I Giuochi olimpici in Arcadia

Silvia Tatti

This contribution reconstructs, departing from Arcadian Proceedings and contemporary evidence, the story of the Giuochi olimpici in Arcadia, poetry contests carried out every four years in place of the physical competitions in which the heroes of ancient Greece faced off. The Giuochi were held regularly starting in 1693 and continued for the entire period of Crescimbeni’s custodianship, later picked back up only sporadically by successive custodians. Accompanying the celebrations, which at first took place in various locations and after 1724 at the Bosco Parrasio, was the publication of a volume that collected the compositions recited on the occasion of the competitions. Dedicated to the popes, sovereigns and cardinals of the papal court, the Giuochi had an immediate eulogistic function, stressed in the Direzione dei Giuochi olimpici with which the custodian prefaced the poems in the published volumes. In their serial rituality, however, the Giuochi also had the more veiled function of reinforcing the hegemonic function, in the Roman cultural sphere, of Crescimbenian Arcadia. The return to the classical model in the rigid formulas of the game, with its rules and its seriality, indicated a path of intellectual renewal guided by and channelled into a rituality that integrated perfectly with the Church State’s system of political and cultural ceremony.