Even if you’ve never opened a history book, present-day life in Rome is loaded with influences and stories from that far away time.
The Roman Empire has been the cradle for many languages, religions and secular laws, as well as the arts; classical Greek-Roman models are still the bases of every artistic study. So, finding evidence of Rome’s past grandiosity is easily done. Let’s consider something about the assumptions that gave rise to this endless City.
From an objective viewpoint, Rome is located in a privileged geographical position. First of all, Italy is a long thin peninsula extending into a warm and calm sea and it is protected from cold air by the Alps in the north, and beyond the Adriatic Sea, by the Balkan Mountains.
Particularly, where Rome is situated, it is shielded by the Apennines’ highest peaks and several lower hills, so a kind of micro-climate is created removed from bad weather in a time when human activity and even life were strongly dependent on the environment. Furthermore, Italy was reached only by small groups of men crossing the Alps or landing on the coast, then settling in one of the protected areas among the inner shield of the Apennines.
Romans were part of the Latino-Falisci, an Indo-European population that, together with their cousins, the Umbro-Sabelli, occupied the center of Italy during the last big emigration wave that started approximately in 1200 B.C. The Romans had settled near the only natural passage to the Tiber river, on Tiberina isle, where crossing was possible only by a wooden bridge. This controlled an important way of communication between two highly developed groups of people, the western Greeks in the south and Etruscans in the north.
The Romans, who were already proud and combative, as well as naturally defended by a nearly impenetrable Cimina forest (now no longer existing) in the north and the swampy Pontinae in the south, began practicing their best quality: conquering and analyzing other cultures to understand their own condition. This had become the foundation of Roman law.
So, Rome is a lucky piece of land that was kept away from bad weather and invasions, but still near contributing cultures. Together with the land’s geography and the Romans’ humble way of acknowledging the merits of those they conquered, the ancient seeds from which the mighty walls and marble of the eternal city were planted.
by Luca Rossi
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