Thursday, December 18, 2014

December 18, 2014: Horses in Rome Advent Calendar

Today is the first day of my Christmas Holiday. I do not return to school until January 7th, 2015!

These topiary horses aer in the front garden of Ambrit International School where I work.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

December 17, 2014: Horses in Rome Advent Calendar

The Lion Attacking a Horse is an emblem of triumph and defeat. Representing a terrified stallion mauled by a savage beast, the marble sculpture is dated to the early Hellenistic period (late fourth century B.C.), when Greek sculptors began to produce naturalistic portrayals of intense emotion and physical exertion.

The sculpture probably came to Rome as a trophy from the wars with ancient Greece and it was originally in the Circus Maximus until the stadium was abandoned about 550 AD.
There is documentation that by 1300 The Lion Attaching a Horse came to be on the staircase of the Palazzo Senatorio on the Capitoline Hill as a symbol for the city of Rome and a link to the city's glorious past. 
After the bronze she-wolf replaced The Lion Attacking a Horse as the icon of Rome it has been on display in various locations on the Capitoline Hill. Today it is exhibited adjacent to the original Marcus Aurelio statue in the Capitoline Museums.
(The Lion Attacking a Horse has left Rome only once in 2,000 years for a special exhibition at the Getty Villa in Malibu in 2012. This is a link to a 3- minute video about how it was shown at the Getty.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

December 16, 2014: Horses in Rome Advent Calendar

Horses from the Arch of Titus

The Arch of Titus is a 1st-century monument located on the Via Sacra in the Roman Forum. It was constructed in 82 AD by the Roman Emperor Domitian to commemorate the victories of his older brother Titus, including the conquest of Judea in 70 AD.

An interesting note (tomorrow is the first night of Hanukkah):
"For centuries, Jews avoided the Arch of Titus, refusing to walk under it and thus to give honor to Titus. The Arch symbolized the debasement of Judaism and the beginning of our woes. This situation was reinforced by the Church, for which the Arch came to symbolize the transfer of Divine authority from Jerusalem to the Church of Rome, and with it, the Divine punishment imposed upon the Jews for rejecting Jesus. Things began to change in the modern world. From the nineteenth century on, Jews came to see the Arch’s Menorah in a much more positive light, as a symbol for Judaism. For Jewish traditionalists and Zionists, its unique form symbolized a hope for national restoration in the Land of Israel. The only “archaeologically accurate” representation of the Temple vessels then known, the Arch was reimagined as a Jewish treasure and a link to a glorious past. Jews reproduced the Arch of Titus Menorah within synagogues and many other communal contexts. After long deliberation, in 1949, the Arch of Titus Menorah was chosen as the symbol for the new State of Israel. Bringing the Menorah “home,” at least figuratively, Israeli authors and artists saw the Menorah as a metaphor for the entire Jewish people, and its reappropriation as Israel’s national symbol as part of the “ingathering of exiles” that the new State saw as its mission." - Dr. Steven Fine, Yeshiva University, New York

Monday, December 15, 2014

December 15, 2014: Horses in Rome Advent Calendar

Horses in Church

On the right side of the apse of St. Paul's Within the Walls Episcopal Church, in the mosaic designed by the pre-Raphaelite artist Sir Edward Burne-Jones, are horses and warriors with faces recognisable in 1872.

Second from the left is Garibaldi, fourth from the left is Abraham Lincoln, and the foot soldier bears the likeness of Thomas Rooke who completed the mosaics after Burne-Jones death.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

December 14, 2104: Horses in Rome Advent Calendar

The Quadrigas

In Piazza Venezia, atop the monument to Victor Emmanuel II, are the "quadrigas," chariots driven by four horses. Winged Victory statues seem to be soaring over the city. They are the highest points of the monument designed in 1885and completed in 1925. Today you can take a glass elevator to the Terrace of the Quadrigas for magnificent views of Rome. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

December 13, 2014: Horses in Rome Advent Calendar

There are fanciful architectural details on many of the buildings in Garbatella, the neighbourhood where I live in Rome. This medallion with horses is an example.

Friday, December 12, 2014

December 12, 2014: Horses in Rome Advent Calendar

There is an equestrian monument and obelisk in front of the Quirinal Palace, built between the 16th and 18th centuries as the Pope's residence. After 1870 it was occupied by the Kings of Italy and it is now the official residence of the President of the Republic of Italy.

According to tradition, these statues (Roman copies of 5th-century BC Greek originals) represent the "Horse Tamers," the twins Castor and Pollux, Greek heroes the ancient Romans worshipped as protectors of Rome. (Recent interpretations from medieval documents suggest that they are two versions of a single subject: Alexander the Great taming his horse Bucephalus.)