Mérida – Chapter 40

Passageway to the Roman Amphitheater

We are taking two days off and spend the first day looking at what there is to see in Mérida — the Teatro and Anfiteatro Romania (Roman theater and amphitheater), Museum of Roman Art, Acueducto de los Milagros (Miracle Aqueducts), Basilica Santa Eulalia (Saint Eulalia Basilica), Concatedral Santa Maria, Temple of Diana, and a Roman house (Casa del Mitreo).

I read chapter 40 of the Tao te Ching (the shortest of all chapters):

“Return is the movement of the Tao.
Yielding is the way of the Tao.

All things are born of being.
Being is born of non-being.”

Mérida was founded by Augustus (first Roman emperor) in 25 BC as a kind of retirement community for Roman soldiers. It was named Augusta Emerita and was capital of Lusitania.

The amphitheater was completed in 8 BC with seating for 15,000 spectators.

The pit in the center was covered by a wooden floor, allowing gladiator fights and contests with wild animals. There were 15 types of gladiators. The “retiari” had a net, trident, and dagger. The retiari generally fought with a “secutor” who was armed with a large shield, sword, armor, and helmet. The secutor carried much weight and could not move as quickly as the unarmored retiari. The retiari tried to throw his net over the secutor and then stab him with his dagger or trident while the secutor was continually seeking close combat, a situation in which his sword would finish off the armor-less retiari fairly quickly.

The are no gladiators present but I look at what is there.

Lao tsu provides a kind of koan — paradoxical words to ponder. His concept of the Tao is parallel to the Western idea of God — without the anthropomorphism.

The theater (capacity: 6000) is close — the Romans held official parades, singing, theatric productions, sometimes with live sex.

Some students were preparing to reherse for an evening show.

The French lyrics ask, “Would you like to sleep with me tonight?” Karen dances.

Roman statue

We look at a Roman building behind the theater — with room decorations.

The students are still rehearsing.

They sing a popular song with lyrics (translated loosely):”What will happen? What mysteries will there be? Can it be my big night?” (I hope I am close to being correct with the translation). Time is a mystery.

We visit the Museo National de Arte Romano — very fine museum.

Statue from the theater

Beautiful passageways

Akon Chronos — God of Infinite Time (the kids sang about the future — Lao tsu’s says that being comes from non-being — I’m merely taking photos.)

Roman room decoration

Roman Empire during the era of Augustus. Visigoths occupied Iberia from 5th to 8th centuries. They sacked Rome in 410 AD but converted to Catholicism in 587. They were conquered by Arabs in 711 AD.

We visit the Basilica Santa Eulalia — there were many crypts under the church — one of which was that of Saint Eulalia, a 12 year-old girl who refused to give up Christianity even when tortured and killed in 304 AD, an era when Diocletian was killing Christians.

Saint Eulalia — apparently she taunted the authorities, daring them to kill her. They hesitated — probably recognizing her behavior as a symptom of being a teenager but, in the end, they burned her at the stake and a dove miraculously flew out of her mouth. Miracles were required or she would not have been made a saint and the presumption is that more miracles can occur.

I hope for a miracle — some people reading this probably need one. Sometimes images connected to the saint provide miracles.

We visited the crypt. It’s a strange situation. You can look into the church above (and we see a man bending over doing something on the floor) – but we are not allowed in the main area — only in the crypt area. Saint Eulalia’s remains are not actually under the church — they have been moved to the city of Oviedo. People often confuse this saint with another young woman who was martyred in Barcelona and who had the same name. Also, as you can see, they don’t let you get very close to the crypt, so my hope for creating a video that could stimulate a miracle may have been thwarted.

It’s hard to get miracles out of it when you are so far away and the ashes have been moved. The candle marks her crypt.

The Acueducto de los Milagros (Miracle Aqueducts) is another story.

It’s a long walk to get to it but the miracle is that it is still standing after being built in Roman times. The aqueduct brought fresh water to Augusta Emerita.

Stork on the aqueduct

Church in town – locked – hard to get miracles from a locked church

Stork and clock

Temple of Diana – connected to a Muslim palace which later was Christian.

We visit the Casa del Mitreo, ruins of a Roman house. Roman houses had a public zone with atrium and a private zone with dining room and bedrooms.

More rooms

We returned to our hotel — the Hotel Zeus — near a Pieta statue in the traffic circle.

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