Well, it hasn’t been too long since my last post, but the past two weeks have certainly been eventful. The first week was the Sicily trip, and last week was fall break, which I spent in Kassel, Germany. I really can’t be bothered recounting all of it, nor would it even be remotely interesting if I did. In the interest of wasting time when I should be studying for tomorrow’s Art History midterm, I’m going to write and see where it goes.
If I had to name three most memorable locations from the Sicily trip, those would be Paestum (on the bus trip down, of course), Agrigento, and Palermo. We arrived in Paestum in the evening, which makes for a great first impression of the town, as the two Doric temples glow pinkish-gold in the evening light. The beach was amazing, too; there’s nothing like swimming in the ocean after being cooped up in a bus all day. After the sunset, we had to go back to the hotel, but I returned to the beach at night for a long walk.
Agrigento involved another great beach experience, but more than that a great conversation out in the water. The hotel had an impressive garden with a view of the acropolis, on which two of the temples were illuminated at night. We stayed out there, just enjoying drinks and each other’s company. There’s nowhere in the world lonelier than a large group of people, but, that night, it was different.
Palermo was the last day, after a really trying, but worthwhile week. The city is a little shady in that typical port city sort of way, but I kind of like that. We had time for lunch on our own, so I walked around the city a little. Later, for the first time ever, we had as much time as we wanted to spend in the museum. I ended up staying until closing. Not intentionally. What happened was, I found a sarcophagus with a procession of Amazons on it. The really unusual thing about was that the Amazons were comforting Andromache as they passed her. There was a nice contrast of motion and stillness in the piece; the Amazons seem to move forward in their line, but Andromache, who is seated and holding the urn of Hector’s ashes, seems completely fixed, so that one’s gaze halts for a moment on her before continuing up to the front of the line. Moreover, an Amazon behind Penthesilea, who leads the procession with her horse, is standing in heroic contrapposto, in a position roughly opposite that of Andromache, seemingly creating a contrast between the unfortunate and the glorious aspects of war. Anyway, as luck would have it, my camera was out of batteries. So, I decided to make some quick sketches of certain parts of it, and that’s how I ended up staying until I got kicked out.
That night was the ferry ride to Naples. I spent a lot of it on top of the ferry, loving the sea and the stars. After a while, thunderclouds began to roll in, and I watched the lightning striking the water in the distance. It wasn’t completely a solitary experience; one of my classmates came up, and we talked for a while. After that, I joined some of our group in the lounge.
As a whole, the trip had a necessarily aspect, but it was truly wonderful, and it made a really deep impression on me. Since then, I’ve kind of hit one of those phases where I feel oddly dissociated from everything, but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all. It might just be a part of having a context-dependent personality; my sense of context has changed completely, so I, not really being anything myself, am just displaced. That is the state in which I passed my week in Kassel, and it’s also the one I’m still in now.
I should tell you, I fell in love in Kassel. With whom, fortasse requiris? With the tram voice. Seriously. You know those automatic voices on public transportation, the ones that tell you what the next stop is? Well, the tram voice in Kassel is unbelievable sexy. If you don’t believe me, go there and hear for yourself. I nearly died everytime she said, “nächste Halt: [insert location here].” She was just so full of hope – always looking to the future. It was truly an affair to remember. I thought there was going to be a throwdown when a girl, right in front of the tram route, ran up to me and asked, “Hast du Feuer?” As everyone in her group seemed to have a lit cigarette, and as I was wearing a rainbow hair ribbon that day (meaning is rigid on the Kassel scene), I was worried that my tram-voiced lover would think that the girl was hitting on me, but she is fortunately not the jealous type. My departue was difficult, but she is very experienced at moving on.
Another great part of my trip to Kassel was my visit to the Ottoneum, a natural history museum. There, I found out something shocking – Narwhals exist. Laugh at me all you want, but I always thought that they were mythical. Like every other kid, I wanted to be a marine biologist when I grew up, so I read lots of books on sea life, but I never read anything about a Narwhal. I’d only ever heard of them in North Pole stories. I guess I always figured they were like marine unicorns. Well, as the display of Narwhal horns (in addition to a vertebra) and the sign on the wall clarified, the Narwhal horn is the basis for the unicorn horn (by the way, it’s Einhorn in German – cute!). The sign had a whole section on unicorns. Apparently Pliny described them as part elephant and part horse, but only the horse part survived in the Middle Ages. Here is the best part, though: unicorns, when they were being pursued by bigger monsters, were believed to seek comfort with young maidens. The nice version of the story leaves it at that. Well, the alternative version of the story explains that unicorns seek out the maidens to use as bait, so their pursuers eat the girl instead. Niiice.
Those were just the highlights of my first trip to Germany. Kassel, being tourist-free, was a nice break from Rome. Nevertheless, I’m making my first week back worthwhile. Going down into the Forum of Augustus has definitely been the highlight, so far. If I want the week to turn out well, I’d better do well on the midterm tomorrow, so I’m off.

Me (still trying to write a statement of purpose): I wonder if I can find a way to fit the Largo Argentina [1] into this essay? How about I just make it the title?
Roomie: They’d probably just assume it’s some kind of profound metaphor.
Me: Oh, but I could make it one – I’m a professional BS-er. See, the four temples in the Largo Argentina [2] OBVIOUSLY represent the four greatest Roman poets, and the respective depths of their foundations correspond to the overall amount of research conducted on each author to the present. Nevertheless, deeper foundations don’t necessarily mean a deeper understanding of each temple, just as a longer tradition of research doesn’t imply greater comprehension of each poet’s works…IF YOU WILL.
Roomie: If you can BS something like that off of the top of your head, I’d say you are ready for grad school.
Me: Ouch.
Roomie: Don’t worry, in a year, I’ll be doing the same thing you are, and wondering why…

This program has made me realize that some of my habits are not nearly as unusual as I worried they were. A number of people here seem to have an inclination towards creating symbolic meaning (based on some Classical reference) solely for amusement. I think the tendency stems from how much work we normally have to do to support arguments, and those moments of frustration and vicious self-doubt in which one questions whether her argument is, in fact, just complete BS.
Today, my art history class was at the Farnesi palace studying Mannerist frescoes. The personification Eloquentia was depicted with a parrot, and the professor said he had no idea why. Sooo predictably, I suggested that it was a reference to Ovid, Amores 2.6. Mannerist painters fuse Classical references with all their subject matter, so the suggestion was not particularly absurd, but my point is simply that it is easy to project your own associations onto…everything. I feel a little guilty about it because the professor liked the explanation. Why did it even need an explanation? Seriously, a parrot imitates speech – of course it is a decent symbol for Eloquence. Well, I wouldn’t call a parrot eloquent. Hence my pathological need to find an explanation in my own field.
Anyway, as a Classics major, I have developed some obnoxious idiosyncracies. For instance, whenever I listen to the song “Starseeds” by Love Outside Andromeda, my brain inserts “ἀφιστάμαι!!!” every time she says “I stand here away from you” in the refrain. Much to my relief, during the first week here, one of my hallmates, looking at a book titled The One from the Other, said, “You know, every time I see this book on the shelf, I think of that Greek word ‘ἀλλήλους.'” I think that, at that moment, I decided that this place was going to be okay. Of course, now I notice that book every time I walk by the shelf. Likewise, I am sure that my poor roommate will be stuck hearing the opening of “Fell in Love Without You” by Motion City Soundtrack my way:

Last night, I fell in love without you
I waved goodbye to that heart of mine beating solo on your lawn
(PARACLAUSITHYRON!!!)

It even rhymes, so you can back-up sing it in.

I’ve been delinquent in posting this week, but it’s a been busy one. Quite a few difficulties occurred simultaneously this week, so I am absolutely drained right now. Being a bit sick isn’t helping, either. Right now, I am supposed to writing my statement of purpose for graduate school. I told myself that I can’t go to sleep until I finish it, but I am unlikely to follow through on that. So far I have two and a half paragraphs. Not good.
The all-day trip this week was to Palastrina, formerly known as Praeneste. Our main destination there was the Temple of Fortuna Primagenia, part of which is now built into the museum we visited. The best part of the museum was the Nile mosaic, which depicts the river’s annual flooding. Some of the more exotic animals are even labelled with their Greek names, though the only one I could read was “rhinoceros.” The mosaic itself was broken into several parts when it was looted from the temple, but the reconstructed version attempts to fill in the gaps. The museum contained a few other mosaics that I liked, particularly one of a griffin facing off against some other kind of monster. There was also a great deal of sculpture and inscription in the collection, my favorite being part of a colossal, grey-marble statue of Fortuna herself. It’s too bad the rest of the piece is missing – intact, she must have been beautiful.
The other trips this week were nothing particularly interesting. Well, we do have a competition going to see who can mention the Largo Argentina as many times as possible, so studying that site this week definitely kept things lively in that department. I still have to come up with how my project, the Vigiles Barracks at Ostia, relates to the Largo Argentina. Hmm.
I had Art History today, but tomorrow the class has a make-up trip. We went to S. Maria del Popolo. This is going to sound really ignorant, but as I am standing in this church, surrounded by famous works of art (e.g., by Pintoricchio, Raphael, Caravaggio, and Bernini) my mind kept wandering to the signs I had seen on the Via del Corso while I was walking to class. There is a Basquiat exhibit at one of the art museums! It just started yesterday. Moreover, one of my classmates likes his work too, so I have someone to go with. In defense of my excitement, I will just say that, living in Rome, I see works every day that are considered great by general consensus. Sometimes, it is nice to see something younger and more controversial. Oh, there’s also that bit about the love of my life being an artist (although she doesn’t see herself as one) who has been significantly influenced by Basquiat.
On Friday, we’re leaving for Sicily. I won’t have computer access that week, so I’ll have to write about it later. My program also has a school in Sicily, and I am hoping we will get to visit it. One of my classmates from UMW is there right now, so it would be great to say hi.
Immediately after Sicily is fall break. Germany is going to be awesome. It will be nice to go somewhere where I can talk to people, even if I make lots of grammatical errors and have a small vocabulary. I have been ridiculously slow at picking up Italian, so I know just enough to get by. Living with English-speaking people and spending the majority of my time studying, I have few opportunities to sit down and learn a language. It doesn’t make it any easier to learn when Italians reply in English, as they often do. I have a policy that I won’t give in and speak English, though. There’s quite a bit of xenophobia here, so I try not to prove their stereotypes correct.
It’s getting late and I’m not well, so I should end this. Let’s hope things look better tomorrow. Do you ever feel as though, when one aspect of your life is going unusually well, the others collapse? That’s where I am right now. Nevertheless, I feel guilty for being down. After all, I am in Italy – I am supposed to be perpetually happy, right? Unlikely.

*Post title from “I Miss You,” Blink-182, Blink-182

Sulmona

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I just got back from Sulmona, Ovid’s hometown. It was something like a pilgrimage for me; right now, I’m living in the city Ovid loved, but I felt like I needed to see where he came from, too. Of course, modern Sulmona doesn’t look anything like it would have in the 1st C. BCE – medieval buildings cover the ancient city. Nevertheless, the mountains probably have changed relatively little in the past 2000 years, so it was just a little bit magical knowing that I was seeing the same scenery and breathing the same air as, oh, the greatest poet of all time.

Originally, I had planned to use the train ride to get some homework done, but I decided at the last minute that I wanted today to be solely about Ovid. So, I spent the train ride with Tristia 4.10, appropriately enough. I’m a little bit ashamed to say that I don’t think I had ever read that poem in Latin before. It’s Ovid’s autobiographical poem, but its literary value extends way beyond its function as a history lesson. Two lines in particular gave me something to think about as I traversed the rainy streets of Sulmona. The first was: quotque aderant uates, rebar adesse deos (4.10.42). It means, “As many poets were there, I thought [that many] gods were there,” in the sense that the poets seemed like gods to young Ovid. The word uates is important because it can mean “seer” as well as “poet,” so, in proximity to deos, it emphasizes the proximity of the poets to divinity. I probably should have mentioned that the previous line, the hexameter line to which this line is joined by the nature of the meter, is temporis illius colui fouique poetas. If one preserves the religious sense of the verbs colui and fouique, the line literally means, “I worshipped and cherished the poets of that time.” Anyway, I think that the whole couplet, but especially line 42, just about sums up the feeling of finding oneself in the midst of several people who are one’s seniors in any group or profession that one aspires wholeheartedly to join. In addition, Ovid might (though this is certainly my opinion, and a tenuous one at best) have intended line 42 to remind the reader of the first line of Catullus 51: ille mi par esse deo videtur – “he seems to me to be equal to a god…” Catullus is referring to an earlier poem by Sappho, in which the speaker is watching a man talk to the woman whom he/she (depending on whether you differentiate between author and speaker…I try to) is in love with, but gets too nervous when he/she is actually the around that woman. Nevertheless, when Catullus adopts the line, he seems to be putting it in the context of the emotional experience of writing poetry, if, of course, one agrees with the interpretation that his addressee, Lesbia, is more of a symbol than an actual person. So, if Ovid is really recalling this line, he is saying that the famous poets of his time have the godlike quality of being able to converse with their respective Muses, which is appropriate when one considers that Ovid is not on equal terms with his Muse at the beginning of the poem – she has to drag him along. He also would be alluding to his poetic heritage, which is important when you consider that this poem begins with his literal heritage.

Another great thing about this line, as indicated by the bold text, is its structure. Aderant (“they were [in an ongoing sense] present”) and adesse (literally, “to be present,” but “were present,” because it is the verb of an indirect statement) are both forms of the same verb. In addition, the words uates (poets) and deos (gods)are conceptually linked by the verb rebar and the correlation between the clauses due to the use of quot (as many) in the dependent clause, which demands that the reader understand tot (that many) in the independent clause. Both nouns, although they are in different cases, govern verbal forms. So, the line involves a synchesis, that is, interlocking word order. The poetic device neatly ties together reality and Ovid’s perception of that reality. Moreover, the verb rebar breaks up the synchesis, so the reader almost sees it as a golden line, except that aderant, the beginning of the synchesis, is not the first word in the line. Nevertheless, this particular line could never be a golden line, because it is not in dactylic hexameter. Rather, it is the shorter, pentameter line (subordinated to a hexameter line) that sets elegy, viewed as a lesser genre, apart from epic. The golden line, of course, is the epitome of perfection in dactylic hexameter, the meter of epic, the “serious” genre in the Augustan Age. So, regarding the synchesis that surrounds the verb, the structure of the line approaches, but falls short of, the golden standard for poetry in Ovid’s time. Since line 41 was the hexameter line, it could have been a golden line, but was not. Line 42 (apparently) never had the potential to become the (supposed) poetic ideal, but it came closer to that ideal than line 41. In a way, the couplet itself is a compact recusatio on several levels, considering that the ideas of inferiority and superiority figure so prominently in the content.

The second line that stood out to me related to the first: utque ego maiores, sic me coluere minores – “just as I [worshipped] my predecessors[/superiors], so too did those after me[/my inferiors] worship me” (4.10.55). Like my other favorite, this line applies to so many things outside its original context. Moreover, it employs synchesis as well, but this time the correlatives are both expressed, while the verb coluere must be understood (in first-person, singular form) in the the first clause. I’d like to think that Ovid omits the verb in the first clause to emphasize that, at that time, he had reached the same level as the poets he used to admire. It’s also worth noting that this line is hexameter, and it comes dangerously close to ideal form, but still does not reach it. The simplest explanation: it could be just a normal line of poetry. Or it could be referring back to the structure of the couplet to which its content refers. Either way, I’m not saying that Ovid intended any of the things I have pointed out. Who could know that, anyway? I just don’t believe that misguided mental exercises are necessarily useless.

Although the past three paragraphs seem like one trainwreck of a tangent, bear in mind that there isn’t that much to do in Sulmona, and time for thought was one of the main purposes of my trip there. Of course, I went to the Museo Civico. I walked through the medieval displays (mostly religious artifacts), and then went downstairs towards the Roman area. Hey, I like building anticipation. I was looking forward to the mosaics especially, so I got excited as I walked to the staircase. Then, I saw the sign (..and it opened up my eyes and I am happy now living without you?  No. My personal life is a seperate issue). CHIUSA. Seriously. et coepi parte carere mei (Tristia 4.10.32 – In English, we’d say, “a part of me died”). Okay, my disappointment was not that dramatic. I did get to see the Ariadne house, named for remains of mosaics of Dionysus and Ariadne inside it. Most of the mosaics were, however, in the Roman display.

After that, I walked around for a bit, but then I hit the time of day when everything dies. At about 1300 in Italy, the shops close and people go indoors. I was one of the only people still in the streets. I looked at the map of the city and noticed that a bunch of streets and piazzas were named after Roman authors, so I sought them out for something to do. After walking for a long time, I ended up in a residential area. It turned out that the lawn in front of each apartment complex bore the name of one author, as did the street running by it. I took pictures, too. At the city limit, I was happy to find that Sulmona is the sister city of Costanza, formerly known as Tomis, the place where Ovid died in exile. There’s even a Viale Costanza. I occupied the rest of Sulmona’s naptime by documenting every reference to Ovid I could find. Lame. Here’s my favorite one, though:

Oh, I was tempted. I want another one (or ten). Nevertheless, a small town in the mountains is probably not a great place for that.

Other than the museum and the scavenger hunt, I basically just bought confetti to send home and wandered. Sulmona seems to be more proud of its wedding confetti than its poet, sadly enough. At least Ovid gets his statue in the most fashionable area of the town, the Piazza XX Settembre, which sits by a street full of designer clothing stores and confetti shops. It took Sulmona long enough – the statue was only put in sometime in the 20th Century.

I’m glad they put one in, but I’m not sure how I feel about its design. Don’t misunderstand, I take Ovid completely seriously, but, really, is that the face of a tenerorum lusor amorum? I think not. The statue I envision would probably have him reclining in a symposiastic setting. He’d still be holding the tablet and stylus, but he’d be looking up (to the stars, of course, not at the ground like an animal!) and contemplating what to write next with a sort of bemused expression. Looking at it, you’d get the feeling that his mind is working more rapidly than yours ever will, and that he’s playing with one particular idea that he’s extracted from the ever-flowing stream of his own brilliance. So, when I go pro in Classics and make enough to own my own town, you’ll know what to expect.

The downside to the entire day was not having anyone to share it with. I am happy to spend a great deal of my time in solitude, but when it comes to the literature that I care about and ideas concerning it, I feel like I need someone else there who will not only appreciate it, but also will share ideas and call me on my errors. I guess I was hoping that people in my program would be like that, but many of them aren’t using their future Classics degrees for anything Classics-related, and the ones who are don’t really seem have strong preferences for any particular literary works or authors. As a result, my friends find it amusing when I get excited about Latin, but they don’t share that experience. They were all kind of puzzled why I would want to go to a town in the middle of nowhere, and preferred to see something important this weekend. Maybe I will have better luck in graduate school, if I get in. I suppose my enthusiasm is just a form of immaturity, but it’s difficult for me not to get swept up in something so beautiful, so meaningful, and so completely complex as Ovid’s poetry. Simply trying to understand it is a mentally and emotionally consuming process, yet absolutely worthwhile. To be perfectly honest, it’s the same experience as being in love.

On the train back to Rome, I was happy to have experienced Sulmona and to have, maybe, gained a little perspective on life from it. It’s a beautiful town, but, surrounded by mountains, it feels cut off from the world. Returning to the city felt like entering a sphere in which I have some kind of purpose, where I have a chance to be something greater than I am, if only in extremely brief moments of intellectual clarity. If Ovid ever visited Sulmona after he left, I’d like to believe that he felt the same way about returning to Rome.
[photos]

Today, my Ancient City class went to the general area of the Forum Boarium, the cow market. The area is associated with Hercules. Legend has it, Hercules, driving the cattle of Geryon from Spain to Greece, stopped in the area that would become Rome. His stop there didn’t work out so well for Cacus, to say the least. Anyway, Livy and Ovid claim that the area actually was a cow market, and I’m prepared to accept that.

My class started in the Sanctuary of S. Omobono, where twin temples once stood, one to Mater Matuta (Goddess of Pretty Much Everything, Including Dawn, Healing, Childbirth, and the Sea), and the other to Fortuna. There is a tradition that Servius Tullius built temples in that area, and since one layer dates to the 6th C. BCE, I find it more fun to believe that he built them than to try to look for the “facts.” I guess I’ll never be an archaeologist, and that’s fine with me.

Next, we saw the ruins of temples to Janus, Juno, and Spes (Hope) along the triumphal route. The current church on the site has the old columns built into the side of the building. The three temples are 3rd C. BCE-ish, and were built by different generals at different times. From there, it was just a few blocks to the Temple of Portunus, which is currently under renovation. It’s a shame we couldn’t go inside – the building is preserved very well. The Round Temple also sits in that area, and it is generally thought to have been dedicated to Hercules Victor. Once again, I’ll believe that, given the tradition surrounding the area. Besides, the temple has Corinthian columns, which I think Vitruvius says are appropriate for Hercules. Of course, when you throw in all the other gods who apparently like over-the-top, tacky architecture, my argument for accepting mythology hardly stands. Okay, Corinthian isn’t that bad; I just prefer the style of the old Etruscan temples.

The best part of the trip was the Arch of the Argentarii, which is not an arch at all, but a gateway. It has a sacrifice scene depicted on the lower part, images of the Septimius Severus’ happy family in the middle, and military scenes up top. This picture is how I feel about the Greek test next week:

Bye, cow!

Bye, cow!

My favorite part was the relief above the cow sacrifice scene. I’ll show it to you first.

No more Geta

Lacuna, Inc. - The Early Days

See the blank space next to the woman? That’s where Emperor Caracalla’s brother, Geta, used to be. Caracalla killed him, then went through all the trouble of erasing his memory. I don’t find that humorous at Geta’s expense, but rather at the idea that Caracalla could do something that awful and then pretend it never happened. Maybe self-deception (in addition to the pathetic attempt to deceive the public) on that scale is amusing because we lie to ourselves so much every day that we simultaneously identify with the behavior, but take comfort in the fact that our dishonesty is relatively minor. Or, maybe I just have a distorted sense of humor, but I deceive myself by believing the former explanation.

Later today, I went running in the park. This particular park is absolutely gorgeous – the grounds belonged to the villa of one of the prominant Roman families sometime around the Renaissance, or at least I think that’s the history. The sculptures, fountains, and gardens are spectacular. I think some of the stonework was stolen from Roman buildings, which is a fairly common sight in Rome. There are some great hills, too, and the pond has swans in it. I tried every route I could find, and when I was pretty sure I had done all of them and had run somewhere over 5k, it occured to me that it would be really great to excercise on the Campus Martius. So, I went with the impulse and ran down the hill to Trastevere, over the Tiber, and past the Largo Argentina. This span of the run was perfect; I had “Falling Down” by Atreyu seemingly synchronized with my pulse, the sun was setting over the Tiber, and I felt like I could run forever. It was all wonderfully like a montage in a movie, until I had a quintessentially-Susie moment and tripped on a loose cobblestone. Typical. Not only did I fall forward, the force of it (and trying not to hit my head on the pavement) turned into a sort of half suicide dive, so I ended up on my back. Needless to say, everyone around was laughing as I hastily jumped up and kept running. Hey, I’m a big believer in Schadenfreude, so I am happy to have been the source of it today. Anyway, I meant to go to the Piazza Navona, but I couldn’t find it, and ended up somewhere called the Piazza Farnesi. It was getting dark, so I followed the alleys to Lungotevere and went to Trastevere from there. There’s a huge travertine staircase that provides a sort of shortcut up the Janiculum, so I ran up that, just for grins. The total time came out to about two and a half hours, and it was probably the most I have ever enjoyed running since my lacrosse career ended.

It’s time to do some reading. There’s only one day left until Sulmona!

Saluete

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Hi! I’m rather inadept at beginning anything well, but I’ll give it a shot. I’m Susie, but as I am not overly fond of my given name, feel free to think of me as my username. By the way, my username was created with the band Love Outside Andromeda in mind, not the mythological character. Nevertheless, I suppose that I, along with a majority of people, at times identify with being metaphorically chained to a rock of some sort, so the name is otherwise appropriate. Though you might have already guessed from the title (and the digression in the previous sentence), I am a Classics major. My concentration is Latin, but I like Greek as well, despite my abysmal comprehension of it.

The purpose of this blog is to document my experiences while I study abroad in Italy. I am currently living in Rome at a little social experiment called the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies. The program consists of 36 Classics majors from all over the United States living and studying together in one building. Sounds like a reality television show, doesn’t it? All students take a class called The Ancient City, which involves several site tours per week. Though the class falls into the archaeology category, the ultimate purpose is to gain a better understanding of Roman culture, which is valuable no matter what aspect of Classics one prefers. That sounds like a hollow slogan, but it’s true. I want to be a philologist, but one can’t exactly appreciate literature out of its cultural context. It’s not too bad being a little out of your comfort zone if you just remember that, when called upon to anwer an archaeology-related question, a safe response is usually the name of the first kind of tufa you can think of.

Currently, classes have been covering Etruscan and early Roman settlements. Today, we visited the Roman colony of Cosa. The city sits at a high elevation with a stunning view of the ocean. My, I should write a travel guide. Anyway, we looked at the temples at the top of the hill, then we studied the forum. The absolute best part was walking through the ruins of a Roman house. Some of the floor mosaics were still in the atrium and the triclinium. Though they were simple patterns, there was something really engaging about seeing a small, well-preserved part of a house and knowing that the occupants thousands of years ago would have seen it every day.

After the serious part of the day, the professors took us to the beach. Although the water was freezing, I never pass up a swim in the ocean; it is one of my favorite things in the world. Along the cliffs, I found a cave that led to a small, open-air pool. I ran out of time to explore farther, though. It was nice because the shoreline is so different than anything I am used to.

I’ll start posting photos when I get around to loading them onto my computer. That same computer happens to have five percent of its battery power left, so it looks like this is the end of my post.

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