To Roam (or not?) to Rome?

Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections (trans. Richard and Clara Winston):

“I have traveled a great deal in my life, and I should very much have liked to go to Rome, but I felt that I was not really up to the impression the city would have made upon me. Pompeii alone was more than enough; the impressions very nearly exceeded my powers of receptivity. I was able to visit Pompeii only after I had acquired, through my studies of 1910 to 1912, some insight into the psychology of classical antiquity. In 1912 I was on a ship sailing from Genoa to Naples. As the vessel neared the latitude of Rome, I stood at the railing. Out there lay Rome, the still smoking and fiery hearth from which ancient cultures had spread, enclosed in the tangled rootwork of the Christian and Occidental Middle Ages. There classical antiquity still lived in all its splendor and ruthlessness.

I always wonder about people who go to Rome as they might go, for example, to Paris or to London. Certainly Rome as well as these other cities can be enjoyed esthetically; but if you are affected to the depths of your being at every step by the spirit that broods there, if a remnant of a wall here and a column there gaze upon you with a face instantly recognized, then it becomes another matter entirely. Even in Pompeii unforeseen vistas opened, unexpected things became conscious, and questions were posed which were beyond my powers to handle.

In my old age in 1949 I wished to repair this omission, but was stricken with a faint while I was buying tickets. After that, the plans for a trip to Rome were once and for all laid aside.”


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