Why Rome is called the Eternal City?


Throughout the world, Rome, Our city, when it is not called by its own name is called "the Eternal City". How come this? Let's find out why Rome is called the Eternal City.

Read this article in Italian 

This alternative name of Rome has been widespread for a very long time, entering into the common language so much to make the reason and origin of this name almost in the eyes of many. Also because for a city that, with the Emperors and the Popes, in Antiquity as in the Renaissance, for Art or for Politics, from the foundation to the present day has always been a protagonist, it is a nickname that fits perfectly with the history of the city.

 Often, who wants to know why Rome is called the Eternal City, can mistakenly think of a piece from the work of Marguerite Yourcenar, Memoirs of Hadrian. In this work, in which the French writer imagines a long epistle of Emperor Hadrian, through which he traces the period of Ancient Rome in which he himself led the Empire, in which at a certain point this sentence is pronounced: "Other Rome will come, and I can not imagine its face, but I will have helped to form it ... Rome will live, Rome will only perish with the last city of men".

The phrase, however evocative and for how much it touches the hand on the eternity of Rome, is not the reason that explains why Rome is called the Eternal City. The novel of Yourcenar, in fact, dates back to 1951, when for centuries the definition of the Eternal City for Rome was in use.

Roman poet Tibullo in a paint by Lawrence Alma-Tadema

But then, why is Rome called the Eternal City? The first author to speak of Rome in these terms has lived many centuries earlier than the Yourcenar. This is Albio Tibullo, an elegiac Latin poet who lived between 54 and 19 before Christ.

In his II Book of elegies, in the V the poet writes the following verses: "Romulus Aeternae nondum formaverat Urbis moenia", translatable into Italian as "Neither had Romulus erected the walls of the Eternal Urbe". This is currently the oldest testimony of Rome defined as the eternal city, and is therefore probably the phrase we are looking for if we want to know why Rome is called the Eternal City.

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