Saturday, November 8, 2008

Use Your Imagination

I certainly had to today. We finally made our class trip to Ostia Antica (the port city of Ancient Rome) after three failed attempts. Early this morning, we were worried that today's trip would meet a similar fate because of the gray skies and constant drizzle, but after a brief downpour, the skies seemed to be empty and it turned out to be a perfect day to walk around the ancient ruins of Ostia. The ruins are, of course, in ruinous shape, but even more so since people have pretty recently given up on restoring or maintaining them. From the dates stamped on various stones, it looks like the last (minor) work they did to preserve the falling pillars and foundations was in 1988. Since then, encroaching vines and weeds have jumped at the chance to create vast empires on top of old baths, temples, houses, and the most magnificent mosaics I've ever seen. So that's where imagination came in - trying to mentally reconstruct an entire port city from the arches and piles of brick that seem to be fewer and fewer as you get deeper into the city. Thank goodness we had our professor Tom (Mr. Google) with us to provide some guidance and distinguish each sculpture from the next because frankly, once I've seen 100 busts in a row, I can't tell Athena from Lucius or Lucius from Hadrian.

The real bother was that I didn't have my camera (curses, Vueling Airlines!). So to be able to show you a few of the more impressive features of Ostia, I'm relying on another form of Google...images.

My favorite part was the amphitheatre, which is actually still very much in tact. Apparently, they open it up every summer for a festival and try to recreate the atmosphere at the time of its original use, which could be as far back at the 7th century B.C.E.

Not only was the amphitheatre itself impressive because of its structural and acoustic values, but the views from the top were amazing, especially with the crystal blue skies and white puffy clouds we had today.

Another impressive and well-preserved part of the town are its mosaics. They are all over the place, lining the floors of the ancient baths, apartment complexes, meeting rooms, etc. This one is of Poseidon and his horses, as he was the god of horses before becoming the god of the sea.

I was very bad and took two small pieces of marble once belonging to a great Roman mosaic. But don't worry, they were already loose! And I'm not as bad as the 78-year old German woman that Tom told us about who tried walking off with a 3 ft. length of marble column. She was arrested, but they didn't catch me. Here are my findings, along with two escargot shells that I found and took a liking to:

We spent from 11AM until 5PM at Ostia and didn't even get to see everything there was. We were kindly ushered out when the sun started setting.


Genevieve said...


I'm calling the gastapo on you.

Genevieve said...