I could have labelled this blog post: what did the Romans ever do for us? But I think a more appropriate question is: why Rome? This exact question was directed at me this week when explaining Lithodomos VR to a friend. He asked: but why Rome? What was so special about them?
Over the next hour or so I explained the cultural impact Graeco-Roman culture has had on our own society. If you were to transport a Roman citizen 2000 years into the future and drop him in a modern city – let’s say Melbourne, Australia – what would be their reaction? Well at first shock, but, as they surveyed the environment they would have been familiar with certain aspects.
They would recognise coinage, particularly one stamped with the head of a ruler. Roads, and certain public buildings would be reminiscent of central Rome. They would even be able to recognise our alphabet, sharing the same (with minor additions) letters to their own.
The closest parallel between the two worlds would be the sporting arenas dotted around the city, particularly the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). This colossal structure is reminiscent of the Colosseum, although the gladiatorial contests today are of a less brutal type.
This isn’t to say our friend would have been familiar with everything. Modern bathing and toilet etiquette have advanced, with life today significantly less odorous than in the past. But, the building blocks for the cities we inhabit today can be traced back to Graeco-Roman examples. Parallels exist in our planning and layout, to the buildings that inhabit the cityscape.
Why Rome? Because without realising it, we are all living in a type of classical city. As for our Roman friend, they would easily adapt to our modern lifestyle. Although they would be missing their garum, which in Australia, at least, we have replaced with Vegemite.