Ancient Rome, summarized for a modern generation


George Santayana famously said, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  Sadly, many today know very little about history, and how so many of our institutions – including the US constitution – are based on historical lessons and realities.

Courtesy of The Burning Platform, I came across this 20-minute video summarizing the history of Ancient Rome.  It’s very informative, even though it skips most of the important details in favor of a high-speed pass through an empire that lasted for over one and a half millennia.  In particular, note the parallels between Roman history and our own.  They’re striking.

I hope the producers of that video go on to make more along the same lines, summarizing other great civilizations of history.  We’re starved of good modern material about them, particularly in “bite-size” chunks that can be easily digested by a post-literate society that gets most of its information from TV.



  1. I am currently reading "The Church and the Roman Empire, (301-490).
    Mike Aquilina, author.

  2. Their longevity is a function of an empire where anything over 30 miles was a day-long journey, in person or by messenger.

    And they were but a squabbling local concern for most of that "one and a half millenia". The first 500 years they were barely a city-state, and what we think of as the Roman Empire only lasted a few centuries, and was non-existent after a few hundred years, and they went back to being a city-state, except as subjugated vassals of greater powers.

    Watch it for yourself, year by year:

    But to do it justice, shorter-lived empires deserve equally shorter videos.

  3. @LL – Rome did indeed hold it together longer than we but they didn’t have instant communication; makes a difference.

  4. I read Augustine's "City of God" last year or the year before. (It takes a while.) He discusses Roman history (from his time, written in the early 5th century). I was struck by how familiar everything sounded. The names of people, countries and wars are, of course, different, but the behavior was very familiar.

  5. George Santayana famously said, "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

    Of course, the question is, how would they know?

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *