The grandeur that was Rome

The grandeur that was Rome

In Brief

To introduce Professor MacHugh's words about the Roman empire, whoever or whatever is generating newspaper headlines for Aeolus reaches for a stirring phrase from a poem by Edgar Allan Poe: "THE GRANDEUR THAT WAS ROME." The mismatch between this title and the content that follows is, to put it mildly, extreme.

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Poe's exquisite short poem makes Helen's beauty emblematic of the lost wonders of antiquity: "the glory that was Greece," "the grandeur that was Rome," "the regions which / Are Holy Land." "Grandeur" evokes Rome's vast empire, its grand engineering marvels, its triumphal processions, its gladiatorial spectacles. But the professor pronounces these things unworthy of esteem. Rome was "Vast, I allow: but vile."

JH 2023