Skip to main content

Depicting Rome, pt. 3



One of my favorite books of the last few years is Lawrence Weschler's Everything That Rises: A Book of Convergences, gorgeously published by San Francisco's own McSweeneys'. It attempts to show or create connections between different artworks, public spaces, and ways of thinking and seeing that have echoed in Weschler's life. It is intuitive, mysterious, occasionally infuriating, and completely gorgeous. Above is an example of a convergence between my experience in Rome, and a hiking trip last summer where I got a gnarly blood-blister under my left-toenail, which then took a full month to heal and then fall off. But it could be worse! This poor foot still has its little toe, but the rest are MIA, as is the entire rest of the leg/body system of which it was a key component.

This is a sculptural fragment from the ruins of the Palace of Domitian on Palatine hill, overlooking the Roman Forum to the North, the Capitoline hill to the West, and the former Circus Maximus to the South. The Circus Maximus, by the way, certainly lived up to its name: it sat the most people of any public arena ever, an estimated 300,000. It was also the site of the vast majority of early Christian martyrdoms, and not the Colosseum. According to the tour guide who lead my family through the Colosseum (so take it with a grain of salt), only one Christian martyr can be placed in the Colosseum. The Colosseum, by the way, sat 50,000, with standing room for 30,000 more. From inside it felt almost intimate, which made me very queasy when I considered the type of spectacle that would have been perpetrated there.





The head of Laocoön (pronounced Lay-OCK-oh-on) in the Vatican Museum. This original Greek sculpture was unearthed in Rome while Michelangelo Buonnaroti was working on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. This sculpture, along with the Belvedere Torso, was one of the major influences on Michelangelo's work as well as on his theology of spiritual perfection as revealed in perfect, contorted male torsos. Michelangelo never sculpted nor painted a nude woman; all his women are modeled after men, with women's faces and very awkward breasts slapped on. I have some awesome pictures of the Belvedere Torso, but I don't want to post them and have them get all sideways on me. So here's one from Wikipedia:Laocoön, by the way, is the Trojan priest who received the message "Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts." The gift was, of course, the famous Trojan horse (interesting coincidence: "gift" is the german word for "poison"). So he immediately set out to warn his people of their imminent doom, but the Gods really really wanted the Greeks to slaughter every single person in Troy. Before Laocoön could set foot outside his temple he and his two sons were set upon by a plague of poisonous snakes, and they died horribly. It's a powerful, horrifying sculpture. Nobody knows who is depicted in the Belvedere Torso.





This is a portion of a wall fresco in the Vatican Museum Palaces, right before you approach the Sistine Chapel. I think it's some kind of Papal UFO...





It may have been winter, the least beautiful season in Rome according to many I spoke to, but nobody told the sunsets that.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Family and Gender in Ancient Rome

I mentioned below that Prof. Diane Lipsett delivered a wonderful lecture on the conversation currently taking place between New Testament scholars, family historians, social archaeologists and the like. The title of this post is actually the title of en entire semester-long course taught by Prof. Lipsett, so for our, geez, ninety minute session she condensed her focus to Men, Women, and Children in Ancient Rome. With her permission, I am posting my notes from this lecture below, tweaked a little for readability.

Prof. Lipsett is interested in studies of gender formation among non-elites as well as elites, those people about whom we know much less because they did not have the resources or clout to commemorate and study themselves, generally speaking.

Roman households were much broader than we conceive of in modern terms, with a wide spectrum of people connected by family and employment living under one roof (the terms domus/eikos/ikea capture this idea of an indiscriminate household…

A Few More in Kodak 400 Ultramax from the Summishica

These are actually my faves from that roll:






Summishica + Velvia 50 = :-0

I was happy with some of the images I got on Kodak with this lens/camera combo; the ones of the Japanese Maple leaves were my favorites, and I loved how the two red peony photos came out.

But.

The finer grain and richer colors of the Velvia took me to another place. You have to remember that, when I was taking these pictures, I had no idea how they would turn out. Because the TL-Super meters through the lens (TL standing for, "through lens," natch) I was pretty confident that they would be metered okay, and I could see through the prism that at least something was going to be in focus, but beyond that it was really a wing and a prayer. You can judge for yourself how things developed: