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Get Ready for Rome

English, Cultural, 1 season, 103 episodes, 1 day, 8 hours, 13 minutes
About
Get Ready for Rome helps the thoughtful traveler prepare to visit the Eternal City by introducing the city’s main monuments and the sometimes acrimonious dialogue they imply. Add value to your visit to Rome by getting to know in advance the ideas and history that stand behind St. Peter’s Basilica, the Colosseum, the Sistine Chapel and other familiar but put poorly understood sites of one of the world’s greatest cities.
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107. The Two Temples of the Forum Boarium

The two temples in the Forum Boarium as illustrations of Rome’s cultural flux over the ages.
4/5/202414 minutes, 39 seconds
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The Forum Boarium and Rome's Mythical Prehistory

There is scant evidence regarding the prehistory of Rome, but the Romans supplied this defect by handing down and codifying engaging myths. Today we visit the Forum Boarium, where Rome’s distant ancestors met and began to form the people from whom the Romans would descend, or so at least Livy and Virgil tell us.
3/27/202417 minutes, 26 seconds
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105. The Making of Modern Italy

Today is March 17, the anniversary of the proclamation of the birth or making of modern Italy. It seems strange to me that this anniversay is largely overlooked, so I invite listeners to think for a moment about its meaning.
3/17/202413 minutes, 39 seconds
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104. Where are we?

If the Sistine Chapel reflected the moral vision of Christian Rome, is there any such coherent view in Modern Rome of how we humans should understand our purpose and live our lives? 
5/2/202317 minutes, 59 seconds
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103. A Pope's View of a Modern Problem

Popes have frequently attacked the moral, political, and intellectual developments that gave birth to modern Italy. On the occasion of the death of Pope Benedict, we today review his controversial Regensburg Address to see what it says about modern Rome.
1/17/202321 minutes, 55 seconds
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102. The Secularism of Modern Rome

We return today to the "secular" or non-religious character of modern Rome in order to see more clearly how much the Rome of the People has changed from the Rome of the Popes.
12/29/202222 minutes, 11 seconds
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101. Michelangelo's Last Judgment

Today we introduce Michelangelo's "Last Judgment," his vast fresco painted on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel.
12/15/202223 minutes, 55 seconds
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100. The Four Corners of Michelangelo's Sistine Ceiling

The four Pendentives of Michelangelo's Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel represent four different dramatic stories from the Old Testament. What are these stories, and what do they teach?
12/1/202224 minutes, 20 seconds
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99. The Subjects Represented on Michelangelo's Sistine Ceiling

We know that Michelangelo's painting of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was an extraordinary achievement, but what subjects does he represent and what teaching do they convey?
11/17/202224 minutes, 11 seconds
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98. The Design of the Sistine Ceiling

Michelangelo used painted architecture and numerous nudes to divide the Sistine Chapel ceiling into separate panels and give it a complex design. Today we summarize the elaborate arrangement he came up with.
11/3/202223 minutes, 20 seconds
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97. Botticelli’s Facing Frescoes in the Sistine Chapel

Michelangelo dominates the Sistine Chapel, but the chapel's walls feature twelve frescoes by the previous generation of great Florentine artists. We look at two by Botticelli as an introduction to all twelve.
10/20/202221 minutes, 12 seconds
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96. Reintroducing the Sistine Chapel

We return for a second introduction to the Sistine Chapel and outline some of the main challenges Michelangelo had to overcome in painting the ceiling.
10/7/202221 minutes, 22 seconds
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95. The Overlooked Side Walls of the Sistine Chapel

This episode introduces the twelve frescoes on the side walls of the Sistine Chapel, which invite a comparison between the lives and laws of Moses and Jesus.
7/14/202220 minutes, 41 seconds
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94. Introducing the Sistine Chapel

We today make a first visit to the Sistine Chapel and look generally at the three different waves of Renaissance frescoes that decorated it. Two of these are by Michelangelo.
6/30/202221 minutes, 44 seconds
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93. The Disappearance of Ancient Rome (Part II Lanciani)

The difficulty of seeing Ancient Rome is that not much of it exists. The distinguished archeologist Rodolfo Lanciani documents this, and today we compare his ways of explaining its disappearance with those of Edward Gibbon.
6/16/202222 minutes, 46 seconds
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92. D-Day and the Liberation of Rome, June 1944

American troops liberated Rome from German occupation just 2 days before D-Day. What made it possible, and why did the liberation occur when it did?
6/7/202224 minutes, 27 seconds
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91. The Destruction of Ancient Rome (Part I Gibbon)

We have taken an introductory look at the reasons Paganism was replaced Christianity, but why have so many of the magnificent buildings the pagans built simply disappeared? Was it simply the work of time?  We begin today with Gibbon's answer to this question.
6/2/202221 minutes, 31 seconds
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90. Edward Gibbon on the Destruction of Paganism

We today consider Gibbon’s explanation of how the Christians of Constantine’s century advanced their faith by taking active measures against paganism. As he makes his case, Gibbon also extends his unflattering portrait of the followers of the new faith, perhaps to weaken their successors in his own day.
5/19/202222 minutes, 14 seconds
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89. Edward Gibbon on the Christianization of Rome

Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire advances five causes for the early Christians' triumph over their pagan and Hebrew rivals.  This podcast discusses them.
5/5/202225 minutes, 16 seconds
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88. Constantine and the Christianization of Rome

After noting the contradictory ways Constantine is remembered in Roman art and architecture, we turn to the main policies of this first Christian Emperor.
4/21/202224 minutes, 54 seconds
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87. Trailer: Season 2 of Get Ready for Rome

This short podcast reviews our goals and announces the beginning of our second season on April 21. The subject will be Rome, Constantine, and the Christianization of the Roman Empire.
3/31/202216 minutes, 35 seconds
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86. Looking Ahead at Get Ready for Rome

I today announce that I've begun taking a break that I hope will also help me get ready for a new season of podcasts, and I summarize the topics and issues that lie ahead.
11/12/202122 minutes, 50 seconds
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85. A Lesson from Venice

Travel can be educational, as our many study abroad programs affirm, but my recent return to Venice got me wondering whether it can also be misleading.
10/26/202121 minutes, 27 seconds
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84. Five Little Lessons from my Recent Return to Rome Mini Pod

This short Mini Pod makes five points based on a recent trip to Rome and towns in northern Italy.
10/21/202112 minutes, 3 seconds
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83. On Returning from Rome, Part II

In this second report on my return from three weeks in Italy, I consider some evidence suggesting Rome is as postmodern as it is modern.
10/19/202122 minutes, 33 seconds
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82. Stepping Outside of Central Rome

Today we venture beyond the central core of Rome to survey the most important sites on Rome’s periphery.
10/14/202113 minutes, 25 seconds
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81. On Returning from Rome

I've just returned from a three-week trip to Italy, and I here begin a retrospective look at our travels, which were not much affected by COVID.
10/12/202121 minutes, 36 seconds
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80. Getting Ready for the Vatican and Trastevere

Today we survey the main sites to visit in Trastevere and in the area around the Vatican, an important step in preparing for a visit.
10/7/202111 minutes, 46 seconds
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79. Exploring Rome's Campus Martius

Centered on the Pantheon and Piazza Navona, the Campus Martius is for good reason Rome’s most popular zone. Today we note its main sites to visit.
9/30/202114 minutes, 5 seconds
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78. Three More Hills! Mini Pod

Today we review the sites on the Quirinal, Viminal, and Esquiline Hills, which are not so much hills as ridges that meet in the area of the Termini Train Station. They offer a rich mix of Ancient, Christian, and Modern monuments.
9/23/202112 minutes, 37 seconds
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77. Getting to know the “Capitoline Zone” of Rome

Today we inventory the main sites in the area near the Capitoline Hill, including the Forum and the Colosseum. This is an essential first step toward choosing what is most important to visit in this zone of Rome.
9/16/20218 minutes, 12 seconds
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76. Planning a Visit to Rome

I offer here a few thoughts on how to plan a visit to Rome, from places to stay to the need to decide what sites you want to visit.
9/9/20219 minutes, 50 seconds
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75. Navigating Rome Mini Pod

Having a big picture in mind helps you find your way around Rome. I offer one here consisting of a Fixed Point, Four Roads, and Five Zones.  
9/2/202113 minutes, 8 seconds
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74. Raphael’s Hall of Constantine: History, Myth, or Propaganda?

We return to the Hall of Constantine, one of the four Raphael Rooms in the Vatican Museums. Its main frescoes show crucial episodes in the life of the Emperor Constantine, but did they ever happen?
8/24/202121 minutes, 40 seconds
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73. Introducing Raphael's Hall of Constantine

After an overview of the three Raphael Rooms that followed the Stanza della Segnatura, we focus today on the Hall or Sala of Constantine, the first Christian Emperor.
8/17/202120 minutes, 7 seconds
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72. On Leaving Raphael's Stanza della Segnatura

We devoted a couple of Mini Pods to the greatest of the Raphael Rooms, but what about the others? This overview should help get us ready for the Room of Constantine, coming up next.
8/12/202115 minutes, 1 second
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71. A Dispute in Raphael's Stanza della Segnatura?

Raphael's famous "School of Athens" is in the Stanza della Segnatura in the Vatican, but what else is in this room, and are its several parts brought into a harmonious whole?
8/5/202113 minutes, 45 seconds
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70. A Return Visit to Raphael's "School of Athens"

While the beauty of Raphael's School of Athens is widely appreciated, we today probe the controversial idea behind it.
7/29/202112 minutes, 30 seconds
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69. Of Frescoes and a Schedule Change Mini Pod

The Vatican Museums can boast the world's most beautiful frescoes, but just what is a fresco?
7/22/202111 minutes, 59 seconds
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68. Introducing Raphael's "School of Athens"

We begin our look inside the Vatican Museums with an introduction to the deservedly most famous fresco of the four Raphael Rooms. In the background, I wonder whether modern universities are still moved by the ideal it represents.
7/20/202122 minutes, 24 seconds
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67. Of Monks, Friars, and Monasteries Mini Pod

Friars are not monks, and the Catholic Church includes many different sub-groups or orders. Does this matter?
7/15/20219 minutes, 3 seconds
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66, Team Della Rovere and the Vatican Museums

The Warrior Pope was also the first patron of the Vatican Museums. Why would a pope want to make public the nude statues of pagan artists and the books of pagan thinkers?
7/13/202117 minutes, 21 seconds
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65. Pope Julius II: Pro et Contra Mini Pod

We here take a quick look at the moral questions raised by Pope Julius II's outrageous conduct.
7/8/20218 minutes, 18 seconds
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64. St Peter in Chains and Moses in Marble

We make a second trip to the Basilica of St. Peter in Chains, this time to focus on Michelangelo's sculpted Funeral Monument to Pope Julius II.
7/6/202122 minutes, 22 seconds
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63. Big Questions and a Little Map Mini Pod

This Mini Pod reviews the big questions that always lurk in the background of this podcast series and also introduces a new interactive map.
7/1/20216 minutes, 20 seconds
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62. Culture Wars in Rome

We today review the conflicts that divide Ancient, Christian, and Modern Rome, with special attention to the various monuments used by Modern Rome in its struggle to bury the Rome of the Popes. Can we find, notwithstanding these many quarrels, something identifiable as Western Civilization?
6/29/202119 minutes, 52 seconds
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61. Michelangelo, the Warrior Pope, and St. Peter in Chains

We move from one basilica devoted to St. Peter to another, and this one requires that we get to know better the greatest sculptor of the Renaissance and a pope who wore armor into battle and also promoted the finest art of the Roman Renaissance.
6/22/202122 minutes, 14 seconds
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60. A War of Ideas in the Vatican Necropolis

Today we investigate two tombs under St. Peter's Basilica, one of a saint, the other of a sinner, or so at least the saint would say. But this sinner defends himself.
6/15/202119 minutes, 52 seconds
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59. Augustus’s Transformation of the Roman Forum

We have already examined five of Augustus's major building project in Rome, but we have not yet considered how he changed the beating heart of Ancient Rome, the Forum. Today we do.
6/8/202121 minutes, 55 seconds
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58. Mussolini's Celebrations of Empire

One way Mussolini tried to make Italians proud of their nation was by acquiring an empire in East Africa. After conquering Ethiopia, he brought an obelisk back to Rome and likened himself to the Ancient Romans. Today we review Mussolini and the monuments celebrating the imperial efforts of modern Italy.
6/1/202121 minutes, 31 seconds
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57. A Visit to the Tombs Buried by St. Peter's Basilica

When Constantine built the first St. Peter’s Basilica, he buried a burial ground that was not excavated for over 1,500 years. It included tombs of both Pagans and Christians, perhaps including that of St. Peter himself. We visit it today.
5/25/202123 minutes, 10 seconds
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56. Augustus and the Obelisks of Rome

Augustus and his imperial successors erected Egyptian obelisks in ancient Rome, and 13 of them are landmarks in the city today, though no one of them stands in its original location. Why were they so important for Augustus and his successors?
5/18/202119 minutes, 40 seconds
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55. Mussolini’s Recasting of Garibaldi on the Janiculum Hill

1932 was the tenth anniversary of the Fascist March on Rome and the Fiftieth Anniversary of the death of Giuseppe Garibaldi, the most lionized leader of the movement to unite Italy under liberal political principles. As a major part of his attempt to associate his Fascist Blackshirts with Garibaldi’s patriotic Redshirts, Mussolini added a statue of Anita Garibaldi to the Janiculum Hill and hosted three days of celebrations as her mortal remains were interred in the base of her statue. But would Garibaldi really have thought the Fascists were good representatives of his principles?
5/11/202123 minutes
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54. Historical Vertigo in Rome Mini Pod

From week to week, my topics jump from Ancient Rome, to Christian Rome, to Modern Rome. This rapid leaping across the centuries may lead to a sort of "historical vertigo," so why don't I just march through Rome in chronological order?
5/6/202110 minutes, 28 seconds
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53. Rome's First Christians and their Catacombs

Recent episodes have followed Bernini as a preliminary guide to the spirit of Christian Rome in the time of the Counterreformation, when the new St. Peter’s and the Galleria Borghese were built. But what about the earliest Christian Romans? Today we survey their burial places, the catacombs, to begin to learn how they understood the world and their duties in it.
5/4/202125 minutes, 25 seconds
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52. Augustus, Antony, and Apollo’s Temple on the Palatine Hill

Augustus boasted that he turned Rome from brick to marble, and I think he  did. But did he also turn it from a republic to an empire and, if so, did his architectural projects help? We consider his majestic Temple of Apollo on the Palatine Hill.
4/27/202124 minutes, 17 seconds
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51. Mussolini and the Piazza of Augustus the Emperor

Mussolini wanted to identify Fascist Rome with Ancient Rome, but more than this, he wanted to associate himself with Augustus, the first and founding emperor of the imperial period. To see how he did this in architecture, we today visit the Piazza of Augustus the Emperor.
4/20/202121 minutes, 50 seconds
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50. Back to the Borghese, Bernini, and the Baroque

We return to the Galleria Borghese to consider the remaining two of Bernini’s four masterpieces, his Aeneas, Anchises, and Ascanias, and his David. Both statues may represent the virtue of piety, one based on a Roman story and the other based on the Old Testament, though Bernini’s David looks well equipped to defeat Goliath even if he should fail to receive God’s support.
4/13/202123 minutes, 3 seconds
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49. Augustus: The Man and His Forum

Today we visit the Forum of Augustus, the second of the five Imperial Forums of Ancient Rome. Apart from providing a general overview, I hope to show another case in which Augustus used art and architecture to advance his political ends.
4/6/202122 minutes, 19 seconds
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48. Mussolini’s Gutting of Rome in Search of its “Romanness”

Mussolini represented a revolutionary change in Italian government, and he sought to transform the look of Rome as well. He did this partly by the structures added but also by what he stripped away. We consider today two of his main “eviscerations” of Rome, which added roads and made ancient monuments more visible but also displaced thousands of Romans.
3/30/202119 minutes, 39 seconds
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47, Bernini Meets Ovid in the Villa Borghese

We visit the Galleria Borghese and focus on two sensual statues sculpted by Gianlorenzo Bernini, both based on stories told by the old Latin poet Ovid. Both were commissioned by the Borghese family which then also held the papacy and was helping to build the new St. Peter’s Basilica. How do Ovid and these two statues fit into the Catholic worldview that was then being expressed in the new basilica? Or don’t they?
3/23/202123 minutes, 32 seconds
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46. Back to the Beginning: A Quick Review of My Goals Mini Pod

On this six-month anniversary of Get Ready for Rome, I review the goals of this podcast series. They are partly straightforward: to introduce Rome's main monuments, churches, and works of art. Beyond this, they are to show what might be gained from a study of Western Civilization rooted in Rome.
3/18/20219 minutes, 36 seconds
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45. Augustus: The Man and His Mausoleum

Today we discuss the Mausoleum of Augustus, the huge and once-beautiful funeral monument Augustus built for himself and his family. As the Altar of Peace was an apt symbol of Augustus’s claim to have brought the blessings of peace to Rome, so the Mausoleum is a visual reminder that he became Rome’s first Emperor and passed that power down in the Julio-Claudian Dynasty.
3/16/202122 minutes, 53 seconds
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44. Mazzini and the Power of Ideas Mini Pod

We saw that Mazzini believed that the spread of ideas was the first and most important step in starting the revolution he wanted to transform Italy. It is attractive to think that history moves by ideas, not mere force. But does it move by true ideas or, sometimes, merely meretricious ones? What does a society need to judge well the alternative ideas that are set before it?
3/11/20218 minutes, 11 seconds
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43. Giuseppe Mazzini: The Man and His Monument

Giuseppe Mazzini prepared the soil for the unification and eventual democratization of Italy by forty years of high-level writing urging Italians and other Europeans to support these goals. Since he also furthered them by revolutionary activity, he lived his life in exile and had to have his powerful words smuggled into Italy. Even after Cavour, the King, and Garibaldi had transformed Piedmont into Italy, Mazzini continued to attack the new country as insufficiently democratic. Eventually, his contributions were recognized, and in this episode we visit his statue, which is perched above the Circus Maximus on the Aventine Hill.
3/9/202124 minutes, 41 seconds
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42. Bernini, the Baroque, and the Borghese

Our subject is the Villa Borghese, a sprawling park on the north side of Rome and home to Rome’s most wonderful museum, the Galleria Borghese. Unscrupulously assembled by Scipione Borghese, nephew to Pope Paul V, the art collection in the Galleria includes several of Bernini’s finest statues, as well as works by Caravaggio, Canova, and the greatest Renaissance artists. In moving from St. Peter’s to the Borghese, we again move from halos to nudes and so have another chance to see the dramatic changes initiated in the Renaissance.
3/2/202119 minutes, 34 seconds
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41. Augustus and His Altar of Peace

The Altar of the Peace of Augustus lay buried in the muck of Rome for over a thousand years, but it is now recognized as one of the best examples of classical relief sculpture. It is also important evidence of the way Augustus wanted to present his achievements to the people of Rome. But who was Augustus, and what can his altar tell us about him?
2/23/202121 minutes, 29 seconds
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40. A Marriage, an Affair, and the Making of Italy Mini Pod

A glow surrounds leaders remembered by monuments, as it generally should, but it is still instructive to look closely at the hard choices they had to make to achieve what they did. Here is another peek at how Cavour enticed France into helping unify Italy.
2/18/20219 minutes, 41 seconds
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36. The Count of Cavour: The Man and His Monument

The Count of Cavour was one of the Four Fathers of Modern Italy, but this fact becomes interesting only if we know what he did and how he did it. The first part of an answer is that he got the help of France to drive Austria out of northern Italy, which increased Italian independence and took a step in the direction of unification. But did France do this out of love of justice? How did Cavour secure France’s help?
2/16/202124 minutes, 37 seconds
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35. The Triumph of the Church in St. Peter’s Basilica

We return today to St. Peter's Basilica and do an inventory of the contents of its nave, aisles, and transept. Do its many chapels, altars, statues, and funeral monuments have a unifying theme? I think so. It is the Triumph of the Catholic Church, which then draws our attention to the Protestant Reformation, then raging in Europe as St. Peter's was being built.
2/9/202123 minutes, 47 seconds
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34. The Arch of Constantine and Reunification of the Roman Empire

Constantine is the central figure in the transformation of the entire Roman Empire from pagan to Christian in the fourth century, but why he initiated this dramatic change is still disputed both by historians and in the art that remembers him. Today we examine the Arch of Constantine to see what it might be able to tell us about the mystery man it honors.
2/2/202124 minutes, 38 seconds
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33. The Monument to Garibaldi and his “Expedition of the Thousand” in 1860

Of Garibaldi's many military adventures and many contributions to the unification of Italy, none was more dramatic or more consequential than his conquest of Sicily and all of southern Italy in 1860. We discuss it in this episode.
1/26/202123 minutes, 53 seconds
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32. Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the Entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Creation of Europe

Today we visit the Portico of St. Peter's Basilica, and find there--again!--the work of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Rome's greatest and most prolific Baroque sculptor and architect. We also encounter the emperors Constantine and Charlemagne, who did so much to create Christian Europe.
1/19/202129 minutes, 11 seconds
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31. Tacitus on the Games Held in the Colosseum

The famous Roman Historian Tacitus is critical of a Roman emperor and of the Roman people for their enthusiasm for the gladiatorial games held in Roman amphitheaters. We here explore his reasons, which turn out to be very different from those of modern critics of the Romans' cruelty.
1/12/202123 minutes, 20 seconds
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30. On Blaming the Romans for their Bloody “Games”

We previously looked at the Colosseum as a major and impressive work of ancient architecture, and then reviewed the events the Romans staged in it. Today we raise the difficult but essential question of whether and how we can and should judge the Romans for their bloody games. Can one culture ever judge another, should the Romans be condemned on humanitarian grounds, are the games even more deserving of criticism for their degrading effect on the spectators? These are among the questions we take up.
1/5/202123 minutes, 36 seconds
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29. The Monument to Garibaldi and the Roman Republic of 1849

Today we return to Garibaldi’s statue on the Janiculum Hill and review the events that are summarized in the bronze sculpture group on the front of the statue. They represent Luciano Manara and the battle to save the Roman Republic of 1849. But what was this Republic, and what became of it?
12/29/202021 minutes, 50 seconds
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28. On Entering the Largest Church in the World

We begin with the total destruction of the Old St. Peter’s and then visit the center of the Renaissance and Baroque Basilica that replaced it. We find there the Confessio, the high altar, and Bernini’s soaring Baldacchino. Surrounding these central elements Bernini placed four huge statues and four associated relics, and nearby he situated a massive “Chair of St. Peter,” so important as a defense of papal authority, and matched statues of two powerful popes.  
12/22/202024 minutes, 11 seconds
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27. The Bloody “Games” of the Roman Amphitheaters

We’ve discussed the Colosseum as a building, but we have not yet explored the ways the Romans put it to use. Today look at the three main activities staged in Roman Amphitheaters around the Empire, animal hunts, prisoner executions, and gladiatorial combat. We’ll also consider their history and the reasons they were important for the actual and aspiring leaders of Ancient Rome.
12/15/202024 minutes, 3 seconds
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26, A New Statue in an Old Piazza: Angels Unawares Mini Pod

Pope Francis recently inaugurated a new statue in Piazza San Pietro, the first new statue there in four centuries. Called Angels Unawares, it calls attention to the plight of refugees and migrants and summons us to the virtue of charity. What, I wonder, is its relation to the piazza in which it has been placed? Does it duplicate the aesthetic judgment of Bernini’s baroque piazza? Does it summon us to a similar understanding of Christian virtue? Does it advance a political agenda?
12/10/202011 minutes, 5 seconds
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25. Giuseppe Garibaldi: The Man and His Monument

Of the Four Founders of Modern Italy, Giuseppe Garibaldi lived the most colorful life and—at least on the field of battle—made the greatest contribution to the new nation. He fought tirelessly for freedom for four decades, not only in Italy but also in South America and France. He was so dynamic a leader as to attract followers ready to fight to the death, the so-called Red Shirts or Garibaldini, and he even led them against the pope in Rome, only to be turned back by the nation he had helped to create. The names of bridges, piazzas, and streets remember him all over Italy. Today we visit the most important Monument to him in Rome, his statue on the summit of Rome’s highest hill, the Janiculum.  
12/8/202024 minutes, 3 seconds
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24. Pods in the Pipeline Mini Pod

I here preview four different podcasts I’m working on at the moment. The most pressing is on Garibaldi, and I hope to have it ready to go by December 8, but it is challenging, for his life was so full of action and his political views were so pleasing to the people but so annoying to the New Italian government. A second is simpler and is on the new statue in St. Peter’s Square, called Angels Unawares. A third asks how the Catholic Church raised the money to pay for St. Peter’s Basilica, which takes us directly to the various sparks which ignited the Protestant Reformation and split Europe. And the forth will identify and discuss “presentism,” which is the approach to history which uses today’s standards to condemn the past.
12/3/202012 minutes, 32 seconds
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23. A Second Visit to St. Peter’s Basilica: The Piazza and Colonnade

After 1200 years, the first Roman basilica dedicated to St. Peter was torn down, and then began the slow process of building a new one on the same location. We discuss why it took so long to build the basilica, what the main features of its beautiful piazza are, and how it differed from that of the old one.
12/1/202021 minutes, 39 seconds
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22. Generosity and Violence Behind the Building of the Colosseum Mini Pod

Today we glance at why the Flavian Emperors may have built the Colosseum and how they put themselves in a position to do so. What did such vast public works projects have to do with the rise and fall of Roman Emperors?
11/26/202012 minutes, 38 seconds
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21. A Second Look at the Colosseum: The Structure Itself

This podcast discusses the Colosseum as a building, including its overall shape, the huge awning that protected the spectators from the hot Roman sun, the foundations needed to support it, and its decorative elements. Our next episode will take up the kind of events that were staged in it.
11/24/202022 minutes, 52 seconds
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20. A Secular Roman Monument Gets Religion Mini Pod

Although its exterior is utterly devoid of Christian symbols, the Monument to King Victor Emmanuel II has a Christian chapel deep within it. Why is it there, and how does its message relate to that of the monument’s neoclassical exterior?
11/19/20208 minutes, 10 seconds
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19. Modern Italy’s Main Monument to Itself: the Vittoriano

Modern Italy’s largest, most expensive, and most eye-catching monument goes most often by its nickname, the Wedding Cake. It is huge, bright white, and covered with a wide variety of allegorical statues. This podcast finds in these statues Italy’s intention to break away from the long traditions of Christian Rome, while at the same time reviving Italian pride, unity, and dedication by evoking the glories of Ancient Rome.
11/17/202021 minutes, 52 seconds
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18. Of Barns and Basilicas! Mini Pod

Ancient Rome had, and Christian Rome still has, lots of buildings called “basilicas.” But this important word is used in two senses. So just what is a basilica? This pod explains both the architectural and ecclesiastical senses of the term.
11/12/202011 minutes, 12 seconds
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17. A First Visit to Vatican City and Saint Peter’s Basilica

We here survey and introduce the main sites of Vatican City and Saint Peter’s Basilica. These include the Sistine Chapel, the Raphael Rooms, and other parts of the Vatican Museums; the Vatican Necropolis, an ancient cemetery in which St. Peter may have been buried; the Vatican Gardens; the Apostolic Palace; and the Grottoes, main floor, and dome of St. Peters.
11/10/202021 minutes, 22 seconds
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16. The Colosseum and the Looting of Jerusalem Mini Pod

Where did the Flavian Dynasty get the resources needed to build the Colosseum? The sorry condition in which Nero had left Rome and epigraphical evidence suggests it had to have come from the looting of Jerusalem and its Jewish Temple. This event is celebrated on the Arch of Titus, just uphill from the Colosseum. The crucial but difficult question is how to judge the Romans for their imperialistic actions. Considering their possible motives takes a small first step toward the beginning of an answer.
11/5/20209 minutes, 36 seconds
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15. A First Visit to the Colosseum

This first of four pods on the Colosseum offers a general overview of the structure, including its architecture and the materials used to build it. We also consider why the Flavian Dynasty of Emperors chose to build it where they did, right where there had been a beautiful water feature of Nero’s sprawling “Golden House.” We raise but do not yet address the question of what to think about those who took such delight in the cruel events staged in the Colosseum.
11/3/202021 minutes, 43 seconds
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14. Fewer Halos, More Nudes Mini Pod

The art in Rome’s churches and museums includes many characters with halos and many without clothes, but these two groups rarely overlap. This pod first encourages visitors to Rome to observe when and where we see halos on the one hand and nudes on the other. It then draws on examples from the Galleria Borghese and Sistine Chapel to suggest that in the Renaissance, we see many fewer halos and many more nudes. This raises a difficult and interesting question: “Why?”
10/29/20208 minutes, 33 seconds
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13. Introduction to Modern Rome

Italy was not unified until 1860, and even then it lacked Rome, which remained under papal rule until 20 September 1870. Why did the supporters of the Risorgimento want to change Rome, and how did they do so? We here prepare to visit the monuments of Modern Italy by learning a little more about the main failures and success of the Risorgimento and the contributions of Garibaldi and Cavour.  
10/27/202023 minutes, 46 seconds
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12. Going Up! Rome's Changing Ground Levels Mini Pod

We here observe several places in Rome that offer dramatic evidence of how much ground level has changed over Rome’s long history. Doing so deepens our understanding of how much time has passed since antiquity, of how transient some human achievements are, of how depopulated Rome became during the Middle Ages, and of how much we need to use our mind’s eye if we are to going to see Ancient Rome well. The effect is especially noticeable at lower elevations and near the Tiber, whose flooding was an important contributor to the rising level of debris that filled the city. The Pantheon, Piazza Navona, the Roman and Imperial Forums, and San Clemente offer clear evidence of these changes. Markers on the sides of buildings indicate the levels reached by the Tiber during memorable floods.  My main goal is to help you imagine a once-great imperial capital becoming so neglected that it fills up with mud.
10/22/20209 minutes, 37 seconds
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11. Introduction to Christian Rome

This pod presents a quick overview of how Rome changed after it became Christian, both in its prevailing art and architecture and in its soul. It notes that at the same time as official Christianity took over Rome in the fourth century, there was a precipitous decline in Rome’s prominence, wealth, population, security, and political order. Rome then became a city of churches and of fortifications within the city walls. The tough question concerns the relationship between these developments.
10/20/202025 minutes, 34 seconds
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10. Rome's Talking Statues Mini Pod

Rome is home to Pasquino and five other “Talking Statues,” which are exceeding popular with tour guides. For the last three centuries of Papal Rule in Rome, the statues were used like social media bulletin boards, but with anonymous postings pinned up at night. They were often witty and irreverent toward the established authorities, and what is more delightful than irreverence toward authorities we don’t revere! We identify these statues and give samples of their messages, but I conclude by suggesting that all Roman statues have much to say, even if they are more difficult to interpret.
10/15/20207 minutes, 45 seconds
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9. Introduction to Ancient Rome

This pod introduces the features that most identify Ancient Rome, especially in her differences from Christian and Modern Rome. These include the extent of her empire, her long-lasting rule, her ability to turn human beings into citizens, her reception and imitation of Greek culture, and her pagan intermixing of politics and religion. 
10/13/202025 minutes, 23 seconds
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8. A First Trip to Castelgandolfo Mini Pod

When you feel like a break from the hubbub of Rome, the Castelli Romani offer several good options. Today we make our first visit to Castelgandolfo, which is one of the dozen hill towns known collectively as the Castelli. Among its claims our attention are these: It sits on rim above a beautiful crater lake. It is the site of Alba Longa, and this is the very ancient town from which Rome descended, at least according to the legend of Romulus and Remus. Later, it was the site of summer villas enjoyed by the wealthy Romans of the Republican Period, and later still the Emperor Domitian built a villa here that included the entire volcanic lake and surrounding area. Meanwhile, the Romans had built a tunnel over a mile long that penetrated the crater and enabled them to limit the rise of the level of the lake. So different from the pagan Romans in other respects, the popes followed their example when it came to choosing locations for summer residences outside of Rome. We thus can visit a papal palace, papal gardens that—though narrow—are over a mile long, and a beautiful church built by Gianlorenzo Bernini, thanks to the patronage of Pope Alexander VII. This charming little town is also a good place to discuss World War II in Italy, since it was caught in the crossfire for four long months between Germans in the hills and Allies down on the beaches near Anzio and Nettuno. The summit of Monte Cavo was also occupied by the Germans for its advantages as an observation and communication post. The town also invites a discussion of the relationship between science and religion, since it turns out that it is the home of the Specola Vaticana, the astronomical observatory run by the papacy, and one of the most striking features of the Papal Palace is that it has two beautiful telescopes on its roof. Perhaps surprisingly, even before the condemnation of Giordano Bruno, scientists had figured out how to move away from the lunar calendar, according to which Christmas could turn up in the summer.
10/8/202016 minutes, 23 seconds
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7. The Three Romes

Cities are distinguished by their geographical location, but I here use historical and cultural differences to divide Rome into three radically different cities. Doing so helps to organize Rome's many sites and the art we see at them and makes them participants in fascinating theological and ideological quarrels. This episode explains this approach and begins to identify the differences of opinion that divide Christian Romans from the ancient pagans, and modern Romans from the  the popes who ruled Rome for centuries.  
10/5/202026 minutes, 44 seconds
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6. Rome's Street of Reconciliation and Urban Planning 101 Mini Pod

The Street of Reconciliation, the Via della Conciliazione, honors an agreement that welcomed the Church back into Italian society and recognized it as a legitimate sovereign state. Along with the contrasting statue of Giovanni Bruno, it raises the questions of the relationship between Church and State, and Reason and Revelation. My reading of the statue of Bruno is influenced by the speech which inaugurated it, which was given by Giovanni Bovio. The Via della Conciliazione is also an example of a particular kind of street: streets that take aim at something to rivet our attention on them. A dozen streets converge on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and put it in squarely in view. The Benjamin Franklin Parkway takes direct aim at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The Mall in Washington DC also uses streets, paths, and bridges to call attention to its monumental architecture. The channeling effect of the Street of the Reconciliation in Rome is more obvious than in most other cases. But there are also other cases in Rome. The Via Nazionale has large “targets” at both of its ends. There is a “trident” of streets that converge on the obelisk in Piazza del Popolo. In facts, the obelisks in Rome are generally placed in relation to streets, or streets created to show off existing obelisks. Pope Sixtus V erected four obelisks in four years, from 1586-89. Three of them were aligned with streets from the get-go; the fourth was not. This is the one in front of St. Peter’s, and Mussolini added the street of reconciliation to show it off, too and, of course, the basilica that stood behind it. As for Rome’s most central street, the Via del Corso, it had a focus but not much to focus on. The new Italy took advantage of this opportunity and built the huge and boastful Monument to Victor Emmanuel the Second.
9/30/202011 minutes, 18 seconds
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5. Rome's "Street of Reconciliation"

The Bruno statue in effect declared ongoing war against the Roman Catholic Church and thus represented the anticlerical sentiment that helped to fuel the revolution that created modern Italy; but the next sixty years brought new circumstances, interests, and ideas, and both Italy and the Church grew ready to settle their differences. They did so especially in the Lateran Pacts, which normalized relations. To celebrate this new state of affairs, Rome built a new boulevard the Via della Conciliazione or “Street of Reconciliation,” and its meaning and its architecture are both important for Rome.  
9/28/202022 minutes, 24 seconds
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4. Strife Among the Ruins Scavenger Hunt Mini Pod

To find, we must seek, but what should we be looking for in Rome? I here propose that you keep your eyes peeled for evidence of various kinds of strife as you walk the charming streets of the Eternal City. I offer a preliminary list to get you started. 
9/23/202010 minutes, 16 seconds
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3. The Statue of Giordano Bruno

The Statue of Giordano Bruno was erected not to add to the considerable charm of its surroundings in the Campo de’ Fiori but to accuse the popes of cruelty and injustice. The statue thus marked a deep change in the attitudes of the ever-changing Eternal City.  But was this change permanent?  
9/21/202022 minutes, 37 seconds
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2. Introduction

Why we need to get ready for Rome before we find ourselves in the midst of Rome’s chaos and how to organize this chaos on the basis of Rome’s two most important transformations, from Pagan to Christian and from Catholic to Modern.
9/19/202012 minutes, 50 seconds