On Quora there was a discussion over whether or not the Roman Empire still exists, today. I mentioned a professor who years ago suggested (or mentioned someone who suggested) to our class that what we know of as “The West” (or “Western Civilization”) today is in fact the fractured remnant of the Roman civilization. I.e., that it still exists, but that it was split apart at some point, with parts of it going extinct or dormant for several centuries; and that it is only much more loosely connected today. (Or, at least that is how I remember what he said.)
In the Quora discussion I suggested that maybe the transfer of official titles and broken or unbroken lineages are not all that important, and that other surviving characteristics (language, knowledge, cultural and legal institutions, etc.) are in and of themselves sufficient indication that the Empire or Republic or civilization still exists. That a duck does not necessarily have to call itself a “Duck” in order to be a duck, even if the current duck is stitched together from parts or remnants of other ducks.
We live in what Rome would be if it were some (grotesque) living biological experiment.
Anyway, the above (in part) inspired me to write the following:
What are we but flimsy, temporary structures
built upon what came before us?
Made of the same material.
Breathing, eating, drinking the same food and air.
Ingesting/absorbing the same toxins.
The same electrons passing through our minds.
Eternal in life, eternal in death;
mutilated beyond repair.
It’s short, and I couldn’t think of good a last line (or paragraph or stanza or whatever). The one I came up with was pretty bad, so I omitted it.
I combined the two posts into one.