Ancient Rome and Modern America by Guglielmo Ferrero

By Guglielmo Ferrero

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Greco-Roman antiquity never dreamed that it might be a useful, beautiful, glorious work to invent machines and power, and therefore never gave a thought to those technical elaborations which are the pride of our times. It possessed the elementary maof increasing speed chines, the lever, jack-screw, the inclined plane; but it never tried to combine these into more complicated In particular, it never called into play the effort to which all the mechanism of modern times owes machines. its birth; that is to say, it never tried to endow its machines with a more rapid motion than the muscles of men or of animals can endow them with, or to search nature for motive forces of greater power than these.

Governments and wealthy citizens were obliged to adorn their ments, sculptures, and cities with monu- pictures, to embellish squares, and houses, because the masses wished the cities to be beautiful, and would have rebelled against an streets, authority which would have them live in an unadorned city; just as nowadays they would rebel against a municipal authority which would have them dwell in a city without light, or against a government which placed obstacles and hindrances in the way of the Quantity and Quality 49 In those times, the require- construction of railways.

This is in history. and powerful to the ancients, because they had never yet seen greater wealth and greater But what are the wealth and the might of might. the Roman Empire compared with the might and the wealth of the great modern states of Europe and America? One observation will suffice to give an idea We are justified in deducing from the great number of facts and data in our possession that of the difference. in the most flourishing and wealthy budget of the Empire, the sum total, centuries that the of all the is, items of expenditure which the central government at Rome had to meet expenditure on the most impor- immense an empire, which comprised the whole basin of the Mediterranean, and a large part of Europe, Asia, and Africa fell short, far tant public services of so short, of York.

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