On Monday, both the Rome and Florence kids went to the Circus Maximus and then the Roman Forum. Both of these places are filled with such amazing stories and background. In order to get ourselves in the mood for our visit to the Circus Maximus, we read a section from Ovid’s poem, Ars Amatoria (the Art of Love) about how to pick up a lady at the Circus Maximus. Ovid has many suggestions such as: sitting really close to her, fixing her pillow, picking up her cloak when it falls and cheer really energetically for the charioteer that she roots for. (Some of these suggestions seem pretty good to me—I would like to have somebody who would pick up my coat when it falls.) The Circus Maximus, which is a big dirt track at the base of the Palentine Hill in Rome, was used for all the chariot races that occurred in Rome. There were four teams that people in Rome rooted for: White, Red, Blue, and Green. The Romans followed chariot teams with the same enthusiasm as people follow soccer in Italy today. The emperor sat in a seat at the very beginning so that he could start the race by dropping his napkin. The best seats in the house were at the very end of the track because that was where all the underhanded attempts to win occurred.
After that we went to the Roman Forum. Julius Caesar was in the process of building the forum, but he was killed before he could finish. His adopted son, Augustus, completed it. It is said that Augustus, “found Rome a city of mud and left her a city of marble”. In other words, Augustus decided to finish what his father had started and erected a ton of marble buildings, which he then dedicated to his family and himself. Many of the buildings were used as religious centers and law courts. For example two basilicas, named Aemalia and Julia, both of which are in ruin today, were used as centers for the Roman courts. The forum was also contained the living quarters for the Vestal Virgins. We actually got to see where they stayed and it was huge!
Written by Reid Boyer.