The Glory that was Rome

The Roman Empire is one of my favorite historical periods–culturally, artistically, and politically. Though I haven’t [yet] written any historical fiction set in that time period, I’ve been studying it since I was in grade school, and over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to visit many Roman sites in England, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Greece, and Turkey.

What surprises me is how often Roman buildings are still used, in one form or another. Many Roman theaters and amphitheaters throughout Europe and Anatolia still host plays, operas, and concerts (the perfect acoustics in the theaters mean that you don’t need microphones or sound systems); the throne room of Emperor Constantine in Trier, Germany, has been in continuous use since it was built, and is still used as a church; several Roman amphitheaters in southern France still host bullfights (a blood sport that your average Roman citizen would no doubt have enjoyed).

On a more personal level, there are many old European houses and fortifications built on Roman foundations. An ex-boyfriend of mine used to complain about the bureaucratic difficulties of trying to renovate or even repair his family’s home near Heidelberg in Germany. The house was very old, and a registered historical monument, built on the foundations of a Roman villa and with Roman-era cellars still used by the family. ┬áHe was uninterested in my enthusiasm for visiting Roman ruins, telling me, “I live in that old rubble! Why would I want to see more of it!”

I think that might have been the beginning of the end of our relationship. *g*

A friend of mine, a schoolteacher, recently asked me to put together a few slideshows for her sixth-grade class. I thought I’d share them here, as well, over the next couple of weeks.

The first slideshow focuses on public buildings–chariot-racing stadiums, public baths, shopping districts, and (the class favorite, as it turned out) public latrines.

Roman public architecture

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