one day at a time…
Monday 7 July 2003

Pix of the Day: River to Whom the Romans Pray
MAP: Rome with the Castel Sant'Angelo. CREDITS (left to right 1 then 2-4):
© Paolo Borgognone/Rome-Cam.com © Esko Koskimies/Vedute di Roma
© Paolo Borgognone© Esko Koskimies© Esko Koskimies© Esko Koskimies
I have not the faintest recollection of ever having read in general the Lays of Ancient Rome by Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859), nor more specifically the Horatius lay. When I read the 59th stanza (incorrectly numbered on that web page, according to the Roman Numerals Calculator, and two Bs in 'Babbington' is also suspect) I was dumfounded as I read to discover that it was so familiar to me that I was able to speak along as I read:

"Oh, Tiber! Father Tiber!
To whom the Romans pray,
A Roman's life, a Roman's arms,
Take thou in charge this day!''
So he spake, and speaking sheathed
The good sword by his side,
And with his harness on his back,
Plunged headlong in the tide.

Regular readers will have discerned by now that I am ill educated, have gained only the academic achievements suitable for the class dunce, have a memory like a sieve, and the attention span… where was I going with this? Oh, yes! However, so many similar occurrences have happened lately that I have begun to wonder if I was educated in some parallel existence. Like the employer who said he could increase his profits by sacking the half of his employees who were useless, if only he knew which half, I am also beginning to wonder if in my dotage I might be better served by forgetting half of the information I have accumulated. My big worry is that while small, but random, selections from Macaulay are clearly excess mental baggage, I have yet to discover if I know anything useful, such as how to earn money from the Internet in significantly large quantities to allow me to spend my twilight years in relative comfort and indolence. It is comforting to know that if I do not possess that information, it is clearly evident that nobody else does either!

Today's featured pictures are of Rome and the River Tiber, at the place where the Ponte Sant'Angelo crosses to the river to the Castel Sant'Angelo. The first picture is by Paolo Borgognone, whose Rome-Cam.com has been featured here before. Paolo is currently featuring a photo tour of the Trastevere district of Rome, though content on that page may change before you visit. Castel Sant'Angelo is a former Papal fortress, now a museum, linked to the Vatican by underground passages, but was originally built as Emperor Hadrian's mausoleum. It is also where Puccini's Tosca plunged to her death. In the Classical Era the bridge was known as 'Pons Aelius' or 'Pons Hadrianus'. The statues that line the bridge are by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) who redecorated the bridge with the help of assistants between 1667 and 1671. Pope Clement IX (1667-69) so prized the original angels carved by Bernini that they were never set up on the bridge, but are now in the church of Sant'Andrea delle Fratte in Rome. Many view Bernini as the founder of the Baroque style.

If you click on the last three pictures you will be able to see alternative images of this famous bridge. The drawing is from an engraving by Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778), and the remaining two photographs are by Esko Koskimies from his Pons Aelius page (which has detailed pictures of Bernini's statues), which is part of his comprehensive Vedute di Roma web site. Riverine specialists and fanatics will enjoy the Waters of the City of Rome web site, which is a cartographic history of 2800 years of water infrastructure and urban development that will answer every water query about Rome that has ever kept you awake at nights.

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Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)
"Ah! que la vie est quotidienne."
Oh, what a day-to-day business life is.
'Complainte sur certains ennuis' (1885)