Wednesday, 10 May 2017

The Roman Empire And The United States

Here is a good question:

"'I wonder how long the ghost of the United States will haunt men's minds? As long as Rome's did in Europe in the last Dark Ages?'"
-SM Stirling, The Sunrise Lands (New York, 2008), Chapter Seventeen, pp. 407-408.

There is a saying about the ghost of the Roman Empire...

According to Poul Anderson's Manse Everard, the Roman Empire brought slave traders, tax farmers and sadistic games but also peace, prosperity and a widened world and left behind, scattered through the wreckage:


"...among the memories is that there was, for a while, a life not given over entirely to naked survival."
-Poul Anderson, "Star of the Sea" IN Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), pp. 467-640 AT 16, p. 604.

For some other reflections on the legacy of Rome, see here and here.


David Birr said...

From the final paragraphs of a short book (by Osprey Publishing Ltd.) on the Roman army:
"Though at times the Romans were responsible for some astounding cruelties, it should be remembered that most peoples of their time engaged in what we today would regard as unacceptable behaviour in civilised society. It would be an entirely distorted reading of history to believe that they were morally very different from the peoples they subjugated.
"Generally speaking, the advantages to be gained from belonging to the Roman world were very great. The greatest force for happiness throughout human history, after all, has been the expectation of ordinary people that they can live their lives, tend their land and raise their children in peace. The Roman army created conditions in which, for centuries on end, a farmer could normally hope to till his fields secure in the knowledge that a marauding band from a neighbouring tribe would not be permitted to carry off the fruit of his labour, and probably to slaughter or enslave him and his family into the bargain."
— *The Roman Army from Caesar to Trajan*, Michael Simkins, 1984

I can't find it at the moment, but I'm fairly certain I saw a line in *The Dancer from Atlantis* in which Theseus griped about the Minoan civilization punishing Greeks for "merely" doing a little "honest" pillaging and enslavement. So much for "the glory that was Greece."

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Assuming something as horrific and DEVASTATING as the Change, I have my doubts memories of the US would linger in more than a few pockets. Because the Change killed and destroyed so much that there was no TIME for a continuity of ideas and beliefs to develop similar to what we saw happening as Rome was slowly declining.

The Change was so crushingly overwhelming that whoever survived who did not become a cannibal savage had to focus first on "naked survival." And pockets of survivors tended to organize themselves around able and charismatic leaders often having ideas and beliefs different from what was the norm in the pre-Change US.

There was one exception, the "United States of Boise," ruled by General-President Thurston. His ambition was to rebuild and reunite the former US. But, as time passed he seemed to have realized that was not practical.