Year of Grace, Day 162. Traces of ancient Rome

Just when I thought summer was settling in at last, we’re back to colder weather and rain. The rain I don’t mind at all as the plants love it – after a few days of steady gentle rain, they put on so much growth. And I have to admit, flowers tend to last longer when it’s cooler. The pink roses, the old-fashioned quartered ones, are ready to bloom and perhaps because of the humidity from the rain, their sweet perfume hovers delicately, suffusing the air all around them. What joy to be near these beauties surrounded by such gorgeous scent!

The other day we spent a few hours in Xanten, an ancient Roman city close to Düsseldorf. Unearthed some decades ago, it is extensive, with an ampitheatre and temple, and many reminders of everyday life as it was then. A few craftspeople’s workshops and living quarters had been reconstructed over the foundations of the original (left in their excavated state with ramps for viewers). There was a building devoted to Roman games and amusements – and it was good to see children in twos or threes happily engaged on the boards – a sight rarely to be seen in this age of electronic games and solitary absorption. A group of tents had been set up on the grounds, and history enthusiasts clad in garments of the time injected life into their displays of tools, weaponry, armour, and other household goods with explanations and demonstrations. There were even children dressed to match. Please click on the photos below for a larger view.

And while sitting down and resting on the lawns that had once been a bustling Roman colony, I was reminded of Shelley’s poem about Ozymandias. Two thousand years ago, this had been a place to which the power of Rome had extended, and of those ancient structures of marble and brick and stone, very little remained. And two thousand years from now, what of our cities, the skyscrapers, the malls, the shops? There was a slight dig at our disposable culture in one of the displays: Latin inscriptions on stone are still legible thousands of years on, as compared to the average lifetime of a USB stick or hard drive.

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