Friday, October 9, 2009

All signs point to Rome -- or something

posted Fri, 24 Sep 2004

Raffaelo, our guide in Pompeii, was thrilled that I knew who the original Rafael was. When I was able to recite his contemporaries – Donatello, Lenonardo, and Michelangelo – he was almost ecstatic. I did take an art history class in college, but I was remembering the names from the mutant teenage ninja turtles, not from Art History 102.

Jenny threw out the name Dante, and Raffaelo and I looked at her and said, “He was a POET!” Raffaelo added, “And he wasn’t part of the Renaissance. He was 12th century.”

When Raffaelo mentioned Sulla, the Roman guy who was in charge when Vesuvius blew, I asked, “Lucius Sulla? The dictator?” Jenny said, “I think he wants to marry you! You know this stuff!”

Ionic? Doric? Who knows? I didn't take the first semester of art history. The photos here are from our trip to Morocco in 2006, but Roman ruins look pretty much the same all over.

Rafaello’s enthusiasm was contagious. He could scarcely contain himself as he trotted from site to site. He would lean forward and grab my arm as he explained, “This was the largest house in Pompeii! There is where they had the shrine to the god of the house! That is where they caught the water that went to the cistern!”

Jenny’s favorite part was the lupanare – the bordello. She looked at the frescoes above each station and remarked dryly – and loudly, “They didn’t have much imagination if those were the only positions they could think of.”

Her second favorite place was the sign pointing to the bordello. Those Romans were brilliant. Not only are their roads and aqueducts still working after over 2,000 years, but they understood marketing as well. Could there be a more simple, universally recognizable sign indicating the way to the brothel?

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