Room For All the Gods

This is the Pantheon in Rome and was built about 2000 years ago. The name means “to all the gods” and the structure was built by people who worshipped a multitude of gods and spirits. Much later in its history, the Pantheon became a Christian church but today it is a tourist attraction and a burial place.* And, if you ask me, it is an architectural marvel – even after 2000 years.

If it looks amazing today, imagine walking into this space when it was decorated with statues of Roman deities and with the coffered dome covered in brilliant gold leaf. There is no doubt that this is my favorite ancient building. And, in case you are wanting to see more, I have a previous post in this blog extolling the Pantheon. Finally, if you like to make comparisons, check out this spectacular Chicago structure and discuss.

*Italian Kings Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I; the Great Renaissance artist Raphael (also a Ninja Turtle)

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4 thoughts

  1. This really is an awe-inspiring building, with the mathematical accuracy of the architecture and sheer size of the place in relation to what surrounds it. I was fortunate enough to be visiting during a short cloud-burst in the middle of a warm day. I couldn’t capture it satisfactorily on camera, but the sun-lit rain streaming down through the oculus was a sight to see.

  2. Here are the opening lines of DEATH IN ROME by Wolfgang Koeppen:
    “Once upon a time, this city was home to gods, now there’s only Raphael in the Pantheon, a demigod, a darling of Apollo’s, but the corpses that joined him later are a sorry bunch, a cardinal of dubious merit, a couple of monarchs and their purblind generals, high-flying civil servants, scholars that made it into the reference books, artists of academic distinction. Who gives a damn about them? The tour group stand in the ancient vaults, and gawp up at the light falling on them like rain through the only window, the circular opening in the cupola that was once covered with bronze tiles. is it golden rain? Danae succumbs to the approaches of Thomas cook and the Italian Tourist Board; but without much enthusiasm. She won’t lift her skirts to receive the god into her. Perseus won’t be born. Medusa gets to keep her head and moves into a swish apartment. And what about great Jupiter? Is he here in our midst? Could he be the old fellow in the Amex office, or the rep for the German-European Travel Agency? Or has he been banned to the edge of town somewhere, is he in the asylum enduring the questions of nosy psychiatrists, or languishing in the state’s prisons? They’ve installed a she-wolf under the Capitol, a sick and depressed animal, not up to suckling Romulus and Remus. The faces of the tourists look pasty in the light of the Pantheon. Where is the baker that will knead them, where is the oven that will give them a bit of color?”

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