Elephants in Rome | Day 14 of 365 days of stories

September 25, 2010

Elephant & Obelisk, Rome
Elephant & Obelisk, Rome

Oh when the elephants, come marching in! When the elephants come marrr-ching in! Oh how I want to be in that square, when the elephants come marching in!

Elephant and Obelisk really has nothing to do with Louis Armstrong, but when I see this guy, he reminds me of the elephants in Disney’s Jungle Book, who marched and sang as they trampled through the countryside.

Which brings us to the Roman elephant. What is he doing here? Elephants don’t belong in Rome. Nor do obelisks. But here they are, a focal point of Piazza della Minerva. The obelisk is a bit easier to explain. It came from Sais, an ancient town in Egypt, and was brought to Rome by the emperor Diocletian in the late 200s. The sculpture of the elephant was commissioned to represent “…a strong mind is needed to support a solid knowledge”.

That’s the factual for you. Part of what I love about this photograph is the contrast of happy and sad. The elephant looks happy, surrounded by bright colors and noon-day sun. The rock he is sculpted from forms a tear, streaming down from his eye, rolling onto his tusk. Kind of like When the Saints Go Marching In. It’s an upbeat song, but it skirts around a topic not often thought of as happy. Contrast, opposites, bundled into one work of art.

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