Friday, January 24, 2020

Rome Journal: Pyramid Schemes

Pyramid of Cestius (photo:Livioandronico2013)
The Pyramid which served as the tomb for Caius Cestius was completed in 12 B.C. The Romans were naturally knocking on Egypt’s door and the Obelisk built at the Circus Maximus by Augustus is another example of Rome's infatuation with Egyptian culture. It's a preoccupation that continues on in many other venues today. I.M. Pei completed the Pyramid at the Louvre in 1989; despite the chaos of the Middle East there’s never any shortage of tourists travelling to Giza. Actually, the tomb of Caius Cestius was built on more of an angle, apparently modeled on Nubian style structures. However, it, along with the obelisk, demonstrates an eclecticism  and a willingness to deviate from the standard geometric form of the rectangle and the circle which both inform monuments like, for instance, Hadrian’s Tomb. Appropriation is the name of the game. Rome not only set out to conquer the world but to acquire all its inventions and innovations. Sound familiar? Imperial conquest is a two way street. In Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle, which proposes an alternate universe, little bits of Americana become collectors items to the victorious Japanese, but by Constantine's time the Roman Empire was already in thrall to the Christianity it had previously attempted to suppress.

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