This week has been an exhausting and exciting addition to my study abroad experience. My parents arrived in Rome on Tuesday, and we will be exploring the city together for the next two weeks. This is their first time travelling outside of the United States, and I am so excited to show them around this incredible city. After spending the entirety of Wednesday recovering from jet lag, they celebrated their arrival with a homemade Italian dinner on Thanksgiving. I had the chance to show off my recently acquired culinary skills, and my mom learned that I am capable of using a kitchen without starting any fires. I took them to the Colosseum and the Roman Forum on Friday, which gave me the opportunity to pretend that I’m a professional tour guide.
Unfortunately, when we returned to our apartments on Friday afternoon I suddenly came down with the worst cold I have had in years. I could not stop sneezing and coughing for most of the weekend. Of course this sickness attacked at the worst possible time, the week before final exams and paper deadlines. I am finally feeling like a human again today (barely), and I have mustered up enough strength to drink some warm tea and work on this blog post. I have a research paper to finish tomorrow, a Latin final to study for, and an amazing city to share with my family, so I refuse to let this cold bring me down. This week I’m thankful for my parents who bought me orange juice, the heater in this apartment, and the cold medicine I brought from home.
On Thursday afternoon, I visited the Galleria Borghese with the two other students in my Latin class and our lovely teacher, Tessa. This semester we have been translating pieces of Book 1 from Livy’s “Ab Urbe Condita” and several famous stories from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The theme of our class is mythology, and we have analyzed our translations of these mythological stories to understand their significance in the Roman world.
Although Latin is not a very large or popular subject, it is certainly a worthwhile topic to study. Reading classical literature in the language in which it was written is such a rewarding experience. In our small class, we spend plenty of time discussing the importance of individual Latin words and trying to understand how complex sentences express ideas. We try to imagine the scenes depicted in the texts and understand the motives of the authors and mythological characters. We have a lot of fun in our little class, and our visit to the Galleria Borghese was great! We went from room to room searching for mythological characters, recognizable gods, and familiar stories from our translations of Ovid’s Metamorphoses.
Before continuing with photos from the Galleria Borghese, I would like to introduce some of the speeches written by my Latin class. On our last quiz, we were asked to write a speech persuading a mythological character to make a certain decision. I wrote a speech convincing Romulus to kill his brother Remus called “In Favor of Fratricide” and my classmates both wrote speeches to Lucretia, a woman who committed suicide after being raped by the son of the last king of Rome. This activity was a fun way to express our opinions on the mythology we have studied so far, and insert our own ideas into the ancient texts. At this point, I would like to share the three speeches with my readers, and we hope that you enjoy them!
To Romulus: his brother Remus is mocking him by jumping over the new city walls.
“Look at Remus over there, teasing you and romping around like a fool. If you cannot control your brother now, then how will you be able to control this city together? This city does not need two leaders, one who ridicules and the other who resents. This city cannot be built on such an unstable foundation. This city will never grow strong if one of its leaders believes it is laughably weak. You must eliminate the problem and erase the precedent that your brother is trying to establish. Kill your brother. Show the world that no one who jumps over your city walls will live to tell the tale!”
To Lucretia: she has just been raped by Sextus Tarquinius and is left alone in her room.
“No part of you is culpable for the rape and nothing about you is less honorable than it was before. In fact, you can continue to be a most admirable wife by encouraging your husband in his seeking revenge promptly, and living to express your gratitude when he returns. Do not add to his suffering (that is, the suffering of learning that his wife has been threatened and desecrated by another man) by making him a widower. You may think it is honorable to kill yourself but, in fact, it is more honorable to endure your pain and be there for your husband.”
“Although what happened to you is truely horrible, your death wil solve nothing. It will only serve to further hurt those who care for you. You have a loving husbund, a caring father, and other close friends which you can rely on. Ask for their help. They will listen. If you seek vengeance, then have your friends join you, and kill the man who destroyed your life. Enter his home in a similar manner and slit his throat as he sleeps. If he threatened you with humiliation, then you should humiliate him. In any case, these are suggestions, not orders. Make of it what you will…”
After writing our speeches on mythological scenes and translating these scenes into English from Latin, it was really rewarding to explore the museum searching for images of Lucretia. These are three of the paintings that we found of Lucretia on the walls of the Galleria Borghese.
Our visit to the Galleria Borghese was one of my favorite site visits of the year, and I was so happy to spend that day with my Latin class looking for various mythological references. The more I learn about Roman religion and Latin literature, the more I understand the classical references that are so prevalent today. The Roman world influences our world in innumerable ways, and studying Classics is a wonderful way to appreciate these influences. Spending a semester in Rome has reminded me that my decision to study Classics was one of the best decisions I’ve made, and I am always learning new things.
I am going to wrap up this blog post, make some more tea, take some nighttime cold medicine, and attempt to sleep. As much as I hate being sick, I will not let this terrible cold keep me from studying and writing during this final week. Thanks for reading this week’s post! Arrivederci!