Confine yourself to the present.
After spending the afternoon on the Palatine Hill, the tourists like me, who were hanging on to every last moment, were herded out through the Roman Forum. It too, was bathed in the beautiful light of magic hour. What a lovely exit!
When you arise in the morning,
think of what a privilege it is to be alive:
Temple of Antonius and Faustina, later the Church of San Lorenzo in Miranda
I turned to my left and noticed something. The House of the Vestals was open. It had been closed off, when I'd been there two years before. I had leaned over a fence, to take a photo, but hadn't been able to get in there! Now it was open, and I took my shot!
I hurried in and began taking in the space. What an unexpected score!
Vestals, were priestesses of Vesta, the goddess of the hearth, in ancient Roman religion. There were 6 priestesses and if you were going to become one, you entered into the house between the age of 6 and 10, and you had to be cute ... and committed.
The Vestal Virgins had a huge responsibility to keep the fire burning, in the Temple of Vesta (Otherwise things could go very wrong for the Republic, and later, the Empire. Rome's security depended on it!)
They were involved in all sorts of state rituals, off limits to the male priests. If you were a Vestal and the fire at the Temple went out, you would be scourged, and if you had sex, you'd be buried alive. Being a Vestal was serious business, in Ancient Rome.
But really, what a beautiful spot!
Excavated in the late 1800s, the palace had had 50 rooms and had been a 3 story structure.
There is something so peaceful and lovely about this space. With its lovely feminine sculptures of the priestesses, and its pink roses and lovely ponds ... if I could have stayed for hours, I would have. Fortunately, I didn't have to keep any fires burning.
Dwell on the beauty
Watch the stars,
and see yourself
running with them.
At the present day, too, it is a general belief,
that our Vestal virgins have the power, by uttering a certain prayer,
to arrest the, flight of runaway slaves, and to rivet them to the spot,
provided they have not gone beyond the precincts of the City.
If then these opinions be once received as truth,
and if it be admitted that the gods do listen to certain prayers,
or are influenced by set forms of words,
we are bound to conclude in the affirmative upon the whole question.
~ Pliny the Elder
Book 28, Natural History
If you have a garden
and a library,
you have everything you need.
After about 15 minutes, I was spotted by the Forum workers. I feigned surprise that it was time to leave. "Oh, really? Oh ... O.K. ... " I, very slowly, made my way out ... as if walking in molassas.
I was so happy, I'd had finally had my moment, in the House of the Vestals. I felt so lucky. I was there, with maybe only 2 other people around, doing as I was ... soaking up every last second!
I felt strangely connected to that space, in a way that I haven't, in other ancient Roman sites.
The Happiness of your life
depends upon the quality
of your thoughts.
I watched my step, as I made my way across the very uneven Via Sacra, with it's rather large stones ... booby traps, really.
A last look at the Roman Forum ....
And an interesting display, outside the gates...
As I go through my photos, to upload onto this blog, I start really missing Rome. At the same time, I remember certain things, and the feeling of being there, like it was only weeks ago. It's been 5 months! I can't believe it.
For more info about the House of the Vestals, click here and here.
Here is a 2 minute video on the House of Vestals ...
And here is a 6 1/2 minute video with great shots of the Roman Forum.
I did this pastel/watercolor last year, from a photo I had taken, at the Roman Forum, on the previous trip. In what was the old Senate building, they had all these marvelous sculptures from antiquity. I was particularly taken with this one.
Watercolor and Pastel on Wallace Paper, 2012