Madeline Pestana as Text 2019: Tivoli, Rome, Pompeii, Pisa, Florence, Cinque Terre, and Venice

Pompeii as Text

Picture by Madeline Pestana

“America, the New Rome” by Madeline Pestana of FIU

    Pompeii, the infamous ghost town harbors ancient traditions and remnants of what was that still is. Our society is greatly influenced by theirs in several ways, including gestures, gender roles, and business strategies. Exploring Pompeii we’ve discovered century old traditions that are currently still in practice.  

    On the foreground, upon entering one of the doorways read “Have” which translates to Welcome. An early record of this gesture making it over 2000 years old is an example of what was and still is. In front of homes a welcome mat is often placed at the foot of the front door. Businesses also have welcome signs for their customers or have a representative personally welcome them. When entering a new city or town, again, a welcome sign is posted. A ubiquitous gesture, often overlooked is over 2000 years old and in the city of Pompeii there is record of its earliest use.

    The earliest records/occurrences in history can sometimes be used to predict the future. During the Roman Era, more specifically during the time of Pompeii women had the ability to acquire wealth and property. The “Villa of Mysteries” was owned by a wealthy woman in Pompeii and within the walls of her home are famous frescoes, interpreted as ritual activities. In Hispanic families, women undergo “rituals” as well. On the day of her 15th birthday, it is customary for her parents to host a celebration known as a Quinceñera. On this night, her parents will publicly announce their daughters transition into womanhood by completing ceremonial activities. Leading up to this night the girl will experience changes within herself and on the night of, she will wear a gown, very similar to a wedding dress, and have a ceremonial change of shoes where the father replaces his daughters flat shoes for high heels. Throughout the night, she also performs several dances and by the end of the night, she will have entered womanhood. The frescoes found on the walls of the Villa of Mysteries illustrate a young girl’s journey as she completes a ritual. In the last scene, the girl is dressed in an elaborate clothing to represent the end of the ritual. This fresco from the Villa of Mysteries shows that gowns or elaborate clothing and rituals are continually used to describe a women’s transition from one role to another. The Villa also foreshadows the future of the U.S in regards to women’s rights. The Villa was inferred to be owned by a married women. Around the mid-1800s women are given the right to own property in their own name in the US. The Villa is a representation of the rituals and liberation of womanhood.

On the other hand, typically fast food and exercise are not paired together. The Romans in Pompeii and the owners of Chick-fil-A on Flagler and 87 Avenue in Miami thought otherwise. Touring the ruins, we discovered a bar with bowls carved into it where food would be served. This was the Roman version of fast-food. One bar in particular was built across the street from a gym. The idea of using hungry athletes to advance the restaurant business began with the Romans. The tired athletes from LA Fitness are tempted to eat from Chick-fil-A after a tough workout because of its close proximity. The idea is clever (to have restaurants located in front of or next to gyms), but after learning about the Romans, our ideas are no longer clever, instead, they’re imitations of what once was.


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