MORAL DECLINE

Folder: 
MEANDERTHAL MAN

 

People always talk

about moral decline

and the fall

of the Roman Empire.

 

Now, the Romans

were slave owners

who fed Christians

to the lions.

 

What moral decline,

exactly are we talking about?

 

So I’m supposed

to not have a problem

with enslaving the Jews

& feeding Christians to the lions

for entertainment

 

But I’m supposed

to be upset

if a couple hippies smoke a joint

while listening to Mothers of Invention discs

 

or if a gay couple

moves in and puts up

lavender curtains.

 

It would be nice

if someone bothered

to explain the logic of this to me.

 

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J9thxciv's picture

When I was an undergrad, I

When I was an undergrad, I majored in History (with an emphasis on ancient history) and I took several courses on Rome.  The morals from which Rome declined were not Christian; and we look back at that decline from a cultural perspective that is (depending on one's belief) heavily or totally influenced by the teachings of Jesus and His Apostles.  The Empire consolidated itself under the reign of Octavian, whose regnant name was Augustus.  Although Octavian was, personally, a very ruthless and selfish person, he was restrained from some of his more instinctive urges by the political beliefs of his friend, the supreme Poet, Vergil.  Vergil's epic, The Aeneid, describes a leader who is so devoted to his mission of finding a home for the Trojan survivors, that his own personal desires are constantly set aside in his service to that calling.  In the very first book, Aeneid states that "There are tears for things . . ." tears of synpathy and compassion.  Vergil's first book, The Eclogues, featured a couple of poems about shepherd boys being in love with each other---the lavender curtains to which your poem alludes; this acceptance was part of the Vergilian political ethos that confined and curtailed some of Octavian's wilder intentions.  Even after Vergil's death, Octavian continued to be haunted by Vergil's political opinions---returning to the Senate every five years to have his imperial mandate renewed, because Vergil had stated, in the epic, that no leader is given his job permanently, but must be reappointed from time to time.  Tiberius, whose personal life had been ruined for the sake of Rome, came in as second emperor and could have wreacked a lot of havoc.  Instead, he apparently strived very hard to be bound by Octavian's procedures---and therefore, Vergil's political beliefs were still hovering in the background.  Under Tiberius' administration, a certain carpenter was crucified outside of Jersualem, but His teachings had not yet enjoyed widespread dissemination.  It was Tiberius' successor who began the moral decline of the Empire---and one of the ways he did this was to recommend that Vergil's poetry, which was already part of schools' curriculum,. should not be taught as a part of the Roman culture.  In his Fourth Eclogue, Vergil had predicted that in some obscure part of the Empire, a child would be born with a dual nature, both Divine and human, Who would bring in a new golden age.  This was several decades prior to the birth of Christ, which Vergil did not live to see (although I have suggested, elsewhere, that he might have).  The moral decline of the Empire was, essentially, a decline from the moral and political beliefs held by Vergil, and codified in his three books of poetry, and that withdraw of the Vergilian ethos created the perfect absence that Christianity could begin to fill.  The persecution of Jews began with the fourth emperor, Claudius, who expelled them from Rome; and the persecution of Christians really got underway during Nero's reign, and was continued, sometimes intensely and sometimes superificially, by his successors.  By that time, Vergil's poetry had become very supreme as literature, but not as a moral and political authority.  


J9thxciv

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georgeschaefer's picture

thank you but it was really a

thank you but it was really a rhetorical question.

J9thxciv's picture

Thank you for explaining. 

Thank you for explaining.  Obviously, my comment was a stupid misreading.  Could I impose upon you to delete it?


J9thxciv

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georgeschaefer's picture

You provided a great deal of

You provided a great deal of valuable information in your comment.  I would rather not deny potential readings of learning that information.  Besides, I greatly savor the prospect of people gaining different things from my writing.  I may have been asking a rhetorical question but it pleases me that you may have gleaned a different interpretation.  Forgive me but I don't want to deny those potential future readers of your knowledge on historical matters.