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  1. 1 point
    I agree with @guy, great post. I'd like to focus especially on war, since it's the cruellest activity. We understand very well that every war brings its dose of brutality and Romans were not an exeption at all; but I think that usually people don't face the issue in the right way, especially if they don't know history very good. We tent to compare ancient civilisation with our present, not with other civilisations of the past. So, let's try a quick comparision. ROMANS 1) In abstract terms, did Romans prefer to destroy at all the enemies or to conquer without too useless losses? 2) When they used violence, were they proud of it? 3) Did propaganda show brutality without constraints, focusing on the sorrow of the losers and bloody war scenes? The answers are: 1) Romans' ideal way to rule was "to spare the subjected and to vanquish the proud" (parcere subiectis et debellare superbos, like Vergil wrote), so they didn't abandon themselves to gratuitous violence: why should they? Romans were very practical and they knew that mass killings costed time, money ant the result was only to create irreducible enemies among the survivors. For them it was more convient to turn enemies in subjected who paid taxes. 2) No, in that case they tried to hide it. Propaganda or not, Romans believed in the "bellum iustum" and animal violence was obviusly against this ideal. Bloody Ceasar's campaigns in Gaul were shocking for most of the senators and I believe to remember that there was a sort of investigation by the senate for this early war crimes. 3) Again, no. Romans loved to display their rule like a one which brought peace, wellness and order: in a word, "civilisation". What I wrote above refers a lot to propaganda, that's true: but propaganda says a lot about poeple's mindset. For us it is obvious that rulers don't want to show violence against enemies and present them like good guys, but it's absolutely not a rule: it's plenty of ancient populations who, on the contary, loved to show their power by the cruel subjugation of the enemy. Here some examples from the Ancient Near East. SUMERIANS The sumerian army marchs stepping on the corpses of the enemies. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stele_of_the_Vultures#/media/File:Stele_of_Vultures_detail_01-transparent.png AKKADIANS King Naram-Sin reaches the god climbing over piles od corpses. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victory_Stele_of_Naram-Sin#/media/File:Victory_stele_of_Naram_Sin_9068.jpg ASSYRIANS King Ashurbanipal and his wife celebrates the victory in war with a banquet; in the right corner the decapitated head of the enemy king hangs from a tree. https://www.ilgiornaledellarte.com/immagini/IMG20180926161716647_900_700.jpeg EGYPTIANS One of Ramesses II's epithet was "the one who smashes enemy's head". And so on. There are so many other examples, everyone which celebrates the king and the army as distroyer of enemies and Mesopotamian art could be very bloody, like we'll never see in Roman art. Is it just propaganda? Right, but not every propaganda is the same and it shows the ideal world that rulers pretend to create. There are no scenes of Roman emperors who merrily feast victory while a head hangs over their head. So, this is the problem: we take for granted that our (modern) mindset is normal in every time and every place. That isn't. Among the ancient populations, Romans were one of the less cruel; or, at least, they were no proud at all of using violence. And that makes an enourmous difference.
  2. 1 point
    Well written post. Without military strength, a frequently vulnerable and weak empire would have been quickly and thoroughly snuffed out of existence by its many enemies and regional rivals. Without a firm and formalized legal system, a developed ancient society would quickly collapse into anarchy. Without a tolerance for diverse cultures and a willingness to incorporate foreign ideas into mainstream Roman military and social culture (under the framework of Roman law and custom, of course), Rome would have neither expanded beyond its earliest borders nor have developed its cultural richness and influence. Rome's nearly unique success in the ancient world was a confluence of these and other factors. Brutality was just one of the many important reasons for Rome's unparalleled success and influence in the ancient world Interesting quote by Seneca. Being on team Petronius, I had to research the context of this quote by the rather unpleasant Seneca: https://howtobeastoic.wordpress.com/2016/06/04/seneca-to-lucilius-on-avoiding-crowds/ I greatly enjoyed this very thought-provoking post. Thank you. guy also known as gaius
  3. 1 point
    Things just get more and more awkward every day. It really doesn't feel like I'm in control of my life any more, and to be honest, there's every reason to believe someone is interfering in my business as no opportunity to disrupt my income is being missed. Well, for the time being, I'm back in the saddle, working at the Honda car plant. Don't get me wrong - this is not my dream job in any way whatsoever, but it will pay the bills for a while. My colleagues, many of whom are being taken on at the same time as me, come from a wide variety of countries. There are of course the ubiquitous Poles, as well as Hungarians, czechs, Goans and other assorted Indians, Italians, Egyptians, and at least one American appeared on the radar today. Two of my female colleagues wanted to know who he was, and with typical working class forthrightness demanded "'Oo are you then?". It turned out it was the Vice President of Honda USA on a visit. Result. On the negative side the 'full training given' turns out to be rather less full and more sporadic. I even had to walk away from one trainer I was assigned to because he admitted he didn't know what he was doing. The trouble, so the agency informs us, is that Honda don't normally take on so many temps in one go. There's certainly demand for them - I've had a total of five agencies trying to hire me for the same job. I know, the scheme to earn five times as much has occurred to me, but I tried that once before in another warehouse - it doesn't work. Also Not Working My grand plan to learn some Polish has hit the rocks. Not through want of effort, it's just that the Poles shorten their vowels so much that their language is almost impossible for us lazy English speakers to get right. I've had one young Polish lady reduced to hysterics by my continued efforts to say "teabreak" in Polish. The word is said something like p'sher'va, but as easy as it looks, she just giggles and says it again in clipped Polish preciseness. Vending Machine Of The Week The works canteen has a row of typical vending machines for snacks and drinks. They do work, as it happens, as anything not working is not the Japanese way. So, having no cash to spend, I decide a cup of free cold water would do. Number eighty.... Aha... I now have to chose whether I want Strong, Normal, or Weak water. Really? My trials are nothing compared to one colleague, FJ, who is the only temporary worker to receive full training, knows everything, and thus is respected and consulted by all despite this being his first job and only present for a week so far. He's even decided to go on the night shift to get away from all the fame and fortune. His choice of breaktime tipple was Beef Soup. Strong, naturally, as he always chooses Strong. Big mistake, FJ. When it says Strong, it means it. Now he buys cans of fizzy drinks and looks forward to his girlfriends curries to get through the day, and breaks out in a sweat whenever Beef Soup is mentioned. Personally, I 'll stick to water. It doesn't seem to make any difference which strength I choose.