Roma--Palazzo Massimo and Baths of Diocletian

I am clearly very behind since we visited the theater during a walk through Rome over a week ago, but it has been busy! Anyhow, now I will finally post about the the Palazzo Massimo and the Baths of Diocletian. 

The tickets for these 2 museums are part of a 10 euro pass that also includes the Crypta Balbi and something else I can't remember. Best 10 euro I have spent in a long while. The layout of the museum is fabulous and the inscriptions in the baths are awesome. Of course, if you don't read Latin, they aren't all that exciting, but seeing as Max and I do read Latin... Anyhow, we spent over 6 hours in the two museums and did not finish at the Baths. Too. Much. Epigraphical.Awesome.

Let's begin at the Massimo: On the top floor, they have wall paintings from various villas that were discovered around Rome. In a number of the instances, they attempted to reconstruct the paintings on rooms or within structures of the size and shape of the original space. This first is from the villa of Livia where the Prima Porta was also found. The room in which the paintings were found (almost entirely intact) was subterranean. The colors and detail of the wild life is unbelievable. The opulence of the space is highlighted by the extensive use of blue paint (very pricey). The room shows a garden space, including a garden wall and plant and animal life that lived outside of the garden proper.

Note the work at the top that would have curved over the entire vaulted ceiling. Modest living in Rome, opulent living in the countryside.

The tree is obviously sideways, but I wanted to give a detail shot of the artistry of the painter.


Nothing says "Rest in Peace" more than some pygmies fighting crocodiles with pee on your tomb.

This and the next image come from a wonderful display of frescoes from the Villa Farnesina, an Augustan aged villa that was unearthed in Trastevere (in Rome) in the late 19th century. 

A bedroom scene from one of the bedrooms in the Villa Farnesina. Notice how the slaves are looking away as if they don't see. Arguments have been made that part of the thrill of sexual activity among the elite in Rome was the voyeuristic aspect. Slaves, in theory, were non-people and so weren't really there, but they actually were there and could (and probably did) watch. 


The Massimo abounds with pygmy scenes. This is one of a few--pygmies fighting evil hippopotami and crocodiles.

The crouching Aphrodite an I share a stomach. 


Anyone know who this is? 

Now guess again...

These are bronze fitting from the rudders from one of  the Nemi ships, a richly ornate "pleasure ship" that likely belonged to the emperor Caligula.   

This is a statue of Pan...

But on closer inspection, you see that it is really a statue of an actor playing Pan.

Extravagant sarcophagus of a Roman general defeating barbarians. Who is this famous Roman leader? And what war did he wage against the evil barbarians?

Who knows!? The sarcophagus seems to have been a stock piece that one could buy and have their face added to .

You can also add your wife, once you have one...

Dicing was popular in Rome...

But you should clearly always bring your own dice.

This is the tomb marker for a Hellenized Jew in Rome. The multi-cultural interchange on this simple piece is astounding. Tragic masks, Greek text, images of Jewish menorah, shofar, and lulav with "shalom" rendered in Hebrew as well. Just awesome.

A favorite early Christian image is the Jesus-in-a-Box! Also known as Christ Resurrected. One of the things I found interesting about the 3rd and 4th century images of Jesus found on tombs is the exclusive focus on either the fish or on the resurrection image. No crosses, only the Chi/Rho. The body shape of the resurrected Christ, however, is nearly identical to what one sees when he is later moved to the cross and becomes the Dying Christ that decorated Christian churches across the world today. The shift in focus from resurrection to death is an interesting moment to me and reflects, I think, a shift in theological and dogmatic concerns. But I am not an early Christian scholar, so take it as my hunch, not the truth.


There is so much more to post. I just picked some favorites. I also didn't even post up the Ostia pics, which are pretty great. It is a wonderful site. And then there is the trip to Crete (Knossos is disappointing, I must say). 



No comments:

Post a Comment