This week in history, we’ll travel around the world to celebrate some of the brightest moments, figures and places in human history … something I’m afraid we’re all in desperate need of.
On April 21, 753 BC, 2773 years ago, Rome was founded.
Long before gladiators could compete in the Colosseum or tourists could be pooped on by pigeons at the Trevi Fountain, Rome was a small settlement on the banks of the Tiber River. According to legend, the city was founded by twin brothers Romulus and Remus. They were the sons of a mythical queen whose husband forbade her from having children, for fear of being overthrown. The twins were abandoned as infants, where they were suckled by a she-wolf. Once they grew up, the two brothers fought to be sole ruler of their village. Romulus defeated his brother and adopted the name “Rome” after himself. If only all cities could have such exciting backstories.
It is believed that after Romulus, Rome had six more kings before forming the Roman Republic in 509 BC. The republic would transform into an empire following Julius Caesar’s brutal assassination and his nephew Augustus’s ascension to the imperial throne. The city of Rome would continue to play a role in world affairs even after the fall of the Roman Empire as the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, the hub of the Italian Renaissance and the capital of Mussolini’s fascist nation.
Today, Rome is the 11th-most visited city in the world, attracting millions of tourists annually. While we know the city as a center of culture, history, art, fashion and cuisine, it is a far cry from what it was back in the days of Romulus and Remus. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
On April 22, 1970, 50 years ago, the first Earth Day was celebrated in the United States.
After many years of advocacy from environmentalists, college students and Wisconsin senator Gaylord Nelson, Earth Day came into fruition as a day to raise awareness for the nation and world’s environmental problems. While businesses and factories were booming in the years after World War II, there were very few regulations imposed by the government to limit harm on the environment. Amongst all of the causes championed in the 1960s, environmental protection was one of them, and Senator Nelson fought to bring his cause into every home in America by making it a holiday.
Earth Day succeeded in its mission of bringing about change. In July of that same year, the Environmental Protection Agency, better known as the EPA, was established to enforce pollution legislation. The Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act also followed throughout the course of the 1970s.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the adoption of Earth Day, and staying home under quarantine has ironically proven to be the most effective way to celebrate. Drops in pollution and the return of wildlife have shown there is a bright side to the devastation caused by COVID-19.
On April 23, 1564, 456 years ago, William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, England … or so we think.
Before he was the “Bard of Avon,” Shakespeare was the son of a humble trader, so the exact date of his birth is unknown, but the 23rd is widely accepted by British historians. Ironically, Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616 (this we know for sure), so either way the 23rd is an important day for our friend William.
While very little is known about his life, William Shakespeare is probably the most famous writer in the English language. He first came to London in the late 16th century, gaining fame working with an acting troupe at the Globe Theatre. Lord Chamberlain’s Men, as they were called, attracted attention even from Queen Elizabeth I, performing such classics as “Romeo and Juliet,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Hamlet” and “Macbeth,” to name a few. Though he only lived to be 52 years old, Shakespeare completed more than 40 plays and 154 sonnets in the span of his lifetime, all of which are still read and performed around the world more than 450 years later. He is a staple of theatrical and literary history, and the world has certainly been affected by his work.
Gino Giansanti is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.