After an introductory walk around the neighborhood and some well-deserved fusilli pomodoro last night, Calder Classics: Reading Latin + Ancient History was ready to take on our first full day in Rome!
We started the day off by walking around the neighborhood with Crispin. As our accommodations are just outside the Aurelian walls, one of the ancient city limits, it made sense to start by crossing the wall and heading into San Saba. Here, we saw how the modern city and the ancient city continue to interact with each other in many ways.
We then walked down the Viale Aventino over to the Circus Maximus, and climbed the Aventine Hill to get a better look of the Circus Maximus below and the Palatine Hill across from us. Crispin spoke both about what material culture and archaeology can tell us about the earliest inhabitants of the area we now call Rome and also about what the mythology and literature suggests. In the end, we finished by talking about the myth of Romulus and Remus, the alleged founders of Rome.
The students then took off for lunch in a group, exploring the neighborhood and acquainting themselves with the best pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice) establishments and coffee bars.
After a short siesta, we reconvened to read some of Livy’s ab urbe condita. Last night, students had prepared a selection from book one of Livy, in which the historian recounts the story of Romulus and Remus. Livy writes of how Romulus wished to set up the center of the new city on the Palatine Hill, while his brother insisted upon the Aventine Hill. In the ensuing struggle, Remus was killed and Romulus was able to build his eponymous Roman city on the Palatine Hill, where we can still see the ruins of Domitian’s palace as tribute to the lasting nature of Romulus’s victory.
Having prepared that section of the Livy reading, sitting atop the hill on which Remus staked his life and looking out over the one at which Romulus won provided a moment of clarity regarding the ancient world and literature the students have studied for years.
As I (Clare) write this, it is 5:30 and we are about to start making dinner together. Later, we will make a group journey to Sarah’s favorite gelato place in Testaccio.
Looking forward to another beautiful (and hot!) day in Rome tomorrow! Keep an eye out for new blog posts from our eight students.