Friday, February 08, 2008

Depicting Rome, pt. 1

The Tiber as seen from the Ponte Principe Amadeo--this sideways problem is tricky. All I can say is that portrait-oriented photos don't get sidewaysed in Preview, or in iPhoto. Computer friends, help!

The interior dome of the Pantheon. The whole of the temple dome is poured concrete, with walls 20 feet thick at the base. The interior is exactly as tall as it is wide: 140 feet. It survives (at least in part) because it was made a Christian church in the 7th century.

The Sacristy in Santa Maria sopra Minerva

Sundown in the Roman Forum

Detail of the Triumphal Arch of Titus. It commemorates the Roman Imperial sack of Jerusalem in 70 CE. This panel, from the interior of the arch's span, shows the triumphal procession parading the spoils plundered from the Herodian Temple--note the large candelabrum. Roman Jews are a distinct group, historically descended from Palestinian Jews who moved to Rome in the Second Century BCE. Thus they are neither Sephardic (Spanish) nor Ashkenzi (Eastern European), although a number of Sephardic Jews settled in Rome following the expulsion of the Moors in 1492 and the subsequent persecution and Inquisition. Official persecution and ghetto-ization of the Roman Jews began in 1555 under Pope Paul IV, and continued until 1870, when the French forces defending the Vatican were defeated and a unified Italy founded. The Jews in the Ghetto were confined to its borders, subjected to a strict curfew, forced to attend compulsory Catholic Mass on their Sabbath, and were publicly paraded and shamed each Holy Week. Here is a link to the Wikipedia article on the ghetto, which I think soft-peddles the oppressiveness of it terribly. At any rate, it is curious that such a massive monument as the Arch of Titus would be erected to commemorate victory over such a relatively small rebellion. Prof. Wallraff hypothesized that it was to send a message to Jews then living in Rome, or because the Jews were generally well-educated and cultured--a message that we can crush any uprising.


Doug Hagler said...

...and of course a perfect sphere would fit beneath the dome of the pantheon with only an inch or two to spare here and there.

I have no idea how they did that.

djbarryiii said...

I'm just reading "The Jewish War" by Flavius Josephus at the moment...and am actually surprised to see what a big deal it really was. The problem was that the Jews kicked some Roman ass at the beginning of their rebellion, which raised the hopes of the Syrians and other eastern provinces that they also could successfully revolt. According to Josephus Nero was really afraid this would happen so he sent in Vespasian with three legions to totally crush the Jewish rebels. The total destruction of Jerusalem and of the temple really got the message through to the other subservient peoples not to mess around with Rome. Anyway, that arch was a warning not only to the Jews of Rome but to every other subjugated people in the empire... and it worked for another 300 years.

djbarryiii said...

I'm reading "The Jewish War" by Flavius Josephus as the moment and in fact the Jewish rebellion was a big deal...the Jews defeated the Romans in some early fights which encouraged the Syrians and other eastern provincials to consider rebelling as well. This scared Nero who then sent in Vespasian..the most experienced general in the empire...with three legions to destroy the revolt...and the country. This was meant to be a lesson to the other subjugated peoples not to mess with Rome..and it worked for another 300 plus years. So the arch wasn't just a warning to the Jews of Rome, it was a message to all of the outlying and potentially restless peoples in the empire.