In this marsh, where every norm is ceaselessly subverted

On Ravenna, from the letters of Sidonius Apollinaris (1.8.2ff). The translation is from the citation in Giusto Traina’s 428A.D. (pg.53) while the text is the Loeb edition.

I once saw a Harley Davidson of Ravenna biker club party that ended with one of the biker’s ~7ish year old daughter singing everyone Taylor Swift songs. Maybe less has changed than would first seem.

IN this marsh, where every norm is ceaselessly subverted, the walls fall and the waters stand firm, the towers shift on the water’s surface and the ships do not move, you freeze in the public baths and you swelter in the private houses, the gods are thirsty and the buried swim, the thieves stand guard and the authorities sleep, the cleric charge interested on loans and the Syrians sing psalms, the traders serve our Lord and the monks engage in trade, the elderly think about playing ball and the youths about dice, the eunuchs are interested in warfare and the foederati in culture. What could you expect of a city … that could more easily have a territory than it could have earth!

 in qua palude indesinenter rerum omnium lege perversa muri cadunt aquae stant, turres fluunt naves sedent, aegri deambulant medici iacent, algent balnea domicilia conflagrant, sitiunt vivi natant sepulti, vigilant fures dormiunt potestates. faenerantur clerici Syri psallunt, negotiatores militant milites1negotiantur, student pilae senes aleae iuvenes, armis eunuchi litteris foederati. 3. tu vide qualis sit civitas ubi tibi lar familiaris incolitur, quae facilius territorium potuit habere quam terram.

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