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vespers for jupiter

Ruins were 18th century Europe’s antidote to hubris. Gibbon conceived the idea of his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. he tells us, “as I sat musing amidst the ruins of the Capitol, while the bare-footed friars were singing vespers in the Temple of Jupiter.” The milords flocked to the Forum for lessons on the inevitable erosion of grandeur. Artists such as Piranesi and Hubert Robert supplied engravings and paintings of moss-draped Roman monuments overrun by beggars and goats. Landscapists would custom build ruins for the parks of the Quality so they could stroll soberly through gardens of wistfulness.’