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Three ancient Roman virtues for today

Letter to the Editor, Financial Times, August 20, 2008

Sir, With reference to your report “Italian troops an arresting tourist attraction” (August 18): the professional military vigilance of the Italian soldiers stationed in Rome's exclusive Parioli quarter calls to mind the ancient Roman virtues of pietas (dutiful loyalty); gravitas (a profound civic, political and religious seriousness); and auctoritas (the respect owed to successful leaders in war and peace).

Indeed, these characteristics are echoed in Virgil's Aeneid when Mercury exhorts Aeneas to found a new and powerful country to the west and fulfil his duty to his son:

“You owe him Italy's realm, the land of Rome.”

And when Juno – patron goddess of Roma Aeterna – makes a request of Jupiter, she presages a pivotal turning point in western civilisation known as the Pax Romana:

“Let Latium endure. Let Alban kings hold sway for all time. Let Roman stock grow strong with Italian strength.”

Rosario A. Iaconis, Vice-Chairman, The Italic Institute of America, Mineola, NY, US

 
 

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