“And all is very ancient… Watch the steps, they are steep… Trust me, follow me… ” I smell the old manuscripts, the creaking of the wood, the low voices of the street… or of the past. Something special is about to happen. And here in a moment the windows open wide, and in an instant all the gold of Rome pours into my eyes. The Ancient City embellished by the lights of the night in a carpet of memories prostrates itself at the foot of this splendid monument. With my hands I hold tight the cold stones of the sill, as if trying to cling, while my heart flies… I am euphoric. I must have thought too intensely “It’s impossible!”, and as if it were an answer I hear: “This temple is founded on love, that’s why it still stands.” A few steps from here there is a truly colossal monument, but the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina contains much more than antiquity, here you can sense the feelings that continue to live in spite of the centuries. With my eyes I am devouring everything… Another moment, a breath, a caressing of the stones of this giant that remains to challenge time. I have to leave him, but… something has changed, I feel as if I remembered what I have never lived, and yet… I recall it. At night, like every night from the most ancient times, all Rome together with its people, the monuments and its priceless treasures sleep. I want to curl up too, but suddenly I feel in my mind “I am back!” I jump up and walk back and forth, I feel stronger and stronger “I am back!!!”. I didn’t know her before, but now I can’t go wrong,
it’s Faustina. A woman who lived almost two thousand years ago, yet I feel her! Right up to dawn, verse after verse poetry is born, and the ancient, Roman goddess becomes more and more alive. I put the last full stop and begin to read and reread, as if it were a prayer. By now, I feel them real. I want to find out as much as possible about the Great Emperor and his beloved wife. They are here, in front of me. Thus also a Brief explanation based on historical facts is born.
Come to the Temple, admire it, listen to its walls, read these words and feel for yourselves the great love of Antoninus and Faustina…
SVETLANA SPIRIDONOVA, opera singer, actress, teacher. After obtaining degree with honors from the “Santa Cecilia” Conservatory of Rome, she received titles of “Best Degree in Rome” and “Best Degree in Lazio”. Winner of numerous international awards, including the Absolute Prize in the Competition of Sacred Music, which she performs with great passion and spirituality. Her vast repertoire embraces different musical genres and ranges from the ancient period to modern times. She sings in more than 14 languages, as well as in dialects. She performs in theaters and in the most prestigious places in Europe and the world like the Vatican, the Red Square, the Cairo Opera House and many others.
From a very young age she dedicated herself to writing poetry. Her epistolary style, like all of her life, is full of musical senses, like rhythm, the sonority of words and the profound images of expressions.
GRAIN OF TIME
In memory of Antoninus Pius
and his wife Faustina
in an instant the sun will touch your lips
Fresh and fragrant I bring you some milk –
I am back…
beyond marble columns and beyond the sky,
You’re hearing the sound of my laughter –
I am back…
all the waters of the world cannot quench your thirst,
For eternity I’ll be your dew –
I am back…
And also I live in this grain of time,
To your love I have immolated myself –
I am back…
Svetlana Spiridonova, opera singer
native of Moscow, second homeland Rome
she is honored to offer these verses as a gift
to the Noble Chemical Pharmaceutical College
Universitas Aromatariorum Urbis
Brief explanation of the poem “Grain of time”:
imaginary memories based on real facts that inspired the birth of these verses
How sweet is this awakening! And while sleep allows a last moment, the first thought emerges: “I’m married! Yesterday, on a beautiful sunny day, all of Rome came to our wedding. Here he is, next to me my… husband, who knows what he is dreaming. Now I am no longer just the daughter of Annius Verus, but the wife of the great Antoninus. I was born in 105 and I’m only twelve, but everyone looks at me as if I were a queen. And Antoninus’ eyes are always full of love. I’ll go and get him some milk before he wakes up. I’m happy.
We are happy.”
“This temple will remain forever! And the precious smooth columns, like your skin, which came from Euboea to Rome, challenging the lands and the seas, will never collapse, because they rest on our love. Who knows if you can see them from the sky… The year 141 was the longest in my life, the first year without you, my wife, my friend, my goddess.”
Time passes, but Antoninus does not remarry and ten years after Faustina’s death he has a new coin minted with the inscription DIVA FAVSTINA // AETERNITAS (Goddess Faustina // Eternity).
“How I wish I had you beside me in this magnificent temple. All Rome admires him, it is for you, my Faustina, my divine bride… May the gods protect us and you, my love, watch over our children and over all the Roman people.”
Today is March 7, a beautiful spring day in 161. The Imperial Forums are packed with people, women are heard crying here and there. For his kindness and peaceful character, Antoninus was nicknamed “Pius”, and now Rome greets him for the last time. Next to Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus his adorable daughter Faustina the Younger cries. Soon Antoninus will be buried in the mausoleum of his predecessor, the emperor Hadrian; centuries later this monument will be called Castel Sant’Angelo. For eternity his remains will be bathed by the celestial and underground waters of the great Tiber… the eternity he reamed for himself and his beloved wife Faustina.
Centuries have passed… Time, relentless and voracious, has swallowed up the palaces, temples and entire cities, but even before the magnificent temple consecrated by the Senate of Rome to the Emperor Antoninus Pius and his wife Faustina even time bows. And its majestic beauty founded on love and the divine rule of the golden ratio gave birth to these verses, this small “poetic temple” based on the same rule and inspired by the feeling that is challenging the centuries. The infinite has united Antoninus and Faustina forever, now they have merged one into the other. Their bodies have turned into grains of sand, their lives – into grains of time, and their love remains eternal.
To help this magnificent giant to continue its eternal journey in time in the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, works of different size and nature are regularly carried out. In recent years, between 2012 and 2018, the Temple has undergone various operations of restoration and structural consolidation.
In 2012 work began with the first intervention that involved the pronaos area, the colonnade and entablature with cleaning interventions, consolidation of the deteriorated parts and the grouting of the lesions to avoid the infiltration of rainwater. In three cases where major problems had been encountered: two capitals and a column in cipolin marble (“onion-stone”), metal anchoring structures were installed for the parts in danger.
In 2013 work was done on the North-East wall overlooking the access ramp to the archaeological area, which showed signs of deterioration. In this case too, in addition to the general cleaning of the wall and the consolidation of the blocks of peperino (volcanic tuff), which gave signs of superficial degradation, two of the marble elements that presented problems of instability were made safe.
In 2016 works started on the podium and the South-East wall. There too, several maintenance problems were addressed, some of which required the construction of anchoring structures for the portions at risk.
In 2018 the restoration works of the Roman walls were concluded with the repairing of the two side walls in peperino blocks and the pronaos area, with particular regard to the marble parts.
The POETIC LITTLE TEMPLE is the gift in memory of an eternal love between the Emperor Antoninus and his wife Faustina. After the conclusion of the works of 2018 the idea of the “little temple for the timeless Temple” was born, a project shared by Giacomo Restante, the architect of the Special Government Department responsible for the Archaeological Heritage, who directed the recent renovation of the Temple, while the execution of marble parts was carried out by Marco Vellitri and by the Lavinio Marmi Snc company, which carried out important restoration work on the Temple, in particular the reconstruction of a large fragment at the base of one of the columns, which was removed in ancient times.
This marble panel formally represents the structure of the Grand Temple and is made with the same identical materials that characterize his pronaos. The slab, the base and the architrave are of Carrara marble, just like the one used to cover the Temple, making it glorious like all Imperial Rome.
The columns of the Little Temple are created following the idea of Arch. Restante with cipollin marble (“onion-stone”) brought from the same quarry on the island of Euboea in Greece, from which more than 1800 years ago on the order of the Emperor Antoninus the columns were made for this magnificent monument.
The Poetic Little Temple helps us to imagine, how the Great Temple of Antoninus and Fausitna would look if it were not hidden by the centuries-old patina, a veil of time, that covers its gigantic columns, brilliant and festive, really unique throughout Ancient Rome, like the feeling that inspired this wonder.