Monday, October 31, 2011

Rome Day 2: A Nero Fixation

The historic heart of Rome, and in every ruin and building seemed to lurk Nero.

His mouth is small and mean. To me this is the face of a bully.

At first Nero was a popular emperor, ingratiating himself with public works, but then he concentrated on extending his own private empire, with villas filled with murals

and fine sculptures.

How long it took the world for the world to regain such expertise.

On the Palatine hill he also built palaces

with gardens

and baths with fountains

and mosaics

and veined marble pillars

connected with a tunnel

(with its own plaster moulding)

and, a recent discovery, what may be the circular remains of a revolving dining room, the Coenatio Rotunda

All of this was made possible by a fire that had burnt for days

reducing the city to ruin.

Out of these ashes came the Domus Aurea, Nero's home, which sprawled from this Palatine hill to the nearby Oppian.

Some blamed Nero for the fire, so his successors, intent on removing all trace of him, used the foundations of his lake to build a bigger monster

and new shops sprang up along the road (easy to imagine these spaces displaying yesterday's Armani)

But memories are not so easily removed; the Colosseum evokes Colossus, Nero's 30 m bronze statue

and each setting sun evokes the memory of fire

- a more benign inferno for the modern Roman.


Blogger Jud said...

Clare, I have said it before and I shall repeat myself, I am enamored of the way you describe your travels. And, at the risk of insulting you, I find these more engaging than your novels (which have obviously been well done, received and amply praised by the critics). That said, I eagerly await the publication of your travelogues. I will snap them up before the ink has had adequate time to dry!

Tue Nov 01, 03:51:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Thank you Jud! That's very kind.

Sadly, I gave up a sort of travellogue commission in order to write another novel instead (also the advance wouldn't cover the travel cost). Maybe I did the wrong thing - but then I have always been contrary.

Tue Nov 01, 04:11:00 pm  

Post a Comment

Comments are subject to moderation.

<< Home