The three students at the Italian School went down to the harbour at Piraeus to greet Alessandro della Seta, the Director of the School. Gilbert refers to him as the W, an abbreviation for SilkWorm, since Seta is Italian for “Silkworm.” Della Seta had already heard much about Gilbert through Mrs. Arthur Strong, the Assistant Director of the British School at Rome, with whom Gilbert had worked.
Gilbert naively mentioned that he had already met the Italian Ambassador at the Princess de Vicovaro’s, and della Seta critically responded that Gilbert should not waste too much time on the “vita mondana,” i.e., life in Society. Although Gilbert had already been assigned to study the ancient Roman market place in Athens, della Seta added another assignment to occupy his time. The sculpted base of the cult statue of Nemesis at Rhamnous in Attica was much more problematic: although a description by the ancient traveler Pausanias survives of the sculpted figures around the base, these had been so thoroughly destroyed by early Christian zealots that identification of the hundreds of fragments proved challenging, and would in fact eventually require many more decades of research. But della Seta under-estimated Gilbert’s capacity to pursue both archaeological and political research while studying as well as socialising.
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