Italy Part 5 – In Search of Galli

As I reported last night, I spent most of Saturday looking around Roman ruins and museums. Part of this was just me geeking out over the history. I couldn’t quite get to stand on the Rostra, the platform in the Forum where Roman orators made their speeches. It is a bit old and rickety now, and anyway if they let any old visitor stand on it there would soon be nothing left. But I did get very close to it. I also got to see how gargantuan the imperial palaces are, even after 2000 years of wear, being sacked, and being robbed for their stone. And I got to see magnificently over-the-top things like the Hall of Emperors and the Hall of Philosophers in the Capitoline Museum. Rome has so much ancient statuary that they don’t know what to do with it. Some of the rooms in the Capitoline have the air of an antique shop.

What I was mainly looking for, however, was material connected to trans Romans. That’s a much more challenging quest. I didn’t get to see the Temple of Cybele on the Palatine Hill because the Christians demolished it in 394 CE. All we have left are a few artist’s impressions from the time. But I did get fairly close to where it would have stood, and I must say it had a splendid view. It would have been nice if there had been more signage to tell you where various old buildings stood, but the site is huge and I can understand why they concentrate on places that are still (partially) standing.

There is a Temple of Cybele in much better repair out at Ostia, the port of Rome. However, it takes the best part of a day to get out there and see stuff, so I didn’t have time to make that trip.

One thing I did succeed in doing is finding the bust of Elagabalus in the Capitoline Museum (he’s in the Hall of Emperors along with all of the others). The Capitoline is also supposed to have two images of galli (trans women priestesses), but I couldn’t find either of them. They may have been moved out to other museums, or have been put in storage. I don’t have time to find out.

A word of warning if you are visiting Rome. Many of the attractions require you to buy a ticket in advance and some, such as the Villa Medici, will only let you in as part of a timed guided tour. That’s what happens when you have a city that is overrun by tourists. I will know better if I visit again. Also everything is closed on Monday.

Obviously I am a little bit disappointed not to have seen everything I wanted to see, but quite frankly the city is so overwhelming that I don’t care. I have way more than those reasons for wanting to come back.

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