Piazza del Campidoglio. ROME. III. Southern Quarters. 229
The Central Approach, ascending in shallow steps paved with
asphalt ('la cordonnata'), leads direct to the Piazza del Campidoglio.
At the foot of the steps are copies of the Egyptian Lions mentioned
at p. 236, and at the top a group of the horse-taming Dioscuri, which
once stood near the theatre of Balbus. In the gardens to the left is
a Bronze Statue of Cola di Rienzo, by Masini. The pedestal, formed
of ancient architectural and inscribed fragments, is intended to
suggest Rienzi's antiquarian studies. He was slain at the foot of the
Aracceli steps. Higher up is a cage containing a couple of wolves
and another with an eagle.
The design of the present "Piazza del Campidoglio, or Square
of the Capitol (PL II, 20), is due to Michael Angelo, and its execu¬
tion though begun soon after 1538 was not completed until the
17th century. Michael Angelo superintended in person only the
erection of the statue of Marcus Aurelius and the construction
of the staircase-approach and of the flight of steps in front of the
palace of the Senators; the rest was executed from his plans, with
various modifications of detail, by his successors. The slanting posi¬
tion of the palaces at the sides, which causes the piazza to seem
larger than it is, is due to the situation of the earlier palace of the
Conservatori. — On the balustrade in front, adjoining the Dios¬
curi, are the so-called Trophies of Marius, admirably executed works
probably dating from the reign of Domitian (brought hither from the
water-tower of the Aqua Julia, p. 174), and the statues of the Emp.
Constantine and his son Constans from the Thermae of Constantine
(p. 169). On the right is the first milestone of the ancient Via
Appia, and. on the left the seventh, found at Torricola in 1660.
In the centre of the piazza rises the admirable *Equestrian Statue
of Marcus Aurelius (161-181), in bronze, once gilded, which stood
near the Lateran in the middle ages, and was, as the inscription
records, transferred hither in 1538. Its original position is unknown.
It owes its excellent preservation to the popular belief that it was a
statue of Constantine, the first Christian emperor (see pp. xxxiv, lv).
The height of the pedestal, which is said to have been designed by
Michael Angelo, is skilfully calculated so as to permit spectators to
inspect even the head of the statue.
Behind this monument rises the Palazzo del Senatore (PL II,
20), first mentioned as the 'Novum Palatium' (p. 226) in 1150. In
1300 it was restored and provided with a vestibule (lobium or
loggia) in two stories; and after being injured by a fire in 1354, it
was again restored by Boniface IX. in 1389. Two of the four corner
towers of Boniface's edifice are still recognizable; one at the S.E.
corner next the Forum and one at the N.W. corner in the Via del
Campidoglio. The handsome flight of steps is by Michael Angelo (see
above). The facade, slightly altered from Michael Angelo's design,
was constructed by Girol. Rainaldi (1592). The river-gods which
adorn it are the Tiber (right) and Nile (left); in the centre is a foun-