Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Magic Hour at The Roman Forum and the House of the Vestals

Confine yourself to the present.
~Marcus Aurelius

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:
to breathe,
to think,
to enjoy, 
to love.
~Marcus Aurelius

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
of life.
Watch the stars,
and see yourself
running with them.
~Marcus Aurelius

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.
~Marcus Aurelius

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.

Hope you enjoyed a little moment at the Forum and House of the Vestals. If you haven't been there, it's a site to behold, and I feel so blessed to have been there.

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

Hope you have enjoyed a lovely May, my friends!
Blessings and light,

Nothing is more honorable 
than a grateful heart.


donna baker said...

Thanks for the opportunity to see that. I didn't get to go there when I was in Rome. Restoration Hardware is selling sculptural reproductions of torsos, feet etc. of the antiquities.

Anonymous said...

Lucinda I'm loving your Rome posts, and this one is pretty special - how great to have the House of the Vestals to yourself! Hopefully your blog is keeping your visit alive for you - and hopefully you're planning your next trip! We didn't get to the Forum this time round - although I was there on my first visit - so you've inspired me to make definite plans next time round!

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Your watercolour is FABULOUS!!! And this tour, my goodness, this is a part of the world I NEED TO SEE before I am far too old to walk. And Marcus Aurelius's quotes are so classic and timeless. Yes, to be alive, to breathe, to see all that is around us is indeed a great gift! BRAVO for this uplifting post! Many thanks for coming by! Anita

Unknown said...

Stunning photos.

Thank you for your kind words you left on my blog.

shayndel said...

BEautiful post, I can feel your connection to the site and to the feminine beauty , light and energy of the priestesses. THank you for taking us there...
the roses too emanate a fresh and feminine spirit through your lens...

great quotes too, I love the `Meditations` of Marcus Aurelius, not sure if the quotes are from there or other source, anyway, great choices!!

blessings and light to you too,

Don said...

Oh man, lucky you!

Joop Zand said...

Hi Lucinda

A wonderful serie photo's with lovely light and colors..... nice place to be.

Greetings, Joop

Candy said...

Lucinda, I love your blog. These photos are perfect and so are the quotations. What a wonderful experience you've described for us. It seems like what I've written is so trite, but I really, really, really mean it! I hope that makes up for my lack of originality:) Waiting for your next adventure.

Cobalt Violet said...

Thanks so much for all the wonderful comments!!!
You guys are awesome! :)


stunning shots and light lucinda.

Blogger said...

Did you know you can shorten your links with AdFly and make money for every click on your shortened urls.

Blogger said...

Want To Boost Your ClickBank Banner Traffic And Commissions?

Bannerizer made it easy for you to promote ClickBank products by banners, simply visit Bannerizer, and grab the banner codes for your picked ClickBank products or use the Universal ClickBank Banner Rotator to promote all of the ClickBank products.