Roma and Roads

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 For the end of the world was long ago,
          And all we dwell to-day
          As children of some second birth,
          Like a strange people left on earth
          After a judgment day.

          For the end of the world was long ago,
          When the ends of the world waxed free,
          When Rome was sunk in a waste of slaves,
          And the sun drowned in the sea.

          When Caesar's sun fell out of the sky
          And whoso hearkened right
          Could only hear the plunging
          Of the nations in the night.

          When the ends of the earth came marching in
          To torch and cresset gleam.
          And the roads of the world that lead to Rome
          Were filled with faces that moved like foam,
          Like faces in a dream.

          And men rode out of the eastern lands,
          Broad river and burning plain;
          Trees that are Titan flowers to see,
          And tiger skies, striped horribly,
          With tints of tropic rain.

          Where Ind's enamelled peaks arise
          Around that inmost one,
          Where ancient eagles on its brink,
          Vast as archangels, gather and drink
          The sacrament of the sun.

          And men brake out of the northern lands,
          Enormous lands alone,
          Where a spell is laid upon life and lust
          And the rain is changed to a silver dust
          And the sea to a great green stone.

          And a Shape that moveth murkily
          In mirrors of ice and night,
          Hath blanched with fear all beasts and birds,
          As death and a shock of evil words
          Blast a man's hair with white.

          And the cry of the palms and the purple moons,
          Or the cry of the frost and foam,
          Swept ever around an inmost place,
          And the din of distant race on race
          Cried and replied round Rome.

          And there was death on the Emperor
          And night upon the Pope:
GK Chesterton, The Ballad of the White Horse

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hattip to Dale Price.  The Roman roads were a magnificent representation of what the Roman passions for building and order could accomplish.  Prior to Rome, empires might, over several hundred years, build some ramshackle “road” to connect its capitol and a major port, but only the Romans realized what a powerful tool for unification, well maintained, and well constructed, roads were.  Roman roads were military and economic assets of the first order.  Their remnants held nations in awe for long centuries after the Empire fell.  Roman roads were not equaled until the nineteenth century, almost 1500 years after the fall of the Empire in the West.  Christians, of course, should never forget how the Gospel was spread, in the providence of God, throughout the Empire along those same roads.  Go here to read a superb brief article on the roads of Rome.

 

The Roman Road is the greatest monument ever raised to human liberty by a noble and generous people. It runs across mountain, marsh and river. It is built broad, straight and firm. It joins city with city and nation with nation. It is tens of thousands of miles long, and always thronged with grateful travellers.

Robert Graves, Claudius the god and his wife Messalina

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