There are few civilizations which can claim as broad an influence over the Western World as that of the Romans. From the courtroom to the Congress, construction sites to libraries, we live in a society shaped by this ancient empire. This spring professor Louis Markos, PhD, will share some of his enthusiasm about the subject in The Legacy of Rome: The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire. We asked Dr. Markos a few questions about his course.
What inspires you about the ancient Roman world, to keep your interest after all this time?
The Romans civilized the world and brought to it something unprecedented: a universal law that could apply to all people no matter their culture or religion. And they gave us the “Pax Romana,” the peace of Rome.
What do you hope students will take away from this course?
I hope that they will be encouraged to study history and to see its relevance for their (and our) life today. It may sound like a cliché, but if we do not learn from history, we are truly doomed to repeat it.
How can the Roman legacy find relevance in a modern world?
From the Romans we can learn that with power comes duty and responsibility. The Romans were great organizers and brought more good than bad to most of their provinces. But the Romans can also teach us the dangers of power: how it corrupts and leads to excesses that destroy.
What is one of your favorite moments in Roman history?
When Scipio Africanus defeated Hannibal, he took the Roman Republic from the brink of disaster to miraculous victory. In a very real sense, Hannibal had defeated Rome, had brought her to her knees, yet she rose up again triumphant.
Just for fun, who is your favorite emperor, and why?
I would have to say Caesar Augustus. He built a political system that was so strong and resilient that it could weather such insane emperors as Caligula and Nero. He was truly a clock maker and he, of all people, civilized the ancient world.
Get the full story of “The Legacy of Rome: The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire” starting February 13, 2013.