Napoleon Bonaparte is famously recorded as saying “L’histoire de Rome est l’histoire du monde.” – the story of Rome is the story of the World. Indeed, it is a microcosm of history; a story of greatness, innovation, stagnation and failure that resonates throughout time, and against which all other nations, rightly or wrongly, are compared.
Before I continue any further with the history of the Roman Empire itself, I want to mention briefly some of the things Rome created which we still use to this day: cement (how else would the Basilicae of Ravenna still stand after 1500 years?), a postal service (presumably postal strikes too?); a fearsome professional military machine with the tactics, leadership and technology to match (never underestimate an angry man in a silly hat); and finally the most fitting (and my favourite): satire.
Why the most fitting? The Roman Empire is a nation of ironies and contradictions on such a scale that, once you strip the facade and idealism away, it is difficult to tell whether the tale you are left with is an epic or a farce. A nation so bent on being free from tyranny that they overthrew their king, instated a Senate and a constitution then crowned an absolute Emperor. An illustrious line of madmen, decedents and murderers that began with Augustus (“Great Man”) and ended with Augustulus (“Little Man”).
In order to keep these posts as short as possible I will end this part of the essay here. My next entry will cover the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, the establishment of the Senate and the beginning or Roman dominance over the Mediterranean.
Thank you for reading.