previous next

Fabretti, Raffaele

A distinguished Italian archaeologist, born at Urbino in Umbria in 1618. He studied law at Cagli and in his native city, where he took the doctor's degree at the age of eighteen. He soon after attracted the notice of Cardinal Lorenzo Imperiali, by whose influence he was employed in important political negotiations in Spain, where he acted as treasurer and later as auditor to the Papal legation at Madrid, remaining there for thirteen years. Returning to Rome, he became a judge, and then an auditor of legation at Urbino. Having always had a strong predilection for antiquarian studies, he now, by the invitation of Cardinal Carpegna, found an opportunity of prosecuting them at his leisure. Taking up his residence in Rome, he began the archaeological investigations that have made his name memorable, by a most minute study of the topography and ruins of the Campagna, spending day after day in solitary expeditions on his horse Marco Polo, of which he has written pleasantly as being an animal with a keen scent for buried monuments.

In 1680, Fabretti published his first important work, entitled De Aquis et Aquae Ductibus Veteris Romae—a treatise which cleared up many obscure points in the topography of Latium, and which is printed in the Thesaurus of Graevius (iv. 1677). Other treatises of his are that De Columna Traiani Syntagma (Rome, 1683); and the Inscriptionum Antiquarum Explicatio (Rome, 1699). The former contains an explanation also of the famous Iliac Table, a bas-relief now in the Capitol, and representing scenes in the Trojan War. Both these works throw much light on Roman archaeology, and are especially important for their recognition of the comparative method of studying epigraphic remains. Fabretti became involved in a controversy with Gronovius (q.v.) regarding the interpretation by the former of a passage in Livy , and the two scholars assailed each other in the abusive vocabulary of contemporary scholarship, Fabretti styling Gronovius Grunnovius or “grunter,” and Gronovius retorting by calling Fabretti faber rusticus.

Fabretti died in January, 1700, having been for a number of years keeper of the archives of the Castello S. Angelo, under Innocent XII.—an office of great responsibility.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: