I love history, and that’s why I primarily write historical romances. I have a three-story series of Victorian novellas, The Disciplinarian, The Disciplinarian’s Daughter and The Bet with Red Sage Publishing, and a Roman saga called Conqueror Vanquished with Ellora’s Cave.
So imagine how excited I was on a recent trip to Los Angeles to be able to visit the Getty Villa in Malibu, which is dedicated to Greek and Roman antiquities.
This place was amazing. It’s built to resemble an Italian villa in the ancient town of Herculaneum, which was buried by volcanic ash when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79. (Yes, Herculaneum was buried along with Pompeii.)
Walking through the villa museum is like taking a step back in time to witness how the Romans actually lived in the first century.
Every room off the central atrium houses incredible ancient treasures. But by far the most impressive… and jaw-dropping… piece in this living museum is a seven foot tall statue of Hercules (Heracles). It is almost 2,000 years old and has only had THREE owners!
The statue was discovered in 1790 buried near the villa of the Roman emperor Hadrian, who ruled from 117 to 138 A.D. (Yes, he was the man who ordered Hadrian’s Wall built in England, to separate the Roman conquerors from the native ‘barbarians’ to the north. ) This statue of Hercules was apparently commissioned by Hadrian around 125 A.D. In 1792, two years after its unearthing, it was bought by an English collector, the Marquess of Landsdowne, to become part of his private collection. Almost two hundred years later it became the property of J. Paul Getty.
Another masterpiece of ancient art on display at the villa is this delicate, paper-thin gold leaf wreath, which was made in 300 B.C. but incredibly still maintains its bright gold color. In ancient Greece, wreaths were given to athletes as prizes in contests. This one is so fragile that they keep it in a glass case inside an environmentally controlled room.
Another highlight for me as a writer of ancient Roman warriors was this statue of a Roman soldier wearing full military parade armor. And hey, the body of the man under the uniform is impressive, too!
The Getty Villa is an amazing place. It’s almost inconceivable that some of the antiquities there are more than two millennia old. Who knows, maybe I was so drawn to it because I was Roman in a previous life! How about you? Is there a time in history, or a place in the world that you feel a strong connection to? Share your story!