A friend just sent me a PowerPoint slideshow of “Magnificent Roma”, which, of course, it is. Overwhelming to me is the effort involved and the time required to produce these monuments to a civilization and its ideas. I was unable to snatch any of the gorgeous panoramic photos to shrink and show here. 😦 But imagine, if you can, the Sistine Chapel, the amphitheatres, or any of the many fountains with their statues, and how they dwarf the sight-seers who still come to stand in awe.
You know what struck me as I looked at these pictures? People built structures–their homes, municipal buildings, and cathedrals–to last forever, and the people lived only a few decades. They spent a lifetime or more carving, sculpting, painting, inlaying, and tiling these monuments, expecting future generations to use them and marvel at them.
We, on the other hand, build things that are obsolete as soon as they are finished. Our pictures are digital, as well as our music, and though our public buildings may last for decades, we build homes and cars of lightweight, disposable materials. Yet our people may expect to live for 80, 90, 100 years. The emphasis on what should endure has shifted, and I think it is for the better. Back then people did not matter much; now they are more important than their monuments. (Although life is still cheap to a certain criminal element.)