expression is however so far equivocal , that he may be either imposing silence on another , or on himself; and they are both perhaps forcibly illustrated, by the resolution to follow a different line of conduct; not to meddle with mythological theogony , but to write his Art of poetry. He is here not as a lyric , but as a didactic poet , and the stature of Hesiod , Aratus and Horace are raised to the level of that authority. The disapprobation of Hesiod , expressed by Horace , was introduced by Rafael for a special purpose. Hesiod is seated , and pointing to the inhabited space below him. Such is the position ofMarforio , in the Capitol of Rome. When this picture was painted , many and violent 28 THE HELICON . satires were dispersed in Rome against Julius the second , who was never very popular. This abuse of the supreme Pontiff bears an immediate analogy to the impiety of talking too freely on religious subjects ; and , to check this political insolence , it was proper that the reproof should come from Horace the best teacher of human prudence , that had , at that. time , been a candidate for the honours of Parpassus. This allusion connects the antients with the moderns , to whom we now pass. Immediately before the laurel tree , is a young female , who has gained the poetical crown , at an age , when few have risen at all into distinction. Calliope is looking particularly towards her. This ladyis Vittoria Colonna , celebrated as well for her knowledge of astronomy , as her talents forpoetry. She was married , at the age offourteen , to the accomplished Marquis of Pescara , who afterwards so much distinguished himself in the war carried on in Italy , between Francis the first and Charles the fifth . They were the most attractive objects of notice , even before they were married , although they were not then more than fifteen years old , having been… THE HELICON. 29 both born in the same year. Vittoria was already considered , as the most successful imitator of Petrarch , after whose time , the poetical reputation of Italy had , for nearly a century and a half , been fading in brightness. To her example many Italian authors , and Muratori in particular , have attributed the revival of sentimental and pathetic versification. Some of her works , says the Librarian of Modena would do honour to the highest genius ; and Crescembini informs us , that they were mentioned with the epithet of divine. The celebrated Cardinal Pole , was , to the day of her death , her most confidential friend. Ariosto has almost deified her ; and her fame is still flourishing, as it was , when Bernardo Tasso wrote an ode to her memory. " In this picture , she is placed near the laurel , in a manner similar to her admired Petrarch , probably to insinuate , that she endeavoured to replace him. Rinaldo Corso is represented close to Vittoria , as Petrarch is , to Corinna , meditating in silence on her wonderful career , while she is engaged in conversation with another person. He commented her works with great care , and expresses the highest andmiration of • 30 THE HELICON. their beauties. He was an able mathematician and philosopher , as well as poet , and conversant with all sorts of polite literature. He is dressed in his sacerdotal character , and terminated his life when Bishop of Stromboli. Giacomo Sannazzaro was faithfully attached to Frederic the second , King of Naples , and accompanied him into France , at the time that he was obliged to take refuge there. He returned from thence , about four years before this picture was painted in 1511. He is still faithful to the Muses , and speaks to Vittoria with so earnest an address , as if he knew that the Marquis of Pescara , her husband , would one day be solicited to take the crown which Ferdinand had lost. But these things hap pened afterwards , and he is therefore only earnestly supplicating her to pursue the course which she has already so happily begun. He cultivated Latin poetry with singular success , no portion of which is better known than his Epigram on Venice. Alas ! the glory ofthis city's appearance is no longer the same. When these observations on the portrait of Sannazaro were made , if the author raised his eye from the paper, he looked only on enemies of Venice , THE HELICON. 31 Venice , the recent destroyers of that republic , who told him , that the soul ofthe city was fled , and that , in a very few years , her magnificent palaces and towers would be buried in her Lagunes. This group of moderns was selected to display the merit ofVittoria Colonna in particular. She was the daughter of Anna di Montefeltro , whose father was Frederic Duke of Urbino , and consequently she was nearly related to Julius the second. The honours paid to her therefore by the artist could not be too exalted , and , accordingly , we find , near her , a relation of her own, who had the greatest respect and affection for her. Rafael has given him a very considerable degree of importance by his manner of representing him. His nether robe is of violet , such as is worn by the Prelates of the Roman church ; and his rich mantle , of a red colour approaching to that worn by the Cardinals , shews the importance of this individual. His dignified demeanor , his high stature , his martial attitude and character , might perhaps suit a warrior , and such indeed Pompeio Colonna, whom we see here , really was in the early part of his life ; which profession he 7. 32 THE HELICON. afterwards quitted for that of the church , much against his own inclination , but obliged to do so , to preserve in his family the rich ecclesiastical preferment held by his uncle the Cardinal Giovanni. Pompeio was not made a Cardinal till the year 1517 by Leo the tenth , but it was not difficult for Rafael to foresee , that his powerful interest would one day raise him to that dignity. He has therefore covered his prelate's dress not exactly with a Cardinal's robe , but with a mantle of more dignity than the violet cope. He was the author of some verses that were much admired , but , as he acknowledged the superior genius of Vittoria, he laid aside his poetry to write in prose a book entitled « Le Lodi delle Dame >> or A Panegyric on meritorious Ladies. By his position , he shews that he is more attached to Vittoria than to the whole chorus ofthe Muses, though he turns his head from his relation , only to publish to all mankind her superior modesty and talents. In his enthusiasm he proclaims her to be the honour of her house , her rank , her country and her age. The last of all the figures painted here is Balthazar Castiglione. On his first entrance THE HELICON. 33 into notice , he presented himself to the public in the character of a Latin Poet , and succeeded so well , that he was honoured with the name of the modern Virgil. They were both born in the territory of Mantua. The order of the composition not permitting the Artist to arrange Castiglione near to Virgil , he has however, to express the glorious name given. to his friend , placed him between Horace and Sannazzaro , the one the greatest admirer of the ancients , and the latter their most strenuous imitator among the moderns. Castiglione afterwards cultivated the poetry of his own language and was considered as one of its most illustrious restorers. For this reason he appears upon Mount Helicon , in the train of Vittoria Colonna , who was honoured , about this time , as the Italian Muse , the great leader of the whole chorus of song. She is placed on higher ground than Sappho and Corinna , to neither of whom Calliope promises an immortal seat in the abode of heroes. Castiglione however , though a professed courtier , and author of a book prescribing rules of prudence for courtly conduct , is less taken up with obeisance to the 7 * 34 THE HELICON. principal figure in the group , than any of the rest. His attention was divided among a variety of objects ; he was skilful and profound in political management ; in literature , his learning was only surpassed by his powers of criticism ; in the productions of art , his judgement was so respected , that Rafael was never satified with public or private applause , until it was confirmed by the decision ofhis intimate friend Castiglione. If he really merited this deference and respect , our contemporaries must be wrong in ascribing to Michael Angelo anything like an equality of genius. For Castiglione , on the death of Rafael , emphatically said , that Rome was become a desart ; that the scholars which he himself had left , and the school of Buonarroti d splayed , in comparison , only a variety of barrenness. One observation of Aquila the engraver is worth repeating , because it is made in the spirit of the artist. He says , that the laurels of the mountain have been exceedingly thinned , because the poets are few who deserve to be crowned. The science however of Rafael THE HELICON, 35 never entered his head. The laurel of the Lyric poets has a large and ancient trunk , because eirs is the oldest species of poetry. Those f Apollo , though really prior to them all , ure of a less size , on account of his perpetual youth; and are planted in a number equal to the four Epic poets , who are the dignitaries of Apollo's court. The last are young, for the moderns, and are two only , for those members perhaps of the Colonna family who are present on this occasion. That family has always produced the best patrons of art ; and , not only from the richness of their galleries , from their more than princely generosity , merit distinction on Mount Helicon ; but particularly , because they possess that splendid ancient monument, the Apotheosis of Homer. CADEN

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