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  3. hanibalhano

    Most Influential Gentes of the Republic

    Hi. Might I ask, is this fascinating discussion still alive? Are the participants still on the forum. Is it possible nowadays to find online the data/tables you were hoping to develop?
  4. Before we get carried away with the colour purple, there was no official ruling that 'Emperors' should have a purple toga, though purple was a privilege of the elite classes - an expensive one mind you. Senators had a broad purple stripe on their toga, and red dye was often used to simulate purple by excessive use. There was of course no actual job called 'Emperor'. When an individual asserted himself via politics, subterfuge, or simply marched in with an army, he was made the highest in social status - I cannot stress enough how important that was, because the Romans were intensely sensitive to their privileges and status. They would receive magisterial powers, possibly even posts in actuality, and normally recieve a military honour of Imperator, or 'Victorious General'. In fact, they liked the latter title so much they tended to use it to describe the collective authority they wielded, so much so that the word became synonymous with power and from it we derive the word Emperor in modern times - but Emperor and Imperator are actually two different things. Caligula for instance attended the games on one occaision and in the visitor VIP stand opposite, he saw a foreign king wearing a very impressive purple cloak. Deeply envious and offended, he had the hapless monarch executed for his indiscretion.
  5. https://www.courthousenews.com/rome-unveils-tomb-that-may-belong-to-wolf-suckled-king/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rome-unveils-tomb-that-may-belong-to-wolf-suckled-king https://news.yahoo.com/rome-unveil-tomb-may-belong-wolf-suckled-king-035218246.html
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  7. I recently heard a delightful podcast interview with Daisey Dunn, a British classicist and author of the new book, The Shadow of Visuvius: The Life of Pliny. Although Pliny the Elder is a looming figure in the book, the book explores more thoroughly the life of his nephew, Pliny the Younger. (Of course, the book takes its title from the eruption of Visuvius of 79 AD that took the life of Pliny the Elder.) In the interview, Dunn mentions the expression "in a nutshell." She reminds us that the phrase (which means "in few words or to sum up briefly") seems to have originated with Pliny the Elder from his scientific encyclopedia The Natural History. Here's the interesting quote from Book VII, Chapter 21 "Instances of Acuteness of Sight": http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.02.0137%3Abook%3D7%3Achapter%3D21 Daisey Dunn's book sounds like an interesting read that I will hopefully enjoy soon. guy also known as gaius
  8. An interesting article about the unusual source (sea snails) for purple dye in the ancient world. (Note that this site of purple production predated the founding of the city of Tyre, for which this dye is named, by around a thousand years.): https://www.livescience.com/amp/gold-jewels-found-on-island-purple.html The purple dye (later known as Tyrian purple) was extracted from sea snails and was both very rare and expensive. It became associated with the wealthy and ruling elites in the ancient world. The dye was colour-fast (non-fading) and possibly became more intense as the purple-dyed clothe was exposed to weather and over time. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyrian_purple The imperial toga picta worn by the emperor was dyed a solid purple. The foul-smelling and disgusting source of purple: guy also known as gaius (I want to thank Lapham's Quarterly for bringing this article to my attention.)
  9. jadedmw696

    History Mystery - Roman dodecahedron

    I know this topic is old. but I saw something on the roman dodecahedron today and had to put my 2 cents in someplace on the internet. Idea 1. since it was found in with coins a few times it could be a way to measure currency, I saw different dodecahedrons. some looked to have small holes. those could be to size and find value to gems. idea 2. this reminded me immediately of a toy my great grandmother had for me to play with when I would go to her house. it was wooden though and had a thin rope with a wooden stick on the end. I could then tread the string through different holes. since the roman dodecahedron has different size holes. it could have been a puzzle toy. where a thin rope had different size balls and you would have to thread the string through in the right order or it would not get through all the way as they would not fit unless in the correct order.
  10. One should not paint Roman legions with modern expectations. Whilst some of their behaviour was utterly predictable and quite similar to modern militaries, there were aspects that are quite different. Enslavement was a loss of humanity in one sense and marked one for life. The legions would not recruit former or runaway slaves and dire punishments awaited those found to have lied about their social status. When Augustus raised emergency forces from manumitted slaves in ad9, regular legionaries would not serve alongside these third class troops, and they were not armed with regular Roman equipment deliberately. The question of contract gladiators - this became a common practice for those seeking fame, fortune, or to avoid debt by desperate means. Nonetheless, gladiators were slaves, even the temporary ones. It is entirely possible that an ex-gladiator joined up here and there - I doubt he would have broadcast his past. You do raise an interesting point on this as there is bound to be something of a grey area. Roman slave law wasn't exactly simple either as the questions of status and rights got hugely complex from the Principate onward. Of course there would have been contests between soldiers being the aggressive competitive types that successful colonisers produce. But keep it in context. An arm wrestle between two soldiers out on the booze isn't going to offend anyone. Gymnastics? Isn't that getting a little Greek? Trust me, Roman military practice was sufficient to keep them fit. A weekly route march, twice daily at the palus with heavier practice swords and shields, and if we believe Josephus, staged brawls in formation to build character as much as physical condition. Add to that the possibility of hard physical labour all day if a local civil engineering project required lots of manual labourers the contractors could not afford. having said that, the typical Roman soldier was keen to avoid physical stuff as much as he could, usually by bribing his centurion (this was later frowned upon but never stopped. In fact, the practice of bribing a centurion for extra leave was later countered by a bonus paid to the centurion for any of his soldiers sent on leave officially) Don't be misled by Vegetius. His De Re Militaris is often described as a manual - it wasn't anything of the sort. he wrote a treatise about what the legions should be doing, after finding lots of good but unique examples of activity in the histories he had available (better than ours, for completeness if not accuracy). He says as much in the preface.
  11. What hope has one forgotten soldier of bringing an emperor to justice?Winter, 382 AD. The Gothic War is over. After years of bloodshed, the Eastern Roman Empire and the Goths have struck a deal for peace. Imperial heralds crow about the treaty as if it were a triumph. Feasts and celebrations take place across the Eastern provinces. Every hero of the war is honoured and acclaimed... except one.Tribunus Pavo languishes in exile, haunted by a dark truth: that it was Gratian, Emperor of the West – the most powerful man alive – who caused the war and manipulated its every turn. Tormented by memories of loved ones lost during the great conflict, one word tolls endlessly through Pavo’s mind: Justice!But in this great game of empire, justice rarely comes without a grave cost… Sound good? You can pick up a copy for a couple of quid here
  12. valexylix

    Mausoleum of Theodoric

    I think you're right @Northern Neil. The Mausoleum of Theodoric is not an Ostrogothic building, because this is Roman architecture and, not to denigrate the Goths, but it seems unlikely that they could lift such an enormous and heavy stone dome. Germanic people used to be excellent goldsmiths and blacksmiths rather than architects: their masterpieces were jewellery and ornaments, like brooches, since they didn't live in big cities and they moved quite often, so they couldn't develop a great art of architecture. At that time Goths should have relied on local manpower and architects and I cannot understand why this could seem strange to some people. Even if at different times and in different ways both Goths and Lombards adapted to the Roman/Byzantine/Italian representation of power, which involves building great buildings like palaces, mausoleums and even churches. Think of the Tempietto di Cividale del friuli, for example: the chapel is built around 750 AD and architecture, sculptures and paintings are clearly classical (maybe the artists were Greek-Byzantine). After 2 very complicated centuries of cohabitation with the locals, Lombards embraced the Mediterranean style in art and representation of power (for reasons that now would be too long to explain). Cividale is an example of Lombard art too, but this doesn't mean that it was made by the Lombards, just like the Mausoleum of Theodoric was not built by the Goths. Finally, think of the Normans in Sicily. When they arrived they hadn't the abilities to build great buildings like the Byzantines and the Arabs, so they employed them to build the Cappella Palatina in Palermo, a wonderful example of melting pot culture. The Mediterrean art was better than the "barbarian" one to glorify the kings, so the barbarian kings who came to Italy just adapted. Different cultures, different arts: the art of the Gothic and Lombard kings were similar to Roman and Bizantine art since they were kings of Italy, or at least kings in Italy.
  13. I'm relieved to see that some forums are still Invision. That said, this one is not very intuitive to navigate. I had trouble finding my own account. What a shame the old Invision smileys aren't around anymore.
  14. Valka D'Ur

    Significance of Avatar/ Profile Name

    Wow, some of these threads haven't been used in years! But since I'm here, I might as well answer. My name here is one I use on a gaming forum. My avatar was cropped from a lolcat picture. The cat is wearing a toga and laurel wreath. His name is Clawdius.
  15. I'm quite skeptical of this claim considering plenty of soldiers came from manual commoner background esp manual labor, agricultural, and poverty backgrounds. Sure the aristocrats, educated (esp intellectuals), and richer Romans probably look down on it (just like upper class Americans today look down on even baseball). But commoners? I mean you do have poor people working as Gladiators before joining army out of need for cash and some gladiator champions did come from military backgrounds. So I don't buy it esp Rome's machismo toxic masculine culture. And the fact so many soldiers (since much of them came from peasant background) grew up adoring not just gladiators but various athletes of different stripes including boxers and chariot racers. Not to mention military culture historically had fighting sports as the norm. I mean every culture from the Aztecs to the Egyptian and Mongols had some form of wrestling, boxing, or even MMA bout as something to kill time esp when left in an isolated fortress. So I doubt the Roman legion wouldn't have formal competition with rules based on wrestling or boxing or even MMA. Esp since Greece's influence on Rome was so damn strong and the Greek loved not just fighting sports but sports as a whole I don't buy it. You mean to tell me Roman culture even looked down on military men having running contests, arm wrestling games, gymnastics, and other athletics? It doesn't make sense considering commoner Romans often went to gyms and practised gymnastics, acrobatics, and other Greek sports to keep in physical conditioning. Hell several emperors such as Commodus even partook in wrestling and other athletic games! So it doesn't make sense!
  16. It depends which time we are talking of. I'm not sure about the early imperial period, but during the late Roman era, one of the things that made the Germanic tribes so dangerous was their degree of Romanisation. Also many of them had served as soldiers in the Roman army. As the smaller tribes coalesced to form the super-tribes of Goth, Allemanni and Frank, larger forces were mobilised. I believe Ammianus Marcellinus (I cant be sure some of my books are packed away) made references to Germanic tribesmen using illegally sold Roman weapons, and employing tactics against the Romans that some had learnt when in service with the Roman army.
  17. guy

    Mausoleum of Theodoric

    First, the vast majority of Italians would never have thought themselves as Ostrogoths. (Similarly, I don't think many in England (except the ruling elite, of course) would have thought of themselves as French after the Norman invasion.) Second, by 490 AD, the disruption of the Roman Empire was complete. I'm not so sure many in Italy still thought of themselves as Roman, either. The irreversible preeminence of the city state had already begun. Even Belasarius, the "Last of the Romans," could not reassemble the fractured empire by 539 AD. As an aside, even modern Italians have been resistant to the concept of a national state. With the formation of modern Italy in 1861, Prime Minister d'Azeglio wrote, "L'Italia è fatta. Restano da fare gli italiani." ("We have made Italy. Now we must make Italians.") Many in Italy even today doubt that d'Azeglio's dream of a unified Italy has been realized. guy also known as gaius
  18. I am probably the least knowledgeable here to comment on military matters. It would be wrong to describe "barbarian" tactics as monolithic. More precisely, a group of combatants (such as the Celts) would have been diverse in their tactics, differing among specific subgroups and evolving over time. Through military contact or assimilation over the years, the many disparate groups would coalesce, while developing Roman tactics and technologies. That said, a more loosely organized and less disciplined force such as the Celts would be better at improvisational fighting or fighting in small groups. The early Roman legions were well-organized and tightly disciplined killing machines. Possibly the best chance at defeating the Roman legion was by ambush in unfamiliar terrain. Examples of this would the complete defeat and annihilation of legions at the Battles of Teutoburg Forest or Abritus. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Teutoburg_Forest https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Abritus guy also known as gaius
  19. I would definitely give saints the status of stand-ins for deified individuals. In a pagan Rome, making gods of the deceased was a breeze, all it required was a senatorial decree. Once christian, there can be only one god, so how do you continue to honour the dead? Make saints of them instead.
  20. I wouldn't say that saints are Roman gods in disguise, what I would say is that the Christian Religion - or the version of it which has come down to us - is the Roman religion in disguise. The process of sanctifying revered figures is a direct continuation of the Roman custom of deifying prominent figures. The depiction of Christ as being a stern man with a beard and long hair replaced his earlier depiction as being a cheerful, Apollo type figure at roughly the same time as Zeus / jupiter was replaced by the Christian God. It was all a cut and paste exercise.
  21. Northern Neil

    Mausoleum of Theodoric

    Been a while. folks... Anyway. The Mausoleum of Theodoric. Often described as Ostrogothic Architecture, particularly by people who want to deny the collapse of the West as being a 'thing' and to assert that the successor Germanic kingdoms (and the Avars, Huns, Slavs etc) where at a similar level of civilisation as the Mediterranean world of the Classical era. To me, this seems to be a Roman building in every sense of the term, derived directly from classical styles of architecture, designed and built by Roman architects and builders. Because, of course, by 490 people in Italy had not stopped calling themselves Romans, speaking Latin, or building monumental structures. The only thing that makes it Ostrogothic is that it was commissioned by the leading warlord of the region , who happened to be Ostrogothic. What do you all think?
  22. guy

    Big money and fall

    .Professor fears was a fine historian who could present history in an entertaining way. (He passed away in 2012.) That said, he could be more entertaining and superficial than accurate at times. I think his general views about the fall were correct, however. A nice introduction to the fall of the Roman Republic is Tom Holland's Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic. I read this book about 15 years ago, but I think it still holds up. By the way, the fall of the Venetian Republic (which lasted more than a thousand years) had less to do with internal politics than did the fall of the Roman Republic. The Venetian Republic, a maritime power, was better suited for trade and control of the Mediterranean. The Venetians could not compete with the emerging strength and naval technologies of the Atlantic powers. The Atlantic powers also benefited from changing trade routes. Also, Venice was guilty of imperial overreach, wasting limited resources by venturing onto the Italian mainland. Napoleon only administered the coup de grâce to an already fatally weakened state. guy also known as gaius
  23. Wonderful, a post that references Prof. Fears. From “The Great Courses,” and the course “The World Was Never The Same”, Professor Fears noted that in 62 BC the empire was in decline, in some part, because of big money in politics. How we have SCOTUS running Citizens United. I am looking for additional reference on this topic. Any comments, direction, or advice appreciated.
  24. bkelly

    Downfall of Rome

    If I may chime in. From “The Great Courses,” and the course “The World Was Never The Same”, Professor Fears noted that in 62 BC the empire was in decline, in some part, because of big money in politics. How we have SCOTUS running Citizens United. I am looking for additional reference on this topic. Any comments, direction, or advice appreciated.
  25. I am interested because Professor Fears, in "Great Courses," in a 30 minute presentation on Caesar, noted that one of the causes of the fall of the empire was big money in politics. They, business and the rich funded the political campaigns then had control over the politicians. They had the power, not the person in office. Now we have SCOTUS decision Citizens United. I want to find out more of what Professor Fears spoke of and how those concepts relate to us today.
  26. bkelly

    Big money and fall

    From “The Great Courses”, and the set “The World Was Never the Same”, lecture 8, “Caesar Crosses the Rubicon”, Professor Fears talks about the fall of the Roman empire. He presents the case that big money and business in politics played a major role in the fall. Politicians could not be elected without the backing from these sources, and once elected, had to do their bidding. I recall a mention about the city/state Venice that was a thriving business community on the world stage. Big money become involved in politics and it did not work out well. On to today: I see the SCOTUS running Citizens United as a huge step down that path. The question: Do you agree with Professor Fear’s position? As I write about this, where are the best places to research this? Which books might be better than others. Moderator: I am new here and unsure of selecting the appropriate forum. Please advise if I have selected badly and maybe even move this post. Thank you for your time and patience
  27. I am not sure whether having a subscription to the digital format would give one access to older articles. (Don't confuse the well-written BBC magazine "History Revealed" with the detestable BCC magazine "History.") http://www.immediate.co.uk/brands/bbc-history-revealed/ The author of the article, Philip Matyszak, belongs on this forum and maybe he can help. Good luck, guy also known as gaius
  28. Roman legionaries fought in specific styles. If we consider legionaries of the Gallic Wars, then they are using a weapon in the right hand - either a pilum or a gladius, as required - and a tall rectangular shield in the other. The shield is not exactly light, and Roman soldiers were punished if they dropped it. Of course the shield might well be used to impact an opponent, or if the soldier is quick witted enough, possibly even the edge might have seen some creative use unless the ranks were still well ordered. In that era, soldiers were quite rigid in formation, always standing shoulder to shoulder with training to stab with the gladius at the face, legs, or lower torso of their opponent using the gap between shields (a more open style of fighting was a later development). I suppose in desperation or aggression soldiers might well try anything especially if seperated from their companions, but Arrian records a fight between legions in which pushing and stabbing went on for a while before both units withdrew a short distance to regain their breath (where's the balletic changeover depicted in Rome?), before rushing back into the fray, neither side relenting, repeating this until one or the other side broke due to exhaustion or casualties. Some fighting tricks were taught by gladiators, and some moves were added to the standard canon such as a kneeling upward thrust, but remember the context of the legionaries equipment and fighting styles.
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