Of Levees and Lawyers

Notes from the beginning of one Empire (from the end of another).

From Suetonius’ The Twelve Emperors:

“Aware that the City was architecturally unworth of her position as capital of the Roman Empire, besides being vulnerable to fire and river floods, Augustus [the first Emperor of Rome,] so improved her appearance that he could justifiably boast: ‘I found Rome built of sun-dried bricks; I leave her clothed in marble.'”

Sounds like New Orleans…but, you know, in reverse.

“He also used as much foresight as could have been expected in guarding against future disasters.”

Wow, just like us, but exactly the opposite!

“Among the the larger public works, three must be singled out for mention: the Forum dominated by the Temple of Avenging Mars; the Palatine Temple of Apollo; and the Temple of Jupiter the Thunderer on the Capitoline Hill. He built his forum because the two already in existence could not deal with the recent great increase in number of law-suits caused by a corresponding increase in population; which was why he hurridly opened it even before the Temple of Mars had been completed. Public prosecutions and the casting of lots for jury service took place only in this forum.”

Ah well… the more things change…

And The moral of the story?

First, build the levees; then kill almost all the lawyers.

Liam

One Comment

  1. You are correct that a society is only as strong as its ability to manage natural disasters. Katrina is the sign that we have failed to meet the high standards of our Forefathers who built this country.

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