Loci in Locis is an art and Classics blog that pairs artwork from sites in Rome with a thematically-linked Latin or Greek text. Posts aim to replicate on a small scale the context-based learning experience provided by Paideia’s Living Latin in Rome programs on a bimonthly basis. By marrying text, place, and image, we are able to form close and personal relationships with the classics in a way we might not be able to through text alone.
Loci in Locis is written and run by Paideia’s Rome Fellows. This year's Rome Fellows are: Tyler Dobbs, Gabriel Kuhl, Amanda Reeves, and Rebecca Williams. The blog is edited by Meaghan Carley, Senior Rome Fellow.
The Story of Ponte Sant'Angelo
March 07, 2016
Ponte Sant’Angelo is arguably Rome’s most storied bridge—it has existed since the early 2nd century CE, though changes have been made since its initial construction.
The bridge was designed by Demetrianus, personal architect to the emperor Hadrian, and was completed in 134 CE. Contrary to popular belief, the bridge was actually created before Hadrian’s mausoleum; bricks stamped with the year 120 and 123 CE prove that the bridge predates what is now Castel Sant’Angelo. The bridge was likely used to transport materials from central Rome to the construction site across the river, a part of Rome that at that time was neither inhabited nor developed. The bridge was called the Pons Aelius, named for Hadrian, also known as Publius Aelius Hadrianus.
San Luigi's Footnote in Marble
February 22, 2016
The church of San Luigi dei Francesi, located just a stone’s a throw from both Piazza Navona and the Pantheon, has served as the national French church in Rome since it was completed in 1589. The church’s focus is, quite naturally, French Catholicism. The namesake is St. Louis IX, a thirteenth-century king of France, who is featured prominently in several places in the church. His sculpture stands on the façade, the vault over the nave depicts his entry into heaven, and the most richly decorated of the side chapels is his as well.
San Luigi’s celebration of Catholic France, however, goes well beyond this, one of her most favored sons. Within, the chapel of St. Remy celebrates the conversion of Clovis, the king who made his Frankish kingdom the first Catholic nation. One scene shows St. Remy baptizing Clovis, while another shows the king smashing pagan idols in favor of the cross and the bishop baptizing more Franks one after another. These two walls together recall the words of Remy as he baptized the king, immortalized by Gregory of Tours in his History of the Franks: “Mitis depona colla, Sigamber; adora quod incendisti, incende quod adorasti.”1 This event, by which the kingdom of the Franks, the late antique precursor of modern France, became the first fully Catholic nation, is the reason that France became known as the “eldest daughter” of the Church.
Memento Mori, Monumenta Mortuis et Vivis
February 08, 2016
The Protestant (now called, more accurately, Non-Catholic) Cemetery of Rome, marked to passersby by the pyramidal monument of Gaius Cestius inside--one of the non-Protestant residents--is full of memorials to the dead.
Memorials take different forms, and epitaphs come in a variety. Some recall praiseworthy deeds of the interred. Others are sparse and feature only a name and two dates. Not a few wax poetic, some more fittingly than others (Shelley and Keats are both buried here).
On my most recent visit, I was struck by one epitaph in particular, not only because of its affecting words, but also on account of its similarity in form and substance to many ancient Roman epitaphs. It reads so:
Fontana dell'Acqua Paola
January 25, 2016
One of Rome’s most beautiful (and least crowded!) fountains, the Fontana dell’Acqua Paola, sits atop the Gianicolo, a hill west of the historic center of Rome. The fountain’s name, literally “The Fountain of the Paulian Water” speaks of its creator: Pope Paul V.
The fountain is simple, yet majestic: three large arches form the center of the fountain, with a smaller arch flanking each side. Water flows beneath each of the large arches into small basins, which in turn flow into a large semicircular pool that fronts the entire fountain. Rather than featuring a particular program of sculpture, the fountain uses very little ornamentation in order to allow the main focus of the fountain to be the flowing water itself. The simplicity of the fountain’s decoration also allows for greater attention to be paid to the massive inscriptions atop it.
"Ponite Hoc Corpus Ubicumque": The Tomb of St. Monica
January 11, 2016
In one of the most moving scenes from his Confessions, St. Augustine of Hippo relates the death of his mother, St. Monica.
Following Augustine’s conversion to Christianity in Milan, the two are journeying back to Africa with other family members, and have come as far as Ostia, the port city of Rome, when Monica becomes ill. As her condition worsens, Monica tells her two grief-stricken sons, “Ponitis hic matrem vestram.”1 When Augustine’s brother expresses the hope that she be able to die in her own
country, instead of the unfamiliar stopping-point in the middle of their journey, Monica responds:
“Ponite hoc corpus ubicumque. Nihil vos eius cura conturbet. Tantum illud vos rogo, ut ad domini altare memineritis mei, ubiubi fueritis.”2
Other visitors, however, continue to express to Monica the same concern about her final resting place, “quarentibus…utrum non formidaret tam longe a sua civitate corpus relinquere.”3 To these well-intentioned friends,Monica delivers a profound reply:
“Nihil…longe est deo, neque timendum est, ne ille non agnoscat in fine saeculi unde me resuscitet.”4
The very next line of the Confessions tells of Monica’s death: “anima illa religiosa et pia corpore soluta est.”5