Halloween is my second favorite holiday (St. Patrick’s Day is still #1), and we had a marvelous time in Rome. We spent the afternoon on Colle Palatino seeing some amazing Roman architecture and getting a feel for how the Ancients who were in power lived. The Hill itself is the centermost of Rome’s seven hills, and features the spot where Romulus founded Rome. The fact that the Hill commands a superior view of Rome, and that it allowed the Senators and then Emperors who lived there to see both the Forum and the Circus Masssimo, seeing any threats to their power from either inside or outside the kingdom.
Oh yeah, and we had our favorite guide again….
We also got a sense for Roman piety. Rome is often associated with the excesses of the the late imperial reign, but we saw a site for a Roman temple to Jupiter at the very top of the hill, showing the way that Romans (like the Greeks before them) placed their temples to their gods in beautiful places that brought them a sense of the divine.
This is not my photo, and when this temple was first built, the Emmanuel Vittorio building was not there.
We also saw the temple that Titus Flavius prayed at every morning in order to start his day, a temple to Juno, who among her many roles was the goddess of the hearth, and thus family.
Notice the body language of the group in the above picture. We’re all getting much more comfortable listening to our guides, I think mostly because we’re becoming more knowledgeable about Roman history, and we’re better at understanding what we’re seeing, making ruins come to life.
One final point – one thing that is difficult for me to understand in Calvino’s Invisible Cities, which we’re reading, is why the Khan has to rely on Marco Polo to do his traveling for him – he’s an emperor, so he should be free to go where he wants, right? One look at Palatine Hill, with all the safeguards built in to protect, mostly from internal threats, made the reasons why the Khan feels trapped clear. The Roman Emperors even had a mini-stadium built so that they could see athletic competitions in the safety of their own compound. The price of being a tyrant can be a terrible one.