Sunday the 2nd we took a bit of time to rest. Our nephew Tom, from whom we received lots of good info about Europe, said he liked the big cities, but they made him tired. At first I didn’t know what he meant. Now I do! We felt it in Florence, but especially here in Rome. The crowds are so massive and you’re pressed together into small walking corridors (because the streets are narrow and the cars are crazy!) and it’s hot. If you get claustrophobic, this isn’t the place to be. We’re also in what is called “shoulder season” for tourism; I can’t even imagine how crowded it must be during the height of tourist season!
Monday the 3rd was our last full day in Rome and we were scheduled for the Colosseum. On our way to the Colosseum site, we visited the Jewish Ghetto. I never realized that persecution of the Jews predated the persecution of Christians! In fact, I didn’t realize how rampant Jewish persecution has been throughout history. So often we focus on the holocaust and horrors of Nazi treatment of the Jews through their “final solution,” and thus don’t look much further. But indeed Romans became incredibly intolerant and ultimately very abusive to the Jews – even before the Christian persecutions. At first, the Jews were not only tolerated, but celebrated because they’d helped Julius Caesar win some important battles. But when the Jews refused to pay homage to the Roman gods, the troubles began. Until about 68 AD, it was the Jews more than the Christians that were hunted and persecuted by the Romans. In fact, Roman leaders hoped that the new “sect of Judaism,” Christianity, would weaken Judaism so until about 60 AD the Christians were actually protected. Then Nero. And Diocletian. And all hell broke loose. The following photos are current Jewish ghetto sights.
Sherry’s doing a full write-up on the Colosseum so I won’t bore you with duplicate photos. I will post a couple pics that caused me to shudder . . . I was appalled at the rank cruelty Roman citizenry inflicted upon those they deemed “unfit to live.” I was also surprised at the variety of activities that took place in the Colosseum. Beyond the gladiator games, they also hosted dramas (plays), including lots of comedic and satire performances. I also didn’t realize that part of the genius of the Colosseum was that it included a massive awning (second photo) that covered most of the upper decks, protecting them from the sun. That was important because a day at the Colosseum was long! Started early and ended late, with the main events not beginning until the later afternoons. It also included a giant underground section where animals and prisoners were housed, along with all the workers who prepared the sets for the various dramas and acts. This third photo shows the underground areas; the floor of the Colosseum would have laid directly on top of these lower interior walls.
Along with our tickets into the Colosseum were access to the ruins of the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. The Roman architecture is truly amazing and recognizing their claim on most of the then-known world is unbelievable.