Sunday, 12 May 2013
Why don't we like the Romans?
Two thousand years down the track we don't often hear anything good about the Romans, do we? They threw Christians to the lions, they watched violent and bloody spectator sports, they kept slaves and they had orgies. Not a good cultural position, I admit, but are we just throwing stones around our own glass houses?
Think about this. There were some Roman Christians executed by the various Roman authorities, probably hundreds, perhaps thousands. But since the end of the Western Roman Empire, Christians have been killing millions of other Christians, many of those in just the last century...but we don't focus much on that, do we?
The Romans had a callous disregard for life - sending men and women to die in the Arena. Well, what about the twelve school and college kids who die each year playing football? Or the 32, 885 people killed on US roads (and the 2,239,000 who are maimed) each year? Not a whole lot of condemning modern society for our own callous disregard for life is there?
The Romans kept slaves, lots of them, but at least they had a culture that gave their servants and workers their freedom. We might call low wage workers something else these days, but will the tens of millions toiling away in Asian sweatshops to make our high-end clothes and fashions be given their freedom from poverty any time soon?
And those rich and famous Romans who had orgies? Anyone read a tabloid lately? Wealth and behaviour outside of social norms is still happening, it never went away, and it was around a long time before the Romans showed up.
So even though we might think we're so much better than the Romans, I'm sad to say they thought and reasoned with the same minds we use today, and what ever they did, we still do - all we've done is change the time and place. For more reading on the ordinary Roman lifestyle - checkout 'A Body of Doubt' - available from Amazon, just follow the links