Back Rome - Next 

The head of the world

Rome - SPQR - Copyright by
SPQR, "The Senate and People of Rome"

"The capitol was the head of the world, where the consuls and senators abode to govern the earth": these are the first words in the twelfth century Mirabilia Romae (The Marvels of Rome), the earliest guidebook to ancient Rome. They are echoed in possibly the most famous, certainly the most gripping, modern guide to Rome, written by Georgina Masson in the mid-1960s.

Masson offers her readers concrete advice about how to begin the journey of discovery in the eternal city:

"So let us begin with the Capitol and let us time our first visit, ideally, to coincide with the hour after sunset, when the sky on a fine night is a translucent shade of green and the monuments imperceptibly lit by a master hand are beginning to glow softly in the gathering darkness"

The legends surrounding this hill, Masson reveals, provide "a link between the ancient world and our own"; the experience of walking up the gentle ramp designed by Michelangelo in the hours after sunset has the effect of a Time Machine:

"to Europeans of the Renaissance its history was part and parcel of their own inheritance, and men like Montaigne could truthfully say that they were more familiar with the temples which once stood there than with the existing palaces of their own kings. It was in 1764 that Gibbon was inspired to write his History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and in succeeding centuries it has given its name to the seats of government of the new nations that have come into being."

The Companion Guide to Rome. Georgina Masson. 2006.
[ / Companion Guides]

February 2007
Gerald Knaus

 Back Rome - Next 
  1. Istanbul: Pamuk's City
  2. Istanbul: Swimming across the Bosphorus
  3. Salonika and the Jews
  4. Salonica: Slaves and Trade
  5. Thessalonika: 1923
  6. Ohrid: Rise and Fall
  7. Tornado of Dust - 1944
  8. Awake Romania - 1989
  9. Novi Sad: Nest of the Serbian nation
  10. Nis: War Capital, 1915
  11. Belgrade and the Selenites
  12. 1996: Serbia Calling
  13. Belgrade Train Station - 1964
  14. Srebrenica: Vengeance
  15. Srebrenica: Blood
  16. Srebrenica: July 1995
  17. Mealtime - Interwar years in Travnik
  18. Dayton: The Napkin Shuttle
  19. London Buses in Sarajevo
  20. The Museum and Bosnian Identity
  21. Foča: The Bosniak
  22. Kosovo: The Swiss Front
  23. Mitrovica: 1908
  24. Pristina: Kosovo like Namibia?
  25. City without traffic - Pristina 1966
  26. Durham in Pristina - 1908
  27. Tirana: 1962
  28. Zog's Tirana
  29. The Kotor - Constantinople Express
  30. Kotor and the Montenegrins
  31. The Rabbi of Stolac
  32. Dubrovnik: England, Wine and Wool
  33. Cetinje: Nikola Under the Elm
  34. Cetinje: 1858
  35. Dalmatia: Ships & Grapes
  36. Prophet of Yugoslavism
  37. The head of the world
  38. 1919: Mushrooms and Lies
  39. Sofia: Bulgaria's Jews during WWII
  40. Zamfirovo: Rural livelihoods in the mid-1990s
  41. Kosovo
  42. Romania: 1914
  43. Istanbul: Food and the frugal Turks
  44. Micklagard: Surprising, cosmopolitan Constantinople
  45. Sukhumi: The history of the region became ashes
  46. Black Sea: The coming of steam and rail
  47. Mestrovic: Motherhood and the Victor
  48. Rizvanovici, Bosnia: Gnashing
  49. Down the Danube with Magris: Ruse
  50. From Pristina to Tskhinvali
  51. Serbia, Historians and Hitler's War
  52. Balkan Strongmen: Bulgaria's Zhivkov
  53. Sarajevo: The Siege Within
  54. Turkey: Osman's Dream
  55. Durres 1961: Beijing on Sea
  56. Cetinje: Eggs for the Ladies
  57. Bosnia: Land of Immigrants
  58. Ottoman Croatia
  59. Harem: All the Sultan's Women
  60. Sibiu: Regime Change, European Style
  61. 1929: The Balkans and the Great Crash
  62. Rumeli and how the Balkans became the Balkans
  63. 1948: Stalin, Kosovo and Swallowing Albania
  64. Transforming Turkey: the 1950s
  65. McMafia and the Balkans
  66. 1916: Serbia in Corfu
  67. Princes Amongst Men
  68. Limp Shevardnadze
  69. Knin: War and Suburbia
  70. In the Mountains of Poetry