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Inside the Density of G. B. Piranesi's Ichnographia Campus Martius

Pagan - Christian - Triumphal Way

Ancient literary sources state the Temple of Janus stood near the Theater of Marcellus, but excavation of its remains did not occur until 1932/33. At first glance, Piranesi appears to confuse the issue by inserting two buildings dedicated to Janus near the Theater of Marcellus, a Templum Jani (1) next to the Porta Triumphalis (2) and an Aedes Jani (3) next to the Porta Carmentalis. (Aedes also means temple.) Upon inspecting the plans of both temples, it is the Aedes Jani that offers the more correct representation of the ancient Temple of Janus in that is has two doors opposite each other, which were open during times of war and closed during times of peace. This "correctness" of the Aedes Jani then raises the question as to why Piranesi also includes the Templum Jani. As with the Aedes Jani, the answer lies in the Templum Jani's plan, which is a unique four-sided square temple in the shape of a cross, most unlike the standard Roman temple. The four sidedness of this temple plan is an obvious reference to the Arch of Janus Quadrifrons, a rare example of a four-way arch that still exists in today's Rome at the western foot of the Palatine Hill. The Temple (Aedes) of Janus dates from 260 BC while the Arch of Janus dates from 315 AD, and Piranesi's cross-reference of these two structures elicits a poignant association between Janus, the god with two faces looking in opposite directions, and the emperor who erected the Arch of Janus, Constantine the Great, the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity. When Constantine first marched triumphantly into Rome, which was exactly one day after his conversion to Christianity, Rome's new hero chose not to follow the Triumphal Way's traditional pagan route, and thus, through the overt and covert symbolism of the Ichnographia's Templum Jani, Piranesi's Triumphal Way takes on a second, albeit inverted narrative. Simply put, the Triumphal Way of the Ichnographia is one path with two opposite directions.

Arch of Janus

1999.12.08 11:42
hello, christian inversion of Rome text?
hello Peter,
In our brief chat after dinner at the Atomium on Friday night, you mentioned a medieval(?) Christian text that inverted the pagan sites of Rome into Christian sites. I know you told me that the book was in paperback, and even that a woman (architect?) taught a course on the subject at Harvard(?), but I in no way can recall the title of this work. Could you respond with the title of the book in question?

2000.02.08 10:55
Re: apology
Rick wrote [addressed to Steve]:
... a message which I felt was important, indeed made more important by what I still think of as your wrong headedness ...
Nevertheless, nothing excuses my taking liberties with the facts of your schooling. I sincerely hope that you will forgive me for that, even if you dislike my interpretation of the purpose for your old curriculum.
Do you also want me to take back my interpretation of your design ability? You failed to instruct my on that.

Steve replies [with apologies for making all this public]:
There is nothing wrong with interpretation until interpretation is presented as fact. If something is interpretation, then make sure it is noted as such. Likewise, if you are speaking from experience, be specific about the experience, especially because in the end we all have our own experiences and our own collection of facts. Such a course of action may become just a string of anecdotes, but 'true' anecdotes may be better than potentially false generalizations. [Personally, I greatly dislike it when others try to pigeon-hole me or my work because the ensuing classification / categorization is mostly meant to benefit the classifiers intentions, and for the most part never addresses my intentions.]
Rick, taking back your interpretation of my design ability will only do you more harm than it will do me. First of all, my design ability is independent of you interpretations, and nothing you write (positive or negative) can change that. Furthermore, if you were to now say that I now lack design ability, you would then demonstrate instability as a critic. I suggest if there is some design of mine that you like, then ask me about it specifically, rather than fabricate interpretations.
When it comes to CAD, my experience and opinions indeed have an extremeness, but that doesn't make me 'wrong headed'--maybe 'new headedness' would be a better description.
Why is it that when it comes to CAD, so many teachers choose to stop learning themselves?

You have yet to answer my question as to how much experience you have personally with regard to designing with CAD.



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