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Archive for July, 2009

So, like I said before, I had a great time in Naples at the beginning of the month. The best part of Naples, in my opinion, is how easy it is to leave it and see something else. Namely Pompeii and Herculaneum. I was going with a non-Classicist friend and we had a smashing time looking at all the old houses.

Herculaneum and Pompeii are very similar, but also quite different. Herculaneum’s excavations are much smaller, so it’s harder to lose yourself in the idea that you’re back in time. Still, Pompeii’s colours have faded more than Herculaneum’s, so it’s a more vibrant place. Still, it’s all down to personal choice.

The Pompeiian Baths

The Pompeiian Baths

House of the Marine Venus

House of the Marine Venus

 

Mary Beard makes the very good point that Venus looks a bit silly here, but believe it or not, this isn’t the only painting of Venus in this style in the Bay of Naples…

 

 

 

 

Garden of the Fugitives

Garden of the Fugitives

 

From this point, the only things you can see are ancient. Even the vineyard has been planted as it had been in ancient times. The only main difference is that, apart from the ruination, Vesuvius doesn’t have one single peak as it did in antiquity- an explosion blew the top right off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Graffiti in Herculaneum

Graffiti in Herculaneum

 

 

This really shocked me in Herculaneum- modern graffiti seemed to be everywhere.  Message to all modern defacers of antiquity:  I don’t care when you were here, who you’re in love with or where you’re from. If you must write it, write it on the incredibly plentiful amounts of modern paint in the town. *Then* maybe an archaeologist will find it and it will be interesting, rather than just illegal.

Edit: There is, of course, lots of ancient graffiti there as well, but that’s allowed.

 

 

 

 

Venus Kallipygos

Venus Kallipygos

 

Another great feature of Naples is its incredble archaeological museum, with the amazing Farnese collection. It was wonderful to see all these artefacts I’ve written about for years but have never seen in the flesh. This gorgeous lady is Venus Kallipygos, which is Greek for ‘nice bottom’. I love this statue- it’s playful, original and, most importantly, it’s laughing at the viewer.

 

 

 

 

 

I had a great time abroad, with great pizza, wine and company. I might put up more photos later if anyone’s interested!

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A quick post before bed.

I have discovered a few things since graduation:

1. My sleeping timetable is completely broken. Everyone in my house is asleep, but here I am, reading CakeWrecks and playing FreeCell. Good times.
2. The Bay of Naples is beautiful, particularly if you can avoid getting mugged, as I did. Another post for another time.
3. When you don’t study Classics, your country becomes Soviet.

I’m serious about the last one! I’m reading the incredible ‘Child 44’ by Tom Rob Smith, which is set in the USSR in the 1950s, and came across this passage (most important bit in bold):

Secondary School 7- a rectangular building raised on concrete legs- happened to be one of the gems of the State education policy. Much photographed and publicized, it was opened by none other than Nikita Khrushchev, who’d made a speech in the new gymnasium, the floor of which had been waxed to such an extent that his bodyguards struggled not to slip. He’d claimed that education must be tailored to the country’s needs. And what the country needed were highly productive, healthy young scientists, engineers and Olympic gold-medal-winning athletes. The cathedral-sized gymnasium, adjacent to the main building, was wider and deeper than the school itself, equipped with an indoor running track, an array of mats, hoops, rope ladders and springboards, all of which were put to good use by an extra-curricular timetable that included an hour of training every day for every student regardless of age or ability. The implication of both his speech and the design of the school itself had been always very clear to Raisa: the country didn’t need poets, philosophers and priests. It needed productivity that could be measured and quantified, success that could be timed with a stopwatch.

So there you have it. If no one is allowed to do Classics, we’ll all end up in Soviet Russia (where, as we all know, education learns you).

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