Musings from Ho Jung

And finally we leave Rome, leaving behind good memories in the rear view mirror. The bus ride – 3 hrs in total – that will eventually take us to Naples is a mix of sleep and beat boxing with Kwasi. My beats and Yung Kwa’s raps blend together in passable harmony as the green misted mountains rise up in the distance.
In the time of Sulla, the architect of the temple of Jupiter at Terracina had this thought in mind when he built a temple on top of a mountain slope. Man, and nature, in harmony. When I walk up this cliff path, baloney sandwich in hand, I keep in mind that I am a man surrounded by nature. The sun above gleams down on the Mediterranean sea, glittering off the surface in white diamonds of light. The water is moving but the bay is so far below that it looks like still glass, fragile and beautiful.
Up on a promontory at the temple’s high base, I take in sounds of wind and lapping waves. The rhythm is almost hypnotic. Mrs. Morris tells us that the white flowers around us are called Alyssum, which make the whole air smell of honey. The name sounds like Elysium – heaven. For a second, looking at seagulls gliding over the water like pieces of white paper, I felt like I was in it.
Nathan and I just let thoughts move through our kinds, slow and steady, like the lapping of the waves.
“Maybe I should take up poetry,” Nathan said. The beauty of the temple’s surroundings is inspiring.
“Mm. Dactylic hexameter,” I replied.
“Too hard. Iambic pentameter.”
“Right. ba-bum, ba-bum, ba-bum.”
And the waves like the steady rhythm of those iambs lulled us into a moment of absolute clarity.
And then… Mr. Campbell destroyed me in ping pong at the villa. Too good…
And Kwa killed a rap battle, he spit his verse and it was over. End of battle.
Good day.

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Terracina, Tiberius, and Aeneas

After packing up this morning from the convent, our study tour group loaded our bags onto the bus and made our way to Terracina: our first stop on our way to our final destination near Naples.
The drive to Terracina was about three and a half hours. Most of the group caught up on sleep on the way. But as we neared our destination we all awoke to see Terracina high on a mountain as we passed through a coastal town below.

Love those Roman Arches

Love those Roman Arches

At Terracina, we explored the remnants of a temple to Jupiter, a smaller temple (made for an unknown deity), military camp, and fortifications that the Romans had once built on the site. The group enjoyed the beautiful view looking down from the site of the coastline below.
Next we drove further down the western coast to Sperlonga, where the ruins of Tiberius’s palace continue their inevitable deterioration. After a nice picnic in the remains of Tiberius’s grotto, Mr. Unger gave the group a presentation on the life of Tiberius and his character as the second emperor of Rome.

Mr. Unger at Tiberius's cave at Sperlonga

Mr. Unger at Tiberius’s cave at Sperlonga

After hearing about Tiberius’s exploits as an emperor, we explored the museum adjacent to his palace. The statues scattered throughout were decorations in the grotto of the palace and gave the group insight into Tiberius’s mind. We hypothesized that an insecure Tiberius fancied himself to be cunning and ruthless like the Greek hero Ulysses, who is depicted in all but one of the marble scenes.
Our final stop was at Cumae, where Aeneas famously stopped in Book VI to hear the prophecy of Sibyl. We saw the cave and experienced Ms. Morris shouting the famous prophecy from its sacred chamber. Mr. Unger also gave us a presentation on the history of Cumae, where Agrippa built his fleet in nearby lakes Avernus and Lucrinus to fight Sextus Pompeius. We also saw ruins of temples to Jupiter and Apollo, although we were assaulted by mosquitoes along the way,
We finished the day by checking into the villa where we are staying, where we ate a delicious dinner and relaxed with ping-pong and charades.
– Andrew, Quinn and Brian L.

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Gelato and Circuses

Salvete and ciao, everybody! Today was the Rome crew’s final day in the Eternal City and we’re full of nostalgia already (as well as with the awesome cooking of Titziana and various gelato shops)…here’s a quick rundown of our very busy final day:

A fifteen-minute bus ride away from the convent where we stayed, right on the ancient Appian Way, are the absolutely massive Baths of Caracalla, completed by and named after the rather unsavory Severan emperor. The dome of its impressive sauna, called a caldarium, is estimated to be 144 feet high, and the entire bath complex covers an area of about 80 105 square feet, and that’s not counting the surrounding precinct walls! When our jaws weren’t dropping at the sheer size of of the place, we talked about the extant artwork in the facilities. Throughout, Mr. Hartnett played the role of a patrician bather, accompanied by his loyal slave Quinn(tus).
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After the Baths, we rode the bus further down the Via Appia to the Catacomb of Callixtus, the burial site of around half a million early Christians. We went underground and learned about the story of the early Church and its persecutions. It was kind of spooky, given the nature of the place, but it was still really fascinating The Catacomb was the final resting place of a few Popes and saints between the 2nd Century and the 4th Century AD, and masses can still be held underground (all of the bodies in the area available to the public have been removed).

It’s an easy trip on foot from the Catacomb to the Villa Massenzio, the site of the Circus of Maxentius. 1650 feet long, it was the second longest chariot track in Rome (beaten only by the Circus Maximus). Constructed by the Emperor Maxentius and dedicated to Romulus, the founder of the city, the circus’s only recorded games were held in honor of Maxentius’s deceased child. We held our own hard-fought races, in which Nathan and Amanda took the winning positions.

Hoofing it once again up the Appian way, we came to the Tomb of Caecillia Metella, built by Marcus Licinius Crassus for his wife. an impressive burial monument, it served as a display of love and as a display of the wealth and power of Crassus’s family. After another bus ride to just outside the walls of Rome, took us to the Pyramid of Cestius and the Non-Catholic Cemetery. Two famous residents of the cemetery are Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats.
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image One more bus ride brought us to the famous Spanish Steps, the marble stairs given as a gift to Italy and Rome from Spain. There we were let loose to explore the surrounding plaza.

Finally, we all gathered at the Villa Borghese, which is now an amazing art gallery. Inside were famous works by artists such as Caravaggio, Bernini, and Rubens. By personal favorite was Bernini’s David, which shows a very determined young David, loading his sling to take down the giant Philistine champion, Goliath. Beneath him is the rejected armor of Saul and David’s famous lyre. I thought it was the most expressive Bernini sculpture in the gallery, with David’s entire body tensed to load the shot. Bernini even shows David biting his lips, as his face is contorted in rage.
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We leave Rome Friday morning and our next stop is Naples. Stay tuned for more updates!

—Kwasi

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Papal Bulls and Latin technology

Today was my favorite day of the trip so far! We started our day bright and early (leaving at 6:45am!) to take the metro to the Vatican. We had a special appointment with Monsignor Dan Gallagher, a priest who is responsible for transcribing the Pope’s documents into Latin. He is a fellow American from the midwest. We were incredibly lucky to get a private tour of the Apostolic Palace from someone who is a fellow classicist and has such an amazing repertoire of history about the Vatican. On our tour we saw areas typically not open to the public such as the hall of maps, a patio overlooking the Vatican square (which has a great view!) and an ATM that runs in Latin.

On a patio overlooking St. Peter's square.

On a patio overlooking St. Peter’s square.

ATM instructions in Latin.

ATM instructions in Latin.

Father Gallagher then sat with us in a conference room to talk about his job of transcribing the Pope’s official documents into Latin. The head calligrapher for the Pope also stopped in for a short visit.
During the talk Father Gallagher showed us the seals of Pope Benedict (which had to be defaced upon his retirement.) We also saw original copies of documents written on parchment that were not sent out for one reason or another. Another highlight of the tour of the Vatican was seeing the Swiss guard. Their uniforms were very colorful and looked Medieval.
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After the trip to the Vatican we had lunch and went to the Tomb of Augustus and the Ara Pacis. The Altar to Peace was enclosed in a very modern building that was very different from the buildings surrounding it. We debated whether we liked the building or not (some Romans really hate it). Next, we went to the Pantheon, which had been converted into a Catholic Church. Mr. Unger told me that the Barbarini family had removed some of the metal supports from the building to make a bronze roof for another building. There is a witty Latin saying, Quod non fecerunt barbari, fecerunt Barbarini. This translates to, what the barbarians didn’t do (in the destruction of Rome), the Barbarini did.

After the Pantheon we went to the Column of Marcus Aurelius, where Andrew did a presentation. The column is a more emotional account of Marcus Aurelius’s victory. The emotion in the column is due to the fact that Rome almost fell during the wars, and suddenly Rome no longer seemed unstoppable to the Romans.

After the column, we bought gelato from a store with over 150 flavors! Following this we were given free time, and I did some souvenir shopping with Ify.

Just a few of the flavors...

Just a few of the flavors…

Finally to end the day we had dinner at a Kosher restaurant. All together an amazing day!

Ciao!

Christina

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Ostia and More Museums

The Boxer

The Boxer

We started off on the subway at about 8 in the morning to go to what used to be a port harbor town called Ostia. We’d seen ruins before but this city was different. We walked along where a portico used to extend for a whole quarter mile. That’s an elevated walkway with cover from the rain and the sun and our tour guide, Albert, remarked how with the weather like this, we needed cover from neither. The air was clear and cool; so was my head. I’d never felt more awake. On our approach, the city rose up like lines of sloping bricks over the hills. The slopes were from exposure to the elements, and the bricks were almost worn down to gravel. But we could imagine that this city was HERE. What it was really like. We really saw color tile mosaics and heard the roar of gladiatorial combat in our minds. Something about walking through an ancient city is like deep meditation. The day is silent and we are alone.

Then we visited some museums with busts, friezes, and bronze statues. I cracked some jokes with Quinn and Poggione, pointing at a bunch of things and trying to guess what they were. We laughed at our own ignorance because we didn’t really know what anything was until we looked at its description. “I think that’s Abraham Lincoln. Oh no wait, that’s Caesar.” Maybe Mr. Unger would remind us of the poster in his classroom, and tell us that not knowing and admitting it is Socratic wisdom.

—Hojung

Admiring frescoes at the Palazzo Massimo.

Admiring frescoes at the Palazzo Massimo.

Oishi tells us about the baths of Diocletian.

Oishi tells us about the baths of Diocletian.

Albert Prieto from the American Institue for Roman Culture guides us through Ostia Antica.

Albert Prieto from the American Institue for Roman Culture guides us through Ostia Antica.

Quinn is amazed by the mosaics.

Quinn is amazed by the mosaics.

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Vatican Museums and the Theater of Marcellus

After grabbing a quick breakfast we took the metro to just outside Vatican City. Already, we could see lines snaking along the base of the massive Vatican walls, but we were able to go in through a special door and enter the Vatican early. Once inside, Mrs. Morris handed out headsets so she could speak with us through her microphone. Putting on the transmitters, we joked about looking like secret service agents with our single earbuds (or rather preps, with our bright lanyards), then rushed towards the Sistine Chapel before other tourists packed in like sardines.

After viewing the Michelangelo’s Sistine chapel (and having our group blessed by the chaplain there, when we apologized for a phone going off during his prayer), we walked through the Vatican museums, trying to pick out the different philosophers in Raphael’s School of Athens, or identify the emperors and gods depicted on the church’s impressive sculpture collection. We got to walk through a special classics collection, which was just opened in part, and we marveled at the mosaics, including my favorite—a former dining room floor that depicted pieces of half munched at seafood and vegetables, as though it were left unswept after an extravagant banquet.

After lunch, we took the bus down along the Tiber River before crossing over it, into the Forum Boarium, or cattle market. Mr. Hartnett explained the architecture of two temples that stand near the bank of the Tiber, the temple of Portunus and of Hercules, which were both important to the Greek traders who lived and worked as immigrants in ancient Rome. Then we passed from the Santa Maria in Cosmedin (a church given to the Greeks, still reflecting the area’s makeup), to the Arch of the Argentarii. This small structure, off the beaten path, reflects the lives of Rome’s daily citizens, the cattle traders and money-changers working in the market there who constructed the monument, as well as the politics of the emperors to which they dedicated it, who had chiseled off the frieze the images of those who had fallen out of favor with them.

Mr. Unger at the arch of the Argentarii.

Mr. Unger at the arch of the Argentarii

Outside of the Boarium, Brian Gao presented his research on the humungous Theater of Marcellus, which Augustus, the first emperor, built to house plays, before we walked to the remains of the Pompey’s Theater, the building Augustus was trying to surpass.

Brian presents at the theater of Marcellus

Brian presents at the theater of Marcellus

In Pompey’s theater, Mr. Unger led us in a reenactment of Caesar’s assassination, as Shakespeare imagined it— five days before the Ides, because,—horribile dictu!—we’ll be travelling outside Rome on the fifteenth. He, playing Caesar, was betrayed and stabbed by Brutus, played by Quinn, as we the collected senators, rushed to “stab” him, as he collapsed into a small platform where the theater was, what is now a cat sanctuary. The smell of cat urine was surprisingly appropriate, as Augustus, seeking to wipe out the memory of his adopted father’s death, turned the spot into a public bathroom.

'Speak, hands for me!'

‘Speak, hands for me!’


'Et tu, Brute?'

‘Et tu, Brute?’


Finally, we spent some free time around Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers, where we met kids from Hotchkiss on a trip as well, and tried out what the local café’s had to offer, before enjoying an authentic Italian dinner.
-Will
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Emperors and Gods

We started the day by walking past the Colosseum to the Arch of Constantine, where Ashley gave a fantastic talk on the first Christian emperor and his famous triumphal arch. Doing our best to avoid the pedestrians and bicyclists getting ready for the 2014 Roma Maxima bike race, we made our way to the Markets of Trajan. Here, standing in rooms that were once ancient Roman shops, Mr. Hartnett explained how the Forum of Julius Caesar and the Forum of Augustus conveyed very different messages to the Romans of their time. On the top of the museum we stopped to eat our lunch, enjoying the beautiful weather and view.

Brian surveys the Imperial fora.

Brian surveys the Imperial fora.

Next we walked to the Column of Trajan, where Sarah gave her presentation. The Column of Trajan is one of my favorite things in Rome so far. The detailed sculpted frieze that spirals up the massive column is very well preserved and it was incredible to imagine the amount of dirt excavated in order to make room for Trajan’s forum.

Sarah at the Column of Trajan.

Sarah at the Column of Trajan.


We then returned to a place we had visited on our first night in Rome, the Capitoline Hill. This time, we went into the Capitoline Museums where Brian and Arianna gave their reports on the Marcus Aurelius reliefs, the huge bronze equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, and the iconic Capitoline Wolf. We also put our Greek and Latin skills to work as we walked through a gallery full of gravestone inscriptions.
Emperor Unger with Emperor Constantine.

Emperor Unger with Emperor Constantine.

Finally, we went to the Church of San Clemente, where we were able to explore dim, cold stone passages underground and discern—with Mr. Unger's help—evidence of a shrine to the god Mithras, a cult that competed with Christianity for a while until Christianity ultimately won out.

At the end of the day, we headed home to rest our feet and topped everything off with a delicious meal of traditional Italian antipasti, pizza, and our favorite, tiramisu.

—Amanda

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Forum, Colosseum, and Michelangelo

After another delicious breakfast of chocolate croissants and yogurt, we walked to the Forum. There we looked at the remains of the Forum, the Curia, and several of the arches around the area. A generous Exeter alumnus, Darius Arya took us around and gave us a very comprehensive history of all the “buildings” on our tour route.

Darius Arya presenting in the Forum

Darius Arya presenting in the Forum

His talks were complemented by the rousing orations of Will and Kwasi, who described the Arch of Septimius Severus and the Arch of Titus, respectively.

Will Steere tells us about the arch of Septimius Severus.

Will tells us about the arch of Septimius Severus.

 

Kwasi at the arch of Titus

Kwasi at the arch of Titus

We ate lunch in a picnic area and braved a couple drops of rain before coming back full circle to where we started.

Group photo on the Palatine.

Group photo on the Palatine.

We got a chance to see the Mamertine prison, where Saints Peter and Paul were held, and Amanda taught us about the Tullianum. The long walk stirred our stomachs and the teachers (generously) decided to buy us some gelato, as snack, before we continued to the Colosseum.

Arianna, Alex, and Amanda are photo-bombed by Nathan while enjoying their gelato.

Arianna, Alex, and Amanda are photo-bombed by Nathan while enjoying their gelato.

When we arrived at the Colosseum, we went to the second floor and Mr. Hartnett gave a detailed description of the monument that varied from the seating arrangement of the crowd to the types of gladiatorial games to the type of material that covered the seats.

Brian is mesmerized by Mr. Hartnett's talk in the Colosseum.

Brian is mesmerized by Mr. Hartnett’s talk in the Colosseum.

We had plenty of time to roam around and see the monument for ourselves and I think everyone was excited to be in such an awesome structure.

Arianna loves the Colosseum.

Arianna loves the Colosseum.

Our trip today concluded with two churches: St. Peter in Chains (San Pietro in Vincoli) and St. Mary Major (Santa Maria Maggiore).

Michelangelo's statue of Moses at the church of San Pietro in Vincoli.

Michelangelo’s statue of Moses at the church of San Pietro in Vincoli.

The chains of St. Peter.

The chains of St. Peter.

Basilica de Santa Maria Maggiore.

Basilica de Santa Maria Maggiore.

They both had beautiful artwork and sculptures, and as we left the first one we walked past a man playing the accordion in an alleyway; it seems like we are becoming more Italian by the day!
– Ashley and Ify

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Those crazy Etruscans

Today, we explored the world of ancient Etruscans.
Our first stop was an hour and a half bus-ride north of Rome at the ancient burial site in Tarquinia, the Necropolis of Monterozzi.
Here, we marveled at the ageless tombs as our tour guide Claudia briefed us on the history and culture of the Etruscans.
Next up, after lunch, we drove over to a larger burial site, the Banditaccia Necropolis of Cerveteri. Carved into the ground were numerous tombs (thousands are estimated to be located here), and through visiting tombs dating from the 7th century B.C. all the way to the 3rd, we could visibly trace the Etruscan society’s rise and decline.
Lastly, while in Cerveteri, we made a quick stop at a museum where we got to see a lot of vases and pottery of the Bucchero class of ceramics, noted for achieving their black color and almost metallic sheen from being fired in an oxygen-free kiln.

-Nathan, Brian, and Kwasi

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Sarah, Arianna, and Alex with one of the Etruscan sarcophagi at the Tarquinia museum.

The Tomb of the Reliefs at Cerveteri

The Tomb of the Reliefs at Cerveteri

Quinn lurks in a secret passage inside one of the tombs at Cerveteri.

Quinn lurks in a secret passage inside one of the tombs at Cerveteri.


Kwasi enjoys his first Italian gelato.

Kwasi enjoys his first Italian gelato.

Group photo in another tomb at Cerveteri.

Group photo in another tomb at Cerveteri.

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Arrival!

Today we arrived in Italy after a long night and morning of travelling. Driving through Rome to get to our hotel we saw remains of the aqueducts that once supplied ancient Rome with water, and the Via Appia. After we dropped off our bags in our rooms and freshened up we walked towards Capitoline Hill. One of our favorite sights was the monument of Victor Emmanuel II, Altare della Patria, nicknamed the wedding cake of Rome because it’s so extravagant and made out of white marble. Within the closed gates of the monument stood two guards and two flames, in honor of the ‘unknown soldier.’ After that we passed Virgin Mary’s church, which had 122 steps to the front door. Next door was the Piazza del Campidoglio, featuring a statue of Marcus Aurelius. We then went to a sacred spot where Mr. Unger performed rites of the auguries, in which he wrapped a makeshift toga (Ms. Morris’ scarf) around his head, and sprinkled Mr. Langford’s water as a libation, while holding a curved wooden stick and tracing a box in the sky, asking Jupiter for a favorable sign which would symbolize good fortune to come for our visit to Rome. After he finished performing the ritual two birds flew into our sight from the right, a symbol of good fortune in ancient Roman times. With the knowledge that our trip was blessed we headed back to the Piazza, where we witnessed government workers parading in and beginning to protest. We returned to the hotel and ate a lovely five course meal—bread, tomatoes, prosciutto, spinach ravioli, chicken, potatoes, and fruit. Today was full of surprises and adventure. We look forward to a good night’s rest and whatever tomorrow holds.

-Sarah and Arianna

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