Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 2.djvu/453

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
CANTO IV.]
411
CHILDE HAROLD’S PILGRIMAGE.

CXI.

Buried in air, the deep blue sky of Rome,
And looking to the stars: they had contained
A Spirit which with these would find a home,
The last of those who o'er the whole earth reigned,
The Roman Globe—for, after, none sustained,
But yielded back his conquests:—he was more
Than a mere Alexander, and, unstained
With household blood and wine, serenely wore
His sovereign virtues—still we Trajan's[1] name adore.


    [The column was excavated by Paul III. in the sixteenth century. In 1588 Sixtus V. replaced the bronze statue of Trajan holding a gilded globe, which had originally surmounted the column, by a statue of St. Peter, in gilt bronze. The legend was that Trajan's ashes were contained in the globe. They are said to have been deposited by Hadrian in a golden urn in a vault under the column. It is certain that when Sixtus V. opened the chamber he found it empty. A medal was cast in honour of the erection of the new statue, inscribed with the words of the Magnificat, "Exaltavit humiles."]

  1. Trajan was proverbially the best of the Roman princes; and it would be easier to find a sovereign uniting exactly the opposite characteristics, than one possessed of all the happy qualities ascribed to this emperor. "When he mounted the throne," says the historian Dion, "he was strong in body, he was vigorous in mind; age had impaired none of his faculties; he was altogether free from envy and from detraction; he honoured all the good, and he advanced them: and on this account they could not be the objects of his fear, or of his hate; he never listened to informers; he gave not way to his anger; he abstained equally from unfair exactions and unjust punishments; he had rather be loved as a man than honoured as a sovereign; he was affable with his people, respectful to the senate, and universally beloved by both; he inspired none with dread but the enemies of his country." (See Eutrop., Hist. Rom. Brev., lib. viii. cap. v.; Dion, Hist. Rom., lib. lxiii. caps, vi., vii.)

    [M. Ulpius Trajanus (A.D. 52-117) celebrated a triumph