Loci In Locis

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Loci in Locis is an art and Classics blog that pairs artwork from sites in Rome with a thematically-linked Latin or Greek text. Posts aim to replicate on a small scale the context-based learning experience provided by Paideia’s Living Latin in Rome programs on a bimonthly basis. By marrying text, place, and image, we are able to form close and personal relationships with the classics in a way we might not be able to through text alone.

Loci in Locis is written and run by Paideia’s Rome Fellows. This year's Rome Fellows are: Tyler Dobbs, Gabriel Kuhl, Amanda Reeves, and Rebecca Williams. The blog is edited by Meaghan Carley, Senior Rome Fellow.

La Vecchia Ebbra
October 15, 2016

When my eyes fell upon the statue of the Vecchia Ebbra in the Capitoline Museum, I was so taken by the extreme anguish in the woman’s expression, that the realization of her drunkenness came to me secondarily.  Set in the same gallery as the ideal figures of Leda, Hercules, and Eros, this 2nd century Roman copy of a Hellenistic original is striking.  Crows feet spread from the corners of both eyes, deep wrinkles carve folds into her cheeks, and two front teeth are visible from her gaping, heavenward mouth.  Her collar bones and shoulder blades protrude noticeably, and the skin of her chest clings loosely to a sickly frame.  She wears cloak and chiton, both of which have slipped down revealing her shoulders.  Her fancy clothing along with her pierced ears and the two rings on her left hand reveal that she is a woman of wealth and status.  She sits cross-legged clasping a large vessel of wine, the Greek lagynos, decorated with the characteristic grapes and vines of Dionysus.

Rostral Columns' Prowess
June 01, 2016

The blood dispersed in the water.  Above it floated snapped ropes and mangled boards, flotsam, under a sky no longer Latin but Roman.  For here, off the coast of Antium, the Roman Republicans have displayed their growing might against the native population and have won--death to the Volsci, life and eventual empire to the SPQR.  


Not all of the wreckage will find its way to the bottom of the sea.  Indeed, the part of the ship most sinkable was the one most coveted for trophies of and to triumph: the rostrum.  This bronze beak--Was it always bronze? Who knows?--affixed to the prow of ancient ships was used to ram the sides of enemy boats and send their crews to the deep, and after the battle was concluded, they were used the ram the victory down the throats of the victi.  From these conquered Latin ships came the Rostra we still admire in the Roman Forum, named for the prows affixed to its front--making ship of state metaphors too easy to deploy.  (There have been many iterations of the Rostra, but this need not concern us here; once the illusion of objects in the Forum is broken, one finds that most of the buildings in it are far newer and, often, far more reconstructed, with varying degrees of invention, than faith and love of ancient Rome can suffer without some disappointment.)


An Uptown Girl Meets a Downtown Archangel: The Story of Mary, Michael, and the Plague of 590
May 18, 2016

Many Roman landmarks have hidden connections to others, waiting to be discovered and appreciated by those who know where to look.  Before Piazza del Popolo’s obelisk welcomed pilgrims from the north making their first entry into Rome, it welcomed spectators to the games at the Circus Maximus.  The man who gave us the beauty of Piazza Navona, Pope Innocent X Pamphili, seems to have been the model for Satan in a Guido Reni painting across town in the church of Santa Maria della Concezione.  Augustus famously dedicated altars to Peace in the Campus Martius and to his adopted father Julius Caesar in the Forum, but legend has it that he also dedicated one to Christ on the Capitoline, which today lies within the church of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli (more on that in a blog post to come!).  Today, we’ll explore a connection between two of Rome’s historically most visible and visited sites: Castel Sant’Angelo and Santa Maria Maggiore.  

An Immaculate Column
May 03, 2016


Around the corner from the Spanish Steps, a few paces from the madness of Audrey Hepburn’s quintessential Roman spot, stands a marble monument topped by a tall, slender column. Always noticed for its height, yet not often closely examined, the Colonna dell’Immacolata is a monument that is particularly Roman in its composition: an ancient column found in the late Renaissance, atop a Baroque base, meant to memorialize a 19th century dogma of the Catholic church that had been debated since the medieval period.

I say particularly Roman because, to me, Rome is an amalgam of this multitude of time periods; Rome is layers of ancient, medieval, renaissance, baroque--jumbled in together, not necessarily in perfect, clear chronological order.

Rome's Sort-of-Secret Gardens
April 05, 2016


As much as Rome was a city of marble temples, basilicae, and fora — and to some less-than-Augustan extent still is — it was also a city of gardens.  Indeed, the Roman name for the Pincian Hill, collis hortulorum, might be easily adapted to describe the whole city: colles septem hortulorum, aut urbs hortulorum.  Unfortunately, the city of herbs, flowers, and grass has suffered as much as the marmoreal one, and many of the great gardens of ancient Rome, not to mention those formed in the Renaissance by the wealthiest of Rome's patron families, have withered or been unforgivably uprooted (let us not even mention the dreadful subsequent history of gardens built-over).