The proverb "All roads lead to Rome" derives from medieval Latin. It was first recorded in writing in 1175 by Alain de Lille, a French theologian and poet, whose Liber Parabolarum renders it as 'mille viae ducunt homines per saecula Romam' (a thousand roads lead men forever to Rome). The first documented English use of the proverb occurs more than two hundred years later, in Geoffrey Chaucer's Astrolabe of 1391, where it appears as 'right as diverse pathes leden diverse folk the righte way to Rome.'
The proverb's origins may relate to the Roman monument known as the Milliarium Aureum, or golden milestone, erected by Emperor Caesar Augustus in the central forum of ancient Rome. All distances in the Roman Empire were measured from this point and it was regarded as the site from which all principle roads diverged. As such, artists such as Giacomo Lauro, whose rendition of the Milliarium Aureum appears in this exhibit, often used it as a metaphor for the intensely cosmopolitan culture that has long been present in Rome.
The materials on view in this exhibit are recent purchases made through the Library Acquisitions Grant Program. Titled "All Roads Lead to Rome," this generous grant sought to strengthen the Library's scholarly holdings within the subject areas of cartography, monuments, and travel. Within these categories, interdisciplinary purchases pertaining to archaeology, music, history, and the development of the Vatican were also made. This exhibit presents a selection of these recent acquisitions that are now available for use by faculty and students within the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections.
August 22 to December 16, 2011
102 Hesburgh Library,
at the west end of the 1st Floor Concourse
Open to the public
8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.,
Monday through Friday
For information on other exhibits currently on display in the University Libraries, please refer to the Libraries exhibits page.