piranesi

1998

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1998.06.28

Quondam
Encyclopedia Ichnographica 0.1

Stephen Helmut Lauf © 1998-2000


Encyclopedia Ichnographica
a turn-of-the-millennium documentation of the greatest plan ever redrawn

written and illustrated by
Stephen Helmut Lauf


Piranesi's ICHNOGRAPHIA CAMPUS MARTIUS, the large plan within the archeological text Il Campo Marzio dell'antica Roma, has inspired numerous architects since its first printing in 1762, yet the Encyclopedia Ichnographica is the first full-scale analysis of the plan's composition, meaning, and message. While representing a 'reŽnacted' plan of ancient Rome's Field of Mars, Piranesi ingeniously delineates two narratives--that of pagan Rome and that of Christian Rome--and at the same time offers an unprecedented lesson in urban design.

Presented here as a work-in-progress, the Encyclopedia Ichnographica will address every detail of Piranesi's plan through an ongoing delivery of descriptive and analytical texts along with computer generated illustrations of the plan redrawn.

1998.07.28
subtext reŽnactment, etc.
Last Thursday night ... a multitude of ideas. The ideas had mostly to do with Quondam and the Encyclopedia Ichnographica:
1. subtext reinactment - this is an almost bizarre idea of having an almost secret place "beneath" the Encyclopedia Ichnographica. There would be a link under "subtext" and under "reenactment" to a place where the Campo Marzio is being reinacted in 3-d using my existing model collection. Essentially, the 'construction' an "analogous city" a la Canaletto's Capriccio and Aldo Rossi. This could be an entirely creative and inventive effort. I particularly remember thinking:
a. Houses Under a Common Roof in place of the Porticus Septa Julia.
b. morphing the Altes Museum into one of the long (linear) porticus.
c. replacing the Sepul. Hadriani with a tripod from the Altes Museum roof (or even the layered structure from Stirling's Cologne Museum).
...the end products (plans, elevations, axons and perspectives). ...a context within which to "display" and "set" Quondam's model collection.
...the "mistakes" article beginning with the notion that in drawing the map/plan itself, Piranesi actually made very few "graphic" mistakes, e.g., the late? inclusion of the Circus of Caligula and Nero and the patch of grass between two of the plates.


1998.07.28
Encyclopedia Ichnographica - a tale of two cities
Today was the first time I thought of the Encyclopedia Ichnographica as the tale of two cities. The idea came to me first with regard to Piranesi's Campo Marzio and Philadelphia, but I soon realized that there is also the pagan city and the Christian city being written about.


1998.07.29
reading about Piranesi in Scott
I read today about Piranesi's spelling and textual mistakes in Chapter 2 (around footnote 4, p. 17). I have to make further note of this and see where it fits within the Encyclopedia. I also read that Piranesi moved to the top pf the Spanish Steps the year the Campo Marzio was published (beginning of chapter VII, p. 163).


1998.08.04
Encyclopedia Ichnographica - the Equiria in 3d
I just thought about beginning a 3d extrusion of all the building plans along the Equiria. This idea was brought on by thinking about the Equiria entry for the Encyclopedia, which will go into detail about all the buildings that line the course. Specifically, I was thinking how aerial and ground level perspectives would make the article very effective, and therefore require some 3d representation.
I also like the idea of writing on the Equiria at this point because chronologically it is the first axis of the Campo Marzio. I didn't expect to put my focus here, but it is appropriate. (I will still work on St. Peter's Basilica as well, however.)

1998.08.09
next work on the Encyclopedia Ichnographica
...resume my work on the Modena Cemetery model to superimpose some aerial perspectives.
...a web page for each of the buildings along the Equiria.
the bibliography.


1998.08.09
Alexander Severus
...read about Alex. Sev. in Encyclopedia Britannica because I have lately realized that both of the buildings in the Ichnographia--his Domus and his porticus--have a close connection to Mars. The Domus Alex. Sev. is part of the compound enclosing the original altar of Mars, and the Porticus is the last building along the Equiria.
I want to see if there any particular reference to Mars relative to Alex. Sev. Actually, I found no direct link, but it is interesting to note that the emperor had considered dedicating a temple to Jesus and that the military under his reign suffered significant losses. I am willing to propose that Piranesi uses Alex. Sev. as signifying the beginning of the end. If this is so, Piranesi is especially clever because he associates the beginning of the end directly with the Campo Marzio's true beginnings. Furthermore, Alex. Sev. is then also the beginning of the pagan-Christian inversion (although I won't really stress this point yet), and I could point to the "inversion" motifs evident in the porticus around the altar of Mars and the porticus at the end of the Equiria.


1998.08.18
Porticus Neronianae and the circle/square juncture, etc
I noticed today while taking inventory of all my databases, that the cruciform Porticus Neronianae is not only somewhat similar to the Villa Rotunda, but also seems to be generated by the circle/square juncture diagram. I will present this phenomenon within the Encyclopedia Ichnographica, and, along with this coincidence, suggest that Piranesi may here be commenting on Palladio's design methodology. Beyond that, however, this latest discovery add further significance to the circle/square juncture overall. I have just in the last few days been thinking about formally introducing the circle/square man @ Quondam... ...this will essentially become the beginning of the BIA.


1998.09.21
Alexander Severus
from: David Magie (translator), The Scriptores Historiae Augustae (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1980), vol. II.
p. 199: Nevertheless, although the entreaties of the senate could not persuade him to take the name of either Antoninus or "the Great," the troops conferred on him the name Severus (2) on account of his great strength of spirit and his marvellous and matchless fortitude in face of the soldiers' insolence.
2. This explanation of the assumption of the name Severus is wholly incorrect. He took the name in order to emphasize his connexion with Septimus Severus, and Elagabalus had assumed the name M. Aurelius Antoninus in order to connect himself more closely with Caracalla. The explanation given here is based on the general fondness of these biographers for punning on the names of the emperors.
p. 205: After he succeeded to the imperial power, while still a boy, he used to do everything in conjunction with his mother, so that she seemed to have an equal share in the rule, a woman greatly revered, but covetous and greedy for gold and silver. (notes: Alexander was 13 years old at his accession and the government was carried on entirely by Mamaea after the death of Julia Measa in 226. She was clever enough to conceal the weak and insolent character of her son by providing him with excellent advisors, notably Ulpian, and attributing to him all the reforms instituted by them. Her greed is attested by Herodian. It brought the reign of Alexander into great disrepute and was one of the causes of his downfall. Alexander's own tendency for amassing wealth is alluded to in c. xliv. 2 and lxiv. 3.)
p. 219: He erected in Rome very many great engineering-works. He respected the priviledges of the Jews and allowed the Christians to exist unmolested.
p. 223: He forbade the maintainence in Rome of baths used by both sexes -- which had, indeed, been forbidden previously but had been allowed by Elagabalus. He ordered that the taxes imposed on procurers, harlots, and calamites should not be deposited in the public treasury, but utilized them to meet the state's expenditures for the restoration of the theatre, the Circus, the Amphitheatre, and the Stadium. (note: the Theatre of Marcellus, the Circus Maximus, the Colosseum, struck by lightning under Macrinus, and the stadium build by Domitian in the Campus Martius -- the site of the modern Piazza Navona.)
p. 225: He restored the public works of former emperors and built many new ones himself, among them the bath which was called by his own name (note: the Thermae Alexandrianae were a re-building and extension of the Thermae Neronianae in the Campus Martius immediately N.E. of the Pantheon; the name was still applied to this locality in the eleventh century. These Thermae are depicted on coins of 226) adjacent to what had been the Neronian and also the aqueduct which still has the name Alexandriana (note: It brought the water for his Thermae, conveying it from springs near Gabii about eleven miles E. of the city -- the source of the modern Acqua Felice constructed in 1585. It entered the city at the Porta Maggiore, about 3 km. outside which, near Vigna Certosa, its ruins are still visible, though all traces of it inside the walls have vanished). Next to this bath he planted a grove of trees on the site of some private dwellings which he purchased and then tore down.
p. 229: Alexander also began the Basilica Alexandrina (note: Otherwise unknown, but probably connected with his Thermae.), situated between the Campus Martius and the Saepta of Agrippa (note: See note to Hadr., xix. 10.), one hundred feet broad and one thousand long and so constructed that its weight rested wholly on columns; its completion, however, was prevented by his death. The shrines of Isis and Serapis (note: This double sanctuary was in the Campus Martius between the Pantheon and the Saepta, E. of the modern church of S. Maria sopra Minerva. Originally founded in 43 B.C. (Dio, xivii. 15), it was burned under Titus (Dio, lxvi. 24) but rebuilt under Domitian (Eutropius, vii. 23).) he supplied with a suitable equipment, providing them with statues, Delian slaves, and all the apparatus used in mystic rites. Toward his mother Mamaea he showed singular devotion, even to the extent of constructing in the Palace at Rome certain apartments named after her which the ignorant mob of today calls "ad Mammam" (note: Apparently a popular corruption of Mamaea's name.) and also near Baiac a palace and a pool, still listed officially under the name of Mamaea.
p. 233-35: In the Forum of Nerva (which they call the Forum Transitorium) he set up colossal statues of the deified emperors, some on foot and nude, others on horseback, with all their titles and with columns of bronze containing lists of their exploits, doing this after the example of Augustus, who erected in his forum marble statues of the most illustrious men, together with the record of their achievements.
p. 255: He built a public store-house in each region of the city, and to this anyone who had no store-house of his own might take his property. He built a bath, too, in every region which happened to have none, and even today many of these are still called Alexander's. And he also constructed magnificent dwellings and presented them to his friends, especially the upright.
p. 267: He also wished to build a temple to Christ and give him a place among the gods -- a measure, which, they say, was also considered by Hadrian. For Hadrian ordered a temple without an image to be built in every city, and because these temples, built by him with this intention, so they say, are dedicated to no particular deity, they are called today merely Hadrian's temples. Alexander, however, was prevented from carrying out his purpose, because those who examined the sacred victims ascertained that if he did, all men would become Christians and the other temples would of necessity be abandoned.
p. 273-5: During his campaigns he made such careful provision for the soldiers that they were furnished with supplies at each halting-place and were never compelled to carry food for the usual period of seventeen days, except in the enemy's country. And even then he lightened their burdens by using mules and camels, saying that he was more concerned for the soldier's welfare than for his own, for on them depended the safety of the state. When any of the soldiers were ill he would visit them personally in their tents, even those of the lowest rank, and have them carried in carts and provided with every necessity; and if by chance they grew worst, he would quarter them on the most upright house-holders or highly esteemed matrons in the cities and the country-districts, paying back the expenses which they incurred, whether they recovered or died.
p. 283: He used often to explain what he had heard from someone, either a Jew or a Christian, and always remembered, and he also had it announced by a herald whenever he was disciplining anyone, "What you do not wish that a man should do to you, do not do to him." And so highly did he value this sentiment that he had it written up in the Palace and in public buildings.

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