Nomad Neighbors | Refugees Across the World and History


Actual circumstances compel new meanings to the word refugee. Conflict zones in countries close to the western world do not seem as far away as they did at the end of the 20th century.  As the world becomes smaller, the so called first world countries are receiving a dramatic wave of refugees.

Entire populations flee from their homes finding themselves on a pilgrimage with what can only fit in their hands and pockets. As this wayfaring keeps on an uncertain rail while creating new settlements and new encounters between unknown societies, this new state of affairs has many points in common with any other displacement.

Even before the appearance of the Homo Sapiens, entire groups have been migrating from one place of the Earth to the other. Neanderthals, Cro-Magnons, Homo Erectus, Abilis and Ergaste, among others, populated several parts of the planet motivated by better conditions of survival. Based on the same grounds, the homo sapiens populated the planet since approximately 130.000 BC. And keep to do it so in this globalized era.

Every migration movement has its own causes and griefs. The urge to abandon the place where one has been raised and make the endeavor for a brighter future has a considerable cost. To leave ones country usually means to learn a new language, to adopt a new culture, food habits, and certainly make new relationships with others.

Refugees then

Different myths and stories describe the struggles and pains of those who had to migrate as current refugees: The Exodus book tells about the exile of the Jewish people who escaped from slavery and the tyranny of the Pharaoh1 and wandered in the desert for 40-years; the Odyssey, the story of the Troy War Hero, Odysseus, who precipitated into an adventure of ten years with his crew before returning to Ithaca and her beloved Penelope2.

Maybe the myth that shows the greatest passion of an ancient-expat between their own land and the new one ought to be the The Abduction3 of the Sabine Women:

The newly born Roman Reign was in need for women and the Sabines were the best target. Its first sovereign, Romulus, designed a perverted plan: Romans would held festival after Neptune and would invite everyone from the vicinities. Neighbors from every near town came, but it were the Sabines who showing much affect for the Romans, went with their entire families ignoring what Romulus had in mind for them.

The Romans kidnapped the women and assaulted the Sabine men who weren’t ready for fight and got defeated easily and withdrawn to their town.

As Romans compulsively married the Sabine women, making them breeders of the new generation, the Sabine didn’t forget nor firgave the Romans for their treason and planned a counter-attack to recuperate their women and honor.

A roman woman, Tarpeia, helped the Sabines entering the city by opening the gates in exchange of what the soldiers carried in their arms, (golden bracelets). Instead, the Sabine soldiers killed her with their shields and threw her from a rock known nowadays as Tarpeian Rock.

The battle between Romans and Sabines didn’t last much due to the intervention of the Sabine-Roman women who declaimed:

If you are dissatisfied with the affinity between you, if with our marriages, turn your resentment against us; we are the cause of war, we of wounds and of bloodshed to our husbands and parents. It were better that we perish than live widowed and fatherless without one or other of you.4

Such statement put an end to the war and from them on Romans and Sabines lived in peace and altogether under one reign.

The Sabine women had their spirits at ease with their past and new home, a struggle between them would mean the annihilation of their past and actual history, furthermore of themselves. The only possible outcome, in order to keep being, is to have every element in tolerant co-existence.

Refugees and modern nomads face different situations in their wayfaring but the struggle of coming to a new nation its almost the same for all.

1 There is no mention in the Old Testament of the identity of such Pharaoh, though some collations narrowed the possible identity as Thutmose I, Ahmose I or even Ramesses II.

2 This may not be the story of a new settlement but it gathers the passion and anguish of a traumatic voyage.

3 The original translation in English is The Rape of the Sabine Women, being rape a direct translation from the latin word raptio which means abduction.

4Ab Urbe Condita Libri 27-25 BC – Known in English as Livy, is most complete history of ancient Rome by historian Titus Livius.

About the Author

Manuel Bláuab
Editor-in-Chief Manuel Bláuab is a journalist and writer from Argentina. Has worked in radio, newspapers, theater and online publications since early 2000's.