Hello there! Sorry about my lack of updates this weekend, I had a wee bit of sickness that took me out of commission for about 24 hours. Feeling much better though!
On Friday, before I got sick, my roommates and I explored the Forum and the Colosseum, which we had only previously seen from the outside and at night. As I said before, ruins lay all over the city, and they just kind of pop up into the landscape. Because of African dust off the Mediterranean and thousands of years of settling, Rome of today is actually built on top of Ancient Rome. The Forum sits below street level--by a good 2 stories. The columns and arches are huge. I know that is the word that I keep using to describe these things, but you look at these ancient structures and wonder how the heck they built them without cranes or bulldozers. I wished that they had an artist's rendering of what it might have looked like, because a lot of things in the Forum are big hunks of marble. Nothing is labeled or described though--maybe even the experts have no idea what some things used to be. The cobblestones that cover Rome are simply rocks in the Forum. Large rocks with big spaces in between. Kind of like playing ancient hopscotch. On the Palatine Hill, there is an ancient garden with orange trees. People actually eat the oranges--we couldn't try one since all of the easily-accessible ones had been taken!
Once out the back exit of the Forum, it's a straight shot to the Colosseum, which you can see the whole time looming in the distance. THIS is when you have to ask yourself, how did they build this?!? The outside is pock-marked, something I don't understand and will have to ask an expert. Ancient construction practices? War wounds? Anyway, the Colosseum is interesting for one big, glaring reason. Most of the inside was built with wood-- the floor the gladiators competed on, the benches the audience sat on. These things, obviously, are not there, so in their place are massive craters-- the skeleton of what it used to look like. Pretty easy to fill in with my imagination (especially having seen Gladiator with Russell Crowe about 50 times) but still strange. Things in the Colosseum, however, are labeled really well in multiple languages, so if you had never even heard of a Gladiatorial fight, you could come out of the Colosseum an expert. (Hear that Julia?)
So the name of this post....SPQR. Any guesses?? Any closet latin scholars out there?? It means "Senatus Populusque Romanus" and was the signature of the Ancient Roman government. They put it everywhere: sculptures, coins, swords, and shields. It means "The Senate and People of Rome" or, basically, be a patriot and live for Rome. Well, it's still ALL OVER the city. Trashcans, manhole covers, city street sweepers. The Romans are still doing everything for the Senate and People of Rome. And there's your Jeopardy trivia for the day!!
Below are a few photos of me in the Forum and Colosseum, as well as some very old "hunks of marble."