Alarm Clock (Interlude, Day 2)

We woke up this morning to the crashing of the canon. This is what vacations are meant to be filled with - unabashed laziness. Realizing, however, that we were going to run out of daylight, we jumped up and headed out to pound the pavement.

We started with a whirlwind tour of the Campo dei Fiori and the Campo Marzo, taking in Pasquino (the talking statue), Piazza Navona, and the Pantheon. At the Pantheon, I was becoming very frustrated at not being able to capture the photo that I wanted, looking up at the column capitals from under the porch. It seemed impossible to simultaeously capture both the immensity of what my eye could take in, as well as the overpowering sense of... weight... pressing down on me. Distracted and visibly irked, I glanced over at a man sitting at the base of one of the columns who just smiled back knowingly. Finally it dawned on me that there are some things that just can't be captured with pictures. So I put my camera away, and just enjoyed being very small in the presence of something very large.

Next, went by the Trevi Fountain where we threw some hard-earned Euros into the water, and ate a bit of lunch. Then, we hot-footed past the Forum to the Colosseum. I had never been inside before, and it is a pretty interesting piece of engineering - huge buttresses, underground tunnels, four or five risers of bleachers, hydraulic pumps to flood the arena, and the ancient concession stands near each exit are still working (ha ha, not really).

colosseo dead on

There were also some nice views of the Arch of Constantine from up in the Colosseo.


The Arch is an incredible, political work of architecture. The simple story is that Constantine had it erected to commemorate his victory over Maxentius at the Milvan Bridge, but pillaged a bunch of previous works of architecture and art to decorate it. For example, several of the roundels are actually of Marcus Aurelius, but have been recut to resemble Constantine. This is typically read as a result of either the miserliness of Constantine, or of the decline of the ability the Empire to produce fine narrative reliefs.

The truth is quite a bit more complex. Some of the roundels are original. And the ones that are spoila have been identifed as originally portraying Marcus Aurelius because several of the other roundels from the series have been found, and they were appearently removed from monuments to Marcus Aurelius much earlier than the time of Constantine... saved when the original monument was dismantled, in the expectation that they would be reused. The use of these works was in fact a higly polictial act, and Constatine in all likelihood counted on his contemporaries/subjects identifying the original subject matter (Marcus Aurelius subduing the barbarians), and conflating that act with his victory over Maxentius.

Also a lovely view of me.


Accompanied by the Temple of Venus. This temple backed up against the Temple of Roma (it's mirror image, now mustly incorporated into the church of Santa Maria Nova), both of which were designed by the Emporer Hadrian, himself.

Tonight, I braved the rain to run out and grab some pizza and a couple bottles of wine, and then we sat at home and listened to the rain fall on Rome.


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