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Somerville, like Rome, Sits on her seven Hills, each crowned with an Historic Halo.

By Mayor Charles A. Grimmons

“O Caesar, we who are about to die
Salute you!” was the gladiators' cry
In the arena, standing face to face
With death and with the Roman populace.

And as the gladiator faced great odds, so I feel as I approach the consideration of so grand a subject as has been assigned to me.

Somerville, which our orators delight to couple with the seven-hilled city of antiquity, has some features which go beyond the suggestion of our toastmaster. I should enjoy bringing an old Roman to our good city. The 'L'road across the Charles might suggest the picturesque aqueduct of Claudius in the Campagna; the Sullivan-Square terminal, an arch of peace, through which, like the arch of Constantine and of Titus, traffic passes without ceasing. I would show him Roman lines in the architecture [81] of our fire stations, and assure him that the purpose of the occupants is to put out fires, rather than perpetuate eternal ones, as did the Vestals in their Roman fire house. On Central Hill I would show him our temples of learning, where his own language is taught to-day. I would show him our Public Library, where his histories are perpetuated—and the institution itself as a finished accomplishment of the objects of the Roman Tabularium. I would show him our City Hall, whose architecture would suggest to him his own temple of Castor and Pollux, where assembled the lawmakers, and the temple of Saturn, where were received the taxes, and where the finances of the empire were administered. Further down the avenue the Armory would suggest the temple of Mars, where, however, war is now taught as a preservative of peace. He would miss his wine shops and circuses, and in their places I would show him our churches, where is preached the Christianity which arose and spread from the catacombs of his native city.

In contrast to Rome's historic heritage of war and conquest, I would tell him of our patriotic heritage of heroism, in peace as well as in war. Recalling a Roman triumph to the nation's heroes, with all its barbaric splendor, I would tell him how Somerville, a few years ago, gave a banquet to her civic heroes; how we all accorded them a veritable triumph; how we marched in their triumphal procession, brought them to our Somerville forum, ate with them bread and salt in token of our lasting friendship; crowning them, as it were, with a chaplet of our appreciative commendation, which is more lasting than the laurel or the bay leaf.

I would show him our Old Powder House, coming down to us from Colonial days, contemporaneous with a long struggle for religious and political liberty. I would show him our Prospect Hill, where was raised the first American flag, and whose beautiful tower commemorating that event was the crowning accomplishment of Somerville's most brilliant administration.

I would acknowledge to him that in the statue of Marcus Aurelius Rome has the finest specimen of ancient monuments; so we on Central Hill propose to erect one of the finest monuments of modern times to the memory of Somerville's soldiers [82] and sailors who fought in our Civil War. In comparison with compulsory service, which maintained the Roman arms, and leaves only glory without existence, I would tell him that our monuments are the proud acknowledgement of a voluntary service and patriotic motive, which are so ideal that they will perpetuate existence as well as an undying glory.

I would call his attention to the fact of the replacement of paganism by Christianity, of license by morality, of drunkenness by temperance, of war by peace, of slavery by freedom, of imperialism and its abuses by a government of the people, and that nowhere could he find the latter better exemplified than in our own city of Somerville, where the term ‘public servant’ means absolutely that, and in the greatest degree.

The seven hills of Rome, in the light of history and morality, are crowned in fact, as well as in fancy, with a miasmatic mist; our seven hills present its direct antithesis—in the language of my toast, ‘crowns of patriotic glory.’

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