Flavian Amphitheater. Colosseum. Whatever.

Christine, my colleague, asked me some day this week if there was anything in Rome I was over (though she put it more gracefully). I had to admit that I don’t go to the Colosseum except with students. You come visit me in Rome, I’ll point out that the Metro stop is called “Colosseo” and that admission to the monument costs €12 – but your ticket will get you into the much more interesting Forum and Palatine.

Flavian Amphiteater Long axisI dunno – it’s structurally very interesting, if you’ve never thought about that kind of thing before; Romans had been building things like this for more than a century, since the Theater of Pompey. The gladiator shows and beast shows tell us a lot about the unpleasant side of the Romans (human sacrifice and animal-torture?). The only thing that really interests me are the legally established seating arrangements – if you walked into the Flavian Amphitheater you would see senators (and Vestal Virgins) down front, the Equites (Knights) behind them, and then regular citizens. Slaves and women to the rear!

I could explain that at any number of sites, but I will say that everyone seems to enjoy at least one visit to the Colosseum. I just kind of wish I didn’t have to go, too! I hope that didn’t come across – unlike the poor fella at Rutgers who explained he was not teaching the “Human Aggression” course voluntarily, because it isn’t really his field. Never admit your weakness! You always know more than they do. God knows I know more about the Flavian Amphitheater than I care to tell my charges. On to the Ara Pacis tomorrow! THAT I care about.



A childhood friend who now lives in England is visiting Rome this week with her family. I met up with them yesterday afternoon; we took a walk, looked at some things, then had a long and splendid lunch. Very pleasant! Somehow, we took no pictures.

Things are looking up . . .

Flower 1


I’m feeling much better – I had a cold (I wish I could blame the tour of the Fori Imperiali, but I have spent too much time walking in the rain this semester to believe that!). Lots of sleep helped. And Friday I wore sunglasses for the first time this semester; not that there haven’t been some days when I could have used them, but I had gotten out of the habit of shoving the case into my bag. Yesterday my hyacinth (I guess) bloomed, too – one of those little things that makes a rental apartment in Rome feel like home.

Flower 2

A cranky start to the day.

NOW I’m cranky. I woke up at 5.30 this morning with a dry mouth. I had a drink of water and went back to bed – having noticed that it was not raining. My alarm went off just before 7. I was still lying in bed when the DOWNPOUR began.

7.32 and it’s still raining hard – and I have a rendezvous with my class at 9 a.m. at the foot of the Vittoriano to walk around the Imperial Forums. Couldn’t it have waited until 11, when I would be home and Christine’s INDOOR class would be in session?

The Column base of Antoninus Pius – under wraps!

Anton Pius base 1Anton Pius base 2


Ah, the lovely column base of Antoninus Pius – it was the base for a triumphal or commemorative column, and shows the apotheosis of Antoninus Pius (emperor 138-161, between Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius) and his wife Faustina. I’m always charmed by how unconvincing I find their pose on the back of the winged figure flying them to Olympus. And . . . in restauro. 

Funny Roman Numerals

Funny strange, not funny ha ha. This inscription is from a chapel at the church Sant’Ignazio (the former chapel of the Jesuit Collegio Romano)Roman Numerals – and the date is XIMM: 1989. I would have written that MCMLXXXIX. I think the longer number, though harder to read, would have made a more elegant last line in better balance with the rest. But I wasn’t paying, so I really shouldn’t complain! I guess the system is really more flexible than we Latin teachers like to make out.

We started in the rain . . .

. . . and ended in the sun! That was our visit to the Roman Forum. Morning rush hour on Monday proceeded in a downpour. By the time we got into the forum itself I was wet from the knees down (though not my feet!). Then the rain stopped! Well, mainly. I re-opened my umbrella a few times. But the forum as as empty as I have ever seen it.Empty Forum

And the students held up without any grumbling – an excellent first class day! As I told them, the weather is unlikely to get any worse than that. Though it did snow in 2012!