Fallen Rome, fallen moderns

Architecture Here and There

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 9.15.48 PM.png “A Capriccio of Roman Ruins” (1720s) by Marco Ricci. (National Gallery of Art)

Passages from Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve: How the World Became Modern evoke a Rome in the 15th century, fallen from its imperial glory, no less physically than socially and politically:

The population of Rome, a small fragment of what it had once been, loved in detached settlements, one at the Capitol where the massive ancient Temple of Jupiter had once stood, another near the Lateran whose old imperial palace had been given by Constantine to the bishop of Rome, yet another around the crumbling fourth-century Basilica of St. Peter’s. Between these settlements spread a wasteland of ruins, hovels, rubble-strewn fields, and the shrines of martyrs. Sheep grazed in the Forum. Armed thugs, some in the pay of powerful families, others operating on their own, swaggered through dirty streets, and bandits lurked outside the walls. There was virtually…

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