A Circle and an Ellipse, Paestum

Paestum began its life as a Greek city, and the original circular civic meeting space is preserved, though later built over by a Roman building. This is where early democracy of sorts played out over 2500 years ago.

In contrast, the amphitheatre built by the Romans illustrates the change in government as the city became more and more Latinized. Gone is the circular meeting space, and in its place is a civic space for gladiatorial games paid for by powerful autocrats such as the Roman emperors.

The distinctive stone work, which looks like a fishnet, was designed to absorb the shock of earthquakes.

The nearby museum, built by Mussolini, holds treasures from both the Greek and Roman eras. This metope below is a great example of Archaic bas relief sculpture. We don’t know why they’re always smiling like that.

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