Ponton ’14 Learns Immersion Learning Bonding

Jacob Ponton ’14 – We closed our last day with another busy schedule. Nate Chapman gave the last presentation over the Tomb of the Eurysaces, or known as the Tomb of the Baker. This tomb was very interesting, showing how individuals competed with one another to share their life story with those who passed by. This was a very good illustration of the interaction within Roman society.

We then made our way to the Epigraphic Museum and Palazzo Valentini. These two stops showed the magnificence and beauty of Rome. The Museum had many artifacts that pertained to each of our research topics. This gave us other examples of how each topic had played a role in Rome. For example, I found several inscriptions for different guilds praising them for their work, telling us how important they were in the empire. It was great to be able to see these artifacts up close. It allowed us to come up with our own interpretations instead of reading about some scholar’s interpretation.

The Palazzo Valentini allowed us a unique view on an elite’s house. This museum allowed us to see the ruins through a glass floor while walking through the house. This site made the distinctions of the elite and common man very real. The house was unlike any we had seen before, including personal baths. I found this to be very interesting because I have been researching the interaction of social classes in the public baths. This site eliminated such interaction with the lower class with this elite citizen.

Today was just a great wrap up to a great week. This trip was absolutely amazing. I want to thank Professor Hartnett for putting together such a great itinerary as well as those who helped to fund this trip. Though I found the trip to be extremely educational, I found that it brought our class together unlike what the class room can do. Walking around day after day with your classmates brings a completely different atmosphere than what the class room provides. I have become close friends with many of those who were on this trip. This trip allowed me to not just learn more about topics in the class but more about my fellow Wallies. I believe that this experience is unlike any that may be provided at other schools and truly separates Wabash from the rest.

Posted in Hartnett in Ancient Rome | Comments Off

Batchelder ’15 Captures Spirit of Ancient Rome

Steve Batchelder ’15 – Dr. Hartnett asked me early in the week if I thought the Vittorio Emanuele Monument looked like a typewriter or a wedding cake?  As a Creative Writing major, it was easy to see the Monument as a typewriter, but now Rome has me thinking otherwise.  On Thursday we visited the ruins at Ostia, St. Peter’s Basilica, saw a Lazio soccer match, and enjoyed a Thanksgiving pizza together.  Needless to say after leaving our hotel at 8am and returning from dinner around midnight, we were a little worn-out from an another amazing day.

Hartnett’s Class on another night at the famed Trevi Fountain

I especially thought that good night sleep was much needed and what else could we possibly need to see in Rome after a day like that?  Michael Carper asked me if I would like to go see the Spanish Steps and visit Trevi Fountain.  I have to admit, I was a bit reluctant.  I felt my swelling ankles, considered the number of hours I had spent on my feet.  I even felt pessimistic about following Carper off into Rome, further amounts of walking, I was pretty well convinced that whatever monuments he insisted on seeing could wait until tomorrow.

But for whatever reason, I couldn’t let Carper go off on his own.

Eddie Pingel, Carper, and I walked up to the Via Corso past Trajan’s Colum and then twisted our way through a few poorly lit side streets to find Trevi Fountain.  Whatever regrets I had about walking the streets of Rome after mid-night were immediately forgotten.  The fountain was lit up and Poseidon giving way to the natural force demonstrated in the fountain.  Two statues to his right and left attempted to wrestle bulls out of the water.  We sat and watch romantics kiss and pose for photos in front of the fountain.  For as many statements as the city makes in its architecture makes of man’s conquest over nature, the fountain struck me with its attempts of the power of nature to lash out against the city.  The baroque artistry provided an image that I longed to see in Rome, a movement speaking against the power of man and submiting us all to the raw beauty of that which we cannot conquer.

Our next stop on the mid-night tour were the Spanish steps, further up the Via Corso.  From the top of the steps Carper taught Eddie and me the strategic layout in which the papacy wished to direct pilgrims to the city.  Much of the work of our course has taught us to consider what it was like to live as a Roman.  We have looked at a number of Social Historical dilemmas and discussed in great detail a lot of possibilities to look at a Roman life.

With a couple Wabash brothers, I got a sense for our course that we haven’t been able to tap into.  Can we say what it feels like to be a Roman?  Or in any period of time, what would it have felt like to visit Rome?  In our study we have had various clues from the presentation of spaces, inscriptions, and ancient literature to demonstrate how life might have been lived.  Yet, when we try to find emotion in many ways they remain unspoken, not behind marble, stone, and bronze monuments, but in your heart you feel a sense of endearment to this place.  I think that this question strays a bit from our work as social historians, but nonetheless there is a buzz about this city that has a way of transforming our perceptions.  Whether it is the cheers of prideful Lazio fans or in the roaring flow of the Trevi Fountain, Rome has me feeling more and more like a Romantic.

Maybe we cannot experience what it felt like to be a Roman, but we are sharing in something much greater than ourselves.  We are among those who have sought the city for the scholarship, romance, religion, and other purposes.  As our week comes to a close I find myself wishing that everything I have experienced would remain in my memory, but that would be asking too much. What is sufficient though is to appreciate that we are part of a fellowship that has sought this city from every corner of globe, adored its splendor, and been changed by it.  Maybe a week is all it takes to change the Vittorio Emanuele Monument from a ‘type-writer’ into a ‘wedding-cake’?  Maybe a week is all we need to have our lives moved in such a way that the power of humanity takes hold of our hearts with no intention of letting go.

Una vita non è sufficiente per Roma”- One life is not enough for Rome

Posted in Hartnett in Ancient Rome | Comments Off

Jones ’14 Revels in Exploring Amphitheater

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.

Posted in Hartnett in Ancient Rome | Comments Off