276 V. Right Bank. ROME. Ponte S. Angelo.
atone ubi deficisset dies, in usum nocturni luminis urerentur.' Tacitus,
xiv 44 ) On the ruins of the ancient walls thus hallowed by the first
great martyrdoms at Rome sprang up the Church of St. Peter in the
immediate neighbourhood of which paganism maintained its footing with
greater obstinacy than in any other part of the city. Not tar from the
church was situated a highly revered shrine of Mithras, the god ot the
sun the monuments in whose honour are proved by inscriptions to extend
doWn to the year 390. Another circumstance which tended to shape the
future of this part of the city was the erection by Hadrian of his gigantic.
Tomb on the bank of the river. This monument was afterwards converted
into a tete-de-pont, but at what date is uncertain. In 537 it effectually
repelled the attacks of the Goths, and since that period it has constituted
the citadel of Rome, commonly called the Castle of S. Angelo, on the
possession of which the mastery over the city has always depended.
Around the Church of St. Peter sprang up a number of chapels, churches,
monasteries, and hospitals, and in the pontificate of Symmachus (496-514)
a papal palace also. Foreign pilgrims soon began to establish settlements
here named scholae, or borghi, of which in the 8th cent, four are men¬
tioned in history, viz. those of the Saxons (i.e. English), the Frisians,
the Lombards, and the Franks, who in time of war formed separate
companies of soldiers. In order to protect the whole of this region
against the predatory incursions of the Saracens, Leo IV. surrounded it,
in 848-52 with a wall 40 ft. in height, and thus became the founder
of the Civitas Leonina named after him. This quarter of the city was
repeatedly destroyed during the conflicts of the middle ages, as on the
occasion of the retreat of Henry V. before Robert Guiscard in 1084, and
when the Castle of S. Angelo was destroyed by the Romans in 1379. A
new era in the history of the Borgo began with the return of the popes
from Avignon; streets gradually sprang up; and the walls were con¬
siderably extended. Eugene IV. and Sixtus IV. were particularly active
in developing the Borgo, and it attained the height of its prosperity in
the pontificate of Julius II. and Leo X. at the beginning of the 16th
century. The papal court, however, was unable permanently to attract
the business nf the city to its neighbourhood, and a sparse and poor
population, engaged in the humbler branches of trade, now lives beneath
the shadow of the most famous church and the most imposing palace in
Christendom. Down to the pontificate of Sixtus V. the Borgo belonged
to the popes, and lay without the bounds of the municipal jurisdiction;
but that pope incorporated it with the city as a '7th Rione', and in the
plebiscite of 2nd Oct. 1870 the inhabitants of the Borgo declared their
desire that it should continue to form an integral part of Rome.
The bridge which crosses the river highest up is the Ponte S.
Angelo (PL 1,10), consisting of five arches, but originally of seven,
one next the land on each side being now built up. It was erect¬
ed by Hadrian in order to connect his tomb with the city in A.D.
136, and named after him Pons &lius. At the 8. end of the bridge,
on the site of two old chapels, Clement VII. erected statues of Pe¬
ter by Lorenzetto, and Paul by Paolo Romano. The ten colossal
statues of angels, formerly much admired, were executed from Ber¬
nini's designs in 1688, and testify to the low ebb of plastic taste at
that period. One angel (fourth on the right, with the cross) is er¬
roneously ascribed to Bernini himself; two executed by him for
this bridge are now in S. Andrea delle Fratte (p. 145). The bridge
commands a pleasing view of the Pincio with the Villa Medici.
From the bridge to St. Peter's is a walk of 8 min. — The bridge
leads direct to the Castello S. Angelo (PL 1, 10), which was origi¬
nally the tomb erected by Hadrian for himself and his successors