Sunday, April 03, 2011

Roma, Day 2: The Ancients

I have a lot to say here, and perhaps will at some point. But I will restrict myself to the two moments that gave me the most pause.

The bust of Elagabulus, an "attractive and hormonally charged teenager" as the linked article states of this Severan emperor; there's a pic of the bust at the link also. He looked so modern that I kept staring at it and wondering at how absolute was absolutism in the ancient world. He tried to establish a religion but he had neither the luck nor the charisma of the 10 or so men who actually did establish long-lasting religions. The bust was eerie. NOt the best piece by a long shot in a Museum filled with wonders. I stopped long at the Dying Gaul, and was transfixed by the giant head of COnstantine. Somehow I missed the boy picking the thorn from his foot. I loved all the nude divine youth. But it was Elagabulus who made me pause to consider the transcendence of being human.

The second moment was occasioned by the extant frescoes in Augustus' house on the Palatine. It brought home the notion that he ate dinner there, he mused, he paced, he ordered and he cajoled. The colors were alive, and so like ghosts of a past where people lived and breathed. I tarried so long that the young female guard dogged me a bit. Not the most spectacular place in an area filled with glories. But, again, it gave me pause. And that is what we are looking for.

The seagulls are starting to buzz me ... I suppose wondering why I am here so long with no food. That means it is time to go. I probably will not set foot back here until 10 tonight.

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