Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Greatness of Rome

This week's Montaigne essay, "On the Greatness of Rome", is quite short, barely two pages. Rome's greatness, according to Mark Antony with whom Montaigne agrees, "was not so much revealed by what they took away as by what they gave away." Thus, Caesar, after conquering a kingdom, would bestow it on a Roman nobleman. I'm sure those who lost their country would not readily agree with Caesar's generosity. Another tactic used by many a Roman emperor was "to leave kings whom they have vanquished in the possession of their kingdoms but under their authority, so that they might have kings as tools of servitude." This is still practiced today by both governments and corporations. We just have different names for it, like "aid" and "globalization." Of course, the greatness of Rome didn't last. They must not have given enough away. Next week's Montaigne essay is only slightly longer but has the potential to be more entertaining: "On Not Pretending to Be Ill"