Glastonbury festival is drawing to a climatic end as I type this; as the camera pans over the huge temporary festival site, my mind wanders to the question: “what would the Romans make of this?”
The tents centered around access points with roads and cornered by lookout towers, surrounded by itinerant groups of market-sellers certainly is somewhat reminiscent of a marching camp or temporary camp. The chaos involved would be just ludicrous to the military surveyors and junior officers who organise the Roman version’s set up. I think many Roman viewers would be in awe of the size of such a thing, with its very obvious temporary nature. Roman London at its peak has an estimated population maximum of 45-60,000. Glastonbury sold over 120,000 weekend camping tickets this week.
The international foodstuffs and huge range of culinary delights may not be too divorced from the fora and market places of Rome, nor would the litter. The music might be a big baffling; I’d love to see Tacitus, Pliny, Dio or Cato to have stood at the side of that crowd yesterday as Mick Jagger strutted his tight-jeans, pidgeon-chested brand of classic rock n roll to a 100,000 strong crowd of baying fans packed into a sunny arena. The Colosseum just might not be the same again!
That said, I’m sure they’d have a thing or two to say about the toilet arrangements…