ADRIAN'S ADVENTURES AT PALESTRINA
It was yet noon when Adrian beheld before him the lofty mountains that shelter Palestrina, the Prœneste of the ancient world. Back to a period before Romulus existed, in the earliest ages of that mysterious civilisation which in Italy preceded the birth of Rome, could be traced the existence and the power of that rocky city. Eight dependent towns owned its sway and its wealth; its position, and the strength of those mighty walls, in whose ruins may yet be traced the masonry of the remote Pelasgi, had long braved the ambition of the neighbouring Rome. From that very citadel, the Mural Crown * of the mountain, had waved the standard of Marius; and up the road which Adrian's scanty troop slowly wound, had echoed the march of the murtherous Sylla, on his return from the Mithridatic war. Below, where the city spreads towards the plain, were yet seen the shattered and roofless columns of the once celebrated Temple of Fortune; and still the immemorial olives clustered gray and mournfully around the ruins.
A more formidable hold the Barons of Rome could not have selected; and as Adrian's military eye scanned the steep ascent and the rugged walls, he felt that with ordinary skill it might defy for months all the power of the Roman Senator. Below, in the fertile valley, dismantled cottages and trampled harvests attested the violence and rapine of the insurgent Barons;____________________