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Welcoming newcomers: Lessons for our times from ancient Rome

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At a time of rising anti-immigration sentiment in much of the modern Western world, this project explores what we can learn about welcoming from ancient Rome, which was considered remarkable for its openness to newcomers even by its contemporaries. Through Rome’s founding myths as described in Virgil’s The Aeneid and Livy’s The Early History of Rome, as well as through numerous ancient and modern historians, this project explores why and how ancient Rome was so welcoming, and the results of that attitude. The purpose throughout is to extract ideas that usefully apply to dilemmas surrounding modern migration. Roman society and sensibilities were very different from our own, so we can’t expect to import ancient ideas wholesale. But this project concludes that the attitudes and principles that made Rome so remarkably open to newcomers can point us toward potential actions, deeper understandings, and useful questions about our own approach to welcoming in an era of increasing negativity toward migration.
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