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MARYLAND'S CLASSICS DEPARTMENT LOOKS AT CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ROME AND WASHINGTON

By John Kelly, The Washington Post.

About 30 years ago, an Italian friend of ours visited. After a few days doing the tourist thing, he exclaimed: “I love Washington! It’s like a Rome where everything works.”

I don’t know what Adriano would think of D.C. today, when Metro breaks down routinely and Congress seems proud of its dysfunction. But I understood his point: With its classically inspired public architecture, Washington is reminiscent of the Eternal City.

Many Americans might not make the connection. The classics department at the University of Maryland hopes to rectify that. Last month, it beat out two dozen U.S. and Italian universities and landed a $500,000 grant from the National Italian American Foundation to study the Roman influence on American identity.

“If we can call people’s attention to the way in which, particularly during the founding era, the nation, particularly Washington, looked to Rome as a model, I think that would be valuable,” said Greg Staley, professor of classics and director of honors humanities at Maryland.

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Date of Publication: 
Monday, March 17, 2014