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Is this the way Romans thought about what was being built around them?

I have visited Rome and Florence and Pisa and Siena.  The architecture and art and culture was amazing.  I reveled in the history of the places I visited.  These were the places where history was made.  I was touching and seeing things that someone two thousand years ago also saw and touched.

And then I visited Las Vegas.  It got me wondering, as I looked to the ceiling in the Venetian Hotel and Casino, what the Romans or Florentines thought of the art and architecture that was sprouting around them.  Did they, the average Roman or Florentine, think that it was beautiful?  Did they think it was a fad and would disappear within decades?  Did they, as I did in Vegas, think that it was less a true expression of the human soul than an over-the-top exhibition of what could be done, not what was needed?

Believe me, I’m not equating Rome or Florence with Vegas, or vice versa.  Vegas, despite its billions of dollars spent creating (or re-creating) works of art, feels artificial and a lot like the work of minds with less the ability to create than the ability to copy.  I felt like I was witnessing, 500 to 2000 years later, the works of geniuses; whereas in Vegas I felt…empty.

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