Better To Be A King In Pontus Than A Citizen In Rome

Seutonius records that in Caesar's triumphal festivities after winning his civil war, he held gladitorial contests in the Roman Forum where two patricians, one a former senator, fought to the death and the sons of minor eastern kings performed a sword dance. I think about that a lot - what it must have been like; to be the son a king, royalty in your home country, and to come to this foreign city (a city of this scale perhaps not being something you have yet seen) to dance for the jeering crowds; to be the following act to two of their own killing one another for entertainment and to know this is not the worst those same crowds have cheered.

To see all this and then return? It must have been very humbling. You think you're an important guy, your father's the King - and you come here to dance to a crowd of commoners in this city. You'd have to think, "this city is so mighty, even the common rabble are to me as I am to a court dancer or circus animal at home". But I think the Asian princes will have had a realisation, whether on the blood-soaked sands of the arena or during the journey back home, that the Romans in the crowd were really never free at all.


Rome takes on a sort of symbolic role in the way of Babylon or Byzantium for mass society []

The Citizen is, however, not really powerful. Every power he appears to hold is offset by his dreadful duty. To be beholden to the rulers, to have the needs of the city itself weigh down upon you; all the cheap grain and gladiator fights in the world can't make up for that.

The philosopher Socrates too teaches us that control and understanding of ourselves, no matter the destitute state we find it in at the moment of awareness, is the most important to a person's virtue.

And the greatest teacher of all, Christ of Nazareth, tells us it can gain a man nothing to win the world at the cost of his soul.