The Colosseum

I don't like ruins. I avoid them. I was practically dragged to them in Spain. I do however enjoy history. I just avoid natural history museums. Well at least the stuffed animals and bones part. Stuff like that isn't relatable to me. I prefer relatable history. I like ancient relics and folk art. Think those Mexican art galleries that have metates. I love seeing them and knowing that was the original food processor. I can relate and retrace the steps from then to now. In Rome, there is a rich history lesson in relatable things like humanity, architecture, culture and religion. There is living folk art and relics still in use. I'm sure most tourists don't care about that sort of stuff. They don't imagine walking in ancient footsteps. They don't align with the cause and effect. They don't care to ask themselves how is this apart of me and others like me today. So as much as everyone else cares to just walk The Colosseum taking pictures and telling a friend. I much preferred walking the well curated displays and halls telling the complete story. Surely I could have walked in the blood of thousands but wouldn't have had an understanding. I may have came away with a typical response to the things I don't like. Instead, I took away the loveliness of the gathering. The idea of it all. There is the grandeur of the place. Knowing that everyone from emperor to commoner came to see. Thousands upon thousands of people sat there watching. Everyone playing at morality with thumbs up and thumbs down.

Above all there was the party. Yes, Romans are the original tailgaters. In celebration of the affair there was food. There was free food and people brought food. They BBQ'd in the stands! They found misshapen bowls to serve game time snacks. There were fragments of chicken bones, clam shells and other various fossils pre hot dogs and pretzels. You can actually view the system of pulleys that carried caged tigers and bears  to their doom as well as large dishes of watermelon, grapes and dates up to patrons. There were trap doors and awning systems. An animal would appear, a gladiator would fall, food would be distributed and shade applied. The prestige of it all.

Now the saddest part is this culture was developed while watching men and animals fight to the death. Then somewhere in between there was the inventiveness of what we take for granted today. The defining of theater and theatrics. The somewhat open seating at no costs to those who came. The skyboxes for those high and mighty. The many doors and gates for the living to enter and the dead to exit. As morbid as it all sounds can you imagine being dressed in plum, white and gold sauntering around and eating wangz? Children sneaking below for autographs - loose teeth, torn fabric, fallen helmets? How did they ever get the food inside with no Tupperware or coolers to be had? Imagine eating and being sprayed with blood or having a wounded gladiator stare at you? I just can't bring myself to imagine that. However, I saw the matate in it. I saw these fragments of life as we live it today and it all related. Our massive concerts and basketball games. Our court side seating and business class flights. Our celebrities and martyrs. Our big game cookouts and debutante balls. Our video games and IMAX movies. Our showmanship and parades. Our 22 inch rims and Jimmy Choo shoes. Our graduations and funerals.

In essence, I loved going to The Colosseum. I stood in the lines wrapped around the hundreds of doors. I stood in the sand and under the marble of thousands of years. I drank from wells that we all waited to drink from - speaking every language, in every color. We looked at those fossilized bowls and nibbled shells and smiled at each other in human pride. As gory as it all was it just sets the tone much like Hemingway aligned with bullfighting. If you can get past the glory and revel in the foundation of it all you relate. It sort of fuels you knowing this is how so much began. I felt like it was the best exhibition of humanity at its finest yet rawest to the core. Those other displays we go see - art, music etc all refined and coming from this very platform. The reason we have stadiums today. The reason we have ticketing and seating options. The reason we crave entertainment and show. So yeah The Colosseum was it for me. I felt like it was the ultimate day trip and well worth it. A trip back in time, inside and out.

No comments: