I think of the fall of Rome. I think of the incredible empire, the vicious rule, the reminder that it wasn’t built in a day. And I think of the tale of Nero playing his fiddle while his city burned.
I think of advances in architecture and winding, complicated roads. I think of advancing armies and victorious gladiators and Roman mythology. I think of it all coming down, first all at once and then a little more as time progressed. And then I think of the ruins.
I think of the ruins where buildings once were and I think of how tourists flock to them in the modern age. I think about how the Colosseum is a top attraction, about how people come from all over the world to walk around former buildings, wrecked roads. How people will leave their structured homes in structured cities and gladly pay the admission to walk amongst what was.
I think of all the photographs taken to capture the beauty of the fallen. People will snap, pose, ask others to take pictures for them. People will use up film, battery life, ink cartridges. These pictures will be framed, put in scrapbooks, published to the internet — and people will be jealous, wishing that they, too, had a chance to go to Rome, to walk the ruins. They will voice their desire to go there someday, to witness something so pretty firsthand.
And I think of how no one thought it was pretty when Rome was burning. Even the music Nero played hit sour in people’s ears. I wonder if anyone in the midst of the chaos knew what relics they were creating. I doubt anyone who witnessed the wreckage firsthand thought about exactly how things would be when the dust finally settled. Just what would emerge after Rome collapsed in on itself. That there will be beauty in the fallen and beauty in what remains.