Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Birthday, Rome!

Today's photos:


1. 10:30 a.m.

2. 11:00 a.m.

3. 11:15 a.m.

4. 11:30 a.m.

5. 12:00 noon

6. Even the television news media were awaiting the magic moment.

7. This group of high school students (German, I think) displayed their banner, beautifully printed in Latin: Happy Birthday, Rome!


If you had baked a cake for the city of Rome on her birthday today, April 21, you would have had to make it large enough to hold 2,767 candles, since Rome was founded (born) in the eighth century B.C., the year 753 B.C. to be exact.


Having said that, I would call to your attention a newspaper article from April 13, 2014, which casts serious doubt on the authenticity of the traditional date of 753 B.C. According to the article in the Rome newspaper, Il Messaggero, after a five-year excavation conducted under the Lapis Niger in the Roman Forum, there is evidence that Rome may be as many as 200 years older that we have always believed.


The famous Lapis Niger (black stone), just in front of the Senate house, has always been considered the oldest and most sacred place in the Roman Forum. It is even thought to be the possible burial place of Romulus, the founder of Rome. The excavations just concluded have uncovered remains of a wall dating back to 900 years before Christ. It's a little too soon, however, to think that the history books have to be re-written and the traditional dates changed.


In any case, the birthday of Rome was celebrated today with much fanfare. I was interesting in the big event which occurred in the Pantheon. (For details, go back and read the post of March 17, 2014, The Pantheon: a secret revealed). At exactly 12 noon (1:00 in daylight savings time) the light from the oculus would fall directly on the entrance to the building. Well, as you can see from the photographs, that's exactly what happened. The sequence of the pictures shows the spotlight as it slowly makes its approach to the entrance.


At exactly 12 noon a loud roar went up from the crowd of hundreds of people present as the entrance was bathed with light. It was very interesting and exciting to see, and to imagine the emperor entering the building at exactly that moment. We didn't have the emperor today, but we did have an enthusiastic group of high school students who, at exactly the magic moment, unveiled their Latin banner wishing Rome a happy birthday. They only displayed it for about 30 seconds since such a thing is strictly forbidden inside the Pantheon. I happened to be right next to the group, so I was able to get a quick picture of them with their banner.


Now, while we're on the general subject of the founding of Rome, and while we are casting some doubt on the traditional date of the founding, here's another tradition which has a different twist. Romulus and Remus are said to have been nursed by a she-wolf who found them abandoned on the banks of the Tiber River. A local shepherd, Faustulus, came upon this strange scene and took the twins home where he and his wife, Acca Larentia, raised them. Well, the twist to this story is that there really was no she-wolf. Faustulus found the abandoned twins and took them home to Acca Larentia, who happened to be a prostitute who was nicknamed "lupa", the she-wolf! Well, don't worry. I don't think there's any danger that the symbol of Rome, a she-wolf nursing twin boys, which is just about ubiquitous in Rome, will be changed to a prostitute nursing twin boys! 


Kristina and Caroline Garswood said...

The last part of your entry reminded me of the brothel in Pompeii. Reading about that in preparation for our upcoming trip to Italy (this week!) was where I first heard about prostitutes being called lupe.

I've just discovered your blog today and am enjoying it! Thank you for sharing!

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