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The Forgotten Roads of Ancient Rome

A Roman Street in Pompei

A Roman Street in Pompei

I wrote about a vivid, dark dream that deeply troubled me over a year ago. There was more imagery to the dream that were often only flashes, but this is all I could remember. I have only recently interpreted the meaning of it, which appears below...

The Dream...

A father and his son pulled their wooden cart over worn and cobbled stones. After passing through the giant gates of Rome, they kept true to the path of their journey, searching for the road that would finally lead them from the great city.

The roads they traveled were labyrinths, and invariably guided them back to the origin of their travels where the massive gates once again opened to the vastness of Rome.

With each turn off the cart’s wheels, countless years would unfold and pass before them.

Architecture and engineering flourished…then decayed before their eyes. Triumphant arches, once proud and strong, bowed from neglect and the burdens of the world.

Many citizens pulled their children in haste from the streets. Families resided in homes with darkened rooms, wherein thin lights of cold, blue radiance seemed to imprison their dreams.

Throughout centuries, the father and his son continued their journey. They passed the great libraries where thoughts no longer read became ashes from the fires of indifference. The wind cast the gray cinders into silent streams, filled with tears of the ancient readers in sadness of what was to come.

The Roman Coliseum after dark.

The Roman Coliseum after dark.

They shunned the crumbling specter of the Colosseum. Echoes of war, death and pageantry still roared for endless crowds that cheered and wept amidst the blackened columns. From a distance, they could see horseless chariots of molten colors sear the sky before falling to the earth in homage to the vacant stare of a golden eagle towering above.

They passed through the poorer sections and alleyways of the crowded Subura, where they purchased a few meager supplies for their cart. They entered the Forum in the dark of night, for only the wealthiest citizens were welcomed to share in the light of its splendor without fear of derision.

They walked by the Senate Hall where an assembly of elders - all dressed in their finest apparel - argued over the dispersal of public means. Senators bickered in strange tongues over constitutional rule and the fate of kings, while the melancholy ghost of Cicero wandered the corridors of sorrow.

Marcus Tullius Cicero

Marcus Tullius Cicero

The father and his son hurried their pace, tugging at the old cart as they walked past the steps of Justice. Money changers sold the visage of an innocent child to a crowd of citizens, screaming for the blood of her mother, the Medea who cowered behind the walls beyond.

Weary from their travels, they finally paused to rest at Capitoline Hill. They knelt down in prayer to the symbol of the unifying and loving God that stood in the giant stone shadows of the Ancient Triad of Jupiter, Mars, and Quirinus.

“But where are the statues that cast these shadows, father?” the son asked, gazing upward.

The father brushed away his tears in remembrance of all they had witnessed. “These are the shadows that never left the heart of man.”

From "Gladiator" - Elysium, Honor Him, Now We Are Free by Lisa Gerrard and Hans Zimmer.

The Interpretation...

As I mentioned in the intro, there were flashes of other images I couldn't understand or remember. And perhaps having watched an older film, “Gladiator,” was part of the impetus behind the dream. This is my interpretation:

The circuitous and repetitive journey throughout Rome was to bear witness to the ways in which mankind has continued to make the same mistakes over centuries. Ancient Rome was thought by many to have been the birth of civilization.

The parents, pulling their children from the streets out of fear, is sadly obvious. Our public streets grow more dangerous with the passage of time. I think the thin, cold radiance epitomized technology. As with the Industrial Revolution, despite numerous benefits, technology has also created a disassociation from healthy relationships and nature’s life support systems.

The coliseum was the most recognizable: the modernization of war and aggression against one another that causes some to cheer while others weep.

The library symbolized the slow death of reading history, philosophy, the classics, etc., and the mode of substantive, critical thinking that is endangered as a result. Our society is becoming more entertained, albeit less informed and enlightened.

The Forum of Rome -- inundated with temples, statues and basilicas -- was essentially the triumph of Roman life for wealthy patricians, politicians and the elite. The father and his son represented the lower classes…the poor and the homeless for whom there is much derision today.

The money changers at the steps of justice were an enigma until I remembered the Casey Anthony trial. The media frenzy indulged and assassinated as vendors sold t-shirts imprinted with Caylee’s image to spectators who demanded the death penalty for her mother. Medea was a sorceress from Greek mythology who murdered her own children.

Cicero was the famously controversial orator, philosopher and senator of Rome. He was murdered at the behest of Mark Antony and Octavian (Augustus Caesar); his ghost was rumored to wander the senate halls. The Roman Republic established a form of government that served as a blueprint for other countries. The senators speaking in strange tongues represented disagreement, lack of trust, understanding and/or compromise..not just in our American Congress, but between nations.

Jupiter was the god of excess; Mars became the god war; Quirinus, the spear.

Man’s greatest sin is indifference. I firmly believe that the father and the son exemplified love, hope and awareness. They are the messengers of our conscience...and so much more.

© Copyright 2013 Genna East All rights reserved.


Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on October 31, 2015:

Mary, your generous comment truly bolstered my spirits. There are times when I wonder if I can write at all; I've been navigating through such a spell of doubt only recently. Hugs, my talented friend. Thank you for sharing, and for your encouragement. You are a treasure. :-)

Mary Craig from New York on October 27, 2015:

I am truly amazed there are only 48 comments here. This is the most shared of all the Pins on my Pinterest account, and I have many as they have been added by others as well.

Each time I get an email that it has been shared, I think of you and your great talent.

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on January 24, 2015:

Hello Anna. I'll never forget this dream -- or the parts of it I could remember. There was much more to it; but it was in endless flashes I either didn't understand or couldn't remember. Thanks so much for the visit and comment.

Anna Haven from Scotland on January 24, 2015:

Hi Genna

I think dreams are definitely projections of our inner thoughts and feelings. Your dream sequence was beautifully written and the passage of time relayed cleverly before us. It would have been an intense dream to have and I would have searched for the meaning too.

The meaning makes sense and is very interesting. I agree with you totally that our society has somewhat lost its way.

A potent message delivered in a very engaging manner. Great work.

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on June 01, 2013:

Hi Elias. Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate your comments. :-)

Hello Nell. It certainly seems that we haven't changed as much as we like to think we have. Good to see you, and thanks for the comments.

Nell Rose from England on May 30, 2013:

Fascinating dream and explanation, it seems that over the years we haven't changed much in the way of humanity, loved this, and the 'pictures' in my mind really saw what was going on! wonderful!

Elias Zanetti from Athens, Greece on May 30, 2013:

Interesting story and very nice hub, Genna. Enjoyed the interpretation of your dream.

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on March 26, 2013:

Thank you, Viki. It was a difficult dream to write about, and troubled me for some time. Thank you for the visit and thoughtful comments.

Vickiw on March 23, 2013:

I found this very interesting. What a cerebral dream! Mine are usually much easier to understand, and I could never have interpreted this one! Very well written, thanks!

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on March 20, 2013:

Thank you, Cat. Hugs. :-)

Catherine Tally from Los Angeles on March 18, 2013:

No problem, Genna. You write beautifully no matter the subject. I"m sure it was indeed a deeply disturbing dream! :)

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on March 18, 2013:

Hi Cat...

I'm sorry this dampened your spirits; I seldom write anything negative, but this dream troubled me for some time. Thanks so much for the wonderful comments, and for the visit. :-)

Catherine Tally from Los Angeles on March 16, 2013:


Wow! This is a tremendously powerful piece with a very poignant message. It is too bad that history must keep on repeating itself because indifference and complacency will always be with us. I see our own nation on a similar path which is very disturbing. The shadows in the hearts of men leave little hope unlike the story of Pandora's Box. I need to go out to my garden now and life my spirits! :)

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on March 16, 2013:


Thank you, dear friend, for those thoughtful and perceptive words. :-)


Thank you! I appreciate your visit and comments. This wasn't easy to write.

Dianna Mendez on March 05, 2013:

Great share on this story, Genna. Very well done!

Maya on March 04, 2013:

Genna this is magnificent with Wow! imagery. The beautiful song and video are spectacular. Your dark dream reminds us that words must become conscious action if we are to save ourselves from what will happen if we persist in allowing indifference to overtake the best of what humanity has to offer. We cannot think that everything is running along fine on its own when it just plain isn’t. I see the father and the son as the Father and the Son who are the hope and love in each of us.

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on March 03, 2013:


Thank you so much, Faith, for those kind and understanding words. It wasn’t easy writing about the dream, or sharing it here. Your comment means more than you know. :-)

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on March 03, 2013:

@Audrey Howitt

Hello Audrey. I am pleased you found the dream interesting…it troubled me for some time…as did the interpretation. Thank you for your comments…I appreciate the visit as it is always good to see you. :-)

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on March 03, 2013:


Hi. Your perception of the dichotomy – the contradictions of Ancient Rome – are well stated. “Its glories and its insanities” … especially since it was once considered to be “the light in the darkness.” I wonder, Alastar…centuries from now (if we make it that far), what will our decedents say about us?

Thank you for those wise words and supportive comment.

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on March 03, 2013:


Hi Eddy. Thank you, and I’m pleased you found this interesting. Have a great week! :-)


What you said is so true, Rose. If only. Thank you for your thoughtful and perceptive comment.

Audrey Howitt from California on March 02, 2013:

Dreams are fascinating--and this one in particular seems to be rich in meaning--thank you for sharing it with us!

Alastar Packer from North Carolina on February 26, 2013:

All roads lead to Rome- and that was certainly the case with the father and son as they traversed the dichotomies of the Eternal city. Its high art, its barbarism, its glories and its insanity. A city and civilization divided into the very best and the very worst in its long and still ongoing existence. Mike is right, Genna. You have become the Oracle here for not just Rome, but for humanity. The message has found its mark.

Rosemary Sadler from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand on February 26, 2013:

A disturbing dream and your interpretation is interesting. What a different world this would be if the hearts and minds of men/women grew at the same rate as technology. But we simply remain stagnant not taking in the lessons of the past.

An amazing story

Eiddwen from Wales on February 26, 2013:

A brilliant story Genna and thank you for sharing. Enjoy your day.


Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on February 25, 2013:


Lol, Bob. I doubt that – on both counts. In my dreams, sometimes there are disparate images that don’t seem to make any sense, with only parts of the dream that stand out clearly and are very detailed. Dreams are like life…we have to figure it out on our own. Thanks for the visit and comments. :-)

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on February 25, 2013:


Thank you very much, Mary. Your comments mean a lot as this wasn’t easy to write about. I m glad you found it interesting. I truly appreciate your encouragement and for sharing. :-)

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on February 25, 2013:


Thank you! The dream blew me away as well. To be honest, I was relieved I couldn’t remember all of it. Take care. :- )

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on February 25, 2013:


Hello, and thanks so much for the visit and those nice words. I am pleased that the only time I ever visited Ancient Rome is in my dreams. :-)

diogenes from UK and Mexico on February 25, 2013:

Heck, Genna, you make Coleridge seem like Enid Blyton.

That was some dream! All I dream about is falling downstairs or being drunk (I think it was a dream!)


Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on February 25, 2013:


Hi Mike. Sometimes my thoughts bother me…when I see what is happening in our world. I push them back into my mind and try to forget them because I try to remain positive about life. Perhaps they reemerge through my dreams, looking for a voice. I wish I could remember more of my dreams -- I think we all do -- but many of them disappear when we awake…like exhaled air in the morning mist. Thank you for your comments. It’s always good to see you. :-)

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on February 25, 2013:

Hi Ruby;

I don’t believe that humanity has failed, but I think too many of the potential triumphs of humanity walk in silence sometimes, somewhere in the shadows of our destiny. Martie said in her comment that we haven’t evolved and grown as much, as a whole, in spite of the knowledge that is out there. She’s right.

What are we hurtling towards? We spend so much time in the here and the now, in the moment...but who were we before? What about those who walked the earth before us? What were their dreams and their aspirations – their challenges and their pain. How many of their mistakes are ours? Much of it has been written down... these are the ancient voices we no longer read or understand. We can’t fully understand who we are until we examine our past as it relates to the present...especially, in terms of our reason, awareness and spirituality. We have such possibilities.

Thank you for your perceptive and encouraging comments. Hugs. :-)

Mary Craig from New York on February 25, 2013:

This is absolutely amazing...really. First the very high quality story with so much to contemplate, and written so beautifully...countless years unfolding before them, parents pulling their children from the streets out of fear...these and so many more thoughts and facts in one short story...really it is amazing. Then just as we are trying to absorb what we have read, you give us your interpretation. Stunning and true. "His work must be truly our own"...if mankind is to survive, that is the only way!

I voted all buttons except funny and I've pinned and shared so that others may see the beauty of this. This is truly a work of art.

Life Under Construction from Neverland on February 25, 2013:

Wow Genna your hub blew me away. This is really great.

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on February 25, 2013:

Voted up and awesome. Truly an intriguing and fascinating tale. Brought me right back to ancient Rome.

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on February 24, 2013:

Hi Dana. Thank you, kind sir. :-)

There was some initial confusion about whether the song, “Now We Are Free” is actually sung in Irish Gaelic until Lisa Gerrard said it is an invented language she started singing when she was 12. She believed that she was speaking to God when she sang to Him in that language. I have loved this song and its haunting qualities ever since I first heard it. I loved it even more after Lisa’s comment. It will always be one of my favorites.

Hugs, and please say “Hi” to Molly for me.

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on February 24, 2013:

@Martie Coester

Hello Martie. You bring up some very interesting points. Ancient Rome has always interested me as well; its centuries of turbulent history; its many contributions, and “similarities” to more modern cultures in the Western world. This certainly explains several images in the partial dream sequence. Thank you for those thoughtful comments and for the visit. Good to see you. :-)

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on February 24, 2013:


Hi Martin. Thank you! My imagination through my dreams gets the credit. I only wish I could remember more of them.

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on February 24, 2013:


Hi. I agree. Indifference is the one sin, so to speak, under which you can sub-categorize all others. Thanks for the visit, and those interesting comments about Dante’s Inferno.

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on February 24, 2013:

@Rany Godwin

Hi Randy.

I wasn’t sure which format to use, so I picked the story option...I really didn’t know what else to call it. :-) Thanks for the visit, and the encouragement.

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on February 24, 2013:


Thank you...I didn’t think of the link, but that is very good idea. Thanks very much for the visit and those nice comments and vote. It’s nice to meet you. :-)

Faith Reaper from southern USA on February 24, 2013:


Thanks for sharing your vivid and dark dream. I believe you had a vision, and were meant to share it with us! How very fascinating, your dream and then your interpretation!

Astounding and beautiful. Great writing here! Loved the music and video too.

Voted up ++++ and sharing

God bless, Faith Reaper

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on February 24, 2013:

Hello Genna, you have become an Oracle with both the dream and the interpretation. What an archeological uncovering of the many layers of your thinking.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on February 24, 2013:

I am speechless Genna. This is so very beautiful. You write of olden days, yet it is a sign of our time today. Humanity, Is it lost? This piece is so thought provoking. I will be thinking about it for some time. Sharing...Hugs

DnWW on February 24, 2013:

I read this twice and came back twice. I couldn’t think of anything to write because I was a bit gobsmacked. The dream and interpretation are fascinating ---- filled with interesting, compassionate thought that runs deep. The theme song ‘Now We Are Free’ ignites the dream’s passage into the soul. Thank you for writing about your dream and this timeless message Gen. You take my breath away.

Martie Coetser from South Africa on February 24, 2013:

A very interesting dream of an intellect pondering over the serious issues of mankind. Also interesting interpretation. I find the history of the Romans extremely interesting - it is such a proof that mankind has not grown mentally and psychologically in spite of all knowledge obtained. Man only managed to improve their resources, tools and toys throughout the years.

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on February 23, 2013:

Nice journey.Very imaginative. Thank you.

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on February 23, 2013:

Wow! Very good, Genna, and voted that way!

Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on February 23, 2013:

I agree that indifference is the greatest fault. I recall the study of Dante in school years ago. There was a scene about people who constantly followed different flags and could not get into either heaven or hell.

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on February 23, 2013:

Interesting format for a short tale, Genna! Enjoyed!


Hideki-ryuga on February 23, 2013:

Thanks for this beautiful short story. I understand why you included an interpretation though you could have added a link to a different hub about it and left your readers the time to read and try to figure out and extract the symbolism hidden beneath. Lately, I have witnessed a healthy rise in short stories production here in hubpages which is a great thing. Thank you again for this lovely story. Story Voted Up .

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