This Sunday, after the (THREE HOUR LONG!) Palm Sunday Mass at Trinita, I was heading over to a rooftop barbeque party at a friend's place near the Flavian Amphitheatre and decided not to take a bus.
Rome is a very walk-able city and it often richly rewards those who eschew the horrible buses. That day, the buses looked particularly gruesome, and while all my friends mashed themselves on, I just couldn't face it. I waved them good bye and decided to walk, and to take a different route from the usual.
I ducked through the old ghetto and took the Tiber-side route past the back side of the Theatre of Marcellus, past S. Nichola in Carcere and around back of the Capitoline, glimpsed the edge of the Forum and took a long detour round the base of the Palatine and found myself, not entirely un-lost, at the bottom of the Circo Massimo where I heard drums.
My first thought was "Damn hippies!"
Then I saw this
It was a celebration of the um...about 3000th anniversary of the foundation of Rome.
As soon as I saw them, I knew instantly.
These were the Roman SCA.
I think re-enactors must emit some kind of high-frequency signal that can only be detected by other re-enactors. I spent a lot of years hanging around with people in home-made clothes, sleeping in six-roomed tents surrounded by piles of armour that people actually use. Maybe it's re-enactor pheromones or something, but when I saw them, even though we didn't speak each other's languages, I knew,
I'd found my posse.
The Commune di Roma had organised all the Roman re-enactors to have a parade past the Colesseum and down the road that separates the Caelian and Palatine hills, and down into the Circo Massimo and stage some combat and gladiator shows. I got there in time to walk about a bit and catch the parade.
One rather sobering thought crossed my mind as I was brazenly gawping at all the cool, and meticulously researched armour, the ladies floating around in gauzy dresses with the high hair dos and the extremely large men carrying their gladiator helmets under their arms. "These peoples' ancestors really did conquer my ancestors."
But it was all water under the Ponte Milvio by this time.
The soldiers all looked very impressive and manly and hard-core.
They marched everywhere, even when it was just to bring bag-lunches for everyone, and even when they were standing around holding cigarettes and chatting with passers-by and letting tourists take their pictures,
it was really not difficult at all to imagine what it must have been like for us conquered barbarians to have had these guys patrolling the Empire and keeping the Pax.