The Temple Of Saturn.
Awed by the memories of the place, I climbed a little elevation and stood beside eight stately columns, - sole relics of the once magnificent Temple of Saturn, erected four hundred and ninety years before the birth of Christ. I looked with reverence upon their scarred, yet polished surfaces. What men whose deeds still influence the world had, like myself, lingered within their shadow! On this, the hand of Scipio may have rested; that, may have felt the touch of Nero or of Catiline. For centuries, this shrine contained the public treasury of Rome; and it was here that Caesar, marching southward from the Rubicon, and hastening to secure the public funds abandoned by the terrified Senate, encountered the opposing figure of Metellus the Tribune.
The Arch Of Septimius Severus.
"Stand back, young man," cried Caesar, "it is easier for me to do a deed than to threaten it!"
As I stood in this historic portico, directly in front of me rose the Arch of Septimius Severus. It is now sadly mutilated; but, seventeen centuries ago, it was adorned with stately columns and statues in relief, while on the summit was a car of victory in bronze, drawn by six horses and containing the statues of Severus and his sons. The structure possessed special interest for me, since, only a few weeks before, I had seen, on the frontier of England and Scotland, the Roman wall, constructed by the Emperor Severus just five years after this gate had been erected in his honor. Summoned from Rome to crush the insurrection in the North, he was destined never to pass beneath this arch of victory, but to expire on English soil, near where now the famous York Cathedral rears its noble towers.
While we were standing here, a crowd of tourists suddenly appeared who, as they moved about from place to place, looked, with their opened black umbrellas, like a swarm of mammoth turtles. Paying, apparently, no heed to what their guide was saying, they laughed and talked incessantly. "I wonder," said my friend, "if they appreciate the fact that in this square the Romans were framing their famous laws while savages were hunting on the site of Paris, and when the Roman legions protested against being led into Britain, urging that it lay beyond the confines of the world!"
Tourists In The Forum.
Turning from the arch a few steps brought us to the ruins of a circular structure, which formerly marked the centre of old Rome and consequently the centre of the civilized world. It was the site of the famous Golden Milestone, erected by Augustus, from which distances were reckoned to every province of the Empire, - Asia Minor, Palestine, Egypt, Greece, Spain, Gaul, and Britain. To all these places had been built, save where the ocean intervened, magnificent roads which were as useful in those days as railways are to us in bringing different lands and cities into swift, sure, and uninterrupted communication. All of these military highways were furnished with milestones and post-houses at regular intervals, and were kept in perfect condition by men who deemed the office of Curator of the public roads a distinguished honor. Caesar himself was at one time Curator of the Appian Way. Even to-day, the principal roads through England pursue almost the same courses that they did sixteen hundred years ago, and the very stones which form their beds and give them their stability were laid by Roman hands. Of course the building of these thoroughfares involved enormous difficulties, the chief of which was the conquest of the tribes through whose domains the routes must pass; but how all this laborious unification of the world, and the subjugation of it to one mighty centre, promoted the advance of civilization and specially favored at that time the advent and propagation of Christianity! If Palestine had been an isolated Hebrew country then, the new religion might have perished in its cradle. As it was St. Paul had only to exclaim in Asia Minor, "I appeal to Caesar," and he was brought to Rome to plead his cause.
The Site Of The Golden Milestone.