Wednesday, January 14, 2015


Sala a Croce Greca


Completed in about 1780 by Michelangelo Simonetti (1724/87)
It was called Greek Cross Room for the Greek Cross plan

It was the entrance of the Museo Pio Clementino at the time of Pius VI Braschi (1775/99): when Michelangelo Simonetti died in 1787, Pius VI gave the job of finishing the project to Giuseppe Camporese (1763/1822), who reversed the museum route with a new access from the Greek Cross Room. That's why over the portal to the Round Room there is the sign Museum Pium

On either side of the portal “Two Roman telamons” imitation of Egyptian ones, maybe from the Canopus in Hadrian's Villa, restored by Gaspare Sibilla (about 1723/82)

Above the portal “Bas-relief with gladiators and wild beasts” highly integrated, of the second half of the first century AD

In the floor “Color mosaic” of a shield with a bust of Minerva and phases of the moon, of the third century AD, found in 1741 at Tusculum (Frascati). It was heavily restored

“Two sphinxes of pink granite” about first century AD

On the right “Sarcophagus of Constantina” of the fourth century AD in porphyry, from the Mausoleum of S. Constanza. She was the daughter of Constantine (306/337)

On the left “Sarcophagus of St. Helena” mother of Constantine in porphyry from Torpignattara, maybe prepared for the “companion” (they never married) Costantius Chlorus (305/306) or more probably for his son Constantine

“The Eastern workers employed sculpted a very high relief, in which there is very lively naturalistic analysis of the bodies of Roman soldiers and of the fallen and captive barbarians. The figures, however, are located in an area completely devoid of landscaping elements and in an environment that refuses a uniform spatial nature, so that the composition is reduced to two simple overlapping rows” (Gian Luca Grassigli - TMG)

The Romans called porphyry (Lapis Porphyrites) a type of red marble that came into their availability after the conquest of Egypt by Augustus in 31 BC
It came from quarries owned by the Emperor on Mons Porphyrites o Mons Igneus, a mountainous area known today as Gebel Dokhan west of Hurghada, in the Eastern Desert of Egypt
It is an extremely hard kind of marble and difficult to carve, formerly used by Egyptian pharaohs and much appreciated for its red color typically associated with the imperial dignity
Porphyry was therefore used in works for the emperor and his family
From the fifth century AD its red color was assimilated to the cult of the body of Christ reserving, however, its use for the honor of the emperors themselves, according to a tradition that remained in the Byzantine Empire and was later adopted by other European kingdoms

Behind the sarcophagus inscriptions of “Carmen Fratrum Arvalium” one of the most valuable fragments of poetry, perhaps dating from the seventh or sixth century BC, with an archaic language that dates back to the origins of the Roman religion
The inscriptions are dated to May 29, 218 and were found in 1778 in the Vatican
This is the traditional chant of the Arvales (Fratres Arvales), an ancient Roman college of priests made up of twelve members chosen among the senators, repeating this sort of litany in honor of the goddess Dia, whose ancient worship was restored by Augustus
The temple of the goddess Dia was in the area above the Catacomb of Generosa on the Via Portuense. It is noteworthy that the tradition was still followed in the early third century AD

In the niches statues of “Augustus” so-called Verospi, maybe posthumous with Augustus dressed in the Greek fashion and “Gaius Caesar” the grandson of Augustus, with his head covered: it was found in the so-called Basilica of Otricoli

In a niche behind Constantina's sarcophagus there is a statue of “Lucius Verus young” (161/169) who here has a vague resemblance to former U.S. President Bill Clinton while smoking a huge cigar

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