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‘Romanità’ throughout the Ages1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 September 2012


The Exhibition of 1938, held in honour of the bimillenary of the birth of Augustus (‘Mostra Augustea della Romanità’), magnificent though it was, represented only one phase in a continuous scheme for displaying by means of monuments the full extent of the Roman dominion—its origin, growth, development and the abiding effect of its culture on the modern world. Hardly has it closed but a grandiose scheme is shaping rapidly for reconstructing it on a vast and permanent basis. This new ‘Mostra’ will form part of the International Exhibition of the year 1942— the ‘E. 42’, as it is already commonly called—a large model of which has now been set up in a pavilion outside the Exhibition grounds together with numerous plans and views of details.

Research Article
Copyright ©E. Strong 1939. Exclusive Licence to Publish: The Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies

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I am much indebted to Dr. Jocelyn Toynbee for kindly reading and revising this article in preparation for the press, and to Prof. Giglioli for photographs and measurements.


2 It may interest readers of JRS to know that it was at a meeting held in 1910, if I remember rightly, in the British School at Rome that Professor Lanciani first unfolded his programme for the 1911 Exhibition—an enterprise in which Dr. T. Ashby, then Director of the School, took an active part, while an article on the Exhibition by myself appeared in the first number of JRS (1911, 1–49).

2a Inevitably after the recent exaltation of Augustus a reaction has set in: severe criticism of the great Emperor's achievement seems to be the order of the day. The distinguished Oxford scholar, Mr. Ronald Syme, in his book The Roman Revolution—which owing to present postal difficulties is known to me only from reviews —appears to be a leader in the movement; but there are others.

3 The exact equivalent is ‘Romanity’ but, in spite of ‘Christianity’ and ‘Latinity’ and of the poet Gray (see OED), this word continues to find no favour in English.

4 See preliminary report (for which I have to thank Senator Vittorio Cini, Commissario Generaleof the E. 42), ‘Esposizione Universale di Roma,’ Anno xvii (1938–9).

5 Catalogo della Mostra Archaeologica delle Terme di Diocleziano (1911).

6 Giglioli, G. Q., Catalogo del Museo dell'Impero Romano (Governatorato di Roma, April, 1927Google Scholar).

7 G. Q. Giglioli, Museo dell'Impero Romano (June, 1929), with fifty plates.

8 I have made constant use of the excellent catalogue of the ‘Mostra’ (4th ed. in 2 vols. with notes, full indexes, and 160 plates) and of the admirable monographs issued by the ‘Mostra Augustea’ under the name of ‘Civiltà Romana’ ( = CR) in connection with the principal sections of the exhibition.

9 I wrote a brief account of the ‘Mostra’ for the Nineteenth Century and After, August, 1938 (with a few errors of detail scarcely worth correcting now that the exhibition has been closed).

10 A model of the Temple of Ancyra, taken by an Italian mission sent out for the purpose, was set up in 1911 in the garden of the Museo delle Terme on the occasion of the Exhibition of the Provinces of the Empire.

10a The Roman numbers refer to the sections; the Arabic to the numbers of the single exhibits.

11 Assistant Secretary of the ‘Mostra’.

12 The recent interpretation of the figure as Alexander must, I think, be entirely discarded.

13 See Arch. Anz. 1937–8, 685, where for the present these remains are cautiously assigned to the early Republican period. A fuller report is to appear shortly in the ‘Notiziario Archeologico’ of the next Bollettino Comunale.

14 Actually in situ in the Via dell'Abondanza—CAH Plates iv, 176 a and b. Cf. also Cat. iii, 2, 5, 7, 27.

15 Discussed by Van Buren in Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome (= MAAR) 1925, 108; see also CIL x, 808, 809; ILS 63, 64.

16 Van Buren, Ancient Rome (1936), 77, who judges the frieze to be probably Augustan, further refers to ‘the patient skilful work’ of piecing together the sculptured bits in a room of the Antiquarium of the Forum where they are now exhibited.

17 ILS 51.

17a The criticisms of Friedrich-Wolters Antike Bildwerke no. 1854, and of Bernoulli Griechische Ikonograpkie ii, 185, have not as yet been superseded.

18 See his article ‘Canne’ in Enciclopedia Italiana ( = EI). The first results of the excavations (Report by M. Gervasio recently published in Iapigia: Organo della R. Deputazione di Storia Patria per le Puglie for 1939) point to the right bank where, besides traces thought to be of military camps, a sepolcreto has been unearthed containing graves judged to be those of fallen Romans.

19 The late Roman theatre of Saguntum was shown among theatres in Room XXIX (24a), but nothing else.

19a Except for the coin (V, 26b not described) showing, if I remember right, a Roman chastising a slave.

20 The Lesson of Imperial Rome (1929), 8.

20a Organised by Professor P. Romanelli who was also responsible for sections on Arms and on Christianity.

20b Met. xv, 856–870.

21 Giglioli drew attention to this fact on 31st October, 1923 (first anniversary of the ‘March on Rome’) when the Duce laid a laurel wreath on the altar in front of the Temple of Caesar in the Forum.

22 Its marble revetments were taken by Sigismondo Malatesta for his temple at Rimini. See the articles ‘Rubicone’ and ‘Savignano’ in EI. It is datable in its more ancient parts to 186 B.C.

23 See my Roman Sculpture (1907) 352, pl. i. (I recanted in La scultura romana, p. 356). Paribeni, Il Ritratto nell'arte antica, tav. cv, inclines to Caesar.

24 See more especially G. S. Snijder ‘Hellenistisch-Römische Porträts aus Aegypten’, in Allard pierson Mitteilungen for 1939, 261 and passim.

25 See Mommsen's notes on this in CIL i, 797.

26 For the cult of Vediovis and the identification with Apollo see specially Warde Fowler Roman Festivals (1899), 121 f., where the altar of Bovillae is also discussed. Cf. also ibid. 277 f.

27 An interesting record of the siege has recently been discovered during the Cancelleria excavations; i.e. two cippi belonging to the tomb of Hirtius, one of the consuls killed at Mutina. Fragments from the tomb of Pansa, the other consul, had previously been found.

28 For the battlefield and a description of pre- and post-Augustan Philippi see Paul Collart, Philippes, Ville de Macédoine Fasc. v, of Travaux et Mémoires (École Française d'Athènes), 1937.

28a As a naval action Actium is now often belittled; yet the ‘battle’, exalted alike in art, literature, and religion (Apollo Actiacus !), has entered into legend as one of the decisive battles of the world and it will be difficult to dislodge it.

29 See my note in Times Lit. Supplement ( = TLS) 25th April, 1936. The statue is now well reproduced in the last German report, Arch. Anz. 1937–8, 74, fig. 51 (R. Horn).

30 A pamphlet on Roman Greece is being prepared by Dr. Arias in his coming monograph La Grecia Romana (CR).

31 See my article in The Times, 23rd September, 1938, anniversary of the birth of Augustus. Best illustrations (till Moretti's large publication of the Ara Pacis appears) in Arch. Anz. 1937–8, figs. 32, 33, 34.

32 For the Cancelleria altar see illustrations in Arch. Anz. 1937–8, fig. 29, and Antiquity xiii, 1939, 344Google Scholar. New fragments have just now been excavated.

33 To be published in the Mélanges Éc. franç. Rome ( = EFR).

34 Hendrich Wagenvoort, ‘Gli studi olandesi sulla figura e l'opera di Augusto e sulla fondazione dell'Impero Romano’, Quaderni Augustei, studi stranieri x (Ist. di Studi Romani, 1938), 18.

34a Westbury Jones Roman and Christian Imperialism (1939), 1; in his Introductio (p. xii) he dwells on ‘the incalculable advantage for Early Christianity that it came into being at a time when Judea was included in a strong, well-disciplined, tolerant, and, on the whole, just Roman Empire’. Cf. also on this point John Buchan Augustus, 198.

35 The problem in all its intricacies was fully discussed by Professor Hugh Last in a paper read in June, 1938, at the annual meeting of the Roman Society. See also Monteverdi, Angelo ‘Augusto nella tradizione medievale’, in Augustus—Studi in occasione del bimillenario Augusteo (Rome, 1938)Google Scholar.

36 Wagenvoort, o.c. 12.

37 The Influence of Christ in the Ancient World (Cambridge, 1932), 122Google Scholar. On the whole question of the transformation from paganism to Christianity see the late Professor Gardner's book Growth of Christianity and Festugière, and Fabre, Le monde gréco-romain au temps de Notre Seigneur’, 2 vols. (1935)Google Scholar.

37a Section organised, with much else, by Dott. M. Pallottino (Cat. p. xxvi).

38 The Curia, as it was in the time of Diocletian, has been restored by Professor Bartoli. See my article in TLS 30th July, 1938.

39 Outside the ‘Mostra’, Hadrian was commemorated last autumn on the eighteenth centenary of his death at Castel S. Angelo in the fascinating little exhibition of manuscripts, books, printed documents, engravings, drawings, coins, referring to his Principate.

40 CIL vi, 30, 833.

41 The official reports are not yet to hand, but descriptions (illustrated) have repeatedly appeared in the daily press, more especially in the Osservatore Romano.

42 The complicated argument is briefly summed up by M. Guey in Bulletin de la Société Toulousaine d'Études Classiques no. 26, 1939. A fuller report is promised for the coming number of the Mélanges EFR.

43 It was a nymphaeum modelled, according to the researches of MM. Guey and Grimal, on an earlier Septizonium of the Palatine, later buried under the Flavian Palace (Mélanges EFR, liv, 1937, 142 ff.Google Scholar).

44 Der spätantike Bildschmuck des Konstantinsbogens by H. P. L'Orange unter Mitarbeit von A. von Gerkan: with album of 50 plates (Berlin, 1939).

45 Paribeni, Ritratto Romano, 37.

45a J. Lemaître Les Contemporains, sér. ii, 90.

45b Against Rivoira's view (Roman Architecture, Eng. trans. 1925, 238) that Constantina was the sister, and not the daughter, of Constantine, see Cecchelli S. Agnese Fuori le Mura e S. Costanza, 28.

46 Stuart Jones, Roman Empire 328 (the italics are mine); see also Gibbon (ed. Bury) ii, 114.

47 The columns which Dr. L'Orange has identified on a small frieze of the Arch of Constantine apparently stood behind the Rostra. Details of the important discovery must be read in L'Orange's two papers: ‘Ein tetrarchisches Ehrendenkmal auf dem Forum Romanum’ in Mitt. d. deutsch. Archaeol. Inst., röm. Abt. 1938, or in the shortened Italian version in L'Urbe vii, 1939. The one extant base, first made famous by Riegl (see my Scultura Romana 317 ff.) lies in the Forum. A cast was shown at the ‘Mostra’ (Cat. p. 448, 5). The other bases are known from Renaissance drawings. The statues of Jupiter and the tetrarchs possibly still lie buried under the Forum; cf. the magnificent porphyry statue (TLS 30th July, 1938) found by Bartoli close to the Curia, which, however, seems to be of Trajanic date. This discovery of L'Orange disposes of the interpretation of the column propounded by G. Wilpert in his recent La Fede della Chiesa Nascente 1938, 226 ff. and fig. 123. Our illustration of the monument (fig. 7) is reproduced by courtesy of Dr. L'Orange from the original drawing made for his two articles.

48 For a fuller account of this section see my article in The Tablet 5th November, 1938, and ensuing correspondence Tablet, 10th and 31st December, 1038; 8th and 21st January, 1939. See also the excellent article by Catullo Mercurelli in Rivista di Archeologia Cristiana 1938, 123 ff.

48a For excellent illustrations see Palladio vi (1937), 201 ff.

49 Colini, A., ‘Il Ludus Magnus,’ Rendiconti Pont. Accad. Rom. di Archeol. xiv, 1939Google Scholar. Cf. my article in TLS 30th July, 1938.

50 Shown in a drawing as reconstructed with the help of Giglioli's observations at Istanbul (Rivista Roma iv, 1926, 481 ff.Google Scholar).

51 Reinach, Reliefs iii, 91, where it is erroneously stated that the relief is in Naples.

52 Hébrard's magnificent model of the Palace of Diocletian at Spalato which figured in the 1911 Exhibition (JRS i, 12, fig. 3) was again shown at the ‘Mostra’ with other Imperial residences in Room XL, no. 1.

53 See also Turchi's excellent monograph La Religione (no. 1 of CR) based partly on the ‘Mostra’ material.

54 These sections should be studied with the help of Dr. Salvator Puglisi's Assistenza Sociale (CR no. 2).

55 Another precious example of this type of bust is the gold bust, about one-third life size, said to be of Antoninus Pius, which was found in this year's excavations at Avenches (Aventicum), and temporarily shown at the National Exhibition at Zürich.

56 See A. M. Levi, La Patera di Parabiago, and my note in Burlington Magazine 1938.

57 A brief preliminary report (illustrated) by Dr. Jacopi himself appears as an appendix to Dr. Horn's article in Arch. Anz. on the Italian discoveries of the years 1937–8. His full report in Monumenti Antichi della R. Accademia dei Lincei, 1939, is about to appear.

58 As long ago as 1882 in his lectures on art William Morris, describing the Diocletianic palace at Spalato, said: ‘In that building you see for the first time the arch acting freely, and without the sham support of the Greek beam-architecture; henceforth the five orders are but pieces of history’ (quoted by Bosanquet, History of Aesthetic, 97).

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