Holidays and tourism

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Holidays and tourism

Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Tue Jul 29, 2003 9:20 pm

Salvete!

I come with a question here.

We know that the Romans were fervent party people. Especially in imperial times there were lots of holidays and religious feasts.

However, I wonder if they also had the practise of going away from wherever they lived to another place for a certain amount of time, just to go to this place as only or main purpose (in other words, tourism). Did it exist? Surely one could imagine in an empire so large that the wealthier citizens wanted to see another piece of the world. Study travels were popular with students and scholars, but they were not entirely touristic.

Did this practise exist in Rome or in Roman times?

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Postby Primus Aurelius Timavus on Wed Jul 30, 2003 4:03 am

Yes, indeed they did. One salient piece of evidence is Pausanias' "Description of Greece" which is very clearly a guide book like the modern Fodors or Lonely Planet. You can find an excellent online version at

http://perseus.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/cgi- ... 99.01.0160

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Postby Aulus Dionysius Mencius on Mon Aug 04, 2003 12:11 am

Salve

I think that it is natural for people to take leave from time to time, to seek rest, or maybe plot an assassination or two :wink:

But this is all on individual basis, and this assumption leads to another question. Did an organised form of travelling, in a group, exist? Did the Romans have some kind of travel agencies, etc....

Tergeste, I am not absolutely convinced that the Description of Greece was written with touristic intent. It is more like a geographical- historiographical essay. But this is only my opinion, off course.

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Postby Primus Aurelius Timavus on Mon Aug 04, 2003 3:05 am

I formed my own opinion about the Description of Greece after reading the beginning and then reading random passages. I.e., I have not read the whole work. So you might be right; I might have missed the most significant passages.

Nevertheless my scanning of the book did leave a strong impression of its resemblance to Fodors. Take the first two sentences:

I.[1] On the Greek mainland facing the Cyclades Islands and the Aegean Sea the Sunium promontory stands out from the Attic land. When you have rounded the promontory you see a harbor and a temple to Athena of Sunium on the peak of the promontory.

The use of the second person is not common in historiography. Clearly, there is a lot of geography and history in the work, but so there is in the Rough Guides.

I'd be interested in your opinion of why the Description was not intended as a guide book. A good discussion will motivate me to read it all!

Thanks,

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Postby Primus Aurelius Timavus on Mon Aug 04, 2003 3:27 am

I read somewhere that groups of Romans traveled to Sparta to watch boys being whipped as part of their "traditional" training. I'm sorry, I can't remember the source of that story.

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Postby Aulus Dionysius Mencius on Mon Aug 04, 2003 9:45 am

miTergeste,

So far I have read the first three books, being Attica, Corinth and Laconia... and from what I have read, there is still doubt in my mind about any touristic intent whatsoever.

I must concede to your point, however, that the use of the second person is unusual in historiography. But I have found another sentence that is, in my view, pesuasive of the fact that this is a historiographical work.

In the second paragraph of the first book, Pausanias writes the following :

"Even up to my time there were docks there, and near the largest harbor is the grave of Themistocles."

Even up to my time leads me to historiography, again.

Second argument...The third book, Laconia, gives solely an account on the lineage of the ruling house, there is nothing to be found about geography there, let alone tourism.

I eagerly await your comments, or from anyone else, for that matter.

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Postby Horatius Piscinus on Mon Aug 04, 2003 10:58 am

Salve Mencius

You might consider, too, how the temples of Dendera were supposedly built by Roman tourists doing the tour of Egypt. There is a piece by Seneca I have read where he describes a trip to Brundisium, the purpose of which was to travel with friends from that port ot vacation spots further East. There are references for Roman tourism, at least in the early imperial period. Before that you have such things as Cicero's travels to polish his education. Others did so as well and it was in a way a form of tourism, like wealthy Americans in the 19th century finishing off their education by a trip to "take in" Europe.

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Postby Aulus Dionysius Mencius on Mon Aug 04, 2003 11:28 am

Salve, Piscine

This surely answers my question about tourism en groupe.

Thanx 4 the info on that matter.

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