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  1. 3 points
    Many years ago I wrote a piece on the internet about my departure from a company's employment in scathing terms. Back then I wrote how the place would close and the site redeveloped. It has been announced that such will come to pass, my prophecy having been proven correct. Working there in the good ol days was a different experience than you normally get in warehouses today. There were no agencies involved in finding jobs there, a family atmosphere, and good rates of pay. The rot set in when the influx of young lads and the retirement of older women made the atmosphere much more like a school playground. The change from old fashioned hierarchy to modern style office class system reduced peoples motivations to work toward a career and a future in the company, making careers a lottery rather than the result of hard work and merit. Finally, the older hands were gotten rid of by hook or by crook, seen as obstructive and stuck in their ways. Truth is, they knew their jobs whereas the new generation of workers, managers or labourers, did not. New ideas haven't helped. Placing the management of warehouse production in the hands of a sub-contractor has done no good. The idea was to let a specialist handle it instead of the hamfisted efforts of what amounted to amateur managemnt, but profit proved hard to achieve. So the company has finally decided that it's time to give up, uproot, amd start again elsewhere. Good luck. Welcome Back It was great to see W back at work. I wasn't on the premises when it happened but he'd been crushed by a forklift truck whose driver (the very same driver who nearly knocked me flying once before) hadn't been too observant. Luckily his injuries weren't too serious and now he's fit to resume duties again. Is it just me or has W grown up a little? His experience seems to have done him a favour. Not So Welcome A politician claims that older people voting for Brexit have 'shafted the young generation wholesale'. What a load of nonsense. Far too many young people are lazy, indifferent, and assume that the world owes them a living. That's the sort of world that being a member of the EU has encouraged. If forcing the younger population to work toward an independent Britain they can be proud of is shafting them, then shaft away. Some might see this as hypocrisy given I spent the better part of the last decade as unemployed. I would point out that I was not given the choice, and ultimately, I was thrown to the wolves by the Job Centre who see stopping peoples money as a positive move. That was despite making nearly ten times the quantifiable effort to find emloyment than I was officially expected to achieve. So I got shafted. And as the spokeman for the Job Centre proclaimed in a television interview, I too found paid work within six months. Not the success story that the Job Centre wanted to advertise me as, but one of those who got off their bottoms and went to work when the opportunity presented itself. Why should ex-EU Britain be any different? Not Welcome At All The EU were clear that Britain would not be punished for choosing to leave the Union. They are keen to avoid giving Britain favourable terms to prevent encouraging other members to opt out, and indeed, there are sentiments of that sort evident in France, Greece, Holland, Italy, Spain, and probably other countries. Nonetheless the EU are demanding a high price for leaving, a 'divorce bill' they're insisting on. Since Britain used to be one of the major contributing nations within the EU, the proposed bill can hardly be seen as simply a necessary legal payment but rather an attempt to squeeze whatever they can at the last moment, a feature of EU administration that has been clear for a very long time and one of the reasons people have become dissatisfied with EU membership. The other reasons are the covert suppression of national identity and the influx of migrants assisted by the open border policies of the EU. Why are we so suprised that this is happening? The Roman Empire went through a similar process, becoming larger, bureaucratic, corrupt, facing ever increasing immigration and political uncertainty, not to mention rebellions and at least one break-away empire (that included the British Isles curiously enough). If ever there was a reason to see the value of history, current events are proving it like nothing else, especially since the EU exists to recreate the Roman Empire in a parallel sense. Gildas, a sixth century monk, described Britain as an island 'Rich in usurpers'. He wasn't wrong. Unwelcome Weather Of The Week Saturday overtime. Mandatory. Grumble as I might I had no choice but to turn up to work. The weather was supposed to be about sunshine and showers but toward the end of the shift all hell broke loose. I have never seen hail like that in England before. Neither had the Goans, who raced to the door to experience the sort of weather that probably doesn't happen in India. It doesn't normally happen in England but we didn't let on. Although the hail was not as fierce as some countries in the world expect, for England, it was pretty impressive.
  2. 3 points
    I have a minor problem with these types of announcements (they seem to be popular just now). Do they reflect current political or academic agendas? (whatever they may be? - I hesitate to even speculate on the current politics in Catholic Universities in the Northeastern US). How can they have statistically significant data on diet or life expectancy in the 4th or 5th century? how many graves? How do they date them? how do they know how old the people were or what they ate? Can the Britons really have had a longer life expectancy and higher standard of living when being ruled by dozens of petty warlords engaged in endemic warfare? Do people normally live longer in rural environments without urban centers? How do they know what tax rates were under the Romans and Saxons, did Saxons even collect taxes or just steal whatever they wanted? If things were so swell under the Germanic invaders why did the Welsh and Cornish resist and the Bretons emigrate? In the 60's and 70s there was a revisionist trend that claimed that the Germanic invaders were not such bad guys (proto-hippies?) relative to the authoritarian Romans (the "establishment"), Is this a resurgence?
  3. 3 points
    Hi everbody, My interest in ancient Rome really leapfrogged six weeks ago when I visited all sites in the title. My brother-in-law and I were there for five days - and I want to go back! I have been interested in Rome ever since I was a Boy. This went as far as me wanting to study archaeology after school. However, this caused some uproar from my parents and other relatives so I did architecture instead - sigh! Anyway, my youngest son ended his dinosaur-Phase last year (every young lad has a dinosaur-phase) and this marked the beginning of the volcano-phase. Talking about volcanoes, Pompeii is never far away. As we now live in the wonderful age of the Internet, I came acoss material I could only have dreamed of so far. I visited Pompeii for the first time in 1982, but this was only for a day. The more I studied Ancient Rome earlier this year, the more I wanted to go back to Pompeii. I have three young children and clearly spending a while visiting dusty ol sites wouldn't exactly fit their idea of a nice holiday so I decided to ask my brother-in law instead if he wanted to join in. He immediatly agreed. So we took off for a two-hour flight to Naples on a Saturday morning and arrived there at lunchtime. We got the hire-car and drove to the hotel. Our first trip that day took us to the magnifcent Amphitheatre at Capua. The site is enormously impressive! It was a sizzling hot day and we were pleased to examine the cool underground cellars and cells. So much is still intact beneath the Arena. Isn't that splendid? I love these stairs! How many spectators actually walked here and watched the gruesome spectacle? Capua is easily recogniseable as one of the wealthiest cities in Campania. (Almost) Everything was tidy and clean. A far cry from what most of the Bay of Naples looks like! On Sunday we had Herculaneum on our list. We decided not to go strolling around by ourselves but to take part in a guided tour. The tour-guide waits until enough people have gathered and then takes you on a two-hour tour and after that you pay him/her how much you feel it was worth! It was worth every penny! On these tours you get to see so much more than walking around there guideless! The house of the Telephus Relief: What we weren't aware of is that Italy virtually closes down between 12:00 and 16:00! By the time we found a restaurant that was open, of course after 16:00 we were starving! We ate on the western slope of Mount Vesuvius overlooking Naples when a severe thunderstorm crossed us! What a sight! Looking Sourth we couldn't even see Capri anymore! Monday morning: Pompeii. The weather was attrocious! It was belting down! Anyway - better than being baked in the sun I thought! We were there at opening hours: at ten. Thousands of people flocked into the ancient city. Let me give you some advice: if you go to Pompeii - go there in the early afternoon. By then the crowds will have dispersed and a lot of people even left! Shortly before midday it stopped raining: I quite like this view because the Forum in Roman days was a crowded place. And this is what it was like on that Monday - it was a crowded place. When I was there in 1982 I had the impression that I was the only one there! And that was in Summer too. This view is now my screensaver: My brother-in-law doesn't like being in a crowd, there were too many people. We decided to leave. So after about five hours in Pompeii we drove up to the crater of Mount Vesuvius. You have to walk about the last mile or so. It was unbelievable! It Pompeii it was 34C° - on the top of Mount Vesuvius it was only 16°C! Pompeii as seen from Mount Vesuvius: Pompeii is the greyish shade in the upper left corner. You can make out the Forum: Tuesday: off to Stabiae! From here is where Pliny the Elder witnessed the Reuption in 79 ad. Here you can see yours truly very impressed by the sight. We are 15km from Vesuvius! And no, the volcano is not erupting, it is just clouds forming around the crater. Well, I have just tried to post and I have been told that I have posted more pictures than I'm allowed. I will delete the following and post it tomorrow once this has been approved by the moderators. See you tomorrow! Peter
  4. 3 points
    Hello, I would like to recommend a book on the history of the relations between Romans and the peoples of temperate Europe, both those who lived within the northern border of the empire, and those beyond. It is very well researched and presented, with copious endnotes, illustrations (grave goods, cemeteries, etc.) and maps. Its title is The Barbarians Speak; How the Conquered Peoples Shaped Roman Europe, by Peter S. Wells (Princeton University Press, 1999). Wells presents new evidence and re-examines existing evidence of cultural impact, resistance, and synthesis, both in the Roman provinces and beyond, as far as ancient Poland. Previous studies were biased in favor of ancient written sources, and these are now checked more critically against the archaeological evidence. The tendency to regard the conquered peoples as merely passive recipients of Roman culture is revised in favor of more dynamic interaction. I also like the cover, a portion of the monumental painting Romans Passing Under the Yoke, by Charles Gleyre, who painted classical and related subjects in the early to mid-19th century. His painting depicts the aftermath of the defeat of Roman legions in 107 BC by the Helvetians under Divico, mentioned by Livy and Caesar, et al.. It's a bit out of the period covered by the book, and, apart from the Teutoburgwald catastrophe of 9 AD, not much is made of Roman defeats. But it does suggest that the contents will counterbalance the tendency to regard the Romans on the frontier as an all-conquering force. One early part of the book I found fascinating was the account of the century preceding Caesar's conquest of Gaul, when the economic impact of Rome had already transformed Celtic (at least) culture along the future imperial boundary, as evidenced by the remains of enormous economic-industrial centers called oppida by Caesar. The oppida were independent to the point of minting their own money. One among many eye-openers in Wells's book.
  5. 3 points
    Thanks Aurelia, did you get to see some of the other sites? In the Villa San Marco, the Villa Adriane and in Oplontis we were about the only visitors there. More on that below Here's part two on my terip to the Bay of Naples: The Villa San Marco in Stabiae. What a relief this was from crowded Pompeii! There was no-one there but my brother-in-law and me! We were there for three hours, taking pictures and filming the place. The frescoes were untouched by tourists. In Pompeii all the frescoes have graffiti scratched onto them by the tourists, these here were untouched! What a pleasant change! It is incredibal that we are 15km (10 miles) from Vesuvius and this place was still completely covered by ashes and pumice! Now this is impressive! You can see this volcanic rock which was spewn out of Vesuvius in the 79 ad eruption. You can see the damage to the pavement where it impacted! And we are ten miles away from Versuvius! Archaeologists decided to leave this rock where it is! Interior view of the Villa San Marco: After about three hours we decided to look for the Via Ariana. Here too we were the only visitors. In a conversation with the lady guiding the site, we mentioned wanting to go to Oplontis. For some strange reason we were advised not to go there! This was some sort of insight into the rivalling amongst archaeological groupes. We later found out why we were advised not to go to Oplontis: Oplontis receives government funding while the sites Stabiae don't. I wouldn't say that the Via Ariana was dissapointment, but it is severely damaged! Nonetheless the frescoes are very impressive. We went to Oplontis after all. Here we only had time to visit the Via Poppea and of all sites we saw, this one left the biggest impact on me. I don't know why, perhaps it's because this building is so amazing, and very well preserved and lovingly taken care of. The frescoes inside the Via Poppea are outstanding! Even remains of doors cast in plaster-of paris can be seen. Excavation started here in the 1980s thus relativly new techniques are being used - one can tell! It was in Oplontis where I was free to gather some pebbles of pumice from the 79 ad eruption of Vesuvius. They are right here in front of me now as I write this. I will treasure them! I hope you enjoyed my little narrative on my tour to Pompeii and other sites. I surely enjoyed sharing it with you! Thank you for bearing with me till the end. Peter
  6. 2 points
    Some of my work colleagues are not too impressed with me right now. Pfah. As if I care. The reason is that one of the youngsters is having his birthday celebration today and I have no intention of turning up. Truth is he's always kept me at arms length as it were, and never really conversed with me. No problem, but his big party is therefore of no importance to me whatsoever. Another colleague attempted to persuade me to turn up during the queue for the end of day attendance scan - I told him I was indifferent and why, right in front of the whole shift. I certainly don't mind carousing but as an afterthought? No, I don't need popularity like youngsters do, and I don't need to get drunk just to have a good time. Get A New One Once in a while the top boss in a huge multi-national corporation will pop in and look around. As you might expect, when there's a threat of someone important wandering around the workplace, managers suddenly get very insistent on tidiness and activity. If you work for a Japanese company as I do, the issue is worse, because they have all sorts of expectations. Even if you work in a warehouse full of dust producing cardboard packaging and oil soaked parts, workers must be clean and spotless. I discovered this on my way back from break as a pair of managers assessed everyone passing by for adherence to uniform code. I failed because my hi-vis was a little dust and oil marked by lots of activity (I'm not the cleanest worker in the world as I prefer to get things done). Okay, I admit it, it was no longer a bright yellow but instead had become a sort of faded cammo pattern of dull green and grey. The subordinate team leader demanded my attention and quietly told me to get a new hi-vis. That's an order. Yes sir. The New One Doesn't Work That new tyrannosaurus of a cardboard baler is proving a problem child. We're all shaking our heads and muttering "I told them so" as the machine fails to work reliably straight from the installation. It is a big issue of course. The amount of cardboard we go through is vast - one of the mechanics working on the new machine could not believe how much cardboard our company has to deal with, a feature of having to deal with bulk supplies of auto parts that must be delivered in pristine condition, and whilst he spoke, the yard outside was filling up with temporary bins full of the stuff. They even called overtime specifically to help clear it. Now parts of the machine have failed and must go back to Germany to be redesigned and manufactured. You know, for months I was essentially the only associate working on cardboard waste within the warehouse, dealing with smaller boxes whilst the bigger external machines took care of larger packages. Now they have a regular crowd of workers trying to cope with the load and regularly get swamped. One of my colleagues said that things were easier when I was baling. Feels nice to be wanted doesn't it? Sigh. Oh well, the next order has been passed to me and packages full of auto parts must be decanted into stillages for the production line. So that's another load of oil soaked impact bars then. I can see why my colleagues want to get drunk. Screenie of the Week It's a long bank holiday this easter so a spot of virtual flying is called for. I just love those big propliners and cargo planes, this one - a Douglas C124 from the Cold War era is no exception, seen here flying important cargo and probably a few sailors on a free ticket from a naval base in the Puget Sound to Alameda in sunny California. Enjoy the pic... Drunk in charge of that wonderful machine? That's just criminal. I had a lovely evening - instead of loud crowd noise, thudding metronome beats in the background, and all the hot sweaty jostling for another drink, all I heard was the mighty rumble of four large capacity radial aero-engines. Heaven. Oh all right, I admit it, I also indulged myself with a spot of heavy metal guitar. Hell too Well, the holiday isn't over, and I have more time to wander around the supermarket to find something different and interesting.... Aha... That bottle of White Rum looks good....
  7. 2 points
    Just wanted to stop in and introduce myself. I am a National Guard Soldier who is nearing the end of my career. I am looking to the future and hope to turn my love and passion for history into a second career shaping young minds in the classroom. I have been fascinated by the Roman Legions and Roman history since I was young. I have long lurked on the boards and wanted to say Salve!
  8. 2 points
    My 50 year old prostate is clear and unambiguous proof of some extremely unintelligent design. I would elaborate, but I've just got to nip to the loo again.
  9. 2 points
    Losing a battle means that the other guy was a better general, not that the loser was a bad one, and the scale of the defeat does not mean an equivalent lack of military ability. After all, Napoleon lost at Waterloo. So for a true stinker at matters military, may I promote the claims of one Quintus Marcius Philippus, general during the Third Macedonian war; a man who was actually and undeservedly successful? This is a leader who took his army - including elephants - on a journey through the narrow mountain paths of the Olympus range - a march from which when committed there was no turning back. Philippus eventually brought his men down into Macedonia , exhausted and starving, into a narrow valley with no chance of escape or resupply. The head of the valley could have been blocked by a few hundred men, especially as there was a large defensible temple ideally situated for that purpose. Thus the Roman army was led into a position where it must surrender or starve. As it was a strong, well-equipped army army, it was only put in this position with great difficulty, and the huge self-restraint required to ignore several more militarily feasible options. Had Philip V still being running Macedon, it would have been game over. However, his son Persues decided that the only logical reason that the Romans would have made such a crazily suicidal move was if they had outflanked him elsewhere, so he pulled his army back to defend the capital. So, by literally incredible stupidity, Philippus gave Rome the bridgehead in Macedonia that they needed to win the war. It is yet not too late for his amazing lack of talent to be recognized.
  10. 2 points
    Salvete, omnes - I've been a member at UNRV for some time, but I rarely get over here. Despite that AND because of that, I thought I would post a Hello once more. Rome has been an interest for me (to whatever degree!) since I was a teen (a late 1960s teen) when I read Rex Warner's translation of Caesar's Gallic War. And I have made some study of Rome and the Latin language since. But I wanted to say hi, and say it especially to Ursus and Nephele, who greeted me when I first arrived here, years ago.
  11. 2 points
    Happy New 2015! Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin. It’s traditional at this time of year to have a sort of review of the past year, outlining key events and so on. Since I did bugger-all of any worth whatsoever in 2014, I won’t waste your time. Instead, I’ll tell you what I’d like to achieve in 2015. As ever, for those that don’t really know me (which is all of you – this blog is kept strictly a secret from anyone I actually interact with, just in case they laugh at me), some context will be required before I tell you my dreams and goals for this year. When Young OfClayton (That’s me. Pay attention!) hadn’t had the joy and ambition ground away out of him by life, he went to college, full of dreams and aspirations for a bright future (what a gullible and naive git he was). His first year at college was utterly wasted because most of the time he should have spent learning stuff was actually spent playing snooker. Anyway, through what must’ve been divine intervention, he actually passed his exams and his coursework and was accepted for a second year on the course. The course was a sandwich course, and the second year was spent working. This was good for Young OfClayton, because your evenings and weekends are your own, and nobody gives a shit if you waste them on non-productive pursuits. The third year saw Young OfClayton back at college, with a very different attitude to the waste-of-space that barely scraped through his first year. Things would change this year; no more would I waste my time playing snooker. And true to my word, I didn’t. Instead, I wasted my time playing ‘Elite’. I feel I must explain what Elite is, though I’m sure 90% of my audience are familiar with it. It was a video game played on the BBC Micro. It was the original and seminal space trading game, in which you played the pilot of a spaceship. The aim (unsurprisingly) was to fly around and shoot things. It was a really, really playable game that you could easily become totally immersed in. The graphics were ground-breaking, the universe it existed in was believable, the action was thick and fast. It was . . . just . . . totally . . . frickin . . . awesome. And I played it a LOT. As an aside, there is now a new game called ‘Elite: Dangerous’. This is effectively the same game, by the same people, but brought up to date. If the ‘white-lines-plotted-on-black’ of Elite was awesome, can you imagine how awesome it is when displayed using 21st century computer graphics? Mere words just cannot do it justice. It is the Mona Lisa, The Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Beethoven’s Vth, Grand Unified Field Theory. It is a thing of unrivalled joy and beauty to behold. So, what are my hopes and dreams for 2015? Basically, I aspire to spend every hour not spent sleeping or pissing, playing that game. However, I know deep down in my soul that this ambition is never meant to be. Mrs OfClayton won’t let me. I haven’t asked her, but I know she would never allow it; what sane woman would? Instead I shall have to squander my time fulfilling my responsibilities to my wife and household, earning the respect of my community, and being a productive member of society. What a waste!
  12. 2 points
    Win!!! Author Thomas A. Timmes is so kind to give away two downloads of his latest ebook Legio XVII: Battle of the Danube. All you have to do is to answer here a simple question: What was the name of Thomas A. Timmes first novel? a] Legio XV: Roman Legion at Home b] Legio XVII: Roman Legion at War c] Lego XVII: Roman Lego for You We draw two lucky winners from all correct answers! Winners will be announced here. Competition ends 23rd of December Set during the 2nd Punic War, this book immerses readers in battlefield clashes, innovative tactics, strategic planning, and inspiring leadership. It starts when Timur, Chief of the Cimbri/Teuton Tribes, leads 300,000 people on an epic six year 700 mile migration through land occupied by hostile and friendly Tribes from Jutland to the Danube River. Timur’s 90,000 man Army crosses the river at night and overpowers the Suevi defenders, whose leader, Bethica, appeals to Rome to repel the invaders. Roman Proconsul Manius Tullus is the Senate’s choice to lead Legio XVII, Legio XX, and two Roman Auxiliary Legions across the Alps into Germania where he is reinforced with 20,000 Suevi tribesmen. Major battles are fought at Augsburg and Landshut before Manius’ Legions face off with Timur’s Cimbri/Teuton warriors at the climactic battle of Regensburg.
  13. 2 points
    Just bought Dying Every Day when I saw it up there, it looked good.
  14. 2 points
    I think that two writers from the same cultural milieu, describing similar events that occurred forty years apart in the same part of the world will probably parallel each other to a remarkable extent. That doesn't mean one is based on the other; it simply means they were men who lived close to one another in time, in the same geographic region, sharing a similar religious and cultural vocabulary, and chronicling events as they saw and understood them. Josephus' books were not published until well into the 90's AD. The Synoptic Gospels were almost certainly completed by 70 AD and possibly a decade earlier, according to most mainstream New Testament critics. Paul's letters were all written before his death in 68 AD. I think the parallels you cite are coincidental and meaningless, especially when you consider that the similarities in wording are frequently used to describe radically different events and circumstances, something the cherrypicking of phrases fails to reveal. Last of all, if the Flavian Emperors would go to the trouble to invent a new religion, why on earth then would they not legalize it and promote it? Why is Domitian remembered as a persecutor of the early church? Why would Nero blame the Great Fire of Rome on the Christians if the faith did not exist until a decade after his death? I am a newbie here on this forum and hope I am not speaking out of turn, but your hypothesis makes little sense to me.
  15. 2 points
    The issue is not easily resolved. Nero had become deeply unpopular with the upper classes for his blatant un-roman behiour, outrageous money making schemes, and grandiose self absorption. As at any time in the latter half of Roman history, any perceived weakness or lack of opularity invites ambitious men to conspire or mount coups, especially since the communication disctances to provincial areas and the availability of standing armies loyal to personality and paypacket rather than patriotism, was all the more dangerous. Nero had been for a long time trying to push the Senate down. It's believed by some that whilst the Great Fire of Rome in 64 was an accident, it was further enflamed by conspiracy in order to destroy the homes of the landed wealthy in Rome, where all the political dealing was done behind closed doors. Very much "An act of God" then . For these reasons it's not beyond speculation that a great many senators were already conspiring to get rid of the Caesars and restore full republican rule - they had almost done so earler after the death of Caligula, but the Praetorians intervened and installed Claudius to safeguard their jobs. People routinely assume that the Republic had finished and Empire begun with Augustus - that's merely a historical convenience and not a condition of political reality. There was a Roman empire during the late Republic, and the Empire still called itself a Republic with most of the institutions still intact to some degree. Caesars were not absolute rulers either - their powers were granted by the Senate, though obviously in some cases the reasons a particular man came to power meant that giving them the power they wanted was a better bet, and then again, in the case of rulers like Nero, some simply ruled as if they were absolutely in charge regardless of the actual situation. So could the Empiure have split in 69? yes, it could have, but note that none of the usurpers stayed in the provinces and set up a breakaway state. They all headed for Rome and fought it out, or perhaps took advantage of a situation. So in reality, sooner or later, someone was going to take control of Rome and its provinces. It really was a case of winner takes all.
  16. 2 points
    The Scots have a seperate identity from the English despite being part of the United Kingdom (which ironically ws set up by a scottish king). It's a manifestation of the Roman vs Barbarian inheritance which has coloured european politics since ancient times. I'm not saying the modern scots are barbarians (they're quite a cultured people when they stay off the booze) but they descend from tribes the Romans never conquered. Of course the earlier history of England and Scotland is one of extended conflict, and whilst it may seem strange that this isn't something that's forgotten, these old hostilities can survive in the folk memory for exceedingly long periofds of time. As with any people that have a regional identity, there will be those who want to establish indepenence on the assumption that life will be more suitable for them - the same motives drive hostiltiies in the middle east and africa for instance (it was also part of the issue in the American Civil War - slavery was something used as a moral rationale by Lincoln). Nationalism can be a heady brew thus many Scots might vote in favour despite any sensible argument against it. Personally I think the only reason this has come about is Alex Salmond wants his name in the history books. What ultimately might happen to the Scots is not really what he wants to hear right now.
  17. 1 point
    Book Review by Martin Holmes This book, awarded the 2008 Lakedaimonian Prize of the Academy of Athens, is political and military history at its best. In an era where the Spartans are idealised in popular culture through films such as 300 (2006) and 300: Rise of an Empire (2014) and, in contrast, are often dismissed or even derided by many classical scholars of the ‘Spartan mirage’ variety, Miltiadis Michalopoulos has provided a history of Sparta that is balanced, well researched, and fascinating. He takes as his subject neither the rise of Sparta nor its heyday. Indeed, at first glance its subtitle is liable to confuse: “the Rise and Fall of the Spartan Revolutionary Movement.” What movement? What revolution? In popular culture and in academia the Spartans are frequently portrayed as conservatives and traditionalists – rather dim ones, at that. Secluded in the southern part of the Peloponnese, perpetuating a centuries-old social system based on the teachings of Lykourgos that was foreign to the rest of Greece, and fiercely resistant to luxury, intellectual life, and cultural innovation, the Spartans make for unlikely revolutionaries. A major reason, most classicists think, behind Sparta’s decay was its inability to change. Michalopoulos agrees with this conclusion. The Spartans were indeed too conservative, he argues. Encumbered with an enormous population of helot slaves, suffering a continual decline in the number of homoioi to guard them, and a xenophobia bordering on paranoia prevented Sparta from dominating Greece for any length of time. But whereas many classicists trace the end of Spartan power to the third century B.C. – either with the Battle of Leuctra or the Macedonian conquest of Greece – treating later events as mere footnotes, Michalopoulos disagrees. For him, Spartan history did not end in the third century B.C.; neither the Thebans nor Alexander the Great invaded and destroyed Sparta. The Spartans, like Sir Winston S. Churchill two millennia later, knew that decline is not defeat and that defeat is not final. Well into the expansionist days of the Roman Republic groups of Spartans conspired and warred to restore the city’s prestige. In the Name of Lykourgos is the story of these latter-day Spartans. Finding themselves in an age far removed from that of their forebears, one in which the big empires – Rome, Macedon, Ptolemaic Egypt – dwarfed the old city-states of mainland Greece, and with their city’s prestige shattered by military defeats and helot rebellions, these Spartans desperately fought to keep their city afloat. This book contrasts their desire to restore the ancient ways of Lykourgos with the innovative, often radical methods they employed. Their methods were drastic: Agis IV (r. 245-241 B.C.), to boost the city’s manpower, enacted widespread economic reforms. All debts were cancelled; land was redistributed. Foreigners could bear arms and fight alongside the homoioi. For a short while the city was vibrant and hopeful. Yet traditional Spartans were stunned and, after only four years, Agis was executed. A generation later Kleomenes III (r. 235-222 B.C.) enacted wider, more radical reforms. He knew he was putting himself in danger but, at the same time, blamed Spartan complacency for the city’s decline. He too cancelled debts, redistributed land, and opened the army to foreigners and ‘inferior’ groups. Marching alongside an expanded and enthusiastic army, and celebrated as a champion of the poor throughout the Peloponnese, Kleomenes fought the rival Achaean League for restoration of Sparta’s traditional territories. In only five years he brought much of the Peloponnese under his control, including Corinth and Argos, and seemed poised to control it all. Eventually, however, he was defeated and died in exile. A generation later another king, Nabis (r. 207-192 B.C.), made a last-ditch effort to restore Sparta to its former glory. Helots were freed and armed, walls (for the first time) were constructed to defend the city, a navy was built, and money – the bane of traditionalists – was issued to boost the economy. He too had dreams of expansion and he too faced defeat, in this case at the hands of Rome and its Greek allies. In 195 B.C. Sparta was sacked and, in a bloody campaign, most of its warriors, including the king, were slaughtered. An account of these events is itself a worthy achievement on Michalopoulos’s part. The Spartan Revolution, occurring when it did, has been largely overshadowed by the exploits of Rome and Macedon. Certainly, those with an interest in Sparta will enjoy the book. So will anyone with an interest in Greek history, whether professional or amateur. Military historians may find the battles fascinating, not only because they are not so well-known, but because Michalopoulos is meticulous in his descriptions, having visited on multiple occasions each battle location, and provides readers with appendixes detailing the geography and military roads of the Peloponnese. It is as political history, however, that his book truly shines. Agis, Kleomenes, and Nabis were every bit as fascinating as Pericles, Marcus Agrippa, and the Gracchi; the economic and political reforms were among the most radical in the ancient world. His account of the small city state desperately trying to reassert its independence amid a changing world is probably the best of its kind to appear in recent years. ...more Book Reviews! Great Battles of the Classical Greek World by Owen Rees Ancient Warfare Magazine Vol XI Issue 3 The Rise and Fall of the Seleukid Empire by J. Grainger In fact, though it is convention for a reviewer to find something to dislike, in this case it is impossible. The subject is significant; the research, considering it was the author’s first book, was done well. Although a translation, it is not clunky, and there are no obvious spelling or grammatical errors. Perhaps the use of ‘k’s rather than ‘c’s in the names might confuse some readers but, being a Greek, Michalopoulos is well within his rights to spell as he does. The only downside is that the author is by profession civil engineer rather than an academic and, as such, might be unfairly dismissed by specialists. Hopefully this does not happen. For, if this is the quality of his first book, one cannot wait (and indeed hope) to see him write another. Miltiadis Michalopoulos was born in 1960 into a family with strong military traditions which originates from Sparta. He graduated from the Polytechnic School of Athens in 1990 with a BSc in civil engineering and currently works in that profession. He has had a life-long interest in history, particularly military history, and is a prominent member of local war gaming circles. His study In the name of Lycurgus is the result of ten years of intensive research into all available sources and repeated visits to the sites of the battles described in the book. Tell us your opinion - Submit your Review - Buy the book! Book Review of In the Name of Lykourgos: The Rise and fall of the Spartan Revolutionary Movement (243-146BC) - Related Topic: Roman Greek Bibliography Get it now! In the Name of Lykourgos for the UK ________________________________ Archive
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    Book Review by Michael J. Mates Professor Peter T. Struck’s Divination and Human Nature takes the reader on a guided tour of ancient philosophers (Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, and the Neoplatonist Iamblichus) and their opinions regarding “natural” divination, as opposed to “technical” divination such as the reading of entrails, described as “the application of…logic to empirically gathered external signs” (p 16). The purpose of natural divination varies, but its nature remains strikingly similar among the philosophers examined: “the immediate apperception of something without the intervention of any reasoning process,” (p 20) knowledge which “arrives to us by ways other than self-conscious, goal-directed inferential chains of thought” (p 31), “an epiphenomenon of human anatomy and cognition (p 177), or, simply put, “intuition.” Very briefly, then, and using quotations only from the author to keep things short: Plato regards natural divination as “intuitive insight” (p 52), revealed to be true as a result of the Socratic method of cross-examination, in which, at its simplest level, an illiterate slave boy is coaxed to reveal the truths of geometry. Our perceptions of higher truths thus take place without any dependence on the “unstable and illusory character of…empirical data” (p 55), and “turn our minds toward the immaterial” (p 56). The soul also performs “divination through dreams” (p 82). Aristotle describes “foresight through dreams,” mediated not by god(s) but by the daimonic (my transliteration; see Note 2 below), who are “part of a realm of intermediate divinity beyond human control” (p 86). Sleep is a prerequisite, since defenses are down, and “movements of air” are thus able to produce “a palpable impression” in the sleeper, producing “a mental image that is inserted into the dream” (p 98). The weak-minded also benefit from the process; by contrast, “higher-order intellects occlude this lower-order information processing system” (p 104). For the materialist Stoics, who view the cosmos as “a single unified animal” (p 172), and for whom god is “an extraordinarily refined mist that permeates and suffuses inert matter” (p 172), all intuitions and inexplicable connections occur within a unified system, rather than between realms, as with Plato and Aristotle. Because the universe is predetermined (“Nothing happens that is causally undetermined from what came before” p 196),), and souls are physical bodies, divination for the Stoics is “a gradient and not a rupture” (p 196). Given the Stoics’ definition of time (“an infinitesimal present and a past and future that do not properly exist” p 203), and the material unity of the universe, it is no surprise that Stoic divination is often prediction. Struck concludes his generally chronological examination by illustrating divination according to the Neoplatonists (especially Iamblichus), whose oracles illustrate a new and “true divination, through assimilation to the divine, which yields sweeping knowledge of the philosophical underpinnings of the universe” (p 216). This identifies “true divination as a meditative exercise in which the divine and human mind are understood to make a connection” (p 243). Obviously, this is a turning point, which dematerializes divination, in contrast to previous thinking. To conclude, Struck takes us back in time, and out of philosophical discourse, to examine the role that divination plays in helping Penelope recognize her long-absent husband Odysseus at the end of the Odyssey. The divination is manifest as “hints, signs, and enigmas”—and even “kledonomancy, or divination by overheard words” (p 253). This is an extraordinarily erudite book, both wide-ranging and specific, and repays close attention by the reader. It is therefore all the more surprising that two prominent typographical errors involve “phenomena” (used with a singular verb on p 36: “The phenomena…embraces…”) and “phenomenon” (used as a plural on p 111: “…to analyze these phenomenon…”). Michael Mates earned his PhD in 1982 at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena CA, writing his dissertation on St. Patrick and the British Church. After seminary, he taught in Pakistan, and then worked as a U.S. diplomat with the Department of State, serving in Islamabad, Canberra, Karachi, Cluj (Romania), Columbia (District of) and Chisinau (Moldova), before retiring in 2011 to Monroe, Washington State, and starting a new career as co-landscaper at his hectare of gardens, lawns and forest, and brewer of black-fudge garden compost. ...more Book Reviews! Companion to Josephus by Chapman Debating the Saints Cult by M. Dal Santo The Mythology of Plants by A. Giesecke Note to 21st-century reader: It is crucial to note that Plato considered the immaterial to be realer than the empirical, in an exact reversal of most contemporary unconscious thinking about the nature of reality. For example, every table will decay and collapse, but the idea, or substance, of “tableness” lasts forever. Note 2: Throughout the book, Struck translates daimon as “demon,” which is likely to be confused by some with the Christian word for an evil spirit; in pre-Christian thought, daimones were spiritual beings, intermediate between men and the gods, and frequently the conveyers of intuition. Plato describes the daimoniov semeion (daimonic sign) as a “voice” and a warning, and thus “a kind of guardian angel” (p 68). The Greek word is the same in pre-Christian and Christian writings, but the usages are vastly different. Note 3: It helps to have some knowledge of Ancient Greek and Classical Latin, as Struck advances his argument passage-by-bilingual passage, and even word-by-word. Tell us your opinion - Submit your Review - Buy the book! Book Review of Divination and Human Nature: A Cognitive History of Intuition in Classical Antiquity - Related Topic: Roman Mythology Bibliography Get it now! Divination for the UK ________________________________ Archive
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    The BBC are now carrying a copy of the video presentation as well. So far as what the scrolls contain if those which have already been forced open by the techniques developed in the 18th and 19th centuries are anything to go by then there is liable to be a significant number of Epicurean texts so mainly philosophical in nature but I believe that a few other scrolls have been identified so possibly some plays and other material will be found as well. Finds of smut may actually be fairly limited but there are several scholars who would dearly love for one of the 450 undamaged so totally unread scrolls to contain at least one of the lost nine books of lyric poetry written by Sappho.
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    When did this happen? I must of missed it. I'm always the last to know.
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    Here's an interesting article (posted by Valentinian from cointalk): http://www.scienceworldreport.com/articles/19182/20141121/aerial-laser-uncovers-ancient-roman-goldmines-spain.htm guy also known as gaius
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    One student of the course supplied this interesting link to Roman military diplomas: http://www.romancoins.info/MilitaryDiploma1a.html Here's a interesting page from the link of some of the military diplomas: http://www.romancoins.info/MilitaryDiploma-3.html#Africa guy also known as gaius
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    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/did-marco-polo-discover-america-180952765/?no-ist " But as Olshin is first to admit, the authenticity of the ten maps and four texts is hardly settled. The ink remains untested, and a radiocarbon study of the parchment of one key map—the only one subjected to such analysis—dates the sheepskin vellum to the 15th or 16th century, a sign the map is at best a copy. Another quandary is that Polo himself wrote nothing of personal maps or of lands beyond Asia, though he did once boast: “I did not tell half of what I saw.”" And Rossi, who donated the map, seems a pretty dodgy character. ~~~~
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    I'm sure others here will answer your other questions, but I'll tackle your question on how Vestal Virgins were selected. There was no formal election process involved -- when there was a vacancy for a Vestal, the Pontifex Maximus would choose from among Roman girls between the ages of six and ten years. Originally the girls were chosen from patrician families, but later on (most likely by 483 BCE) plebeian girls could be chosen. Other requirements were that the girl had to have both parents still living and happily married, with no scandal in the family, and that she herself had to be physically perfect and intelligent. -- Nephele
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