Elegy From Rome


June 30, 2023

Piazza Venezia

Piazza Venezia Source: Bigstock To the Eternal City for the saddest of celebrations, the funeral of the mom of Taki, 17, and Maria, 15, 2 of my 4 grandchildren. Assia was of honorable birth and fulfilled my boy John Taki at the Rosey school in Switzerland, where they both studied skiing and other such beneficial pursuits. They had a grand wedding at her ancestral home near Rome and went off on their honeymoon on my boat with twelve of their pals. After the 2 children were born they separated but remained closer than they ever were while married. She defended 2 years the dreadful leukemia that finally eliminated her at 41 years of age. Their buddies from school were all there, some having actually flown over from America in order to state their last bye-byes. The death of somebody so young and appealing is hard to take into words without sounding doleful, suffice it to say we Greeks had it right long earlier when we preached that whom the gods enjoy they take early.

The gorgeous old church, the Catholic ceremony, and an observant speech by a very discovered male of God helped relieve the pain one feels over the unfairness of everything. My boy asked me not to harp on it, thus I will not. But I will state how much I enjoy the Catholic Church– its rituals and its ceremony. Hymns sung by a small choir were of heartbreaking grace and appeal, leaving no dry eyes anywhere.

Rome is one large museum, desecrated by long lines of tourists marching up and down its narrow sidewalks while looking at their mobiles and speaking mostly in Chinese and American. To describe the city as eternal and lovely is a crude cliché, like calling Lily James enchanting, because Rome is Rome, special however no illusion. It lacks order or propriety, a lazy appeal that doesn’t look after itself, a city focused on love and damaged hearts.

“Suffice it to state we Greeks had it right long ago when we preached that whom the gods enjoy they take early.”

Rome is the voice and spirit of Italy, a place where unspeakable criminal activities and ruthlessness have actually happened throughout the ages, where unimagined splendors have been built, and where Catholicism rules supreme. Rome is seductive and enchanting; its spirit is Eros. She’s not delicate like Florence and Venice, and not raw and carnal like Naples.

I strolled down the Via del Corso early in the morning, then turned right on Via Condotti to the Piazza di Spagna. All the old stores I utilized to understand are gone, changed by multinational shops and labels. The historical piazza and the Spanish actions were currently loaded with tourists by 9 a.m., evoking the late ’50s when we ‘d stop for coffee in the empty square on our method to the Foro Italico and the tennis tournament. History and culture now take second place to huge Dior and Prada indications that overshadow and in such a way desecrate the surroundings. As if subliminally acknowledging this vulgarism, Keats’ house is empty of visitors and its windows just half open. I stood there for about ten minutes and not a bachelor took a look at the poet’s last house, in truth the crowds seemed to see the place however not take it in.

Never mind, the huge ads for Dior served their function and impressed the mob, some even taking photos of the scary with their telephones. I walked back to the Piazza Venezia, where the Austrian embassy lay back in 1914, and where my father-in-law was born in the extremely exact same edifice where Mussolini utilized to deal with the mob. Yes, those were the days.

My daughter provided a lunch after the burial at a wonderful dining establishment with the quaint name of the Due Ladrone (the two thieves). We were about twenty and I sat with my good friend Leopoldo, a Neapolitan nobleman whose daddy was a buddy of Galeazzo Ciano, the Duce’s son-in-law and foreign minister. History has actually not respected Ciano, and I find that confusing. He did not want Italy to blindly follow Hitler, and he spent for it with his life. Two women in particular, Suni Agnelli and Caroline Moorhead, discussed him in their books and made him out to be a vain and silly guy. I discovered Moorehead’s book about Edda Ciano unequal and not really history however chatter, while Agnelli’s– We Constantly Used Sailor Suits– was unreadable. Suni’s book came out something like fifty years ago, and I remember her sibling Gianni was not best pleased. However he said absolutely nothing, simply a raised eyebrow to reveal displeasure. Fiat, after all, was a significant factor to the war effort, so why go and dig up a great deal of old gossip about Ciano’s womanizing? Today, if I had actually stopped 1,000, even 10,000 tourists in Rome, not a single one would have heard of Galeazzo Ciano.

However then extremely few would have become aware of Cicero, Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Tacitus, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Bernini, Caravaggio, and others of their kind. They would have heard of Mark Antony because Richard Burton played him in the film back in 1963, although they would be puzzled about the Greek Queen Cleopatra because the crude Americans now show her to have been black, whereas Elizabeth Taylor’s agents claim that the actress was white. See how confusing everything gets? And yet, when I asked some gawkers if they had actually heard of Hadrian and Antinous, they had encyclopedic understanding of the Roman emperor and his catamite. Ironically, the last time I utilized the word “catamite” it cost me a couple of hundred thousand pounds due to the fact that the individual I had called that took umbrage and sued. Antinous drowned in the Nile a couple of thousand years earlier, so this time no cigar.

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