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Marcus Caelius

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Everything posted by Marcus Caelius

  1. Marcus Caelius

    Roman Coin Values

    A few weeks ago, I picked up a coin from Vespasian's reign: http://www.unrv.com/forum/index.php?automo...si&img=1772 (how do you post images? The "Insert Image" button doesn't seem to work). It's not silver (I don't think), but it is silver-colored, and I'm told the silvering was added to increase it's monetary value. This doesn't make sense to me, any more than does the modern practice of colorizing circulating coins to try and turn them into collectors' items. So, what is the coin likely made of, and what would be the difference in value if it were bronze? Or actually silver. BTW, I was surprised at how tiny it is, about the size of my little fingertip.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Marcus Caelius

    Vatican launches website in Latin

    But why this one?
  7. Marcus Caelius

    Online study of History

    Try googling ("distance learning" history degree) without the ().
  8. 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.
  9. 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?
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Marcus Caelius

    I think I've found...

    I practice Pastafarianism.
  16. Marcus Caelius

    Pontius Pilate

    We might never know for sure, but I think we can say with a great deal of certitude that it never happened. In the popular Roman mind, Christians were a sect of what we, today, would call demon worshippers that practised all sorts of vile rituals. It would be as if the judge who sentenced Charles Manson later on became a member of Manson's "family" and participated in the assassination attempt on Gerald Ford (this assumes I'm not the only one here old enough to remember).
  17. Marcus Caelius

    Proof of Citizenship

    In my life outside the computer I'm an immigration officer, so I suppose it was only a matter of time before this question occurred to me. Roman citizens had certain rights and privileges that other residents of the empire/republic didn't. How did citizens prove their entitlement to these rights and privileges? Another way to ask the question, How would someone know that someone claiming to be a citizen was actually not? Were there penalties for making false claims of citizenship? The question is of special interest in the more distant provinces, where who was and wasn't a citizen would have been more problematic.
  18. Marcus Caelius

    Western Perceptions of Islam

    Do you have to work at being this pompous and condescending, or does it come naturally?
  19. Marcus Caelius

    Western Perceptions of Islam

    I think we've done it to ourselves. In trying to respect everyone's differences, we've turned our society into a group of fortified ethnic and religious archipelagoes with virtually no bridges between them. I'm beginning to prefer the French system.
  20. Marcus Caelius

    Western Perceptions of Islam

    Well, let's just remember that prisoners are not typical of the general citizenry.
  21. Marcus Caelius

    Western Perceptions of Islam

    Please quote the passage where I disagreed with that. *My* point is that feelings of being perceived as an outsider are often internally generated. Are you *trying* to be offensive? 1st, don't tell *me* about the comparative rates of immigrant v nonimmigrant. I help decide those numbers. 2nd, America did not go "totally paranoid about any potential visitors." There's a damn big hole in lower Manhatten that's still bleeding. That's not an imaginary fear. ETA: FYI, in 2006, 175.1 million nonimmigrants of all types entered the United States; this does not take into account those who might later adjust to immigrant status. There's a hell of a lot of people crossing our (mostly undefended) borders, and we somehow have to find the 100 or so who are trying their level best to blend in, who want to do us harm. If we do seem to be a little fanatical about it, is it any wonder? Also, in 2006, 702.5 thousand people became citizens of the United States, while another 1.266 million became permanent residents (and thus eligible for naturalization). And those are just the ones who's applications were approved. For all that's wrong with this country, there's a lot of people who seem to like it better than where they came from.
  22. Marcus Caelius

    Western Perceptions of Islam

    No one asked you that, or even mentioned it. No, I don't wish to guess where you were. That's the point. It's impossible to make any judgement at all about your story without some context (and I refuse to accept it without question), and you've supplied exactly nothing. You say you were driving towards New York; that places you anywhere between Boston, Los Angeles and Fairbanks. Considering the number and diversity of groups and inherent possibilities, from Inuit to Hopi to Amish, your story has no point at all. All we have is that some kids without much money were treated rudely somewhere in North America. Big deal. It happens to everybody, at some point or other. Oh, and if there's anything that you could say about them here and now that would harm them, they're already dead. No, you did not. You probably had a multiple-entry tourist visa (B2) which gives you no "rights" at all, merely permission to apply for entry an unlimited number of times during the visa's validity period. The inspecting officer could have turned you away at the port of entry each and every time, had he chosen. And the basic immigration law under which we operate goes back to 1952; there are really very few changes to that law that have anything to do with 9/11.
  23. Marcus Caelius

    Western Perceptions of Islam

    Stop right there. From a completely professional point of view, given this description, I'm mildly surprised you were allowed into the country. Certainly, again working from this description, you almost certainly would not have been granted an extension to your entry permit (I-94). This tells me nothing. What state were you in? How far from New York were you? There's a *big* difference between Westchester and Newark. From your description, you could've been in Burlington, Vermont. Anyway, let's assume everything you say is absolutely and objectively true (almost certainly a false assumption, but let's run with it). It says absolutely nothing about "America," and there's absolutely no reason you should think a fuller account would offend Americans (actually, you've said nothing that couldn't be used to describe a waiter in a French restaurant). Your story does, however, remind me of a brief exchange from early in the movie, "Casablanca." "Can you imagine the German army in your New York?" "There are parts of New York I'd advise the German army to stay out of." C'mon, give us a break. You Brits have far more experience at interferring with politics in the Middle and Near East. We're really pretty new at it and could use a few pointers. BTW, watch your quote attributions.
  24. Marcus Caelius

    Western Perceptions of Islam

    In the two posts you've mentioned this, you've given absolutely no specifics, nor even the general context, just the assertion. Assuming your claim is accurate, one possible cause that you've said nothing to rule out, but that could explain everything, could be your personal hygiene. Unless you're more forthcoming, I see no reason to inquire further. And I would agree. OTOH, the Muslim threshold for disagreement seems rather low, and this religion of peace does seem to have a higher-than-normal percentage of adherents who want to meet every perceived insult or slight, no matter how innocuous or innocent, with violence. IOW, Islam seems to have a pretty big chip on its shoulder.
  25. Marcus Caelius

    Western Perceptions of Islam

    I would disagree with this. Our sense of right and wrong, or "conscience," doesn't develop on its own, it is instilled by others. We have to be taught right from wrong. A fairly universal example would be slavery: to paraphrase Carl Sagan talking about the Great Library, so far as is known no author of the ancient world protested the institution. That slavery is on its face wrong is a fairly modern idea, and there are still plenty of people in the world who think it is (or should be) part of the natural human order. Yes, we recognize outsiders fairly easily, but merely because something about them is unfamiliar. Again, I disagree. Virtually all societies welcome (friendly) visitors, and virtually all have mechanisms for acquiring members from outside. There are individual exceptions, of course, but I believe that any perception of hostility, unwelcome or strangeness is mostly false and more akin to paranoia and bias (however innocent) on the part of the visitor.