a book on the Campo Marzio - outline
...start the book with a chapter on the long (longest) axis going from the Vatican Hill to the Tiber River.
After the chapter of the long axis, there will be a chapter on the triumphal processional route. This will engage the long axis and then cross the Tiber River and go through the Piazza Navona part of contemporary Rome, and end up at a gate in the Roman wall. Along this path, many buildings and monuments will be passed and will provide material for discussion. In particular there will be a group of buildings that have archeological verification. The group of buildings that look like storage buildings (repeated cells) appear in the Ichnographia and in Piranesi's etching of the fragments of the ancient plan of Rome, then recently discovered (c. 1700's) and carved in stone.
I just realized that the second chapter of the book will not be the processional route, but rather the Hadrian axis that crosses the long axis, and is the second longest axis in the entire plan. There are a few issues I know can be already be discussed and analyzed: the actual existence of a circus Adriani as per the Nolli plan and the general plan and immensity of the Hadrian complex itself. Indeed some aspects of the complex will already have been touched upon in the long axis chapter, but the whole square layout of the Hadrian complex will bring up a number of issues. If nothing else, the Hadrian complex is unique for its large sixe, its enormous symmetry, and its extremely ordered exterior space.
Then after the processional route, I'd like to address the Via Flaminia, the only street (as far as I can tell) that is named in the plan. I think I somewhere read that Piranesi was trying to correct what he thought was a mistaken idea of where the Via Flaminia actually was. Besides the historical connection, the street in the plan offers an interesting typological collection of pleblian houses with the occasional sprinkling of monuments and monumental buildings. An analysis of the street might just disclose an interesting urban design prototype.
After the processional route and the street, I will move on the Augustine's tomb and that will launch an analysis of five or six complexes that basically consist of large circle formations. There is a large middle area of the Ichnographia where one can discuss a half dozen large round complexes. I call them a profusion of bubbles. I am confident that an analysis of each complex will supply plenty of material and I am also confident that I will come up with some over-riding analyses and also come up with some urban design implications.
Beyond these ideas I can just make some loose suggestions. One would be to do a study of typologies, e.g. gardens, sepulchers, military buildings, nymphiums, etc. Second, I could address how the pieces within the plan get larger and looser. I have a suggestion that this is a manifestation of the universal tendency of mature and maturing artists to become freer and looser once they have a real knowledge of how things really work. Instead of saying freer and looser, I could also say that mature artists tend to also take more risks and are much more confident in their investigations.
Overall, I would also like to come up with a general analysis of the entire Inchnographia, what does it really amount to, what was Piranesi really trying to communicate, and what, if anything, is the Ichnographia's meaning and significance in terms of history, architecture and urban design.
layout of the book
I would like to emulate Piranesi's collage type of layout style. Of course, it would be wonderful and appropriate to give the collage style a contempory twist (like computer windows perhaps?).
the long axis
...the axis going from the Nymphiun on the Vatican Hill, straight down through the Area Martis and through the Hadrian/Domitiae complex and ending with a nymphium on the banks of the Tiber, between Hadrian's tomb and Augustine's tomb, is in fact the longest, straight planned axis/route within the entire Ichnographia. I think the greatness of its length is significant and I also believe that Piranesi began work on the Ichnographia on the area immediately under the large dedication block. My evidence will be discussed in a subsequent note.
the long axis - Area Martis
In approximately the center of the long axis is the Area Martis. My interpretation, thus far, is that the Area Martis is the sacred precinct of Mars. This Area Martis is further significant since the entire area of Rome depicted by Piranesi is called, i.e. named after Mars. It would, therefore, not be a stretch to assume that the Area Martis is perhaps the most sacred place within the entire Campo Marzio, and the entire Ichnographia. (I just inadvertently brought up the issue/question as to the exact extent of the Campo Marzio. In something I read recently there was something said (I think) about the Ichnographia actually going much beyond the actual (historical?/contemporary?) Campo Marzio.) There are probably some very good and clear primary sources in Piranesi's own text on the Campo Marzio--this would be an excellent thing for Sue Dixon to research.
If the Area Martis is the most sacred/special place or complex within the Ichnographia (and I will now investigate to find out what the other places are), then it is also rather modest in both size and design. There are numerous other building complexes that are much larger and far more cleaver and complex in design. The sacred precinct of Mars, however, does exhibit some distinct and unique features. The precinct is first of all comprised of two distinct parts: the Area Martis and the Templum Martis. The Templum Martis contains the actual temple to Mars and is surrounded by a niched wall in the shape of a hexagon. The Area Martis is an open area, a forecourt in front of the Temple to Mars and is comprised of an open court, a grand stair up to the Temple, two large monuments to Julius and Augustus Ceasar, various statues and fountains, and all these elements are surrounded by a cellular wall in the shape of a decagon or decahedron. The two polygons are joined at one of their respective sides, and in addition to both parts being surrounded by walls, they are both also almost entirely surrounded by a moat. Simply put, the sacred precinct of Mars is made up of two very distinct shapes joined together and surrounded by a moat on ten out of fourteen sides. Although the precinct is relatively small, it is highly articulated and also well protected.
What makes the sacred precinct of Mars distinct is also what makes it unique throughout the entire Ichnographia. The hexagon shape of the Templum Martis is almost a singular occurance except for the Naumachia Neronis just next to the Temple Martis. This Naumachia is, however, like a negative mirror image of the Temple Martis, and in that way enhances rather than detracts from the Templum's hexagon shape. The decagonal shape of the Area Martis, on the other hand, is unique throughout the Ichnographia. There is no other complex or group of buildings within the entire of Piranesi's creation that is in, or exhibits, or uses the shape of a decagon. Where exactly, or from what workings Piranesi came up with this shape, we are probably never to know for certain. Nor will we ever probably know whether the Area Martis was designed before the Xystus Agrippinae, a building complex that works in conjunction with the Area Martis. I bring up this issue because it is a possibility that the decagon shape of the Area Martis is actually a residual by-product of the workings of other building complexes.
What we do know is that there is no other building or group of buildings of the same shapes--so that make the Mars precinct special for a start. There is also no other complex within the plan that is surrounded by a moat. The complex is becoming more and more special. Moats have long held the connotation of security and protection, and generally one protects what is valuable. My contention is that Piranesi used the typology of a moat and articulated shapes to convey the idea that the Mars precinct is special and perhaps the most special place within the Campo Marzio.
There are some other design elements that reinforce the idea that the Mars precinct is special. The precinct's placement along the only throughfare axis within the entire plan is significant. And the precinct is also very close to the mid-point of the axis. The Templum Martis is also the destination point of the triumphant processional route.
I just realized that I almost totally missed the boat concerning the significance of the Mars precinct. The fact that the triumphal processional route ends at the Templum Martis is Piranesi's telling us himself that this complex is the most significant-symbolic-sacred place within the entire plan. Given that great primary source, I can then go on and explain how Piranesi exemplified this issue through his design/graphics solutions/decisions. I can mention all the things I just wrote about in the previous note.
The sacred precinct generated a lot of energy and force and the long thorough-fare 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 Temple 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--I say this is not an obvious referencr, but at least a self-evident reference to the female sex and reproductive organs--the vagina and the overies. Together, the Templem Martis and the Area Martis represent, or I should say the plan formations visual anthropomorphize, in plan form, the essence of sexual intercourse and the mechanics behind human conception. I want conception to be the operative word because I want it to become clear in my argument that I believe 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.
I somehow have to make a clear argument for starting an analysis of the Campo Marzio with the Templum and Area Martis. I think the altar and the processional route are the perfect start and that my further analysis will only reinforce the idea that Piranesi gave this area very special attention.
Mars - encyclopedia reference
These are some facts about the god Mars from Encyclopedia Britannica:
Mars, after Jupiter, the most important diety of the Roman state. He was commonly identified with the Greek Ares, but was never so much affected by foreign influence as to lose his essentially Roman and Italian character.
It is clear that by historic times he, [Mars] has developed into a god of war (hence his connection with Ares), and in Roman literature he is protector of Rome, a nation proud in war, which traced its founding back to a son of Mars, Romulus. There are at least three tenable views, however, of his ultimate origin: (1) that he was originally a war god whose functions were extended to physical and hence the spiritual protection of the field and crops; (2) that he was originally a diety connected with the fertility of the soil, of clthonian nature and thus a god of death and war; and (3) that he was originally a high god of the Italian peoples who were both warlike and agrarian and thus reflected their interests.
The problem probably cannot be solved, for evidences of all three possibilities are found in his cult.
Mars' festivals at Rome occurred in the spring and the fall, embracing both the agricultural and the military seasons. The month of March was, as might be expected, especially filled with festivals wholly or partially in his honer. The Feriae Marti. March 1, was New Year's Day in the old Roman calendar; the second Equirria, "horse races," occurred on March 14 (the first Equirria, Feb. 27); the Quinquatrus on March 19 was originally a festival of Mars which eventually was extended over a five-day period and became a festival of Minerva (q.v.); and the Tribilustrium, a purification of the war trumpets, occurred on March 23. All these have a connection with the initation of the war season. Significant also is the role played through this period up to March 23 by the ancient priesthood of the Salii (q.v.), particularly associated with Jupiter, Mars and Quirinus, who came out several times during the month to dance their ceremonial war dance in old-fashioned armour and chant a hymn to the gods. Again at the end of the season, October was an important month for Mars. The festival of the October horse on Oct. 15 was marked by a two-horse chariot race in the Capus Martius, one of the winning pair being sacrificed to Mars. On Oct. 19 the Armilustrium marked the purification of the arms of war and their storage for the winter.
Until the time Augustus, Mars had but two temples at Rome. One of these, originally only an altar, was in the Campus Martius, the exercising ground of the army. The other was outside the Porta Capena and there each year the Equites met in order to start in processiom thoughout the city. Each of these sites was outside the pomerium, and this has been explained to mean that the war god "must be kept at a distance."
Quirinus - encyclopedia reference
Quirinus (from Encyclopedia Britannica), a major Roman deity ranking close to Jupiter and Mars. Their flamines constituted the three major priests of Rome. His name is an adjective form and would seem to mean "he of the quirium," a word generally taken to signify the very ancient Sabine settlement which united with the Palitine community to form the original Rome. It has also be dirived , however, from coririum, meaning "assembly of men." That the Quirinal, traditional site of Sabine settlement was the seat of his cult there is no doubt, and the Sabine origin of the god is reflected in Ovid (Fasti II, 475). In spite of his importance rather little is known about Quirinus. He bears a similarity to Mars, and some believe that he is only another form of that deity. By the late republic he is identified completely with Romulus, a confusion perhaps originally suggested by Quirites. He had a festival, the Quirinalia, on Feb. 17; his temple on the Quirinal was one of the oldest in Rome. A cult partned Hora is spoken of, also minor deities, the Virites Quirini, of whom nothing else is known. Janus appears with the epithet Quirinus, but the relationship between the two is a matter of conjecture.
Area Martis - start of the book
Last night I thought it best for me to start my book on the Campo Marzio with the Templum and Area Martis, rather than the whole long axis. The long axis will be presented as an out-growth of the Mars precinct. Starting the book with a smaller piece will make the whole enterprise easier to handle (not bitting off more than I can chew). This approach will also allow me to take apart the Ichnograpia on a piece by piece basis. The book itself will also be more manageable. Each precinct or area will be treated separately and, therefore, additions to and subtractions from the overall body of work will be easily accomodated. This broken down, case by case approach may also help the project in becoming a series of volumns rather than one large finished volumn.
book - outline - long axis
The subjects to follow the Area Martis are outlined briefly as follows:
a. There will be introduced the triumphal way as the start of the long axis running both east and west of the Area Martis. The long axis will then be discussed starting with its extremes and the sexual connotations displayed by the buildings at the center of the long axis (Area Martis) and the buildings at the two extremes of the axis (the two nympheums and the funny little intercourse building on the west bank of the Tiber).
b. Having established the idea of the long axis, I will then investigate what complexes occur along the axis, starting with the Horti Neroniani. There are a number of issues to be brought up.
i) the basic orthagonal layout and simple architectural composition.
ii) the relationship of the site the the present Basilica of Saint Peters and the curious coincidence of a large basilica in Piranesi's plan.
iii) Piranesi's seeming late inclusion of the circus/stadium and the whole issue of Saint Peter's death and burial on this exact site. The circus and a group of sepulchers are both in the Ichnographia.
iv) the first sign of what I call Piranesi's metabolic approach to Roman architecture as seen in the wings of the basilica and also perhaps in the permutations of various monumental tombs spread regularly through the garden.
c. Moving to the other extreme of the axis, we find a triumphal arch which mirrors the arch at the entrance of the Area Martis. These two arches, both on the long axis, are also disposed with respect to the cross axis of Hadrians tomb. This begins the analysis of the Hadrian complex.
i) Hadrian's tomb being one of the very few extant building within the Ichnographia.
ii) the discovery and true placement of the circus Hadriani (see Nolli map) and how the tomb and the circus probably spurned the enormity of the entire Hadrian complex and the second longest axis in the Ichnographia. Also included is the continuation of an orthagonal layout and the extreme exercise of symmetry.
iii) the two porticus Hadriani on both sides of the Tiber. I don't know how important these are.
iv) the interesting correlation of the long row of sepulchers in the Hardian complex to the three sided sepulchers in the Horti Neroniani. It is as if the Hadrian sepulchers are a specific development of the Nero ones.
d. after the Hadrian complex I should probably go int the Horti Agrippinae.
i) the introduction of the non-orthagonal approach.
ii) finishing off that whole district west of the Tiber.