Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Standing Amongst History

August 24, 2008

Now that we are a little more familiar with the way things work here, particularly the bus system, transit around Rome is going quite smoothly. We are learning to adapt and find our way around, mostly by trial and error.
Our tour today was the Capitoline museums. I think one of the biggest things for me was seeing the excavated findings of Constantine. In the first courtyard that I walked into I saw a giant head, arm, hand and foot. Not pieced together, but just arranged there in the court in their own pieces. What got me was the fact that people really had statues of themselves made of such grandiose size. And the other thing was that I was trying to think of how amazing it would be to be the one who unearthed such a structure. How amazing to find a glorious portrait of such an infamous man. Its things like this statue that made Constantine eternal and godlike.
I also learned a ton about Rome’s history about how it began, the Roman Triad, and the rein of the many emperors. We saw the famous she-wolf and the suckling infants below of Romulus and Remus. To see the bronze sculpture that shows the legend of the founding of the great city of Rome is truly wonderful. Its not that the statue is worshiped, but rather it’s a sign to the people to remind them of their history as a city divinely appointed for greatness.
One of the most interesting things I learned about was the Triad of the gods Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva and how the three worked in perfect harmony. The most powerful part of the tour was in the room of the museum where parts of the original foundation of the temple of Jupiter remained. We were standing in what was the substructure of the largest temple in Rome. Its like there was so much history there, and we weren’t just standing in a place where something great used to be, we were standing there with the remains of the original building. My breath was taken away just thinking about where I was standing in context to the story of Rome. The temple of Jupiter was such a monumental structure for the people in and around Rome in ancient times and there I was, right alongside history.
As far as emperors go, it’s really easy to get confused at all the different ones and to try and keep a timeline of when and for how long they all ruled. So today I didn’t learn about all of them, but I learned important things about emperors that really made changes in the empire or brought new ideas. I found the tour through Context: Travel not just to be a boring list of the rulers, but rather a great deal of interesting facts about a few of them, which kept me interested and wanting to learn more. And that I think it is key; to make the ancient people alive and show how they were like people today. In ancient times men were power thirsty, they loved, they committed adultery, they conquered, they worked, they educated themselves, and they are just like us in many ways.

In the evening we went for a passeggiata, or stroll, with two marvelous docents who answered every question we had about Rome’s history and showed us to notice key things throughout the city that we wouldn’t have paid attention to otherwise. Traveling with someone who has lived here and studied the past of this city can truly open your eyes and show you parts of the city that general tourists aren’t lucky enough to see.
With the way things are going so far, I’m looking forward to the upcoming days with such great anticipation.

Katie Estabrook (Hagstrom)


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