The face of medieval Europe was scarred with the ruins of its past. In Rome itself, the Colosseum housed the barbarous Frangipani and their armed retainers, greedy, lawless, destructive; the Forum provided a quarry for churches and rough pasture for the cattle market, and beneath the broken columns of the temple of Castor and Pollux the bullocks awaited their slaughter. The Campagna was littered with the crumbling ruins of the aqueducts; the pavements of those splendid Roman roads were narrowed by returning wilderness. Elsewhere scraps of walls, the ruins of arena, temple, and triumphal arch, sometimes embedded in the hovels and houses of a town struggling to regain its life or lost forever in the countryside, constantly reminded the man of the Middle Ages of the fleeting life of man, of the unknowable nature of Providence. For him the past was dead, and its relics but morals in stone, a terrible warning of the wickedness that God had punished.
- From The Italian Renaissance by J. H. Plumb
[Photo by Alex Suprun at Unsplash]