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All Roads Lead to Roma, Take Athens Exit

Ancient Rome, the Forum

Caesar Augustus said he found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city of marble.  Good thing his great-uncle Julius wasn’t around to call him out on that, “Et tu, Augustus?

The Pax Romana and the rebuilding of Roma is owned Augustus as is the incredible expansion of roads and the empire as a whole.  But how big is big?

Through Ekistics, the study of human settlements, academicians have developed a typology classifying settlements from a single-family house to megacities.  The smallest unit actually is an anthropos, a single person (1), for example Henry David Thoreau living in his one-room cabin on the shore of Walden Lake.  A calm breeze rustles forest leaves.  Listen.

We then move to a house (5), travel to a hamlet (40), then a village (250), a neighborhood (1,500) and navigate to a city or polis (10,000-75,000).  Most cities in the Rio Grande Valley -- from Rio Grande City (15,269) to Weslaco (42,231) -- occupy this category.

As we truck along this Ekistics continuum we next arrive at metropolis (500,000-4,000,000), a megalopolis (25.0 million-150.0 million), an eperopolis (750.0 million-7.5 billion) and finally an ecumenopolis (50.0 billion).  Ecu-what-op-o-lis?  Fiddy billion!?!


Think May the 4th … in a galaxy far, far away … Star War’s Coruscant.  “One city, the entire planet it is,” says Yoda in his Mandalorian syntax.

Back on Earth, the entire Rio Grande Valley is but a metropolis, continuing the build from adobe to brick to marble.  Our cities compete with one another and other, bigger Texas metros.  But again, how big is big in Texas?

Big D is a big, big …  beta. This according to the Globalization and World Cities Research Network which ranks cities based on their international connectedness of four metrics: accountancy, advertising, banking/finance and law.  The real alpha cities are the New York City, London, Mexico City and Washington.  Houston be beta, and Austin is a gamma city.

You know who’s been to Houston, though?  “Listen, I've traveled every road in this here land … I've been everywhere, man,” crones Johnny Cash.  He’s on Pandora.

Johnny Cash

Whether traveling from the Bayou City to Dallas on I-45 or the Via Appia in Augustus time, humanity continues to place brick on brick on brick then marble.  Yet, is there not more?

Yes, Augustus has bragging rights, but conquered Grecia conquered Roma.  Greek culture, religion, art and language transformed Rome.  Ekistics is a Greek word, as is academicians, typology, category, alpha and beta, Pandora and Coruscat.  OK, Coruscat, early Mandalorian it is, but syntax is Greek!

Whether brick or marble, big or small, alpha or beta, there is value (axía) all around us. It’s universal.  Urbi et Orbi.  “…I've been everywhere...”

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