(Earlier this day, we were at the Colosseum)
May 25th, 2009
After lunch, we crossed Via di S. Gregorio, past Constantine’s arc and climbed Palentine hill.
This is where it all started.
Romulus and Remus were brought here, as the myth goes, by the wolf to suckle. This is where Remus sat counting the birds. The understanding being, the one to count more birds – between Romulus and Remus – would end up being the emperor.
Once upon a time, only the richest of the rich could afford to own grounds here. The Beverly Hills of ancient times. They bought great acreages, build tremendous palaces surrounded by the most beautiful gardens that looked over the republic. After all the name Palentine comes from the word palace. We walked past Domitian’s Palace, once dazzling in marble, past the stadium that held private games and trained his horses, past the houses of Augustus and his wife Flavia, past Circus Maximus – where 250,000 people could simultaneously watch chariot racing around an oval (and to think America believes Nascar is her invention), past the huts of Romus until we saw the Roman Forum laid out at the foothill.
The forum was the center of political, commercial and judicial life in Ancient Rome. If your imagery of an ancient Roman city is majestic looking men with white beards, wearing white togas walking purposely towards imposing building, then remember, it is Greece you are thinking of. This place would not be too different. From the house of Vestal Virgins to the Temple of Venus. Mamertine Prison to Basilica of Constantine. Temple of Saturn- just eight surviving beautiful columns, the Rostra – the platform used for oration, everything seems to be here. Across centuries, here, every emperor built and destroyed something.
We watched it all from Palentine Hill.
It looked inviting for a walk. Rhea was tired, and looked a little sun beaten. She has used the water from the bottles to make herself a little clay experiment. She needed a bath.
We did what any Roman would. We headed back for a siesta.
(Read on. Next we visited the Pantheon)