father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife
Happy Friday! You’ve made it to the end of the week! If you didn’t get a chance to read yesterday’s post - “mussolini’s window and the philosophers’ metro stop” - you can do so by clicking here now! Today’s post is a piggy-back off of that one, so feel free to get all caught up if you haven’t done so yet; it’ll only take a couple minutes!
Upon the completion of our daytime portion of the walking tour, during which we got to walk underneath the umbrella pines at sunset that Julius Caesar rode underneath hundreds of years ago, we arrived out front of the Colosseum. I was incredibly excited for this portion of the tour, especially given how busy the Colosseum had looked when I’d passed it during the day. There were no long lines, and there was absolutely ZERO waiting on the night tour! I have a lot of patience and can self-entertain, but I am all about maximizing time, so this experience was awesome sauce! And as it is a nighttime tour, tour groups are capped at 20 people (mine had just 14 of us that night), so you have the entire Colosseum basically to yourself. It was so quiet and peaceful, contrasting the true reality of what the Colosseum was like way back when: loud, crowded, chaotic.
At one point, as I was walking around the top level, looking down over the floor where so many battles occurred, I whispered to myself, “My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.” Leave it to the actress to whisper a monologue from “Gladiator” while in the actual, real Colosseum. (Sidenote: I also had a pet mouse in high school named Marcus Aurelius. He was a very cute little brown and white mouse who obviously needed a big name.)
Nerd? Of course… and very proud of the fact. Do you see how proudly I wear the tour audio guides around my neck? But it would be impossible for even the most “too cool for school” person in the world to not nerd out at the Colosseum at night. I mentioned how quiet and peaceful it was on the tour, and even when we left the upper deck to travel to the floor level and the underground portions, there was an undefinable feeling, a low-humming buzz of calm-before-the-storm. It was as if everyone who was present at the Colosseum at night felt the weight of everything that had happened in that arena hundreds of years ago: the battles, the celebrations and joys, the defeats and deaths. It wasn't so heavy a silence that it would bring one to tears; it was more of a quiet understanding and respect for those that had come before us in this place that we were all lucky enough to experience together and share for these brief moments in time.
As we slowly, quietly took the steps down underground, we were showed the lift and pulley systems where cages of animals were brought down for battle and sections where the animals could roam before being released to the gladiator fights. Even though it is not something I will witness in my life time, I swear I could feel the residual energized excitement of centuries past, imagining the lions, tigers, and bears (oh my! -- sorry, couldn't resist) restlessly thrashing in their cages, waiting for their release, not knowing the sad fate that eventually awaited them one way or another. We spent some time wandering in the underbelly of the colossal beast before journeying back up to the highest deck where we were able to observe various pieces of art: small architectural recreations of the Colosseum in all its glory, various pieces of marble and stone restored to their original state, and plates and vases made by the hands of Roman artists from another era.
Visiting the Colosseum at night is probably an entirely different experience from visiting during the loud, crowded, hustling and bustling Colosseum of the sunlit hours, but if I got to visit again (which I will one day - get ready for tomorrow’s post, hint hint!), I would still choose the peaceful quiet of the night where I could stand in near-silence with my thoughts, soaking in the surroundings, processing all the pain and the glory the space holds, and whispering some lines from a 2000 box-office hit.
How about you? Do you think you’d like to experience the Colosseum by day or by night, and why do you think you’d make that choice? Let me know! Thank you so much for reading, and, as always, if you have any pressing questions or if you want to discuss something further with me, please subscribe in the e-mail submission box below, follow me on Instagram or Twitter, or reach out to me on the “contact” page. I’m so grateful you're here and that I’ve been getting a lot of really great, fun-to-read questions and feedback from a community all over the globe. Especially during this time of uncertainty and pandemic, it's important to find your tribe and surround yourself with good; we're all in this together. I couldn’t do this without you! So THANK YOU!
P.S. - If you want to catch up from the beginning on this series of adventures, here's a cheat sheet to the posts (in order in which they were published):
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