Sea-Camel

Friday, November 19, 2004

ῥωμαῖος


Camino Posted by Hello

“…most of my townsmen would fain walk sometimes, as I do, but they cannot. No wealth can buy the requisite leisure, freedom, and independence which are the capital in this profession. It comes only by the grace of God. It requires a direct dispensation from Heaven to become a walker. You must be born into the family of the Walkers. Ambulator nascitur, non fit.”[1]

In my case there is little choice in the given. I belong to the family of the Romeros and someone down the line started this, I presume, though perhaps not by the grace of God, but by the egging on of some devil, to move on, away from everything that is at it shouldn’t. Though she may have simply walked to think things through –“to contemplate”-- (were she no doubt worthier than I): “Moreover, you must walk like a camel, which is said to be the only beast which ruminates when walking.”[2] True. Partly. I often ruminate, though I have seen other beasts—most quite more glamorous—capable of such feats.

I can’t escape from the past, from my family name and all the steps that have carried it here. It has come from “the Latin romaeus, and this from the Greek, ῥωμαῖος, literally, “roman”, name that was given in the Oriental Empire to occidentals who crossed in peregrination to the Holy Land and, in posterior dates, to the pilgrims of St. James and of Rome.”[3] And as far as I know at least one of us—my great grandmother—died on a road walking westward. I didn’t yet; made it at least to Santiago, yesterday. “Now I re-examine philosophies and religions, / They may prove well in lecture-rooms, yet not prove at all under the / spacious clouds and along the landscape and flowing currents.”[4]


[1] Walking, Henry David Thoreau.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Dictionary the Royal Spanish Academy, 22nd ed. 2001.
[4] “Song of the Open Road”, Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman, 1856.


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