a place called home
I stepped in Rome – a city of blood and marble.
Walking through the tourist trail of glorious times, brave gladiators, outstanding rulers, intrigues, bag-stabbing, power battles … I can’t help but think of modern-day New York.
A city, just as a person, can leave a significant trace in human history and very few are the cities in this world which could boldly stand and declare they once were the center of the world. Italy may have changed but Rome is Rome. Salute to Rome!
Walking through the city, I tried to imagine myself back in history and see it’s full glory, reconstructed from the ruin, noisy, bustling with life, with people gathering at the markets and cathedrals, walking through secret pathways to spy on senators and other royals, wrapped in political intrigues, building history…
Can I imagine it all? People in their togas, roman sandals, papyrus papers, magnificent jewelry (well, not the peasants)…coming from all parts of the world to become true Romans, to get educated, to make a living with a trade, to gain power, to feel a part of something big, something more, something superhuman, maybe… My mind drifts to the Gladiator games and I imagine the whole city empties – everyone flooding into the gates to watch the Games of man vs nature. I had to visit the Colosseum.
But wait until you get too excited!
Now the thing about the modern day Romans is that they are very real people. They know their city inside and out and they want you to know the real face of their city.
Europeans, Italians alike, pride themselves when they have figured out a conspiracy here and there and when they are able to see behind the political game. And if there is a place where there was a lot of that happening – it manifested inside the Colosseum.
The Colosseum was the single most important tool for the emperors to control the masses. In days when there was no radio, TV or Internet (I know, imagine??), the Colosseum served as a place of punishment, praise, and entertainment. Isn’t this what media is all about after all?
The games opened with the punishment, public killing or torture of sorts. One example I was given was that they would tie a slave or whoever needed to be punished, rip them open, let animals feed on his flesh a little bit, them let him suffer until the next act was over and go on after that. How cruel!
The gladiator story isn’t all that glamorous either. Poor men, usually slaves, or foreigners, could obtain their freedom only if they become gladiators. The life span of a gladiator was usually no longer than 5 years. If they did survive, they became popular, but as soon as they left the arena, they were no one again. Doesn’t sound like freedom to me …
So, despite the gruesome picture, which I got in my mind thanks to the brutally honest Italians, I couldn’t help but think of the modern day equivalent of that.
Although we are more “modern”, “progressive”, “human”, politics is one of the oldest arts. Back to our New York – the city that never sleeps. There is everything for everyone. As long as you work hard you can play hard (if you don’t make enough, it is hard to really make a living here). There are comics who can entertain you, there are musicians from all over the world, libraries, movie theaters, food from all over the world, you name it, New York has it.
And yet – New York is ranked among the most unhappy places to live in the US (http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/New-York-City-Unhappiest-City-America-Study-268228332.html)
How could that be?
Is New York the modern Rome? Have we turned into Gladiators? Do we have a choice?
All of the lessons are written in our history. Travel, escape the grid, stop and think whether the battles you are fighting are truly your battles. Sometimes less is more.
I am off to the Vatican next…