Imagine yourself as a gladiator of Rome, a slave warrior, deep under the enormous Flavian Amphitheater awaiting battle. The thunderous noise of 50,000 rabid Romans rumbles the roof above, but you cannot see a thing. Their stomping and shouting sounds the exact same as a foreboding storm rolling toward you. It is pitch black, besides the brief and fleeting light of a dim torch that occasionally flickers on the uneven stone walls, casting long and ghastly shadows which crawl over the ceiling.

Somewhere in that darkness the feral roars from caged lions and tigers echo, haunting that blackness. You cannot see who you sit next to, but you can smell them. You can smell the sun-burnt olive oil on their skin slathered on everyone to make them glisten in the sun. You can smell the sweat beading and dripping from yourself and the warriors around you.

Salt smell like a vast ocean, yet no cool breeze to cool your brow or culls from seagulls to calm your nerves. Just blackness and sweat. And in that blackness is the smell of death. Even though none have died yet, many have before you after leaving that blackness. The smell of death is of the piss and the shit and the sweat that happens before battle — the fear takes hold of some more than others and they lose their bowels and minds before being released into that sand-pit of death.

Soon the ceiling will crack open raining dust and sand onto our heads. Light will pour through the opening and we will rise up to the cheers of thousands. And with that light, we do not rise up to meet life, but death. Sometimes the darkness is better.


Here is a photo from my recent restricted access tour with Walks of Italy beneath the Colosseum, called the Hypogeum. Here is where the gladiators awaited battle and 32 pens held animals for the fights. Though on this day light illuminated the ruins, showing colorful brick and moss growing, it was nothing light this in Roman times. A pigeon sips water out of a hole that once held timbers supporting the arena floor.

Here is a slightly edited photo that adds to the underground feel.


*This tour was sponsored by Walks of Italy but, as always, my thoughts and reactions are my own*

Weekly Photo Mojo is about stimulating your cortex with retina rupturing and awe-inspiring photos from around the world to help you reach Terminal Vicariosity (The point where the mind reaches maximum capacity from living vicariously through someone else, and chooses to start actually living.)

What feeling does this photo evoke for you?



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