This blog covers everything except sports and gardening, unless we find a really good link about using dead professional bowlers for mulch. The author is a StarTribune columnist, has been passing off fiction and hyperbole as insight since 1997, has run his own website since the Jurassic era of AOL, and was online when today’s college sophomores were a year away from being born. So get off his lawn.
UH OH: The Colosseum is leaning. Don’t everyone jump and down at the same time.
I was at the Colosseum last year. It’s a remarkable place. You can stand in the hallway on the upper level, look out at the ruins of Rome - including a non-ruined Arch of Titus - and reconstruct the city in your mind. If you take the stairs to the cheap seats, you note that Romans weren’t exactly worried about accessibility - the steps are steep and tall, and there aren’t any handrails. I’m guessing you had ten broken legs, minimum, at the end of every game.
The Colosseum was not named for itself, by the way. It was named after the enormous statue that was nearby, a reconfigured statue of the Emperor Nero. It was about 100 feet high, and originally stood at Nero’s enormous palace. Then he was killed for being the weirdest damned Emperor they’d had yet. Well, runner-up with Caligula, maybe. They’d only had six so far. Two out of six: lunatics.
Or was he? A biography published a few years ago tried to rehabilitate Nero somewhat, admitting that he wasn’t exactly Augustus-level material. The reason he was hatred by the historians had much to do with his hobbies, which were beneath the dignity of an Optimate, to say nothing of a Caesar. He thought he was an actor. He sang songs in public. On a lyre.
According to Tacitus, upon hearing news of the fire, Nero returned to Rome to organize a relief effort, which he paid for from his own funds. Nero's contributions to the relief extended to personally taking part in the search for and rescue of victims of the blaze, spending days searching the debris without even his bodyguards. After the fire, Nero opened his palaces to provide shelter for the homeless, and arranged for food supplies to be delivered in order to prevent starvation among the survivors. In the wake of the fire, he made a new urban development plan. Houses after the fire were spaced out, built in brick, and faced by porticos on wide roads.
He also used the rubble to fill in a marsh, and had his palace constructed on the spot. The program of public works drained the treasury, and he devalued the Roman currency while he was at it. His tax policy led to the Vindex revolt, which would result in his own death in AD 68. The most darkly amusing line from the wikipedia entry discusses Nero’s attempts to work up the nerve for suicide: “Losing his nerve, he first begged for one of his companions to set an example by first killing himself.” Oh sure. Just watch. Take notes if you wish.
Nero’s death was the end of the Judeo-Claudian line, and after that? The “Year of the Four Emperors.” What a merry era that was.
Anyway, the statue was eventually moved to the Flavian Amphitheater and rededicated to Sol Invictus, or the Unconquerable Sun. (Not that anyone had tried, but it seemed a safe assumption.) The Colosseum took its name from the Colossus, as noted above.
The Romans worshiped the sun? you ask. The Romans worshipped all sorts of things. Gods went in and out of fashion. Cults galore. Which is why the end of the Star Trek ep “Bread and Circuses” got it wrong. They did worship the Sun. Or pretended to, because the Emperor had a Sun-god thing going, and you’re going to be the one to roll your eyes and say “Zeus last week, Mithras the week before that, and now the Sun. Whatevs.”
Stock photos for which there is no possible use. NO POSSIBLE USE. If there is a God in heaven. I can't imagine what they thought these would illustrate. Warning: one is NSFW.
Happy news for people who feel compelled to google “butt foam ant.” Warning: SFW. Also, ant butt-foam.
Obligatory Olympic Thing:Parents, I’m guessing. Rooting on their kid.