The Ides of March

So this post is a day or two late, but if I don’t tie it into the Ides of March, how can I excuse including a picture of Karl Urban in a toga?

I’ve been doing a little reading of late about Ancient Rome, as a possible storyline is rattling around in my head. I’m not yet sure if it will come to anything, but I’ve enjoyed the excuse for more research. I went to Rome for the first time a couple of years ago. Of all the beauties, marvels and occasional architectural oddities the city has, it was the Pantheon that held me transfixed. It is the most awe-inspiring building, on an almost unimaginable scale.

PantheonI admit to having been somewhat bemused by the circular hole in the dome. I mean, it’s desperately impressive and atmospheric and all that, but what’s wrong with a few more windows and a little less danger of being rained on? Or worse, should one of Rome’s pigeons happen to be flying over at the wrong moment?


A possible explanation for the hole (rather more elegantly known as the oculus by those who know about these things) has now been put forward by an academic in Milan: he believes the temple acted as a sundial. Apparently, at midday during the March equinox, a circular shaft of light shines through to illuminate the Pantheon’s entrance. He believes the emperor’s arrival would have been timed for just this moment.  Apparently a similar effect also occurs on 21st April, the date on which Romans celebrated the founding of the city.

I guess such extraordinarily precise design is worth running the risk of pigeon poop.

And finally, most definitely not a pigeon, Roman or otherwise:


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