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pantheon (PAN-thee-on) noun

1. A collection of people highly respected in a particular field.

2. A temple dedicated to all the gods.

3. All the gods of a people or religion collectively.

4. A public building containing tombs of illustrious people.

[After Pantheon, a domed circular temple in Rome, built c. 120 AD. From Greek pantheion (temple of all the gods), from pan- (all) + theos (gods).]

See more usage examples of pantheon in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

"In historic terms, [Lech Walesa] is held in the same pantheon as Nelson Mandela and Mikael Gorbachev for leading an oppressed nation bloodlessly to freedom."
Finian Coghla; Former Polish President Visits Limerick Council; Limerick Post (Ireland); Apr 2, 2004.

Pick up any rock in Rome and you'll find history dripping from it. At the Pantheon I ran my fingers across the gritty mortar connecting the thin bricks on the wall of this ancient temple and found myself connected to thousands of years of mankind. I'd touched the same bricks and mortar that were once held by the sweaty hands of the laborers who built the temple nearly two thousand years ago.

Besides history, one thing you find in abundance in Italy is smoke. What else can you expect in a place where there's a big T sign of Tabacchi at every street corner? Before closing their doors for the night, tobacconists even thoughtfully put out a little vending machine at the storefronts.

At the Colosseum I noticed a newly-wed couple with a photographer in tow. Clad in a gorgeous yellow gown, the bride smoked between shots and when the camera was ready for the next picture, she passed the glowing cigarette to a bridesmaid to hold.

I greatly enjoyed a recent visit to Italy but walking miles and miles takes toll on the feet and ankles no matter how inspiring the art or the sculpture. Soon I found myself reciting,

Rome, Rome, wherever you roam,
There is no place like home.

For this week in AWAD I've brought back five words derived from the names of landmarks in Rome and beyond.

-Anu Garg


Literature encourages tolerance - bigots and fanatics seldom have any use for the arts, because they're so preoccupied with their beliefs and actions that they can't see them also as possibilities. -Northrop Frye, writer (1912-1991)

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