sexta-feira, 17 de janeiro de 2014


The Hall of Emperors

Extended on his couch in his vila in Rome grieving for Antínous,the Emperor Hadrian decides to order a new statue of his dead lover from Pápias of Afrodisas. He doesn 't forget to ask for a slimmed down version of the copy, created by Antoniano another sculptor from Afrodisias,that is today in Rome, to make its transport easier. For Afrodisias which lies on the plain some 100km west of Herapolis was home to a school of sculptors and their fame was known throughout the Empire and much of what these artists created can still be seen today in the recently built musem for the artefacts of the town.
The Hall of the Emperors where Domician´s statue broken into 30 pieces by order of the Senate on his death in 96AD has been restored or the Odeon hall with its philosophers and poets.
But it is the Sebasteion relief sculptures that are the most impressive. They have been removed from the excavations of the Sebasteion complex, a holy path with 3-storey porticoes on both sides leading to the Temple of Augustus. A small portion remains in place and depicts both mythological subjects and the Roman Imperial family. It was begun by Zoilus one of the great benefactors of Afrodisias and continued by other patrician families. Zoilus of humble slave origins had been favoured by the Emperor Augustus and in turn financed much of the building in his native city. On the stage wall of the theatre a letter from Augustus is inscibed,
 ´This one city I have taken for my own out of all Asia`.

Yet if you had passed this place only 50 years ago, you would have searched in vain for its glory for Afrodisias has only been excavated since the 1960´s. The small village at its centre was moved to a new site nearby and the reliefs and sculptures restored and a museum built for them.
As the name implies it was Afrodite, the goddess of love and beauty who presided in the town. There are numerous statues and heads of the goddess and the imponent Temple of Afrodite dating from earlier times but enlarged and provided with baths for Hadrian´s visit probably in 123AD.

Templo de Afrodite (parte de trás)

Afrodite in Anatolia symbolised fertility but the beauty of Afodisias is its lasting gift to the modern world. You get an idea how beautiful from the computerised recontruction in the museum. The monumental gate [Tetrapylon], the entrance to the Temple, an olympic size stadium [for a population of less than 10,000], the Sebasteion and Temple of Afrodite magically restored on the click of a button defy our imagination.
Entrada do Templo de Afrodite, o Tetrapylon
The reconstruction helps for not much remains of the Temple after earthquakes and the vandalism of the Christian Byzantines. Only 14 colunms remain, Hadrian would not have been surprised by the destruction or christian fanaticism, or its islamic counterpart today. The old Gods were part of a totality, they co-existed even complemented each other, Afrodisias is witness to religous equality.

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