27 December 2000 – Rome
Saw a double herm of Epicurus and Diogenes the Cynic at the Museo Capitolino, which pleased me much in my soul.
At the Palazzo dei Conservatori, saw a herm of Alcibiades, which I thought particularly appropriate and a Roman statue of a toga’d man holding a scroll, whose expression was wonderful, though ineffable.
Later — Looking out over the city, a faint bluster in the air. The ruins, though sunlit, had a bleak familiarity. Curious to think of the personalities – Octavian, Domitian, et al. – who once crowded this now-barren spot. Flowers creep amongst the marble as children pry at bricks and mortar, searching for a souvenir.
Atop the Palatine, in the Farnese Gardens, oranges still clung to the trees and fountains bubbled in the winter light.
That is naturally a better reflection of my humor on that particular day than an apt description of the ancient remains.
Addendum: I found this quotation later. It expresses far more eloquently than I have done something of my experience of Rome:
My cappuccino was served, and for a moment I felt that having achieved this distinction constituted the supreme victory of my life. I surveyed the scene and immediately saw my mistake…
(2001.100, p. 68)