I've been on a bit of a Roman kick lately. I'm not quite sure what triggered it this time, but it's not as if I've never been down this road before. The Romans (and the Egyptians) have long been interests of mine, going all the way back to my childhood, a love only made more intense by my study of Latin in high school and, later, classical history. The funny thing is that, so far as I can recall, I never saw any Roman-themed films or TV shows when I was a kid and my readings in mythology were always of the Greek rather than the Roman sort.
I suspect that my Roman inclinations have more to do with my love of pomp and ceremony. When it comes to high-minded bombast, the Romans were definitely masters. It helps too that their history is so terrifically human, by which I mean that it's filled with all those virtues and vices that mark man as halfway between angel and animal. The ferment of the late Republic and the early Principate is, frankly, heady stuff and it's hard not to be simultaneously attracted to and repulsed by it. Indeed, I'd say that my feelings toward Roman culture in general is a strange mixture of attraction and revulsion. I enjoy learning about the Romans and their ways, but I am ever so thankful I did not live under their rule.
Robert E. Howard rather famously disdained the Romans, in contrast to his colleague and correspondent, H.P. Lovecraft. That's no surprise, given Howard's philosophical proclivities and, honestly, if one took Rome's worst traits -- its arrogance, its shamelessness, its cruelty -- as its most exemplary ones, it'd be hard not to come down on the side of the barbarians, as REH did. In my latest bout of Roman fascination, I can't deny that, older man that I am now, I do find the Romans a lot less personally attractive than I used as a younger and more foolish man, even if there's still something powerful about their culture, all these centuries later. I mean, my daughter has a child in her class named Julian, for goodness sake but none named Sargon or Hammurabi. Everywhere you go, there are terms, symbols, and institutions that we inherited from these guys. That's impressive stuff.
I don't think I've ever used the Romans in my gaming, at least not that I can remember. I've thought of doing so several times. The recent release of Cthulhu Invictus certainly gave me cause to consider rectifying this, but I haven't yet picked up the book and, even if I had, Dwimmermount is still going strong, so I'd have no time to run such a campaign anyway. Still, it's something I regularly consider and it's been on my mind lately. Maybe one day ...