Encyclopedia Ichnographica

Sep. Mariae Honorij Congiig


Sep. Mariae Honorij Congiig

1 September
2013.09.01 15:08

The last line (so far) of 'It rocked Eisenman on his chair...' reads:
"It wasn't enough that Maria remained a virgin consort to a 14 year-old Emperor, she then had to witness the only English Pope take her sarcophagus for himself. She's now writing The Plays of Nicholas Breakspear."

1159.09.01 death of Pope Adrian IV [aka Nicholas Breakspear]

The tomb of Pope Adrian IV is presently within the Vatican crypt of the Basilica of St. Peter, and it bears a stricking resemblence to the Sarcophagus of Maria, first wife of the Emperor Honorius as depicted by Piranesi within Il Campo Marzio...

...except Piranesi does not depict the two Medusa head medalions. Obviously Piranesi took some artistic license in his depiction (which in itself is not unusual for him), but this difference raises a whole casket full of problems. For a start, it's most unlikely for the sarcophagus of a teenage Christian imperial wife to bear such pagan iconography--Maria was married to the son of the Emperor Theodusius I who legally abolished all paganism throughout the Roman Empire and installed Christianity as the only state religion. Was Piranesi trying to hide some sort of Imperial blemish? I doubt it. Looking deeper, if Breakspear was entombed within this late-antique sacophagus soon after his death 854 years ago today, then it could not be the sarcophagus of Maria because that sarcophagus was not discovered until 3 February 1544 during the demolitions of the old Basilica of St. Peter, Vatican. Of course, the papal remains could have been placed within the newly found sarcophagus after 1544, but there are no records of such an event having taken place. In fact, there are no records, as far as I can find, that even link the sarcophagus of Pope Adrian IV with the sarcophagus of Maria, except, as it happens, my own recognition of the resemblence between the actual papal sarcophagus and Piranesi's depiction of the imperial sacophagus. So what's really going on here?

There's no question that Piranesi understood the histoirical/archaeological significance of the sarcophagus of Maria:
2007.11.09 "If you actually study the [Ichnographia of the] Campo Marzio you'll find the starting point, framework and the millennium's worth of buildings that Piranesi utilized. First there are the altar and race course dedicated to Mars by Romulus in the mid-eighth century BC. Incidentally, this is how the Campo Marzio received its name--the fields of Mars. And to manifest the framework there is the last Imperial artifact of the Campo Marzio, the sepulcher of Empress Maria, wife of Honorius, from the early 5th century AD. Indeed the sarcophagus of Empress Maria holds a key position within the Il Campo Marzio publication."

This key position is as head-piece of the Latin language dedication of Il Campo Marzio to Scotsman Robert Adam.

2002.01.19: "The sarcophagus of Maria may well be the last substantial imperial artifact of (the city of) Rome, and, after an illustrious title page and a frontispiece, it is an image of the sarcophagus of Maria that Piranesi uses to begin his Campo Marzio publication. In a most elegantly covert way, Piranesi began the 'history' of the Campo Marzio with what is really it's ending, and what is probably the world's greatest designed architectural inversionary double theater goes on from there."

What may well actually have happened is that, after finding textual evidence of the discovered existence of the sarcophagus of Maria, Piranesi went about looking for the actual sarcophagus, but didn't find it anywhere within the collections of the Vatican or Rome. However, he still needed an image of the sarcophagus to grace the Dedication to Robert Adam, so he decided to use the late-antique sarcophagus that happens to hold the remains of the only English Pope as a model. I wonder if Adam was even ever aware of the fabricated connection.

2013.12.27 21:01
27 December
In the course of the "play" the most egregious "mistake/inversion" is the misplacement and disorientation of the Circus Flaminius and its actual exchange with the Theater of Balba. This "mistake" manifests a composition of inverted theaters--essentially a double inverted theater. This configuration becomes one of the Il Campo Marzio's final scenes and thus represents the double inverted "theater" of Rome's own history--the narrative of pagan Rome and the narrative of Christian Rome, and in the Ichnographia the one story is indeed a reflection of the other.

Piranesi's Continual Double Theaters
The subject of double theaters starts with Bernini's play--the Baroque ending for sure--and it is Piranesi that continues this Baroque design technique. Oddly, the double theater aspect of Piranesi's design methodology has yet to be recognized by designers or design theorists or critics.

A short list of Piranesian double theaters:
1. check for possible examples in the Prima Parte.
2. the two states of the Carceri.
3. Wilton-Ely's example of mirrored precedent for one of the Carceri.
4. the overall double--Pagan-Christian--narrative of the Ichnographia Campus Martius, with the Scenographia as the empty stage set.
5. the double directional Triumphal Way.
6. the axes of life and death.
7. the axes of love and war.
8. the Mars - St. Agnes axis.
9. the theatrics of satire--Horti Luciliani.
10. the (literal) double theaters-- Marcellus and Balbi.
11. the "circus act".
12. the back versus front of the altar.
13. the two sets of cochinae--is the snail its own double theater in that it self propagates, i.e., fulfills both sex roles individually? does this relate to the intercourse building?
14. the "rise and fall" (of Imperial Rome) as delineated by the two Busti Busti.
15. it seems a case could be made regarding the working together of two mediums--plan delineations in combination with Latin labels.

750 BC     Ara Martis
750 BC     Equiria

1150 years

400     Sep. Mariae Honorij Congiig

Position of the Altar of Mars, the Equirra, and the Sepulcher of Maria, wife of Honorius.

The name campus Martius was derived from an ancient altar of Mars, ascribed by tradition to Romulus...

According to Festus, it was Romulus who instituted the first horse-races in honor of Mars. These races became an annual event, and, due to their origin, are rightly considered the "proto" festival or feast of Roman tradition. According to Varro, the races took on the name of Equiria, which is derived "from the equorum cursus 'running of horses'; for on that day they currunt 'run' races in the sports on the Campus Martius." Furthermore, Ovid's Fasti lists the dates of the races as the 27th of February and the 14th of March, and, since the Roman calendar began the 1st of March, the holding of the first horse-race the day just before the new year further attests the Equirria's premire "fest" position.

The sarcophagus of Maria may well be the last substantial imperial artifact of (the city of) Rome, and, after an illustrious title page and a frontispiece, it is an image of the sarcophagus of Maria that Piranesi uses to begin his Campo Marzio publication. In a most elegantly covert way, Piranesi began the 'history' of the Campo Marzio with what is really it's ending, and what is probably the world's greatest designed architectural inversionary double theater goes on from there.

After removing all the "the armories and military exercise yards; the stadia and gymnasia; the amphitheaters and circuses; the gardens and pleasure fountains; the crypts and tombs... ...and the funerary monuments," what remains are temples and porticos, offices, stores and warehouses, etc., patrician and plebeian houses, diets, curias, and sundry other governmental buildings, and even a number of streets.

"The level plain of the campus Martius was particularly well adapted to this characteristic form of Roman architecture--the porticus--which conformed to a general model, while varying in proportions and details. The porticus consisted of a covered colonnade, formed by two or more rows of columns, or a wall on one side and columns on the other. lts chief purpose was to provide a place for walking and lounging which should be sheltered from storm and sun, and for this reason the intercolumnar spaces were sometimes filled with glass or hedges of box. Within the porticoes or in apartments connected closely with them, were collections of statuary, paintings, and works of art of all kinds, as well as shops and bazaars. In some cases the porticus took its name from some famous statue or painting, as the porticus Argonautarum.

While the erection of the first porticus in the campus Martius dates from the early part of the second century B.C., the period of rapid development in their numbers and use did not begin until the Augustan era. The earliest of these structures seem to have been devoted exclusively to business purposes. By the time of the Antonines, there were upwards of a dozen in region IX, some of them of great size, and it was possible to walk from the forum of Trajan to the pons Aelius under a continuous shelter. They were usually magnificently decorated and embellished, and provided with beautiful gardens."
Samuel Ball Platner, The Topography and Monuments of Ancient Rome



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