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“Omnia Romanæ cedent miracula terrae :
Natura hic posuit quidquid ubique fuit.
Armis apta . . . . . tellus.”—PRoPERTIus, III. Eleg., 22, 17–20.

Not so far from the western coast of Italy as to be land-locked against the intercourse and the enterprise whose paths are on the sea, nor yet so near as to be exposed to the perils and the piracies with which the waters swarmed in early times, there rose a group of seven hills, by which the river Tiber flowed, swift and winding, to the Mediterranean. The hills were neither large nor lofty; but as they stood, covered with rank and rugged vegetation, and flanked with rocks, on some sides steep as precipices, they must often have attracted the herdsman harassed by losses, or the rover weary of forays, by the security of their situation. Below and between them lay some scanty patches of more level ground, of which a large portion was primitively unfit either for habitation or for cultivation, partly on account of its own swampy character, and partly because the adjoining river would often pour over it in inundation. The more untenable the lower ground, the more defensible was the higher; and so much were the hills separated from one another by the natural moats at their bases, that each might have been originally occupied by a different band, with comparatively little danger to the least numerous or the worst fortified. It was inevitable, however, that, as the trees which grew like walls upon the hills were felled, and as the huts crept downward when the narrow summit was overcharged with dwellings, the various settlements, exposed to one another's sight and trespassing on one another's possessions, would be united, by consent or conquest, into a single city. The names of the seven hills were given them by the Romans, after years, as we shall presently perceive, of which we have no actual history; but for the sake of simplicity, they may be here introduced as if they belonged to the earlier period. As near as any to the centre was the Capitoline, with its Tarpeian cliff, the immovable stronghold,' as it was called, to which the other hills were like dependent outposts. Across a lake or pool, where lay the solid and stormy Forum in after times, rose the Palatine, originally, it would seem, the more defensible hill, inasmuch as it was this which the Arcadians occupied, according to the legend, and this on which Romulus marked out his walls. Nearer the river stood the large Aventine; while, on the opposite side of the Palatine, were ranged almost abreast the Coelian, the Esquiline, the Viminal, and the Quirinal, all of which successively abutted upon the valley common on the other side to the Palatine and the Capitoline. But at their farther extremities, the hills last mentioned scarcely rose above the neighbouring plain, and left an opening, as it were, to the incursions from which the Romans would otherwise have been almost entirely protected. These names, perhaps, sufficiently describe the relations of the hills one to another; and with the aid of a plan, or, better still, of memory, the reader will easily observe the similitude of their appearance and position to an assemblage of fortresses, which, when once joined together, might be held by warriors to the terror of the entire country round. This neighbouring territory was as peculiar in its nature as that of the hills. It would be unsafe to describe it as if it were the Campagna of the modern city, from which the waste of centuries has stricken the verdure that once nestled on the earth, as well as the foliage that waved and rustled through the air. But the forms which the earth wore and the hues with which the air was beautified are still the same, at least in general appearance, as in ancient days. The undulations of the ground on either side the seven hills were precisely such as would attract a warlike or a migratory people to build their cabins

1 “Immobile saxum.” AEn., IX. 448.

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