Friday, March 25

The Legacy of Rome

Following in the footsteps of the great Augustine of Hippo, Ben House has not only versified the profound notions of historical antithesis and divine providence, he has done so on the occasion of Holy Week (this was an important "aesthetical and theological" discipline that Augustine diligently practiced throughout his long and fruitful career). Thus, Ben's wonderful new composition is altogether "Christian and Classical" in every sense of that phrase:

If Romans of the past ages could gather to consider and debate
Whose act of surviving genius would through future centuries make them great,
What monument of their millennium would be left to remember,
From the fire that once blazed, would there be an most distinguishable ember?

Scipio and Caesar would recount their Legions’ famed iron wrought victories
That bent submissive Carthaginian, Celt, Greek, and Gaul to bend their proud knees,
Bowed heads gave their bodies in sacrifice to the wisdom and swords of Rome,
Ruling in might the seas and shores of the Mediterranean alone.

Virgil, Ovid, and Horace, men of letters, would contest their well versed words,
Surviving the empire, spreading to lands far beyond by translating birds.
Octavian’s claim—Pax Romana—assuring his ascent to deity,
A faithful nephew, spreading Rome’s empiric rule beyond the shores and sea.

A host of successors, often mean conniving men of lesser talent,
Justly, proudly pleased at having attained the Roman-Byzantine balance,
Would boast of having suspended the sun’s light against approaching night.
But some saw the later Caesars as the lesser powers of Roman might.

The older fathers, men of the republic’s early days, who foretold the fate,
Would point to the foundations and laws and glories that made Italy great.
Horatious and Regulus, and others like them, who shed blood of self and foe,
Would have themselves and the brave dead who fought for Rome honored for us to know.

Architect and engineer would debate which had the better claim,
As would senators, gladiators, and governors recalling their fame.
What legacy stands midst crumbling aqueducts and broken statuary?
What has stood the centuries that moderns could neither surpass nor bury?

Some cold demented man of tortured mind created Rome greatest glory,
Himself forgotten, yet having devised judgment so perfect and gory.
The legacy of Rome that affixes the empire’s greatest position
Was when Rome blindly saved the evil world by devising crucifixion.

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