Roma as Text
The most impactful structure I have come across within Roma was the Flavian Amphitheater. The peacefulness and joy from visitors and tourists alike contrasts the murderous and heinous crimes that took place within the Flavian Amphitheater. The Flavian Amphitheater is symbolic as it represents the vices that political figures/governments encourage to redirect the public eye from important public issues. For example, Vespasian directed for the Flavian Amphitheater to be created to distract the people from focusing on the political atmosphere. This calculated political agenda that utilizes social distractions/events still continues today. On May 3, 2022, a large social event named the “Met Gala 2022” Red Carpet occurred at the same time a legal opinion leak occurred which may roll back Roe v. Wade.
There are several notable structural elements that aided in making the Flavian Amphitheater the largest amphitheater in the world. The following are detailed below:
- Elliptical Structure
The Flavian Amphitheater embodies an elliptical structure which serves the purpose of allowing all participants to see the arena and its contents.
- Exterior facade – Arches & Columns
The structural capacity of the Flavian Amphitheater was made possible by arches. They function as victory/triumphant arches that show that the Flavian Amphitheater was created from the destruction and defeat of Judea. The columns within the exterior are divided into stories:
First story: Tuscan
Second story: Ionic
Third story: Corinthian
Fourth story: Pilasters (covered with Corinthian capitals)
- Velarium or Vela
One of my favorite structural elements within the Flavian Amphitheater include the velarium which is also termed the vela. This structure protected the audience from the Sun and rain. Many historians predicted that the velarium necessitated a thousand men to control the structure (e.g., Roman navy sailors).
Three cultural elements which the Flavian Amphitheater embodied are listed below:
- The Flavian Amphitheater embodied the blood thirsty brutality from gladiators, brilliance in the craftsmanship of a monumental structure, and power.
- Women were treated as second class citizens since they sat with poor on the top tier of the Flavian Amphitheater.
- Though the seating within the Flavian Amphitheater was dictated by social class, the wealthy who would regularly frequent the games and blood shedding events would etch their names within the stone.
The Flavian Amphitheater serves as one of the most important architectural creations made by man. To be able to see it in person and touch the prized Roman cement was a gift that cannot be described with words. The fact that Romans were able to create this without utilizing technology showcases their skill and brilliance. It was truly a sight to behold.
Pompeii as Text
As our wonderful tour guide Antonio detailed, Pompeii was an ancient city that was both technologically and socially advanced. Antonio even went on to say that Pompeii can be compared to modern day Manhattan, New York. Though only ¼ of Pompeii has been excavated, the commercial parts of the city are very telling as to the nature of business (e.g., brothels, small shops) and the houses of the wealthy. As both Professor Bailly detailed, Pompeii is especially important since it was covered in ash and preserved as Romans lived instead of a potential façade. Pompeii was enthralling to learn about since it showcased bits of humanity (e.g., holes in the sidewalk so that individuals arriving to Pompeii could tie their donkey as they went to get water or food).
The Brothels of Pompeii
The brothels of Pompeii contained a system that advances the methods of illegal prostitution within the United States. Below is a chart that contains the differences between the two:
|Pompei, Italy||Miami, Florida, United States of America|
|1. Use of protection. Before the women engaged in sexual intercourse with a man, they utilized protection in the form of lambskin and sheepskin to prevent disease and infection.||1. There isn’t a mandate on use of protection nor is it common practice within illegal brothels.|
|2. Legalization of brothels. In Pompeii, there were at least 30 brothels within the city.||2. Brothels and prostitution is illegal within the United States.|
|3. Frescos which depict services offered and rendered. This was beneficial for international visitors.||3. No depiction of services that will be rendered. Thus, communication may prove difficult for international clientele.|
Furthermore, I was shocked to learn the following items about Pompeii:
1. We saw celebrations of both Apollo and Diana as they are brother and sister within the ruins of Pompeii. This celebration of pagan beliefs was exciting to see and appreciate.
2. To protect themselves, the people of Pompeii would cover their heads with wet clothes and pillows since pumice would fall.
3. The roads leading into Pompeii would have white marble chips. These would serve as reflectors on stones which made them shine.
Thermos are containers which preserve the temperature of liquids and food items. This concept dates back to the time of Pompeii where thermopoliums were places where the people of Pompeii would casually walk to for hot food. In fact, our fast food chains (e.g., McDonalds, Wendy’s, Burger King) in the United States draw from the concept of thermopoliums. Though, the thermopoliums that were seen in Pompeii, more specifically Herculaneum, were utilized by those who did not have access to kitchens. This is one of the many characteristics which shows how Pompeii truly showcases modernity as a city.
Pompeii was a city to behold as we saw the humanity within the frescos, paintings, and sculptures. I felt more than blessed to be guided by Antonio and Professor Bailly as we uncovered the tragedy of Pompeii and explored its city. Though the individuals who died went through asphyxiation, we remember them not as they looked when they died but as intelligent and prosperous people.