The Roman Legacy

1330 Words6 Pages
With the decline and fall of the western empire, the classical age of Rome came to a close as disease, warfare and corruption conspired to bring about the downfall of an ailing empire that had once conquered the known world. Where once enlightened despots had ruled a debauched and unwieldy polity, now barbarians stood over the ruins of a once thriving metropolis. In its absence a new world would arise with new values and ideals. Turning their back on a pagan past the Christian children of these wild men from the north would spawn the greatest houses of future European nobility, and when they looked back for a legacy, they would not see their ancestors as pillagers picking at the bones of a defiled Rome, but instead as its trusted guardians, partnering with the Church to carry her legacy through the “Dark Ages”. Greece, which had endured its own dark ages millennia beforehand, became the cradle of the western artistic ideal. It’s society was like none other. Organizationally, it preferred a unique form of government called democracy, when other societies around god-kings and despotic strong men. Its ambitions asserted the perfection of man, his unique place in the world. As stories became myth and myths became legends, humans (or human like) gods began to appear in the religious centres of worship. Unlike the gods of Egypt, who almost always have some animalistic component to their physiology, the Greek gods were human-like. Zeus had a human body, hands and feet; for all intents and purposes, he was the first super-man. This was an epic reversal. Where once man relegated himself to the animals, now the Greeks had placed man above the merely natural and into the realm of the supernatural. The human form was exemplified in sculptur... ... middle of paper ... ...prayer books, we get illustrations of the peasant farmer at work in his fields throughout the seasons, alluding to the year round labor required to feed a near starving passel of half a dozen children. In the illuminated Bibles, we see fabulous illustrations off the fabled kingdoms of the east and wild bestiaries of exotic man-imals and creatures said to dwell in terras ingonito, daring men to venture into the unknown again and call at the courts of Pryster John, lord of all the Indias. In the Cathedrals, some of the most dramatic mathematical aspirations were envisioned in stone as towns and masons set out to trump one another with brilliant feats of engineering not attempted since the heights of Rome. This was a world trying to right itself again after the fall of the greatest empire the world had ever seen, a world many wanted to see gain a new purchase on earth.
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