By Moya K. Mason
Humble Beginnings, Glorious Destiny: A Look at Roman Art: "'Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori'; 'it is a lovely and a splendid thing to die for one's country.'(1) As Rome began her glorious rise to world dominance, it never forgot Horace's now famous words. Rome's roots were in the fields of Latium and based on the ideology of 'mos maiorum', or respect for the old ways and ancient customs, and included all aspects of Roman culture. Even when the Empire was at its height, those ideals of patriotism, hard work, and frugality were still held in high regard, if not practiced. The Roman people had their origins in a philosophy in which the individual was subservient to the state and to the all-important state religion and when duty called, the peasants and rural aristocracy answered. It has long been suggested that Rome's greatness and strength was based on the fact that the majority of its military men came from the Roman agricultural class which was used to long hours and hardships.(2) From the ousting of Tarquinius Superbus, the last Etruscan king of Rome in 509 BC, through the terrible years of war with Hannibal, to the never-ending imperialistic battles on their borders, the Roman citizens were called to duty for the sake of their country. Cicero wrote, 'the strength of Rome is founded on her ancient customs as much as on the strength of her sons.'"