Saturday, February 18th

Palazzo Massimo (Carla)

The Palazzo Massimo is a large museum near the Baths of Diocletian, and Termini, the main train station in Rome. It is a classic, 19th century Italian mansion, converted into an open, 4 storied museum around a courtyard. The main attractions for us were the antique statues, including the famous original Hellenistic bronze Seated Boxer. Any existing Hellenistic bronze statues are of note, as we usually only have the Roman marble copies at hand. The Seated Boxer is especially notable for its extreme realism, typical of the Hellenistic period. Whereas the Classical era artwork presented the human figure in idealized, noble ways, the Hellenistic statue depicts the suffering, dynamic, emotional aspect of the human experience. The boxer is weary, his ears damaged from years of fighting, injuries on his face and hands, and his genitalia are surgically removed, an extremely realistic detail which was common in ancient sporting culture.

On the upper levels, we saw multiple recreated Roman household rooms, and were able to examine the different styles of Roman wall painting, as well as many mosaics. Very striking was the triclinium, painted on a black background. It is a typical example of third style painting, where attenuated columns and karyatids are commonplace, as are small, detailed, fantastical scenes of humans and animals. However, the most notable room on this floor was by far the recreated Garden of Livia. Rescued from Livia’s villa on the Palatine, this room is entirely empty, except for two benches from which we could see the detailed floral frescoes depicting a luscious garden, with fruits and flowers of all seasons in eternal bloom. The shifting lighting make it seem as though days have pass in a matter of minutes.
Capuchin Crypts (Tatum)

On our last day in Italy, we visited the Capuchin Crypts. When we first arrived, we perused the museum filled with relics and artifacts. Afterwards, we descended into the musty and dimly lit burial place of over four thousand monks. Skeletons decorated the walls and fibulae crawled across the ceilings like ivy. The skeletons were separated and strewn throughout and skulls peered at onlookers as if they were the ones examining us. I asked Magis if this was disrespectful since, in modern times, people are reluctant to move bodies from their resting place and disassemble them. But then again, those were different times and circumstances.

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