Rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.
Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Rome Journal: Raphael's Tomb
Raphael's tomb (photograph by Hallie Cohen)
“ILLE HIC EST RAFFAEL TIMUIT QUO SOSPITE VINCI RERUM MAGRA
PARENS ET MORIENTE MORI” (“Here lies Raphael, by whom Nature feared to be
outdone while he lived, and when he died, feared that she herself would die”)
are the words of the 16th century scholar Cardinal Bembo, inscribed on Raphael’s tomb in
the Pantheon. Raphael had planned that he would be interred in the part of the
Pantheon where the final rays of daylight from the 27 foot in diameter Oculus fall on his tomb. Lorenzetto's "Madonna del Sasso" ("Madonna of the Rock") which stands above his tomb was also his idea. Of course it’s the perfect convergence of engineering and design that tourists come to see in the famed dome of the Pantheon, a perfect hemisphere on a cylindrical base. But Raphael is a hard act to follow if you're considering making funeral
arrangements. Man plans and God laughs goes the old saw. However, Raphael plainly
got the last laugh. One thinks of great works of
art as being immortal, but the search for immortality has always eluded men. Carracci is also buried in The Pantheon, but Raphael’s triumph, in this case, lies in the way he orchestrated his own memorial, embedding himself in what Stendhal once described as "the greatest monument to Roman antiquity," the pagan temple that became a Christian church.
Francis Levy's debut novel, Erotomania: A Romance, was released in August 2008 by Two Dollar Radio.
His short stories, criticism, humor, and poetry have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, The Village Voice, The East Hampton Star, The Quarterly, Penthouse, Architectural Digest, TV Guide, The Journal of Irreproducible Results, and other publications. One of his Voice humor pieces was anthologized in The Big Book of New American Humor (HarperCollins). He is presently the Co-Director of The Philoctetes Center for the Multidisciplinary Study of Imagination (philoctetes.org), where he supervises roundtable discussions on topics as varied as “The Psychology of the Modern Nation State” and “Modern Traffic Theory, Behavior, and Imagination”.