Villa of the Quintilii

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Ruins of the Villa dei Quintili.
"Braschi Venus", from the Villa of the Quintilii (Glyptothek, Munich).

The Villa of the Quintilii (Italian: Villa dei Quintili) is an ancient Roman villa beyond the fifth milestone along the Via Appia Antica just outside the traditional boundaries of Rome,[1] Italy. It was built by the rich and cultured brothers Sextus Quintilius Maximus and Sextus Quintilius Condianus (consuls in 151 AD) in the course of the 2nd century.[2]

The ruins of this villa suburbana are of such extent that when they were first excavated, the site was called Roma Vecchia ("Old Rome") by the locals, as they occupied too great a ground, it seemed, to have been anything less than a town.[3] The nucleus of the villa was constructed in the time of Hadrian. The villa included extensive thermae fed by its own aqueduct, and, what was even more unusual, a hippodrome, which dates to the fourth century, when the villa was Imperial property: the emperor Commodus coveted the villa strongly enough to put to death its owners in 182 and confiscate it for himself.

In 1776 Gavin Hamilton, the entrepreneurial painter and purveyor of Roman antiquities, excavated some parts of the Villa of the Quintilii, still called "Roma Vecchia", and the sculptures he uncovered revealed the imperial nature of the site:

A considerable ruin is seen near this last upon the right hand, and is generally considered to have been the ruins of a Villa of Domitian's nurse. The fragments of Collossal Statues found near this ruin confirms me in this opinion, the excellent sculptour strengthens this supposition...[4]

There he found five marble sculptures, including "An Adonis asleep",[5] that he sold to Charles Townley and have come to the British Museum and "A Bacchante with the tyger", listed as sold to Mr Greville.[6] The large marble relief of Asclepius found at the site passed from Hamilton to the Earl of Shelburne, later Marquess of Lansdowne, at Lansdowne House, London.[7] The "Braschi Venus" from the site was purchased by Pius VI's nephew, Luigi Braschi Onesti.

View in Luigi Rossini, Viaggio pittoresco da Roma a Napoli, 1839

Today the archeological site houses a museum[8] with marble friezes and sculptures that once adorned the villa. The nympheum, the hall of the tepidarium and the baths may also be visited. A grand terrace overlooking the Via Appia Nuova, which dates back to 1784, commands a fine view of the Castelli Romani district. The villa's grounds extended even beyond the route of the Via Appia Nuova.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The villa lies in the Parco Regionale dell'Appia Antica.
  2. ^ The modern monograph is A. Ricci, Le villa dei Quintilii (Rome 1998).
  3. ^ Robert Piperno, "Villa of the Quintilii"; Touring Club Italiano, Roma e dintorni 1965:401. Charlotte Eaton's guides informed her that these were "the remains of a small Roman town, whose name is unknown" though she was aware that "no remains of temples or theatres can be traced". (Eaton, Rome in the Nineteenth Century,vol II London, 1820, pp 211ff.).
  4. ^ Hamilton to Charles Townley, quoted in Cornelius Vermeule, 'Graeco-Roman Statues: Purpose and Setting - II: Literary and Archaeological Evidence for the Display and Grouping of Graeco-Roman Sculpture", Burlington Magazine 110 No. 788 (November 1968:607-613) p. 612.
  5. ^ "Endymion asleep on Mount Latmus, according to Vermeule.
  6. ^ The "Adonis" and "Bacchante" appear in a list of "Ancient marbles found by Mr Gavin Hamilton in various Ruins near Rome since 1769", annexed to a volume of transcripts of the Hamilton-Townley correspondence, published by G. J. Hamilton and A. H. Smith, "Gavin Hamilton's Letters to Charles Townley" The Journal of Hellenic Studies 21 (1901:306-321); the Townley "Bacchante" at the British Museum is "merely a draped female with a bunch of grapes in the left hand and a panther beside the lower limbs" according to Vermeule; it had been called a "Libera" and "found by Mr. Gavin Hamilton, at Roma Vecchia", in Charles Knight, Guide cards to the antiquities in the British Museum 1840.
  7. ^ Vermeule 1968:612, noting A.H. Smith, in Journal of Hellenic Studies 21' (1901:316). Smith had identified the site as the Domus Quintiliana in The Lansdowne Marbles 1889. (Vermeule, ibid., note 14).
  8. ^ Catalogued by Paola Brandizzi Vittucci, La collezione archeologica nel Casale di Roma Vecchia (Rome) 1982.

Coordinates: 41°49′50″N 12°33′05″E / 41.830478°N 12.55142°E / 41.830478; 12.55142