SERIES: Stories of Rome, Stories of Italy
SPEAKER: Maria Antonietta Visceglia
DATE: Thursday 20 October, 6 p.m.
PLACE: Sala del Refettorio
In mid-seventeenth-century Rome, Olimpia Maidalchini, sister-in-law of Innocent X Panfili (1644-1655), became the most powerful and feared public figure because of her power in the city and in the curia. Why did Olimpia create a scandal in a city accustomed to venality and the privileges of nepotism? Perhaps because by her actions she evoked the ghost of the medieval papess Joan, who became an emblem of the degeneration of the Roman papacy in the Protestant controversy. Made into the symbol of the danger of role reversal through the pen of the libertine Gregorio Leti, Olympia as a negative myth passed from history into the literature and imagination of Baroque Rome.