Friday, May 13, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the ....

If I lived in 2nd century Rome, I would want to be a Vestal Virgin. They were considered holy, and were revered. Even if they left the Temple and got married, the women maintained some sense of independence and respect (relatively). They were under a lot of pressure, and if they messed things up they could be killed, but, hey, it was Ancient Rome; things weren't much better even for the Emperor sometimes. The ruins of the Temple of the Vestal Virgins are in the Roman Forum. You can still see where rooms were in the temple, and around some pools and a courtyard are statues of priestesses. The artwork is pretty fantastic. The drapery work in particular is impressive. None of the statues is complete, of course. Most were headless. I found it fitting that the bodies were what remained of the statues, since the state of the women's bodies was so central to their role.

The Roman Forum was fascinating. It is the heart of Rome; the remnants of the origins of Western Society, and it is all in crumbles. Even stone is mortal, apparently. It's so hard to imagine what the Forum must have looked like back in its heyday. It's even harder to imagine it painted (since Ancient Greece and Rome weren't really all classy and white marble, but rather the statues and buildings were painted bright colors). Ironically, the excavation and conservation materials (tarp, scaffolding, hoses), made a mental re-creation even more difficult.

Other things we did today:
  • Stuck our hands in the Mouth of Truth (nobody got bitten. *whew*)
  • Saw the Bascilica de Santa Maria in Cosmedin
  • Musea di Capitoline
  • Church of Santa Maria in Arra Chele (I know this is misspelled)

In the Musea di Capitoline we saw so many sculptures and statues and it made me think: these works are not merely pieces of art by an artist for art's sake. They were a fairly common, expected piece of culture. We just don't do  that anymore! Instead of "oh yeah, let's get a portrait done of Grandma," it was "oh yeah, we still need to get a bust made of Grandma."