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POST-GAZETTE, AUGUST 27, 2010

Res Publica

by David Trumbull

Democrats on Beacon Hill Fail to Deliver on Jobs

AT HOME IN OLD ROME, THE PALACES OF THE EMPERORS

We can define a home as a place where a family lives, dwells or maintains livings quarters. The Roman dwell- ing places fell into four groups or categories. There were the palaces of the em- perors, villas or large preten- tious suburban residences, insula or tenement houses and the domus or private houses.

Our column for today will confine itself to the palaces of the emperors which are still quite impressive even in their present ruinous con- dition. There is still suffi- cient evidence to show their immensity and imposing character. Excavation work for the purpose of examining the remains of these great structures was started in 1863 by Napoleon III, nephew of Emperor Napo- leon I. Archaeological work was continued by the Italian Government and has re- vealed the remains of pala- tial structures that were built by Augustus in 3 A.D. and further enlarged by Tiberius, Caligula, Vespa- sian, Titus, Domitian and Septimius Severus. This group of palaces occupied the crown of the Palatine Hill, which overlooked all of the civic life below.

The emperor’s palace was usually approached by an in- clined slope that led up from

the “Via Sacre.” The princi- pal entrance was through a portico (a porch with roof supported by columns), which led directly into a “Tablinium” or throne room. The throne room was flanked by a “Basilica” or Hall of Justice on one side and a “Lararium” or imperial chapel for household gods on the other side. According to tradition, this showed that the power of the emperor was firmly fixed between re- ligion and justice, or we

might say, between church and the state.

the

Beyond the throne room there was usually a square garden surrounded by marble columns. This gar- den area along with its beau- tiful colonnade was called the “Peristylium” it is where much of the pageantry and court life occurred. Then there was the “Triclinium,” a beautiful banqueting hall where world leaders and their guests feasted and were entertained. The day- time meals were light and usually taken in other ar- eas, but the big spread, re- served for evenings, was called the “Cena.” The length of the “Triclinium” was twice its width and gets its name from three reclin- ing couches, which were a part of the normal furniture in any well furnished Ro-

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man dining room. Each couch was designed to ac- commodate three guests who dined, by tradition, in a reclining position. At the end of the meal, the diners were always more “overstuffed” than the furni- ture and usually had to be carried home in a litter by their slaves. Some people were light eaters and their “Cena” was over by 9:30 P.M. Nero’s “Cena” lasted until midnight and others lasted until the wee hours of the morning.

Most palaces also con- tained a “Nymphaeum” or room with a fountain, flow- ering plants, statues and small waterfalls. This “Nym- phaeum” was usually placed near the “Triclinium” so that the coolness of the water and the scent of the flowers might refresh the guests who were overheated from too much food and wine.

Palaces also contained a “Bibliothecae” or library. Trajan’s Palace had two li- braries, one for Greek and the other for Roman manu- scripts. Still another room was called the “Academia” and it was used for recita- tions or for other literary purposes. Finally, there were beautiful crystal stone mo- saics on the floors and fres- coes on the walls, while ceil- ings were arched or vaulted, and wall niches for marble statues were everywhere.

Additionally, there were the countless suites or apart- ments for those in resi- dence, the service and ser- vants quarters, and also those extra rooms for invited guests or possibly the gen- eral, everyday, run-of-the- mill hanky panky.

NEXT ISSUE: At Home in Old Rome, La Famiglia

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr., one of the stars of the Massa- chusetts Republican Party, issued the following state- ment after hearing Wonder- land Greyhound Park would be closing after 75 years of operations, putting scores of persons out of work.

of jobs the track provides right here in the City of Boston. That’s why I was very sympathetic to the legislature’s plans for lim- ited expansion of gambling in the Commonwealth — a few resort-style casinos and slot machine parlors at the

state’s racetracks.

“Governor Patrick’s lack of leadership and failure to compromise with legisla- tive leaders recently came to a head as Wonderland Greyhound Park announced its intentions to suspend all operations.

“Laid off employees of Wonderland have no one to blame but Governor Patrick whose unwillingness to co- operate with the Legislature led to the ultimate demise of the expanded gaming bill.

“While Governor Patrick is out touting his successes, more than 100 Wonderland employees will be wondering where their next paycheck will come from.

“The recent announce- ment comes only two short weeks after the race track at Plainridge laid off nearly 160 workers at its facility.”

Nearly

everyone

agrees

that there can be a down- side to gambling. We’ve all heard the stories of badly implemented casinos schemes in some cities that, rather than bring- ing the promised jobs and tourists, ending up blight- ing the area. Suffolk Downs and the state’s other three tracks, which for years have been allowed to offer parimutuel betting, have demonstrated that they can handle responsibly the management of a gambling operation. Furthermore, those casinos will take years to build, the tracks are there, and until Governor Patrick’s latest blunder, were all still in operation and ready to expand imme- diately upon the issuance of the permits for the slot machines.

With a Democratic gover-

I’m a fan of Suffolk Downs, and I appreciate the number

(Continued on Page 14)

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