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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces an article in the
Journal of Roman Studies
Vol. 10 (1920), pp201‑202

The text is in the public domain:
Samuel Ball Platner died in 1921.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

 p201  Der Bogen von Malborghetto (2 Abhandlung der Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1915). By F. Töbelmann. 11¾ × 9¼, xii + 46pp., 1 portrait, 25 plates. Römische Antikengärten (4 Abhandlung, id., 1917). By C. Hülsen. 11¾ × 9¼, xvi + 136pp. Heidelberg, Carl Winter's Universitätsbuchhandlung.

The importance of these two works must be my excuse for noticing them at all so long after their publication. The first dissertation brings forward an entirely convincing theory as to the locality of the battle of Saxa Rubra, in which Constantine defeated Maxentius. Grossi-Gondi,​1 following Nibby,​2 had independently arrived at the same conclusion; but Töbelmann's treatment of the subject from the point of view of strategy and tactics is masterly. Maxentius took up his position, according to this view, on the heights just north of Prima Porta (the post station of Ad Rubras, nine miles from Rome on the Via Flaminia, where the remains of the villa of Livia ad Gallinas albas have been found). This is the only site which satisfies the conditions laid down by our accounts of the battle: for we know that he had the Tiber in his rear, and that the ground was adapted for cavalry. Trusting in superior numbers, and wishing to make it impossible for his troops to give way, he committed a fatal error, as it proved, in neglecting to secure his retreat, and, when a panic occurred, he was unable to retrieve the defeat, which turned into a disastrous rout, his army being pursued as far as the Pons Mulvius, where many of them perished in the river, the bridge itself and the pontoon bridge, which he had thrown over the river near it, proving quite inadequate.

Constantine, on the other hand, who had been advancing along the Via Flaminia, halted for the night at the place now known (from a medieval castle which once stood  p202 there) as Malborghetto, about three miles to the north of Maxentius's position. Töbelmann points out very clearly that from nowhere else on the Via Flaminia is there such good observation of the lower ground towards Rome: and that the fourway arch (or Janus) which stands there (which is carefully studied and proved to belong to the beginning of the fourth century by an exhaustive demonstration, which, indeed, occupies the first two-thirds of the paper) is therefore to be regarded as a memorial arch erected by Constantine after his victory.

The second work deals with three of the most important Renaissance collections of sculpture, the Cesi, Carpi and D'Este-Ferrara, and the gardens in which they were systematically arranged so as to form their main decoration. Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century views and plans, engravings of sculpture, and inventories are all brought into full use, and Hülsen is thus able to give a complete list of these collections and to trace the history both of the gardens themselves (the first and last survive, the latter only in part, as the garden of the royal palace on the Quirinal) and of their former contents, now dispersed among the museums of Europe. The history of these collections of sculpture has, as I have already pointed out,​3 a considerable interest, as being at once 'the history of the development of the sculptor's art in Europe, and the history of the growth of public and private collections [not only within, but] outside Rome.' In the eighteenth century especially, they began to be dispersed and sold to foreign collectors — many of them British, who in that period were in keen competition for the purchase of the art treasures of the city.

I may also add a word to call the archaeologist's attention to an extremely useful article, also by Hülsen, on the Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae of Antonio Lafreri. The Speculum is the most important collection of plans of Rome, plans and views of Roman buildings, and engravings of sculptures that has come down to us from the latter half of the sixteenth century. Its contents varied according to the taste of individual purchasers: and Prof. Hülsen has performed a great service by tracing the history of the collection, and giving a full catalogue of its contents, reprinting, as a fact, with notes and additions, the original printed catalogue of Lafreri himself. The article will be found in the Collectanea Variae Doctrinae Leoni S. Olschki Oblata (Munich, 1921) with a number of other articles of considerable interest — such as La Biblioteca di Giovanni Marcanova, by L. Sighinolfi, one of the most important libraries of the fifteenth century, belonging to a Paduan humanist who is known as one of the earliest epigraphists of the Renaissance.

The Author's Notes:

1 Civiltà Cattolica, 1912, IV, 386, sqq.

2 Analisi, III, 34, 41.

3 P.B.S.R. IX, 109.

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