4 July 2014
I spent several years in Europe and especially Rome and it was the source of my interest in the ancient world, so when I heard of a course of 4x2-hour sessions at the ANU Classics Museum, I rang immediately to book. I had to join U3A to do it, but that just opened a range of fascinating opportunities, including the Jazz Appreciation Group and some others you’ll hear of soon enough. I’ve now attended 2 sessions, hearing of coins, technologies, statues and portraiture, writing and the arts. We’ve dated coins and held spearheads and felt ancient glazes and examined slouching statues. We’ve learnt something of the history of the museum and gathered some context for the arrival of some items. The next sessions are on life in Rome and Athens. The Rome session takes advantage of a model of the city that’s at centre of the Museum. It’s a small version of a much grander model in EUR, but a pleasure for me to locate existing streets and marvel at the small hills (do these minor mounds make 7 hills?). Via del Corso looks unchanged after 2000 years. Teatro di Marcello and the wonderfully preserved Temple of Hercules Victor and the Pantheon still sit there, as do the Colosseum, the Palatine, the Forum and the Diocletian baths. And Ben-Hur’s (now shortened) Circo Massimo. This all excites me but no secret there. We’d see it all as a bit short on human rights, despite the Roman Republic and the Athenian democracy, given the slaves and no feminism. But it’s fascinating and glorious and very different from our life yet with many inevitable human similarities. Truly fascinating. The ANU Classics Museum is free and open during business hours in the AD Hope building. It’s no match for a decent museum in Rome, of course, but it’s still a local treasure.
U3A runs a course of four sessions over 4 weeks on classical Rome and Athens and introducing the collections of the ANU Classics Museum.