Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Tomb of Scipio

Image from Archeology News Network
Scipio Africanus was one of Rome's greatest soldiers, beating the great Hannibal himself in a stand up, toe-to-toe slug fest at Zama, ending a half century of Superpower war in the ancient world.

Even more, he was an honorable man, gracious to his foes.  For many years he tried even to protect Hannibal from a blood thirsty Roman Senate eager for vengeance.  When his troops captured the fiancee of a Nubian war chief, he had her restored to him, her (and his) honor intact.

Naturally, he had a legion of enemies in Rome.  Disgusted with the degenerate and vicious politics of his day, he left Rome for good.  His family tomb is shown here, but his own is a bit of a mystery - it is said that he asked that his be inscribed with his own epitaph:
Ingrata patria, ne ossa quidem habebis. (Ungrateful fatherland, you will not even have my bones).

He was followed by a viper's nest, one that ultimately broke the Republic through increasingly divided and violent political division.  It got so bad that 150 years after his death, a grateful Rome welcomed Augustus as Imperator simply because it meant the end of the incessant blood letting.

An honorable - if flawed - man, followed by the contemptible.

Comrade Misfit looks on the corruption in which this Republic finds itself mired.  It feels like an "end of the Roman Republic" time.  Sophisticates can compete to show their, well, sophistication in comparing various recent Presidents to Scipio (flawed but honorable men), and the current crop of rogues to those who followed Scipio - each competing for most corrupt, venal, and destructive to the res publica.

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