the long axis - Area Martis
The Templum Martis contains the actual temple to Mars and is surrounded by a niched wall in the shape of a hexagon.
The hexagon shape of the Templum Martis is almost a singular occurance except for the Naumachia Neronis just next to the Templum Martis. This Naumachia is, however, like a negative mirror image of the Templum Martis, and in that way enhances rather than detracts from the Templum's hexagon shape.
The Templum Martis is also the destination point [sic] of the triumphal processional route.
The fact that the triumphal processional route ends [sic] at the Templum Martis is Piranesi himself telling us that this complex is the most significant / symbolic / sacred place within the entire plan.
This sacred precinct generates a lot of energy and force, and the long thoroughfare axis is the greatest manifestation of the force the precinct projected. The design of the Mars complex also projects strong sexual connotations. The plan of the Templum Martis is self-evidently evocative of a penis and testicles--a fitting metaphor for the male god of war. Conversely, the layout of the Area Martis has as open center flanked by a pair of identical monuments--perhaps a reference to the female sex and reproductive organs, the vagina and the overies. Together, the Templem Martis and the Area Martis represent, or, put another way, the plan formations visually anthropomorphize in plan form, the essence of sexual intercourse and the mechanics of human conception. The conception of the Campo Marzio, archeologically, historically and relative to Piranesi's publication, and specifically in the Ichnographia, is the sacred precinct of Mars.
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.
...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.
Campo Marzio - the triumphal way
...an article in Ritual on the story/meaning of the Triumphal Way in ancient Rome. ...the route that Piranesi deliniated starts at the Templum Martis and continues until it enters the city at the Porta Triumphalis. ...have to reconsider the "profane to sacred" architectural promenade... ...the realm of the profane and the sacred did invert itself in Rome with the conversion to Christianity from paganism. Perhaps Piranesi is making a commentary on the reversal in ancient Rome's history and its meaning as a city. ...the Templum Jani sits at one of the ends (beginning?) of Piranesi's Triumphal Way, and this gives ground to the backward/forward reversal notion. Perhaps the whole notion of inversion is a dominant theme...
Campo Marzio - the triumphal way
...in the Plattus text... ...the story about the entrance procession of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V in 1536 (nine years after his troops had sacked Rome in 1527). In this procession the route ended at the Vatican/St. Peter's. This brings to mind Piranesi's point of beginning of the Triumphal Way at the Templum Martis, which is very close to the actual site of St. Peter's. Again, there may be a symbolic reversal in the route that Piranesi marks.
...Nero's garden was already the site of Constantine's St. Peter's basilica. Therefore,it may not be all that far-fetched to see Piranesi making symbolic reference to the ancient Roman reversal from paganism to Catholicism. In this sence, the Porticus Neronianae is closer to Old St. Peter's that to the present basilica.
The Longest Axis / The Axis of Life
sex, Mars, reenactment
...the phrase, "back to daddy's balls, architecture halls"... ...a connection between this line and the Ichnographia. ...Mars being the father of Romulus--the founder of Rome, and the connection of sex and conception within plans... ... the "testicles" of the Templum Martis as generators...
...the prominence of Mars... ...Piranesi actively redesigned Imperial Rome as he came to understand it. Piranesi assimilated all the knowledge about this part of the city, and through that assimilation he delineated an optimal synthesis. Piranesi's plan of the Campo Marzio is not an architectural reconstruction, but an archeological redesign. Piranesi's plan is not a rendition of what was, rather a rendition of what could have been. Piranesi's plan is not a reconstruction, but an historical reenactment.
The Ichnographia is a powerful reenactment of the architectural history of the Campo Marzio. The history, moreover, is not limited to Imperial Rome. Although the buildings are named for those primarily of the late Empire, Piranesi also very cleverly and extremely subtlely reenacts the architectural history of the Campo Marzio beyond the Imperial Age, specifically the inversion/conversion of Rome from pagan state to Christian state.
The opening stage for the reenactment is the Scenographia (whose very title has obvious theatrical connotations)...
...regarding the Ichnographia as a stone fragment: a reenactment of the Forma Urbis--a virtual reenactment of discovering the great missing piece of the "puzzle" that will bring all the other piece to a grand cohesion. (...here reminded of Tafuri's opening comments to The Sphere and the Labyrinth: "There comes a moment (though not always) in research when all the pieces begin to fall into place, as in a jig-saw puzzle, where all the pieces are near at hand and only one figure can be assembled (and thus the correctness of each move be determined immediately)..."
program of the Area Martis
Piranesi seems to have designed the Area Martis with the writings of Josephus in mind (as cited in Plattus "Passage into the City"). Piranesi calls the immediate zone around the adjacent Templum Martis "apparatorium triumphatorium"--place of preparation for the triumphal procession, and the many tabernae surrounding the Area Martis seem to be there to accomodate the triumphator and his troops the night before the day of procession. See Plattus p.104-5.
The first arch the procession goes through (and actually the only arch the way goes through within the Ichnographia) is the arch of Trajan. Although there is nothing spectacular in terms of triumph per se that is associated with Trajan. ...the "planned" lineage (literally) going from Trajan to Hadrian to Antoninus Pius along the longest axis (of life) -- from arch to tomb to arch--which corresponds with the historical lineage of imperial sucession. ...all the emperors from Nerva to Antoninus Pius are clearly "marked throughout the Horti Domitiae--there is a statue of Nerva beside the Templ. Plotinae.
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.)
Campo Marzio - new discoveries
...St. Peter's Basilica and Square match exactly the outline of the Porticus Neronianae and the Temple and Area of Mars complex. The piazza of St. Peter's matches the dimensions of the Area Martis, the Temple of Mars fits within the forecourt of St. Peter's, and the nave and transept crossing of the Neronian Porticus falls right in line with the crossing of St. Peter's. ...so exact, and unquestionably deliberate on Piranesi's part. ...firmly locks the analysis of the life and death axes.
The other discovery deals with the horti Luciliani and the horti Lucullani.
Piranesi places the fictitious horti Luciliani where the horti Lucullani ought to be, and places the horti Lucullani at a location further north.
It is the horti Lucullani that Messalena murdered for.
Lucilius is the father of Roman satire. Is there anything satirical in Piranesi's plan of the garden? Perhaps the answer has something to do with a shrine to Minerva being in the center of one of the building complexes--literally "wisdom" (but also "weaving") in the center of a garden of satire. The theater and salons, now make more sense.
satire 1 a : an ancient Roman commentary in verse on some prevailing vise of folly b : a usually topical literay composition holding up human or individual vices, folly, abuses, or shortcomings to censure by means of ridicule, derision, burlesque, irony, or other method sometimes with an intent to bring about c : LAMPOON 2 a : a branch of literature ridiculing vice or folly
censure 1 : a judgement involving condem-nation a : spiritual chastizement by an ecclesiastical agency
wit implies intellectual brilliance and quickness in perception combined with a gift for expressing ideas in an entertaining, often laughter provoking, pointed way, usually connoting the unexpected or apt turn of phrase or idea and often suggesting a certain brittle unfeelingness
satire can apply to any criticism or censure relying on exposure, often by irony and often subtle, of the ridiclous or absurd qualities of something
The notion of Piranesi being satirical himself throughout the Ichnographia is an intriguing idea.
...the various other gardens and buildings that Piranesi places on the same plateau as the horti Lucullani. Some of them, like the horti Narcissi, relate directly to the Messalena story since it is the freedman Narcissus that ultimately kills Messalena. There is also the horti Anteri--Anteros means "an avenger of slighted love," which describes both Messalena and her husband the emperor Claudius, although for different reasons.
...Tafuri could have said so much more about the horti Luciliani.
St. Peter's - Templum Martis Comparison
As the son of Mars, and as founder and first king of Rome, Romulus is synonymous with beginnings. Without Mars, however, Romulus is nothing, so it is through the concomitance of Mars and Romulus that the origin of Rome takes place in Piranesi's Campo Marzio.
The presence of Romulus within the Ichnographia occurs both directly and indirectly. There is the Templum Romuli, and there is the Templum novum Quirini. The Templum Romuli is within the Campus Martius proper, while the Templum novum Quirini is situated further east between the Horti Salustiani and the base of the Quirinal Hill. Both temples, interestingly enough, "preside" over large stadium complexes, and it is worth further noting that the Templum Romuli is on the same axis as one of the Ichnographia's two Templum Martis.
The third and most indirect reference to Romulus is the Lineae indicantes viam triumphalem--the line indicating the Triumphal Way--which begins in the Area Martis in front of the Ichnographia's other Templum Martis that is on the west bank of the Tiber within the Vatican valley. Each Roman Triumph, of which there were hundreds throughout ancient Rome's history, is a reenactment of the original triumphal march of Romulus. The Lineae. . .triumphalem of the Ichnographia therefore literally marks a lineage back to Rome's inception, and thus locates a point of beginning for the Ichnographia Campus Martius as well.