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caldrail

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Everything posted by caldrail

  1. caldrail

    Pub ordering in ancient Rome

    Tavern life in ancient Rome could well have been a lively experience. Witness the images in Pompeii of situations the landlord does not want happening, rather like 'this is banned' posters. Despite the demand for orderly behaviour, there seems to be a certain sense of humour in portraying things this way. Expedient, obviously, because posters as such are less likely to be read than a scene is viewed, and because paint is more available than paper.
  2. caldrail

    Exotic gladiatrix in ancient Rome

    Small point but female gladiators never fought male opponents - that was considered unfair. In fact, female contestants originated as a comedic act, sometimes paired with dwarfs (who were male, I might add). This sort of attraction began around the time of Nero and ended when Septimius Severus banned female warriors in the arena (though as with all things Roman, it's likely that small numbers still performed in wandering troupes out in the provinces for some time).
  3. caldrail

    Touching Roman Grave

    Yes, Rome was a very family-centric society. Okay, maybe this was more important for families with some money in the belt, but I note from Pompeii and Herculaneum that pets were never far away. That said, I also notice that pets don't generally get mentioned in the sources except for perhaps the odd case of something unusual or something touted as evidence of divine favour. I suppose this is partly down to Rome's attitude toward animals. Love them or whip them, they were animals, unable to decide for themselves and bound to human direction (this was why slaves had the same status). Except for funerary items like this, which give a little insight that status was not entirely a fixed view, rather one that varied according to the emotional needs of the owner. After all, there were plenty of men who freed slaves in order to marry them.
  4. caldrail

    Preserved Ancient Child

    Hang on... Pyroclastic flows are both searing hot and violently turbulent. Odd that there's a lack of evidence for heat in amongst pyroclastic residue.
  5. It does a ring a bell. But I confess, I'm in the same boat as you, creasing my brow in an effort to recall some fleeting memory of a mention in a source normally left in a dusty library or obscure website. Tell you what. You search your research material, I'll search mine. One of us is going to find him. Join in everybody. X marks the spot. Seriously though it does sound familiar. The trouble is so many Romans fell out of favour for transgressions great and small I'm struggling to think who it might be. For a moment I thought of Cicero's son, but no, that didn't fit the bill. I'll keep an eye out for this one.
  6. caldrail

    New Year, New Country, Nothing New

    Almost the end of the year. Most of 2020 has been about Coronavirus and the government locking up the population for fear of catching it. Man With A Skateboard The other day I was on the doorstep waiting for a parcel delivery (having been advised by phone and email he was going to turn up imminently) when this old guy wandered by taking his skateboard for a walk. Not since the 1970's and the kids tv show Magic Roundabout have I seen anything quite so weird. No, really, it was rolling gently down the hill, the man ambling after it and occaisonally nudging it with his foot to keep it travelling down the pavement. Man With Something I want To Buy I'd been out shopping and happened to pass one of my local music stores. I wonder if they've got a gizmo that could help me with my home studio? Hmmm... So I bravely crossed the road - Yeah same to you mate - and found that due to Covid restrictions I can't just walk in, masked or not (Bizarre that shops will only serve masked men these days). I rang the doorbell. Actually it wasn't all that bad, you get let in and ask for what you want. The guy behind the counter listened to my detailed requirements for gizmo heaven and offered me a gizmo. Not a simple gizmo you understand, but a quality gizmo, fully featured, compact, and able to cope with the mind blowing requirements of modern musicians. It's got this, he started, and it's got that, oh, and thingy here is used for... Okay. I said, I'll take it. No, stop selling, you've already sold it. He looked up a bit disorientated from having to stop his sales patter halfway through, but the gizmo did everything I needed, so yes, I'll buy it. We both parted in a good mood, a successful days transacting at the shop. Actually just in time too. By midnight Tier 4 comes into play and the music shop is shut. Man With An Agenda Part of my job is quality control. That means I have to check other people's work in some degree (by order of senior management no less). That makes me as popular as a traffic warden of course. Having spent the last two years having endless confrontations and giving endless lectures about proper procedures one of the key members of the team decided to brush me aside and ignore the standing procedure completely. I got miffed, confronted him about it, he got miffed because he's too important to be confronted, and before you know it, on the last day before our Xmas hols a minor war breaks out. There's a fair few of the team on my naughty list right now. Trouble is, I might be on a managerial naughty list myself. January might be interesting... Man At Last We Have A Proper Brexit Good grief, who would have thought it? Not only have we spent the last year under siege from Covid but we've also been tearing ourselves away from Imperial Europe, and we now have an actual deal with them, signed and done. From tomorrow night the United Kingdom is a seperate nation properly. I feel all British all of a sudden. We even won the custody battle with Scotland too. They can moan and sob all they want but frankly in the long term we've done them a favour. Sooner or later their precious independence was going to vanish in some European re-organisation aimed at dissolving national borders. We've also done preparatory deals with Canada, Japan, South Korea, and somewhere else too. I notice that the EU has now pulled business from London to an internal financial market. Bearing in mind how utterly obsessed they are with external borders, both real and virtual, one can't help comparing the situation with the waning years of the Western Roman Empire when Britain threw out the corrupt Roman administration after they withdrew their legions.. So, the EU is going to be overrun by hordes of barbarians wanting a piece of their action, and we're going to be overrun by hordes of Barbarians wanting a piece of our action. Funnily enough, the increasing numbers of migrants attempting to cross the Channel to get here is a startling parallel. But look on the bright side. In a few hundred years we'll be owning half of France again. Celebration Of The Year Oh come on, stop griping. Goodbye 2020 and hello 2021. Yeah! Rock and roll man!
  7. No real suprise to me. It's been increasingly obvious in recent years that Britain has plenty of Roman military sites around the country. I mean, the town I live in descends from a work camp used during the building of the Roman road from Calleva Atrebatum to Corinium Dobinorum which would have been used by soldiers working as labourers and artisans.
  8. Roman writers love to 'quote' speeches. Of course they do. Rhetoric was a vital part of a schoolboy education since the youngster was being prepared for a life that might well have involved politics. The problem is that they're making it up more often than not. Possibly the quote from Calgacus is accurate but there's no corroboration. It's a sort of socially acceptable derivation to enliven an otherwise dry account of the past. That said, Tacitus was well aware of the shortcomings of the empire's soldiery, barely wasting any explanation for the mutiny in Pannonia of ad14 (and adds a speech from a soldier to describe the complaints of the legionaries that nobody could have recorded). Britannia was a distant province though. A rebellion there during Hadrian's reign barely gets mentioned in the sources. How serious was it? Who rebelled? Who fought the rebels? Who won? One might suspect an easy victory for the Empire if the event is so casually passed over. had the rebellion been a disaster for Rome, or involved some great tragedy or drama involving the rich and famous, then more detail would have no doubt been dug up. It was, perhaps, thought of as a dull subject with nothing to thrill the reader.
  9. What we don't know is the objective of these presumed reprisals. Official retaliation? Local revenge? Suppression? Criminal activity (Roman soldiers sometimes indulged in a spot of banditry though this was more common in the late empire)? I would point out that the quote you gave above is highlighted concerning the actions of the 'barbarians', not the Romans. Or at least that was how I read it. The governor, Paulus Suetonius, is more concerned with preserving the province against the rebellion according to Tacitus.
  10. Shield walls are inherently defensive. The late empire made use of them, but the wider rounded shields of the day made that practicable. Principatal shield were less useful in that regard since they were optimised for personal protection and shaped to allow gaps for men to thrust swords between when in close order melee, and the compromise in spacing made advances just as easy as static defence. Okay, the celebrated testudo was an exception but that was not a hirsute tank. It was a means of advancing with added protection. When you got to the enemy, you had to do something else.
  11. caldrail

    Chelsea, London Changes

    Same thing has happened everywhere in Britain. We used to have an industrial landscape that just doesn't exist any more. Locally, I remember when the canal wharf warehouse was pulled down, or the redevelopment of Little London. That said, in the middle of Old Town, in amongst the tightly packed terraces you can still find country cottages from before the railways came, when Swindon was a small market village on top of the hill.
  12. caldrail

    Coliseums Outside of Italy To Visit

    Ermm.... There is only one Coliseum. The other arenas are simply amphitheatres no matter how grand. The name Coliseum is not Roman by the way. They called it the Flavian Amphitheatre.
  13. Do go there. You get a sense of the scale of a Roman fort and vicus and the closeness of the local community (though it was actually less compact than some settlements along the wall). As a site it feels a little odd because it's perched on a slope above a river valley and not what you would ordinarily expect. The reconstructions like the gate one has to take with some measure of salt, but there's nonetheless a real sense of something happening there.
  14. Compacted vertebrae I think you mean. If his backbone was crushed, it wasn't his job that killed him.
  15. That doesn't sound right. Pertinax was approached by members of the Senate to succeed the assassinated Commodus (He might have known that was going to happen - no-one really knows today) and ruled for a short period before outraged Praetorians cut him down in a heated row. The Praetorians then held an auction for the City of Rome. It was only subsequently, with the accession of Didius Julianus by means of offering a large enough bid, that rivals began to assert themselves in the absence of any clear authorised succession or indeed any sign of sufficient ruling power in Rome given Didius was scorned for buying the empire and couldn't get anyone to do anything.
  16. The problem exists less because of deliberate bias but because most of the pro-Nero accounts have been lost to us. There are clues that point to a somewhat different situation. Trajan for instance recorded that the first five years of Nero's reign were the best managed government of all. This was of course the time when his mother held him in check and advisors were still able to guide him. But we know that Nero threw off these restraints and to be honest, Trajan's appraisal doesn't exclude the tale we know from Suetonius. This post made me pull Nero by Richard Holland off the shelf again. I haven't read it in years. I'm reminded of how later Caesars identified with Nero, casting him as something admirable and emulatable. How his works were progressed after Nero's death. How Nero's legend made him alive when he was known to be gone (Shades of Elvis Presley and Adolf Hitler). I don't think we can ignore the worst of Nero. This is the problem. He was so larger than life, one of the few that emerge from history as A+ List celebs, that deep down, many of us feel a strange reluctance to blame him and instead indulge in a spot of adoration for someone for whom rules were of no hindrance.
  17. caldrail

    National Party Association

    Not sure I understand this. A science fiction milieu is evidence of voter fraud? Please forgive me, but you seem to be associating an administrative category with some kind of conspiracy. Well, perhaps, but I think the world might need convincing such a plot exists other than an obscure fictional idea.
  18. caldrail

    Quo Vadis - where are you marching?

    Important point - Rome had a cultural tolerance for other peoples religions. They didn't like early christianity because of some nasty rumours concerning practises misinterpreted by observers. Rome did not throw Christians to the lions. However, if you could prove a Christian was a criminal, that was another matter.
  19. caldrail

    Downfall of Rome

    Judging from the sermons of certain Roman bishops, the Romans themselves were well aware of how poorly their nation was coping and really didn't seem too motivated by it. Apathy and a lack of patriotic zeal one suspects. Corruption was of course endemic to Roman society and had been as long as wealth was bandied around, with individuals using friends and family like credit cards, or those sordid deals behind other peoples backs. I note that recruiters for the legions were often bribed to go away, and then these men hired barbarians at cheaper rates in order to make a profit from the funds available. The same idea as tax farming essentially.
  20. The Western Empire was subject to a takeover bid from the Goths, and their leader Odoacer soon obtained permission from the Pope to become King of Italy (and received support from the Roman Senate which persisted for a century or two after 476ad). The Eastern Empire always thought of itself as Roman. Those in the west did not, seeing a more Greek society and looking down their noses at it. It is worth noting that our current preconception of Roman Emperors stems from western experience of the Byzantines. An odd irony, that our ideas of Roman government are based on something Italians sneered at back in the day.
  21. caldrail

    Downfall of Rome

    I notice how easily people use the idea of oppression regarding the Roman Empire. Rome was, despite its occaisional clumsiness, greed, and internal division, a relatively benign entity that favoured individual freedoms. Perhaps this emerges from more recent experience of large empires, but then Gibbon discusses it too back in his day. Is the concept of imperialistic oppression rather more to do with the human psyche or our post-medieval societal structures? Oppression in Roman times did occur, but was not a consistent policy. Indeed, the Senate was often quick to withdraw governors who got too heavy-handed, and some of them got punished for their oppressions. That might explain Gibbon's view - that the individual cases of oppression are colouring a more congenial if rough form of occupation and administration.
  22. caldrail

    Downfall of Rome

    Well, one German academic has collected all the various theories about the downfall of Rome - all 238 of them. Personally I prefer to see the downfall as resulting from an analogy to age in a living organism, since a nation state can be said to be an extrapolation of living individuals. Rome had gotten old. Less and less able to fend for itself, requiring more and more outside assistance, and in the end, succumbing to a gothic infection (I don't mean actual disease of course).
  23. Fronto mentions significant losses in Britannia during a British rebellion. Hadrian arrives in the region shortly afterward and establishes the project to build a wall on the northern frontier, but there wasn't any mention of issues on that frontier at that time (how else was the large scale project able to be completed without pictish interdiction?). I suggest a possible if unlikely scenario. What if the IX Hispania had rebelled or mutinied in Britain?
  24. caldrail

    Seeing Is Believing

    A few nights ago I was walking home late at night along one of the main roads leading into the town centre. In the wee small hours you rarely see pedestrians, and the only movement is the odd hot hatch or police car. The amber street lights might be effective in lighting the dual carriageway but the grass verges are obscured in shadows and gloom. Okay, I do see urban foxes around there quite often, but on this night all was quiet. Hello, what's that in the grass? A plastic bag? The shredded remnants of a plastic crate? No... That's something else... Woah! A deer was lying among the uncut grass tufts. British deer are usually small, apart from those grand Scottish beasts, and usually very shy of us humans. This just lay there unconcerned. I stood watching it, little more than seven feet away, and it looked back at me. How odd! I shifted my weight and said hello, the deer moved a foreleg to enable a quick getaway, but it still didn't seem overly disturbed. A passing car gave a sudden stamp on the throttle - the deer reacted with something like the usual alertness, but it stayed put. I slowly walked around until I was squatting three feet away from this deer. Amazing. One of those strange unexpected meetings with nature. Look after yourself mate. Not far from there the week after I was again walking home on the same route, albeit not so near the town centre. Across the main road I saw an animal rush from one side to the other whilst traffic was non-existent. A cat? No, legs are too short. Oh heck - it's a black rat, and not exactly small either. What a beast! I've only seen two other black rats in Swindon, one dead, the other lurking around the back yard at home. Most rats we get in Swindon - a town somewhat notorious for its rat population - are the ordinary but unwanted brown variety. Can't say I was thrilled to see the rat however. So pleased I didn't encounter it up close. You heard It Here it's been great recently to see the planets in the night sky. Venus was especially bright.... heck that was close. An electric car swished by with barely a sound. It's getting really dangerous to be a pedestrian these days. Human eyesight isn't totally reliable to keep you from harm, and the days of noisy exhausts are numbered. Gazing up at the heavens isn't quite so safe anymore. All Corona'd Out The endless discussion in the evening news about the Coronavirus epidemic is getting wearisome. Funnily enough, a colleague at work had asked me how I felt about it. Restrictions on life are nothing new to me so I suppose I just take lockdowns, tiers, and self isolation as they come. But it saddens me that our lives are now so dominated that the daily news broadcasts have become the Coronavirus Show. Oh yes. I forgot that unnecessary war in the Caucasus. Or that Europe hasn't persuaded Britain to maintain the economic status quo. Or that Trump wants another term of office to prove how fantastic he is now that he has survived the disease he once scoffed at.
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