Winning Entry

Topic: communicate to an ancient Roman how Latin and Roman culture are important in 21century America.

Author: Katherine Roseanne Jaeger
Monacan High School
Richmond, Virginia
Teacher: Mrs. Linda Wagstaff

With a fire in his heart, Quintus Horatius Flaccus paced the hallway. A sly, yet unlikely culprit had snatched the tool of the great craftsman earlier that day. "How could I fall into such a clumsy trap?" he questioned himself.

Horace had gone to the Circus Maximus where he encountered a group of youth. "Poet!" one snarled at him, sarcastically. "Isn't that just a job for someone who can't make it anywhere else?" Others chimed in with similar remarks, ultimately expressing their opinion that Horace's current occupation did little to nothing to contribute to their great Roman empire.

Horace initially brushed off the ridicule without much care. "Insolent juveniles!" he thought, "of course there's more to what I do than what they see!" However, as the day progressed, the words cut more deeply into his psyche, and he began to question himself. "There must be something more..." he thought, but as he continued to walk his halls he only felt more and more desperation.

Suddenly a thunderous noise sounded from the courtyard, accompanied by a flash of light. Puzzled, Horace crossed into the night and gazed into a cloudless, starry sky. He looked around, and there, on the ground before him, illuminated by the soft glow of the moon, lay a small piece of folded paper.

When he brought it into the light for further examination, Horace found that the paper contained a letter addressed to him. Eagerly, he read:

Dear Horace,

If I could explain to you who I am, I would, but my purpose would lose its emphasis. What I really want to say to you is thanks. I wish I could show my gratitude to all Romans for the incredible impact that your culture has on mine, but one trans-time delivery was costly enough. So I chose to thank one Roman who kept Rome alive. I know you believed Rome would stand forever, and so it did, though not physically. It stands at the heart of many cultures, and as the foundation of many great countries today. The democracy of my own country, the United States of America, was founded only after thorough study of your own various forms of government, successes and failures alike.

The government is not the limit of Rome's impact. Our very language is based extensively on Latin. Many important terms from law and medicine are deeply rooted in Latin. Countries, states, universities, and other organizations proudly display Latin mottos. For example, the Latin motto of the US appears on every coin and paper dollar issued.

Besides carrying Latin around via pockets everyday, today's society has also adopted some other attributes of the Greco Roman culture, such as the Olympics. Every four years countries from around the world send their best athletes to compete to win the prizes that have been so coveted since your own time.

Nearly as far reaching as the Olympic torches are the stories of the gods for whom the games were initially created. Today, slightly distorted portraits of such mythology are presented on our television shows and in movie theaters, and, though they have some differences, the characters presented today have essentially the same goals. They teach similar lessons and convey values comparable to those of the original. Toda's society values the classics: friendship, loyalty, strength, honesty, etc., all laid out in many Roman myths and epics.

Your own poetry, Horace, is a perfect example of such a lasting vessel of views that we read, study, and find unmistakable similarities with our own lives even today. You may or may not have already written in one of your odes that "...as long as the priest with the silent maiden will climb the capitol [you] will be talked about..." Your fame has surpassed your original hope, and your words have helped Rome to surpass similar obstacles.

Horace read the letter two additional times to ensure that his eyes were not playing tricks. One of the most unbelievable parts of the letter was the date - over two thousand years in the future. Carefully folding the letter, Horace resolved that he might never fully understand where it came from, but he knew what it had done for him; the tool was back in the hand of the master.

With a newfound purpose, he sat down and began to write, "I have fashioned a monument which is more lasting than bronze..."

This webpage was prepared by Professor Thomas J. Sienkewicz.
If you have any questions, you can contact him at toms@monm.edu.

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