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If you've been to the cinema, anywhere, ever, there's probably a Hollywood film concerning the Romans, Greeks or both playing. At the very least, you'll find at least one each blockbuster season. It'll be a film made by Americans, probably, and the accents will usually be English. And there will almost certainly be the pattern of imperialism -- usually, Rome and her soldiers are righteous. If they are not, then the protagonist will be a Roman working against Roman corruption, or a victim of the same.
But the protagonist, with little exception, is almost certainly Roman. Sometimes, the story itself doesn't even need to concern Rome. 2004's mediocre King Arthur, drawn from a story of Welsh origin, contains no Welsh people and the titular character is Roman. This is a really interesting pattern, because it's the same essential concept as, say, The Last Samurai -- an outsider to the culture in question becomes its definitive member. And, critically, the outsider is from an aggressive, imperialist movement that sits opposed to the culture. And I can't help but think that Hollywood's interpretation of the reluctantly imperialistic Roman protagonist is a form of social detox, particularly given the military position the USA has been in for the last decade.
I understand that there's something comforting in the capacity for the aggressors to be the good guys, and that the culture of the USA may well be in need of that anodyne given the very tenuous basis for the War on Terror. But through Hollywood, and through the popularity of these films, the creative professionals of the USA are making a very clear statement -- they are comparing their nation to Rome, and themselves to Romans. While it's well worth considering the virtues of Rome, it's just as valuable to remember that Rome, ultimately, was a violent aggressor to almost all of its neighbours. There is a famous account of a Roman legion, under direct imperial authority, butchering a population of Gaulish Celtic refugees who had been promised mercy.
It just concerns me that, without question, much of modern society accepts the examples of classical antiquity with little if any question. There's much celebration of the strengths of these societies, and with good reason, but I believe much too little recognition for their failings -- and they certainly did fail, because those societies ultimately died. If anything, they seem mostly preserved by the power of fandom, especially the fandom of powerful and influential people. Which, I suppose, stands to reason.