11/27/2009

Ephesus, Exploring Curetes Street


The marble paved street we follow is a wonder. Modern archeologists have refitted the stones, guessing at their original placement. They are almost perfectly fit and level. One can image how smoothly finished they were two thousand years ago. The marble street is lined with tall columns and each column has a life-size statue before it. Such splendor. It is easy to visualize a majestic procession of ornate chariots followed by maidens scattering rose petals  in honor of Alexander or Anthony and Cleopatra.
The next stop is the Temple of Domitian. It was a two story structure, with shops and warehouses on the first floor and the temple on the second floor. A large relief of the goddess Nike, Goddess of Victory, was found near the temple, but the significance of the work is lost. Usually Nike is associated with winning games, contests or wars. The figure is holding a wreath similar to ones awarded to athletes. Perhaps gladitorial  processions passed by this temple.

Across from it is the Memorial to Memmius, which was a fountain. Richly carved statues form a rectangular structure. Water was not scarce in Ephesus. A wealthy patron by the name of Pollio sponsored the building of a huge aqueduct during the Roman period that carried water to numerous fountains and baths. This would be like Donald Trump offering to rebuild the Brooklyn Bridge at his own expense to win favor with New York resisidents and officials. I guess the modern way is to just create an off shore bank account for people you want to influence.

Midway down the marble street a beautifully sculpted arch and facade of the Temple of Hadrian has been resurrected. Hadrian was Roman Emperor that visited Britain and ordered a wall be constructed across the island to keep out the Scots and give the legions something constructive to do. Our guide adds that they have recently unearthed homes of wealthy patricians and even a couple of high class boarding houses in front of the temple. You might be asking yourself, "Why a temple for an Emperor?"  Roman Emperors were considered gods. To win favor and keep in good standing citizens and officials would build temples to honor the Emperor.

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