ORANGE

Orange seems at first thought more intimately associated with
comparatively modern history than with the fortunes of the Roman
colonists of Gaul. Its name at once recalls the acquisition of liberty
by the Netherlands and the establishment of free institutions in
Britain. But one of the most important monuments of Roman times stands
in the little town, and connects it by stronger links with the early
struggles between the Gauls and the Cimbri and Teutons or the more
disciplined legions of Marius and Cæsar.

Had it not been for the ravages of time and the vandalism of the Middle
Ages, the Triumphal Arch which stands where the Lyons road enters the
town from the north would tell its own story so plainly that
archæological speculators would have been spared much conjecture and
difference of opinion. That this arch commemorates some great event or
series of events of great importance is unquestionable, for its size
places it in the front rank of triumphal arches. Only two extant surpass
it–that of Constantine and the Arch of Septimus Severus at Rome. The
triumphal arch in commemoration of great victories was a purely Roman
institution, and one is immediately faced with the query, when standing
in front of the great archway at Orange, what Roman general and which
victory does it celebrate?

[Illustration: THE ARCH AT ORANGE]

The monument has been studied and examined for nearly three centuries,
and conflicting opinions still obtain concerning it. The arch is in a
good state of preservation in spite of the many dangers it has passed
through. In the Middle Ages one of the de Baux family, who was also a
Prince of Orange, turned the triumphal arch into a fortress, and the
sculptures on the east front suffered much damage. The Prince evidently
treated the great arch much in the same way as his family did the rocks
of Les Baux. He altered and built round it staircases and rooms, and
erected a great tower over the attic, making it the watch-tower or
donjon of a fortress that has vanished centuries ago.

[Illustration: The TOWN HALL. ORANGE.]

Whether these building operations of Raymond de Baux did more to
preserve the arch than to damage it cannot be known, but to-day it
retains many of its original features in remarkably good condition. The
great block of masonry has three arches, the centre one larger than the
other two. On each of its façades there are four fluted Corinthian
columns which support a cornice and pediment of great delicacy. The
sculptures that remain well defined upon the west front are symbols of
battles by land and sea; they tell of captives taken and victories won.
Carved in rich profusion are spears and javelins, arms and armour,
helmets, breastplates and shields, prows of war galleys, rigging, ropes
and anchors, gladiators and slaves, male and female captives.

The different theories as to the origin of this arch have each been
supported by apparently good evidence. Suetonius, the Roman historian of
the first century, is quoted as the authority that Domitius Ahenobarbus
celebrated a triumph in Gaul, which gave his name to the road he
traversed. The Domitian way, the route Domitius is supposed to have
followed, was via Orange, Carpentras, and Cavaillon, and at each of
these places he is reported to have erected the triumphal arches, and
that would make all three of these date from the second century before
Christ.

[Illustration: OLD HOUSES AT ORANGE]

The next theory, which for a long time has had its supporters, makes
Marius the hero whose triumph it celebrates; and they point to the name
of Marius carved on one of the shields of the monument in support of
their contention. Julius Cæsar has been suggested as the possible
builder, and so has Octavius; but the general opinion held to-day is
that it was erected during the reign of Tiberius to commemorate his
overthrow of Julius Sacrovir, who tried to incite the Gauls to rebel
against Rome A.D. 21. This theory has been supported by the discovery of
the marks of nails which held in position the bronze letters of an
inscription removed by Raymond de Baux when he transformed the arch into
a fortress in the thirteenth century. These marks have been supposed to
correspond with the first letters of the name of Tiberius; but whatever
the victory may have been that the triumphal arch commemorates, its
presence in Orange is one of many proofs of the importance of the
ancient city of Arausio.

The ramparts and towers that surrounded the Roman town have all
disappeared. Visigoth and Teuton broke down the power of the Empire,
demolishing its works on every hand. The Saracens in turn possessed the
town, and fierce battles raged around it before Charlemagne drove them
out. In the Middle Ages it was subjected to the continued strife and
warfare of contending feudal factions, but the Arch and the Theatre
remain to speak of its former greatness.

At the opposite side of the town from where the Lyons

[Illustration: THEATRE. AT ORANGE]

road enters it, a great hill rises from the plain, and on its crest the
castle of the Princes of Orange stood in former days. At the foot of the
hill, on its townward side, stands a huge wall, some 340 feet long, 120
feet high, and 13 feet in thickness. One can only stand awestruck in
front of this gigantic structure that overshadows and dwarfs the town.
No wonder that Louis XIV. called it the finest wall in all his wide
kingdom. It awakens emotions akin to those one feels on beholding “The
Pyramids” of Egypt, or its nearer neighbour the “Pont du Gard.”

This wall forms the back of the proscenium of the Roman theatre, and is
the most unique specimen in existence. The great façade, with its
projecting corbels which supported tall masts, its rows of blind and
open arches, even though damaged, much worn, and shorn of its carvings,
has a noble grandeur due mainly to its size. Originally there was a
forecourt, bounded at either end by two projecting structures, which
gave a greater architectural beauty to the pile. The Theatre, although
so purely Roman, is built at the foot of the hill which is used for the
cavea, a practice that was adopted invariably by the Greeks and seldom
by the Romans.

Inside, the stage must have occupied more and the orchestra less space
than in the Greek theatre. The great background formed by the back of
the stage was probably embellished with niches containing statues and
framed with costly marble columns. Over the central or royal door which
opened on to the stage, it is supposed that a colossal statue of an
Emperor was placed, and the whole of the stage was roofed over with a
richly panelled ceiling. In the large wings on either side of the stage
were the dressing-and green-rooms for the actors, as well as waiting-and
refreshment-rooms for the higher social grades of the public. The seats
for the spectators are cut out of the hill, and form an ascending series
of horseshoe-shaped steps which could accommodate about seven thousand
spectators.

[Illustration: THEATRE AT ORANGE]

In the seventeenth century the Princes of Orange, who dwelt in a
stronghold upon the hill overlooking the theatre, attached it to their
castle, converting it into a fortress. Much of its ornamentation
disappeared at this period, and more was destroyed at a later date when
the town was taken by Louis XIV., who ordered the demolition of the
castle and fortress. A squalid town of houses and stables occupied the
interior of the Theatre after this; but happily they were all cleared
out at the beginning of the last century, and to-day the monument is
jealously guarded by a Government department.

From the hilltop behind the castle one looks over a country as rich as
any in Provence. The Rhone glides through meadows, orchards, vineyards,
and great mulberry plantations, past little red-tiled farmhouses, and
long white roads lined by tall poplars and thickset hedges.

Orange is the gateway to Roman Gaul, and its two monuments are a
magnificent introduction to the neighbouring towns of Arles and Nîmes.
There are many curious streets and houses in the town, and the Hôtel de
Ville, which stands in the principal square, is a pleasing bit of
seventeenth-century architecture. Down one of the narrow streets near
the great wall of the Theatre there stands a little church surmounted by
an old crumbling tower. The interior of this ancient little building is
so striking in contrast to the usual magnificence displayed in the
churches of Provence, that one is not surprised to

[Illustration: THE PROTESTANT CHURCH ORANGE]

discover that in it the Protestants of Orange worshipped. The plain
whitewashed walls are reminiscent of the churches of Holland–perhaps
the only association discoverable in the town with the Stadholders, who
were also Princes of Orange. Many of the older streets have quaint
arcades with bold round arches that naturally suggest a Roman origin.

* * * * *

Carpentras lies to the east of Orange and Avignon, about fifteen miles
from either place. In the old days the dusty mud-stained diligences
plied from Avignon to Carpentras, but to-day the cross-country motor-bus
has found in Provence a hearty welcome and plenty of passengers, and the
ancient relationship between the two towns is more closely knit
together. Carpentras is no longer the important town it was before the
Revolution. From being a Roman town of great consequence,
“Carpentorate,” it grew during the Middle Ages to become the capital of
the Papal province, the “Comtat Venaissin.” When Pope Clement V., by the
orders of Philip the Fair, removed his Papal See from Rome, his time was
divided between Carpentras and Avignon, and it was in the former town
that he breathed his last.

In 1305, when Clement took up his temporary abode in Carpentras, it was
strongly fortified with machicolated battlements, towers and gateways,
and all the other accessories of a mediæval town. Churches had been
established for ages, the oldest one, St. Siffrein, dating from the
sixth century. The present Cathedral of that name is the fifth building
that has been erected upon the same site: the first having been built in
the sixth century, the second in the eighth or ninth, the third in the
tenth, and the fourth at the end of the thirteenth century. Nothing
remains of the two earliest, although some parts of the third building
were incorporated in the fourth.

The present church was built by the anti-pope Benedict XIII., who at the
period of the schism had a large following among the clergy of France.
He thought to establish himself and the Papacy in Carpentras, having
previously been kept a prisoner at Avignon by the factions who refused
to acknowledge his papal authority. He was, however, only successful in
retaining the loyalty of a portion of the French Church and nobility,
for a few years later, in 1409, the General Council of Cardinals met at
Pisa, together with the influential envoys of France and England, and
the two rival Popes, Benedict XIII. and Gregory XII., were both tried
and deposed for contumacy and the violation of their solemn engagements.
But for this Carpentras might have been a second Avignon.

[Illustration: CATHEDRAL OF S^{T} SIFFREIN CARPENTRAS]

The Cathedral of St. Siffrein, which Benedict started in the Gothic
style, was never completed in a satisfactory manner. The south porch
remains, however, a most beautiful piece of Gothic, with delicately
designed and carved pinnacles and arches, worthy of a much finer
building. The west front of the Cathedral is a makeshift, and although
the flowered pillars in the buttresses are very beautiful, the porch and
doorways are of much later date, entirely out of keeping with the
character of the building. There is plenty of elaborate decoration in
the interior, for the chapels contain pictures by Mignard and Parrocel,
and there are also great decorative pictures of the life of the
name-saint, St. Siffrein, who was the Bishop of Carpentras in the sixth
century.

[Illustration: NOTRE DAME CARPENTRAS.]

[Illustration: THE PORTE DE ORANGE CARPENTRAS.]

The Cathedral is the fortunate possessor of one or two nails from the
true Cross, which are exhibited on certain days from a small gallery
that projects into the nave over the south entrance. Over the west
doorway there are four pictures in magnificent carved wood frames which
compel the attention more than the works of art they surround. The
frames are the work of an artist who accomplished much of the beautiful
wood carving in the Cathedral. His name was Jacques Bernas, but the
names of the painters of the pictures have been absolutely forgotten.

In the early part of the nineteenth century Carpentras suffered a severe
loss. The ramparts which had hemmed in and protected the town for five
centuries were pulled down, the lofty Porte d’Orange alone excepted.
This magnificent tower, which is 120 feet high, crenellated with a
machicolated battlement, and pierced with only one comparatively small
entrance, is a perfect example of mediæval defensive architecture. The
houses which now stand on the site of the ancient ramparts look mean and
insignificant; even the great plane-trees that line the broad avenue
which surrounds the town look like dwarfs when compared with the ancient
gate. Quaint flights of steps lead from this avenue up to the town, and
rare picturesque bits of old tiled houses delight the eye at unexpected
turnings.

The town is full of twistings and winding streets, ancient doorways with
richly sculptured fronts, sunny courts, shady boulevards, and charming
vistas. It is delightfully situated, with a lovely country spread like a
rich carpet all around its base. From the courtyard in front of the
Église de l’Observance, the view, over the

[Illustration: THE ARCH AT CARPENTRAS.]

valley in which are the ruins of a Roman aqueduct, to the bare slopes of
the snow-crested Mont Ventoux, is one of varied charm. Groups of little
houses peep out from amongst the trees; clumps of tall cypress, ranged
like a wall of spires, protect the vineyards from the blighting
mistral’s chill; villages nestle in the shelter of trees whose rich
foliage lingers long after summer has departed; a Provençal landscape
lies all around the town, bewitching the eye and captivating the
emotions.

Standing in a small courtyard surrounded by the walls of a
seventeenth-century bishop’s palace, now the Hôtel de Ville, is a small
triumphal arch which has been battered by wind and rain for twenty
centuries. It is only a single arch, and considerable doubt exists as to
its exact age. On the two sides there are sculptured in high relief
figures of captive Gauls. The columns that form each angle of the arch
are little more than fragments, but the engaged columns on the inside
have suffered less. This arch was supposed by some archæologists to have
some connection with the great arch at Orange, but nothing can be proved
with any certainty. It remains one of those puzzling relics of the past
that will continue to provoke differences of opinion until the fabric
crumbles out of human sight and mingles with the dust of ages.

* * * * *

A little local train runs from Tarascon through vineyards, ploughed
fields, and pasture lands, stopping at tiny

[Illustration: FOUNTAIN TO NOSTRADAMUS AT S^{T}. REMY]

wayside shelters too insignificant to warrant a name. Its destination is
Orgon, but about midway between the limits of its journey it stops at
St. Remy, a little town of about five thousand inhabitants. This is a
typical Provençal village, full of traditions, customs, and leisured
existence, like hundreds of others in the Rhone valley, and but for its
close proximity to the ancient Roman town of Glanum Livii, few strangers
would ever walk its streets. It still retains traces of a former
prosperity, and many of the houses in its quaint streets are embellished
with fine portals of the Renaissance architecture.

It has had famous and illustrious citizens too, whom it honours with
statues that ornament the public places. The astrologer, Nostradamus,
who was patronised by the great and believed in by all, lived for some
years in retirement in the little town. It was he who was indirectly
responsible for the ruin of the poor imaginative man who spent his time
and fortune in excavating the ground floor of the Tour Magne in the vain
search for a “golden fowl.” History does not relate if the astrologer’s
prediction “that a farmer would make his fortune by the discovery of a
golden cock” ever did come true, or if the disappointed treasure-seeker
of the Tour Magne ever sought an interview with the prophet.

The oldest inhabitants of St. Remy may tell of the gradual decline in
the splendour of its fate, in the merriment of its song and dance; but
the youngest glory in the Sunday visits of the Cinema. Occasionally a
strolling troupe of players invade the town, and in the open air, with a
sad semblance of gaiety, emulate the “Jongleurs” of old in their efforts
to amuse. But the men in these little villages make their own
amusements, and in the summer evenings they congregate in the public
squares, and under the shelter of the great plane-trees play at their
game of bowls, the same game that is popular in Italy, Spain, and
Portugal, and even across the Mediterranean in Tunis and Algiers. Any
piece of ground, even the highway, will serve for their purpose, and
casual passersby or spectators run no little risks from the balls, which
are not trundled or rolled along the ground, but are thrown high through
the air.

The four cafés which St. Remy boasts are large enough for its wants, and
their clients, dressed in fustian, indulge with temperance in absinthe,
cards, and tobacco, most of them retiring early in the evening, for St.
Remy does not keep late hours like Nîmes or Arles. The Church at St.
Remy is a most imposing building for so small a town; it is classic in
design and modern in construction, but it is built beneath an ancient
belfry with a tapering spire, Gothic and beautiful, a relic of the
fourteenth century.

[Illustration: “OUR LADY OF PITY” S^{T}. REMY]

A long straight road, sheltered and shaded from wind and sun by great
plane-trees that range on either side, leads from the town to the foot
of the Alpilles. The vista is extensive, and the rugged hills that end
it assume the appearance of a gigantic fortress.

Just outside the town, sheltered by a great chestnut-tree, there stands
an ancient church, “Our Lady of Pity,”

[Illustration: A WELL NEAR GLANUM.]

the walls of its beautiful porch abandoned to the bill-poster, and its
steps and floor to the village children. All the way up this white road
there are ancient bits of masonry utilised in modern building, and many
other evidences of the Roman occupation. Here, by the roadside, there is
a curious deep well, with the mouth protected by four great slabs of
stone set on end forming a rough but solid parapet; a tall stone stands
up on end beside the others, and through a hole in it a branch of a tree
is thrust, from which is suspended the pulley-wheel and rope to lower
the bucket into the waters below. Two great troughs carved out of solid
stone lie by the side ready for use as washtubs. They look like tombs
from the Alyscamps at Arles, or possibly some other ancient
burial-ground. Who can say?

[Illustration: TOMB of the JULII]

All the little homesteads have small patios in front or at the sides of
them; vines trail up the columns that support the lean-to roofs, columns
that are either of Roman workmanship or imitations, but the ancient
character is well preserved. About a mile up this road are two monuments
of the earliest Roman time; grey as the hills that form a background to
them, delicate in contrast to nature’s rugged sculptures, they are
memorials of the skill of hands whose work was finished two thousand
years ago. The sculptors have been lavish of their time and talents, and
although the freshness of their delicate and bold carvings has worn off,
time has softened and mellowed them, even as it does a refined or noble
human face. The smaller monument is a specimen of a triumphal arch, much
damaged, but what remains is more beautiful in its proportions and
simplicity than many of the larger triumphal arches found in Provence.

The other monument, the tomb of the Julii, has an inscription on the
architrave of the second story,–SEX. L. M. JULIEI. C. F. PARENTIBUS.
SUEIS. which translated means that the monument was raised to the memory
of their parents by Sextus, Lucius, and Marcus Julii, the sons of Caius.
It is a mausoleum of exquisite symmetry and distinction; on the square
base two bas-reliefs of battle and hunting scenes indicate that Caius
was a warrior who was no less distinguished in the chase than on the
battle-field. The second story is a square turret which has four
niches, and is enriched with fluted columns at each corner; the
entablature above is embellished with mouldings and ornament and
surmounted by a small circular turret, with ten fluted Corinthian
columns, inside of which are two statues wanting the heads. The amount
of well-considered ornament lavished upon these memorials, one of
victories accomplished, the other of the highly honoured dead, is an
eloquent tribute to the sentiments that animated the Romans as well as
to the distinction and skill of their artists.

[Illustration: THE TRIUMPHAL ARCH AND TOMB AT GLANUM LIVII]

These two solitary monuments are all that remain of the ancient city,
but they stand steadfast at the foot of the rugged hills, the faithful
sentinels of a vanished empire. Far removed from the busy life of cities
to-day, they have known in the past the pressure of the multitude and
the noisy hum of humankind, for the ancient town nestled around them on
all sides.

[Illustration: IN A CAFÉ ORANGE.]

How it happened that the Visigoths, who in the fifth century destroyed
the Roman city, allowed the arch to remain, is one of those puzzles that
never will be solved; for on the two sides of the triumphal arch their
ancestors are represented as captives led in chains. Works of art,
precious and beautiful, had no influence to stay their devastating hand;
culture made no appeal to their rugged natures, for in their rage
against their persecuting masters they razed to the ground works of fine
art and beauty that were the pride and glory of the greatest Empire the
world has ever seen.

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