From damnatio memoriae to the Cathedral of Tyre, it feels like a spotted, blurred vision becomes continually clearer. I've even found what I think will be my next late antiquity interest (once there is some Helena closure), and that is to start learning about what (really) happened when the Christian East (paradigm) shifted to Islam.
I do not have information on the Constantine and Julian sarcophagi, but two closely related sarcophagi are in the Greek Cross gallery of the Vatican Museum, namely, the sarcophagus of Helena (Constantine's mother) and the sarcophagus of Constantina (Constantine's daughter, and Julian's sister-in-law -- Julian was married to Constantine's youngest daughter Helena). It appears that Helena, Constantina, and Fausta and Crispus comprise at least the few (or only?) members of Constantine's family that were not buried at Constantinople.
Helena was buried at Rome in what is today called the Tor Pignattara. Constantina too was buried at Rome in what is today Santa Costanza. Interestingly, I read a short webpage a couple of years ago that recent excavations and probes at Santa Costanza revealed a slightly earlier structure below Constantina's mausoleum (c. 354, now Santa Costanza). Both Helena's and Constantina's mausoleums were built co-joining original 'Constantinian' Basilicas, St. Petro et Marcello and St. Agnes respectively. Additionally, both basilicas, like all the original Constantinian churches of Rome with the exception of the first (today's St. John Larteran), were built over catacombs or cemeteries. With regard to the new discoveries at Santa Costanza, I wonder if the slightly earlier structure under Santa Costanza might be were Fausta (Constantine's damnatio memoriae[d] wife, and the mother of Constantina) was buried after her suspicious death likely near or at Rome sometime summer 326.
back to the Campo Marzio
I trust you had a wonderful time in Italy, and that you're now back in England. I am very grateful for your sending me your paper on the Campo Marzio and Tafuri. It arrived here right around when you left for Italy, so I didn't email respond at that time. So, again thanks for your effort and kindness.
My work has somewhat shifted since our last email correspondences. Briefly, I'm working heavily on my theories revolving around the role of St. Helena (the mother of Constantine) within the Christian church building boom of the early 4th century. It was actually Piranesi and the Ichnographia Campi Martii that lead me to Helena and Rome's Pagan to Christian paradigm shift in general. I'm writing a lot to the lt-antiq (late antiquity) email list, and receiving much scholarly help and encouragement there.
Anyway, getting back to the two states of the Ichnographia, here are some further thoughts and questions:
1. I believe the first state is the plan as it is NOT published in books today. If you look at the smaller and earlier plans of the Campo Marzio within the plates prior to the Ichnographia, you will see earlier plans of the Circus Flaminius the same as the Circus Flaminus plan within the Univ. of Pennsylvania Ichnographia. Furthermore, the aerial view the circuses within the frontispiece depicting the Bustum Hadrian correspond in plan with the UofP Ichnographia.
2. I think the circus delineations of the second state (which are all virtually identical to each other) are in fact delineations based on the Circus of Maxentius (rather than the Circus Maximus). This is somewhat significant in that (according to my research and interpretation of the Ichnographia as a double narrative relating Rome's "inversion from pagan city to Christian city) Maxentius is exactly the ruler of Rome immediately prior to Constantine's Chistian efforts. (I will soon upload at Quondam a paper I wrote and delivered at Brussels November 1999 on this pagan-Christian inversion issue).
3. via questions I raised at lt-antiq, I'm now quite knowledgable of the practice of damnatio memoriae, and thus I now wonder if Piranesi purposefully 'erased' portions of the Ichnographia as a reenactment of the damnatio memoriae practice, and, like some extant examples of dm inscriptions, if he then purposefully followed up with a palimpsest (of another plan) over the erasure.
4. I realized that I have yet to see an actual print version of the second state of the Ichnographia. All I've ever seen is an actual first state (1761) version. Do you know if you've seen an actual eighteenth cent. print version of the second state? Moreover, did you happen to make a trip to Rome to see which state the actual engraved plates are in? It is the current state of the plates that would surely identify the second state (that is, unless someone long ago altered a reproduction, and it happens to be an altered reproduction that's been printed in books all these years).
5. I also believe that it was indeed Piranesi that made the changes. My main reasoning here is that Piranesi was very likely the only person that could have made the changes with such dexterity.
Let me know if you have any comments on these ideas, or if you've found out anything to enlighten the matter further on your own.
As to Tafuri, I have documented so many cases within the Ichnographia that carry explicit meaning and message on Piranesi's part, that all of Tafuri's theorizing that the Ichnographia is indicative of and/or percursor to the modern meaninglessness of architectural form is plainly and emphatically wrong. What Tafuri obviouly never did, but definitely should have done, is translate all the Latin labels that Piranesi applies to virtually all the plans of the Ichnographia. It is only through reading the labels in tandem with the planimetrics that the full meaning of Piranesi's Campo Marzio comes through. In other words, all your suppositions as to the incorrectness of Tafuri's interpretation of the CM are right on target.
Hope to hear from you soon.
All the best,
I suggest anyone interested in damnatio memoriae (a specific type of censorship) read History and Silence, by Charles W. Hedrick, Jr. (2000). Here are some of the chapter titles: "Remembering to Forget"; "Silence, Truth and Death"; "Rehabilitating the Text"; and "Silence and Authority".
In "Remembering to Forget" one learns that damnatio memoriae actually did more to make people remember than it did to make them forget. Officially and literally, the memory was erased, however, the act of erasure itself, like the scar that it is, only reinforces the real reality that once was. Yes, erasures ironically are very full of meaning...
Ambrose and Theodosius questions
In reading the life of St. Ambrose (feast day 7 December) in Butler's Lives Of The Saints, two incidents between Ambrose and Theodosius struck me as important, and raised some questions in my mind.
"At Kallinikum, in Mesopotamia, certain Christians pulled down the Jewish synagogue. Theodosius when informed of the affair ordered the bishop (who was alleged to be directly implicated) to rebuild the synagogue. St. Ambrose was appealed to, and he wrote a letter to Theodosius in which he based his protest, not on the uncertainty of the actual circumstances, but on the excessive statement that no Christian bishop could in any conditions pay for the erection of a building used for false worship."
Question: is this episode one of the first (if not perhaps the first) reported example of Christian anti-Semitic terrorism?
"In the year 390 news of a dreadful massacre committed at Thessalonica was brought to Milan. Butheric, the governor, had a charioteer put in prison for having seduced a servant in his family, and refused to release him when his appearance in the circus was demanded by the public. The people were so enraged that some officers were stoned to death and Butheric himself was slain. Theodosius ordered reprisals of unbelievable savagery. While the people assembled in the circus, soldiers surrounded it and rushed in on them. The slaughter continued for hours and seven thousand were massacred, without distinguishing age or sex or the innocent from the guilty. The world was aghast and all eyes were turned on Ambrose, who took counsel with his fellow bishops. Then he wrote Theodosius a noble letter, exhorting him to penance..."
Question: does anyone know of a recent study/analysis of this episode?
Helena and Lucian
I'm still working on EPICENTRAL, and it looks like the first chapter will begin appearing at www.quondam.com sometime soon. Regarding Helena, I have developed some new theories as to her relationship with St. Lucian. A few nights before Constantine died, he prayed at the basilica built over the burial site of St. Lucian in Helenopolis (the re-named Drepanum where Helena was born). Eusebius records this.
One legend speaks of dolphins that brought Lucian's body to Helena's feet on the shores of Drepanum. In fact, Lucian died a martyr at Nicomedia 313 after many years in prison, and his body was thrown out to sea.
Lucian was the teacher of Arius, from whom the Arian controversy sprang.
I believe there is every possibility that Helena attended to Lucian during his years in prison, and ultimately took care of his burial. Furthermore, it may be that Helena moved to Rome only after Lucian's death and burial.
If any of these theories are true, there is then the question as to why no historical records exist (besides legends). My inclination is that the answer lies within Arianism, and specifically how Arianism was treated by early Christian (and later Christian) historians. (It may not have been prudent to record that Constantine's mother had very close links to Arianism, although there is much recorded as to the support of Arianism by Constantine's half-sister Contantia, who was betrothed to Licinius.)
I have also been collecting data on all the martyrs of the early 4th century Christian persecution (who are mostly either military men, or men of the Christian priesthood, or individual woman), thus it has been becoming easier for me to make the case that this last persecution was generally sexist in that Christianity engendered subordination within the armed forces, and also lead to a kind of woman's liberation, both of which threatened the Roman power/control structure. Some of the presecution decrees read uncannily like the present US military "don't ask, don't tell" policy, and there is even an historical example where two Christian soilders (martyrs) were dressed up as woman in order to shame them of their faith.
Overall, EPICENTRAL is proving to be an incredible project that I may be working on until the next 18th of August.
I did make a pilgrimage to the quondam World Trade Center site. This was around noon 29 September, and the first thing I saw there was a Prayer Station set up by students from Vermont. We prayed together for several minutes. Around noon 29 September 2001 was also exactly four years after I witnessed the burial of my own father.
Hans Pohlsander, author of Helena: Empress And Saint (1995), sent me an email last night (8 November 2001), part of which states:
"Surfing the internet tonight, I found, just by accident, your e-mail of 19 July. This had not reached me, because the e-mail address which you used has not been correct for some time."
What (I believe) Pohlsander found was xxx.htm, one of the Helena letters within the initial online publication of EPICENTRAL. Given the fact that Pohlsander's Helena: Empress And Saint already plays an unwitting role within the initial calendrical brackets of EPICENTRAL (18 August 2001 to the following equinox/22 September 2001), as indicated over two years ago in "Equinoctial Augury" -- xxx.htm -- and now having heard from Pohlsander personally on the same day/night that I made "Calendrical Coincidence" known to lt-antiq, only componds the reality of "Calendrical Coincidence" itself.
Last night I was giving some further thought to the coincidence of the Basilica Constantiniani (St. John Lateran, Rome) having perhaps been 'founded' (as opposed to dedicated at completion) on 9 November 312 or 318 and Constantine's founding of Constantinople on 8 November 324 (as opposed to the official dedication 11 May 330 at completion), I now wonder if the latter founding was a purposeful calendrical coincidence of the former founding. Who knows, maybe these 'foundings' coincided with Helena's arrival at both of these places as well.
As much as I treasure owning a copy of Helena: Empress And Saint, I am nonetheless very disappointed that Pohlsander seems to purposefully avoid mentioning Eutropia (eg, page 95: "There is no need to consider in this context a fourth Constantinian church in the Holy Land, the basilica at Mamre, since no ancient sources associates it with Helena." -- the basilica at Mamre was initiated by Eutropia), who was actually one of Constantine's dearest friends (despite Eutropia also being Constantine's mother-in-law), and thus even more likely one of Helena's dearest friends as well. [for proof of Constantine's fondness of Eutropia see xxx.htm.
Re: Pohlsander, coincidentally
Thanks for asking the questions regarding Eutropia. I wish you did it via the list so everyone was part of the exchange, but that's ok since I can still post my answers.
1. The rhetoric of Constantine's letter is more telling than it appears, especially since scholars up to now place Eutropia's Holy Land visit before the 326 death of Fausta, although Eusebius clearly places the Eutropia's letter to Constantine after Helena's death. Constantine's letter that mentions Eutropia's letter also chides the Holy Land bishops for not having found out the conditions at Mamre sooner. This very much implies that the other Holy Land sites were already being taken care of. So how is it then that Europia was in the Holy Land prior to the summer of 326 when scholars today date Helena's activity in the Holy Land after the summer of 326? Why would Constantine speak down to the Holy Land bishops if he and the bishops had not already been taking care of the other Holy Land sites?
2. Given Maximian's reputation, it's quite possible that Eutropia wasn't so fond of him herself.
3. After the death of Maxentius, Eutropia publicly admitted that Maxentius was a bastard. This could well have been to save her own skin, and/or it could have been to put Constantine in a better political light. In either case it worked.
4. I believe Eusebius's book III of the VC is in chronological order, and that Helena died a day or two after Fausta's death. Both Fausta and Helena were just arrived at Rome for the Vicennalia, and Helena also brought with her the Cross and the other relics now at Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. If Fausta committed suicide, then Eutropia would not necessaily turn against Constantine. But I believe what really happened is that with the sudden and unexpected death of Helena (right after the death of Fausta), Constantine and Eutropia found themselves to be "the only ones left." That they were now in possession of Christianity's most holy relics very likely only compounded the matter. Plus, who was going to take care of all Constantine and Fausta's children, who, like Constantine himself had just lost their mother?
[My latest theory as to how the "silence" surrounding Helena and the Cross began, was as a general order that there was to be utter silence during Helena's funeral procession. Seeing how well this order worked, Constantine then found that it didn't take much more effort on his part to indicate that the matter was still closed.]
5. After the death of Helena passages in the VC, the very next chapter is about Constantinople. This indicates that Constantine was now through with Rome, now that all its basilicas were done or nearing completion, and now that Helena (who was really Rome's resident Imperial at that time) was buried. Notice too in the VC that after this point Constantine becomes much more destructive of pagan temples and cults.
6. Eutropia's subsequent trip to the Holy Land, and her letter to Constantine regarding Mamre gave Constantine all the joy it did because Eutropia had managed to literally keep the spirit and work of Helena alive--something that I'm sure Constantine really treasured. The abrupt end of the issuing of Helena coins late 328-early 329 may well indicate when Eutropia died.
I fully realize that what I write above is easily considered only fiction, but if it is a fiction, it is one based on reading the VC in the order that Eusebius put it. I believe Eusebius was extremely clever in his writing of the Life of Constantine, especially in giving out information that was risky to give out, ie breaking the "silence" without being caught breaking the silence. That Eusebius tells us anything about Eutropia is itself extraordinary, however the way Eusebius utilizes Eutropia indicates that Eusebius was an extraordinary historian. For me personally, it was when I stopped avoiding Eutropia that all the conundrums of Helena began falling into place.