Encyclopedia Ichnographica

Bustum Hadriani

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Bustum Hadriani


insights regarding the Campo Marzio Busti
1998.04.27

...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
1998.04.29

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




phone conversation with Sue Dixon
1998.06.28

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
1998.07.17

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
2683j
1999.01.29




Tertullian's De Spectaculis
2001.01.29

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
2001.07.18



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



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