Thursday, January 3, 2019

Rome Journal: The Fall of Rome

The trailer for Fellini's Roma (1972) declares, "Fellini examines the fall of the Roman Empire, 1931to l972," in other words from the Mussolini era to modernity. 41 years is nowhere close to the l000 years of the original empire. The film which features the costume designer Danilo Donati's famous ecclesiastical fashion sequence which informed the recent "Heavenly Bodies" show at the Met was prescient in other ways. "Rome in Ruins" ran a recent New York Times headline about the uncollected garbage that threatened to inundate the city (NYT, 12/24/18). And though there's no doubt that modern Rome is a little like a puppy mill or one of those farm belt areas which is so fecund that it threatens to inundate the market—in this case the product being tourism, there’s something to be said for the theory Roma  advocates. From an archeological standpoint Rome is a layering. You have ancient Rome and before that the Etruscan Period. If the triumph of Odovocar over Romulus Augustulus marked the end of the Empire, it’s plainly trash that may bring down the current iteration of the myth. But you can’t look at Rome as just ruins or just garbage. It’s a fusion of both.

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