Back in Rome, back in class. I’m still exhausted from the weekend, but refreshed at the same time – I’m so glad we took the opportunity to get away!
For class, we met at the Rome Center and discussed our weekend readings, then headed over to Sant’Agostino (near the Pantheon) to view and discuss the altar to Saint Anne. Erected in the 1420s, the recently restored (1988) fresco by Raphael depicts the prophet Isaiah, larger than life, bearing a scroll with a Hebrew inscription: Open the gates that the righteous nation which keeps faith may enter in. The mind is fixed on thee, thou dost keep him (Is. 26:2-4) above a sculpted marble altar by Andrea Sansovino which depicts St. Anne, the Virgin and Child, seated as a cluster, set into a niche. There is some contention over the relationship between these two works, one particular author arguing that they were meant to be seen as a single unit and are closely related in design and perception – not a reading that any of us gathered from actually experiencing the altar.
Importantly, the altar was commissioned by Johannes Goritz, a Luxembourg expatriate living in Rome, and prominent humanist – but also a theologian. His tomb lies at the foot of the altar and, during the better part of his life in Rome, the altar was constantly decorated with poetry and other writings left by his many followers. Unfortunately, with the installation of Pope Adrian VI, a German pope who hated humanists and expelled the whole lot from Italy, but possessing a particularly strong level of contempt for poets. In any case, between Pope Adrian VI, Martin Luther and the Sack of Rome in 1426, being German in Italy was extremely unpleasant and Goritz fell from glory, as it were, with the remaining philosophers in Rome, dying in disgrace at the hands of German troops in the Sacking of the city (or so the rumor goes).
In any case, afterwards I wandered back to the apartment, snapping a few photos along the way. I’m so exhausted and we have a long day tomorrow…