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  2. It is staggering to think about the impact of disease, even on more modern armies. https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/they-too-gave-all-american-war-deaths-from-disease/ One can only imagine the devastation on ancient populations and armies at a time before there was any understanding of disease and its prevention . guy also known as gaius
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  6. Great question and I have no idea. I guess the choice of flowers used would depend on the season and availability. Flora was the Roman goddess of flowers and the season of spring. According to Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flora_(mythology) Obviously, roses played a central role in the festival of Rose (Rosalia) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosalia_(festival) Roman poet and satirist Persius (AD 34-62) stated that during the festival of Floralia: (Both vetches and lupins are flowering plants.) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Floralia Lavender was frequently used in ancient Rome as soap and perfumes. I would be surprised if it weren't used in religious ceremonies. Although marigolds were common in ancient Roman gardens and were used medicinally (for wounds and cramping). It was even thought to possess magical qualities, but I am uncertain about its use in religion. Not being a botanist, I don't understand the terminology of the marigold. If my understanding is correct, however, the marigold is from the genus Calendura. If the marigold is included, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calendula https://www.permaculturenews.org/2018/03/30/calendula/ guy also known as gaius
  7. I found this interesting and entertaining video on the importance of Egypt on ancient Rome, especially as a conduit for trade (thus, a source of revenue), as well as a rich supply of Egyptian grains and other local products. Not mentioned in this fascinating video was that the Egyptian economy was a closed one (coins did not circulate into or out of Egypt. Its coins, therefore, did not compete with circulating gold and silver coins from the rest of the Empire. According to Kenneth Harl, in his book Coinage in the Roman Economy, Egypt could create the world's first successful fiduciary currency. (Fiduciary currency cannot be redeemed for a monetary reserve of a precious metal such as gold or silver. This is similar to paper currency or modern coinage.) This allowed for a stable economic system not nearly as devastated by the frequent devaluations of the coinage elsewhere in the empire. guy also known as gaius
  8. Denny

    Augustan History

    Whilst most of the Augustan works are pure fabrication it's important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. There are indeed at least some nuggets of genuine historical knowledge contained in the works. The Augustan History states that before Hadrian built his walls in northern Britain, the Emperor Antoninus had already built another wall further north. This was ignored for centuries until archaeology proved the claim correct. Apart from the well known and obvious do any members know of any other 'hidden gems' in the works?
  9. The magazine "Archaeology" from the Archaeological Institute of America is always a great source of insightful study. Here is an interesting and controversial article about the Parthenon: https://www.archaeology.org/issues/380-2005/digs/8615-digs-greece-parthenon-name guy also known gaius
  10. A nice basic video on Latin for those of us who either failed at learning Latin or never attempted: guy also known as gaius
  11. I was wondering which variety of flowers the ancient Romans used to decorate their temples? I have been to India and saw that they put marigolds everywhere around temples, often in offering bowls or floating on water. Interestingly the scientific name of marigold is tagetes, which owe its name to Tages, an Etruscan god adopted by the Romans and later said to be one of Jupiter's grandsons. Does that mean that marigold could have also played a role in Roman religion? What about other flowers?
  12. Thanks for sharing it, it's a wonderful article.
  13. Here's an article from two years ago, offering hope for the future despite uncertain times. It still gives hope even today: ESSAY WHY I’M STAYING IN ROME, EVEN WHILE IT CRUMBLES A British Novelist Will Remain in the Eternal City Because of What Its Past Can Teach About Surviving the Present https://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2018/08/14/im-staying-rome-even-crumbles/ideas/essay/ guy also known as gaius
  14. Given the current global fiscal crisis, people are searching for historical precedents. Few of us remember the economic collapse of 33 AD during the reign of Tiberius. Despite his many faults, Tiberius and his advisors were able to navigate the banking crisis of 33 AD. The impact of the banking crisis seems to have been relieved by an early form of "quantitative easing." https://www.businessinsider.com/qe-in-the-financial-crisis-of-33-ad-2013-10 A shortage of money from bank failures and the resulting contraction of credit threatened to bankrupt the leading families of Rome and destabilize the entire Empire by 33 AD. The crisis began a few years before these bank failures, however, with the execution of the corrupt and nefarious praetorian prefect Sejanus and his allies in 31 AD. After the arrest and execution of Sejanus and his allies, their illegally confiscated lands began to flood the market. This caused a deflationary pressure in land prices and a reduction of taxes. This, of course, began a deflationary cycle as prices collapsed and tax revenue decreased. Attempts where made to stabilize land prices by Tiberius. He forced all Senators to purchase land with one third of their total wealth in an attempt to prop up these falling land prices. Senators were forced to quickly make large withdraws of money from the banks for these purchases. The banks were forced to liquidate their own assets and call in their loans to cover these overwhelming withdraws. As described in the quote above, the recent loss of ships holding a sizable amount of the banks' assets only made the situation worse. This panic caused a bank run and banks quickly began to fail. This failure of the banking system made the deflationary pressures worse. As tax revenues plummeted and the banking system collapsed, commerce and industry was disrupted. Without adequate funding as a result of decreased revenues, government and military institutions began to fail. Economic and political pressures threatened to destroy the Empire which was now at the brink of anarchy. Tiberius adroitly staved off disaster, however. In 33 AD, Tiberius offered reliable bankers interest free loans for three years. These banks were required to use land as collateral, thus stopping the deflationary spiral. These emergency measures of ancient "quantitative easing" brought calm to a broken credit system and saved the Empire. https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Influence_of_Wealth_in_Imperial_Rome/The_Business_Panic_of_33_A.D. This is better explained in the video below (at about 14:37) guy also known as gaius
  15. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/18/remaining-calm-in-adversity-what-stoicism-can-teach-us-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic
  16. We are all learning to appreciate the devastation that a pandemic can have on a society. Both pandemics and environmental disasters can have underappreciated lasting impacts on society. https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/today-in-1815-the-great-volcano-of-tambora/ guy also known as gaius
  17. There was a very timely article in the Wall Street Journal (March 21, 2020) by Ben Zimmer dealing with the concept of a "Black Swan" event. Zimmer explains that this term "a black swan" is being used to describe the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, with the resulting financial market meltdown. He explains: "A 'black swan,' for market prognosticators, is a rare, unpredictable event with serious and avoidable effects." A Black Swan, therefore, is an event which is extremely rare and unexpected but has great unanticipated consequences. Zimmer reminds us that the term was first mentioned around 100 AD by the Roman poet Juvenal in his "Satires" 6.165. So, as Juvenal searched for the woman with his desired attributes, he laments that such a woman was "rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cygno (a rare bird in the lands, and very like a black swan)." https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Juvenal_and_Persius/The_Satires_of_Juvenal/Satire_6 https://www.macmillandictionary.com/us/buzzword/entries/black-swan.html Ben Zimmer does a great job explaining how the term "a black swan" later became part of everyday speech. Juvenal was the initial source of this term. guy also known as gaius
  18. Great article from Libertarianism.org. about the influence of Cicero on John Locke and otehr Enlightenment thinkers. https://www.libertarianism.org/columns/cicero-was-lockes-greatest-inspiration guy also known as gaius
  19. During times of national stress (including economic, political, and pandemic fears), there seems to be the tendency to catastrophize events and predict the impending collapse of Western civilization. A recent thread reflected this tendency: Here's a thought-provoking article from the left-leaning Mother Jones that also predicts the fall of another empire: https://www.motherjones.com/media/2020/03/how-do-you-know-if-youre-living-through-the-death-of-an-empire/ The author, Patrick Wyman, PhD, brings up some interesting points, but I might quibble with a few of the conclusions His point about bureaucracies persisting (either out of necessity or out of habit) after the fall of the Roman Empire is insightful. (Some might cynically give the Catholic church and its bureaucratic framework as an example.) There are a couple points I might disagree with, however. I find this statement debatable: "Rome probably still had hundreds of thousands of inhabitant at the beginning of the sixth century ..." I am sure he would agree that this number is only speculation, at best. By 500 AD the city of Rome was only a pale shadow of its previous self. We can only guess but the city of Rome's population might have been under 100,000 by 500 AD. In 286 AD, Diocletian had already moved the capital of the Roman Empire from the city of Rome to Mediolanum (Milan). The death spiral for the (Western) Roman Empire and especially the city of Rome had begun long before 500 AD. After a series of civil wars, devastating plagues, and economic instability during the third century, the city of Rome was near collapse by 300 AD. The impact of regular malaria epidemics was to weaken an already debilitated city and empire. The loss of Northern Africa and control of the grain supplies to the city of Rome starting around 440 AD essentially assured the city's total downfall. I would, therefore, disagree with Dr. Wyman's conclusion, "What shrank Rome down to a mere few tens of thousands by the year 550 was the end of the annona, the intricate state-subsidized grain shipments..." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cura_Annonae I'm not sure we know for certain when the cura annonae ended or whether it could still have had any impact on alleviating hunger in the city that late in the Empire's history. The supply chain was probably too severely disrupted at this point of history. These societal breakdowns made the accumulation, storage, transportation, and distribution of food on a wide scale basis unreliable . More likely, the Goths' blocking the vital aqueducts supplying Rome in about 537 AD was the final death knell of a city already fatally weakened over the previous two centuries. I enjoyed this article, however. It made some interesting points and lends another perspective to history. guy also known as gaius (I want to thank Lapham's Quarterly for bringing this article to my attention.)
  20. I don't enjoy modern politics and I tend to be more optimistic about the future than maybe I should. British and American elites have long fretted that they, like the ancient Roman Republic before them, would soon face an inevitable collapse. British author Edward Gibbon, author of the six volume opus The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-1789), remarked to a friend in 1776, just before the American Revolution: Maybe a tad premature? One of my favorite anecdotes in history involves Scottish economist and philosopher Adam Smith, author of The Wealth of Nations: guy also known as gaius
  21. caldrail

    Postcards From The Car Park

    Hi there. It’s been a while since I last posted on this blog so I thought I’d let the world know I’m not a statistic. Just an hour or two ago I noticed my everyday supplies of daily essentials was running a little low. Nothing for it but to risk a journey to the local supermarket. What could possibly go wrong? As soon as I approached I saw a car park full of vehicles manoevering for entrance, space, and exit. Shoppers playing dodgems with trolleys packed with everything they never needed before but might during our current Coronavirus emergency. Inside it was as bad, with crowds of agitated shoppers queuing for space in the queues or perhaps that last morsel still on the shelf. Stand aside old lady, that packet of barbeque pork make-your-own –casserole is mine! Or at least it will be in the event I actually get close to a till. An old gentleman waddled at a ridiculous pace, reaching between queues to grab whatever caught his eye. One gets the impression he hasn’t moved that fast since Hitler’s goons were shooting at him. Another mature gent turned to someone he knew and said “How did we ever cope in the war?” We had rationing books back then. Time On My Hands I’ve been sent home. My employer can’t give me anything to do because the company we supply has sent everyone home because everyone is quarantined at home in China and not producing stuff we need to supply our manufacturing customer. At least I’m still on full pay. I can afford the stuff that isn’t on the shelves because some old lady grabbed it first. And now I have the time to wrestle her for it too. Numpties of the Week This coveted award goes not to the shoppers of rainy old Swindon, but the media companies telling us about Coronavirus, especially the BBC, whose obsessional focus on single issues has turned a matter of concern into the fall of civilisation as we know it. Hang on… No. I’ve changed my mind. The award goes to American citizens who, faced with panic buying and shortages of goods in stores, have taken to queuing up outside gun stores instead. Trump, you have made America great.
  22. Part of this issue is the current trend in the media which has lasted for a couple of decades now to highlight similarities between our time and the Roman era. That's all well and good, but it ignores the more important differences. As much as Trump likes to praise his country and citizens for strength, success, and world respect (one has to recognise a certain degree of political spin in that), America is a - from our perspective at least - a deeply divided nation that is trying to on the one hand to promote devisive issues yet limit their division on society. One could say something similar about Britain I guess, but the issues are somewhat more polarised in America. Ethnic and cultural presence, historical identities, isolationism, and all the modern 'rights'. it is very notable that the American press still defines their civil war of the 19th century in terms of slavery which study reveals to be an issue that was not at the heart of many combatants, nor was Abraham Lincoln the freedom activist he's commonly portrayed as (which proves how successful political spin can be). The issue of parallels however is more interesting because what we recognise is not necessarily situational but actually behavioural. Instinctively we tend to empathise, rightly or wrongly, with the mtives and actions of Romans, seeing these parallels not because of what they actually did or the circumstances that drove them to act, but instead the emotions and reactions familiar to us in our daily lives. Their emphasis was different. Their cultural boundaries also. But they were human beings, thus we recognise them.
  23. guy

    Stoicism Explained

    One of the best discussions on stoicism from the libertarian site "Libertarianism.org." https://www.libertarianism.org/encyclopedia/stoicism
  24. Thank you for posting. Very interesting.
  25. https://spectator.sme.sk/c/22202489/virus-probably-killed-prince-from-matejovce-1600-years-ago.html A tomb of a possible Romano-German prince from the 4th century was discovered in Matejovce, Poprad, 14 years ago. Recent skeletal analysis showed that he was hepatitis B positive. It is unclear how the study concluded that the hepatitis played any role in his demise, however. (In 2004, an estimated 350 million individuals have been infected with hepatitis B worldwide. National and regional prevalences range from over 10% in Asia to under 0.5% in the United States and Northern Europe. Source: Wikipedia.) See also this article: http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/56401 guy also known as gaius (I want to thank Lapham's Quarterly for bringing this article to my attention.)
  26. Pompieus

    Big money and fall

    Rather than just concentration of wealth, isn't it really a question of how "deep" into the population of a society does the desire (willingness?) to preserve and defend it go? If the elites and the masses are not BOTH willing to defend a society from external (or internal) challenges and divisions, can it survive? A little too much Toynbee ?
  27. caldrail

    Big money and fall

    it doesn't seem likely to me. Money was a major factor in Roman society from the beginning of the Republican period - it was how status was graded. Although patricians weren't supposed to muddy their hands in tawdry business deals they naturally used proxies, allies, freedmen, or slaves, to do that for them. The economy of Rome was faltering toward the end and corruption was, as ever, the bugbear of this money-mad system. However, the 'fall' of Rome was more complex. It had elements of weakening military power, diluted public patriotism/identity, and a considerable lack of determination. Sermons from the late empire describe Romans (in exaggeration of course) as lazy, hedonistic, corrupt, even cowardly. I prefer the argument made below.... In the end, though, all the countless pages of speculation about why the border collapsed, paticularly in the west, amount to one simple fact: the empire grew old. Adapt though it might, its mechanisms for dealing with with change gradually became set and atrophied, its military 'immune system' needed more and more help from outside, and finally - faced with new generations of vigorous neighbours, who had borrowed from the empire what they needed to give their political system and their cultures strength and coherence - it died of old age. The Empire Stops Here (Philipp Parker)
  28. Just an interesting tangent on Salmonella enterica. (Thanks to Lapham's Quarterly for bring this article to my attention). This article shows how infections can be transmitted between species and evolve to become more lethal. This is important especially in light of the recent coronavirus outbreak. : https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/02/farming-gave-us-salmonella-ancient-dna-suggests guy also known as gaius
  29. Pompieus

    Most Influential Gentes of the Republic

    C C Strachan's "Nobilitas" site (www.strachan.dk) is a very useful source.
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