Between the Real and the Ideal: The Accademia Degli Arcadi and Its Garden in Eighteenth-Century Rome

Between the Real and the Ideal: The Accademia Degli Arcadi and Its Garden in Eighteenth-Century Rome

Between the Real and the Ideal: The Accademia Degli Arcadi and Its Garden in Eighteenth-Century Rome

Between the Real and the Ideal: The Accademia Degli Arcadi and Its Garden in Eighteenth-Century Rome

Synopsis

This book examines the Accademia degli Arcadi in its heyday, a little known phenomenon in Italian history in the first part of the eighteenth century. The Roman academy aimed for a peninsula-wide cultural renewal induced by literary reform. Operating within a papal-court society, it eschewed extant patronage systems and social hierarchies and introduced enlightened ideas to its members. By about 1730, the Arcadi was on the wane, the reform largely unmet. It was an easy target for critics, both its proponents and opponents, in part because of the visible role it assigned to women. By attending to the institution's policies, this book provides a rich understanding of the Arcadi's goals. It locates the organization's interest in theater, including the physical environment of the theatrical drama, as central to its operations.

Excerpt

Some scholars use the term arcadia to describe, if only partially, a phase in eighteenth-century Italian history, during that sustained historical between the premodern and the modern era. the term refers to the reforms promoted by the Accademia degli Arcadi, a literary society founded in 1690 in Rome. As a reaction to the excessive artificiality and hyperbole of the previous century, the academy promoted a simplification or purification of literature and other cultural products. Its members adapted, if only in rhetoric, the mores of a pastoral life that were in part fashioned after those of ancient Arcadia. the academy had a pervasive and fairly persistent presence throughout the eighteenth century in Italian society at large, and its descendant still exists today as the Accademia letteraria italiana. in the general histories of Italian culture, discussion of the organization is nearly always included. However, perceptions of the Accademia vary widely, and there is little agreement in the secondary literature on the effectiveness of the Arcadi to bring about any kind of change. It has received historiographic praise and blame for all manner of things. My study aims to sharpen our understanding of the phenomenon known as Arcadianism, and of eighteenth-century Rome, by focusing attention on an event in the Accademia’s early history, the creation of its garden meeting place that they named after the Parrhasian Woods located in ancient Arcadia, the Bosco Parrasio.

The Bosco Parrasio is one of Rome’s hidden and elusive gems (figs. 1–3). Located on a south-facing stretch of the Aurelian wall on the slope of the Janiculum Hill, this small, early eighteenth-century garden is unconventional in many ways. For one, the garden does not look like its predecessor, the sixteenth- or seventeenth-century garden, in that while it was lush and green, there was nary a geometric parterre in sight, and its water displays were modest. More significantly, from 1724 to 1726 it was created by and for the Arcadi, and not, as most Italian gardens of its age were, for a powerful wealthy patron. It was used mainly for the presentation of the Arcadians’ reformed literary works. the garden was to facilitate the organization’s larger and more elusive cultural aim, the fashioning of a society attentive to the public good, by being open to the Arcadi’s extraordinarly diverse membership and by supplying an atmosphere conducive to conversation between the different classes and genders represented in that membership. the construction of the Bosco Parrasio was pivotal in the organization . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.