Giesecke, Annette. 2007. The Epic City: Urbanism, Utopia, and the Garden in Ancient Greece and Rome. Hellenic Studies Series 21. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_GieseckeA.The_Epic_City_Urbanism_Utopia_and_the_Garden.2007.
Epilogue: The Medallions and Other Magic Gardens
What a garden does, by seducing us with its allurements of texture, scent, and color, is remind us of an essential unity, our essential unity with the natural world. This unity became and remains an ideal conceived in an urban context. Specifically, as manifested in Roman Italy, this ideal is conceived of as such when urban culture finds itself in a crisis or when the disadvantages of urban living begin to overshadow its benefits. In the Roman world, this ideal, described as rus in urbe, manifested itself in the flourishing of Epicureanism, a philosophy predicated on the essential atomic unity of life, and in the intense domestication of Nature evidenced by the avid embrace of flora, fauna, land, sky, and sea in the Roman villa as the Republic plunged irrevocably and fatally into civil war. The ideal of rus in urbe proved tractable and pliant, adaptable to a new social order and a new regime, and Augustus transformed its soft-primitivist strains into a dream of the Republic restored, the return of a Saturnian Golden Age in the rediscovery of Rome’s humble, georgic past. However, utopian dreams, bound as they are to the distinct social conditions from which they rise, are not endlessly capable of mutation. At a critical juncture, they will reveal irreparable rifts and ultimately shatter, later emerging as something altogether new.