Appreciating Our Classical Age
In its zeal to "demystify the grandeur of Rome,"
as HBO's screenwriter Bruno Heller stated in a recent New York Times Interview,
Hollywood continues to perpetuate the hoariest of historical sins:
judging an ancient society and its people by modern-day standards.
In truth, Rome's hegemony was far more benign than Tinseltown would have us believe.
Like today's Middle East,
antiquity was a tough neighborhood.
The Romans had to contend with a host of fierce rivals vying for resources,
dominion and influence.
Had Carthage prevailed over Rome in the Punic Wars,
the Western World as we know it might never have come into existence.
No rule of law; no governmental system of checks and balances; no habeas corpus; and no Pax Romana. Conversely,
had the Romans won the Battle of Teutoburg Forest and succeeded in Italianizing all of Germany,
and the Second World war could well have been averted.
When Rome's legions finally abandoned the British Isles,
it took the natives approximately 1,400 years to attain the same level of literacy they had enjoyed under their ancient Italian overlords.
Do 16 million Italian Americans realize the greatness they were born into?