Similar to the Influences of the Classical World but seen from a different viewpoint.
Rome is the city of the soul (as Byron and Victor Hugo put it), of our authentic Western soul, since Europe and the West were shaped here and these roots are sacred -to me surely, and I think and hope to most of us.
[read more in Man of Roma ]
As for Antiquity as much respect as I may have for that era and it’s people I pretend that the mores then current are not relevant today.
Well, I don’t know Paul. Here in Europe religion is waning, people are trying to understand what their values are and sometimes do embrace weird beliefs (have you ever heard of the Temples of Damanhur in northern Italy?)
Personally, I prefer to get back to our Greco-Roman roots, which is not a barren exercise, ancient thought being totally incorporated in modern thought. As for Stoicism, human equality and brotherhood or natural law are elements of its legacy. And I wish I had a better knowledge to tell you how much of the American constitution is ‘ancient’.
Even in my curious for-fun exploration of science I recently discovered this connection between Pythagoras and the modern theories of the universe. We can ‘make sense’ of the universe, stated both Pythagoras and Einstein. Is there an affinity between our rationality (math etc.) and the universe? Fascinating theme.
I mean, WE are the ancients Paul …
[ read more in Change and Continuity in History. 1 ]
3. (…) Roman stoicism deeply influenced the West despite the victory of Christianity. “For much of modern Western history, Stoic ideas of moral virtue have been second to none in influence” (Ecole Initiative, Early Church On-Line Encyclopedia.)
We see examples of noble death in Shakespeare, who, like all his contemporaries from Renaissance, felt the influence of ancient thought. The imagination of the Victorian British was captured by Cato’s death, «clawing out his own entrails to avoid Caesar’s despotism — as a courageous and noble death.”
[read more in Eluana,or Man’s Ultimate Freedom. Ending One’s Life. 2 ]
Renaissance. A new fervour of rediscovery coming from Italy had begun to sweep Europe: manners, architecture, eloquence, military techniques and the overall thought of Greece and Rome.
Antiquity had exerted occasional influence on Medieval Europe – argues Burckhardt – even beyond Italy. Here and there some elements had been imitated, northern monastic scholarship had absorbed extensive subject matter from the Roman writers.
“But in Italy the revival of antiquity – Burckhardt observes – took a different form from that of the North. The wave of barbarism had scarcely subsided before the people, in whom the antique heritage was not completely effaced, and who showed a consciousness of its past and a wish to reproduce it. … In Italy the sympathies both of the learned and of the people were naturally on the side of antiquity as a whole, which stood to them as a symbol of past greatness. The Latin language too was easy to an Italian …”
A new ideal, though coming from the past, was ready to influence the future … Classical thought was not constrained by preconceived ideas. A new spirit of doubt and inquiry had arisen.
In “La Mediterranée” French historian Fernand Braudel says: “That Rome has deeply marked Europe it is evident, but nevertheless there is room for some amazing continuities. Is it by chance that, when Christianity breaks in two during the XVI century, the separation of the fields occurs exactly along the axis of the Rhine and the Danube, the double frontier of the Roman Empire?” (…)
[ read more in Permanences. Rome and Carthage ]
Rome’s legacy is greater than we think – “language, literature, legal codes, government, architecture, engineering, medicine, sports, arts, etc.” – and the Roman Empire has been a powerful myth in the course of the centuries.
From the comments area:
MoR: “Patterns of culture were recognizable all over the Roman Empire, since provincials aspired to be as Roman as possible etc., sometimes being more Roman than the Romans themselves, as it usually happens (see the Spanish or Illyrian emperors etc.), a centre-periphery cultural type of thing (like for example now people in Southern Germany or Romania listen to opera more than we do) …
Those said patterns of culture partially survived, and partially were recreated because of the inspirational idea of Rome, as we said. A very concrete idea though.
As an example, the way of life of the Roman landowning classes of the late Roman empire (as described for example by the letters of Symmacus, a rich Roman landowner of the IV century AD) has been a concrete and detailed model for the European elites and gentry for 17 centuries. Buying and selling plots, economic-oriented marriages outside any romanticism, wills disputed, hunting, pleasurable villas … it is the world described by Jane Austen, where people didn’t wear togas any more, but the lifestyle was still more or less a Roman lifestyle. When Gibbon published his book on Rome, it was soon avidly read by the upper classes, I don’t think it was by chance.
A good description of this Roman model for the European gentry – and I’ll add for the New World elites as well, let me extend my vainglory to you guys – can be found in The Fall of the Roman Empire – A New History, by Peter Heather, Pan Books, 2005. Excellent book in my view.”
[read more in France, Italy and the Legacy of Rome ]