a house divided and the repeating of history

“History, like love, is so apt to surround her heroes with an atmosphere
of imaginary brightness.”

James Fenimore Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans


( a view of the Collesium not often seen by the general public / Julie Cook / 2018

Having always had a keen interest in history, as well as having to delve deeply into
European Art History throughout college, it only seemed natural that I should then spend
a lifetime of teaching such…
Of which I did.

And so it should then come as no surprise that I am all too familiar with the old adage
that history will always repeat itself.

Words that always haunt me whenever I visit Rome.

Yet if the truth be told, those words could apply to anyone who visits anywhere
throughout most, if not all, of Europe—
all the way from Northern Africa as well as westward into Asia…
Be it from the highlands of Scotland to the arid desert of Egypt,
Rome’s influence remains visible to this day.

Engineering marvels such as massive marble and granite aqueducts can still be
seen crisscrossing an extensive continent…
having once readily delivered fresh and free-flowing water all the way from the Alps
down to the heel of Itlay…it gives pause to our own current day Army Corps of Engineers.

Hadrian’s wall which “ran from the banks of the River Tyne near the North Sea to the
Solway Firth on the Irish Sea was the northern limit of the Roman Empire…”

remains visible to this day…as in the original “Border Wall.”

The borders of the Roman Empire, which fluctuated throughout the empire’s history,
were a combination of natural frontiers (most notably the Rhine and Danube rivers) and man-made fortifications which separated the lands of the empire from the countries beyond.

(Map and excerpt courtesy Wikipedia)

However, most of what we see today as mere tourists or passerbys are mere shadows
of various ruins and rubble of what was once a massively impressive Empire.
Yet Rome’s influence remains…it remains even within our own republic
as it is based on similar practices and principles.

It truly boggles the modern mind when looking at such a classic yet trendy city as the
likes of Rome…
A city rife with darting Vespas, begging gypsies, high-end fashion houses…all the while as
black suited priests and colorful nuns scurry about mingling with some of the best-dressed
businessmen and women in the world.

A city whose past is clearly visible to the naked eye as her ruins run far and wide.
No new building project goes without ancient discoveries just below the current surface…
for Rome is a multi-layered treasure trove of humankind.

We know from detailed documentation that this is what Rome’s Collesium once looked like…

A sports arena that could be filled with water allowing for the reenactment of
famous naval battles or outfitted with a sandy field for blood sports that would
make way for wild animals ripping apart the current enemies of the state…
most often Christians who would be wrapped in canvases soaked in blood and
meat by-products as wild animals, that had been unfed for upwards of a week
or more, would then be loosed upon the hopeless in order to devour the helplessly
bound human victims…
a macabre spectacle played out before the deafening crescendo of bloodthirsty
cheering crowds.

The Collesium could hold 50,000 “sports fans.”
And much like the new Atlanta Mercedes Benz Arena that has a giant sculpted bronze
falcon which harkens to the city’s football team,
Rome’s Collesium once had a 100-foot tall bronze statue of Nero
depicted as a sun god.

So it seems not much has changed with sports fans in 2000 some odd years.
Big, bold, violent with lots of sensory overload.

It was said that the caesars and emperors knew the best way to keep the people happy
while avoiding rebellion…
that was to provide cheap food and free entertainment.

And so when I think of such great empires as that of Rome and her Roman Empire…
it is difficult for me to wrap my head around the realization that such a massive,
feared and impressive society…
one that was far beyond its time in engineering and force could
simply crumble into the annals of time…left now as mere tourist attractions and
archeological mysteries.

Thus would it not behoove us to recall the verse from Matthew about what happens to a
house divided…
for history teaches us that the Roman Empire was indeed divided…
crumpling in upon herself…
just as it seems that we Americans are also equally and bitterly divided amongst
ourselves today.
I wonder what our fate will be if we continue on this current path of self-destruction?

But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them:
“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation,
and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.
If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself.
How then will his kingdom stand?
And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out?
Therefore they shall be your judges. 28 But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God,
surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Matthew 12:25-28

19 comments on “a house divided and the repeating of history

  1. Wally Fry says:

    Nice pictures. Julie. What you said about building is so true. We discovered that in Israel also. I recall the city of Magdala, sitting unnoticed for centuries, then discovered when they were building a motel of all things. I am glad you enjoyed your trip!

    • thanks Wally—of course the D-day beaches in Normandy were the real highlight…but I need time to do that adventure justice—Rome is more familiar to me so it’s easier to write about…plus Rome has always held a special place of interest in my heart—maybe becasue I see so much of who we are mirrored in her granduer and sorid decline—as we seem to be racing to the same fate just as fast as our little feet will take us. Funny how our powers that be just can’t see that.

      • Wally Fry says:

        It’s not shocking at all Julie. Think of this. Tower of Babel. Man gets full of his own self, thinks he is full of power and glory, and boom…..a society collapses. I don’t find it shocking at all.

      • you’re right—I suppose it’s my ego thinking we are better than such…that we could have learned from past mistakes—but then I think of the impatient Jews down below as Moses went up to the the mountain to “meet” with God while telling them to hold on and wait a bit and yet they couldn’t….

  2. atimetoshare.me says:

    You always bring excitement to history. Your students must’ve learned much from you. Isn’t it funny how we manage to get into the same messes over and over again. You’d think we’d learn,

  3. Salvageable says:

    I’m one of those historians who believes that the Roman Empire didn’t fall; it simply changed. The western half was overrun by immigrants who came because they wanted to take part of what Rome offered. As late as the year 800, Charlemagne thought being Emperor of Rome worthwhile. Meanwhile, the legacy of Rome survived in the east up until 1453. So discussion of the fall of Rome might be inaccurate. J.

    • Oh I think most historical empires have certainly “fallen”…but fallen into what might be the better question.
      Egyptians are still Egyptians despite the fall of the Pharoahs (of which Mark Anthony and Cleopatra expiditated that bit of history) and Romans are still Romans albeit not in the fashion that they once were…nor are the Monguls what they once were under the rule of Gengis Khan but that is not to say that Asia and or China is not what it was…it is all just different…
      Yet the ebbing and flowing of great civilizations should give pause to the notion that greatness seems to hit a zenith, then tumbles downward giving way to others who then rise. History teaches us that.
      The concern is that Western Civilization has perhaps surpased its zenith and now has no one to blame for the seemingly catastrophic implosion but ourselves.

      It’s much like Wally said earlier…no surprise in the various falls—man is man and will remian so…being driven by his own ego and pride—it’s just hard for those of us who actually can see the truth of the matter to sit by and watch it happen…but happen it must.
      The rest is in knowing that despite ourselves…God is still in control!

      • Salvageable says:

        Yes–human history is “His story.” My perspective is that every change involves some improvement and some decline. Even during the high points of any given civilization, there were undoubtedly those who were longing for the “good old days” when “things were so much better than they are now.” J.

      • And I suppose the irony is in that rather than looking back —we Believers should be looking forward— but it is our nature to look to what we have known, not so much what we do not know— such is man’s fickled nature

  4. oneta hayes says:

    I’d love to believe that my great grandchildren will live in an America i have known and loved. I have my doubts. But there is still a rainbow.

  5. Dawn Marie says:

    Simply fascinating, Julie! Hugs to you for the historical lesson, too! Having been to the Coliseum myself I loved the data you shared. And yes, may we, by the grace of God, learn from those who have suffered such devastation before us!

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