Virtual Tour

Rome: The City of Popes – 3rd October

Wednesday 3rd October


With Dr. Eireann Marshall

The title Pontifex Maximus, an ancient Roman priesthood which became part of the titulature of Roman emperors starting with Augustus, began to be formally applied to Popes in the Renaissance, at a time when Italy, and Rome in particular, began to emulate its ancient antecedents. The use of this title inevitably gave the Pope the aura of a Roman emperor, something which is evident in the dedicatory inscriptions to the many churches and public monuments which testify to the munificence of the Pontifex Maximus. Like Roman emperors, Popes shaped the Eternal City moulding it to suit their images. In common with its ancient counterpart, Renaissance Rome, in particular, was the battle ground for a number of Papal Families who competed with one another for grandeur and power.

In this virtual tour, we will explore how Popes tried to replicate the building programmes of Roman emperors in a number ways, notably the construction of the Piazza di San Pietro finished under Alexander VII mirroring the shape of Trajan’s forum. We will be exploring the Pope’s building programmes, including their placement of the many obelisks throughout Rome, writing their names beside those of the emperors who first erected them. Conversely, we will look at how Popes dismantled famous buildings erected in the Roman period, famously the Colosseum which was first raided for its building materials by Nicholas V. This was continued until Benedict XIV declared the amphitheatre a sacred site in the belief that Christians were martyred there. Urban VIII famously removed bronze tiles from the Pantheon in order to ordain the Basilica of Saint Peter. In addition, to viewing the building programmes of Popes, we will be exploring the works of the great Papal Families who vied with each other for grandeur, including the Pamphilj who transformed Domitian’s Stadium into the Piazza Navona we know today.

Virtual Tour

Our virtual tours cover a wide array of historical and art-history topics, ranging from antiquity to the early modern period. We explore a variety of historical topics, from the every day life in ancient and early modern cities to representations of power. Exploring both world famous sites and those unknown to most, these lectures will bring history and the history of art to life through tailor made HD filming, as well as perceptive lecturing and lively discussions.

The virtual tours last 60 minutes followed by another 30 minutes of Q&A with our lecturers who will be delighted to answer any of your questions live.

Your Lecturer

Dr Eireann Marshall

Dr Eireann Marshall is a Research Associate and Associate Lecturer with the Open University. She has published a number of articles on Ancient North Africa, and co-edited volumes on 'Death and Disease in the Ancient City' and ‘Women’s influence on Classical Civilisation’. Eireann has led many tours for specialist tour operators, to Italy and North Africa. In 2019 she was awarded Wanderlust Magazine's Top History & Culture Guide at its World Guide Awards.

Event Details

Date: 3 October 2020

Start time: 10:00 GMT

End time: 11:30 GMT

Venue: Zoom Webinar


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