Monday, 20 August 2012

Ancient Rome

So much of Rome is Ancient Rome, columns and brickwork rising out of the ground flanking either side of the modern thoroughfare that bisects the city in two. Everywhere you turn there is something that has since been identified as the temple erected by the Gracchi, the place Caesar was stabbed to death, the remnants of Nero’s golden palace…
It’s impressive, I’ll admit that. Particularly as Rome has capitalised on this history and made it relatively accessible to the hordes of tourists who might be inclined to extend their sightseeing beyond the Colosseum. But Rome was the third stop on a tour of the ancient world after Asia Minor and Greece and in comparison it just couldn't fare favourably: Rome seemed too contrived, less natural than what I’d admired so much in Greece and Asia Minor. Here the overwhelming opulence found its roots in expanses of brick, including in places avenues of columns which were only veneered in marble. 

I'm sure in terms of the engineering technology it could be viewed as more remarkable, but in my mind it is as though they were simply trying to outdo the Ancient Greeks. But building more and building things on a bigger scale is not a strong argument for superiority. For grace, finesse and elegance appear to have gone out the window in the process. There is no elegance about the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine though it is the biggest building in the forum. And if it was once covered in a graceful fa├žade this has since been lost to the winds.  

While I suppose this view is a typical one for a Grecophile who finds herself stranded in Rome, it is a view that is supported by the concept of the Goddess Roma. Here one gets the feeling that Rome only has a Roma because Athens has an Athena.  

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