Friday, April 12, 2013



EVERYONE can recognize the Roman Forum and major monuments of Ancient Rome. But can you recognize which part of Rome this is?

It is the notorious "Subura" ... the "red-light district" at the foot of the Esquiline Hill on the east side of the city ... looking west past the Colosseum towards the Temple of Jupiter atop the Capitoline Hill in the distance.

By daylight the whores (of all genders) are sleeping off the rigors of a long night's work.

People are doing laundry, repairing roof tiles, cleaning vomit and worse from their doorsteps ... acrid smoke from cooking fires stings your eyes.

But after dark was when the really Subura came to life. With a little luck, you could get ANYTHING in the Subura ... if you had the money.  And with bad luck, you could CATCH anything.

Any young man visiting Rome for the first time could not resist a night in the Subura ... getting drunk on love and cheap wine, spiked with knock-out drops as often as not. The air in the Subura was thick with the scent of love (besides being thick with less salubrious scents).

An innocent young blade from the provinces would be warned by Romans: "You must watch your heart in the Subura, young man." 

And he would also be well advised to watch his coin pouch in the Subura.

We can imagine wide-eyed young Antinous (fresh from the provinces) and the somewhat older Lucius (the "other favorite of Hadrian who lived only for luxury") exploring the sordid streets of the Subura ... well after dark ....

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