May 15th, 2014

For my Ancient Roman Civilization class we had a couple of days where we did for our site visits some of the biggest and best of Rome, the things everyone from around the world comes to Rome to see. We saw the Roman Forum, the Palatine Hill, and the Colosseum. IMG_0562 IMG_0623 IMG_0620

The doors of ancient temples, the archways of triumphant emperors, the fallen columns of once grand corridors, lie all around us in the Forum Valley.

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Moving up from the Roman Forum, we climbed to the Palatine Hill where back in 753 B.C. Rome was founded on the place where the twins Romulus and Remus were washed ashore after escaping near death to be nursed back to health by a wolf who saved their lives. This hilltop, riddled with the remains of Royal Imperial Palaces and the luxurious buildings that the biggest people of Roman history once lounged in and walked around.IMG_0660

It also had a fantastic view overlooking the Roman Forum and the rest of Rome, the buildings the color of the dawn rising and falling like the rolls of the tide.IMG_0663

Ivy covered buildings, plant covered terraces, and monuments of the Colossus that is Rome rising from the ground in every direction you can turn.

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Even the Vatican sits far in the distance, the dome of St. Peters visible from its perch far away from the Forum.

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The entire class sat and listen to the lecture about the places we had seen, were seeing, and were about to see. Sitting basically in the shade of Colosseum we were looking back and forth between the Colosseum and one of the biggest temples of ancient Rome dedicated to Roma and Venus.

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It was super strange finally going into the Colosseum, I had waited all semester for this site visit, knowing that we would see it eventually for class, but finally here I was, standing under the barrel vaulted roofs of the corridors of the Colosseum with the hoards of tourists bustling about.

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The sights you see in movies, the images of postcards of Rome was standing before me suddenly and it did not seem real whatsoever. Walking around and around the Flavian Amphitheater taking in the view from every angle. Knowing that people travel from all over the world to see this place makes it feel very strange to be there, to look down at your feet and wonder how many stood there before you and would stand there after you had gone. This structure has stood for almost 2,000 years and people have walked these corridors for almost that entire time, how many feet, how many people have stood here before me. Thinking of the people sitting in these sloping stadium seats, watching the gladiatorial games, watching humans kill each other for sport, watching animals fight to the death, or watching mock battles to entertain the masses of a once massive empire. To stand at the feet of history and wander what your part in it might be is a strange and humbling experience.IMG_0733 IMG_0731 IMG_0729 IMG_0721 IMG_0714 IMG_0710 IMG_0706

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This day was also just very strange because for so long I have looked at these monuments from the outside, never knowing what it looked like from the inside was something I had gotten really used to. I had become so accustomed to my one view point of things and to finally go inside these places, to see the Forum from within the pathways that are still lined with Basalt rocks that paved the ancient roman roadways. To walk the Via Sacra, the triumphal procession route that emperors and generals returning home successful campaigns stood where I stood. To see Rome from the Palatine Hill, where possibly Romulus once stood long before Rome became the wonder that it is today. Did he know? Did Romulus, the father of Rome, stand over his future empire and have any idea of what he little hut town would become? Could I stand there, where he once dwelled, and understand what it was that I was looking at?

Tomorrow I have my last final here in Rome which means I am done with my semester and standing on that Hill, standing on the Forum roads, standing in the Colosseum I still do not understand what it is I am seeing. I have been here for a whole semester and am still baffled every day by the wonders that are around every street corner. My time is going on and it is strange to be here in this eternal city, knowing, this city will continue on long after I leave as it has always continued on, eternal, changing but always the same. I will miss this deeply; Rome will remain the same, despite its decay, but I will never be the same.

 

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