It has been two millennia since Herodotus listed the Seven Wonders of the World. With a myopia and general sloppiness that we have come to expect from the ancients, he really got it all wrong. The classical Mediterranean was really not all that impressive in retrospect. In fact, I think I can find Seven Wonders on Penn’s campus alone that are more impressive than each of Herodotus’ “Wonders.”
I. Like the Great Pyramid of Giza, archeological evidence suggests that Huntsman Hall was constructed by a vast army of Jewish slaves. Both are testaments to the appalling materialistic excess of their respective ages. And while the Pyramid seems to serve a far more apparent practical purpose, Huntsman wins an objective comparison:
Pyramid: 1 Au Bon Pain Location (closed during United Kingdom’s appropriation of Ottoman holdings in the region)
Huntsman: 2 Au Bon Pain Locations
II. Like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Bio Pond was designed as an opulent pleasure garden. But let us consider how much pleasure each afforded? The Gardens were a bitch to maintain; they necessitated the employment of one of history’s most complex irrigation systems. The Bio Pond, on the other hand, seems to go almost completely neglected by maintenance staff, as evidenced by the mounds of refuse and the ducks waddling around in neat plastic six-packs. The copious marijuana usage at the Bio Pond, however, ensures the superiority of Penn’s wonder according to the pleasure rubric.
III. The Temple of Artemis and Rodin College House were both designed as humble tributes to their respective cultures’ goddesses of wisdom. But what did Artemis ever do for the Ephesians? Consider that Judith Rodin tripled Penn’s endowment using only her mouth, and she somehow tricked US News and World Report into thinking Penn was better than Stanford. Now these are accomplishments worthy of a temple!
IV. The Statue of Zeus at Olympia is not as impressive as the Split Button at College Green. Like Professor L. Scott Ward of the Wharton School, Claes Olderburg’s sculpture has inspired weird sexual rumors and offers a delightful playground for young children. In contrast, climbing on the Statue of Zeus was generally frowned upon, and despite numerous attempts by classical pederasts, it was impossible to bone under.
V. In comparison to the Mausoleum of Maussollos, one might think of Penn’s most famous tomb—the Catacombs Under College Hall. The Mausoleum was occupied by obscure Persian royals. In contrast, buried in Penn’s tomb plays hosts to several illustrious tenants: Amy Gutmann’s sense of humor when it comes to terrorists, Gaylord Probasco Harnwell, the collective libido of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Dr. Rafael Robb’s last four wives. In this case, form does not triumph over contents.
VI. The Colossus of Rhodes was intended to incite a feeling of awe, straddling the mouth of the city’s harbor. Similarly, the Dueling Tampons straddle Locust Walk. But while the Colossus relied purely on its scale to awe its audience, the profound impact of Alexander Lieberman’s Covenant, as the art is properly known, not only has scale, but also breathlessly bad taste. While the Colossus would certainly make a nice photo opportunity, the Tampons leave any viewer with any aesthetic sense overcome by the menstrual innuendo and general crassness.
VII. When it comes to offering guidance in the night, the Lighthouse of Alexandria was the class of the ancient world. Penn doesn’t do so shabby here, either, though, as 898-WALK has lit the way in for many an inebriated freshman trireme caught in the treacherous West Philadelphian waters. Surely, the 150 meter Lighthouse was impressive for its age, but getting Tiffany del Guccistein home safe at 3am from a fraternity off-campus party at 50th and Chestnut borders on miraculous.
So there we have it, Seven Wonders of the Penn World: Huntsman Hall, the Bio Pond, Rodin College House, the Split Button, the Catacombs Under College Hall, the Dueling Tampons, and 898-WALK are now recorded in the tradition of Herodotus and wonders of our age. Of course, Herodotus did not compile his list alone; he had Callimachus’ help, so if you care to be my Callimachus and you feel any Penn wonders have been unfairly omitted, click my name and drop me a note.