Is the United States a Modern Day Rome?

As an author, I am interested I painting scenes with words. I would, therefore, like to take you on a stroll through a city.

As with many cities, there are suburban areas just outside of the city. Here, people like to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and from their homes, some of which are called villas (villa), they can look upon the lights of the city at night and enjoy the fresh breeze. Here in the suburbs, people can live without hearing the noise of the city at night, for this city, like many others, has limited traffic such that most deliveries of goods and food are made at night.

When we commute into the city, we are first confronted by numerous apartment buildings. We see some women hanging out of their windows, chatting with their neighbors, perhaps sharing tips on raising children or recipes. The tall apartment buildings are built closely together such that only a little light reaches the streets below. On the first floor of these building, shops abound with merchandise . Little butcher shops, taverns, clothing stores, bakeries, and fast food places, complete with placards in front with pictures of the foods they serve and prices clearly displayed are among the shops along this street. We are greeted by the sizzling smell of meats cooking and bread baking.

On these streets, people are ambulating through alternating patches of bright-dazzling sunlight light and dark shadow. Their conversations range from heated political discussions about that governor who tried to sell that senate  seat to that new comedy (with all those men dressed as women) that is playing to standing room only audiences, and, don’t you know they raised the admission  price yet again! Others are gossiping about the actors in the play. Oh to be a celebrity! Two women are discussing that racy new novel but only in hushed voices.

A group of men are discussing sports-they know all the statistics concerning their favorite athletes. One asks another whether he would go in on a bet on their favorite team. Another asks the others aren’t they going to the stadium to watch the game? One of the men says that he still thinks it is unfair that all the teams are owned by corporations . “Why can’t I buy stock?” he asks. He is also jealous that the athletes are some of the richest people in the city. Still, he and everyone else marvel that the stadium can be emptied of 70,000 spectators in about 15 minutes. Finally, some people are discussing their next vacation. “I want to be a tourist  visiting Egypt  and seeing the pyramids and the sphinx. “I want to cruise the Nile,” says another, “but you have to get a visa (visa) to do that.” “You know, you can go to this company and, for a 3% fee, they will issue documents which you can use to get money at any of their offices in our country or in almost all other foreign countries.”

As we near the center of the city, which is teeming with over a million inhabitants , we have nice views of the river and the many bridges which span it. River barges bring goods from all over to the city. In the commercial district, brokers buy and sell commodities. Cattle, wheat, corn, and oil are traded regularly. The streets in this area are some of the oldest of the city. Large shopping malls, some of them arcades, frame the central green space and broad plazas where the government buildings stand. Here, too, are some of the largest fountains and statutes that grace the city. Some of the largest houses of worship are here too and they are built with grand columns raising their vaults to enclose heaven. Here freedom to worship is taken very seriously. Many religions from foreign nations, new and different from that of the natives of the city, have come to the city and some sweep the city like fads. “Are you going to vote in the election for our new leader?” a well-dressed man asks another. “I don’t know,” answers the other. “I don’t really like either candidate.”

What city is this? Is it Chicago in modern America or is it Rome in ancient times?  A modern American would have found ancient Rome to be startingly like living in a modern US city, and yet at the same time startingly different.  Because we are so much different and yet so much the same, we can learn a great deal about ourselves by studying ancient Rome.  Modern life is squarely rooted in ancient Rome.

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