01 March 2012

and another thing...

As Leonardo used to do, I wanted to record the following passage in my "notebook" aka blog for future reference. This is from pp.35-36 in the book Da Vinci's Ghost by Toby Lester, in the chapter Body of Empire. For the review, look one blog entry behind this one.

"If the peoples of the world were to become members of a healthy and whole body of empire, Vitruvius argued, their natural excesses needed balancing out. And the gods had placed the Romans in Italy, halfway between the north pole and the equator, for just that reason.

"The people of Italy are the most balanced with respect to both north and south, in terms of bodily form and the spiritual rigor required for decisive action. For exactly as the planet Jupiter is temperate, running in the middle between the sweltering planet Mars and the freezing planet Saturn, so, for the same reason, Italy has the unbeatable advantage of being balanced between the southern and northern regions, but with admixtures from both. And so she shatters the courage of (northern) barbarians by intelligent planning , and foils the plots of southerners by force of arms. Thus the divine mind allocated to the city of the Roman people a superb, temperate region in order that it could acquire governance of the whole world." (Vitruvius, 1st Century BC)
"This is a remarkable passage. In effect, it provides the blueprint for a race-based ideology of empire that for two millennia would hold sway in Europe, and has yet to fully disappear. Geography and biology, Vitruvius was suggesting, are destiny. Placed at the center of the world by the gods, the Romans would rule the world forever as part of the natural order -- if, that is, they could assemble a coherent world body of empire. Which is exactly what Vitruvius set out to explain how to do in his Ten Books."

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