Today the FSPers headed out from our cozy Hotel Forum to the busy town of Naples on an early train. Although the public transportation was not too great, we managed to reach the Naples Museum. The reception hall of the museum contained an interesting mix of modern sculpture and those of the Julio-Claudian dynasty (although many parts of the Roman sculptures were reconstructed).
We proceeded to go through some parts of the Museum and see the highlights before Thomas' spectacular presentation on the Alexander Mosaic (originally from a triclinium at the House of the Faun in Pompeii). We saw Roman copies of a scaled-down “Dying Gaul” group from Pergamon. We saw many imperial portraits from the Farnese Collection (displayed at the Museum), one of which was a colossal statue of Emperor Vespasian. We reached an exhibit of sculptures from the Baths of Caracalla; they were colossal in size and impressive in their Late Classical and Hellenistic styles. We saw the famous Roman copy of the “Hercules at Rest,” sculpture. He had completed his last labor, and was holding the golden apples behind his back, while leaning on his club with an expression conveying fatigue. This was not only a great sculpture, but a prime example of Hellenistic exploration of emotion. The FSP also admired the amazing “Farnese Bull” sculptural group, made out of a single block of marble.
We headed upstairs to hear Thomas' presentation on the “Alexander Mosaic,” which was made of opus vermiculatum (i.e. colored stones that formed the individual tesserae). The two central figures were King Darius (on the right) and Alexander (on the left). Alexander's face is not idealized and Darius is in dismay at the loss of the depicted battle by the Persians. Darius' chariot is shown making a sharp turn away from Alexander's charge by his Companion cavalry. Darius' chariot is shown about to crush a fallen nobleman, who is seeing his reflection on a shield. Alexander is shown spearing a Persian nobleman. Thomas provided several theories on the depiction; they included a composite depiction of the entire Persian campaign or individual battles (i.e. Granicus or Gaugamela).
After the presentation, we looked around the incredible mosaic collection (many from houses at both Pompeii and Herculaneum). Then we examined Pompeian wall paintings of primarily 2nd, 3rd, and 4th styles. We saw the famed wall paintings from the Villa of Agrippa Postumus at Boscotrecase.
It was a long day, but full of excitement, despite the fact that many exhibits were closed off. After the museum, half the group returned to Pompeii to explore the ancient city (or relax after a long day) and the other followed Professor Ulrich to explore Naples (and see the duomo).
The group is very excited to finally begin its oral presentations for Pompeii tomorrow.
Photos (and captions) alla Teddy:
“Thea demonstrates her braiding skills on Jin as Thomas has an existential crisis.”
“Brett attempts to take a picture of the Farnese Hercules.”
“Otherwise this stone would seem defaced beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders and would not glisten like a wild beast's fur….. You must change your life.”
“I know what you're thinking: 'This can't possibly be carved from one piece of marble.' But it is. I ain't kiddin ya. It is.”
“Athenian freedom fighters bring a swift end to Tyrant Burgess's reign of terror.”
“Thomas begins his presentation on the Alexander mosaic after powering through his existential crisis: 'You're gonna love this!'l
“The newly deposed tyrant changing her life in front of some beautiful Pompeiian wall painting.”
“Bronze masterpiece 'The Drunken Satyr.' …..'Bartender, I'll have just one more! *hic!*”
“Everyone poses awkwardly amidst the beautiful majolica tile pillars in the cloister of the Monastery of Santa Chiara.”