Kicking away the dirt hiding Roman history and finding what lies beneath...have we got the age of Rome all wrong?
Sunday 5 August 2012
A little perspective
Most of us probably think last year is ancient history let alone what happened two thousand years ago. Geez, most of us think of the Romans barely being out of caves and eating boiled gruel for breakfast, lunch and tea. The Romans were a blip way back when, right? The Egyptians had just built the pyramids and the Sumerians had just invented writing. Well, the Romans were around for a while - they were a global super power for 800 years, twice as long as the British Empire and seven centuries ahead of where the United States is now, but they were far from being the first kids on the block. Civilisation was no more new to them than it is to us.
So let's try things from their perspective...what was ancient history for a Roman? Let's pick an easy date - 1AD. Rome's first emperor, Augustus, is 64 years old, Jesus Christ is seven.
By this time the city of Damascus has been around for 7000-years. The Pyramids of Giza are 2500 years old and getting a bit shabby, the volcanic destruction of Thera - and the Minoans - happened 1629 years ago and Tutankhamun has been dead for 1324 years.
The fall of Troy was 1185 years ago and Homer's epic poems of the event are 800 years old. Rome and Carthage were both founded more than 700 years ago. Western Democracy is 509 years old, the Battle of Thermopylae (the three hundred Spartans) happened 481 years ago, Alexander the Great has been dead for 324 years and Carthage (Rome's only real competitor) has been wiped from the face of the earth for 147-years.
More recently - Gaul was crushed 52 years ago, Julius Caesar has been dead for 45 years, while Anthony and Cleopatra both committed suicide 31 years ago...and ever since things have been pretty calm. In fact 1AD is a bit like now, but hey, it's all ancient history.