The Discovery of Piranesi's Final Project
Stephen Lauf



12 April 1778   Sunday
Vases, Candelabra, Grave Stones, Sarcophagi. Tripods, Lamps and Ancient Ornaments   volume II

To Mr. Cavalier Arthur Boyer lover of the fine arts
In deed of respect the Cavalier Gio. Batt(ist)a Piranesi D. D. D.
Marble cremation urn, decorated with very fine carvings. On the front of the lid we see the portrait of that Lucio Calvino, as can be learned from the inscription below. From the volume, and from the stylus, one could believe that he was a Man of Letters, or a Scribe. The dog, which is next to him by chance could have been Calvino's itself, and loved by him in life, or either it was placed there as a symbol of vigilance.
Cavalier Piranesi del. and inc.


12 April 1784
Gustav III inducted into Accademia degli Arcadi in the Bosco Parrasio, on the Janiculum Hill, with the name Anassander Cheroneus.


27-28 y.o. Francesco Piranesi 1786
Icnografia del Circo de Caracalla fuori della Porta Capena in oggi S. Sebastiano

A. Circus entrance in the middle of the prisons.
B. Prisons of which the walls hinted at in a darker color exist.
C. Pillars where the shutters of the Prison arches with their lunettes still exist.
O.D. Oppido, or Towers with several levels.
F. Staircase to ascend to the second floor of these Towers
G. Picciole Stanze per commodo by Sterquilini.
H.I. Second floor of the Torri
K. Communication gate to the Meniano that existed above the Prisons.
L. Meniano, or Open Loggia.
M. Indizj de Podjo, lateral parapets at said Meniano.
N. Corresponding grandstand above entrance A.
O. Gate which connects from Meniano to Tower I.
P. Staircase to ascend to the third floor of this Tower but to the other I. to ascend from this to the other floors it was advisable to use wooden stairs
Q. Plan of the third floor of the Torr
R. Staircase to ascend to the uncovered floor of Tower H.
S. Spina
T.V.X.Z. Four lateral spaces at the two ends of the Spine, each of different width.
a. Edicole, or little temple without doors.
b. Metas that were raised above the Toli of the aforementioned Aediculae, of which only the remains of those distinguished in a darker color exist.
c. Interspace between the Spina and the aforementioned Edicole.
d. Edicole windows
e. Hemicycles restricted against the aforementioned Edicole
f. Dotted lines that arise from the thresholds of Pillars C.
g. Points where these lines end.
h. Obtuse angle by which the space T widens by half.
i. Corresponding site dicontro l'Angolo h. the space that passes between these two points was the largest in the rest of the Arena.
l. Space of the Arena which from the obtuse angle h. it decreases imperceptibly up to this point l. from which the space V. instead of continuing to decrease, is acquiring greater width.
m. Space of the Arena the smallest of all the Circus; because from the entrance T up to this point it always decreases, forming the space Z slightly wider.
n o. Space of the Arena, which imperceptibly widens from the Prisons to the beginning of the Spina.
p. Dotted line, distinguishing the middle of the Thorn located outside the middle of the Arena.
q. Five more Obtuse angles almost invisible, bending opposite of that h.
r. Dotted line, which distinguishes the folding of the obtuse angle h.
s. Dotted lines, which distinguish the folds of the walls of the other Obtuse angles q.
t. Intersection, which arises from the lines formed by the intraguardo de Pilastri C. where all the prison walls were directed.
v. Center which describes the Fauci delle Carceri in a curved line, and causes the two Oppidas D. E. to proceed irregularly, the D. remaining located further on.
u. Side entrances to the Prisons, between the Oppidis and the Ambulacro which surrounds the Circus.
x. Porta Libitinense.
z. Triumphal Gate.
aa. Doors of communication in the Ambulacro, or covered walkway whose Fornix, or Volta supported the degrees for the Spectators.


12 April 1812   Sunday

Morning without a cloud, wind N abated. Therm. 29. Ground frozen hard. Robert uncovered the white raspberries which had been buried during the winter yesterday. The buds were swollen and bursting out, he fears last night's frost may have injured them. Joseph Woolens called on me this afternoon and we went to see Gilbert Robinson. We found him much lower[?] than when I last saw him, his pulse[?] high, throat sore and appears fast declining. J Woolens placed him under the care of William Wright with whom he left money to purchase immediate necessities. On my return I found here T Gilpin and R Haines who stayed to tea. Therm. rose to 45. Wind round to SE.


12 April 1998
Campo Marzio - Latin dictionary
Overall, the Latin dictionary is giving me a substantial research ability, and hence a true confidence in the reenactment-interpretive work that I am doing. Moreover, translating all the terms is indeed necessary if I truly want to consider myself following in Piranesi's footsteps.
Ara Martis
I have long wondered what significance I would find in the Templum and Ara Martis that is situated next to the Circus Agonalis. It has never escaped my attention that this altar and temple to Mars are representative of the very original altar to Mars from which the entire campus Martius receives its name--indeed this altar is the very first "structure" of the campus. What has always been troubling is that the Triumphal Way does not begin at this temple, along with the fact that Piranesi "creates" a whole separate Temple and Area Martis on the other side of the Tiber. I already figured out the planning behind the Vatican Area Martis, but now what is Piranesi's intention for planning the Ara Martis and its surroundings the way he does.
My question has been answered in now knowing the exact program of the Alexander Severus complex. The key to this understanding is the porticus providing shade from the heat of the day. I didn't know this program before, but it tells me that the temple and ara Martis is surrounded by a very generous public amenity. Knowing this causes me to rethink the entire function of the place especially with regard to the Domus Ale. Sev., the Circus, and the neighboring police station and brothel and baths, etc. Essentially, this is one huge multi-use complex that joins the very public with the very formal private-governmental. With the inclusion of the circus and baths, moreover, the entire "building" defines what could be considered a new typological urban prototype, one that Piranesi's designs himself, and, because of the great time span between the first altar of Mars and the reign of Alex. Sev., there is also a sense of maturity, i.e., a maturity of design and urban purpose with regard to Rome itself. Essentially, the early (proto) temple of Mars becomes, over time, the centerpiece of a public "park," which is surrounded by an Imperial Palace, and, because of the porticus and the circus, the entire populus of Rome itself. It is a program that is superior in its programmatic function and in its programmatic symbolism.
As I am writing this note, Philadelphia's Independence Mall comes to mind because, like the Ara Martis complex, Independence Hall is the birthplace of the United States--the program for both sites is virtually identical. In fact, the Rome example sheds tremendous inspirational light upon the Philadelphia site in that the Mall already has a set of porticos, and whose focal point is a founding point, but it doesn't have an Imperial-governmental residence.
I forgot to mention the idea that the Ara Martis complex, in its collection of typologies, is somewhat similar to Schinkel's Altes Museum in the way that that building is also a composite of typologies.
porticus display and other typologies
I have decided to make the next new feature at Quondam about the typologies from/in the Campo Marzio. I am especially eager to do a display on the porticus. I like them because they are such a distinctly Roman type.
I found out yesterday the phallic plan formations in the Bustum Augusti are labeled as poticus for the mourning of soldiers.


12 April 2000



12 April 2004
Re: living democracy
maybe all bin Laden really wants is control of Saudi Arabia
maybe the Vatican should consider going into the movie business
maybe (fill in the blanks)
All I really know for sure is that last week Peter Jennings said Circus Maximus when he should have said Circus of Caligula and Nero.
All the news that fits the advertiser's standards.


12 April 2005

Napoleon Room 3


12 April 2023   Wednesday
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