148 NATURAL HISTORY OF PRECIOUS METALS, &c.
ΙI. The Emperor appears holding the orb and the labaruni and crowned by
Victory, and surrounded by his officers, with the inscription LAEGITAS
VA-LENTINIAHI AVGVSTI. This piece is small, being but 12 inches in
diameter, and weighing 34-1/4 ounces.
discus (Naples) though the smallest of the series, being no more than
seven inches in diameter, yet far exceeds the rest both in beauty of
design and historical interest. The subject is the Death of Cleopatra.
The last queen of Egypt appears sinking backwards lifeless from her
chair into the arms of Charmion, who is enveloped from head to foot in
an ample robe of mourning; Iras, her other maid, stands opposite
wringing her hands in despair. The Genius of Death, depicted in the
guise of a Cupid with long dusky wings, bis legs crossed, his drooping
head supported upon his hand, leans against Cleopatra's knee, and by
this charming allegory unmistakably points out the meaning of the
composition. A statue of Venus Victrix stands upon a cippus in front,
below which is an altar kindled. Underneath the queen's seat is
discovered the overturned basket of fruit, inside which the asp had
been smuggled into her place of confinement. I know nothing in ancient
art more effective, or better expressive of its story than the design
of this group. It was found at Civita in 1758.
by far the most interesting of these wrecks of imperial splendour,
both as regards the nature of the relievi upon it and the circumstances
of its exhumation, is the ' Corbridge Lanx" ("preserved at Alnwick
Castle), so called from the place where it was discovered. It had been
buried together with an altar dedicated to Hercules by an inscription
in Greek hexameters, the sole example extant of the use of that
language in Britain. This differs in shape from all the foregoing,
being an oblong measuring