iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
John Marshall

John Marshall

Posted: June 22, 2010 03:48 PM

An Open Letter From Ancient Rome

What's Your Reaction:

Hello, this is Ancient Rome. You people keep comparing your civilization to ours and saying that you're "falling" just like we did. Well, hate to burst your History Channel bubble, but we lasted hundreds of years before we "crumbled" and even then, part of us continued for a whole millennium. You'll be lucky to make it to the mid-term elections.

You're less like the Fall of Rome and more like the cancellation of Happy Days. You are living on the memories of the earlier Fonzie era, aware that you've jumped the shark but unable to avoid heading off into Joanie Loves Chachi. One of you will have to leave not just the Cunningham household, but the entire sitcom world and direct something big and bold, like Apollo 13 or Splash.

Your current oil disaster is without precedent. Don't even think of comparing yourselves to us. The closest thing we had to gushing geysers was in our orgies. Besides, we always cleaned up afterward. Sure, we were a little fucked up, but we had respect. Even Caligula didn't do to his enemies what you're doing to an entire ecosystem.

You love the Ancient Rome metaphor because you think it's classic, like Coca-Cola or Chuck Berry. Other civilizations have fallen, but nobody wants to see an HBO series about the ancient Etruscans. Other eras have ended, but you won't see Suze Orman comparing the recession to the end of the Bronze Age.

You know what historical period is coming back for you? The 1610's. From where we sit, it looks like you're being colonized all over again. Deepwater Horizon is the Jamestown Colony of today. BP is the Charter of the Virginia Company of London. You may have to fight the American Revolution all over again.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. But those who do remember the past often repeat it ad nauseam, to use one of our Latin phrases. Too little history makes for poor judgment. Too much history makes for bad nostalgia. Let us pray you have the wisdom to tell the difference between forward thinking and the umpteenth revival of Grease.

Veni, Vidi, Vici,

Ancient Rome