Sunday, I joined a number of others from the NATO Defense College community for a tour of the ruins in Ostia Antica, the harbor city for ancient Rome. I've proven a natural freeloader with these events. Once again, I think the pictures speak for themselves, although, I am beginning to have a difficult time keeping all these Roman ruins straight--WHAT a dilemma. Thank goodness for separate albums in iPhoto ;)
What remains of a series of shops along Decumanus Maximus, Ostia Antica's "Main Street." Our tour guide commented that this particular town was even vaster than Pompei. While I don't doubt it, nothing quite compares to a forgotten city from the 6th century BC, buried under a sea of volcanic ash.
A portion of the baths. Most of these ruins date back to the 3rd century BC. Perhaps especially as an American, it's challenging for me to wrap my mind around just how old European history is. And I thought my Civil War apartment in Lexington was "old."
The theater district...can you tell? These masks stand in front of the amphitheater (see below).
Community toilets--the individual stall hadn't been invented yet in the 3rd century BC. There was even an entire additional wall of these "seats" that I couldn't fit in the shot. It kind of puts into perspective how public Roman life really was. Certainly, no one said, "Stay out of my business," because well, they couldn't have been closer to each other's business. This picture is a good example of just that.
Aside from heating and cooling systems, civilians had also developed a sort of primitive flushing function with the use flowing water and lead pipelines. Perhaps we haven't advanced as much as we'd like to think after over 2,000 years.
After a delicious lunch of linguini bolognese back home in Infernetto, I set out again almost as quickly--this time for the opposite end of Ostia: Ostia Lido. It is the area in which I attend an Italian course twice weekly and, more importantly, the location of the beach! This week was the first that most beach goers weren't fully decked out in bathing suits, although I did see a few--the weather has been unseasonably warm here. I read my book underneath a cloudless sky, enjoying the cool sand between my toes, a pleasant breeze, and a magnificent view of a sparkling Mediterranean. Never have I lived in a place so close to the shore, nor where visiting it in October was ever an option. I definitely don't hate it.
As I plowed through the second half of A Severe Mercy, it challenged my thinking all the way. Here are a couple of my favorite quotes that have had a profound impact on me, especially now during my time in Italy.
"The timelessness that seems to reside in the future or the past is an allusion...The future dream charms us because of its timelessness; and I think most of the charm we see in the 'good old days' is no less an illusion of timelessness. And yes, after all, the clock is not always ticking. Sometimes it stops and we are happiest. Sometimes--more precisely, some-not-times--we find 'the still point of the turning world...a foretaste of eternity.'"
"I sometimes wonder whether bereavement is not, at bottom, the easiest and last perilous of the ways in which men lose the happiness of youthful love. For I believe it must always be lost in some way; every merely natural love has to be crucified before it can achieve resurrection... "
--excerpt from a letter written by C.S. Lewis
Food for thought. That's what I'm chewing on, anyway.