Why Rome Is the Eternal City

Petrarch, Against a Man Who Slandered Italy (13):

In the first place, our detractor rails on about the changes of the city of Rome, which he has inveighed against with a certain ridiculous pedantry by comparing the various figures of the moon to the Roman state, as if Rome alone, and not all cities and kingdoms (and this is even more true of humans) were not changing constantly, as though we were not all exposed to the vicissitude of time until we have reached eternity.

Ancient Babylon collapsed to its foundations, so too did Troy and Carthage, and not Athens, Sparta, and Corinth are nothing at all but bare names. Rome did not entirely collapse, and although it was greatly diminished, yet it is still something more than a name. The walls and the palaces have fallen, but the glory of her name is eternal.

Pannini, Giovanni Paolo - Gallery of Views of Ancient Rome - 1758.JPG
Giovanni Pannini, Gallery Views of Ancient Rome

Atque in primis varietates urbis Rome, quas hic quidem usque ad curiositatem ridiculam prosecutus est figuras lune varias romano statui comparando, quasi Roma sola, et non urbes ac regna omnia, multoque magis singuli homines, mutentur assidue, et temporali vicissitudini tam diu simus obnoxii, donec pervenerimus ad eterna. Babilon illa vetustior funditus ruit, Troia itidem et Carthago, Athene insuper et Lacedemon et Chorintus, iamque nil penitus nisi nuda sunt nomina. Roma non in totum corruit, et quanquam graviter imminuta, adhuc tamen est aliquid preter nomen. Muri quidem et palatia ceciderunt: gloria nominis immortalis est.

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