Bullhorns in the Coliseum: In Focus

Liz Walsh ’14 writes to us from Italy, one of a group of students dropping us notes from around the world as they participate in Ripon College’s Liberal Arts In Focus program this summer. Liz, who just graduated as a double-major in biology and English with an educational studies minor, will be submitting journal entries as part of her class “Old Italy, New Italy” co-taught by professor Diane Mockridge and president Zach Messitte.


Today we went to Il Colluseao (the Coliseum) for a guided tour and it was utterly fabulous. We got to see the bottom, where the slaves, animals, and gladiators stayed and travelled to and from the Coliseum to the gladiatorial school. We also got up to the highest level that was structurally strong enough to hold people. It was utterly glorious and I loved it.

There were some very interesting new and old things about it, though. There were bullhorns installed in the walls as an intercom-ish sort of thing; one just doesn’t expect bullhorns to be protruding out of the walls of the Coliseum. A lot of the flashy parts of the Coliseum were looted after the 5th century AD (or CE if you are in America). When traveling Palatine Hill, the Sacred Way, the Forum, and the Coliseum today, it was obvious and sad how much the Christians really came “like a wrecking ball” into power in Rome. They really repurposed a lot of things for their own icons and, sadly, quite a lot of their repurposing was incredibly destructive.

I had my first direct contact with street vendors today and, I am proud to say, I think I came out pretty well. I was able to bargain quite a bit and I was good to go. When I imagine the old market places though, I’m sure there were also a lot of pushy vendors. Our vendors definitely qualified as pushy… It was annoying, but it mostly worked out well.

We had a fabulous and wonderful dinner at Lake Albano. The lake is really gorgeous and it was called “Diana’s Mirror” in the past. It’s interesting to realize that names change so much and try to think about why they might have changed. I really, really enjoyed my time meandering through the two little towns we went to (Niemi and Gondolfo) and I bought more scarves there and more gelato. It was all worth it, although I spent more money than I thought I would.

Italy In Focus Photo Album

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To learn more about the Liberal Arts In Focus program at Ripon College, click here.

To read more news by and about Ripon College students, click here.


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