So, I noticed a little sore in my mouth about a month ago, but really thought that I had nicked myself while brushing or flossing or eating. It was barely even sore so I blew it off and went to Europe. (At this point, my mother is probably rolling her eyes and thinking, "You're just like your father!!!!!!" But I consider that to be a compliment. Sorry, Mom!) Towards the end of our trip, two bottom molars started hurting. But I am a grinder and hadn't worn my mouthguard for two nights, so I assumed my teeth hurt from grinding. (At this point, my mama is probably rolling her eyes, shaking her head, and shouting, "YOU ARE JUST LIKE YOUR FATHER!!!!") After we came home, we all came down with a nasty cold. So when my ear starting hurting, I assumed it was due to the cold. (At this point, my mom is probably hyperventilating and thinking "Did you learn NOTHING from me???") But on Saturday, I got hit with a bad headache and my lower jaw started hurting. By Monday, I FINALLY realized that something not right was going on in my head. And I don't mean the usual old-ladyness, forgetfulness, and lack of synapses. Ha ha. My dentist's office was closed on Monday, but I was able to go yesterday. Diagnosis? One abscessed tooth which is causing my molars, jaw, and ear to KILL ME. Treatment? Antibiotics for two weeks, a root canal on Thursday, and a crown in the not too distant future. Unfortunately, I cannot take any good pain meds because I am deathly allergic to narcotics, and Tylenol and Motrin aren't doing a thing. So in the meantime, I can't really eat or drink much, I'm cranky and miserable, and I have no one to blame but myself for being stubborn. And stupid. And plain old foolish. But since I'm stuck on the couch, I have time for working on all of our trip photos and blogging. I'm also watching a lot of the Olympics which totally rocks.
Let's go back to Italy, shall we? Rick and I have been to Rome before (we went to Italy for the 2006 Winter Olympics and boy oh boy was that an awesome experience), and we had taken a tour of the Forum and Colosseum. Our guide was a history graduate student and was really great. The best part was that we didn't need to stand in line to get tickets or to enter the sites, and that literally saved hours. We decided to repeat the tour this time. Our guide was an archeaology grad student and he was beyond awesome! This tour was even better than the last one. Oh, but first I should mention breakfast. We headed straight to the Forum to make sure we wouldn't be late. Then we stopped inside a small cafe across the street for breakfast. We ordered cappuccinos and chocolate croissants. Boy were they yummalish! So good, in fact, that we basically had the same exact breakfast every morning for the rest of the trip, though this was the prettiest cappuccino that I received. And yes, it tasted as good as it looked.
But we made a HUGE mistake on our first outing: we sat down at a table. Five cappuccinos, three oj's, and six croissants later we were out 70 euros. That equals @ $86. Yup, $86 for a light breakfast. That hurt! We saw people standing at the counter eating (or taking it to go), so that's what we did for the next 11days. Wanna guess how much it cost to do that? A mere 14 euros, which is @ $17. Same exact breakfast for @ $70 less. Unbeleivable! But check out Emma's face. She thought that the first croissant (and all of the subsequent ones) was worth $86. Of course, she has no idea how much money $86 is. At least she wasn't freaked out by the price like the rest of us were. Oh, the advantages of being a kid!
Anyway, after that very expensive little lesson, we headed back to the Forum. I love this picture of Keaton and Emma holding hands. It's so sweet that Emma and her uncles adore one another so much. It makes this old mama's heart happy. My little boys have grown into wonderful men. Sigh.
The Forum is basically laid out in a large rectangle. Here are the highlights as well as some brief descriptions (most of which I am paraphrasing from the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Rome and Wikipedia, so don't think I'm all smart and geniusy 'cause I'm sooooooooooo not). And just FYI, many of the structures were built in reference to Greek mythology.
The Basilica Julia originally housed four Roman civil law courts. Julius Caesar began it's construction in BC 54 and it was completed several years later after his death. It was burned and rebuilt several times throughout the next 300 years. In ancient Rome, a basilica served as a public building. Today, the term basilica refers primarily to churches. I'm not sure why I didn't get a good photo of this basilica, but here's one with Rick and Emma walking alongside it.
And here's a seagull admiring the Forum. This was one of Emma's favorite things in the Forum. Although she was extremely well behaved during this tour, she must have been bored out of her mind. It's amazing how the promise of gelato and the appearance of this seagull kept her happy.
This is the Column of Phoacas. Built in AD 608, this was the last structure built in the Forum. It was dedicated to Phocas the Byzantine emperor who had recently visited Rome and gave the Pantheon to the pope. Part of the inscription reads, "To the best, most clement and pious ruler, our Lord Phocas, the perpetual emperor, crowned by God." Two years later, Phocas was tortured and dismembered. I've read quite a bit of Roman history and have concluded that it stank to live during ancient Rome. Unhappy endings weren't uncommon.
This structure is all that remains from the Temple of Vespasian and Titus, the deified father and son duo, and dates back to @ AD 87.
The Temple of Castor and Pollux (twin brothers fathered by Zeus) was originally built circa BC 500 to commemorate their victory in the Battle of Lake Regillus. It was later rebuilt after a fire in AD 6 and was used as a bank of sorts, housing the Roman office of weights and measures.
This is Santi Luca e Martina which is situated between the Roman Forum and the Forum of Caesar (which I'll address another day). It was built in AD 625 and was dedicated to Saint Martina.
The original Curia stood where Santi Luca e Martina now stands, but it burned down in BC 52. Julius Caesar built a replacement structure within the boundaries of the Forum, very close to the original site. The replacement burned down and was rebuilt in AD 3. For some reason I neglected to take a photo of it, so here's one I downloaded from the internet.
The interior of this building now serves as a museum for some of its original contents.
As you can imagine, Emma wasn't overly excited about all of these ancient ruins. So she and I took a short break outside finding rocks that made decent seats. She decided that we'd found a pretty rock garden.
It even came with its own inhabitants. Have I mentioned that Emma LOVES animals? Reptiles included. We spent about 15 minutes watching this little guy sun himself. So far, Emma's favorite things about Rome were: 1) gelato; 2) the mouse at the Pantheon; 3) the seagull in Basilica Julia; and 4) this "really A DOR A BLE lizard!"
After the A DOR A BLE lizard ran off, we caught up to the fam at the Temple of Saturn built in @ BC 500. (Okay, some experts assert that the years should be written as 500 BC (years then era), while others think they should be written as BC 500 (era then years). Potatoe potatoe. Tomato tomato. Hmm. I guess you can't hear my pronunciation of those words, but you know what I mean. Anyway, Greek mythology affirms that Saturn ruled during an era of great peace and prosperity during which slavery and war did not occur. Consequently, Saturn was a favorite god among the poor and enslaved. The Saturnalia was an annual, week-long festival dedicated to Saturn. The most interesting aspect of the Saturnalia was that the poor and enslaved ate and drank with those above them in the social order, including their oppressors and masters. This temple was destroyed multiple times; this structure dates to BC 42.
This photo shows the Temple of Saturn as well as the Arch of Septimius Severus.
The Arch of Septimius Severus was erected in AD 203 in honor of the 10th anniversary of Septimius Severus' accession to the throne. This arch is so beautiful! Its carvings commemorate Septimius Severus' victories in what is now Arabia, Iran, and Iraq. This arch was originally inscribed to Septimius Severus and his sons, Geta and Caracalla. But after Septimus Severus died, Caracalla killed Geta and removed Geta's name from the arch. Hmm. Doesn't sound like much had changed since Cain and Abel, does it? Nonetheless, the arch is striking.
After being assassinated, Julius Caesar's funeral pyre was located at this site.
The next two photos show what remains of the Temple of Vesta and the House of the Vestal Virgins. There is an interesting story tied to these structures. This is a direct quote from the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Rome, page 84: "The cult of the Vestals was one of the oldest in Rome, and centered on six vestal virgins, who were required to keep alight the sacred flame of Vesta, the goddess of the hearth. This responsibility was originally entrusted to the daughters of the king, but it then passed to the Vestals, the only group of women priests in Rome. It was no easy task, as the flame was easily blown out. Any Vestal who allowed the flame to die was whipped by the high priest (Pontifex Maximus) and dismissed. The girls, who had to belong to noble families, were selected when they were between 6 and 10 years old. They served for 30 years: the first ten were spent learning their duties, the next ten performing them and the final ten teaching novices. They enjoyed high status and financial security, but had to remain virgins. The penalty for transgressing was to be buried alive, although only ten Vestals are recorded as ever having suffered this fate. The men concerned were whipped to death. When Vestals retired, they were free to live the rest of their lives as ordinary citizens. If they wished they could marry, but few ever did."
The Temple of Romulus is one of the best preserved pagan temples in Rome. It has served as a vestibule since AD 6.
This building is called the Santa Francesa Romana. Apparently, Francesa is the patron saint of motorists. I didn't even know that there is a patron saint of motorists. At any rate, I found this to be another interesting story, so here is another quote from the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Rome, this time from page 87: "Every year on March 9 devout Roman drivers try to park as close as possible to this Baroque church with a Romanesque bell tower. The aim of their pilgrimage is to have their vehicles blessed by Santa Francesa Romana, the patron saint of motorists. During the 15th century, Francesa of Trastevere founded a society of pious women devoted to helping the less fortunate. After her canonization in 1608 the church, originally named Santa Maria Nova, was rededicated to Francesa. The most curious sight inside the church is a flagstone with what are said to be the imprints of saints Peter and Paul. A magician, Simon Magus, decided to prove that his powers were superior to those of the Apostles by levitating above the Forum. As Simon was in mid-air, Peter and Paul fell to their knees and prayed fervently for God to humble them, and Simon immediately plummeted to his death."
Next to the Santa Francesa Romana stands the remains of the Basilica of Constanine and Maxentius, the largest structure within the Forum. It's construction was ordered by Emperor Maxentius in AD 308. Emperor Constantine later dethroned Maxentius and oversaw the construction. This building was originally used for business and justice functions.
The east end of the Forum is marked by the Arch of Titus. In AD 81, Emperor Domitian honored his brother, Titus, and father, Vespasian. The carvings on this arch portray their victory over the Jews as well as the spoils of war collected by Roman soldiers from the Temple of Jerusalem.
Okay, I think that's enough Roman history for today. Besides, my upper jaw is now hurting so I'd best rest. Never thought I'd look forward to a root canal, but I can't wait.