Josh Jones ’14 – This has been the second immersion trip that I have been on during my time at Wabash. I had previously gotten the chance to experience Greek culture by traveling to the major Pan-Hellenic sites throughout Greece. Traveling to Rome has been a great privilege and has once again reaffirmed that I made the right choice in being a classics major.
Once again I am baffled by the sights and sounds of another country and Italy in particular. I can honestly say that I will probably not eat for weeks after eating so much delicious food. Today we traveled to the site of Herculaneum and to the Capua Amphitheater. Herculaneum was covered in the pyroclastic flow caused by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius and therefore was preserved similarly to the city of Pompeii. We walked throughout the city and were lucky enough to be able to go into the Stabian Baths, a place that is generally not open to the public.
The site of Herculaneum seemed to be preserver far better than the site of Pompeii and the reason for this is that the site staff has taken a far more proactive step in the prevention of natural loss, even going so far as training a hawk to prevent pigeons from roosting there.
In Capua, I gave a brief presentation on the relief panels that would have been located inside of the arena. These reliefs are interesting as they show the events that would have most likely been displayed in the arena. The panels varied from processions of the elites presenting the games, to animals that would have appeared in the arena, to mythological events that would have been reenacted by gladiators or prisoners for the entertainment of the crowds. Having done research on the Capuan Amphitheater, it was breathtaking to be able to explore the actual arena and see from both perspectives what the ancient Romans would have seen and standing where the gladiators fighting in arena would have stood.
We were also able to explore underneath the arena and walk around in areas that most Romans would never have seen. We saw the arena from all different spectrums of Roman culture from the top of the arena were the poorest romans would have sat, to the front seats where the Roman elite sat, to the arena and the under the arena where the gladiators, some of the lowest romans, fought and prepared to fight. This trip has been amazing so far and it’s incredible to see the sights that we’ve been studying.