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Question 07

How is history made active?

What was once the site of the Stadium of Domitian is now a piazza.  In the first century AD, Romans went there to watch the agones (“games”) and it was known by many as ‘Circus Agonalis’ (competition arena).  In 1652, the piazza was turned into a lake on weekends in August to celebrate the Pamphili family.  Today, we know this space as Piazza Navona.  Full of life, artists, and fountains, this piazza is still a place for viewing.  This time, people sit around the perimeter at cafes and restaurants and watch artists draw portraits during the day and spray paint at night.  The Romans have understood their past culture and have used history in a productive way to transform this space into something very similar to what it was before.  There is an ephemeral connection to the past, of which the fountains help to tell the stories.  A sense of theater is set on this stage and the plot is constantly changing.

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