Alessandro Donati's “Roma vetus ac recens”, Book One: Text, translation, and commentary

Colin Dale Pilney, Fordham University


Roma vetus ac recens, by Alessandro Donati, S.J. (1548–1640), was first published in 1638 (Romae: Ex typographia Manelphi Manelphii). Its four books provide a topographical and architectural study of the ancient city and conclude with a select guide to Christian constructions from Constantine to Sixtus V. This dissertation provides text, English translation, and commentary for Book One. Donati resided in Rome as a teacher and administrator in the Collegio Romano for most of his adult life. His Roma vetus ac recens is an example of the growing sophistication of topographical studies of antiquity during the seventeenth century, a period long dismissed as an intellectually static time between the early achievements of Renaissance humanism in the fifteenth century and the beginnings of scientific archaeology in the eighteenth. Book One covers the foundation of the city, its shape, growth, extent, walls, gates, roads, and gives a general overview of construction and repair from Romulus to Justinian. It is a discrete portion of the whole work which both illustrates Donati's methods and aims on very specific topics and summarizes his views on the whole history of ancient Rome as a built environment. The book concludes with a chapter on Donati's general conclusions based on his comparison of ancient Rome and the modern Baroque Rome of Urban VIII. The commentary for Roma Vetus ac Recens Book One examines Donati's debts to and progress beyond the works of his predecessors, the limitations and strengths of his methodology, and the influences on Donati of his cultural milieu.

Subject Area

Classical studies|Romance literature

Recommended Citation

Pilney, Colin Dale, "Alessandro Donati's “Roma vetus ac recens”, Book One: Text, translation, and commentary" (2001). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9999831.