Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 2.djvu/557

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superstition had totally expired. This may account for the preservation of the ancient image longer than the other early symbols of Paganism.

It may be permitted, however, to remark, that the wolf was a Roman symbol, but that the worship of that symbol is an inference drawn by the zeal of Lactantius. The early Christian writers are not to be trusted in the charges which they make against the Pagans. Eusebius accused the Romans to their faces of worshipping Simon Magus, and raising a statue to him in the island of the Tyber. The Romans had probably never heard of such a person before, who came, however, to play a considerable, though scandalous part in the church history, and has left several tokens of his aërial combat with St. Peter at Rome; notwithstanding that an inscription found in this very island of the Tyber showed the Simon Magus of Eusebius to be a certain indigenal god called Semo Sangus or Fidius.[1]

Even when the worship of the founder of Rome had been abandoned it was thought expedient to humour the habits of the good matrons of the city, by sending them with their sick infants to the church of Saint Theodore, as they had before carried them to the temple of Romulus.[2] The practice is continued to this day; and the site of the above church seems to be thereby identified with that of the temple; so that if the wolf had been really found there, as Winckelmann says, there would be no doubt of the present statue being that seen by Dionysius.[3] But Faunus, in saying that it was at the Ficus Ruminalis by the Comitium, is only talking of its ancient position as recorded by Pliny; and, even if he had been remarking where it was found, would not have

    which occupies four folio pages, to Andromachus the senator, and others, to show that the rites should be given up.

  1. Eccles. Hist. (Lipsiæ, 1827, p. 130), lib. ii. cap. xiii. p. 40. Justin Martyr had told the story before; but Baronius himself was obliged to detect this fable. See Nardini, Roma Vet., lib. vii. cap. xii.
  2. Accurata e succincta Descrizione, etc., di Roma moderna, dell' Ab. Ridolfino Venuti, Rome, 1766, ii. 397.
  3. Nardini, lib. v. cap. 3, ap. J. G. Græv., iv. 1143, convicts Pomponius Lætus Crassi erroris, in putting the Ruminal fig-tree at the church of Saint Theodore; but, as Livy says the wolf was at the Ficus Ruminalis, and Dionysius at the temple of Romulus, he is obliged to own that the two were close together, as well as the Luperal cave, shaded, as it were, by the fig-tree.