Over time, Piranesi’s human figures increasingly resemble “tubercular wrecks” with “an air of hectic destitution” (Mayor 16). Even so, the expressive faces of these destitute wrecks are uncommon, and for them to appear together with a mysterious structure hints, perhaps, at a frustration with the superstitious origins of its name and the persistent uncertainty about its function. The so-called “Temple of the Coughs” retains a name based on legend rather than evidence, resisting the classification efforts of Enlightenment-era archaeology. (JB)
To see this image in the Vedute di Roma, volume 17 of Piranesi’s Opere, click here.