The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia has a special exhibit on Ancient Rome and America running through August 1.
Ancient Rome & America showcases the cultural, political, and social connections between the lost world of ancient Rome and modern America. The exhibition features more than 300 artifacts from Italy and the United States, bringing together a never-before-seen collection from Italy’s leading archaeological institutions in Florence, Naples, and Rome, paired with objects from over 40 lending institutions in the United States.
America’s founders were strongly influenced by ancient Rome. How did a city come to possess so much power and influence? Rome and her story still stir people throughout the world. Many of America’s founding fathers were educated in the Classics and drew lessons from Rome’s success, while seeking to avoid Rome’s mistakes.
If you live some distance away from Philadelphia, several airlines – including Southwest – offer inexpensive fares. There is a lot to do in the city besides the special exhibit.
Here are just a few examples of Ancient Rome’s influence:
- Like the Roman Republic, the U.S. has a “Senate” to debate bills, enact laws and declare war.
- Capitol Hill, where the U.S. House and Senate meet, draws its name from Rome’s Capitoline Hill.
- Both nations use an eagle as an emblem.
- Architecture in the U.S. capital has many intentional similarities to the architecture of ancient Rome.
- Several months are named for their original place in the Roman calendar: ‘Sept’ember (7th), ‘Octo’ber (8th), ‘Nov’ember (9th) and ‘Dec’ember (10th). The months of July and August were added by the ancient Romans to honor Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar, respectively. This action bumped the other months ahead so their names no longer matched their places in the calendar. After 2,000 years we still preserve those changes.
- U.S. Presidents love to appoints ‘czars’ to head up certain government bureaucracies. The title derives from ‘Caesar’, as does the Russian ‘tsar’ and the German ‘kaiser’.
- U.S. currency carries the phrase ‘E Pluribus Unum’ (“out of many, one”). This is Latin, the language of the ancient Romans.