Saturday, February 27, 2010

the Pantheon

Setting out for the Pantheon, 2000 years old
we resist the purchase of a 2000 year old outfit.

and award the dog of the day/circumstance of the day
to the labrador in the bookshop with the not-blind man.

Within a few minutes from our room we arrive at the Pantheon.
Most days in Rome 40 years ago I would walk to work and after passing through Piazza Navona would enter this piazza from the left and leave at the right. When, in quieter days than now, one came upon the Pantheon alone, it seemed alive, breathing quietly, perhaps the most extraordinary building anywhere, an excellent reason alone to come to Italy.

Eventually, of course, we have to follow a skirt outside.

Where we find the Korean tour guide telling a story about a fish,
while the Scotsman waits to tell a story about the shot put.

Yes of course, we did eventually have to ask two gentlemen in kilts whether perhaps there was a Rugby game for which they had dressed. No, they said, it is cultural exchange week, there are some of them back over there. We noted in good humour that they were drinking Coca Cola and smoking Marlboro. It is possible we were having our legs pulled. There was a Rugby match. Next day Italy thrashed Scotland, surely cause for consternation. T'would perhaps be interesting to see tails between legs of kilted laddies... or perhaps not...


ADDENDUM 2018, Trump year 2:
There is a modern morality of metaphor story here. About Scots and walls and naming buildings and walking in Rome and beyond; plus civilian control of the military.
At the Pantheon back in 2010, reported below we met scotsmen. Admiring the temple to many gods, ordered by the Emperor Hadrian 
This is what happened two millennia further back.... 
Hadrian said: "I want you blokes to rebuild a decent temple here (pointing to where generals had to sit and wait in the muddy Field of Mars while the Senators of old Rome tossed up whether to allow them into the city and be given a military parade) and do it better than those last two that burned down. Oh and better not put my name on it, put old Agrippa's name on it."

And so saying he walked off up the modern Via del Corso and onwards to Britain. Where his local representatives said "boss, boss, we hate these Scots!." To which of course the modern leader Hadrian said "BUILD A WALL. PUT MY NAME ON IT!" So they did ...and made the locals pay for it in sweat. Meanwhile Hadrian walked home to Rome, via Palestine and Libya, as you do. And said thanks when he saw the finished Pantheon 3.0 which still stands. 
Worth noting too that long after, a millennium and a half later, when the popes decided to build an upgrade church for themselves in the rough neighbourhood over the river from the three more venerable papal basilicas of Rome, the architects and engineers tried and tried to work out how the old Romans had built the roof of the Pantheon. Failing to understand how to do that they built the present pointier top of St Peters. 

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