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28 September 2005

for what was buried beneath


despite the onset of a sickness no doubt derived from several hostelites in krakow, in my thoughts i was fully charged, if not in my heavy head, exploding with excitement to explore roma, but also exploding with congestion, her heaped with history, mounds of it, the epicenter of latin which i've studied for years, the one perfect language. and i was here in this place that has only been pictures and stories to this point. and now i was in the picture and story, if only a shadow or a word. yes, me. i'd be in italy for eleven days, two of those in rome, far less than i would have liked, but as an american without a visa i'm permitted to stay within the schengen zone for 90 days every 180 days and i'd already been within for 69. the remaining 21 would be split between italy and the netherlands; i'd be meeting matt in amsterdam on 18 october 2005. i think i'm one of the few who knows and respects international law. 'really? no, i think we can stay as long as we want.' wrong.

so two days, i decided to take a walking tour. i wanted _knowledge_. breakfast of bread and hard boiled eggs, a few false starts and then batteries charged, i grabbed a map and was out for a few hours of walking before meeting at the circo massimo.

i do my best to enter a city with a blankness. no expectations, no disappointment. but this was the heart of the empire and i wanted things to be perfect. i wanted clean excavations and signs with explanations, paths and fences and labels and directions, a central clarity, a cleanness. in general, i wanted things _sorted_ _out_. so unrealistic the list of wants, i realize; that's not what i got at all. what i got was a living city filled with thousands of today people living on top of and under and in and on and around, and i pressed on searching in desperation for what was buried beneath. my first destination was the colloseum, a gasp when i saw it and i stopped right there, thousands of years. but walking through the forum area, i could not believe that the entire area wasn't fully excavated and cleaned and studied. it seemed like what had been started had not been finished and at that point i just could not accept any excuse. this was a treasure chest that was waiting to be opened... _right here_... they'd found it and not opened it... they'd only peaked just a little. a heavy sigh, i walked on in disbelief.

at 1400 i met the tour group in the circo massimo, years ago a giant chariot race track, then covered, then uncovered by mussolini. in a city such as rome, i would have given anything for a private tour with a true expert, three full days of walking and details; alas my budget didn't permit such a private tour. enter spring, tour guide from texas, a dual major in italian and theater; i'd have preferred latin and italian history. she related the history of various sites as we walked around and while the content was rich with names and dates and interesting facts, i didn't appreciate her delivery, more of a rehearsed memorized reading [click] than a person transferring what they've learned over years of study. i tried to unfocus on the delivery, waiting for something to jump on, and soon there it was. the modern day roman manhole cover... spqr. _s_enatus _p_opulus_q_ue _r_omanus... see it? more interesting facts came later and after four hours of spring's monologues i felt like i'd learned several new things. the mouth of truth [additional info], mussolini's balcony [older pic from 1944], the dome of the pantheon, open to the air. the most important of what i learned is forgiveness. i learned that modern and ancient rome are completely entangled. the only hope of ever completely retrieving the past is by relocating all of the today people and pumping billions of dollars into archaeology, a virtual impossibility which is really a shame.

all the while i wished i had brushed up on my latin before coming. in fact, i'd wished the same far earlier in my travels. the one perfect language was found throughout all of europe. once i'd been able to read books in latin; unfortunately over the past ten years most of what i'd learned of the language has left me, now barely able to translate a single sentence. i will find it again and the next time i won't lose it.

back at the hostel, i used my sysadmin skills and my ethernet cable (first use) to get my computer on the network. tomorrow, another walking tour, the vatican city.

posted by paul on Wed 28 Sep 2005 at 00:00:00 est (-05:00)


You studied Latin for years?????? Learn something new everyday.....

posted by NEAL DAVID on Sun 16 Oct 2005 at 00:03:16 est (-05:00)

nd: you didn't know that? i was studying latin when we were at uvm. took latin in grades 6-9 and then picked it up again in college. i was inducted into eta sigma phi my senior year. pow!

posted by paul recon on Mon 17 Oct 2005 at 04:52:35 est (-05:00)

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