quondam piranesi

Stephen Lauf

Inside the Density of G. B. Piranesi's Ichnographia Campi Martii

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inversion
1 :
an act or result of turning inside out or upside down : FLEXURE, DOUBLING     2 : a reversal of position, order or relationship: as a : the reverse of an established pattern

inversion 4.0

The history of the Campus Martius, the Field of Mars, is as old as the history of Rome itself. According to Livy's History of Rome, Mars, the god of war, raped a Vestal Virgin named Rhea Silvia, who thereafter gave birth to twin boys, Romulus and Remus. The boys matured into powerful leaders, yet they also became fierce rivals -- neither wanting to share power with the other. Romulus ultimately became the sole leader when he killed Remus in battle, and it is from Romulus that Rome receives its name. Livy goes on to tell us that the first structure within the Campus Martius was an altar raised by Romulus in order to honor Mars, and, moreover, it was in the Campus Martius that Romulus commenced the first Roman triumph, a victory march henceforth reŽnacted hundreds of times by subsequent Roman leaders. Finally, it was in the Campus Martius that Romulus one day disappeared within a sudden whirlwind of clouds and dust.

It did not escape Piranesi's notice that the beginning and end of Romulus matches exactly the beginning and end of Jesus Christ, who likewise had a divine father and a virgin mother, and who too ultimately ascended into the clouds. The father of pagan Rome and the father of Christian Rome are fundamental inversions of each other.



Piranesi's rendition of the Templum Martis (Temple of Mars) and the Area Martis, the place where the Triumphal Way begins, inversely matches exactly the scale and composition of St. Peter's Basilica and Piazza.

» abstract
» virtual
» density
» reenactment vs. reconstruction
» inversion
» pagan - christian - triumphal way
» life and death
» love and war
» satire
» urban sprawl
» reenactment architectures

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