A seven-letter inscription found on a column-drum from the Temple of Mars Ultor in the Forum of Augustus and hypothetically dated to ca. 500 AD has, since its publication in 1996 by Roberto Meneghini and Riccardo Santangeli Valenzani, been considered to show that the temple was largely in ruins and being dismantled for scrap by that date. Recently, however, the date of the inscription has been questioned, opening the possibility that the accepted chronology for the ruin of the Temple of Mars (and, by extension, of the Forum of Augustus as a whole) may be less certain than is generally assumed. Further, the inscription is only one element in a much larger constellation of evidence relevant to the early medieval phases of the Forum of Augustus, and more archaeological data have indeed emerged since Meneghini and Santangeli Valenzani first made the inscribed column-drum central to their case for dating the destruction of the temple to the years around 500. The bulk of the available historical and archaeological evidence, I suggest, indicates that the Temple of Mars and its surroundings remained substantially intact for considerably longer, until at least the mid-9th century, when clear signs of widespread destruction and spoliation emerge. This chronology for the final destruction of the Temple of Mars would bring the early medieval trajectory of the Forum of Augustus into closer alignment with that of its neighboring forum-complexes (Caesar, Trajan, Nerva), which also remained largely intact into the 9th century, and might thus also prompt us to reconsider how and why this sector of Rome’s monumental center was de-monumentalized and ‘privatized’
I libri romani e la biblioteca papale nell’Alto Medioevo
This paper offers a fresh appraisal of the problems of the existence, location and contents of the papal library, and the associated problems of Roman script and Roman book production in the early Middle Ages. The palaeographical and codicological features of books from Rome, and books possibly produced in Rome, between the sixth and the ninth centuries, are reconsidered in the light of current scholarship. This includes a discussion of the possible loss of Roman books originally written on papyrus, and of books in both Latin and Greek. The current archaeological evidence relating to a Lateran library and its location is considered. The implications of the evidence relating to the papal scrinium, archive and library are discussed, with particular reference to the proceedings of the Lateran Council of 649. It is argued that these records actually provide important evidence for the contents and use of the Lateran library in the early Middle Ages. The paper proposes that the papal library had a crucial function as well as a symbolic role in the early Middle Ages as a repository of orthodox and authoritative texts.
Intorno alla lastra con la Leggenda di Augusto all’Aracoeli Jacopo di Lorenzo, il rapporto con l’antico e il rinnovamento dello spazio sacro
This article re-examines the complex arrangement of sacred space in the Benedictine church of Santa Maria in Capitolio (known as Aracoeli since the twelfth century), which included a Cosmatesque slab incorporating a late-antique mensa with Achillean reliefs. One goal serves to deepen our understanding of the impact that the reuse of this artifact – and, thus, the ‘physical’ interaction with it – may have had on the production of the marble-worker who undertook the reuse, particularly on a work as dense with meaning as the front of the confessio of the ara coeli. A re-interpretation is proposed of the message that this artefact was intended to communicate, not only through iconographic analysis but also through examination of its materiality, highlighting how the Cosmatesque marbler used the mosaic in a special manner to add layers of meaning to the relief. On the basis of documentary, literary, epigraphic and material evidence, as well as stylistic-formal comparisons, we propose that the setting described by early-modern travellers was made at least in two phases: an ancient porphyry basin was reused as ara coeli (functioning as high altar) at the time of Anacletus II, ca. 1130, whilst the front of the confessio with the Augustan legend, variously dated between the fourth and fourteenth centuries, is to be attributed to Jacopo di Lorenzo, during the pontificate of Innocent III (1198-1216). This historical and art-historical re-assessment leads on to wider considerations on the transmission of ideas and artifacts across time and space, as well as to more specific acquisitions, such as the pertinence of some Cosmatesque slabs, later reused in the church floor, to a thirteenth-century ambo.
Virgo lactans and virgines fatuae: The Façade Mosaic of S. Maria in Trastevere in Rome
The mosaic on the façade of S. Maria in Trastevere was executed in three phases, beginning in the center with an image of Mary suckling the infant Christ (Virgo lactans) flanked by four young women bearing lamps. The women to Mary’s right have crowns, regal posture and lamps that burn; those on her left have empty lamps, bowed heads, and simple headscarves, indicating an intention to depict the Wise and Foolish Virgins (Matt. 25:1-13). In the second phase this program was abandoned, and three women with crowns and burning lamps filled out the row of foolish ones. A date for the initial program is suggested by the type of the Virgo lactans and its execution with chrysography (gold highlights), which reflect developments in Crusader painting near the middle of the thirteenth century. The rationale for the unique combination of the Virgo lactans with the Wise and Foolish Virgins must have included a play on the name of the church, Sancta Maria fundens oleum (pouring forth oil); on another level, it exhorted viewers to prepare for the final judgement by seeking the grace of Christ (symbolized by the fons olei) before it was too late. The move away from Matthew’s parable in phase two can be explained by unintended meanings generated by the juxtaposition of Mary, celebrated for her power of intercession with her son, with the foolish virgins (fatuae), who could never be saved. Their harsh fate was incompatible with the traditional emphasis of Roman church decoration on the availability of salvation through the Church. Surrounding Mary with eight other virgin intercessors offered the viewer hope rather than fear.
Storie di Romani a Viterbo dalla lettura di alcune iscrizioni di XIII-XIV secolo
Frequently, we are inclined to consider the Romans as ‘static’ citizens who were born, lived and died in the Urbe, as static as the territories administered by the most important power in Rome, the papacy, would appear to be; however, the picture is much more colourful. Starting in the 13th century, under pope Innocent III, a new administrative division was established, the Patrimonium Beati Petri in Tuscia, which was the theatre of frequent conflicts between the papacy, supporter of a programme of intransigent affirmation of the Church’s supremacy, Communes (particularly Viterbo and Orvieto) and noble families. Evidence of this rich and heterogeneous historical context comes from some 13th-14th century inscriptions from Viterbo relating to popes, members of the clergy and Roman citizens whose history was intimately connected with that of Viterbo. The epigraphic analysis of these artefacts will make it possible to delineate the forms of self-representation of the commissioners and, at the same time, to verify similarities and divergences, in both textual and material respects, with contemporary Roman epigraphic production.
When and in what forms did medieval Rome become an object of interest in modern Rome? When did a literary tradition begin that had stories of medieval Rome as its source? This is the question from which this article started. Naturally it is not possible to give a univocal answer, and the question should rather be considered a solicitation to investigate the evolving legacy of medieval Rome in the modern age, both as an artistic heritage and as a trove of stories and literature. The eighteenth century was certainly a key century in this context, in which medieval Rome became an object of study and of sustained interest, a fact which gives the eighteenth-century texts on medieval Rome not only the character of sources on works and documents which later disappeared, but also that of chapters in the history of culture. We therefore propose the case of a Latin elegy composed and recited by Michele Giuseppe Morei for the celebration of Christmas in 1711, held by the Accademia dell’Arcadia at Palazzo della Cancelleria, residence of Pietro Ottoboni. The elegy presents a history of the vision of Augustus and the Araceli, which in Western culture was entrusted to the Mirabilia Rome and their late-medieval remakes and revivals. Morei’s text allows us to return to the tradition of the Mirabilia and to retrace
the literary fortunes of the legend of the Araceli in the early modern period.