Though the arches themselves are labeled, they are mostly obscured, since the two larger Renaissance porticoes were built over them (as seen above). The only clearly identifiable ancient structure, and the only structure rendered with light, is the Temple of Nerva on the far left of the composition. However, only its Corinthian capitals and broken architrave are visible. The visual and verbal caesura formed by the wall and cornice call attention to the limits of antiquity’s legibility. Yet Piranesi seems to suggest that through close observation, portrayed and documented with ink on paper, the fragments of ancient Rome can be partially preserved and seen, if not read. (ZL)
To see this image in the Vedute di Roma, volume 17 of Piranesi’s Opere, click here.