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<   No. 1534   2007-04-09   >

Comic #1534

1 Erwin: Die tracking device says Ginn- Fraulein Doktor Smith is heading to die Vatican. We can take a shortcut across die Roman Forum.
1 Haken: Sehr gut!
2 Erwin: {walking through the magnificent ruins of the Roman Forum} It is funny. Die Romans planned to build an empire to last a thousand years. Und now look at all that is left of them.
3 Haken: What are you trying to say, Erwin?
4 Erwin: Nothing, Herr Kolonel...

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The Roman Forum is the central area of ancient Rome, containing many temples, monuments, and buildings of political importance to the administration of the Roman Republic and Empire. And much of it is still there today, albeit in various states of ruin. Modern Rome has left this large swathe of land in the middle of the city untouched by new development, so you can still wander amongst the ruins of ancient Rome and perceive some of the power and majesty of the architecture and what the civilisation which built it must have been like.

The first photo is actually of the Colosseum, not far from the Forum, but the other three were taken by me in the Forum. Again, they are actually daytime shots, Photoshopped to make this night scene.

The Nazi Party sometimes used the propaganda term Tausendjähriges Reich ("Thousand-Year Empire") to refer to itself and the idea that they were building an empire which would last for that length of time. As it happened, they didn't last anywhere near as long as the Romans, whose Empire spanned just over 500 years if you count it to the deposing of Romulus Augustus in 476, or a whopping 1490-odd years if you place it at the fall of the Byzantine (or Eastern Roman) Empire in 1453.

Interestingly, an intended feature of Nazi architecture was the theory of ruin value. The basic idea is that the most impressive and visible remains of ancient civilisations such as Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, and the Roman Empire are their architectural ruins, which we now regard with wonder and deem aesthetically pleasing despite their semi-decayed state.

Hitler's chief architect, Albert Speer developed this into a principle that the best way to assure the immortality of the Third Reich was to build monumental architecture specifically designed so that when it (eventually) fell into disrepair and ruin, it would remain aesthetically pleasing and stand as a monument to be admired by future generations. To this end, the Nazis constructed many of their government and public buildings and momuments of massive stone, without the use of steel or reinforced concrete, and in a distinctive style combining elements of neoclassicism and art deco.

2017-03-04 Rerun commentary: Unlike some works of fiction, I endeavour to get my geography right[1]. If you started at the Colosseum, indeed one of the quickest ways (if not the quickest) to walk to the Vatican would be to go directly through the Roman Forum, then up and over the Capitoline Hill at the far end, north-west along Via d'Aracoeli, and then west along Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, crossing the River Tiber on the Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II[2], and ending up on Via della Conciliazione, which I've mentioned before.
[1] Whether I always succeed or not is another question, but at least I always try.

[2] Vittorio Emanuele II, byt the way, was the first king of united Italy, also known as Padre della Patria, or "Father of the Fatherland". There are a lot of things named after him in Italy.

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