Goethe’s Italienische Reise (Italian Journey), the Greatest Journal of an Eighteenth-century Traveller to Rome

A paper by Emeritus Professor Ronald Ridley, University of Melbourne, for the Ancient World Seminar at 1:00 on Monday 16 March in room 156, Arts West north wing.

Of all the outstanding travelers to Italy, most especially Rome, in the eighteenth century, Johann Wolfgang Goethe (1749-1832) has left us the most impressive account of all, the magnificent Italienische Reise (Italian journey), in a splendid translation by Elisabeth Mayer, also republished by Penguin. Goethe spent some fifteen months in Rome in all (1786-1788) and tells us not only what he saw but how he saw it (some fascinating secrets) and why it was important. At the same time he was immersed in a most active life as author and artist, with a very involved emotional life. We will visit with him not only classical sites but also the modern city.