Rome and Its Ruins
By the sixteenth century, Rome—capital of Christendom and former center of a great Empire—had been overtaken in magnificence by many other cities in Europe. To claim contemporary importance, Rome’s advocates looked to the past—the physical remnants of which were crumbling around them. The reconstructive efforts of Bartolomeo Marliani, Pirro Ligorio, and others (who did not always agree!) were part of the larger project of regaining classical knowledge. They promoted this both for its own sake and to instruct and inspire others, at a time when so much—text, art, and architecture—had been irrevocably lost. Scholars and artists used their own experience, inscriptions, archaeological evidence, and ancient literary descriptions—along with a fair amount of imagination—to portray the city as both reconstructed and ruined. The tensions between ambitious scholarly projects and the limited resources available were always present, as were tensions between antiquarians with different ideas about the past.
to see Rome restored to its zenith were confronted on a day-to-day basis by scenes like the dilapidated Arch of Titus as they traversed the city.