The blossom of Juda's tree is magnificient. it is all over the city.
The blossom lasts about two weeks. Afterward, with the leaves on, it becomes an ordinary tree.
At the end of March the archeological area is in blossom. It's a pleasure for the eyes and wondeful for picture taking. The wisteria is spectacular...I wait the entire year for the blossom and it lasts about 10 days of pure beauty.
We have thousands of green parrots in town. They are all over...in the trees in front of my home, in the ruins of ancient Rome and a huge colony is in ancient ostia excavations.
They are not native of Italy; I imagine that green parrots owner tired of taking care of pets released them and they found my city very comfortable.
They have considerably grown in number in the past few years.
I have never seen a green parrot when I was a child and now I wonder if they are replacing some other species.
Largo Argentina, located in the very center of Rome, is an archeological site. The square was dug in the nineteen century revealing the remains and podium of four republican temples dating from the fourth to the first century before Christ.
It sound strange, but it is right there that a cats colony resides. Homeless and abandoned cats are taken care in that beautiful setting and admired by the passerby. If a roman want to adopt a cat that is the place where to go. My brother got two cats there.
Italy is the birthplace of carnival celebrations and the feast is popular and celebrated all over Italy.
The origins of carnival dates back to the ancient civilizations. In Egypt groups of people, wearing masks attended the celebrations in honor of the goddess Isis. In Greece, Dionysian celebrations were moments of debauchery and jokes, but it is the Roman Saturnalia feast that inspired the medieval carnival parties.
The Saturnalia was the celebration of god Saturn dedicated to fertility and the breaking of social rules., orgiastic festivals with public entertainment, dances and masks occurred for several days.
Two imperial ships of Caligola were found under the lake of Nemi and the bronze fittings are the most important set of objects left.
The first group of objects was acquired by the Museo Nazionale Romano in 1906, following the explorations undertaken in the lake by the antiquarian Eliseo Borghi on behalf of the Orsini family, while the second group of art works was found in excavations done between 1929 and 1932.
Rome in ancient times had more than an hippodrome:
The most famous is surely the Circus Maximus together with the one built by the emperor Caligula in the area of the Vatican.
As we know well, Caligula circus, finished by the emperor Claudius, was the site of the execution of the early Christians including saint Peter, the first apostle, ordered by emperor Nero in 65AD.
Frequently in ancient roman times roman houses had no running water.
Private water was a privilege granted only to the wealthiest members of the society.
The most of the ordinary people lived in condominium with water supply granted along the street. Bath facilities were extremely common and every roman city had several bathhouses. The large ones built by the emperors were called Bath while the ones built by private citizens were named Balnea.
The entire religious and political life of ancient Rome was determined by the ‘Auspicia’.
This world means the ‘observation of the birds’ and derived from the Latin worlds ‘avis’ and ‘spicio’.
The ancient Romans were observing the number of birds, their way of flying and position in the sky: A square section of the sky was divided into 4 parts and the attitudes and number of birds entering this area and moving within it gave information about the God’s will.
In Western culture it exist a widespread difficulty to accept the presence of colours in ancient art.
The neoclassical period and Winckelmann ideas are still rooted and we keep believing ancient temple’s ornaments or statues were merely white or plan.
Of course this is not true.
Just think about the function of a temple aimed to worship a deity who was represented at the top of the temple front.
Santa Maria Antigua, is a tiny church located in the roman forum, at the foot of the Palatine hill just below the Domus Tiberiana.
It’s a sixth century A.D. church with remains of fresco decorations dating from the Byzantine time until the middle of the 9th century.
It is considered the Sistine Chapel of a thousand years ago being the place where to study the evolution of art along 2 centuries.
The emperors Constantine, ruling over the western empire, and Licinius ruling over the eastern roman empire in 313ad met in the city of Milan on occasion of the wedding of Licinius with Constantia, Constantine’s sister.
The meeting took place in the splendid imperial palace and in that occasion administrative instructions were sent to functionaries throughout the empire.
They were aimed to reinforce a decree issued by Galerius in 311 which gave the Christians the status of a legitimate religion. The two emperors ordered also that Christian communities were returned all their properties.
Later historians named it ‘Edict of Milan’.
Every March 15th we got an appointment.
In Largo Argentina square, where the Curia of Pompey used to be, we meet and participate to the re-enactment of the assassination of Julius Caesar that occurred 2061 years ago now!
The Curia of Pompey is not visible but we know that it lies underneath the Teatro Argentina. The square is fascinating and keeps a vivid memory of the past due to the remains of four republican temples visible in its centre on a lower street level.
One of the oldest laws, dating back to the kingdom era, was the prohibition for soldiers to camp in town.
The flat area of ancient Rome next to the Tiber river is where the army settled.
This neighbourhood is still named ‘Campo Marzio’ – the field of the god of war Mars (Ares in Greek) now.
Rome is a city where we live with the awareness of our history and the name ‘Campo Marzio’ is an example of it: we still recall what happened there over 2000 years ago. When in imperial time the same area was given splendid public buildings and facilities the army moved across the river in the area known as Vatican.
Neither the army nor the military leaders were allowed in the city of Rome.
According to this law generals, who were also consuls or senators, couldn’t join the political meetings held in the senate house in the Roman Forum.
This is a report of the main happenings occurring in the 5 years of the Jews rebellion that led to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70ad.
The main information on this period comes from ancient reports, mainly the one of Josephus the priest (37-100ad), a Jewish general captured by Vespasian in 68ad who wrote ‘the Jewish war’.
In May 66ad the roman governor in Judea - Gessius Florius- sent his troops to Jerusalem’s upper market with instructions to kill everyone. The deaths were 3600: men, women and children.
The governor demanded the Jews to demonstrate their submission by greeting 2 cohorts entering Jerusalem, as the Jews rebelled the consequence was terrible.
At that time in Jerusalem there was a moderate party of the Jews led by Agrippa II (27-93ad), great grandson of Herod the great (73-4bc) appointed by the Romans. They attempted to cease the protest with no luck.
The Jews were divided into the war party and the peace party.
The priest Eleazar, captain of the temple, forbidden sacrifice paid by strangers thus impeding the longstanding custom of demonstrating loyalty by making offers to the temple on behalf of the emperor and Rome.
According to Josephus, our main source of information, 'this action laid the foundation of the war with Rome'.
I was walking to the subway from the Borghese Gallery today.
I had the beautiful memories of the masterpieces of the art gallery in my mind when I saw this remains of the first city walls of Rome built about 24 hundreds years ago.
The servian walls were built to defend the city after the Gaul invasion of 390bc. The circuit was 11 km long and, as you can see, was made of big blocks of vulcanic stone: the tufa.
The length of the structure was 620m and between 140-150 meters wide.
The seating surrounded the all of the arena with steps that were 1400m long.
Each row could house 3500 spectators. The seats were 40am wide, 50cm in dept and the height of the step was 33cm.
There were probably about 50 rows of seats summing up at least 150000 spectators.
The racetrack was 550-580m long and 80m wide, with a total surface of 44.000square meters (12 times more than the coliseum).
The track was covered with the finest sand, aimed to absorb easily the rain in case of bad weather and not to lift too much dust on the audience.
The ‘spina’ : the central path around which the chariots were turning was 340 m long.
In the Circus Maximus men and women sat together, it was an opportunity to start new love affairs…
The perimeter of the coliseum is 527 meters.
The axis are 188 m and 156 m
The arena's axis are 80m and 54m;
The arena covers a surface of 4000 square meters.
The high of the structure is 52 meters.
The Circus Maximus was 3 times larger.
This extraordinary sarcophagus was found in 1931 near the Tiburtina road, just outside the ancient city of Rome. It can be dated to 180AD.
It shows the scene of a battle, staged on two levels rendered in a very vivid way.
The winning Romans can be seen in the upper level while the defeated barbarians are humiliated and defeated below them.
A roman horseman, in the centre- surely the owner of the tomb, is depicted in the guise of universal victor.
The top part of the coffin also celebrates the dead man and his wife: The woman exercises her virtues in the house, weaving and educating the children; while the man, after his warlike activities, receives the submission of the enemies.
This is a late Hellenistic artwork made in pentelic marble, the one of Athens.
It was found in 1886 on via Labicana, not far away from the coliseum on the slopes of the esquiline hill.
The ancient regional catalogues –lists of sites within an Augustan region- dating back to 2000 years ago, reported the presence of an Iseum, or temple of Isis. The head was in the temple, I believe.
It’s exquisite and very charming. Now it’s location is the Centrale Montemartini museum in Rome.
Centrale Montemartini museum
I can understand, looking at this sculpture, the fascination the minotaur’s had in the past and over the centuries.
This splendid sculpture displayed in Rome in the Palazzo Massimo museum, shows the great contrast between beauty and the wild, intellect and nature.
The torso is really astounding while the head is so brutal!
It also depicts the inner essence of human beings, where both intellect or passions and violence coexist.
It was done on purpose back then, over 2000 years ago.
This is an ancient roman copy of a sculpture by the famous Miron. The minotaur bust was part of a sculptural group depicting Theseus fighting and eventually winning over the beast.
The inclination of the minotaur’s head suggests he’s going to be hit by Theseus.
The mythological story is aimed to assert Athens independence over the Cretan influence.
The king of Crete’s wife got this love affair with a bull (this story deserves another blog) and gave birth to the minotaur: half man half bull.
Since the Athenians had lost a war with Crete (or had killed the son of Crete’s king Minos –there are different version of the myth), together with the minotaur heating only humans, the Athenians had to send 7 boys and 7 maidens to Crete to fed the beast.
Theseus, the son of Athens’s king Aegeus, went to Crete to kill the minotaur and eventually succeeded.
Palazzo Massimo Museum
It was found in 1886 in Rome, in what is nowadays piazza Sciarra.
It’s a splendid copy of a classical Greek bronze work dating from the Vth century bc, same period as the Parthenon in Athens.
There are similarities in style with the work of Phidias, that we’re still dreaming about…
The head is a plaster cast of another similar statue, now in the Louvre, found in Velletri – a village on the roman hills south of Rome.
The statue was made with marble from Thassus, in Greece.
Centrale Montemartini Museum
As you know in the circuses were large valleys, with seats all around, used in the ancient roman times for chariot races. The chariots were turning around a central line called ‘spina’.
The most famous hippodrome of the past is the Circus Maximus in Rome. Augustus in 10bc brought an obelisk from Egypt to decorate the ‘spina’.
The obelisks were considered, by both Egyptian and Romans, to represent the connection between the sky and the earth.
The hippodrome was a little model of the cosmos:
The obelisk was the sun, the ground represented the earth and the canal running in the middle of the spina was the sea.
The four factions of chariot raiders represented the 4 seasons.
This blog is aimed to share with you my Roman experiences, reflections and researches.