Wednesday, July 24, 2019

"Rent an anchorite with 1-800-HERMITS!"

(Today I Found Out) - In modern times if you want to show off extreme wealth, you may purchase expensive sports cars, buy a private jet, wear flashy jewelry, or, as boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. has been known to do, travel around carrying suitcases filled with sometimes millions of dollars in cash. Such extravagant displays of wealth are a trademark of the boxer with Mayweather reportedly having a standing arrangement with his bank to have huge sums of money in cash periodically delivered to his palatial home with the primary purpose being to facilitate flaunting his fabulous wealth, instead of using a card like mere plebeians.

Going back a few centuries in Britain, a popular way to achieve a similar effect was to simply hire a random person to live on your property, with their job generally being to cease bathing or grooming in any way and otherwise spend their days sitting around doing a whole lot of nothing but looking like a stereotypical hermit, all for the enjoyment of guests.

While it isn’t fully clear exactly how the idea of the so-called Ornamental Hermit came about, author of The Hermit in the Garden, Dr. Gordon Campbell of the University of Leicester speculates, “The idea of keeping an ornamental hermit probably began in Tivoli to the east of Rome when the Emperor Hadrian had a villa. In his Villa, he had a little pond and in the middle of the pond, he had a little house for one where… he could retreat from the horrors of running the Roman Empire.”

What does any of this have to do with 18th century Britain? In the 16th century, the villa was excavated and this little villa was discovered. Pope Pius IV then decided he too should have a similar little building in the Vatican gardens to use as a retreat. This was subsequently built, called the Casina Pio IV, helping to set the idea in popular landscape architecture...
Complete article here.

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