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People Born in Rome
Rome in People's Lives
Anthony of Padua: I traveled here after being proclaimed Provincial Superior of the Franciscan Order while preaching one of my acclaimed sermons in Arles, France, in 1228. I lived, for a time, in the Vatican at the court of Pope Gregory IX, who greatly admired my teachings, calling me "the ark of the Testament." He wasn't the only one to appreciate my eloquet sermons, and my acclaim grew. I was commissioned to write a collection of my sermons, to be published as Sermons for Feast Days.
Aurelian: I was emperor of this city and the Roman Empire from 270 until 275.
Catrinel Menghia: Around 2008, I opened an art gallery in this city that combines the art of cinematography with the unpredictability of painting. Painting became a new passion for me.
Flavia Titiana: Though my birthplace is unknown, I was probably born here, as my father was a Roman Senator. I was born in 135 AD, into a wealthy and aristocratic family. I married Pertinax, a self-made man now enjoying a successful military career. We had two children together. In 193 AD, a tumultuous time of many rises and falls in power later named "the year of five emperors," Pertinax was made Emperor of Rome, and I was crowned Empress, or "Augusta," as well. However, of those to rise and then plummet in power, my husband was among them. After an 83-day reign, he was assassinated by members of his guard. Thankfully, my children and I were not harmed, and I was allowed to continue living well in Rome. My death, and the rest of my life, are not known.
Gore Vidal: Beginning in 1962, I began to spend most of each year here. Originally, I came here to research my novel Julian, and I was fascinated by this city. I loved writing here, and I also wrote another book of mine, Washington D.C., while staying here. I purchased a villa outside this city, in Ravello, around 1968, but still visited this city very often.
Henry James: I traveled here in 1869, and was immensely impressed. I fell in love with this city, and wrote to my brother "Here I am in the Eternal City. At last - for the first time - I live!" I attempted to become a freelance writer here and settle in this city, but I got a job in Paris instead.
Hilaire Belloc: After a month-long pilgrimage walking across France, Switzerland, the Alps, and Italy, I reached this city, which I considered a great jewel of my beloved Catholic faith. I traveled here in 1901, at the age of 31, already a celebrated writer. I would later write The Path to Rome about my journey here, published in 1902, and which I considered my best work.
Jean-Baptiste Colbert: I traveled here in 1666 to found the French Academy at Rome.
John William Godward: I ran away from my otherwise lifelong home in London to this city with one of my models in 1912, at the age of 51. My family, already disgusted at my choice to live as an artist, were utterly ashamed, and cut off contact with me. I stayed here for seven years, before returning to England in 1919.
Julius Caesar: I was born here in 100 BC, into a noble but only moderately well-off patrician family. Despite our realistically modest means, my family relied heavily on our ancient name, and enjoyed reminding others of the myth that our family line of Julia was descended from the Trojan prince Aeneas, who had supposedly been the son of the goddess Venus. My father, though he resided in this city, was the governor of Asia. Little information is known about my childhood, but my father died in 85 BC, when I was 16 years old, making me the new head of the household. Coincidentally, at the same time, my powerful uncle Gaius Marius was in a feud with his rival attempting to take over this city. When he succeeded, I was at his side, and was appointed the prestigious position of High Priest of Jupiter when I was only 17 years old. It was my first taste of power, and deeply influenced me. It was also arranged by my uncle Gaius that I marry the daughter of the second most powerful man in Rome. However, my uncle's reign in power did not last for long, and he was soon overthrown. My connections gone, my power was stripped away, and my inheritance and wife's dowry were taken, as was my position as a priest. I became a target of scorn, and was ordered to divorce my wife Cornelia, but refused, and was forced to go into hiding. Eventually, the hostility against me was eased by the influence of my high born mother. Though I was allowed to come out of hiding, I still felt that it would be safest to leave Rome, and so I joined the army and left this city around 81 BC, when I was around 19 years old. After serving in the army and rising to recognition there, I returned home to this city in 78 BC, having heard of the death of my opposer. I was now 22 years old. Having lost my fortune after my inheritance was stripped away, I settled into a modest home in Subura, a lower-class neighborhood in this city. I became a legal advocate, and soon gained a reputation for my cutting edge speeches and oratory skills, and for ruthlessly tearing apart corrupt officials of high rank, pariticularly governors. I was soon elected military tribune, my first step toward political power. In 69 BC, at the age of 31, I was elected quaestor. In this position, I found a way to pay respects to my defeated uncle, though my relation to him had formerly been the reason for my exile from Rome. My first wife Cornelia died in 69 BC as well. I married a high-born girl in 67 BC, now 33 years old, but she was the granddaughter of my rival that had exiled me from Rome, and our marriage never went all that well; I later divorced her. In 63 BC, at the age of 37, I decided to run for the position of Chief Priest of Rome. Though I ran against two very powerful senators who made attempts to thwart my every move, I won easily, being a charismatic and respected man in Rome. There were rampant rumors that I had bribed voters, but overall, public opinion of me was favorable. I served as praetor in 62 BC, and was also in that year appointed governor of Hispania Ulterior, which is now southeastern Spain. I was elected consul in 60 BC, and around 59 BC created a powerful alliance between Crassus and Pompey. Together, as the three most powerful and wealthy men in Rome, our alliance was monumental, and we ruled this city completely. Though our first year in power was rocky and I was even forced to hide away in my villa in fear for my life for months, we made major steps. I decided to lead a conquest of Gaul. Things began to unravel however, when my daughter Julia, married to Pompey in order to solidify our alliance, died in childbirth. Pompey, who had already been considering stepping away from our political union, declined when I offered him marriage to my niece. In 53 BC, my other ally Crassus was killed leading a failed invasion to the east. Rome was thrown into choas, and into a civil war. In 49 BC, after conquering Pompey and his forces, I was appointed Dictator of Rome, its sole ruler. As ruler of the Roman Empire, I was vigilant in expanding the empire and tried to be a firm, just emperor. My lover, the Egyptian queen Cleopatra, frequently visited me, beginning around 47 BC, during which we would retreat to my luxurious villa on the banks of the Tiber. My place as dictator of the empire was renewed in 46 BC, which was contracted to extend for 10 years. My rule flourished, and the public seemed happy. I pardoned enemies of other colonies, welcoming them into the Roman Empire, held great celebrations and games, and was generous to my people. I had a strong and passionate vision of weaving together all of the countries and kingdoms in the empire into one strong, united country. I changed laws, invented the Julian calendar that is still used thousands of years later, built many forums and other architectural monuments, made plans to provide benefits to veterans, established a cohesive police force, made land reforms, and planned to build an enormous theater and a library modeled after the lost Library of Alexandria - though these last two building plans never came to pass. However, in March of 44 BC, as I was entering the Senate building, I was set upon by one of my senators, and was stabbed to death in a violent and bloody turmoil of 60 men stabbing me 23 times. A key conspirator had been Marcus Brutus, a protege of mine - some witnesses report that I covered my face when I realized that he was leading the assault, devastated. After the stabbing finished, and I lay dead in a lake of blood on the senate floor, my murderers ran out from the building with bloody hands, shouting to the streets "People of Rome, we are once again free!" However, as I had always been on the citizen's side, their jubilance was met with stony silence from my loyal people, who went into their houses and locked their doors to the senators. My body was cremated, and my ashes were laid to rest in the Temple of Caesar, completed a few years after my death. The altar of that temple still exists today.
Marc Antony: I was born here in 83 BC into a noble Roman family, the son of an orator notorious for his corrupt and incompetetant business dealings. My mother was a distant cousin of Julius Caesar. My father died abroad, on a mission fighting pirates, in 71 BC, when I was 12 years old. Along with my brothers, I was now in charge of my family's household, and saw myself as a protector of my mother. My mother remarried, and her second husband was fond of living lavishly and above his means, plunging our family into debt. He was executed in 63 BC by Cicero, plunging my mother into bitterness and depression. My youth was spent without a father figure, and unchecked by my mother, I grew up into an undisciplined, foolish young man. My most common activity was to go carousing the streets of Rome with my brothers gambling, drinking, and womanizing. I also may have experimented with other, forbidden, cult religions. By the age of 25, I had amassed an enormous gambling and spending debt, and fled to Athens in 58 BC to escape my creditors. I returned shortly afterward and in 57 BC joined the military as chief of cavalry, and embarked on military campaigns to Jerusalem and beyond. After this, I steadily rose to power, even becoming like a son to Julius Caesar, to whom I fought beside in military campaigns and remained a close confidante, supporting him through political upheaval. I was elected as one of the ten tribunes of Rome in 49 BC. After the Civil War, I was made second-in-command to Caesar, and ruled Rome in his stead while he was away in Egypt. However, I proved unpopular, especially after I violently reacted to an insistance that a new law be made forgiving all debts acquired during the expensive civil wars - I sent out soldiers instead of responding with political tactics, throwing Rome into chaos and outrage, and forcing Caesar to return from Egypt. After this, Caesar did not think so highly of me, and I did not make things any easier after I blockaded Caesar from giving promotions to a man I suspected had once had an affair with my wife. I recieved no promotions, and remained behind during Caesar's following military campaigns. In 45 BC, after I refused to be a part of an assassination plot against Caesar, and warned him, we reconciled, and I was elected Consul, second-in-command of all of the Roman Empire. On March 15th of 44 BC, I learned of another assassination plot of Caesar, and rushed to warn him. However, I got to my closest friend too late, and found him stabbed to death. In his will, Caesar had left me all of his estates and named me as his heir to all but his empire, which was given to Augustus. However, I decided to ignore Augustus, and though I did not proclaim myself as ruler, I began making all of the public appearances and decisions that a leader should. A short civil war ensued, and my forces were defeated by Augustus. In 42 BC, I left Rome to Athens.
Mary Todd Lincoln: I visited this city in 1877, on my second European trip.
Oscar Pistorius: I traveled here in 2012 to make a guest appearance on the Italian version of Dancing with the Stars, in which I danced a tango at the Auditorium Rai.
Ralph Fiennes: I traveled here in 1995 to film scenes of the movie The English Patient. Among other locations, we filmed at the Le Grand Hotel.
Samuel Morse: I visited this city in 1830, while on a European tour studying paintings.
Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire: I was sent here on a diplomatic mission by Henry VIII in 1521 and 1523, serving as envoy to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. I was sent on another mission here in 1529 to meet with Pope Clement VII concerning the annullment of the king's marriage to Catherine of Aragon.
Viggo Mortensen: I traveled here in 1995 to film scenes of the movie Daylight.
Vinnie Ream: I lived here for a short time in 1868, where I did sculpting work in marble. Among the number of patrons that I sculpted busts of, one was Giacomo Antonelli. I had my own studio, at 45 Via di San Basile. I was one of the most highly accomplished female sculpters in the world, and I was only 21 years old.
Washington Allston: I traveled here numerous times between 1804 - 1808, with the intention of studying and being inspired by art, and met two of my lifelong friends here, Washington Irving and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Years after I left, I always missed this city and longed to return. I loved the Italian way of relaxed decadence, and even wrote a book on the subject in 1841.
Zenobia: For me, this city was the representation of foreign conquerors that I started a war to free my empire from. However, I was captured and brought to Rome as a prisoner in 273, made to walk the streets in golden chains by the emperor Aurelian. From there, history is blurry; some sources say that I was executed here, others say that the emperor, impressed by my beauty, let me live as a noblewoman within the city, and even marry a Roman patrician. Whatever the truth is, it is generally accepted that I died here around 275.