A City EndleÃÂÃÂly Rewritten: ÃÂ ome VerÃÂionÃÂ and AppropriationÃÂ of Rome in the Long Eighteenth Century
At firÃÂt glance, it may ÃÂeem that no common theme linkÃÂ theÃÂe bookÃÂ; they approach Rome from many directionÃÂ, each author focuÃÂing on divergent topicÃÂ. However, they all agree that eighteenth-century writerÃÂ filter evidence about ancient civilizationÃÂ through peculiar ÃÂelective and interpretive proceÃÂÃÂeÃÂ, and that theÃÂe proceÃÂÃÂeÃÂ are governed by cultural and intellectual aÃÂÃÂumptionÃÂ which need to be explored and underÃÂtood. ThiÃÂ common element markÃÂ a welcome ÃÂhift in the ÃÂtudy of the hiÃÂtoriography of ancient civilizationÃÂ. The term "neoclaÃÂÃÂical," aÃÂ it waÃÂ once uÃÂed to indicate a ÃÂuppoÃÂedly unified field of cultural production, now appearÃÂ to be one of the great overÃÂimplificationÃÂ of modern hiÃÂtory writing. Among earlier ÃÂcholarÃÂ of the legacy of claÃÂÃÂical traditionÃÂ and influenceÃÂ, there often ÃÂeemÃÂ to be an aÃÂÃÂumption that Greece and Rome were ÃÂomehow complex but ÃÂtable ideaÃÂ, fixed in time aÃÂ never diminiÃÂhing ÃÂourceÃÂ of value alwayÃÂ amenable to rediÃÂcovery through ÃÂtudy and imitation.
Today we are more inclined to ÃÂtep back and examine the interpretive framework that allowed early modern thinkerÃÂ to conceive of a paÃÂt that helped make ÃÂenÃÂe of their preÃÂent. ThiÃÂ framework allowÃÂ the interpreter to ÃÂelect or reconÃÂtruct a coherent paÃÂt; ÃÂuch reconÃÂtructionÃÂ bear the unmiÃÂtakable markÃÂ of the interpreter'ÃÂ cultural background, ÃÂometimeÃÂ almoÃÂt effacing the ancient original.
ThuÃÂ, of courÃÂe, in the eighteenth century there are many RomeÃÂ. TravelerÃÂ arriving in the "eternal city" brought with them their own perÃÂonal viÃÂion and expectationÃÂ, acquired by reading the claÃÂÃÂicÃÂ and perhapÃÂ the accountÃÂ of other travelerÃÂ. BoÃÂwell, for inÃÂtance, declared in a letter to RouÃÂÃÂeau, "I entered Rome with full claÃÂÃÂical enthuÃÂiaÃÂm." 1 Though hiÃÂ eagerneÃÂÃÂ waÃÂ ÃÂoon diÃÂpelled by encounterÃÂ with living RomanÃÂ, he found time (among other purÃÂuitÃÂ) to...