ROME 22/6 – DAY 10: Wherein a rock evaporated a lot of my time

Sunrise…. sunset… 5:32… 20:48

Ave Maria?  21:15

 

I committed a crime against humanity here.

I have been sketching as I go about. The results have not been good. But here… as I regarded my scratchings… I nearly wept for sorrow for my unspeakable sin against all that is good, true and beautiful. I considered sepuku via my pencil, but that would mean not having another bowl of spaghetti alle vongole.

Only the warnings of the Most Illustrious Monsignor President of the Streets kept me from throwing my sketch down and stomping off.   I remember injunctions about “qualsivoglia” and “scudi”.

You might be wondering what a “scudo” is, by which people paid their littering and dumping fines (when punishment didn’t involve being hung up by the wrists in the square).  I wrote about scudi once before, at length.   Suffice here to say that, in 1758 when Clement XIII was reigning felicitously (even though he protected the Jesuits), a gold scudo was about 3.39-3.40 g.

Just up from where I nearly murdered art, is the place where the Roman poet and all-around fascinating bloke, Giuseppe Gioachino Belli, “Er Belli”, was born.

He had a poem about a “scudo” which is in its typical style a bit racy:

Here is the Great Roman™ reading it in impeccable Romanaccio.  It has the names of other coins of the Papal States, such as the quadrino, paolo, grosso, testone, lustrino, papetto.

ER CONTO TRA PPADRE E FFIJJO

Che? stammatina t’ho ddato uno scudo,
e ggià stasera nun ciài ppiú un quadrino?!
Rennéte conto, alò, ssor assassino:
cqua, pperch’io nu li zappo: io me li sudo.

Sú: ttre ppavoli er pranzo: dua de vino
tra ggiorno; e cquesti ggià nnun ve l’escrudo.
Avanti. Un grosso p’er modello ar nudo.
Bbe’: un antro ar teatrin de Cassandrino.

Sò ssei pavoli. Eppoi? Mezzo testone
de sigari: un lustrino er pan der cane…
E er papetto c’avanza, sor cojjone?

Nò, ppranz’e vvino ve l’ho mmesso in cima.
Dunque? Ah, l’hai speso per annà a pputtane.
Va bbene, via: potevi díllo prima.

THE ACCOUNT BETWEEN FATHER AND SON

What? This morning I gave you a scudo,
And this evening you are already left without a quattrino?!
Give account of it right now, you squanderer:
Come here, ’cause I don’t grow money: I earn it working hard.

Come on, three paoli for the lunch, two for wine
During the day; and I’m not complaining about these.
Well then. One grosso for the nude model at the Academy.
What else: another one for the theatre of Cassandrino

Makes six paoli. And then? Half testone
For cigars: one lustrino the bread for the dog…
And what about the spare papetto, you blockhead?

No, I counted food and wine as first,
So then? Ah, you spent it on prostitutes.
Well, it’s OK: you should have told me before.

A while later I was at S. Lorenzo in Lucina, with its lovely campanile.  I left it unmolested with my graphite assault weapon.

You get the distinct feeling that the people in charge of some of these churches in Rome do not have the slightest idea about what things are or where to put them.

Speaking of art, the monument of the painter Nicholas Poussin from François-René, Vicomte de Chateaubriand, who among other roles was French Ambassador to the Papal States. The tomb as a relief of the painting “Et in Arcadia Ego

There’s some Latin at the bottom, a lovely epitaph:

PARCE PIIS LACRIMIS VIVIT PUSSINUS IN URNA
VIVERE QUI DEDERAT NESCIUS IPSE MORI
HIC TAMEN IPSE SILET SI VIS AUDIRE LOQUENTEM
MIRUM EST IN TABULIS VIVIT ET ELOQUITUR

Spare your devoted tears. In this tomb lives Poussin, who gave his life not knowing how to die. Here, however, he is silent. If you want to hear him speak, it is a marvel that he lives and speaks in his paintings.

There’s interesting speculation about how the placement of the letters of the monument is fraught with meaning, having even to do with the alignment of the tomb with one of the meridians of the sundial of Augustus Caesar, remains of which runs directly under this church and this precise spot.

We have to get our minds around what really smart men were doing in days when they read books, had to remember things, discussed deep issues into the night. Discoveries of ancient things were being made, new ideas were cropping up… some of them really bad. Amazing people converged on Rome and their paths crossed. Today, people walk by the tomb of Poussin and maybe they have a notion of who he was. But the very idea that there could be patterns and shapes hidden in the words wouldn’t occur in a hundred views.

The Crucifixion by Guido Reni.

In the back corner, near a little Marian chapel, I spotted this, in the shadows. My phone camera did a good job.  It is an unusual subject, old Simeon with the baby Jesus.

A sad sight.  This altar, neglected, is literally falling apart.  Even sadder is the fact that it is a “privileged” altar, as the massive Latin inscriptions attest.   I’ve already been too pedantic in this post but suffice to say that special indulgences were attached to saying Mass at these altars, which were often associated with particular altars of another church (such as S. Gregorio on the Caelian Hill).  By saying Mass here, a priest could free a soul from Purgatory.

Near the door to the church … a sight both sweet and sharp.

Here, the fruit of an old wave of disease.

And then there is this.  I’ve been confused by this darn thing for years, so I decided to get to the bottom of it.

I’ve added some punctuation… [.]

ACCIPE SUPREMOS QUIS TE DONAMUS HONORES
CARE MACRE ET LONGUM ME CARITURE VALE[.]
FELIX QUI COMMUNE MALUM NEC TANTA VIDEBIS
FUNERA QUAE NOSTRA BARBARUS IN PATRIA
PATRABIT[.] FELIX TRIBUIT CUI ROMA SEPULCHRUM
CUITOT AMICORUM IUSTA DEDERE MANUS[.]
TE GRAIAE LATIAE Q SIMUL FLEVERE CAMOENAE
ET MEDICINA TUO MOESTA SEDET TUMULO[.]

This is a curious inscription.  It is an epigraph for a certain physician named “Macro” (as in “care Macre”).  And the stone has some errors of spelling: e.g., “TE GRAECE LATIAEQUE}

Can anyone puzzle this out?

I wasted a bunch of time on this stupid rock, to nearly no avail, but I did find this:

So, we now sort of know who this guy was.  Maybe.

HERE I found some explanation of the inscription in the image above. It has to do with figures from Vicenza.  Pardon if I leave it in Italian.

Noi troviamo accop- ?piati in questa iscrizione i nomi di due nostri concittadini celebri, ?e ricordato il sacco fatale ed i mali, a cui dal 1509 al 1517 an- ?dava soggetta la nostra patria. Alemanni, Borgognoni, Francesi, ?Spagnuoli, secondati da bande di fuorusciti e di confinati per ?enormi delitti, corsero e ricorsero la città ed il territorio. In quel ?trambusto non vi fu luogo su cui non piombassero gli orrori della ?strage e della licenza, non angolo, che andasse immune da sac- ?cheggi e da incendii. A fuggir tali sventure molti Vicentini esu- ?larono e tra questi il Magrè, di cui parla il cenotafio. Nato in ?Vicenza nel 1475 ben presto divenne intimo del Trissino e degli ?altri belli ingegni, di cui fu ricca anche da noi queir età. Lo ?troviamo presente alle adunanze accademiche del Trissino con ?Galeazzo Thiene e Battista Graziani. E fu forse allora che si ad- ?dentrò nelle lettere classiche, per cui fu ammirato dai contempo- ?ranei, oltre chè come medico valente, qual distinto conoscitore del ?greco, del latino e della filosofia. Tanta era la fiducia del Trissino ?in lui, che durante la prima dimora in Milano gli avea affidato, ?quasi a un altro sè stesso, la cura della madre, dei figli e della ?casa domestica. Ed appunto a Milano il Magrè mandava a Gian- ?giorgio le due lettere, unici scritti, che rimangono di lui e che ?furono stampate nel 1878. La fuga dal ferro nemico non. valse ?a preservare Vincenzo dalla peste, che lo colse in Roma in età ?di soli trentacinque anni. Il Trissino ne pianse la morte in un ????181 ??pietoso epitaffio, che egli fece murare più tardi nella Chiesa di ?s. Lorenzo in Lucina, ove il Magrè fu sepolto. E' quello che ho ?riportato qui sopra, e che Giambattista Magrè nel 1632 facea ?ripetere in S. Corona. A quello posto in Roma il Trissino aggiun- ?gea : In questa piccola pietra, ottimo Macro, sta zi monumento e ?V ultimo pegno di una grande amicizia. Lacchè mi li tolse una ?morte immatura, o caro a me più dell' anima mia, io non ti ri- ?corderò mai senza pianto ; mai non lascierò di amarti e di por- ?gere doni al tuo caro sepolcro. ?

There it is.

I had better wrap this up and think about lunch.

 

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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One Comment

  1. TheCavalierHatherly says:

    Well, on the topic of “really smart men [who] were doing [things] in days when they read books, had to remember things, [and] discussed deep issues into the night,” I think I have uncovered some interesting things about the fellow commemorated upon that intriguing stone.

    Vincentius Macer appears to have been around at the time of the never sufficiently appreciated Pope Leo X, in the circles of the humanists of that age. The very same Georgio Trissino, who commemorates him in the second inscription you uncovered, has him as a character in his dialogue “I Rittrati,” chatting with Pietro Bembo about a beautiful woman, and the subject of beautiful women in general. He also appears to be in correspondence with the classical scholar Janus Parrhasius, a fact commemorated in a letter from Parrhasius to Macer. In the letter, they are discussing the finer points of textual criticism in the ancient agricultural author Columella. I’m willing to go out on a limb here and guess that he’s the same editor mentioned in a rather dense textual criticism apparatus which I found, talking about variant readings in Columella.

    Unfortunately, this was all I’ve found so far. His name appears in an index of unpublished manuscripts of renaissance humanists in a volume edited by the great Paul Oskar Kristeller.

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