I had been traveling through Europe and had gone to visit a museum in Italy, apparently in Rome, which contained a large sculpture I had seen before and in which I was particularly interested. The first time I had seen the sculpture I hadn't been especially impressed by it, but after reflecting about it later, I had realized what a captivating piece of art it actually was. Now I found myself again in the spacious room where the piece was located.
The sculpture -- made from white marble -- sat in a recessed section in the floor. The bottom part of the work consisted of a large rectangular slab which measured approximately ten meters by five meters and stood about a meter high. On top of the slab were a variety of intricate carvings. Directly over top the slab about a half meter above it was another slab held in place by marble sculptures of men on the ends of the slab, who were holding the slab just by the tips of their fingers. On top of the second slab was a large marble sculpture which formed what could probably be called the central theme of the entire work.
That part of the sculpture wasn't entirely clear, but seemed to depict several people gathered together in a lump. The features of the people had been partially carved out and seemed in a way to be emerging from the marble.
I knew the entire work was dedicated to Julius Caesar and I thought it might be Caesar's tomb, but I wasn't entirely sure. I wondered whether the work had been done while Caesar had still been living or after he had died. I began thinking about the work and another sculpture I had seen of a famous person of antiquity and I wondered about the significance of men actually having sculptures made of themselves which then survived through history. It seemed to reveal a puzzling part of man's nature.
I wondered what it would have been like if the two slabs had been placed closer together so the carvings on top of the bottom slab couldn't be seen without crawling in between the two slabs. Would I get down and crawl there? I realized such thoughts were useless because the statue was carved the way it was and it couldn't be changed.
I was anxious to find some description of the work. I paced back and forth around it looking it over and looking for some plaque which would describe it. I remembered the last time having seen a long, gold, metal sign that identified the work, but I saw that it had been removed from the back of the statue. I was determined to find out more about the moving work and I directed my attention to a type of nearby concession stand.
I stepped up to the stand and immediately noticed lying on the glass cases which formed the counter of the concession stand about ten pictures which had been cut out in relief. I immediately remembered that I had actually been in the museum the night before and with someone who had been helping me, I had cut out the pictures to add to my collection ofcollage pictures. I apparently had forgotten and left them here. A man stepped up and, speaking to him in French, I immediately told him the pictures belonged to me and I began gathering them together. He seemed unconcerned and he helped me stack them up. Some were lying in front of a boy standing to my left and some were in front of the cash register. I put them all into a neat stack before me.
I them turned to the man and began speaking. I didn't know how to speak Italian but I thought he probably spoke English. However I decided to speak to him in French because I wanted to speak as much French as possible. Choosing my words I said, "Avez-vous quelque petit chose que describe ce sculpture?"
I wasn't entirely sure that "describer" was a French word; but I thought the man would understand. He replied to me in French that he did have something and he pulled out a small pamphlet which he handed to me. It looked like what I wanted and I asked him how much it was. He answered and I thought he said. "Dix dollars."
I repeated, "Dix dollars?"
Ten dollars seemed to me to be far too much for the tiny pamphlet and I wasn't sure I was willing to pay that. But he said, "Deux dollars."
That time I understood him. Two dollars I could afford. I reflected about how close the pronunciation was between "deux" and "dix" in French.
He also added that included in the price was a bag in which to carry the pamphlet and he pulled out a rather large, light brown leather or imitation leather bag. I thought I didn't really need it, but I might be able to find some use for it.
I opened my billfold, extracted two one dollar bills and handed them to the man. He told me he needed an additional 23 cents. I hadn't heard that at first, but I dug my hand into my pocket and I pulled out a handful of change, mostly pennies. I counted out two dimes and three pennies which I dropped into the man's outstretched hand. He already had some change in his hand and as he looked at the money I had handed him, he seemed uncertain whether I had given him the right amount. I thought I could have just given him a single dime and three pennies and he wouldn't have been able to tell the difference since my money had mixed so quickly with the money in his hand. But it would hardly be worth my time to try to cheat him like that.
Finally I opened the pamphlet, some pages of which were orange. I realized I hadn't specified that I wanted the pamphlet in French; but I saw that it didn't matter because the same thing was written inside in many different languages. I noticed some pages of Russian in the Cyrillic alphabet. I was a bit disappointed to see all the languages because I realized the same information was repeated many times in the pamphlet and therefore I hadn't received as much information as I had anticipated. The entire pamphlet was probably only 20 pages and probably only three of those pages would be in French.
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