A day at the Forum: “stratification and juxtaposition”

On Tuesday, we had an inspiring walking excursion led by Dr. Jeffrey Blanchard, professor of art history and architecture and director of the Cornell Rome program for architecture.

Jeffrey

As we walked, he directed our attention to the various elements within a single fountain, a palace courtyard, the beautiful piazza Campidoglio (designed by Michelangelo), and then a dramatic overview of the Forum.  Rome, he explained is a city of stratification and juxtaposition–a city where the architecture from one era is layered upon another, where marble columns are recycled into new uses, where buildings are joined together in surprising junctures.  Winner of the prestigious Rome prize 30 years ago, he remained in Rome and has made his passion for this city his life work.

We are all a bit in awe of his deep knowledge of the city and its architecture: we regard him, in the tradition of the Roman love of creating countless gods for all occasions, as a minor god.  Turns out, we are not his first Marylhurst class–when the art department came here several years ago, he also lectured to those classes.  Small world–then we ran into him on the bus two days later: he appeared, like Virgil, just when we were uncertain which stop was the right one.

forum1View of the Forum from Capitoline Hill

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arch of septimius severus

                            Arch of Septimius Severus

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A quick lunch after our lecture at a café just above the Forum:

vittoriocafe1Vittoriocafe2.

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Exploring the Forum:Forum2

Forum3

Notice the immense scale, with MU students at the bottom of the photo, looking up into Constantine’s Basilica.

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This medieval church, inserted into a set of Roman columns, exemplifies the process of stratification, juxtaposition, and recycling that is so much a part of Rome.stratification_juxtaposition

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