Friday, February 28, 2014

The strength and glory of Rome is in her children

Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of An Empire
Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of An Empire
During the rise of Rome as an empire, its strength lies in its women and children.  As the old saying goes, "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world." For as long as marriages are intact because of the strength of the father and women are fertile by bearing a dozen children each, Rome's military success is assured, for from the children shall rise the soldiers who shall form the feared Roman legions, the engineers who shall build roads and siege engines, and the senate who shall define the Roman laws.  As the mother would always tell his son off to war, "Come back with your shield or on it." Death is honorable as long as soldiers face it with courage and not cast their shields to flee. And a woman can spare one of her children for war, because she has other children waiting to take their older brother's place in the Legions.

All these are only possible if children are educated to love Rome as one would love one's parents, by learning the Roman language, traditions, and culture.  The glory of Rome lies, therefore, not in her art, her laws, and her conquests.  Rather, the glory of Rome is in her children who are educated to love Rome, who shall fight for her glory, and who shall carry her traditions into the future.  But once women stopped having babies by having instead adulterous affairs, fewer Roman children were born, resulting in fewer Romans to man the huge empire.  Into the Legions entered more and more barbarians who only served for gold; they have no love and respect for Roman traditions. And Roman empire collapsed.
Aeneas Bearing Anchises from Troy,  by Carle van Loo, 1729 (Louvre).
Aeneas Bearing Anchises from Troy,
by Carle van Loo, 1729 (Louvre).

In 1729, Carle van Loo made a painting of Aeneas bearing Anchises from Troy.  Troy burned in flames after Agamemnon's Greek forces entered the gates and torched the city.  As told in Virgil's Aenid, Aeneas bore his father Anchises to escape from Troy.  Before it was the father Anchises who bear the son Aeneas in his arms.  Now it is the father Anchises who is borne by his son Aeneas in his shoulders.  This is symbolic: Anchises represent all the traditions of Troy and Aeneas carries all these traditions with him.  Aeneas married Lavinia, the daughter of the King of Latium.  From the Latins came the Romans, and who through Virgil makes the claim of descent from the Trojans.  The Great City of Troy lives again in the Eternal City of Rome.  There was future for Troy despite her being burnt to the ground and Rome is that future.  There was future for Troy because a mother once borne a son who in turn borne his father out of Troy and founded a new kingdom that was to become Rome.   As long as women bear children, Rome has a future.  As so, too, for us, not only for us Roman Catholics but for all people of the world as well:

As long as women bear children, our world has a future.