von Erlach's The Labyrinth of Crete

1725 von Erlach's The Labyrinth of Crete
1757-62 Bustum Hadriani
1971 Cemetery of San Cataldo

new insights regarding the Campo Marzio Busti
As I am proceeding with translating all the Latin labels of the Ichnographia, I've developed some new ideas regarding the Bustum Hadriani and the Bustum Augustus. I never compared and contrasted them before, but I now see that Piranesi treated them as opposites of each other. The development of this notion ran as follows:
I was today finally able to translate Piranesi's label of the radiation triangular clitoporticus of the Bustum Hadriani--a porticus dedicated to the evocation of the gods and the spirits of the Lower World. Of course, such a porticus fits perfectly with the axis of death, and this axis is also further reinforced by my now knowing the correct meaning of the Bustum (burning place) and also knowing about the slab for the burning bodies and the funeral-pyre. Moreover, 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, now more than ever, comes across as 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.
Next, I began to translate the labels of the Bustum Augustii, and here I found the exact opposite wording--the joyful recollection of Augustus. The evocation of joy is certainly the opposite of evoking the spirits of the underworld, and it was this sharp contrast that led me to notice all the other contrasts between the Bustum Hadriani and the Bustum Augusti.
The list of contrasts is as follows:
a. where Hadrian's clitoporticus funnels inward, Augustus' memoriae fans outward.
b. where the Hadrian precinct is square, the Augustin precinct is round.
c. the Hadrian Bustum proper is a "depression," where the Augustan Bustum is "uplifting," raised on a hill.
d. the center of the Bustum Hadriani is fire and the center of the Bustum Augustii is water.
e. the Bustum Hadriani is surrounded by a canal (moat) and the Bustum Augustii is surrounded by a wall.
f. the Bustum Hadriani, with its circuses, is open to all, where the Bustum Augustii, with its iron gate, is closed.
g. where the Bustum Hadriani has a fair degree of archeological veracity, the Bustum Augustii is full of blatant misplacements.
In simple allegorical terms, the Bustum Augustii reenacts the "rise" of Rome, and the Bustum Hadriani reenacts the "fall" of Rome, which is just another inversion derived from a whole set of inversions. The notion of "rise" and "fall," moreover, can be seen in the phallic porticus of the Bustum Augustii versus the Arch of Gratian, Valentinian et Theodosius, which represents the last Roman triumph along with the end of the unified empire.
I never expected to make this type of discovery, and this certainly is an important one because it encompasses the Campo Marzio's two largest complexes, and the two Imperial mausoleums. It is also important because of all Rome's history, pagan, Christian, and Imperial are allegorically represented in the plan. Furthermore, it is now clear through the designs of the two Busti that Piranesi was very consciously drawing and designing the Ichnographia allegorically with a full knowledge and understanding of Rome's history and its archeology. It is almost as though the design of the Bustum Augustii is Piranesi's own expression of joy in evoking the glories of Augustan and Imperial Rome at its best.
Along with this new discovery, I now also know that Hadrian basically built his mausoleum because the mausoleum of Augustus was full, and this is just another example of how pretty much everything has its reason for happening.




Quondam © 2016.08.15