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Marcus Caelius

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About Marcus Caelius

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  • Birthday 03/25/1950

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    Astronomy, Space Exploration, Historical Murder Mysteries, Military History, American History, Roman History
  1. Marcus Caelius

    Did the roman army use vinegar?

    FWIW, all four gospels speak of the Roman guards giving Jesus "vinegar" during the crucifixion, apparetly as a form of mockery. According to bible.com, vinegar (in the sense of sour/cheap wine) shows up in several places in both the old and new testaments, so it seems to have been pretty common throughout the ancient world.
  2. Marcus Caelius

    Vatican launches website in Latin

    I don't think there's any credit to give, certainly not as much as is popularly believed. Ancient Greek seems to have remained quite translatable, and didn't need a political/religious sponsor to do it. Likewise, Roman literature and language was just too widespread to disappear without the Church, and probabably would have survived well into the Middle Ages via the eastern Empire. By that time, the emergence of the universities and printing would have revitalized it.
  3. Marcus Caelius

    Vatican launches website in Latin

    Hmm. You're going to have to explain the "fun" part. On second thought, I take that back. As I said, I don't deny the good that the Church has done, and we donate regularly to the local Catholic church (they've got the only distribution network worthy of the name in our town), and I'm more than happy to go to their parish chicken dinners. However, the question was raised why anyone would want to deny their roots in the Church, and I answered it. Latin was famously used by the Church as a barrier between the faithful and their faith, ensuring the power (and income) of the priesthood. To celebrate such a use strikes me as something more than a little obscene. It is the language of the Caesars, not of the Church, to which we owe the most.
  4. Marcus Caelius

    Vatican launches website in Latin

    I agree totally with this - hats off to the Church for building this great website. I have not studied Latin in any detail, but I was fascinated as I explored this site. Amazingly, I also felt as if I understood quite a lot of it, which just goes to show how heavily modern languages have borrowed from (and in some cases derived from ) latin. Well, I took four years of Latin, and I don't understand a single word (or, more properly, a single sentence - I can pick out the occasional word) of the web site. Which is to the point of both these quotes. If communication involves the transmission, reception and understanding of information, just exactly how much information is being communicated by that site's transmission to the average viewer? Virtually none, I'll warrant, and on those grounds it is an abuse of bandwidth. And let us not forget what is embodied by the weight of the history of the Latin-speaking Church: intolerance; bigotry; torture; murder; slavery; conquest; ignorance; fear... And all because Deus volit. I think it fair to say that most if not all human progress made while the power of the Church was at its greatest, was despite that power and not because of it. Ursus, as a descendant of western Europeans the history of the Roman Catholic Church is part of my identity, and I definitely do not want to affirm any of it; moreover, I completely disavow it. I do not deny the good that the Church did or inspired, but neither do I deny that useful knowledge can be dredged out of the Nazi medical experiments. I do not deny that the average Catholic is a good and decent human being, but I assert, and I believe I can corroborate, that goodness and decency are human, not religious, attributes. To my mind, the persistence of the Roman Church for the better part of two thousand years is the greatest of human tragedies.
  5. Marcus Caelius

    Vatican launches website in Latin

    But why this one?
  6. Marcus Caelius

    Online study of History

    Try googling ("distance learning" history degree) without the ().
  7. Marcus Caelius

    Five Most Influential Events

    1. The development of agriculture - without it, no settled life, which is necessary for the ability to sustain large populations and the establishment of industry and government, and virtually all that has occurred in recorded human history. 2. The development of writing - necessary for the widespread dissemination of ideas. Without it, the Internet is irrelevant. 3. The development of democracy - or, the basic idea that there is no inherent ascendency of one human over another. 4. The harnessing of fire - without it, arguably, none of the preceeding three would have occurred. 5. The divergence of astronomy from astrology - which enabled the discovery and codification of the laws of nature, and offered an alternative to the supernatural as a cause of events. I would argue that #5 is the single most important. Without it, we would never know our true place in the universe; if you don't know where you are to begin with, you can never make meaningful progress away from that point.
  8. Marcus Caelius

    Top 10 - History's Most Overlooked Mysteries

    Given the effect on humanity, I think the biggest unsolved mystery is whether there was an actual historical Jesus and, if there was, just how much of the New Testament (and other, rejected, books) is true?
  9. Why would this be a revision? I thought it was pretty-well known that the Norse had well-established trade routes, overland no less, throughout northern Europe, Scandinavia and Russia. ETA: "Vikings," by contrast, were raiders by definition.
  10. Marcus Caelius

    What movies have you seen recently?

    We recently got a Blue-Ray DVD player to go with our home theater and 42" widescreen TV. Last night, we watched the Blue Ray edition of Kingdom of Heaven and were totally blown away, especially during the siege of Jerusalem. Just about anything, even pre-Hi-Def DVDs, look *so* much better with Blue Ray. Can't wait for Master and Commander, and I hope, probably in vain, that The Wind and the Lion gets the treatment, as well.
  11. Marcus Caelius

    What is everyone's favorite Drink?

    I have a fondness for mead. Unfortunately, it's comparatively hard to get, and I'm beginning to investigate setting up a small brewery in my basement.
  12. Marcus Caelius

    Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe

    I've read them all, up to the one where Napoleon dies and Sharpe goes to Peru(?). It's been a while, however, and I feel no urge to go back and revisit them. Hornblower and Aubrey have more staying power.
  13. Marcus Caelius

    The Last Legion

    Whatever, it's in the same vein as, and a good companion for, "King Arthur," with Clive Owen. I have both movies standing together in my DVD collection. Call them both "historical fairy tales" and watch them as such.
  14. Happy birthday, M. Caelius.

  15. Marcus Caelius

    I think I've found...

    I practice Pastafarianism.