Imperial shrines

How presidential libraries distort history
When I was in college I took a course on Roman architecture and learned that temples were built throughout the Roman Empire to celebrate the emperors as gods. Sometimes these emperor-gods would have engraved on stone or bronze tablets a Res Gestae—a self-proclaimed list of “things achieved.” I remember feeling faintly superior to the ancient Romans; after all, we didn’t enshrine every president—the good, the bad and the large number in between—in temples. Or did we?


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