The Death and Resurrection of Rome
From A.D. 400, writes E.R. Chamberlin, imperial Rome was subject to pillage and plunder, but Popes in the Renaissance destroyed in order to rebuild.
I was sitting not long ago at the southern extremity of the Palatine Hill, where the remains of the Palace of Septimius Severus tower a hundred and fifty feet above the level of the modern streets, and I was trying to fathom the abyss which lay at my feet and to reconstruct in imagination the former aspect of the place.
By measurements on the spot, I have been able to ascertain that a palace 490 feet long, 390 feet wide and 160 feet high has so completely disappeared that only a few pieces of crumbling wall are left here and there against the cliff to tell the tale. Who broke up and removed, bit by bit, that masonry? Who overthrew the giant? Was it age, the hands of barbarians, the elements or some irresistible force the action of which has escaped observation?’
So, in 1899, Rodolfo Lanciani, Professor of Ancient Topography in the University of Rome, opened his survey of the causes of the physical destruction of the city. His words are reminiscent of that other great survey of Rome.