The Bayburt Fortress— Kingdom Mentalities

High up in the Turkish alps (as I like to call them) is a fortress that hangs above the medium sized town of Bayburt.  The fortress was in fact first built by Romans, but it was recycled and added to by many others thereafter including the Turks.  Today it is simple a museum and a favorite place for the amorous to picnic and for picture takers to have a field day taking pictures of the city below and the mountains all around.   What you learn about the Romans from such places is the Romans were in deadly earnest about securing territories, fortifying roads and lines of attack and defense, garrisoning essential towns in strategic geographical locations and the like.   The so-called Pax Romana was a peace established by conquest and subjugation in case after case, even though they allowed people to continue to practice their native religions and cultural expressions.

There was a difference between a fortress town like Bayburt and a town like say Philippi, a Roman colony city.  In Philippi Roman law and order and Roman governance was imposed from the top down, and Latin was the language of jurisprudence.  In Bayburt by contrast instead of having mustered out and retired soldiers living and running the town, you had a garrison of active soldiers hovering over the town.  It is a nice question trying to figure out which would be more intimidating.   Before we wax too eloquent about Roman engineering and Roman roads and Roman aqueducts and Roman law, we do well to remember that all of these were used as the tools to build and protect an Empire chiefly designed to benefit the elites in Rome itself, and especially the Emperor.   In a top down world,  Christianity entered the scene and turned things topsy turvy preaching out the least, last, and lost could become the first most and found.   The Roman Kingdom has come and gone, but its ruins live on and are all over the Mediterranean crescent for all to see.  But the Kingdom of God is alive and well and still coming here, and there, and all over the place, even in unexpected places like Bayburt.


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