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The "Eternal City" of Rome

The stream of history has its centre in the "Eternal City" of Rome. Let us look back a little.

First, the farmer citizens of a little city became masters of the Seven Hills on which Rome is built; then, of the peoples of the plains near by; and then, of those of the hills of Italy. All these peoples Rome bound closely to herself by the roads she made, and the laws and the language she gave them, and the colonies of Romans she settled among them.

Rome was now strong, and she began a long life-and-death struggle with Carthage, the rich city of merchants across the Great Sea, whose general, Hannibal, was one of the greatest soldiers of all time.

After the defeat of Carthage she gathered up into her empire all the old peoples living around the Great Sea; and all the lands south of the Danube; and the lands of the West, with Britain lying on the fringe of the then known world.

All these varied peoples she joined together, with one rule, one law, and one huge network of roads reaching into the farthest corners of the Empire.

And it was within this empire, in ancient Judaea of the Jews, that another King was born, who preached the greatest of all laws -- the new law of Love. Men were coming but slowly to understand this new law, and for a long time the followers of Christ were harshly treated. But in time the Church grew to be the greatest force in the Empire and beyond it, and its chief bishop or Pope (i.e. papa or father) lived at Rome, the centre of the world. The Church carried on the work of Rome, and taught better ways to the wild and ignorant tribes called Barbarians, who began to form new nations.

For a thousand years (500 B.C. to A.D. 500) it was the glory of Rome to spread over the world the law, the order, the learning, the religion, which had slowly been moving westwards from the old peoples of the East, of whom we read in the Bible, from Jerusalem in Judaea, from Athens in Greece. It was Rome that brought our own island into touch with this great ancient world, and from Britain and its neighbours much was carried in course of time to the uttermost corners of the earth.