How often do you think about the Roman Empire?
Perhaps you noticed the viral question. Apparently we at Roman Roads Press aren’t the ONLY ones to think about the Roman Empire every day! The original Instagram video that has gone viral goes like this:
Countless ladies did just that, and the most common response goes something like this:
Let us know: How often do YOU think about the Roman Empire?
Three Reasons Why
Here are three reasons why the answer “often” or even “every day” are so common. There are more reasons, and this is a great conversation to have with your family or class! What other reasons would you add?
1. We are Roman. No, really, we are!
I believe it is difficult to understand the American founding fathers without understanding Roman history and literature. It is said that George Washington had a copy of “Tully” (the works of Cicero) and the Bible by his nightstand. He was later called the Cincinnatus of the West. If you visit Washington DC, notice the architecture. It is Roman! Our mode of government was carefully crafted after ideals of the Roman republic. Our ideas of politics, patriotism, and limited government are Roman.
Consider the story of Cincinnatus and George Washington (video):
If you are British or live in a country at some point colonized by Great Britain, then the history and legends of England overlap with the Roman Empire in a direct way.
2. We are Christians.
Christ was born into the rich soil of the Roman Empire! The Apostle Paul, a Roman citizen, wrote much of the New Testament, and wrote to a Roman world. Much of the language of the Gospel is presented in Roman terms to Romans. The early Christians and church fathers loved the Roman authors and knew them well. In the 4th century, the emperor Julian the Apostate forbade Christians from using classical texts such as Vergil’s Aeneid in schools because they used them as a tool to preach and spread the gospel.
Consider why the early Christians loved Vergil’s Aeneid (video):
3. Men Seek Glory.
We are made for glory. In Scripture, God the Son glorifies the Father, and the Father glorifies the Son, and the Spirit Glorifies the Father and Son (John 17:1-16). We worship the King of Glory (Psalm 24:7-8). We render glory to God (1 Timothy 1:17), and we fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We were made for glory (Isaiah 43:7).
Rome was truly glorious. Fallen, yes. Human, yes. Yet much of the longing for glory so well expressed through the idea of Rome, of imperium sine fine (“Empire without end,” Aeneid I.278), of the Pax Romana, of order and law, courage and pietas, is good longing. Good desires, placed by God in his Providence at a time in history where man in all his glory failed, and Christ conquered. And it was truly glorious. Satan “showed [Jesus] all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me'” (Matt. 4:8-9). Jesus didn’t reject glory, He rejected the shortcut, choosing instead the glory of which glorious Rome was only a shadow.
It is a natural inclination of man to pursue glory, and the idea of Rome captures our imagination because Rome was a glorious empire.
4. Bonus Trivia.
We Very Recently Used to be More Roman.
“Dad had enough gall to be divided into three parts,” opens one of America’s beloved tales, Cheaper by the Dozen, published in 1948. To the audience of the day, this colorful description would evoke a commonplace pun from the ubiquitously read __________.
Do you know the answer?
Try to guess, and then read the answer in The Education of the American Founders article, which opens with the answer.
Think more about Rome!
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