Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

As I begin this post, we are back in Venice. It is Saturday morning. The sky is blue and the high today is expected to be around 76 degrees. Later this afternoon, we will board the Royal Clipper, a tall-masted sailing ship with a capacity of around 210 passengers. This evening, it will sail out of Venice and out onto the open Adriatic. We will be at sea all day tomorrow, sailing southeast toward our first destination, Kotor, Montenegro.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

I saw this play at a local community theatre sometime in the late 70's. I don't remember what it is about, but a funny thing actually did happen to us - our friend Kathy and myself - on Friday as we were walking from our hotel to the Colosseum and the Roman Forum.

Our first stop that morning had been the Church of St. Peter in Chains, which Mark and I had visited last year. I wanted to show Kathy Michelangelo's famed statue of Moses (with horns). After that, we headed on down toward the Colosseum and saw a very elegant old car (maybe from the 1930's) pull up to a stop light next to us. We deduced that its passengers were a bride and groom because of the white ribbons on the car behind it. Kathy and I both whipped out our cameras, but before we could take a picture, two motorcycles pulled up next to the car; then the light changed. Oh well, we thought; it would have made a cool picture ...

We then proceeded to the Colosseum. After a few photos, we tried to find an entrance to the Roman Forum, the idea being that we could walk through it on our way to the Capitoline Museums. We discovered, however, that one now needs a ticket for that. So we headed back out toward the street that leads up the hill at the top of the Forum.

Before we reached the street, however, I saw a little street that led uphill. Assuming that we could perhaps go this way, we started up the street. When we came around a corner at the top, this is what we saw:

The very car that we had seen 15 minutes or so earlier. It was parked outside the Basilica of Santa Francesca Romana, a structure that dates back to the 14th century. We could hear organ music. We came on around the corner to the front of the church and watched the wedding couple walk slowly up the aisle toward the waiting priest. What were the chances of that happening, i.e., of ending up at the very wedding spot of the couple we had seen earlier on the Via Cavor?

The Capitoline Museums

Mark and I didn't make it to the Capitoline Museums last year, so it was on my list for this year's visit to Rome. It contains some famous sculptures from antiquity, including this bust of the Emperor Hadrian, the Capitoline She-Wolf, and the Dying Gaul. 

The Capitoline She-Wolf, the symbol of Rome, was originally thought to have dated to several centuries before Christ. However, scholarship using carbon-dating and other methods, has determined that the statue of the wolf dates to the 11-12th centuries with the brothers Romulus and Remus added probably in the 15th century.

I first learned about this statute - the Dying Gaul - during my freshman year Humanities class at Illinois Wesley University. I'm going to copy and paste some information about Wikipedia about this statue because I'm running out of time. We'll soon be checking out and taking our luggage to the meeting point for the cruise transfer, thereafter to spend a few hours wandering around San Marco and the surrounding district.
"The Dying Gaul—also called The Dying Galatian (in Italian: Galata Morente) or The Dying Gladiator—is an ancient Roman marble copy of a lost Hellenistic sculpture thought to have been executed in bronze. The original may have been commissioned some time between 230 and 220 BC by Attalus I of Pergamon to celebrate his victory over the Galatians, the Celtic or Gaulish people of parts of Anatolia (modern Turkey). 
"The identity of the sculptor of the original is unknown, but it has been suggested that Epigonus, court sculptor of the Attalid dynasty of Pergamon, may have been the creator.
The copy was most commonly known as The Dying Gladiator until the 20th century, on the assumption that it depicted a wounded gladiator in a Roman amphitheatre. Scholars had identified it as a Gaul or Galatian by the mid-19th century, but it took many decades for the new title to achieve popular acceptance ...

"The white marble statue which may have originally been painted depicts a wounded, slumping Celt with remarkable realism and pathos, particularly as regards the face. A bleeding sword puncture is visible in his lower right chest. The figure is represented as a Celtic warrior with characteristic hairstyle and moustache and has a torc around his neck. He lies on his fallen shield while his sword, belt, and a curved trumpet lie beside him. The sword hilt bears a lion head. The present base was added after its early 17th-century rediscovery [near Rome]."

On Friday afternoon, we were joined by two more cycling friends, and the five of us had a very interesting "gay-friendly" tour of the Vatican, followed by happy hour on our terrace back at our hotel and a lovely dinner. I'll be writing about that in my next post ...

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