The Obama orgy begins.



On the eve of the inauguration of U.S. President Barack Obama, I can't help but feel like a huge orgy is occurring in Washington. This, of course, made me think of Rome. Interestingly enough, the two cultural examples cited by Wikipedia as indicators of the fall of the Roman empire are these:

1) The increasing popularity of orgies: in the Roman world, the term orgy did not necessarily contain its modern sexual connotation. It referred to a party of unrestrained indulgence during which guests consumed copious quantities of food and drink to such excesses that they often relieved themselves by vomiting (though not in a room called a vomitorium).

2) The increasing extravagance of popular entertainment: exemplified by the inauguration of the Colosseum under the emperor Titus. Dio Cassius said that 9,000 wild animals were killed in the one hundred days of celebration which inaugurated the amphitheatre opening.

What is so interesting about this moment in time is that even though history ALWAYS shows us that there is folly in neglecting the perils of a current somber reality for wild celebration and boundless hope, folks continue to do it anyway. I guess it couldn't be any other way, really. History is destined to repeat itself. Perhaps it's just a law of nature.

Ironically, we tend to believe that the end of empires or eras will be like an Octavia Butler novel, involving morbid scarcity, darkness, or people shrieking, wailing, and screaming sorrowfully in the streets. But the lesson from Rome makes me wonder if it might be the exact opposite, with people indulging themselves ad infinitum (pun intended), feeling like times have never been brighter, and hopes never higher, in the capital of empire.



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