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  1. 3 points
    What do we mean by brutality? At what point does the infliction of harm become gratuitous? Do we judge brutality by modern morality or the expectations of ancient Roman society? It's important to begin this short overview from a known perspective because our judgements on the conduct of Rome are not entirely objective. Rome is sometimes seen as the template for tyrannical imperialism. This is difficult to reconcile with the opinions and sentiments expressed by the Roman writers themselves, and indeed, seems to be based on little more than familiarity with the ideological tyrannies of more recent times. David Potter, author of Origins of Empire, describes Rome as "the most successful multi-ethnic, multi-cultural state in the history of Europe and the Mediterranean". Rome was a society that espoused moral values and austere lifestyles. A society that considered itself the epitome of civilisation. In much the same way we do today, as an expression of patriotic self-esteem. It was also an ambivalent society, for when wealth allowed, Romans enjoyed flouting their norms. Let's be quite clear about this - brutality is part of human behaviour, as undesirable as many of us would ordinarily see it as. Our modern societies try to protect citizens by legislation and law enforcement, but the infliction of arbitrary and excessive harm is nonetheless something that lurks among us. It lurked among the Romans too. Some might claim that it was much more overt than that, and to be fair, one would have to admit the extent of their brutality is notorious. I'm not going to dwell on the reports of individuals. As colourful and horrifying some of the antics that Roman caesars got up to might be, they represent a very tiny example of behaviour, one that distorts the overall picture. So therefore I put the Roman Empire on trial for brutality, judged by the common morality we share. The Roman Legions By far the biggest culprit were the common soldiers of Rome. In writings of the late republic and principate, one readily picks up the idea that Rome desired tough disciplined soldiers, able to follow orders without argument, able to withstand the rigours of campaigning, and to be frank - able to ram a sword into man, woman, or child without hesitation. It follows that a man prepared to be so violent isn't likely to be particularly well behaved. The Romans understood that. As it happens, Roman legions were often a disagreeable lot. They did argue with orders and were far closer to mutiny than modern armies would tolerate. Even the charismatic Julius Caesar had to ask his soldiers for consent to continue a war during the campaign against his rivals. At the death of Augustus, legions in Pannonia and Germania mutinied after being allowed time off to mourn or celebrate, seeking resolution of the harsh treatment and injustice they received daily. Heaven knows, lashes and wounds are always with us! So are hard winters and hard working summers, grim war, and unprofitable peace. Speech of Precennius - Annals (Tacitus) Nothing new there, Tacitus tells us. Harsh lives make harsh men. Roman legionaries would expect booty to reward their efforts at war, and their commanders were only too willing to please them by providing such opportunities. If there is a requisition and a soldier siezes your donkey, let it go. Don't resist and don't grumble. If you do, you will be beaten and you will still lose your donkey. Letters collected by Arrian (Epictetus) By tradition, a Roman soldier swore an oath not to steal from his comrades on campaign. Oaths may have been a serious business but they didn't always deter. Frontinus records in Stratagems that one commander, either especially stern or exasperated, ordered that any soldier caught stealing would have his right hand cut off. By tradition, a dishonoured legion undergoes a decimation - one man in ten is randomly selected and beaten to death by his colleagues. Brutality serves as a deterrent. Tough On The Streets Where human beings congregate in large urban enviroments, the levels of violence begin to rise. Rome was no exception. A certain level of thuggery was accepted, as young men of good families would roam the streets at night looking for people to beat up. But this sort of behaviour would be more or less restricted to the virile and testosterone driven male gangs. It seems unlikely that all young men behaved in this way. Your drunken bully who has by chance not slain his man passes a night of torture like that of Achilles when he bemoaned his friend, lying now upon his face, and now upon his back; he will get no rest in any other way, since some men can only sleep after a brawl. Yet however reckless the fellow may be, however hot with wine and young blood, he gives a wide berth to one whose scarlet cloak and long-retinue of attendants, with torches and brass lamps in their hands, bid him keep his distance. But to me, who am wont to be escorted home by the moon, or by the scant light of a candle whose wick I husband with due care, he pays no respect. Whether you venture to say anything, or make off silently, it's all one: he will thrash you just the same, and then, in a rage, take bail from you. Such is the liberty of the poor man: having been pounded and cuffed into a jelly, he begs and. prays to be allowed to return home with a few teeth in his head! Nor are these your only terrors. When your house is shut, when bar and chain have made fast your shop, and all is silent, you will be robbed by a burglar; or perhaps a cut-throat will do for you quickly with cold steel. Satires (Juvenal) But despite this potentially violent enviroment, there was also a curiosity among bystanders. Plutarch records how people rushed to the senate house to see the fallen body of Julius Caesar (and rushed away equally quickly just in case). There were of course occaisions when strong feelings arouse the citizens to anger. Riots were always a threat to the powerful in Rome because those caught by them might well be beaten to death, such as the fate of Cleander in the reign of Commodus. Little wonder then that the rulers of Rome were keen to divert the Roman mob with public entertainment. Sports And Games Without a doubt a major unifying element of the Roman Empire was the spread of games. Swordfights were performed for public entertainment with a very real risk of death or injury. Although fights to the death existed, the professional bout consisted of two men fighting with referees and rest periods until one or the other could not continue, his fate a decision of the games editor based more often than not on the mood of the crowd. In the morning men are thrown to the lions and the bears; but it is the spectators they are thrown to in the lunch hour. Letters (Seneca) It does the people good to see that even slaves can fight bravely. If a mere slave can show such courage, what then can a Roman do? Besides, the games harden a warrior people to sights of carnage and prepares them for battle. Letters (Cicero) The traditional swordfight with an honourable decision over the fate of those who could not continue was one thing; by the late empire, this had transmuted to displays of fighting designed to wound as a means of heightening drama. Little wonder that some experts feel that the gladiatorial games had lost their purpose in Roman society, or that Augustine records the addiction of a newbie spectator to watching violence . The Romans enjoyed other sports that carried a brutal edge. Boxing, where the bandages that protected the hand evolved into metal gloves designed to punish the opponent. The Pankration, or Greek wrestling, where there are only two rules to obey - no biting and no gouging of eyes - which got ignored in the heat of combat. Animals were slaughtered by the wagonload to thrill the public for as long as the supply of animals was practicable and affordable. At first for novelty, later for spectacle, and finally to demonstrate the power of Rome over nature. The extraordinary numbers of animals slaughtered in the arena is mind numbing, driving some species to regional extinction - something the Romans themselves were well aware. Slavery Another evil of human behaviour is the ownership of others. The problem has never entirely gone away despite the various moral advances in history. In ancient times, it was simply how life was. The Romans had mixed feelings about their possessions which were legally en par with animals. Some saw them as merely 'talking tools', others more willing to permit something approaching humane treatment. It was true that wealthy owners liked to free as many slaves as they could, in order to show how generous and humane they were, but one suspects a more expedient attitude was the motive. On the one hand, rural and industrial slaves might expect a short hard life, pushed to physical extremes and exposed to unhealthy enviroments. Others might be valued companions, loyal employees, teachers for their children, or entertainers to please the family and guests. The slaves engaged in the operation of the mines secure for their masters profit in amounts which are almost beyond belief. They themselves are however physically destroyed, their bodies worn down by working in the mine shafts both day and night. many die because of the excessive maltreatment they suffer. they are given no rest or break from their toil, but rather are forced by the whiplashes of the overseers to endure the most dreadful of hardships; thus do they wear out their lives in misery. The History of the World (Diodorus Siculus) Poor Psecas, whose own hair has been torn out by her mistress, and whose clothes has been ripped from her shoulders and breasts by her mistress, combs and styles her mistress' hair. "Why is this curl so high?" the mistress screams, and at once a whipping punishes Psecas for this crime of the curling iron and sin of a hairstyle. Satires (Juvenal) In one case, a slave had killed his master. Law demanded that all the household slaves should be executed as well. However, a crowd of protestors , trying to protect so many innocent lives, gathered and began to riot. They besieged the senate house. Within the senate house, some senators were anxious to eliminate excessive cruelty, but the majority were of the opinion that nothing should be changed. Annals (Tacitus) Sadly the outburst of popular support for the plight of the slaves achieved nothing - Nero enforced the rules. Conclusion We have to accept that brutality exists in human societies. In any such society, there is a general level of behaviour that is either tolerated or unsuppressed. Clearly this operates in both ancient and modern eras. Roman law was a reactive process, because free men had the right to free will and self determination. If you chose to exceed acceptable behaviour, then you were liable for punishment, if you were caught or brought to justice. However this means that men in authority were able to exercise whatever brutality they believed they could get away with. No doubt most maintained some semblance of moral behaviour, others were willing to test the boundaries, especially if far from close inspection. Yet much of this impression is based on reports of individuals such as badly behaved patricians and emperors. The Roman writers use the stories of brutality to describe the vices of an individual, to show what a villain he was, and one suspects that a great deal of this is exaggerated for dramatic effect. Seneca records his dismay at arena violence. Cicero records that a man was better off doing something useful than sat idly watching fights. And as much as we abhor the idea of gladiators fighting to potential death or injury for public entertainment, it was also recorded that these men were only too keen to please their masters, illustrating that violence is a part of the human psyche and sometimes socially acceptable. So - was Rome a brutal society? By design the Roman Empire was a benign state that allowed its diverse population to prosper in a spirit of competition and opportunity, a society with avenues for social advancement in spite of strict class divisions, a society that respected local customs as equally valid as Roman law, but it also had a greater capacity for greed and cruelty than we would allow. Brutality served a purpose in the Roman world, a tool that the ruthless found expedient. In other words.... What do you think I mean? I mean that I come home more greedy, more ambitious, more voluptuous, and even more cruel and inhuman - because I have been among humans. Letters (Seneca)
  2. 2 points
    Sorry I haven't been too active on this forum lately, but I did just post up a video on my YouTube channel featuring my modest collection of Roman artifacts. Feel free to check it out! (And I apologize for the obvious gaffe; I said 31 AD for 31 BC there at the end!)
  3. 1 point
    Almost Christmas. I say that with a distinct sense of freedom and joy, not because it’s the festive season – Bah! Humbug! I say this because this year fate has spared me the usual barrage of Christmas songs. You know the ones I mean. All those songs that radio stations, supermarkets, and those not blessed with a sense of music play at this time every year ad nauseum. Hardly heard any of them this time around. Makes you feel good to be alive. A Noble Deed It’s going to be ten years since I became Lord Rail. All in all, it hasn’t impacted much on events, other than making a few people rather critical of me, including a couple of claims advisors, one of whom actually swore at me in public when I politely made him aware of my new found status. Another claims advisor attempted to crush my title out of significance with rather less rude language. They both failed. What next for the Caldrail autobiography? What can I do to offend conformity, advance the cause of individualistic idiocy, and generally make life a bit more interesting than visiting supermarkets at Christmas? Hmmm… Let me think…. Adopting Nature May I introduce you to Ronald? He’s a robin, the red breasted variety (although they do seem a bit orange rather than actually red), and has taken up residence at my workplace. Haven’t a clue what he finds to eat, probably subsisting on leftover sweeties when things are quiet. No food on the shop floor please… Okay, the boss is gone. But this is a bumper time for Ronald, because rules go out the door at Christmas as the boss brings in boxes of chocolates to reward us for a year of dedicated hard work and constant gripes. Seeing as this was the festive season, I suggested the company adopt Ronald as a mascot. I have no idea what Ronald thinks of this honour. He flew away. How Not To Get Home My last shift before xmas is done! Yahoo! Can’t be bothered to walk home in the rain so I opt for a bus. As much as I detest buses, even I have to confess they do come in handy occaisionally, like going home after the last shift before xmas. You could tell it was the festive season. Whilst I normaly have to wait ages for a bus to arrive, I had no sooner gotten to the bus stop when my ride arrived. I’ve long since learned to take my backpack off before getting on, but this not being a patient driver, I stepped aboard, pad the fare, got the ticket, and found myself entangled in the straps as I struggled manfully to fit into the seats. Slipping on the wet floor, cursing at the lack of movement, the bus accelerating and braking like an entry at Le Mans, boy oh boy, that was a test of manhood. I;m pleased to say no-one made any sarky comment at all. They must have seen me struggle before. What? Last Christmas? Oh heck, please let this not become an annual ritual…. Mammalian Connection of the Week A little while ago I finished a late shift and as I often do, I stopped at a lonely bus stop to rest for ten minutes before walking four miles home. The bus schedule finished hours ago you see. So I was there, guzzling my energy drink which I keep handy for such occaisions, when movement down on the pavement caught my eye. A fox! Not really that unusual, certainly not in that area with plenty of supermarket refuse bins to forage for food. This one hadn’t seen me, trotting happily along the pavement, looking in good health and really picture postcard perfect condition. Then it noticed my surprise. When you surprise a fox like that, some scarper immediately. Others freeze until they decide to scarper. This one froze. But it was odd. I was looking straight into that foxes eyes and expected the usual look of startled horror at encountering a shabby tired out human being. I saw something else. Although alert and poised to move as instinct demanded, for just a brief moment it looked as the fox was wondering if it could approach in a friendly manner. Scrounger behaviour rather than genuine friendliness, I’ve seen squirrels adopt the same begging action, but the sensation of empathy however misinterpreted is genuinely a deeply rewarding experience. Instinct got the better of it and the fox scarpered. Happy Christmas, Mr Fox.
  4. 1 point
    I wonder what qualifications are required to become a bus driver? Not that I'm especially interested myself, it's just that I witnessed two drivers changing shift discussing Schrodinger's Cat, a piece of scientific philosophy used to illustrate quantum uncertainty. Good grief. What next? A law demanding drivers must have a Master's Degree in Quantum Mechanics just to drive a new-fangled electric vehicle? One wonders how the future government of Britain is going to make that happen. Half the kids I witness in my area learn to read and write Grafftti rather than English. I speak with some experience on this. There's a bunch of young lads utterly and wrongly convinced I'm gay. That's bad enough, but they insist on letting me know they think so. Worse still, a hard core of them are hell bent on coercing me into admitting it. The other night, on my way home through a side street in the early hours of the morning, the driver of a car wound his window down and asked "Queer yet?". Well, these attempts at bullying have been going on for some time. A few have already fallen foul of anti-social legislation courtesy of the Police. One wonders what life is like at school these days. Bullying went on in my day, just like it always does, but this intense psychological intimidation is well beyond anything I experienced as a child and points clearly to a complete failure of modern education practice as much as what passes as parental upbringing these days. At the bus station, I waited for passengers to disembark as usual. A toddler, no more than four years old, came off the bus commenting on a small item with an habitual expletive which was shocking to hear from someone so young. I looked at his mother who gave a resigned expression. Well, there's a young man destined for a loud but undistinguished future. Rather like a bunch of lads believing their opinions matter. Will they ever learn? And Now For Something Completely Different There's been a change of strategy from these lads lately. Having failed to convert me to the condemning world of homosexuality, they now want to portray me as a shoplifter. They even claim they've seen me in the act. "You just wait" I hear. "You'll be sorry" from others. Well, I do have to point out that coercion, abuse, and false accusation could land you with a hefty punishment in court, and as far as I can see, all you're going to do is prove my innocence. Please carry on. Bird Of The Week Lately I've heard the sound of an owl from the countryside around my place of work as I leave at the end of a night shift. It's rare to hear one, never mind see one. But the other night I saw it, startled by the approach of a car and flying ahead of the equally startled driver. What a size! I didn't know owls got that big in Britain! Be afraid, mice. Be very afraid. Brexit Footnote October 31st has come and gone and still Parliament has obstructed the determined efforts of the government to realise the decision made in a referendum more than three years ago. I'm saddened that so many now blame our bus loving Prime Minister for failing to reach the conclusion, but isn't that a little dishonest? I mean, the reason he failed is parliamentary subterfuge. Politics some might call it, but I wonder how many people listening to accusations of our Prime Minister's supposed dishonesty are aware of how much dishonesty is being blatantly pushed in front of the public by his opposition leaders? Parliament claims to speak for democracy. No it doesn't. Parliament be damned.
  5. 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.
  6. 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
  7. 1 point
    Fame! I'm gonna live forever I'm gonna learn how to fly Those of us scarred and traumatised by the 1980's will no doubt recognise lyrics from that song belonging to a television series which I'm pleased to say I managed to avoid entirely. But what is fame? A reputation? A state of being? A mysterious blessing from fate? Curiously enough, people generally either see it with some degree of religious awe or an excuse for utter contempt. I made the mistake once of describing myself on my CV as 'known worldwide' for one thing or another. At the time I considered that appropriate given the attention I was getting on the internet, though to be truthful I never counted thousands of followers on social websites. I naively thought it would add some colour to my dreary collection of dead end jobs and idle interludes. To my suprise the manager of a certain catering company, interviewing me for some worthless office job, asked "So you think you're famous?" Erm... What? No, I don't think I'm famous. "It says here," He said, looking at my CV before him, "that you're known around the world.". Oh good grief. Well I explained that fame was a measure of attention people paid to you, that it was not an on/off switch, more like shades of grey. I did not use the word 'famous'. If I thought I was, I would've described myself as such. "To me this says you're famous" He snarled, holding up his copy of my CV and pointing at it like it was evidence of criminal behaviour. No point being reasonable with this sort of attitude, so I quite correctly told him my name was mentioned in print and that was good enough for me. I didn't get the job. I did learn to fly eventually. Still working on living forever though experience suggests I might struggle with that one. Audience With King George I seem to be getting into the habit of an annual visit to STEAM, Swindon's modest railway museum. It's not a bad experience, and the dummies in period costume are disturbingly real at first glance. A young mother just ahead of me was fooled, she suddenly realised that the old lady sat at a typewriter behind a desk wasn't quite as alive as she thought. I always enjoy that open door to a small office where the manager is telling his employee that if he's late for work once more there'll be a parting of the ways. I like the way the museum starts with this administration background, moves on to stores, then trades, then a diorama of wartime steam engine manufacture with two female mechanics chatting, until finally you wander into a large space with just Caerphilly Castle on her own, a full on express steam locomotive from those glorious days of God's Wonderful Railway. Looking a little shabby these days, but still a powerful exhibit. Secretly though I have another engine to visit. The first GWR King class, No.6000 George V. Not because I especially like that class of engine, or I admire the technical excellence, or respect the history of that particular locomotive, but because as a little boy I briefly stood on the footplate when it had stopped at Swindon station. George had been retired from mainline service long before. On one particular day though, a special train was due to pull into town and my mother took me and a friend along to see it. By sheer chance, I happened to be standing by the cab when a kindly engine driver kidnapped me to experience that forbidden metal cavern where the crew drove this engine for real. I remember the darkness with the firebox closed, the patina of grime, and a few burnished copper pipes. Truth was, I felt a little intimidated, and didn't have the questions the proud crew were hoping to answer. So they kindly returned me to freedom. Of course George is now somewhat cleaner in the cab, bereft of any coal or water in her tender, her firebox cold and empty. Machines are always female, whatever the name. It's hard to describe how I feel when I pause at the top of the steps to look around the empty cab. Part of me is pleased to be there. Nostalgia for that brief insight into a lost era, sensing that attachment to a piece of history, a complex and powerful machine, built by craftsmen in days gone by. All the same I cannot help feel sad the engine no longer steams, no longer moves. All that noise and motion of George in her heyday gone, possibly forever. Like visiting a disabled relative stifled by the regime of an old people's home, it's time to move on, so I pat the side of the cab wall. Great to see you again George. Audience Waiting Back in those heady days of the eighties, my main concern was striving for fame, to live forever, to learn how to... Well, you know the score. It was a time when music stores were commonplace, where you purchase all manner of instruments, gizmos, and accessories to help you on your way to rock stardom. When did I last play a drumkit in public? Must be more than twenty years now. You would think it would be all forgotten, but a reputation is a hard thing to suppress, whether justified or not, and let's be honest, I've never shied away from reminding peple that I used to be a working musician. I passed a bunch of lads lurking in an alleyway between shops on the high street. I heard them point me out, debate the merits of asking me to fill the vacant spot in their band, until one bright spark observed that I was almost old enough for a bus pass, that irrevocable indicator of old age and disqualilication for entry into rock stardom. My music career died long ago, but it seems fate just won't let me me forget it. Audience of the Week The pubs have closed for the night. So gangs of revellers tramp up and down the road outside on their way to a nightclub or maybe just struggling to get home without falling over. Most laugh, shout, or throw punches at each other. Some however continue to make appraisals of me as they pass. Scorn, anger, and amusement. So it seems everyone has an opinion about me, good or bad. Just the price of fame I guess.
  8. 1 point
    I've recently published a book about the life of Severus, focusing in detail on the influence of his wife Julia Domna and their two sons. Severus follows the amazing true story of a rebellious boy who grew up in an African province and became the first Black Caesar of the Roman Empire, the head of a dynasty that would lead Rome through bloody civil wars and rapidly changing times. As a young man, Severus hates the Romans and conspires to humiliate them. What begins as a childish prank unfurls into a bloodbath that sends Severus careening into his future. Through a tragic love affair, dangerously close battles and threats both internal and external, Severus accrues power — and enemies — in his unlikely rise to become the most powerful man in the ancient world. There is old world magic and tradition clashing with new world expectations. Severus has political intrigue, romance and familial drama. Treachery from his advisors and his own wife gets closer every day and his son emerges as a ruthless and disturbed emperor-in-waiting. Even in its ancient setting, the book addresses timely questions of home, family and parenting, immigration and assimilation. What has a man abandoned when he fights against something he used to believe in? Is it growth? Is it betrayal? Who gets to rule and what makes a good leader? There is also the eternal, unanswered question: is history always doomed to repeat itself? The book is available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback format: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07WLNS4W1/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ll1&tag=unrv00-20&linkId=4875ecb7c914a128c502092add617350 https://www.amazon.com/dp/1086355393/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ll1&tag=unrv00-20&linkId=2aaa88b668ed4e62305594374ffef027
  9. 1 point
    I suppose a lot would depend on how the stunt was being presented. Is it a prisoner sent to his doom? Or a genuine stunt to thrill and wow the crowd by a daring athlete? The former requires failure in the most horrible terms possible, the latter requires absolute success. Either would please the crowd in context. And just to add spice, some hungry wolves or big cats roaming below (a venator could polish them off in the following event). But it strikes me that horses are being risked here. Expensive and valuable animals. Also the charioteer is riding a ceremonial chariot which is too heavy for the stunt (actually, a racing chariot, despite being light enough, would not be strong enough). I wonder if the horse would refuse the jump? Of course, it could be morning entertainment and therefore a comedy item :D
  10. 1 point
  11. 1 point
    It depends on the period. Republican era gladiators, at least before Spartacus' revolt, were not viewed as especially valuable because slaves were so common, primarily prisoners of war. After Spartacus, more effort was made in training and practises introduced to prevent them becoming a threat, such as keeping speakers of the same language (other than latin) apart. Principate era gladiators were the professionals we normally think of. Note the photograph above. Neither conforms to an established class and are dressed incorrectly. No gladiator wore a breastplate - the chest was left bare as the major vulnerable area (thus a quick thrust ended the fight in a clean manner). Nor did gladiators wear tunics or robes under their equipment, for various reasons, including the possibility that bladders could be hidden and a false result concluded. Neither gladiator has a padded right arm (this was to protect the fighter from bruising himself on his own shield, the same reason for padding the left leg) Dominate era gladiators suffered from a change in emphasis. Gone were the days when the crowd thrilled at the sight of a real swordfight. Now they wanted more theatre, thus more exotic weapons designed to wound rather than kill were introduced, leading to fights where it was down to who had the best endurance against wounding as much as fitness. But then, these were also the days when gladiatorial combat was increasingly looked down upon. Septimius Seversus had already banned female gladiators, and in 393 theodosius banned pagan rituals (which was what the gladiator fights were about in theory at least) whilst in 404 Honorius banned them outright - though fights in remote areas persisted where christians weren't able to stop them. Value depended on success. A tiro gladiator had roughly a one third chance of dying in his first fight, and good chance of being paired with a veteran fighter. Eventually, with survival and experience, a gladiator could reach survival chances of about 8 in 9. Only a small proportion of human beings are natural fighters and this was reflected in the survival rates. Typically a volunteer could expect to sign on for five years. Shorter or longer contracts existed, but five was the norm. It was also usual for a gladiator who survived four years (the life expectancy of a gladiator incidentially) to be set aside as a Doctores, a trainer, such as the character Marcellus in the Kirk Douglas film Spartacus. Gladiators were owned as troupes either by lanistas or private individuals (Cicero praises his friend Attalus in a letter for his excellent troupe of fighters). When fighters for games were required, a contract would be arranged between the games organiser and the owner. It was usual for compensation at fifty times the rental price for a fighters death. In other words, the games editor had to weigh carefully which was preferable when the crowd booed a contestant who could not continue - to please the crowd, or avoid a massive bill. Some gladiators were owned as bodyguards, some by military officers who used them to train soldiers in fighting tricks - laughable when you read how useless gladiators were in battle. The gladiator was allowed to keep a proportion of the prize money. This was how gladiators got wealthy if they survived. In fact, the potential money was the biggest draw for volunteers, though some clearly dreamt of super stardom in the arena. It was possible for a gladiator to buy his freedom though in truth I haven't seen much evidence for that. In fact, it was noted that gladiators formed strong ideas about performance and pleasing their owners. Although the troupe was a familia, men fought their best friends if need be. there's an inscription on one funerary monument that a man should be careful who he spares - since although a fighter could spare an opponent, refusing an order to kill him was rebellion and the normal practice was to bring in a fresh opponent until the refuser lost. Fights to the death? Well, they did happen, because Augustus banned fights sine missione (without mercy) but these weren't the norm. A fight was supposed to continue until one or the other could not manage any more, either by exhaustion or wounds, and a decision was made on his fate. Missio, the honourable release of a loser, was quite common - costs being what they were. Obviously swordfighting was dangerous and hence a man could be killed outright. Demo fights in the morning would end at the first blood, professional bouts in the afternoon were serious, with rest periods if the match went on a long time (this practice tended to vanish in the Dominate where exhaustion was part of the drama). On the other hand, we have Seneca visiting the arena one lunchtime and he was horrified at the spectacle of death. Hoping to see some entertainment, he reports that "It was sheer murder out there". So sometimes, orderly contests went by the board.
  12. 1 point
    Yes, you're right: gladiators were an investment and no one wanted to waste his money. Usually gladiators were professionists and didn't die fighting; the public enjoyed the fight but death was something that involved mostly who was condemned to death (and for it there was a special "show", like the damnatio ad bestias). Gladiators could be men condemned to death too, but it was not always like this (see above). So in the cities of average size, gladiators could hope to survive for some years, even if obviuosly their job was dangerous and the chances to die in the fight were high. I wrote about medium-sized cities, like Pompei or Capua, because Rome was different: even there gladiators not always died during the fight, but the entrepreneurs were so rich that they could afford more losses, so often fightings in the capital were bloodier. Anther misconception is that all the gladiators were slaves or prisoners of war: free men could become gladiators but this job was really infamous. There was a law that listed jobs and behaviours which were not allowed for candidates to the elections (lex Iulia Municipalis) and among them there was gladiators job. Just very poor people decided to became one of them. Anyway, sometimes free men did it because they were attracted by the celebrity gladiators could reach. This looks like a contradiction, but gladiators were equally despised and loved; especially common people loved them and on the walls of Pompeii there are some declarations of love from women to their favourite gladiator. Finally, gladiators could become very very rich and gain freedom.
  13. 1 point
    Ave UNRV family! I have a question that has been bothering me for years. For those of you whom I haven't met yet, I am writing a series about Quintus Sertorius, the famous Marian general who led a rebellion against the Sullan government. More recently, however, I've begun a spinoff series from the POV of Gaius Marius, detailing his early life which hasn't been addressed often enough in fiction. So far the only book in the series "Son of Mars" details his youth and service in Spain under Scipio Aemilianus, and it's time for the next installment. As I move forward, there is a nagging question which I have to answer. How did Marius feel about Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus? He obviously displayed a tendency for Populare politics later on in his career, but at this time he worshipped the ground that Scipio Aemilianus walked on. The latter was brother-in-law to the Gracchi brothers, but also vehemently opposed them, leaving a muddy picture for how Marius may have looked on these revolutionaries. What do you think? I'm not sure there are many sources detailing Marius' personal thoughts of these two men, or his activities during this time, but I'd love to hear your input. Thanks, guys! Vincent B. Davis II
  14. 1 point
    I would like to share my opinion on your question from my point of you when child lost its parents at early age he cannot be able to judge that what is right or wrong and also become quite stubborn and the name caligula which means little boots means his parents might have loved him and never taught their son to be emperor of Rome and somewhere I have read that tyberius was great leader but in reality he was the one who stole innocence from child and made him tyrant so let's forgive caligula I know lot of people will disagree with me but I have just put forward my point of view
  15. 1 point
    It's been a terribly long time since I've visited here, posted in the forum or written any content... and I'm obviously a year behind this particular topic. When Christian (Viggen), Jon (Moonlapse) and I started this UNRV project over 15 years ago, none of us ever imagined it would be anything more than our own little personal corner of the internet. I can't speak for my two old partners but I know the hundreds (probably thousands really) of hours spent writing the original content is still a particularly proud lifetime achievement for me personally. While it seems that our good old days of rapid fire forum post activity have probably been beaten down by the preferred social media platforms, it's fun to scroll through the endless depth of conversation, history and general banter that still populates this massive forum (and I do still see a few old familiar faces with an occasional post). I'm thrilled to see my writing still has a public home after all these years and that it must play some small part in helping to advance general knowledge of Roman history. (though I sure wish I had had an editor back then... I still cringe a bit on certain articles) Peter, for what it's worth, and quite belatedly, I wish you the very best of luck with UNRV! - Chris Heaton
  16. 1 point
    The other day I strolled into a music store in my home town, thinking of upgrading some recording equipment. It’s been a while since I took music seriously and having been unemployed for the better part of a decade, I could hardly afford to. But, with money in my pocket, time to splash out and get ready to impose my music upon the unsuspecting world. “They don’t make those any more” Said GK, someone who has sold me all sorts of instruments and gizmo’s for the last thirty years. After a short converstation, it was clear that music was not the hobby it had once been. I looked blankly at him for a moment and in that moment of awakening I said “Heck, I’m getting old….” GK couldn’t stop laughing. But I’m beginning to realise what a fantastic period of history I lived through as a young man. The days when you could walk into a computer or music dealership and buy just about anything are gone. The world has changed, and not for the better. Changing the Country The hullabaloo over Brexit continues with continued calls for a second referendum. Really? Didn’t anyone realise it was going to be difficult? Fact is, we had a vote, we voted to leave, that’s it – it’s going to happen. As much as EU strategy is to have our legs wobble at the sheer scale of our endeavour and ask to come back with our tail between our legs, Britain is made of stronger stuff. Or at least, some of us are, given how much whinging the remainers are making. But what do I hear from Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour party leader? Renationalise everything. His radical new plan to save Britain is more or less to recreate the seventies when left wing politics still had some clout in this country. I well remember the seventies, and it wasn’t a high point in British history. Terrorism, strikes, the Three Day Working Week with the family sat around of an evening by candlelight, rubbish bags piling up on the streets. If there was any solid reason for keeping Corbyn out of power, it’s the 1970’s. Change of the Week There I was, walking home after a late shift in the wee small hours, when I spotted a fox. No, two foxes. No, three foxes. That’s a little unusual. But what startled me was that one of those foxes actually growled at me. Foxes don’t do that. They just silently retreat or flee. Not this scruffy young fox, as it turned to face me once it through the gates of the local park. Bared teeth is alarming in a dog. But a fox? Disturbing.
  17. 1 point
    That was a very interesting and informative interview. Thank you. I, too, enjoy the writing of Ammianus Marcellinus. It is his writing that inspires me to learn more about the rather dreadful history of late Roman Empire. I wish you continued success with your work. These are two of Ammianus' many quotes that haunt me:
  18. 1 point
    A fine day with a deep blue sky and some fleecy high level cloud. Great when you have time on your hands but having to trudge four miles to work is a rather wearing prospect. Needless to say, I was sweating. As I strode along the old canal footpath I could see a bunch of workmen ahead. Like all British workmen you spot in the wild, they were not working. They sat idly in the shade, observing my approach and long experience told me I was going to receive a comment or two. It's the British way. "He should be just like us" Said one of them, clearly not impressed with my individualism or perceived character. One of his colleagues agreed. Really? Just like you lot? The thought occurred to me as to what the world would be like if everyone conformed to their working class normality. No music, no radio, no television, no pubs or clubs, no films to dazzle us with special effects, no computer games to waste our spare time, and no-one to make the booze they might well be waiting to consume on the weekend. Nothing to look forward to but the opportunity to pass comment on passers-by. What kind of world is that to be proud of? Nature always finds strength in diversity. With good reason. I like my individuality and why on earth would I want to be merely one of a crowd of layabouts, anonymous, ordinary, just another non-entity the world is full of. Ah, some might say, and some do, but I failed. Yes. Correct. My plans for super-duper-stardom in my youngers days quickly got dashed on the rocks of reality. But hey, I tried. That makes me an also-ran, not a spectator. Which would you rather be? Music I saw a review in my local paper for a Judas Priest album. I've never really been a fan of their music but I respect their ability and longevity. Thus when I read the gushing praise I thought it might be worth catching up with where they are now. So I purchased their latest offering and lo and behold, it was as you might expect. Well performed, excellent production, a work by a band who know what they're doing. Then having finished listening, it occurred to me that I hadn't remembered any of the songs. It was nothing but an album of heavy metal wallpaper, making all the right sounds, doing all the right moves, but a production line of riffs and beats that pretty much failed to engage with my love of tracks that stand out for indefinable reasons. Sadly I doubt I'll feel the need to play it again. Compare that to another performer, Florence and the Machine. I was unaware of their existence until they featured in a televised event on the Beeb. I was impressed by the female vocalist's energy, her willingness to reach out to her fans (quite literally, it caused a near panic among the security crew), and the songs were interesting, varied, and I imagine for some, about relevant subjects. Buy her latest album? Oh yes, and I wasn't disappointed. Three tracks stood out, Ship To Wreck, What Kind of Man, and Queen of Peace. I still hum those tracks to myself regularly. That's success in music as I see it. Sorry Mr Halford, I know you're delivering what your fans want, but it's just a day job for you, isn't it? Connected I stopped at a Subway earlier for a quick snack and sat as I often do facing the outside world so I can watch people going about their irrelevant business outside. It struck me that everyone, literally everyone, in my field of view of the busy Saturday morning high street was staring down at a device in the palm of their hand. I suppose it's a sort of security blanket, making them feel that they're part of a group, that they're in on what is going on around the world, even if it amounts to videos of people falling over or endless sequences of pets caught mimicking humanity against their will. A whole crowd of spectators, going around spectating, because it seems they have nothing else in their lives. "Your phone is rubbish" one work colleague once mentioned when I checked my device for the unrealistic prospect of having received contact from the outside world. Yeah? Really? So what?
  19. 1 point
    It was bound to end in tears. A movement of cold air from Siberia plus an Atlantic storm coming up from the Bay of Biscay. Swindon rarely gets any snow despite being inland. Usually the worse areas are the eastern half of England, Scotland, and Ireland This time Swindon would not escape. To be fair, we were on the edge of amber weather warnings and didn't get hit as hard as some parts of the country, but up to foot of snow in Swindon is almost a natural disaster of memorable proportions. It was fun watching the foreigners at work. They were transfixed by the heavy snow flurries, constantly wandering to the nearest door to gaze at the unaccustomed weather. You would think the Poles were used to cold weather and the odd snowdrift, but they too shivered in the bitter English wind and moaned about the snow, though one or two snowballs were smuggled into the warehouse for special targets. A lady from Columbia simply had to take photographs. Lads from Goa stared at the unfamiliar sight of whiteness and suffered from the cold, which at around minus five centigrade was something a great deal less than the tropical sun of their homeland. In fact, on Friday morning I phoned the hotline to see whether the shift was going ahead. Nope. Cancelled due to inclement weather. So was my water supply at home. Oh great. I know. I'll phone the landlord. Sorry, he said, there's nothing he can do. Oh great. I know, I'll phone a plumber. Sorry, the receptionist said, there's nothing they can do. Frozen pipes you see. Yeah, I think I get the message. So I trudged back and forth buying bottled water and anyone who has been in that situation quickly learns how much water the average person gets through. The water came back on by itself. That was a little odd given the temperatures hadn't risen, but hey, let's not complain. Later last night the valve in my toilet cistern decided the new water supply was too much and popped open, releasing water all over the floor. I was lucky to hear the noise, and realised there was a problem. Water was spreading around the bathroom and probably downstairs too. An emergency! This is a job for.. erm... me. I don't know anything about plumbing. Quick, shut the water off. The inside tap was jammed solid. Quick, shut the water off on the outside tap. jammed solid. When you're in danger, when you need help, you need the Plumber - if you can find him. I phoned a series of numbers with 'Please hold' or simply no answer. Saturday night you see. Emergency call outs and 24hr service don't count for a lot when they want time off to socialise. Eventually I got through to one. My toilet is flooding the house. "Sorry Love," The lady answered, "But I've got nothing before Tuesday". What?!!! Your advert is in front of me. It says you deal with emergencies. "Yes, but we can't deal with it before Tuesday,.Sorry". Eventually I found a plumber willing to come out and assist. Only problem was he insisted on cash and probably wasn't keen to get his hands dirty with his domestic routine upset. Eventually I put the phone down on him. As luck would have it, the lady downstairs had called the landlord and of course chivalry won out over being capable. Toilet restored to working order. Panic over. The world is returning to sanity. From The Land Of Snow I watched as Putin gave his 'state of the nation' speech. He really is an old fashioned dictator, isn't he? The west was to blame, and Russia would not be pushed around, so here's the list of new weapon systems we're putting together to push the west around. With a belligerent President Trump - who will no doubt be keen to earn his wings by ordering a war somewhere or other as democratic leaders often do, and not just the American ones, it does not bode well. NATO troops already stationed in the Baltic states to ward off potential Russian expansion and the evening news talking about a new Cold War. Oh great. Well at least our Prime Minister, Theresa May, is upbeat about Brexit. Good. At least then we won't have to deploy long range smart cruise missiles to get a few concessions in negotiations with the EU team.
  20. 1 point
    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.
  21. 1 point
    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....
  22. 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.
  23. 1 point
    One thing about armour manufacture - why was so much armour needed? The thing about swords, helmets and the like is that they do not wear out and can last several generations of soldiers. For example modern re-enactment groups will tell you that once you have some chain mail, you never simply discard it because making more is such a swine. Instead it gets used and reused, and woven into different sets of armour. We know the ancient Greeks had family sets of armour passed from father to son, and I'd be surprised if the legion did not take - or buy- a soldier's armour from him for re-use when he retired. So surely a fabrica was topping up an existing armour supply rather than making new gear for every recruit?
  24. 1 point
    Clearly McCullough did her research, as did novelists such as Robert Graves, but a novelists nature is always to take that research and insert their own interpretations of it. Are they wrong? Not necessarily, but there is often not enough actual historical to support some of the details. However, in this case, Plutarch provides some interesting information. He, unlike us unfortunately, would've also had access to Sulla's personal memoirs. Plutarch provides a decent summary of the 'blotchy' skin condition in Life of Sulla ch 2 Describing his death, Plutarch goes on to explain the condition with worms that Kosmo mentioned. Life of Sulla ch. 36
  25. 1 point
    He had some sort of skin disease with open ulceration. I don't remeber where I've read that maggots crawled from one to the other.
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