Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ancient Travel (Viaggio Antico)

Lately, I’ve been wondering what mass transit thousands of years ago might have looked like. I tried to do an artist’s concept of a chariot bus, but it turned out a bit more like a stretch chariot limo.

Here is another stretch vehicle that makes no sense to me...

Traveling in ancient times was risky business with a much higher incidence of animal attacks, bandit attacks, toll tax... I guess it still can be tough if you are pleasure sailing off Somalia, driving a car in downtown Nice, France on a Friday at rush hour, or the like.

Frequently, travelers would make vows to create altars after the return from a trip. And I'm not just talking about a trip to Starbucks or taking the chariot down for an oil change; I'm talking about trips to different cities that actually did involve a degree of danger. Most often these monuments had the Latin 'VOTVM SOLVIT LAETUS LIBENS MERITO' carved in, which means 'fulfilled his promise gladly, willingly, and deservedly' to whoever the traveler believed had control over his destiny.

After a while, all that marble carving got a bit onerous, so the state and merchant guilds set up ‘good-luck’ carvings along the most commonly used paths. These were called ‘hermes’ which were typically small columns with a head growing out on top, kind of like the original Sponge Bob.

Here is a picture of some hermes I took in the Correr museum (I think) without the typically associated plinth (base).
Anyway, happy trails...

Mi sono chiesto che cosa un autobus sarà simile 2000 anni fa...
ps - che cazzo fa una 'smart car' limosine???


  1. Oh, I really like that stretch chariot limo. Brings me back to the good old days :

    Sponge Bob didn't exist back then.

  2. AnonymousJune 10, 2009

    I've been watching that show on DISCOVERY about the dudes who spend their time and talent making up DaVinci's old designs for machines, like his combat chariots and the like. It's fascinating. And not really much to do with your entry, but I'm odd like that.

  3. AnonymousJune 10, 2009

    Also, the fact the word verification on that last comment there was 'HERP' is rather worrying...

  4. Reading this from my Blackberry while sailing off the coast of Somalia in my yacht.


  5. :) Dutch Donut Girl, the days before Sponge Bob were blissful and carefree for sure...

    Vegetable Assassin, those shows are great, so if you are odd then I am too. *shut up
    everyone else who's not odd*

    Mo!!! Look out!!! RPGs off to port at 9 o'clock, fire torpedos...

  6. I always liked those ones Chinese royalty got carried in, I think they're called palanquins? and you get four strapping young men to carry you in it... I may have to work a palanquin into the Chronicles
    ; )

    although I'd settle for a chariot in a pinch.

  7. lol.. Eric I'm not sure where your head wanders to when you come up with these things? Of course you do it so well.. just don't end up on a bust on a post, ok?

    Now..chariots lol.... and is it just me or does that look like a redbull can on steroids? (and wheels??)

  8. I NEED that stretch chariot! Prom's coming up. No, not mine, I graduated a long time ago. But I still like to show up. Dance a few dances. Is that weird?

  9. Soda and Candy, thanks I never knew what those were called. I wonder if Lexus was a brand back then? I'd be your front right tire...
    Chariots rock!

    Toni James, I'm not sure either. If you see it, tell it to come back, lol...
    I agree, the stretch Smartie looks like a Red Bull promo. Now apparently, all it has to do is run into a vodka truck.

    Hey it's Shawn! Umm... No. Not. Weird at . All... It's fun to sometimes show the whipersnappers a few busted moves, I believe, because the children are our future as Whitney Houston would say.

  10. is that a picture of a stretch red bull can?

  11. Hey Eric -

    Is it weird that I feel slightly smarter from having visited this blog? Never mind, I'm sure I can dumb myself back to normal by watching some more Spongebob. :)


  12. JoLee, yes I think it is. I have one friend that hates Smart Cars, and another that used to drive one. I just thought this was a bit ironic. I'd like to see a Mini stretch car.

    the girl - Thanks, I don't mean to lecture too much, I just find some of this stuff interesting (as I do your writing style). xo

  13. you should recreate a phoenician ship with wheels and drive it around town. that would be awesome!

  14. I think Hannibal had the right idea - how freaking awesome would it be to travel by elephant?

  15. I guess we can compare their alters [altars?] to souveniers these the mini Eiffel towers that you p/u in france...or the severed heads in Iraq and such?


  16. Mr. C, I'll stick with my luxury sedan for now, but very creative.

    Anna, yes, I'm now ditching my luxury sedan for an elephant because that idea K1kZ @LL tHE AZZzZZaZZ...

    Lopez, yes, I was thinking that exactly, except it was something else. :\
    ps - hope it was another good day at the pool.

  17. Haha, I just noticed you call me "saucy" in your blogroll over there... nice : )

  18. Kind of like Spongebob? HILARIOUS. I want one!

  19. Soda, yes, I think it is appropriate... :)

    LiLu, Ok, I'll get to carving...

  20. lol - You realise of course that was for your benefit.

  21. lol I feared as much ... but thanks anyway Eric :P