Communion Of Dreams

Italy, 2012: Arc of a Diver.

It’s funny the connections that your mind makes.

More on that later.

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Saturday, July 21, was an all-day outing. This in large part due to the fact that to get to the site we were visiting required a couple hours on the bus.

So we had breakfast, gathered our things, picked up a picnic lunch prepared for us by the villa staff, and headed to Paestum, about 50 miles the other side of Naples. But to get there isn’t simple and involved dealing with a huge amount of “beach traffic.”

I don’t have a great deal to say about Paestum itself. Which is surprising, because I found it to be a pretty damned impressive site. The Wikipedia article linked above covers everything better than I could off the top of my head, and the simple facts of the place are pretty basic: settled by the Greeks sometime around 550 BC, with a strong Oscan influence/component. The Romans took the city over about two hundred years later, and made it their own (mostly by leveling the extant city and starting over – but doing so by covering over the older city, and leaving the three major temples). The city survived until the early Middle Ages, then was lost for about a thousand years.

What’s impressive – striking, even – is that those three temples are so damned BIG. Seriously, you look at something like this:

The Second Temple of Hera.

and it’s hard to get a handle on the scale of the thing. But here’s the same structure with people in front of it:

And it’s the same with the other temples. Which were all built from 550 BC to 450 BC. That’s 2,500 years ago.


I also just didn’t know that Paestum existed. I thought I would have to go to Greece to see such temples. That also impressed the hell out of me.

So, without further ado, here are some images to share from the site:

Temple of Athena.


Temple of Athena.


Second Temple of Hera – side view.


Another view of the Second Temple of Hera.


Temple of Hera.


Temple of Hera – another view.


Steve lecturing as we sit on the Roman ruins.


The Roman amphitheater.

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We finished up on the archeological site of Paestum, and then went across the street to the museum. There’s a lot in there to see, but we were primarily there to see an incredible collection of tomb paintings dating back to about 470 BC. These are notable for several reasons, including being some of the earliest renderings depicting gladiatorial games. One painted tomb in particular stands out: the Tomb of the Diver.

Here are a series of images from the collection, starting with my pictures of the Tomb of the Diver paintings:










* * * * * * *

After spending a nice long while sweating in the museum (this is Italy, remember, and the place was without any real climate control. Hell, most of the galleries only had one or two working lights on the track lighting systems, with another 20 – 30 bulbs burned out. Given that this included the tomb paintings, which have to be somewhat light-sensitive, I wasn’t too upset.) We were free to do a bit of souvenir shopping, and this was a good place for it. Near the museum/across from the archeological site there were a whole series of shops offering all manner of stuff ranging from the worst kind of kitsch to better kinds of kitsch to some actually halfway decent items. I completed some small purchases, then went off in quest of a beer.

Several other members of the group had the same idea. And before long we had a nice chat & drink session going across the parking lot from where the bus was to pick us up.

There was a lot of snoozing on the way back to the villa.

Jim Downey

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Addendum: So, odd connections.

When I first saw the images of the Tomb of the Diver, it rattled something deep in my memory. It took me a while, but in poking around online after I got back, I sorted out what it was. This:

Now, Winwood’s Arc of a Diver came out in 1980. The album cover was the work of Tony Wright.

Did Wright see the main image from Tomb of the Diver, and so draw inspiration from it? No idea. But the discovery was made in 1968, and so it is certainly possible. And while the album cover is clearly in a different style, there are some similarities I find curious. Note the stylized human form. The depiction of the plant limbs. The general orientation of the diver.

It’d be fun to ask Wright, see if he remembers.