For The Love Of Rome
Sure, they fought wars of conquest. But they were unabashed about it. They didn't lie and say that Gaul had Weapons of Freedom Fries Destruction. They just went, "Hey, Gaul. Straighten up or we'll spank ya, and make you pay us for it, too." And, of course, Gaul didn't. And, of course, Rome did. For centuries. But at least they brought the Pax Romana to their conquered territories. An area added to the Roman Empire usually florished in the end, even if it took a while to synch up with the rest of the Empire's economy. Peace, value-laden money, a strong military and trustworthy leadership will do that. I wish the United States could say we had any of that these days.
And yeah, they had some pretty screwy societal ideas, like slavery and male supremacy. But Roman slavery, while still slavery, was usually not the US South. Slaves, while property, were still people, and not considered some lesser race. Well, actually, Romans thought everyone who wasn't Roman was a lesser race, but that's what nobility will do for ya. At least slaves were considered human. That's better than the US South is doing NOW, in some places.
As to male supremacy, well, it was a more muscle-powered time, and men do have better upper body strength. But women did have their own, very important roles to play. They might not have been the most glamorous jobs, but everything that went on inside the walls of a home were the responsibility of the wife of that household. That's a lot more power to wield than the typical WASP wife has in the US today.
And while we're talking about Roman gender issues, I'd like to point out that they weren't so squeamish about the so-called "alternative lifestyles". By the Prime Cause, I hate that euphamism. There is no such thing as a "gay lifestyle". Gay people can be found in every walk of life, at every level of society, in every type of church. And the Romans freely admitted to that. Homosexuality was not frowned upon. It was freely accepted. Hell, Alexander the Great had a little somethin'-somethin' going on on the side, and he conquered the known world! How could the Romans look at things any differently? Bullshit like this Kansas thing would have never even made it to the forums, much less ever made it into law. By the Matrix, what the hell is wrong with Kansas? When did an entire state become so fearful of the different, the odd, the unique? Surely there are bisexuals in Kansas somewhere? Of course, when you largest city is less than 400,00o people (that would be Wichita, in case you're wondering), it's not too surprising that sex in any form is frowned upon. If it weren't, then the damned cities would be bigger!
Hell, Charlotte, North Carolina beats out Wichita for population. And let's be honest, folks. It's a heck of a lot easier for homosexuals and bisexuals in larger population centers. For the strictly gay, four to ten percent of 400,000 is a lot harder to find than four to ten percent of New York City's 22 million. For bisexuals, it's easier to find people who are closer to them on the Kinsey Scale, and who are into the same kinds of things.
So, to recap. Rome fought wars of conquest, but they brought peace in their wake, and didn't lie about what they were doing. You never heard a Roman senator talk about "spreading freedom to the Carthaginian people". Rome had slavery, but the slaves were at least considered to be humans. And Rome was somewhat male-centric, but it had a pretty well defined division of labor. Women were definitely the lesser of the species, but they were accorded at least some of the respect they deserved. And finally, Rome had "orientation equality".
All in all, I'd take Rome, especially if I was an alchemist, like I am now. :)