Monday, February 13

Naples National Archaeological Museum (Magis)

After climbing Vesuvius in the morning and eating fabulous pizza on the Via dei Tribunali (for only 3 or 4 Euros!), we headed to the National Archeological Museum in Naples.

First we looked at some of the marble statues from the Farnese collection, notably a large statue of a weary Hercules with the golden apples in his hand, the oldest known representation of a kneeling Atlas with the world on his shoulders, the story of Dirce and the Bull (the largest known marble from antiquity), and the two free-standing statues of the lovers Harmodius and Aristogeiton who killed the tyrant Hipparchus in 514 BCE, thus opening the way for Athenian democracy. We also looked at some bronzes from the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum including a seated Mercury, a drunken satyr, a bust of the actor Thespis, and two young runners.

Then we headed to the Secret Chamber to view various erotica from Pompeii and Herculaneum including statues, frescoes, and inscriptions. Ask Tatum about the number 157.

We tried to see the wall paintings, but a huge group of French students arrived just before us, so we decided to return later. We never did because jet lag and museum burnout hit us first.

For me, the most exciting part of the museum were the mosaics. The largest is the Alexander mosaic from the House of the Faun in Pompeii, but I loved the famous street musicians, the actors backstage, the cave canem, the Nile River animals, and the birdbath mosaics. These are all art pieces we see in our textbooks all the time, and it was wonderful to be able to look at them right in front of us.

After the museum, we grabbed a coffee and watched the crazy Neopolitans fighting each other in their cars and motor scooters through the streets of the city. It is amazing that there are not multiple accidents every night.

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