Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Although the column is not as old as Trajan's column, it has apparently suffered from earthquakes and a fire. The quality of the sculptures is inferior to those on Trajan's column as well.
By this time, we were too tired to walk the 1.5 kilometers back to the Metro station so we hailed a cab for the trip back to the hotel (only 7.50 EUR)
"In truth, no one knows the Pantheon's exact age. One legend says that the first Roman citizens built the original Pantheon on the very site where the current one still stands in the Campo Marzo - modern Rome's business district. The ancients constructed this first Pantheon after Romulus (753-716 BC), their mythological founder, ascended to heaven from that site. They dedicated it to Romulus and some of his divine ancestors and, for centuries, held rites and processions there.
Most historians, however, claim that Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa built the first Pantheon in 27 BC, a rectilinear, T-shaped structure, 144 feet by 66 feet (44m x 20m), with masonry walls and a pitched timber roof. It burned in the great fire of 80 AD, was rebuilt by Emperor Domitian, but was struck by lightening and burned again in 110 AD. By 120 AD, Hadrian began designing a Pantheon reminiscent of Greek temples and far more elaborate than anything Rome had yet seen. His plans called for a structure with three main parts: a pronaos or entrance portico, a circular domed rotunda or vault, and a connection between the two. The rotunda's internal geometry would create a perfect sphere, since the height of the rotunda to the top of its dome would match its diameter: 142 feet (43.30 m). At its top, the dome would have an oculus or eye, a circular opening, with a diameter of 27 feet (8.2m), as its only light source.
Hadrian said, "My intentions had been that this sanctuary of All Gods should reproduce the likeness of the terrestrial globe and of the stellar sphere...The cupola...revealed the sky through a great hole at the center, showing alternately dark and blue. This temple, both open and mysteriously enclosed, was conceived as a solar quadrant. The hours would make their round on that caissoned ceiling so carefully polished by Greek artisans; the disk of daylight would rest suspended there like a shield of gold; rain would form its clear pool on the pavement below, prayers would rise like smoke toward that void where we place the gods." - Monolithic.com
The Piazza Navona is exceptionally long and owes its shape to the ruins that formed it, for under the buildings that surround Piazza Navona are the remains of the Circus Domitianus, Domitian's stadium. In ancient times the stadium was the site of the Agonal games, from which the present piazza takes its name by corruption from "in agone" to "n'agone" to "navone" and finally "navona". - Roma Interactive
The basin of the fountain of Neptune was originally sculpted in 1576 by Giacomo della Porta. The figural statues were added three centuries later.
"The military was the greatest observer of religious events and possessed a calendar detailing the dates and events that were to take place. These involved rituals and displays of faith, especially to the emperor and the god Jupiter. Each unit would erect a new altar to the deity on the edge of the parade ground. A time after the ceremonies were completed, the discarded pieces would be buried. They would also maintain a shrine which would hold the statutes relating to the military, and the Legion's standard when it was not being used. The rituals were observed meticulously by all involved, as it would be deemed an insult to the deity, so these ceremonies were taken most seriously." - Romans-In-Britain.org
"It was finished in 139 CE, a year after the emperor's death, by his successor Antoninus Pious. [Hadrian's ashes were then transferred there from their temporary burial-place in the former villa of Cicero at Puteoli] It was then used up to the year 217 CE as a sepulchral for the Antonine family. Although constructed on the river edge, it was built on very solid ground and in an area previously used as a cemetery (actually in the gardens of Domitia, which, with those of Agrippina, formed a crown property called by Tacitus "Nero's Gardens.")
The monument was composed of at least three overlaid architectural bodies - a square base, a large cylindrical body, and a third and last piece. The latter was cylindrical too, but smaller in diameter and consisted of two overlaid orders, on the top of which the statue of Hadrian pulling a quadriga (chariot drawn by four horses) stood." - Castle.org
The structure was once topped with a tumulus of earth planted with trees. A ring of decorative marble statues stood along the edges of the parapet. I wish it still had the trees there. It would give the structure a less military aspect.
"Hadrian's ashes were placed here a year after his death in Baiae in 138, together with those of his wife Sabina, and his first adopted son, Lucius Aelius, who also died in 138. Following this, the remains of succeeding emperors were also placed here, the last recorded deposition being Caracalla in 217. The urns containing these ashes were probably placed in what is now known as the Treasury room deep within the building." - Wikipedia
The mausoleum of Augustus had last been opened to receive the remains of Nerva, but was no longer in use; so the Antonine emperors and their families were buried in the mausoleum of Hadrian, so it was later referred to by the name of Antoninorum sepulcrum.
Inscriptions actually recorded included the dedicatory inscription to Hadrian and Sabina set up in 139 A.D. (the latter was already deified, the former not) by Antoninus Pius, the sepulchral inscriptions of Antoninus Pius and Faustina, and of three of their children; of Aelius Caesar; of three children of Marcus Aurelius; of Lucius Verus, and of Commodus. That Marcus Aurelius himself was buried here is recorded by Herodian 4.1.4 who also relates that the urn containing the ashes of Septimius Severus and probably Faustina the younger were also interred here. Cassius Dio tells us that, besides Severus, Julia Domna, Caracalla and Geta were also laid to rest here. - edited from entry in Lacus Curtius.
"Much of the tomb contents and decoration has been lost since the building's conversion into a military fortress in 401 and inclusion by Flavius Augustus Honorius in the Aurelian Walls. The urns and ashes were scattered by Visigoth looters in Alaric's sack of Rome in 410, and the original decorative bronze and stone statuary was thrown down upon the attacking Goths when they besieged Rome in 537, as recounted by Procopius. " - Wikipedia
In the wake of the Napoleonic Wars Italy was divided into a patchwork of kingdoms and duchies. The famous composer Verdi, a fervent adherent of liberal nationalism, was widely perceived as a figurehead for the unification movement (the Risorgimento). Although staunchly anti-clerical and a republican, he agreed with those who argued that the best prospect for unification lay in accepting Victor Emanuel, the liberal King of Piedmont, as the monarch of a united Italy. 'Viva Verdi' became a national rallying cry, his name being an acronym of 'Vittorio Emanuele Re d'Italia' (King of Italy). - Adapted from Verdi, The People's Opera
On the left side of the piazza is the Vatican post office. I bought two postcards and mailed them to my colleagues back in the Dean's office from there so they would bear the Vatican City postmark.
The Travertine columns were placed so that if you stood on the foci of the elipse, there appears to be only a single row of columns. The portico formed by the colonade is wide enough to let carriages pass through.
"The immense piazza is bounded by two semicircular colonnades, each of which is made up of four rows of Doric columns. In the centre of the piazza is an obelisk brought to Rome by Caligula from Heliopolis in ancient Egypt." - Lonely Planet
The obelisk had served as a turning post in the chariot races at the nearby ancient Circus of Nero, where St. Peter was crucified.
The elliptical shape, symbolising the Church's embrace of all of mankind, is defined by a series of 284 columns arranged in four rows. The square was designed by Bernini and features a central obelisk and two identical fountains.
Friday, April 01, 2005
"Apart from the statue of Augustus, the most well-known find from the Villa of Livia are the spectacular garden frescoes, often referred to in works on Roman painting. Once attached to the walls of a large underground room measuring 5 x 11 metres, these frescoes were moved to the National museum in 1955. Currently under restoration,they are hopefully soon to be displayed in the new museum in Palazzo Massimo. The frescoes exhibit not so much a cultivated garden as a subtle flourishing landscape, rich in trees, flowers and birds of all kinds. In this image, some scholars want to see direct links to the Ara Pacis Augustae and the general pictorial programme of nature and fertility in Augustan art.
In the foreground we find a low wickerwork fence running around the whole room;behind this comes a grassy walk, bordered on its far side by a stone parapet. This stone enclosure have recesses at some points for single trees â€” one pine, one oak and four spruces. The background consists of a great variety of vegetation, where the laurel is omnipresent in different shapes, ranging from shrubs to tall trees. In the midst of the leaves, nightingales, oriols, magpies, swallows, blackbirds and many more spieces of birds can be identified. According to ancient sources, Augustus owned a talking magpie, as well as a raven and a parrot. More important is the fact that all the flowers in the fresco bloom simultaneously and can directly be associated with love and fecundity. In the age of Ovid'™s Metamorphoses, the motif of the fresco can be seen as a celebration of Augustan perpetual peace" - Prima Porta: Villa of Livia, Uppsala University.
Many mosaics were found in Roman dining rooms so scenes of "edibles" are also abundant.
"Formerly the site of the preparatory school "Massimiliano Massimo", this building was constructed in 1883-87 by Camillo Pistrucci in imitation of the noble residences of the early Roman baroque period." - Roma Online
Of course the most immediately recognizable sculpture to me located on the first floor was the statue of Augustus attired as the Pontifex Maximus (high priest).
This work was recovered from the Via Labicana.