Sunday, May 17, 2009

Roma Day 2

We had a surprisingly good night considering the racket that was being made by the modern day neanderthals because I slept with earplugs and Caron somehow has built-in earplugs which she uses to drown out sounds that she doesn't want to hear. Sometimes that may be me so this is a double edged sword. My foot was really sore last night so I took a couple of voltarens and, thankfully, it is more-or-less fine this morning. Trying to walk around Rome for a whole day while having an attack of the gout just wasn't something I was looking forward to.

We were up and at it again early and the first site on the list was the Colosseum where we caught up with Melmann surveying the scene of some of his ancestors demise.

I also managed a photograph of Caron taking a view of the Colosseum and I must say that Caron is being pretty good with regards to posing for photographs. The Colosseum apparently didn't have Christians thrown to the lions there; it may have happened elsewhere but not at the Colosseum as is generally and popularly thought.

The Colosseum is pretty run down but it is still an enormous arena and there is an excellent explanation of some of the history behind it's creators, the Flavian dynasty. The Flavian dynasty started out with Vespasian who, although he established a dictatorship, was a benevolent dictator as was his son Titus who was the next emperor. On the death of Titus his other son, Domitian assumed the role and abused the laws put in place that were used so successfully by Vespasian and Titus and; in the end was assassinated. A bloodthirsty lot those Romans but an interesting argument where efficiency of government eventually lead to abuse of government. I've been reading Umberto Eco's, Turning back the clock which should be mandatory reading in South Africa. Italy, it turns out, is a lot like South Africa in some respects.

Next up was the Palatine which was the hill where the Imperial palaces were built and although there is more ruin than anything else, it was built on such a vast scale that there is still a lot left although I found it a bit dry and less than interesting. We found the Curia which was the precursor to the Roman Forum which we enjoyed principally because it is intact and cool due to it's enormous height. I'm sure that we saw the Roman Forum but there are so many ruins all jumbled up and all with columns in them that it is less than certain exactly what we were seeing.

The Curia is on the right just next to the row of columns and is intact due to it's early conversion to a Christian church which was also the case at the Pantheon which is not to be confused, like I did, with the Parthenon which is in Athens. The Pantheon was originally a temple to the Gods, all of them, and was the find of the day for me. It's hard to believe that this building has been standing for 2000 years!

I think that it would be difficult to build even today and it, even more than the Palatine, is worth a visit. Walking around Rome is like walking in a Museum, just about every corner and every 100m one stumbles on something historically important like we stumbled on Trajan's column which has been standing for 2000 years although I am sure that it has had some restoration work done on it.

We moved on to the Villa Borghese which is a huge park quite close to the middle of Rome which is very peaceful and cool. Rome is quite warm and sunny although the sun here doesn't burn like it does in South Africa. It's just as hot but one doesn't get anywhere near as sunburnt; this is a good thing! I had wanted to go to a gallery but it was by booking only so we moved on to the final visit of the day which was to an Etruscan museum. The Etruscans were a power which preceded the rise of Rome and in many respects Rome, like they did to the greeks, subjugated them but assimilated their culture. I think this was one of the marked things about the Romans, particularly during their rise, was their willingness to assimilate other cultures and gods and to make them their own so clearly, the Romans were an uncultured lot to begin with. Maybe they were primitive Borgs. By assimilating other cultures it meant that those subjugated didn't feel that their culture or gods were being threatened which made them less resistant to subjugation. Just a thought.

The end of a long hot and hard period of our trip and both of us are really looking forward to taking things a whole lot easier from now on. Caron was feeling lazy so we had Pizza at the restaurant at the campsite before I used the Internet cafe. Since the wifi didn't work I copied everything onto a flash drive and then used a desktop pc which is a bit of a pain but at least it worked. The campsite is markedly quieter this evening so we look forward to a good nights kip.

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