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Bustum Hadriani


Vincenzo Fasolo, "The Campo Marzio of G. B. Piranesi".

The complex of buildings...

"The complex of buildings in the center of Rossi's cemetery, however, is not found in the 19th century cemeteries of the Modena/Genoa type. That idea came from another source, Giovanii Battista Piranesi's reconstruction of the Campo Marzio in Rome, as he imagined it stood in late imperial times. In Piranesi's map, a large portion of the right bank of the Tiber is occupied by a group of funerary monuments dominated by the mausoleum of Hadrian, which we now know as Castel Sant'Angelo. Hadrian's tomb sits on a square base near the river. Beyond this square is a U-shaped group of buildings marked Sepulchra. They embrace the bottom of a fan-shaped structure designated by the word clitoporticus. At the apex of the fan sits a round building called Basilica. This Basilica is part of a group of monuments labeled Bustum Hadriani, designating the place where cremation occurs. The correspondence in general layout between the Piranesi and Rossi plans is too close to be accidental. Rossi, who knew this Piranesi work perfectly well (a fragment of it appears in Rossi's drawing The Analogous City, 1976), has lifted Piranesi's vision of an Imperial ancient city of the dead within the context of late-antiquity Rome, and placed it in the middle of a 19th-century cemetery plan."
--Eugene J. Johnson, "What Remains of Man--Aldo Rossi's Modena Cemetery" (1982).

outline - long[est] axis
Moving to the other extreme of the axis, we find a triumphal arch which mirrors the arch at the entrance of the Area Martis. These two arches, both on the long axis, are also disposed with respect to the cross axis of Hadrian's tomb. This begins the analysis of the Hadrian complex.
--Hadrian's tomb being one of the very few extant building within the Ichnographia.
--the discovery and true placement of the circus Hadriani (see Nolli map) and how the tomb and the circus probably spurned the enormity of the entire Hadrian complex and the second longest axis in the Ichnographia. Also included is the continuation of an orthogonal layout and the extreme exercise of symmetry.
--the two porticus Hadriani on both sides of the Tiber.
--the interesting correlation of the long row of sepulchers in the Hardian complex to the three sided sepulchers in the Horti Neroniani.

Exhibit 1 text
Life and Death within Piranesi's Ichnographia of the Campo Marzio

With a consistent dashed line, Piranesi demarcates the Triumphal Way through the Campo Marzio. The processional route begins, with historical and archeological accuracy, at the Templum Jani, which is situated at the bottom of the Ichnographia. The victor's march weaves through Rome's "theater district"--past small baths, shops, and brothels--and then continues on a long straight course towards the Tiber. Across the river, the procession turns behind the Sepulchrum Hadriani and approaches its end at the Templum Martis, the god of War and for whom the Campo Marzio is named. As the ultimate destination of the Triumphal Way, the Templum Martis is clearly among the most sacred, if not the most sacred, of places within the Campo Marzio, and, therefore, perhaps offers a key that lifts the Campo Marzio's "mask."

The Templum Martis fittingly promulgates overt manliness. Male genitalia boldly inform the Temple's plan, and the linear projection of the Temple's "endowment" manifests the Campo Marzio's longest straight axis.

As the axis of Mars spans from the Vatican Hill to the bend in the Tiber, it intersects the Campo Marzio's second longest straight axis, which bisects Hadrian's Tomb and the Bustum Hadriani. The perpendicular crossing of the two axes naturally creates a diametrical opposition. Geometry alone, however, does not represent the depth of their oppositeness.

The axis of Mars terminates at either end with a nymphaeum, while the axis through the Bustum Hadriani terminates at either end with an Imperial Tomb. The antithesis of nymphaeums and tombs is self-evident, and, therefore, attests to the axis of Mars representing life and the Bustum axis representing death.

The Bustum Hadriani with its crematoriums and funereal banqueting halls, moreover, is nothing less that a gigantic "machine" to facilitate the passage from this life to the next. Yet, for all its architectural bombast, the Bustum Hadriani can in no way compete with the exalted simplicity of the tiny unnamed structure, which is behind the nymphaeum on the bank of the Tiber and at the very tip of the axis of life.

architectural promenade
...the new ideas re: the architectural promenade that developed because of the Danteum. Essentially, the Danteum has the same sequential series of architectural "events" as the formula for the architectural promenade that I have extracted from Le Corbusier and Stirling. The Danteum, however, adds the element of a journey from the profane to the sacred, and this addition significantly opens up the interpretive field and the buildings that can now be included as exhibiting the architectural promenade formula.
With regard to the profane/scared aspect, the triumphal way within Piranesi's Campo Marzio exhibits the same sequence. The procession (promenade) begins at the Templum Jani, a tetrahedron, which is the forest, the pilotis that raise the box. From there the route jaggedly marches through the "theater district" (downtown)--this is hell, the profane, the lower level. Just as the "way" approaches the Banks of the Tiber for the first time, the procession becomes straight and passes repetitive/monotonous buildings. The way remains perfectly straight except for two 90 degree turns, and this course comprises the greatest length of the promenade. (The straight portion of the procession passes, in sequential order, the Hecatonstylon and the outer niched wall of the Horti prius Pompejani deim Marci Antonii; then the long portico of the Stadium opposite the Domus Alexandri Severi; and across the river between the Porticus Hadriani and the Sepulchrum Libertorum et Servorum of the Bustum Hadriani. These buildings well exemplify the notion of inside/outside, thus tying the triumphal way more closely to the architectural promenade formula.) In the course of this long march, the procession crosses over from the area (of the Campo Marzio) that primarily represents life (inside/outside--osmosis connection?) into the area that is primarily of death (the Bustum Hadriani). This is the same transition as in the Danteum's Purgatory, and the middle inside/outside level of the Villa Savoye (etc.). Ultimately, the Triumphal way ends at the Templum Martis, easily the most sacred place/space of the Campo Marzio. This culmination to the triumphal procession is analogous to the Paradiso of the Danteum, and to the solarium of the Villa Savoye (etc.). Of course, this has major implications towards my previous analysis of the Triumphal Way.

The Longest Axis / The Axis of Life

Points of Departure
I have decided to put together a critical essay regarding my interpretations and disputations of the contemporary existing texts on the Ichnographia. It will be called "Points of Departure"...
...this combined presentation technique may also follow Piranesi's methodology, thus offering the possibility of a further "re-enactment".
In thinking of the typologies... ...regard to Tafuri's comments of the Ichnographia being a sample book and something unknowable. ...the [scale] comparison between St. Peter's and the Bustum Hadriani is a perfect place to start, although I could also compare the Ichnographia plans to other ancient Roman plans, particularly the large baths. Such drawings would refute Tafuri's and Bloomer's statements regarding the smallness (and seemingly insignificantly treated Pantheon and tomb of Hadrian).

...Piranesi's cribbing of the Porticus Aemilia for the Septa Julia may actually represent Piranesi's scale for the entire Ichnographia. It could be that Piranesi very purposefully installed the Forma Urbis fragment of the Porticus Aemilia into the Ichnographia for the precise purpose of demonstrating more of the actual scale (and gigantism) of ancient Rome (--it is as if Piranesi is here illustrating his own quote about how one just has to look around at Rome and Hadrian's Villa to see the examples he emulates.) Piranesi was not being deceptive or misleading, nor was he acting out of ignorance of the fragment's true identity. Piranesi used the Porticus Aemilia as evidence and example.

in memory of Aldo Rossi
I now see that Rossi's death in September '97 fits precisely into the Redrawing the Ichnographia of Piranesi's Il Campo Marzio dedication. Since September I have discovered the connection between Rossi's Modena Cemetery and Piranesi' Bustum Hadriani. The profusion of coincidences here is almost unbelievable: cemetery, bustum, axis of death, death in September, link to Piranesi...

Aldo Rossi and the Axis of Death
...a reference to Rossi's own death in September 1997. ...demonstrate the effect of the Bustum Hadriani on Rossi's Modena Cemetery design. ...finding [Rossi's design] on the Axis of Death.
Piranesi and the Ichnographia are never mentioned within The Architecture of the City or The Scientific Autobiography even though the autobiography is all about personal inspirations.
In reading the article in Oppositions 5, (Rafael Moneo, "Aldo Rossi: The Idea of Architecture and the Modena Cememtery") there are some descriptions of Rossi's notions of the city that also describe the Ichnographia:
These elements are intelligible through memory, not through remembering. This kind of extreme analytic suspension gives us a fleeting glimpse of the raison d'Ítre of the city.
But the wish to clarify, to order the elements with which the city is constructed, leads Rossi to present "the fundamental hypothesis of the book . . . the study of a typology of buildings in relation to the city."
However, before proceeding, it is necessary to recall the architectonic category of permanence which Rossi associates with memory. There are, in the city, urban facts which are permanent, that withstand the passage of time; these urban facts are the monuments that, in one way or another, constitute or make up and configure the city. The monument therefore has more than an intelligible and atmospheric value, it is not only architecture as anecdote, as the picturesque, but it gives meaning to the life of the city which, through these monuments, both remembers the past and uses 'its memory.'
This collective nature explains the value of history: "the city is a repository of history."
The city is faithful to its own "memory," a term the Maurice Halbwachs already applied to the city. "The city is the locus of collective memory. Memory this becomes . . . the conducting thread of the entire complex structure . . . the collective nature and the individuality of urban facts arrange themselves into the same urban structure. Within this structure memory becomes the conscience of the city.

the Ichnographia as "theme park"
...the notion of the Ichnographia being used (perhaps for the first time) as a "guide map." Using the Ichnographia as a guide would seem ridiculous to most because the large plan has always been dismissed as a pure fantasy. It can act as a guide, however, especially if one is aware of the textual background of the plan, meaning the historical texts which describe ancient Rome.
...looking at the Ichnographia as an ancient Roman theme park--a virtual place where one can vicariously experience the ancient city as well as learn about the history of the city.
The themes Piranesi uses are numerous:
a. the Imperial genealogy of both the Bustum Augusti and the Bustum Hadriani.
b. the forward and backward "ride" of the Triumphal Way.
c. the military themes along the Equiria.
d. the numerous garden designs
. e. the nemus Caesarum.
The whole typological catalogue is nothing but one variation on a theme after another.

insights regarding the Campo Marzio Busti
...ideas regarding the Bustum Hadriani and the Bustum Caesaris Augusti. ...Piranesi treated them as opposites of each other.
...the radiation triangular clitoporticus of the Bustum Hadriani--a porticus dedicated to the evocation of the gods and the spirits of the lower world. Such a porticus fits perfectly on the axis of death, ...the meaning of the Bustum is burning place and there is the slab for the burning bodies and the funeral-pyre. The design of the clitoporticus directs all focus upon the place of burning, and it is easy to imagine the wailing that would emanate from this place--it is interesting to match the raising of wailing voices from the clitoporticus with the raising of smoke from the cavea bustum. The whole Bustum Hadriani is exceedingly morbid, and, ironically, it seems that the burning of the dead within the Bustum Hadriani is treated as a spectator sport, especially with the grandstands of the cavae bustum.
...in the Bustum Augusti there is the exact opposite wording--the joyful recollection of Augustus. ...all the other contrasts between the Bustum Hadriani and the Bustum Augusti:
...the Clitoporticus ab Hadriano funnels inward; the Nemus Caesarum fans outward.
...the Hadrian precinct is square, the Augustus precinct is round.
...the Bustum Hadriani is a depression; the Bustun Caesaris Augusti is raised on a hill.
...the center of the Bustum Hadriani is fire; the center of the Bustum Caesaris Augusti is water.
...the Bustum Hadriani is surrounded by a canal (moat); the Bustum Caesaris Augusti is surrounded by a wall.
...the Bustum Hadriani, with its circuses, is open to all; the Bustum Caesaris Augusti, with its iron gates, is closed.
...the Bustum Hadriani has some degree of archeological veracity; the Bustum Caesaris Augusti is full of blatant misplacements.
...Bustum Caesaris Augusti represents the "rise" of Rome, and the Bustum Hadriani represents the "fall" of Rome, ...another inversion derived from a whole set of inversions. The notion of "rise" can also be seen in the phallic porticus of the Bustum Caesaris Augusti.

connection between Rossi and Piranesi
...the St. Peter's - Area Martis overlay is the same as the Modena Cemetery - Bustum Hadriani connection.

phone conversation with Sue Dixon
I spoke with Sue last Tuesday night, and it was the first time in several months--the first time since I did all the Latin translating. I told her practically everything new that I found and/or figured out, and a few ideas came out of the conversation as well.
1. the notion that the moat around the Bustum Hadriani could represent the limits that Hadrian himself put upon the Empire.
2. where the Bustum Hadriani is within square precinct limits, the Bustum Caesaris Augusti is outside circular precinct limits. This is another example of the two Busti being inversions of each other.
4. Sue had a clear notion of what Tafuri means with regard to Piranesi's loss of language, in that [Tafuri thought] Piranesi was engrossed in mere words (the individual plans of the Ichnographia) and thereby lost or disregarded the notion of composing cohesive sentences, i.e., a workable and properly planned urban design. We agree that Tafuri's interpretation is indeed wrong because Piranesi's plan is a dense and complex narrative.

Meta Romuli

Piranesi designates two pairs of pyramids along the canals and pools (stagnum) situated either side of the Sepulchum Hadriani. No specific names are applied to these pyramids, and the word pyramis is their only label. Together with Hadrian's Tomb, they establish a grand symmetrical layout that extends throughout the Horti Domitiae and includes the Bustum Hadriani. As a group, the four pyramids have no historical or archeological validity, however, the position of the pyramid closest to Hardian's Tomb, on the side facing St. Peter's, is remarkably close to the verified position of the Meta Romuli. This correspondence of placement between the real pyramid and Piranesi's imaginary one could be an uncanny coincidence, or it could be an example of a methodology Piranesi used to aid in piecing together his overall Campo Marzio design. If the latter is true, then Piranesi willfully manipulated a historical artifact to conform to his preferred design scheme. Moreover, Piranesi's exact mirroring of the Meta Romuli suggests careful maneuvering rather than whimsical play. The Ichnographia pyramid is in essence an inversion of the Meta Romuli.

Detail of the Campo Marzio frontispiece showing the relationship between the Sepulchrum Hadriani and one of its four flanking pyramids.

Overlay of the Ichnographia and the site plan of the Meta Romuli.

eros et thanatos

Tertullian's De Spectaculis
It is becoming more and more clear that Piranesi was well aware of Tertullian's text, and indeed utilized it while planning out the Ichnographia Campus Martius. First it was the passage regarding the Equiria, and now there are passages regarding "munus", a death rite, where death games accompanied the funeral day. It is this new knowledge that explains the two circuses within the Bustum Hadriani.
Since Tertullian is a Christian convert from Paganism, it further fits that Piranesi should implicitly rather than explicitly reference Tertullian. I still have to check the 'Catalogo' to see if Piranesi actually ever does reference Tertullian, but I kind of doubt it.

The place where the bodies of the dead were burned and buried under Hadrian

The Bustum Hadriani of the Ichnographia Campus Martius comprises two circuses flanking an enormous funerary complex, all on axis with the gigantic Sepulchum Hadriani. This design by Piranesi perfectly reenacts the ancient Roman 'munus'.
munus : a service, office, post, employment, function, duty     : a work     : the last service, office to the dead, i. e. burial     : a public show, spectacle, entertainment, exhibition
For formerly, in the belief that the souls of the departed were appeased by human blood, they were in the habit of buying captives or slaves of wicked disposition, and immolating them in their funeral obsequies. Afterwards they thought good to throw the veil of pleasure over their iniquity. Those, therefore, whom they had provided for the combat, and then trained in arms as best they could, only that they might learn to die, they, on the funeral day, killed at the places of sepulture. They alleviated death by murders. Such is the origin of the "Munus."
Tertullian, De Spectaculis

The place where the bodies of the dead were burned and buried under Hadrian

Piranesi begins his design of the Bustum Hadriani with two actual givens of ancient Rome's topography, Hardian's Tomb and the Circus of Hadrian. Hadrian's Tomb, situated on the bank of the Tiber and today known as the Castle Sant'Angelo is still one of Rome's largest monuments. The Circus of Hadrian, however, no longer exist, but faint remains of the Circus were discovered via excavations in the 1740s. A record of the Circus's position is delineated within Nolli's 1748 map of Rome, and offers clear evidence that at least this portion of the Ichnographia Campus Martius is not purely a Piranesian fantasy.
The rest of the Bustum Hadriani composition is purely of Piranesi's design, but actually only in architectural design, for the program that Piranesi fits out is very much a part of ancient Roman tradition.

On the left is the section of Nolli's 1749 map of Rome containing Hadrian's Tomb and indicating in outline the "vestigie del Circo Hadriano" in the upper left corner. When compared to the same area of Rome as delineated within the Ichnographia Campus Martius it is clear that Piranesi retains the archaeologically correct position of the Circus of Hadrian relative to the Tomb of Hadrian. Note, however, that Piranesi reverses the plan of the Circus in his plan, and this is just one example of many throughout the Ichnographia where Piranesi inverts the order of things.

The place where the bodies of the dead were burned and buried under Hadrian

By its very name, the Bustum Hadriani indicates a place of ritual involving death--'bustum' is the Latin for the place where the bodies of the dead were burned and buried. Piranesi integrates the Roman bustum with the Roman tradition of munus, and thus creates an architectural complex that is both bombastic mortuary and public arena.
The Circus of Domitia, which Piranesi situates symmetrically along the axis of Hadrian's Tomb with respect to the Circus of Hadrian, never existed at any time during Rome's history. This circus is one of the Ichnographia's more chimerical buildings, although the name of the circus correctly references the woman whose garden once occupied this location along the Tiber's west bank. Domitia was the sister of Nero's father. "In 59 A.D. Nero caused her to be assassinated, and seizing the gardens, united them to the horti Agrippinae. In building the palazzo di Giustizia, the west boundary of these gardens was found to coincide with the axis of the new structure, and on the west of this line many monumental remains of opus reticulatum and marble were discovered.
It is probable that after the garden of Agrippina and the garden of Domitia were united, the whole park was called the garden of Nero. Before the great changes effected since 1870 in this part of the city, the north portion of this park was represented by the Prati di Castello." (Platner)
Even though the Circus Domitiae is a creation of Piranesi's imagination, he nonetheless lists the building within the Catalogo section of Il Campo Marzio dell'Antica Roma, which is where all the buildings of the ancient Campus Martius are listed along with their ancient textual references:
Circo Apollinare di Domizia «Procopio nel lib. della guerra Gotica.» Furono dissotterrati diciotto anni fa le rovine di questo circo nel sito, ove l'abbiam delineato, ed ove son state dinotate dal Nolli nella sua pianta di Roma moderna. Di esse parla il Fulvio, ove dice: «Vi resta per anco fuori di porta Castello, in quelle vigne vicine, non lungi dalla mole Adriana una piccolo forma di un circo di pietra nera e dura quasi affatto rovinato.» This translates as:
Circus Apollinaris of Domitia «Procopius in his book on the Gothic War.» Eighteen years ago, the ruins of this circus were uncovered (typo in the Italian, either yours or printer's: dissotterrate) at the site where we show it, and where they have been noted by Nolli in his map of modern Rome. Fulvio speaks of them, where he says: "There remains in addition outside the Porta Castello, in the nearby fields, not far from the Mole Adriana [Hadrian's Mausolem] the shape of a small circus in hard black stone, pretty much ruined in fact."
What Piranesi does here is transpose the evidence of the Circus of Hadrian for that of the Circus of Domitia. This is just one of many mistakes throughout the Campo Marzio publication that actually signifies an inversion of the truth rather than an occurrance of factual error. It is as if Piranesi is continually defying his critics in that 'mistakes' can be readily found, but that these inaccuracies are harbingers of further meaningfulness via inversion has heretofore remained unnoticed.

Enframing the Bustum Hadriani is a succession of sepulchers for free men and slaves--Sepulchra Libertorum et Servorum. These sepulchers, which follow an alternating repeated pattern of facing outside and inside, define the munus precinct, while at the same time serve as the place of interment for those of common or lower social standing. Note also that the pattern of inversion is again exercised in Piranesi's delineation.
There is archaeological evidence that a street lined with tombs was once in this area of Rome during the Empire's latter centuries, and perhaps that is why Piranesi positions the sepulchers here. Beyond that reasoning, however, it could well be that the physical evidence of Hadrian's Tomb and Circus plus a street of sepulchers in the same area inspired Piranesi to here reenact a grand place of munus.

The place where the bodies of the dead were burned and buried under Hadrian

With the limits and the axis of the Bustum Hadriani fixed, Piranesi then begins to delineate the ancient Roman burial process in an appropriately bombastic way. Entrance to the Bustum is through the Clitoporticus ab Hadriano Dis Manibus dicatae--porticus of the departed Hadrian, dedicated to Dis, god of the infernal regions, and to deified souls of the departed, the ghosts and shades of the dead, and the gods of the Lower World. A fitting portal for passage from this life to the next.

Beyond the Clitoporticus ab Hadriano Dis Manibus dicatae are a pair of tabulinum and apparatorium ustrinae. This is where family records are kept and where bodies are prepared for cremation. At the head of each apparatorium ustrinae is a coenaculum, dining rooms no doubt for relatives and friends of the departed.

Finally, in the Cavea Bustum, literally cavity of the place of burning, stand three plutei, the boards on which the corspe is place. Here the dead are sacrificially burned, thus completing the journey into the afterlife.

2001.09.04 11:00
4 September 1997 and today
Sometime in 1998 I learned of the Eugene J. Johnson article "What Remains of Man--Aldo Rossi's Modena Cemetery" in The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians (March 1982), where Johnson adroitly demonstrates how Rossi's cemetery design closely compares with Piranesi's Bustum Hadriani as delineated within the Ichnographia of the Campo Marzio. What Johnson does not point out however, is that Rossi essentially reenacted the Ichnographia's axis of death which actually intersects the Ichnographia's demarcation of ancient Rome's Triumphal Way. Piranesi's plan delineations of the intersection of the axis of death and the Triumphal Way themselves manifest a reenactment of the ancient Roman camp/urban planned crossing of a cardo and decumanus

Piranesi's Continual Double Theaters

2005.05.06 17:24
Koolhaas versus the Actor
Stirling is a consummate reenactionary architect, and he knew it, but he put most of his clues in his architecture only--although his entry for Roma Interrotta is an overt reference to Piranesi's Campo Marzio plan and reenactionary architecturism. Just as Rossi reenacted the Bustum Hadriani with the Modena Cemetery, but it doesn't look like he ever told Tafuri about it.

Bufalini--Nolli--Piranesi 02




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