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Living with the ancient Romans: past and present in eighteenth-century encounters with Herculaneum and Pompeii

Roberts, CO; (2015) Living with the ancient Romans: past and present in eighteenth-century encounters with Herculaneum and Pompeii. Huntington Library Quarterly , 78 (1) pp. 61-85. 10.1525/hlq.2015.78.1.61. Green open access

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Abstract

The eighteenth-century ‘discovery’ of the buried cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii revolutionised the way in which individuals thought about their relationship with the ancient world. The accounts of British visitors between 1738 and the end of the century reflect a new historical sensibility, one predicated upon the extraordinary proximity between present and past that these sites seemed to ensure. Yet this communal, cultural response to the ruins of these Roman cities does not mean that the eighteenth-century influence of Herculaneum and Pompeii was purely decorative, nostalgic or sentimental. Several individuals who encountered these excavations over the course of the eighteenth century were able to shape and develop unique political and intellectual arguments influenced by these ruins, and by the feelings of particular closeness with the past that they inspired. This article examines the work of four individuals – Camillo Paderni; Johann Joachim Winckelmann; Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and Sir William Hamilton – all of whom used the prevailing vocabulary associated with Herculaneum and Pompeii in order to articulate individual and in several cases innovative arguments on subjects as diverse as the validity of Neapolitan Bourbon rule; the ideal of Greek art, and the history of the earth. Their ideas indicate that these excavations, in a small but significant way, helped to shape a diverse range of eighteenth-century thought.

Type: Article
Title: Living with the ancient Romans: past and present in eighteenth-century encounters with Herculaneum and Pompeii
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1525/hlq.2015.78.1.61
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/hlq.2015.78.1.61
Language: English
Additional information: Published as Roberts, CO; (2015) Living with the ancient Romans: past and present in eighteenth-century encounters with Herculaneum and Pompeii. Huntington Library Quarterly , 78 (1) pp. 61-85.. ©2015 by Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery. Copying and permissions notice: Authorization to copy this content beyond fair use (as specified in Sections 107 and 108 of the U. S. Copyright Law) for internal or personal use, or the internal or personal use of specific clients, is granted by the Regents of the University of California on behalf of the Sponsoring Society for libraries and other users, provided that they are registered with and pay the specified fee via Rightslink® or directly with the Copyright Clearance Center.
Keywords: Herculaneum, Pompeii, eighteenth century; Naples; history; Camillo Paderni; Winckelmann; Goethe; William Hamilton.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of English Lang and Literature
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1433540
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