The Ludovisi Battle Sarcophagus is such a beautiful piece of art. I do not usually think of a sarcophagus as a sculpture, but this particularly one is beautifully sculptured. When I first saw it at the National Museum of Rome I could not take my eyes off of it. I feel like I could stare at it for days on end and not see every little detail that it contained, and that is just the front side. I dabble in art from time to time but if I could ever create something so beautiful and bring out such emotion in my audience as this piece did for me, I could die a happy man. Pictures do not do this piece of art justice.
On the last free day in Rome I wanted to visit some of the many gorgeous churches the city had to offer and see what I could find. Out of all the churches I saw one particular church stood out for an unusual reason. The first church I approached was St. Agostino, I took out my phone and took a couple of pictures. As I checked my phone to check if the pictures turned out good, a bird literally fell out of the sky in front of me with a large thud and feathers flying up in the air. I stood there astound at what just happened, wondering if this was a sign that my journey was finally coming to an end. The bird was not dead but looking pretty haggard, I stood there not knowing what to do. Finally I took a step forward and the bird got up on its feet. I then felt better that the bird might actually survive and proceeded into the church.
I am amazed by the fact that Rome seems to have as many churches as cafes, yet in every church that I walked into they all were completely unique and gorgeous and spacious. For as compacted as the streets and buildings of Rome ate the insides of churches seem huge and awe inspiring. No wonder why the churches had so much power back in the day, you had the sense you were apart of something bigger.
To look at what remains of the London Wall is amazing, and to think that it was built around the 2nd or 3rd century is astounding. What we saw was only a fragment of a great wall that once consisted of 85,000 tons of Kentish ragstone and protected the great city of London. Of course that little fragment has been engulfed by the busy streets of modern day London and I am sure forgotten by all the locals. The construction going on while we were their was only a sign that progress and technology must and will continue, yet hopefully the few bricks that remain of the wall will shine through and continue to remind and inspire us world travelers of what once was.
The streets of London must of looked completely different back when Virginia Woolf wrote Mrs. Dalloway, yet in a way they sound and feel rather familiar. As Mrs. Dalloway wanders down the streets of Arlington, Bond, and Piccadily to name just a few I make a connetion that yes I have been there and can try to imagine how she felt. Mrs. Dalloway talks of how, “June had drawn out every leaf on the tress” yet I saw all those leaves begin to fall to the ground in September. Mrs. Dalloway saw, “the carraiges, motor cars, omnibuses, vans, sandwich men shuffling and swinging, brass bands; barrel organs; in the triumph and the jingle and the strange high singing of some aeroplane overhead.” I saw the same except for the brass bands and barrel organs were replaced with the music and entertainment of street performers trying to make a pound. She even talks of shopkeepers trying to “tempt Americans” with their jewerly, which has not changed a bit. Everywhere I went I saw shops trying to lure Americans or tourists in to buy souvenirs. Though this story is set in another time I feel I can connect with it in some way because I too have walked the streets of London and witnessed these wonders.
To my surprise the British library proudly displayed the infamous Beowulf manuscript, which they claim to be written around 1,000. I must admit I had no idea this story existed for this long or that the tale had been passed down from generation upon generation before it was written down. It leads me ponder as to who the creator was and how the story began, and how much was added to it to make it the story it is today. I picture it being told by a father to his children near the fire under a full moon in order to scare yet entertain, then passed on to the children’s children. In any case I have decided that the longest epic poem of Beowulf is now on my list of classic books to read.
I feel like a fool for not seeing a Shakespheare play before after seeing Midsummers Nights Dream last night at the Globe theatre. For being my first introduction to a Shakespheare play, well to any proffesional play it was absolutely phenominal. It had such energy and kept me interested throughout the play with the mixture of contemperary and traditionl. In addition, the atmoshpere and ambiance of the Globe theatre invited me in and captured my imagination even before the play begn.
My one goal for this trip is to just experience different countries for what they are in hopes of learning everything I can, and realizing that our lives here in the states is only a small portion of this big world we live in.
It is pretty amazing that the future of Rome laid in the hands of twelve vultures. For Romulus to say he saw twice as many birds as his brother Remus seems like a brotherly thing to do. “You saw six birds, ya well I saw twelve, so I win.” That is unless there were witnesses to prove which brother saw more vultures. Then again the story might be an exaggeration, much like when the brothers were found in the basket near the river. Was it really a she-wolf that found the babies or was it a common whore called Wolf. I guess like with all stories, the more unusual or outrageous the more memorable the story.
I find it interesting everything Constantine did for Christianity, yet really was not a Christian until the end. Yet it all started from a dream as Robert Hughes put it, “That night , when Constantine was asleep in his tent, Christ appeared to him in a dream, holding that unfamiliar emblem of the cross, and directed him to have new standards made for his army in its form.” It seems like dreams play a huge part of ancient times, just like when Aeneas had a dream as where to travel to start a new life.
It is truly astounding to read that the Romans would bring animals from around the world back to Rome just so they could fight men or other beast to the death. When I read that five thousand animals were killed in one day for the opening of the Colosseum I thought, what a waste! To think how many people could be seated in the Colossuem, watching and enjoying such brutality simply astounds me. It was good to read that at least one person, Lucius Annaeus Seneca was disgusted by this so called entertainment of gladiators and beast and spoke out against the violence.