European Scholar

BORGHESI, Bartolomeo

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  • Date of Birth: 1781-07-11
  • Born City: Savignano di Romagna
  • Born State/Country: Italy
  • Parents: Pietro, a numismatist and collector, & Caterina Conti di Castrocaro.
  • Date of Death: 1860-04-16
  • Death City: San Marino
  • Death State/Country: Sam Marino
  • Married: Silvia Montesi
  • Education: Study at Collegio di Nobili, Ravenna, 1794-8; Collegio San Luigi, Bologna, 1798-1800; study at Vatican Archive, 1816-17.
  • Professional Experience:

    Consilio, Savigano, 1800-1806; podestà, 1807-8.

  • Publications:

    Oeuvres completes ed. E. Desjardins (Paris, Impr. Impériale, 1862-7),  Œuvres numismatiques (vols. 1-2 ; 1862, 1864) ; Oeuvres épigraphiques, vols. 3-5 ; 1864, 1865, 1869) ; Lettres vols. 6-8 1868, 1865, 1872 ; Nuovi Frammenti dei Fasti Consulari Capitolini, vol. 9,1 (1879); Praefecti urbis Romae(vol. 9,2 1884); Les préfets du prétoire

  • Notes:

    Borghesi, known familiarly as “Bartolino,” inherited a love of ancient numismatics and epigraphy from his father. His first publication, at the age of five, was an engraved print of a medal he designed and dedicated to the two cardinals who came from Rimini in the Romagna region in the north of Italy. At eleven, with the acknowledged help of his father, he wrote an account of a Ravegnan bronze medal of Emperor Heraclius (Cesema, 1792; Oeuvres 1:1-26). He was tutored at home and following the death of his father in 1794, by Benedictines in Ravenna for four years then for two years by Barnabites in Bologna. 

    He returned to Savignano in May 1800 and served on the city council during the French occupation and because of his youth (19 years of age) he was allowed to serve subsequently under the Austrian occupation. Almost continuously for the next two decades, he was involved with the political life of his region under successive administrations. His frequent travels to Europeam centers allowed him to deepen his knowledge of manuscripts and epigraphy. In 1806 his friend Cesena Eduardo Fabbri (1778-1853) advised him that he could do more for his country with his learning than with his armaments and so Borghesi with eight other scholars founded the Rubicona Simpemenia dei Filopatridi, which promoted the study of Romagnese culture and made Savignano a significant cultural center in the early 19th century. Borghesi was elected permanent secretary and librarian (the academy incorporated the public library of Savignano), and founded a high school in which Borghesi taught mathematics and astronomy. 

    Study in Rome in the winters of 1801-2 and 1802-3 set him on his scholarly career path. In the Vatican Library he met the Greek scholar Girolamo Amati (1768-1834) and the epigraphist, archaeologist, and diplomatist Luigi Gaetano Marini (1742-1815), who trained Borghesi in epigraphy and diplomatics (the critical analysis of historical documents).  During 1803-4 he transcribed medieval parchments of Cesena, Rimini, and Ravenna displaying his interest in historical chronography which animates his numismatic and epigraphical work. It is thought that the dust from papyrus fragments caused a chest disease in 1809 after which he concentrated on numismatics and epigraphy.

    He also composed occasional poems and Latin epigraphs, with Napoleon’s “Romanity” and renewed popular and scholarly interest in ancient culture. In 1810, recovered from his illness, he returned to his studies with new energy, visiting Florence, Tuscany, Milan and Naples. Her wrote many articles and letters to others scholars detailing chronography, coins, and inscriptions on the historical topography of Romagna, a signal contribution to the estimate of the region’s culture. 

    Apparently the minute work on the Medieval manuscripts damaged his eyesight by 1816-21 he turned to epigraphy and the most important of his published works. The discovery in the excavations of the Roman forum in the autumn of 1816 two large new fragments of the consular glories already called the Capitoline, made him immediately rush to Rome, where he stayed until April of May 1817. He gave lectures on the fragments (the fragments were published by the archaeologist Carlo Fea (1753-1836)). He traveled to the resources of Milan and published his essays on the fragments there. Archaeology was always a means of discovering new points of pride about his culture, spurred by the nationalism he felt for San Marino. 

    In 1819 he organized the Vatican numismatic collection. 

    In 1821he was obliged to flee Savignano following the restorations by the Papacy. In San Marino he was able to enjoy a solitary life, but he became podestà of the smallest of Italian states. He conceived a design for the publication of all known Latin inscriptions. both for his health and his scholarship, at the cost of his social interaction in larger cities and his participation in civic affairs.  He continued to build his own numismatic collection. He worked on the new fragments of the capitular consular splendor, that is the consular inscriptions he had gathered up over the years, the documentary apparatus of the vast work that had long been conceived for the reconstruction of the consular splendor of Rome, from 509 BC to 632 AD. He remained in San Marino for forty years. The difficulties of his isolation made much of his work dependent on constant and voluminous correspondence. Correspondence also was a means of his teaching others the methods of his work. Without completing his work and the great mass of it remaining unpublished.  

    His great work was the two volumes of Nuovi Frammenti dei Fasti Consulari Capitolini (Milan: 1818-20) which furnished the positive basis for the chronology of Roman history and covered all part of Italy. Contributions to archaeological journals established his reputation as a numismatist and antiquarian. Napoleon III ordered complete edition of his works in 10 vols (1862-97). Collection of fragments originally 1537 pages.  

    Though he never held a teaching position, Borghesi was able through his correspondence from the isolation of San Marino, to train epigraphists and archaeologists. Among his greatest legacies was his instruction of Theodor Mommsen in 1846-7 and Giovanni Batista de Rossi in 1853). Borghesi‘s encyclopedic knowledge of the available inscriptions formed the basis of his Fasti Consulares. With Borghesi Mommsen traversed the kingdom of Naples and learned not only about the local culture but also about Messapians and Oscans. Borghesi conceived a design for the publication of all the known Latin inscriptions, a project undertaken after his death by the Academy of Berlin under the auspices of Mommsen. Thus Borghesi was instrumental in the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum.

  • Sources:

    Bartolemeo Borghesi, Lettere a Celestino Cavedoni, ed. Augusto Fraschetti (Rome 1984); Gaetano Gasperoni, Un Grande Maestro di Antichità Classiche (Bartolomeo Borghesi nel centenario della norte) (Citta del Castello, 1961); Piero Treves, Lo studio dell’ antichità. Classica nell’ Ottocento (Milan & Naples, 1962) 829-30; A. Campana, DBI 12 (1970) 624-43; A Fraschetti, « Per Bartolomeo Borghesi: antiquari e tecnici nella cultura italiana dell'Ottocento » in Scienza e libertà (Colloqui internazionale AIEGL( (1982) 135-57 ; P. Treves, in Lo studio dell’ antichità classica nell’ Ottocento, ed. P. Treves(1962) 829-70.

  • Author: Ward Briggs