quondam piranesi

Stephen Lauf

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

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pagan - christian - triumphal way 5.10

1. Arcus Trajani
2. Templum Martis
3. Porticus Neroniani


Ultimately, the reverse Triumphal Way passes through the Arcus Trajani (Arch of Trajan) and arrives at its end in the place where Piranesi's pagan Triumphal Way began. As already demonstrated, Piranesi's rendition of the Templum Martis (Temple of Mars) and the Area Martis inversely matches exactly the scale and composition of St. Peter's Basilica and Piazza. The polygonal Area Martis inverts into the Piazza of St. Peter's, the Templum Martis inverts into the grand stairs leading to St. Peter's Basilica, and the Porticus Neroniani inverts into St. Peter's Basilica itself. Neither the Area Martis, the Templum Martis, the Porticus Neroniani, nor the Arcus Trajani actually existed in this part of Rome, and again Piranesi's archaeological mistakes signify the presence of double entendres. The connections between the Area and Templum Martii and the Piazza of St. Peter's are obvious -- each is a gathering place for their respective "triumphs". The Porticus Neroniani possesses manifold duplicity -- Peter was executed in the Circus of Caligula and Nero during the reign of Nero, and subsequently buried next to the Circus within Nero's garden, and the cruciform plan of the Porticus Neroniani, as much as it is an inverted (upside down) plan of St. Peter's Basilica, also signifies the means of Peter's execution, an upside down crucifixion. Finally, the tiny key that confirms and locks the inverted paths of the Ichnographia's Triumphal Way is Piranesi's placement of the Arcus Trajani, which marks the beginning of the pagan path and at the end of the Christian path. In 315 AD, the Arch of Trajan was dismantled, moved, redesigned, and rebuilt as the Arch of Constantine.

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