Magazine article Risk Management

Necropolis

Magazine article Risk Management

Necropolis

Article excerpt

Some years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Rome, and while I was there, I took a self-guided tour of the ruins of the ancient city. It was very much like traveling backward in time. Today, Rome is positively bursting with motor vehicles. Lots of them are those crazy little Vespa scooters that people somehow drive in massive schools, like fish, but never bump into each other or crash. Anything that's not a scooter is a sub-micro-compact car that you would have a very hard time finding in the States. Many of them are those Smart cars which are about as wide as they are long and would literally fit in the bed of a pickup. These things are so small, that by the time I saw a Miata parked along a curb, I thought it was a limousine.

The point of all of this, though, is that it makes Rome and extremely noisy city. You can walk among the Colosseum and other ancient monuments, but you lose a sense of history when you can hear a hundred honking vehicles driving around you. In the ancient city, though, it is different. There is a natural depression in the land when you first enter it, and the sound of the modern city just passes unheard overhead and suddenly you realize you are in a quiet place. An ancient place. And that is when the whispers of the past find their way into your ear.

I remember thinking how narrow the Appian Way was, and how small the Forum was. I marveled at just how closed-in the whole place was, how tiny it seemed compared to the modern city that surrounded it. But still, remembering how it was all built by hand, and so long ago, you could not help but marvel at the place.

While strolling through the ruins, I came across a building foundation that had no specific mention or description to it other than a single line in my guidebook that noted how on the marble floor, there was a section where copper had burned into the floor. This was from when the building itself burned when the Gauls sacked the city in 387 BC. Kneeling down, I brushed away the sand and the dirt, and my fingers touched the burned metal, fused with the stone. And in that moment, I realized I was touching history, the legacy of a ruined city.

The sack of Rome was one of those signature events that shook the Roman Republic. It began when the Gauls attacked the Etruscan town of Clusium, which called upon Rome for help. …

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