Saturday, July 27, 2013

When in Rome, do what the Romans do......

People say, 'We learn through history' and we always say 'History repeats'.  Well, it is not difficult to understand and I totally agree with those two phrases because history is about human behavior.  What people did those days are the same as now.  The only difference is that we are living in a modern world with full of human creations and inventions!  That makes our life easier but the behavior in needs and wants in human in the ancient and now are still the same.

@ Port of Rome, Civittavecchia
When we disembarked the ship at Port of  Rome, Civittavecchia, Italy (we had hard times to pronounce) but hey.... we are in Rome and that is the name of it's port.  Civittavecchia means Old City.  It is not as busy as Port of Livorno but many cruise ships docked here.  And not forgetting, it is a fishing port too where fishermen will tie their boats and set the fish for sale.  So because of that we have to take a short ride on Free Shuttle Bus from the ship to the pickup point.

 I remembered my history teacher told us that the Romans army are very strong and were experts with weapons.  No fear in them.  They will put on their heavy armored and helmets with  swords, bows and arrows, daggers and spears and they walk to war!  They walked with pride.  We listened to our teacher in awe!  Trying to imagine everything with the help of some photographs in our text book. Well, that was the best source besides going to the library when everybody wanted to grab the same reference at the same time!  My history teacher was a great story teller.  Now that I am here, his story came to life.  What I feel is to be a teacher in History, one must read a lot from as many sources and must be able to relay the history of one nation to another.  History is basically telling stories with facts. My History teacher Mr. Yip (wonder where he is now - thank you Sir) did just that. He told us stories ....... and children love listening!  We have to create the sense of interest in them.
I have been here before. Not once, not twice but more than that. I love this city very much.  I realized that, for every visit, I was unable to see all .  The whole city is history.  Everywhere you go has it's story.  May it be the story of the dictator Emperor Julius Caeser,  Emperor Octavius who love arts, the Mad Nero, the handsome Mark Anthony, the beautiful Cleopatra of Egypt, the gladiators and the lions fighting for their lives, the great Coloseom and so on. And now, I am standing here again, in the middle of Italy with all the big names and old historical buildings and ruins with loads of stories and trying to figure out what life must have been back then..... totally unimaginable!

Statue of Romulus and Remus suckling on the she wolf
Romans are well known throughout the world.  They were already civilized in the Cleopatra era, during Christianity and then in the era of Islam.  How can we just forget about the Romans, when even in our Al Quran there is a Surah called Surah Al Room.  The history of Rome spans 2,500 years from 510 BC started with the abandoned of the twins Romulus and Remus who were suckled by a she-wolf, that was what the legend says.  They grew up and decided to build a city by the River Tiber.  In an argument, Romulus killed his brother Remus and he became the first ruler and named the city Rome, after himself.  Rome grew from a small Italian village into the center of civilization that dominated the Mediterranean region for centuries. Rome is regarded as one of the birthplaces of the western civilization. 

The River Tiber
A civilization that almost concurred the whole of Europe as near as Egypt in the south.  Spain to the West, England to the North and Turkey to the East.  They really mean business!  Rome became the super power for thousands of years.  Many aspects of today's society have been affected by ancient Rome.  Creation of Civil law, the democracy system, the spread of Latin language, the used of Roman names like Cleopatra, Julius Ceaser, Mark Anthony and Brutus in writings by Shakespeare, in art, in infrastructure of Roman roads which uplift the center of the road to allow the rain water to drain off and in city planning are all areas where the influences of Roman ideas can be seen today.  Not forgetting the buildings .......

@year: 117 AD {from Google map}
On our way to the Colosseum, we saw other ruins of this city like the Roman Bath, the racing track for the chariots and the famous Roman aqueduct.  Deep inside me, I was telling myself that they must be rich enough to maintained and preserved their history for thousands of years!  What if the population multiplies in future?  Will Rome have enough land and space for their residents?  Well, just asking.... just wondering.

The ruins of Roman Bath.
The racing track for the chariots.
Upon reaching the majestic Colosseum, the guide told us that this is an entertainment arena for the rich to enjoy watching the gladiators fighting for their survival either among themselves or with lions!  The dead will be forgotten and the winner will have chances to see another day.  It sounded cruel to us but that is sports to them.  The poor would rather be a gladiator then to be a slave throughout their life.  Just imagine the cuts, the bloodshed and death.  But it is an entertainment to them just like us watching MuaiThai Boxing, The Kick Boxing, The Wrestling, The Rugby game, The American Football ..... they are practically sports just like the gladiators!  The difference is the gladiators fight for pride and freedom but the sportsmen (as a free men) now fight for fame and wealth. Hahahahhaha
@Gladiator and lion in the Roman Arena
From where I was standing on the lower part of the amphitheater, it was where the Emperor, his Senates and the nobles were seated and as the floors go up, the ordinary people were seated and the poor will be on the top most.  Just imagine the roaring, screaming, tears and noises when the fighting for survival was on.  The rich will be betting of whom they choose to win and the poor will be hoping their family will survive.  Two different hopes and wishes!

The Colosseum

The many beautiful highly decorated  fountains in Rome provides clean drinking water for everybody either residents or visitors and it really fascinates me.  I was thinking about the few fountains we have back home. What confused me why people throw coins in the fountains and making wishes. 
Having gelato at Trevi Fountain
In order to see Rome, it is better to walk because the streets are so narrow and all the historical places are nearby to one another.  We went to the Pantheon.  It was a church.  The building is circular with large granite columns.  There was an opening in the center of the dome.  You can see the sunlight enters the church.  If it rains, the water will be drain off through the holes on the floor.  Amazingly, it was the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world and still standing for almost two thousand years after it was built! 

We passed by a number of obelisks. (Obelisk is a tall, four sided monument which ends with a pyramid-like shape at the top).  I remembered two but it was more. There were 13 in the city Rome. Eight were originally from Egypt and were taken back to Rome after the Roman conquest. The other five were copies from the original Egyptian obelisks. The one I remembered the most was built and erected in the center of a fountain in Piazza Nouvona and the other one was in Piazza della Rotondo. 

Obelisk of Domitian in Piazza Nuovona

Most ancient obelisks were often monolithic meaning they are are made of one piece of marble or granite.  Just imagine how many people (may be slaves) needed to make it stand because each were hundreds of tonnes heavy!  The heaviest is about 230 tonnes and stands 42 meters!  That's what power can do .... you can own anything you want, when ever you want! 

Once I visited  Vigelandesparken in Oslo, Norway.  A 14 meters tall monolith stands and carved of 121 human figures on it from a single stone. It shows the human cycle of life. It was sculptured in 1926.

@Vigelandesparken in Oslo, Norway

Rome is said to be the oldest city in the world and their civilization dominated the European for thousands of years. Rome started with the era of ancient Rome from the founding of the city to the Roman Republic  when they started to have enemies to the expandable of their power throughout Europe in the era of Roman Empire. They were the greatest power for many decades but somehow rather lost their grips. 

In one Malay saying, 'Ikan  akan busuk di kepalanya dulu' (A fish will go rotten from the head down) meaning when an organization or state falls, it is the leadership that is the root cause.  What is the difference between Caeser and the gladiators?  They are human beings with the same in needs and wants. Only power seperated them.  I let you think and scroll through the net to find out why and what made the great Roman Empire fall.

Cold Drinks and cold towel  awaits us.....phew.
The walking, thinking, the imagination and the hot summer,  really exausted me.  It was a visit full of fun and very educational indeed.  No doubt I was here before but for every visit is never the same.  I am so looking forward for the cold towel and a good dinner on board!
A giant statue of a sailor saying...
arrivederci  e spero di rivederti
(goodbye and see you again)
 Tomorrow's excursion .... another history of another ancient civilization and even mentioned in the Quran ....  

See you in my next journey!

note *** 'When in Rome, do what the Romans do......'
in Malay: 'di mana bumi dipijak, di situ langit dijunjung'
'masuk kandang kambing mengembek, masuk kandang harimau mengaum......'