At Rhegium, Italy, on the Way to Rome

April 3, 2017

Acts 28 narrates the Apostle Paul’s voyage to Rome, traveling as a prisoner. Having wintered at Malta due to a ship wreck, the journey continued: “We put in at Syracuse and stayed there three days. From there we cast off and arrived at Rhegium, and after one day a south wind sprang up and on the second day we came to Puteoli” (vv.12-13).

At Rhegium, Italy, looking across Strait of Messina to Sicily. Paul’s ship made a brief stop here. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible has this information on Rhegium:

Important Italian harbor visited by Paul in his journey to Rome (Acts 28:13). From Malta, Paul’s ship traveled north to the Sicilian capital of Syracuse; then in the absence of a south wind they may have tacked into the Strait of Messina, finding good harbor at Rhegium. Another south wind carried them from Rhegium to Puteoli in the Bay of Naples—the ship’s destination, since Puteoli was southern Italy’s chief port, receiving the great Alexandrian grain vessels.

The Strait of Messina was well known to every Roman navigator. Passage here was necessary in order to gain access to Italy’s west coast; but its obstacles were numerous. Obstructions, shallows, and the narrow width (c. seven miles from Rhegium to Messina) forced ships to stay at Rhegium until an adequate south wind arose.

The name “Rhegium” (modern Reggio or Reggio di Calabria) may have come from a Greek verb, meaning “to tear” or “rend.” Sicily, it seemed, had been “torn from the mainland” and Rhegium was the nearest Italian port. (Vol. 2, p. 1857).

Rhegium, on the “toe” of the “boot” of Italy, across from the island of Sicily. BibleAtlas.org.

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At Rome

March 16, 2016

Tonight I thought I’d share a group photo taken today in front of the Arch of Constantine. The Colosseum can be seen at right.

Group photo at Colosseum in Rome.

Group photo at Colosseum in Rome.

There is 3,000 years of history in Rome. More later. Thanks for following our blog.

 


Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius

August 26, 2014

We continue to share some photos and info from our recent trip to Italy. Capitoline Hill, one of the seven hills of Rome, was the citadel of the earliest Romans. The Campdoglio Piazza, created by Michelangelo in 1536-1546, encompasses Capitoline Hill.

At the center of the piazza is an equestrian (depicting horseback riding) statue of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, (r. AD 161-180).

Emperor Marcus Aurelius at Campdoglio Piazza in Rome. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Emperor Marcus Aurelius at Campdoglio Piazza in Rome. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Wikipedia has this info:

The statue was erected in 175 CE. Its original location is debated: the Roman Forum and Piazza Colonna (where the Column of Marcus Aurelius stands) have been proposed.

Although there were many equestrian imperial statues, they rarely survived because it was practice to melt down bronze statues for reuse as coin or new sculptures in the late empire. Statues were also destroyed because medieval Christians thought that they were pagan idols. The statue of Marcus Aurelius was not melted down because in the Middle Ages it was incorrectly thought to portray the first Christian Emperor Constantine. Indeed, it is the only fully surviving bronze statue of a pre-Christian Roman emperor.

In the medieval era it was one of the few Roman statues to remain on public view. In the 8th century it stood in the Lateran Palace in Rome, from where it was relocated in 1538 to the Piazza del Campidoglio (Capitoline Hill) during Michelangelo’s redesign of the Hill. Though he disagreed with its central positioning, he designed a special pedestal for it. The original is on display in the Palazzo dei Conservatori of the Musei Capitolini, while a replica has replaced it in the square.

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In Rome: Fountain of Four Rivers

August 25, 2014

Piazza Navona is a city square in Rome, Italy, built on the site of the Stadium of Emperor Domitian (AD 81-96). The piazza follows the layout of the open space of the stadium. One of the attractions here is the Fountain of Four Rivers.

Fountain of Four Rivers. Photo by Nancy Picogna.

Fountain of Four Rivers. Photo by Nancy Picogna.

The fountain, a work of the famous artist Bernini, depicts the four “river gods.” Wikipedia: “Collectively, they represent four major rivers of the four continents through which papal authority had spread: the Nile representing Africa, the Danube representing Europe, the Ganges representing Asia, and the Río de la Plata representing America.”

Info from http://www.rome.info/bernini/fountain-four-rivers/

Rome’s love affair with fountains goes back to antiquity, whilst the city today can boast a collection of public fountains that has no parallel to any other city in the world! In Baroque Rome, fountains were seen as a reflection of the generosity associated with papal families.

The play of water over marble, no matter how humble the design, provided local Romans with entertainments and a much needed, secure supply of water which could easily be carried home. The popes saw this art form as an excellent PR exercise and exploited the concept to the advantage of their standing with the local people. Pope, Innocent X Pamphilj (reigned 1644-1655) eventually commissioned Gian Lorenzo Bernini to sculpt Rome’s greatest achievement in this genre, the Fountain of the Four Rivers, located in Piazza Navona, the ancient stadium of the Emperor Domitian and the site of the Pamphilj family palace. As early as 1647 Innocent had decided to erect an obelisk as a central ornament for the piazza in tandem with a fountain, as he methodically cleaned up and beautified what was one of Rome’s most squalid neighbourhoods!

A competition was announced for design submissions by the leading artists of the day, with the exception of the gifted Bernini, who at the time was out of favor because of his close association with the previous papal regime, the Barberini. 

The greatest artist of the day was not to be deterred however, arranging for the model of his fountain design to be seen by the Pope, upon which Innocent immediately ordered Bernini to begin the execution of his design, reputedly saying afterwards, “that the only way to avoid employing Bernini was not to see his designs.”

The Fountain of the Four Rivers depicts gods of the four great rivers in the four continents as then recognized by the Renaissance geographers: the Nile in Africa, the Ganges in Asia, the Danube in Europe and the Río de la Plata in America. 

Each location is further enhanced by animals and plants of that country. The Ganges carries a long oar, representing the river’s navigability. The Nile’s head is draped with a loose piece of cloth, meaning that no one at that time knew exactly where the Nile’s source was. The Danube touches the Papal coat of arms, since it is the largest river closest to Rome. And the Río de la Plata is sitting on a pile of coins, a symbol of the riches America might offer to Europe (the word plata means silver in Spanish). 

Each River God is semi-prostrate, in awe of the central tower, epitomized by the slender Egyptian obelisk (built for the Roman Serapeum in AD 81), symbolizing Papal power and surmounted by the Pamphilj symbol of the dove. 

The Fountain of the Four rivers is a theater in the round, whose leading actor is the movement and sound of water splashing over and cascading down a mountain of travertine marble. The masterpiece was finally unveiled to the world on June 12, 1651, to joyous celebration and the inevitable criticisms of the day. Then as today the Fountain of the Four Rivers continues to amaze and entertain visitors to Rome. Bernini triumphs yet again!

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Goddess Artemis at Vatican Museum

August 23, 2014

There is a statue of the goddess Artemis housed in the Vatican Museum.

Goddess Artemis in Vatican Museum. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Goddess Artemis in Vatican Museum. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

This is the goddess mentioned in Acts 19, in the context of Paul’s preaching efforts at Ephesus:

About that time there occurred no small disturbance concerning the Way. For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, was bringing no little business to the craftsmen; these he gathered together with the workmen of similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that our prosperity depends upon this business. You see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable number of people, saying that gods made with hands are no gods at all. Not only is there danger that this trade of ours fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis be regarded as worthless and that she whom all of Asia and the world worship will even be dethroned from her magnificence.” When they heard this and were filled with rage, they began crying out, saying, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” (verses 23-28).

The ISBE has this info:

She may, however, be identified with the Cybele of the Phrygians whose name she also bore, and with several other deities who were worshipped under different names in various parts of the Orient. In Cappadocia she was known as Ma; to the Syrians as Atargatis or Mylitta; among the Phoenicians as Astarte, a name which appears among the Assyrians as Ishtar; the modern name Esther is derived from it. The same goddess seems to have been worshipped by the Hittites, for a female deity is sculptured on the rocks at Yazili Kaya, near the Hittite city of Boghazkeui. It may be shown ultimately that the various goddesses of Syria and Asia Minor all owe their origin to the earlier Assyrian or Babylonian Ishtar, the goddess of love, whose chief attributes they possessed. The several forms and names under which she appears axe due to the varying developments in different regions.

Tradition says that Diana was born in the woods near Ephesus, where her temple was built, when her image of wood (possibly ebony; Pliny, NH, xvi. 40; Acts 19:35) fell from the sky. Also according to tradition the city which was later called Ephesus was founded by the Amazons, and Diana or Cybele was the deity of those half-mythical people. Later when Ephesus fell into the possession of the Greeks, Greek civilization partly supplanted the Asiatic, and in that city the two civilizations were blended together. The Greek name of Artemis was given to the Asiatic goddess, and many of the Greek colonists represented her on their coins as Greek. Her images and forms of worship remained more Asiatic than Greek. Her earliest statues were figures crudely carved in wood. Later when she was represented in stone and metals, she bore upon her head a mural headdress, representing a fortified city wall; from it, drapery hung upon each side of her face to her shoulders. The upper part of her body was completely covered with rows of breasts to signify that she was the mother of all life. The lower arms were extended. The lower part of the body resembled a rough block, as if her legs had been wrapped up in cloth like those of an Egyptian mummy. In later times her Greek followers represented her with stags or lions standing at her sides. The most renowned of her statues stood on the platform before the entrance to her temple in Ephesus. As the statues indicate, she impersonated the reproductive powers of men and of animals and of all other life.

We have previously referenced Artemis in posts here, here, here and here.

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Michelangelo’s Moses

August 22, 2014

One of the innumerable attractions in Rome is Michelangelo’s Moses, housed in the Church of San Pietro in Vincoli.

Church of San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Church of San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

The main attraction inside is the statue of Moses, sculpted by Italian High Renaissance artist Michelangelo Buonarroti, creating this work in the years 1513-1515. This sculpture was originally commissioned in 1505 by Pope Julius II for his tomb.

Michelangelo's Moses, 1513-1515. In Rome. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Michelangelo’s Moses, 1513-1515. In Rome. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Moses is here depicted as seated, holding the two tablets of stone. Some suggest the intensity portrayed is meant to represent his holy anger when he cast down the stones upon being confronted with Israel’s idolatry.

Moses is seen here with horns on his head. This is based on a rendering in the Vulgate, the Latin translation of the Bible in use during Michelangelo’s time. The text of our English Standard Version renders Exodus 34:29, which speaks of Moses coming down from Mt. Sinai after talking with God, says, “When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.” The Latin Vulgate renders the Hebrew word qaran, “to shine” as “horned.” Hence the horns on Michelangelo’s Moses.

The statue stands 8 feet, 4 inches and is made of solid marble.

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Forum of Julius Caesar

August 20, 2014

During our recent tour of Italy we were able to take some photos of the Forum of Julius Caesar, the first of the Imperial Forums. Construction was begun by Caesar in 54 BC (Rome: Oxford Archaeological Guides). This is the location where the senate would meet before him. It was also here that Caesar built the Temple of Venus Genitrix.

The temple (Fig. 62) was introduced to Caesar’s original plan at a slightly later stage. It was vowed by Caesar the night before the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC, during his civil war with Pompey, to win over Pompey’s favoured goddess Venus Victrix, though when inaugurated in 46 BC (while still unfinished) it actually honoured her as Venus Genetrix, ‘universal mother’, from which Julius Caesar’s family (and thus all the emperors from Augustus to Nero) claimed descent (ibid.)

Forum of Julius Caesar. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Forum of Julius Caesar. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

The three Corinthians columns were added at the time of Hadrian.