the View from the Podium
Today's View from the Podium looks at the United States in 2013 and finds some startling similarities with a different empire from long ago. You may already be familiar with comparisons between the U.S. and Rome --how we're both republics (or were), how they liked live sports as much as we do (minus the cruelty-to-animals-and-Christians aspect of it for us), or how we have a kick-ass army (10-1-2) and so did they (35-14-0). While all that might be true, I believe that the empire we have the most in common with isn't the Italian Romans --it's the Greek Romans. Hear me out.
Emperor Justinian and pals
Battle of Antietam: tons of people died.
The Byzantines practiced slavery (as did the entire ancient world), just like the United States did, until that little Civil War thing (see above). The Byzantines, like their Roman cousins, loved sporting events and, if given the chance, would probably be hard-core NASCAR fans. Their racetrack was called the Hippodrome and the vehicles were slightly slower than today's NASCAR racers (horse-drawn chariots), but the thrill, wrecks, colorful personalities and spectator tail-gating were all the same. If anything, Byzantine fans were way more bad-ass than even the most die-hard Green Bay Packers cheese-head.
Yup, even bigger-ass than this guy
|Really rockin' that mosaic-look,|
"My opinion then is that the present time, above all others, is inopportune for flight, even though it bring safety … for one who has been an emperor it is unendurable to be a fugitive. May I never be separated from this purple, and may I not live that day on which those who meet me shall not address me as mistress. If, now, it is your wish to save yourself, O Emperor, there is no difficulty. For we have much money, and there is the sea, here the boats. However consider whether it will not come about after you have been saved that you would gladly exchange that safety for death. For as for myself, I approve a certain ancient saying that royalty is a good burial-shroud.”
Empress T was certainly cut from the same cloth as Barbara Bush!
The United States is feared and respected the world over for our scary arsenal of ultimate weapons like nuclear ICBM's, Predator Drones with Hell-fire missiles, smart bombs and stealth fighters. The Byzantines had, for their day, the ultimate weapon: Greek Fire. Even today, nobody is too sure just what the hell this stuff was, but it was some kind of petroleum-based flame-thrower mounted on the bows of Byzantine ships. This, plus a big-ass chain across the harbor, kept enemies from attacking by sea; the highest, thickest castle walls of the Middle Ages kept Constantinople safe from the land side.