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About Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922 | View Entire Issue (May 19, 1912)
to;OMAiA Sunday Bee Magazine PagS
The Pierpont Morgan of Ancient Pompeit
Why He Was like J. Pierpont
He financed expeditions to other countries for rare product.
He collected wonderful bronze, paintings and other objects
He collected rare editions of Creek and Roman Books.
He loaned money to the patrieian of Rome and had special
laws made for his benefit
He was not only a patron of
art and -.' letters but loaned
portions of his collections to
His bank was the strongest
In Pompeii. ,
- Naples. May II
A MONO the amazing mass ot
' saw discoveries in ancient
Pompeii la that of banker
who may be fittingly described aa
the Pierpont Morgan of the Summer
capital ot Roman luxury.
Ha occupied the most beautiful
palace on the newly eica rated, ex
clusive portion of the 8treet of Abun
dance, which haa already been re
ferred to aa bearing jesemblence
to the most luxurious part ot New
York' fifth Avenue. Thla dlsoor
ry adds, In a highly picturesque
manner; to the resemUances be
tween Pompeii and New York pre
The Pompellan banker's name la
believed to have been Lucius CeclUus
Metellus, although there la till some
doubt about the spelling ot the name,
on account of the blurs and mutila
tions occurring wherever it has beta
found written. ' -t ' ,
A fine bust of Metellus was found
In the (reat atrium of his beautiful
house. Strange to say, he had a
large, pendulous nose, with s wart on
It Otherwise' his taoe Indicated
great intelligence, overbearing de
termination and a keen power to
enjoy all the good things ot the
flesh. Indeed, the furnishings of his
house indloate that there were few
forma of enjoyment with which be
was Sot thoroughly familiar.
It appears that at the eg of flfty-'.Vr.
nine Metellus retired from the act- i
Ira pursuit ot money-making In or
der to devote himself, like Mr. Mor
gan, to collecting precious objects of
art from all parts ot the world. The
Roman and Pompellan spendthrifts,
however, taslstodo continuing to
borrow money from him at upwards
ef eighty per eeat on the best of
security, such aa solid gold nsea.
Tbu It happened that his Income
continued to roll up without any
effort on his part, and he was able
to devote unlimited wealth to buying
art' treasures, without troubling
about their coat
Surrounding the columned court
yard, or peristyltum. of his house,
which must have been beautiful with
birds, towers, fountains aa4 statu
ary, there stood a eerlee of build
ings housing the millionaire's art
treasures. " " ' " , '
There was the library, stocked
with manuscripts from Greece and
Egypt, and with the mora recent
productions ot the poets ot Italy.
Many of these manuscripts have
btn recovered , by the excavators,
and ccastitute the most valuable ot
the latest series ot finds. ...
Then there waa a hall set apart
lor the masterpieces of Greek sculp
ture. ; Another building waa entirely
Ued with arms and armor, SOU
another was given up to dainty ere
attoaein gold and precious etonee
crewns, Haras, necklace, girdles,
brooches, bueklee, and thousands of
beautiful pieces of Jewelry usee j
tea and women as ornameu
ancient times. -
Egyptian papyri and palimpsests,
amphoras and crateras ot Etrus
caa. Trojan and Mycenaean work
manship; Greek drinking caps of
gold, called seyphl sad canthari;
Taaagrs) figurines ot all periods;
eurtoaa stetoettee from Chalcedon;
rare example ot sculpture and Jew
elry In the Phoenician. Cypriote and
Oreeceo-Egyptlaa etylee; polychro
matic marble Statues of Hercules,
Venue. Bacchus, SHenue and all the
Pagaa Pantheon, enriched thla won
Tbo accompanying photographs
.bow a few ot the treasures reeev
r4 from the halls of Metellus.
These ohjeeu represent widely sep
arated periods ot Greek art. Hera
is a eomewbat archaic treooe repre
senting the Oreeh hero Tfceaeua kffl
lug the fabled Minotaur ts the Cre
tan labyrinth, and here la a be re
lict presenting a Beochanaliaa
piooetstoa that Is la the meet
Advanced atyla of Creek art. This
U worthy of Phidias.
As exquisitely emboeood helmet
lh' J.int.lln at Inlaid cold la
another example of the finest Greek
style, and was probably produced
i m tr w 1 1 i 1 1 i 11 s
I '-ma 7y E-r.'
- - .
shortly before the time of Pompeii's
A piece of statuary known as a -"Hermes"
from Greece is an ex-
wWelia y Metug. A hermM
. u unH ... Bni.P with .
bust at the top, placed at the corners
of streets and is other conspicuous
places by the Greeks. The bead
Wsj originally that ot the god
Hermes, but later other- gods fro
eneatly occupied his place,
l Metellus possessed an . Immense
collection of ancient Greek and Ro-
paiatinga. One ef them for
example, represents a spirited com-'
A Rare Bronze Hermea
' ' t .! .-
. ; ''
," ? j I, " .-.
' - - " " r' k A f '
El ' ' 1 P
r . '.. ' JT 11 SBBBBBBBBBaml M 1 . S 'I
s . "i ' b i & a . v.- .7 sr . jsnr 'a i a ft m t
' T A 'k - ' !..-eL J'-
L , " -JWI , I 1
i bat ., between centaurs . and men,'
which was for ages the favorite sub-'
ject ot Greek artists. Evidently at
' some early period the civilised races'
ot Greece hsd a severe experience
with some wild race that handled
horses with superb skill Thereafter
they preferred to represent their
legendary enemies as half men and
The ancient Greeks and Italians
probably produced paintings to a tar
greater extent than we have hith
erto realised. Works of this char
acter have- Inevitably been more
am "7 W of time than
any others. In the vast majority of
' cases the paintings must have been
completely effaced by time and de
cay, even though the medium ta
which they were painted may have
It is only in such places as Pompeii
and Herculaneum. where the rellea
of the past have been hermetically
sealed up, that we can expect to and
many paintings preserved. The
Pompellaae were especially fond ef
paintings, and the finer bouses were
invariably decorated with beautiful
In the house of Metellus the
searchers bsve found not only fres
coed walla, but detached examples of
paintings oa wood and stone by
Greeks, Egyptians and Italians ta
tact, by artists ot every country
where the art waa understood. There
Is little doubt that this will prove the
finest collection of Greek paintings
We know that the ancient Greeks
painted their statues In the majority
of esses, snd we must believe that
the greatest sculptors who ever lived
Exquisite Creek BasvRelief Representing a Bacchanalian Pro
caasion, from tho Collection of Metellaa.
by Amricn-Kxaminr. Grtt Britain
did not put Inferior painting ou their
work. Some critics have argued that
a Una piece ot sculptors well painted '
should be the highest form ot plctoV
rial art, since It combines the two
kinds. i , .
Modern artists, however, have
never been able to effect thla com
bination successfully. A painted
st.tue usually haa a toylike air.
Perhaps the collection of Metellus
will teach us how the ancients solved
The Pompellan Pierpont Moryaa
possessed aa Immense collection of
Carious Fresco Depicting
Theseus Slaying the Minotaur,
Indicating Metollua's Love for
manuscripts. Of these the excava
tore have caught only a glimpse.
Many ot the sheets hare adhered to
one another until they form a solid
block, like a piece of carbon. They
will be separated by a delicate chem
ical Process, and the writing made
Here it Is likely we shaU find orig
InrJ manuscripts by such Latin au
thors as Horace, Virgil and Ovid,
by Greeks like Euripides, Sophocles,
Aeschylus, Sappho and a thousand
other famous or forgotten elasslo
Compared to these treasures te.
Coptle manuscripts oa which Mr.
Morgan has lately been lavishing
large sums in Egypt, are cbeap tri
fles. - The earliest of the Coptle man
uscripts had not been written in Me-!
tollus's time. But he poaeeseed the
manuscripts ot the illustrious fore
fathers ot the Copts, tho great Pha
raohs and their atatesmea and gen
erals. It may be that the Investigators
will Cnd in thla library some portion ,
of the Bible older than any yet
known to exist or if sot that, aa in
dependent Roman account ot the
Crucifixion and the events leading
up to It That ia a document which
has slways been singularly lacking, '
for it seems certain that some
Roman must have described that
great world event
Metellus literally scoured the whole
knowa world for treasures ?.
antiquities. His ships traded to the
Levant and Egypt and even brought
him in eotnmunieatloa with the Far
East India and China. Ho paid aay
the 'Richest Banket of
His Bay, Who ; ,.
with M Its
V ' -
y - '
CoIIectiosi of t
Metellus b the
Greelg Style. '
' i at !
pries for that which was rare or
beautiful. His captains knew that,
they could obtain s greater recom
pense for a Babylonian stela or a ,
Sanskrit veda tfaaa for the .richest .
cargo of silks they might bring. :
He Uved at a period whea the'
prioeleea accumulations of Greek art ,
had Just been bought or stolen by
the Romans. The choicest ot these '
things lay within the reach of hie
discerning eye and Inexhaustible ,
Here probably we have the rich-.
est storehouse ot antiquities ever'
found. ' '.
Wax table found la the house
revealed the character of the bank
er'a business and hla methods of'
conducting it While the methods
were perhaps simpler than modern
onea, the badness waa ef a souo-'
der character. MeteUua ventured.,
hie capital la no enterprise without
He dealt ta tangible things such
sa lands, bales of silk, cargoes of -wheat
and objects of p rectos aw.
tal His ships raa to every port ot
toe Mediterranean and be lest'
money to ether march asU be bills
of lading ef their goods. t,'
Among his business relics are S
large number of receipts, some In'
Latin and others Is Greek. Mlsy .
refer to transactions ta which the i
banker acted as auctioneer, r R T.
presided at the sales and made his
profits oa them in variotts-ways. ,
He lent the buyers the ready 9
money they needed for their pur
chases and oollceted hla debt at the
end ot the month with a high rate -of
Hs raa up the bidding at the sal's
and received s commission from the ''
sellers oa the price obtained. At .
the same time he Increased, "4he '
earns which the buyers bad to bor- t
row from him. He was manager off"
the communal estates ef Lamsnrta
among numerous sources of profit
i One of the receipts of the banker
recovered reads as fellows: "Ja the
consulate of Ntre Caesar, coosul for
the second time, and of Caatius
MarUslls, oa the tenth day before
the Kaleada of January, at the re."
quest of Pullla Lam purls, we. Sex.
Pompeius Axloehua, bear witness In
writing that Pullls Lampuris has -reoslved
from h. Caecilius Metellus
the sum of eight thousand five bun-
dred sad sixty sesterces and a duum.-. ;
auadum, tho proceeds ot a sale By
auction. In accordance with a eigned
and sealed agreement" , , . 1
The transacoona of Metellus -m .
np into the millions. . They were
ao vast that he seed a special sya- ;
tern ot turners Is not found to other
recorda of the time. In thesw s- -merals
tbe thoosaatfs were denoted
by a numeral ilk our "I" lying oa ;
"aside. - - ':, .it,
The accounts of Metellus toll-. ;
eats that he rivalled the American,
: Staadard Oil Compaay aa a maa. '
ipulator . of legislators. Oa ef
his estrie reads: "To A- Pompeius .
Jucundus. in eonnectloa with - the
Cappadoctaa ruby miaes, ItfiM gold :
There I oohappily strong reasoa '
. to believe that this sum, a vast one
in the values ot that age, waa paid n
to the Soman Senate for aeearmg::
some valuable special privilege to
Metellus in s foreign possession of
Borne. . .-. . .........
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