by Andrew R., 2L
“That noble city…the holy city, of which the very stones of the encircling walls were worthy of reverence and the soil on which she stands more hallowed than has ever been acknowledged.”
– Dante, Il Convivio, IV, Chap. 5.
Trastevere, June 25, 2012.
In the ancient world, Rome was the center of Western civilization. In the Middle Ages, it was the seat of Christendom. During the Renaissance, it helped lead and shape a cultural revolution in the arts and sciences. In the modern era, it was a firsthand witness to the change of an old world into a new one, and was molded and shaped itself by the events that gave us the present day. It’s a city that’s been marked by every age, seamlessly bringing the present into contact with the past. Twentieth century roads open onto medieval piazzas, which are themselves surrounded by art and architecture that predate even the time of Christ.
Here, history is inescapable – both that which has been written and that which is being written. A modern crisis in a modern time, where security and economic stability can no longer be taken for granted, plays out in the shadow of all that has come before. The ancient popes, leaders, philosophers, artists, and revolutionaries look on as if etched into the very edifice of Rome itself, reminding us all that time never unfolds in isolation, but will forever build and develop on the experience of its predecessors.
To enter the city from abroad is perhaps to enter it first and foremost as a student. Rome is an excellent teacher, and to encounter it in all its depth and breadth leaves little to be desired for the mind that is willing to learn. Still a thriving European city after more than two thousand years, it remains at the center of the cultural, economic, and societal development of a significant portion of the world. Though many things change, many more things remain the same. For the truly educated, those who wish to be individuals with the ability to impact the culture in which they live, it still holds true that a firm grasp of history is just as important and invaluable as the ability to recognize the true face and nature of their own place in time. When in Rome, one has the opportunity to do both – allowing one to see with new eyes where he comes from, where he stands, and where he may be going.