Porticus Neronianae - crucifixion of St. Peter
Because of the Michelangelo painting within the Vatican's Pauline Chapel it is certain that Piranesi was aware of the St. Peter reverse (inverted) crucifixion tradition. This lead to further interpret the Porticus Neronianae on the axis of Life as not only an inversion of the basilica of St. Peter's, but, more to the point, the porticus symbolizes the inverted crucifixion of St. Peter. Furthermore, because the porticus carries Nero's name, there is also the connection of Nero as Antichrist, and thus the inversion theme intensifies. I am now thinking that this very building (the Porticus Neronianae) carries an essential meaning for the entire Ichnographia plan, for all the above reasons plus for the fact that within the porticus' plan itself there is a significant switch in the way the walls are composed--the nave of the porticus is of a traditional layout of piers, yet in the trancepts the walls take on a very unique formation that generates a distinct pattern of solid and void. This methodical shift from solid to void is in and of itself a notation (demonstration - mark) of an oscillating or perpetual inverssion process. This plan as pattern is also perhaps a proto-sign of what might be called Piranesiesque, i.e., a type of planimetrics that is original to Piranesi and perhaps a prototype of his unique planning "style," which in turn proliferates throughout the Ichnographia.
life, death, and the triumphal way [inversion]
I spoke with Sue Dixon yesterday and told her of my latest "discoveries" regarding the life and death axes of the Ichnographia, the arch of Theodosius et al and the further symbolism of the Porticus Neronianae as an inverted basilica-cross. She too became excited by my discoveries and then also brought further insight, especially in reference to the issue of the papacy and its research during the eighteenth century into the early Christian Church. She spoke of Bianchini and his nephew (a contemporary of Piranesi's) and their dual volumes of pagan (Roman) and Christian art, and she also mentioned how the papacy of the eighteenth century had lost (more or less by force and financial restraints) much of its political power and thus took on a very pious role--exhibiting not its worldly power but its almost mystical or spiritual power.
What I was saying about the apparent Pagan-Christian conversion-inversion narrative of the Ichnographia fit with what research Sue is continually doing regarding the contemporary and early eighteenth century influences on Piranesi and the whole issue of proto-archeology - history of the eighteenth century.
After speaking with Sue, I began thinking of the significance of the arch to the victory over Judea that is situated to the western end of the Bustum Hadriani. I now see it related to the pagan-Christian conversion-inversion of Rome, but in terms of Roman history it is a somewhat marginal issue-event. Yet, in terms of Christianity, the Roman victory over Judea, and hence the fall of Jerusalem, is a significant, albeit still sorrowful, event because of this event's relationship, and indeed verification of certain-particular passages of New Testament Scripture, i.e., Jesus' answering the Apostles question of when Jerusalem would end (which I think is in Mark or the Acts of the Apostles). Seeing how a seemingly minor event in Roman (Imperial) history can at the same time be a critical event for the foundation of Christianity made me think about how the Roman Judaic victory unwittingly gave manifest confirmation that Christianity had from that point forward absorbed Judaism.
Although it comes from the margin or edge, the significance of the victory of Judea arch sheds a major light upon the narrative Piranesi tells--Piranesi's "story" is about Christianity's similar absorption and concomitant destruction of paganism. This notion of Christianity absorbing both Judaism and paganism has major theological implications, especially with regard to a heretofore perhaps ignored importance-significance of Rome and the Roman Empire within the Canon and doctrine of the Christian (Catholic) faith.
...the real axis of St. Peter's Basilica and Square. This axis is fundamental to Piranesi' axis of life--and the most significant point alone the existing axis is the burial place of St. Peter, which, although not noted in the Ichnographia, is nonetheless an ancient Roman artifact.
...the story of the Triumphal Way. ...follow the triumphal path on the plan, and explain the entire route in Roman-pagan-triumphal ritual terms. ...bring up the essential concept of reenactment, the reenactment that Piranesi here designed, especially the well planned sequence of stadia and theaters along the way. Piranesi made use of what was actually once there.
When the route reaches the wall at the Temple of Janus, attention turns to Triumphal Arch-Gate, which is closed during the years of inactivity. Does the Triumphal Way then bounce off the wall and go back the way it came? Does the Temple of Janus allow us to go in either direction? (Other clues of inversion abound: obelisk in the Horti Salustiani, Porticus Phillippi, the Arches along the Via Lata, the Via Flaminia, the Circus Flaminia, the obelisks at Augustus's Tomb. The recurring inversion theme points to a greater meaning/symbolism.) The Temple (arch) of Janus represents the Arch of Janus built by Constantine (who might himself be called the Janus figure of Christianity) and this is the initiation of the way of Christianity's triumph: the profane to the sacred; the forest, hell, purgatory, heaven; the path of salvation through Christ and the Church.)
...the way from the profane to the sacred ends at the Area-Templum Martis as symbolic of the union of the most sacred site ancient Rome (or at least its point of origin) with the most sacred site of Christian Rome (St. Peter's place of burial) and also the point of origin of Christian Rome.
The garden of Nero is the ultimate field of inversion: Horti Neroniani to Vatican City, the garden of antichrist to the Church as the Body of Christ, the foremost seat of the Church of Christ, and finally St. Peter's inverted crucifixion begins the conversion of Rome.
I will conclude the inversion from pagan to Christian story-line by returning to the axis of death and the Arch of Theodosius et al at its tip, and thus when compared with the intercourse building we have depicted the beginning and the end of pagan Rome. To this I will add the Jewish Victory monument and end with the notion that Piranesi has here used architectural plans and urban design to tell the "history" of ancient Rome, however, one has in a sense read both the "positive" and the "negative" image-plan--a story where the first half is the reciprocal of the second half (and vice versa). (I am oddly reminded here of the double theaters story from Circle and Oval in St. Peter's Square.)
Augustine's The City of God
There is the remote possibility of a connection between the Ichnographiam and St. Augustine's The City of God.
email Steve to Sue
I freely refer to the Porticus Neroniani as a basilica purely because of its shape and because of its potential reference to the Vatican basilica. More and more, I believe one has to count on the presence of Piranesi's cleverness when interpreting the Ichnographia. Take note of the difference in plan formation between the "nave" and the "transepts" of the Porticus Neroniani. I detect what is perhaps another example of inversion (or at least some sort of transformation)--the quasi solid-void plan patterning of the "transepts" is something new and I believe unique to Piranesi and may indeed symbolize a new "generation" of plan formation.
Regarding the line parallel to one of the sides of the "middle" Ara Martis, if the line runs through the center of the circular pool of water, then it is a line that I drew.
Proof of Piranesi's sense of humor?: notice how the triangular wedge shaped Horti Agrippinae (the garden of Agrippina who is Nero's infamous needling mother) pokes the side of the Horti Neroniani. Do we see here the proverbial thorn in one's side?
Proposed Campo Marzio motto: always leave the smart ones laughing and the dumb ones confused!
places of Nero
Throughout this chapter I will call out the "presence" and significance of Nero. From the towers within his gardens (Piranesi's reference to Nero's watching the great fire of AD 60?) to the other Nero landmarks throughout the Ichnographia. Citing Suetonius as to the placing of Nero's ashes within the area of the Ichnographia's Bustum Augusti.
...read Tacitus' Annals as well. The ancient authors offer a wonderful resource with regard to who built what, and what existed when, and even who knocked down what.
in memory of Aldo Rossi
I now see that Rossi's death in September 1997 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...
[notes on] Campo Marzio notes
I have started the process of organizing my Campo Marzio notes and there is much info and ideas to further sort out. I'm thinking that I should now begin to separate out the data into specific projects via web pages so that I can begin to incorporate graphics with the texts. I'm now thinking that I should bring all the various topics up to a next level rather than try at this point to write the final essays. For example, I should collect all the data pertaining to the life and death axes, and bring it all up to a final point, including drawings. There are a number of other projects that can begin as well -- the contiguous elements, collection of the ancient (historical) references, the 3-D extrusions, and the Nolli map overlay.
The City of God
Through reading Lidia Storoni Mazzolani, The Idea of the City in Roman Thought - From Walled City to Spiritual Commonwealth, I am finding out about The City of God and its place in history.
I don't necessarily see a direct connection between The City of God and the Ichnographia of the Campo Marzio, but it may develop as I learn about and read The City of God. If anything, right now I am now more aware of the history of the beginning of the fifth century--the time coinciding with the complete picture of the Ichnographia. Could the Ichnographia represent a picture of Ancient Rome taken to a next (spiritual?) level as is suggested possible by The City of God? Is the Ichnographia a picture of a perfected Rome, a Rome that transcended the realm of mortal conflict and material decay, and become a new refreshed and restored Rome in the hearts and minds of the righteous and just? I actually think I may have something here because I can say that, if nothing else, St. Augustine offers a clear alternative to the notion of city, and while this alternative vision may not be a total or complete inspiration for Piranesi, it may, nonetheless, have provided a view of the "city" as something beyond the purely physical or governmental (political?).
This leads me to think of the Ichnographia's eradication of the Aurelian Wall as its most idealized act. It is like the "negative" act that allows the "positive" act of Piranesi's most fantastical plans and "reconstructions". This is the first time that I see the erasure of the walls as equal in "idealization" as the plans--I now want to make clear that both acts (the erasure and the new planning, esp. in the region of the wall) have to be viewed in conjunction with one another, and, furthermore, both represent Piranesi at his most "ideal" or "fantastic".
Ichnographia -- Garden of Nero
In a web printout I read how Nero used Christians as human torches to light up his garden. The article did not give specific reference, but I feel certain that this fact was well part of Roman Catholic tradition. I will use this fact to demonstrate how the Garden of Nero has "survived" throughout history more through text and memorable events than through physical evidence. I want to present this as some more evidence toward supporting the notion of the Ichnographia as a "reenactment", i.e., a narrative and a depiction, rather than a pure archeological "reconstruction".
Suetonius & Tacitus
Whenever the time comes, I want to read all of both authors and collect all the building/architectural references.
a bit dismayed and overwhelmed
When I say that I am overwhelmed, it is because I could be working on any number of projects, and I will list them here just for the record:
Keeping track of the pagen/Christian research that I am doing.
Reading and notating Suetonius.
Finalizing the outline of Life, Death, and the Triumphal Way.
Begin the outline of "Points of Departure."
Extruding the Ichnographia plans.
Organize (again) the Ichnographiam data.
Ichnographia reversal themes
I want to investigate the significance of Phillippi (battle of?) in terms of Roman history. Since it is one of the obvious misplaced monuments/buildings in the Ichnographia, I wonder if there is any special reversal characteristic specific to the event. There is, of course, the significance of Piranesi's placement of a Porticus Phillippi along the Triumphal Way, the Perruzzi drawing, and the exchange with the Crypta Balba.
Along the same lines as above, I want to investigate the significance of Flaminius because of Piranesi's inversion of the Circus Flaminia.
Aldo Rossi and the Axis of Death
...begin with a reference to Rossi's own death in September 1997 and to the 'Death and the Triumphal Way' dedication... The main point of the text will be to demonstrate the effect of the Bustum Hadriani on Rossi's Modena Cemetery design. ...to reveal the direct influence of Piranesi on Rossi in general, and the influence of the Ichnographia... ...specifically to finding him on the Axis of Death. ...ties directly to the coincidence of reading the Plattus article just before Diana's funeral, and the coincidence of working on the Campo Marzio extents pages on the night my father died. Rossi, through his own accidental death, is now part of the whole September 1997 "extraordinary-ness".
It is interesting, however, that Piranesi and the Ichnographia are never mentioned in 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, there are some descriptions of Rossi's notions of the city that also describe the Ichnographia.
I finally researched the battle of Philippi; it was the site of a decisive battle in the Roman Civil War after the assasination of Julius Ceasar. [The Porticus Philippi in Rome, however, has nothing to do with the battle of Philippi.] That Piranesi intentionally [mis]places this portico along the Triumphal Way is therefore appropriate. Augustus Ceasar, the first emperor, is the one who benefitted most from the victory at Philippi.
There is also a strong Christian connection to the city of Philippi as the first Church founded by St. Paul on European soil. I see this as a major event on the Triumphal Way in reverse. There is also the quotation (Philippians 3:20) "But our citizenship is in heaven from which also we eagerly await a Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ. ..." Later scholars apply this quotation to St. Augustine's The City of God. Perhaps the Ichnographia is "the city of God" in negative/spiritual form.
...researched Gaius Flaminius because Piranesi's inversion of the Circus Flaminius within the Ichnographia. It turns out that Flaminius did go against the grain of the Senate and was of plebeian background. Sue Dixon also mentioned that Piranesi uses Flaminius as a point of subdivision in his Il Campo Marzio text of the districts history, (Piranesi actually thinks highly of Flaminius and his circus), and she (Sue) noted how the via Flaminia is not correctly delineated within the Ichnographia--the circus and the road were built by the same man. Perhaps Piranesi chose to delineate both these entities incorrectly to accentuate that Flaminius, in going against the grain, began a new effect on the land use of the Campo Marzio--thus showing the circus rotated 90 degrees in order to make it stand out. As for the Via Flaminia, there is no immediate explanation as to why it meanders off into a totally wrong direction, but it is worth noting the many plebeian homes that Piranesi situates along the street; this may be a reference to Flaminius' own plebeian background.
There is also the area called Prata Flaminia (within which the Porticus Philippi is situated) and I'm not sure if Flaminius also donated this land to the city/citizens.