|Come, see and conquer ancient Rome|
|http://www.sina.com.cn 2006/10/31 22:37 英语周报大学版|
Come, see and conquer ancient Rome
By Rick Steves 翻译：郑睿
Two thousand years ago, the word “Rome” meant civilization itself. Today, Rome is still the center of the ancient world, littered with evocative remains. These ancient Roman sights — including the Colosseum and the Forum — bring history to life. And after braving Rome’s tourist crowds, you may wind up channeling Julius Caesar: “Veni, vidi, visa.” (“I came, I saw, I charged.”)
For most of us, “Rome” is a world of chariots, centurions and trumpet fanfares. Seeing the Colosseum — a 2,000-year-old building that sends engineers’ hearts a-flutter — gives you the chance to play gladiator. The remarkable ancient design and construction is a marvel and the Colosseum still gets a unanimous thumbs-up. You can tour it today.
The Colosseum says a lot about the Romans. They were great engineers, not artists, and the building is more functional than beautiful. Inside, the games began with a few warm-up acts (familiar to today’s reality-television fans): watching dogs bloody themselves attacking porcupines, female gladiators fighting each other, or a dwarf battling a one-legged man. (There’s no record of Christians being persecuted here; the Colosseum was used as a sports stadium.) The main event was the gladiators. Some wielded swords, protected only with a shield and a heavy helmet. Others represented fishermen, with a net to snare opponents and a trident to spear them. The victors were rewarded like our modern sports stars are, with fan clubs, great wealth and possibly even product endorsements.
A different kind of fighting took place at the nearby Roman Forum, ancient Rome’s birthplace and civic center, where Senate politicians waged their political battles. Anything important that happened in ancient Rome happened here — it was once the most important piece of real estate in Western civilization. Today it’s free and open to visitors.
The original Forum was a huge courtyard surrounded by law courts, triumphal arches and temple. One temple was dedicated to Julius Caesar; after becoming a dictator, he was assassinated and his body was burned here. One of his successors, the notorious Emperor Caligula — known for torturing enemies, stealing senators’ wives and parking his chariot in handicap spaces — lived on the hill overlooking the Forum.
The Vestal Virgins lived at the Forum as well. Chosen from noble families before they reached the age of 10, the six Vestal Virgins were honored and revered by the Romans. They even had their own box on the 50?yard line opposite the emperor’s in the Colosseum. The home of the Vestals — who took a vow of chastity — was the model both architecturally and sexually for medieval convents and monasteries to come.
The Basilica of Constantine is the most impressive structure at the Forum. Giant arches still on site represent only one-third of the original basilica, a mammoth hall of justice. The hall itself was as long as a football field, lavishly furnished with statues, fountains, colorful inlaid marble and a gilded bronze ceiling. No doubt about it, the Romans built monuments on a more epic scale than any previous Europeans, wowing their “barbarian” neighbors.
At its peak, Rome ruled an empire of 54 million people, stretching from Scotland to Africa and from Spain to Turkey. When Rome eventually fell in 476 — due to corruption, disease and enemies at its borders — Europe plunged into a thousand years of darkness.
But Rome lived on in the Catholic Church. Christianity, the state religion of Rome’s last generations, adopted Rome’s hierarchy. Emperors became popes (both were called “Pontifex Maximus”), senators became bishops, orators became priests and basilicas became churches. Rome is truly the Eternal City.
两千年前，“罗马”这个词本身就意味着文明。时至今日，罗马依然是古代的世界中心，那里散布的断壁残垣使人浮想联翩。这些古老的罗马名胜，包括古罗马圆形竞技场与古罗马广场，使历史重现。随同游览的人群直面伟大的罗马城后，你也许已完成了与尤利乌斯·恺撒的心灵交汇：“Veni， vidi，visa. ”(“我来了，我看见了，我征服了。”)
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