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Wanderlust of the ancients [EN]

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Problemi di migrazione economica incontrollata, turismo troppo massificato e volgare, globalizzazione delle merci, sovrappopolazione urbana, studenti da terre lontane in prestigiosi istituti: tutte cose che associamo al mondo del novecento e di questo secolo, non certo alla classicità. E se invece ci fossero paralleli inaspettati nel mondo romano imperiale? Ce ne parla su Aeon Fabio Fernandes.

For the ease of governance, economic growth and military activity, the empire was blanketed by a remarkably extensive network of infrastructure that united the far-flung corners of the realm with Rome and each other: paved roads, ports and harbours along coastlines, and navigable rivers supported a sophisticated maritime network.

Civilians could wander this bounty, a privilege that did not go unnoticed among commentators of the age. Writing to his grief-stricken mother in the 1st century CE during his exile, the philosopher Seneca the Younger mentioned a ‘certain restlessness that makes man seek to change his abode and find a new home’. The sentiment was later echoed by the 2nd-century sophist Favorinus of Arelate (Arles), who observed that ‘divinity has given an indefatigable nature’ to man, ‘who travels “on land and on waves”’. The impulse to travel was not purely driven by the utilitarian, but was intrinsic to the human condition.

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