Thursday, 4 December 2008

What have the Romans ever done for us?

In their superb book on Revelation, 'Unveiling Empire', Howard-Brook and Gwyther comment: 'If it is difficult to penetrate the cultural, economic, and political forces that shape our media and go on under our very noses, how much more difficult is it to discover the social forces that shaped the media of ancient societies? This has been a major problem in the historical investigation of ancient cultures, particularly that of ancient Rome. There has been a tendency for ancient Roman historians to accept at face value the claims made in the various imperial media. This has resulted in the writing of "history" that has stressed the benefits of Roman rule. These historians have typically praised Roman law, its prosperity, its establishment of peace across a large sector of the known world, and its roads and communications. Not surprisingly, it is these aspects of Rome that were lauded by those who were friends of the emperors. In describing Rome as beneficent, these historians have merely recycled the words of thsoe who acted as public relations personnel for the empire!' (pp.87-8).
Or, as Python put it in the Life of Brian...

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