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THE USE OF ANTIQUITY FOR LIFE

Before "Antiquity"

Petrarch and Boccaccio

The Landscape of Ancient Rome

The Landscape of Antiquity

The Inhabitants of Antiquity

THE OCCUPATIONS OF ANTIQUARIANS

 

THE AESTHETIC EDUCATION OF EUROPE

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
 

                                                                    

Pedro Chacon, De triclinio romano

Girolamo Mercuriale, De arte gymnastica

Onofrio Panvinio, De ludis circensibus

The antiquarians peopled their landscapes with "ancients" who had their own distinct customs and mores. Before the 18th century, scholars did not write narrative histories of the classical world, as they assumed that no modern could better the ancient historians. Instead, many antiquarians produced thematic studies of particular aspects of ancient life.

Thus the De triclinio Romano of Pedro Chacon (1527-1581), published after Chacon's death by his fellow Roman scholar Fulvio Orsini (1529-1600), was a study of ancient table manners. This seemingly arcane project was motivated by religious controversies between Catholics and Protestants, which led to intensive study of the historical context of the Christian gospels. Chacon and Orsini, both affiliated with the Vatican, meant to illuminate the circumstances of the Last Supper, and their conclusions were adopted by many painters.

Girolamo Mercuriale (1530-1606) was a prominent physician whose De arte gymnastica, a study of exercise among the ancients, incorporated illustrations by Pirro Ligorio (ca. 1510-1583), a Roman artist and antiquary. Mercuriale emphasized the historical gulf separating ancients from moderns, and described Ligorio's illustrations, which relied more upon imagination than archaeological evidence, as "the most beautiful and the most suitable means to enable the intelligent reader to understand" the ancient world.

The De ludis circensibus, by the Augustinian monk Onofrio Panvinio (1530-1568), was a popular and enduring study of the Roman circuses. The engravings depicting animal sacrifice and gladiator combat, probably the work of Etienne Dupérac (d. 1604), were frequently copied during the following centuries, and were as influential as Panvinio's text in shaping the popular image of pagan antiquity.

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