Monday, April 21, 2008

Rome Lives-- The Pope Visits DC

The Pope's "triumphal procession" through streets lined with neo-classical architecture in his chariot a.k.a. the Pope Mobile. The use of Latin in the Mass at the National's Stadium. The wearing of vestments and the use of liturgical instruments similar to those seen in late Roman art. All reminded me that the echos of ancient Rome live on even today.

Rome was a multi-cultural Empire that spanned across much of Europe, the Mediterranean basin and the Middle East. The descendants of those who lived under the Empire now live as far away as North and South America. Yet, some Italian politicians encouraged by some members of the archaeological community want to lay claim to any unprovenanced Roman artifact as property of the modern Italian nation state. This seems silly to me on its face, but this view has certainly made some inroads in the press and the popular consciousness, particularly when pitched in stories about "looting," avaricious collectors, dealers and museum curators. Hopefully, over time, the popularity of such narrow, nationalistic sentiments will recede and the view that Rome and its culture belongs to everyone will prevail.

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