Officinae machinarum militarium
The military machine complex of the Aedes Vulcani, the Officinae Armorum, and the Officinae Machinarum Militarium, which Piranesi postions near the north end of the Equiria, is both literally and figuratively the star of the Equiria's overall military program. This group of buildings represents the manufacturing headquarter's of ancient Rome's armed forces. It is thus a center of civic pride as well as a tribute to Mars, and its placement along the Equiria is entirely fitting, even though the whole design is without historical or archeological substantiality.
In the center of the Officinae machinarum militarium is the Aedes Vulcani, a small circular temple or shrine surrounded by a circular pool of water and dedicated to the god of fire. The Officinae machinarum militarium itself is a six pointed star shaped plan within a circular perimeter wall, with two small cruciform wings at either end. The Officinae Armorum is essentially four sets of linear celled buildings divided into pairs with a long pool building inbetween. Together, the three buildings comprise a bi-laterally symmetrical composition whose many openings create a complex of abundant connectivity.
On a purely figurative level, the complex's plan resembles a military insignia of honor.
27 February - the 1st Equiria
The Equria is the annual horse-races held on the 27th of February and the 14th of March in the Campus Martius, in honor of Mars.
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.
It rocked Eisenman on his chair...
Giovanni Battista Piranesi died today in 1778, on the feast of the dedication of the Basilica Constantiniani (known today as the Basilica of St. John Lateran), the first Christian basilica in Rome.
"Piranesi uses the Rome that was extent in the eighteenth century as a starting point, but that possesses no original value; it is merely a being in the present. From this existential moment of being, he takes buildings that existed in the first and second centuries, in Imperial Rome, and places them in the same framework of time and space as the eighteenth-century city."
--Peter Eisenman, "Notations of Affect. An Architecture of Memory" in Pathos, Affect, Gefühl (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter GmbH, 2004), pp.504-11.
If you actually study the Campo Marzio you'll find the starting point, framework and the millennium's worth of buildings that Piranesi utilized. First there are the altar and race course dedicated to Mars by Romulus in the mid-eighth century BC. Incidentally, this is how the Campo Marzio received its name--the fields of Mars. And to manifest the framework there is the last Imperial artifact of the Campo Marzio, the sepulcher of Empress Maria, wife of Honorius, from the early 5th century AD. Indeed the sarcophagus of Empress Maria holds a key position within the Il Campo Marzio publication. And to complete the framework, the last page of Il Campo Marzio depicts a double theater.