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About RonPrice

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  • Birthday 07/23/1944

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    George Town Tasmania Australia
  • Interests
    Reading and writing in the social sciences and humanities(the sub-list in these two general categories would be too long to post here; for example: philosophy and religion, history and psychology, sociology and media studies, etc.) Other specific interests and activities include: walking, sleeping, eating and drinking, breathing properly, my family, my health, my wife
  1. This thread has developed an enriching set of directions. I'd like to thank all those who have contributed. I leave it to others to add any comments at this stage. I think I'll do a little reading, before I add anything more. -Ron
  2. THANKS GORE In March 1981 Gore Vidal published his 17th novel: Creation. Of all his novels it was the only one I actually read. Vidal was, and is, an American author, playwright, essayist, screenwriter, and political activist. I
  3. Vidal was an irritating SOB but one hell of a writer & a real public intellectual. For better or for worse he spoke what he thought was the truth and to hell with everyone else. His rivalries with Wm Buckley, Norman Mailer and Truman Capote were epic and I use that term for their sheer entertainment value. I wouldn't let his persona influence whether you read him or not, Julian is very much worth a read. I remember Mailer really rubbed me the wrong way for similar reasons but I finally broke down and read The Naked and the Dead a couple of years ago. I'm very glad I did. Although I wouldn't want this discussion to degenerate into a right vs left political argument, I find it interesting that many of the modern "conservative" pundits think that these ideas came from the Bible, and that the US government is based primarily on Judeao-Christian principles. I brought this up on a previous thread: http://www.unrv.com/...ding+%2Bfathers And here's a good book that supports the notion of the Greco-Roman world contributing to our form of government: http://www.amazon.co...s/dp/0742556247 Looks like a fine book on the connections to Greece and Rome. The linkage between Polybius and the framers has been written about quite often throughout our history though I think the average person on the streets here in the U.S. isn't clued in on the connection. To bring it back to topic a book like Julian, aimed at the larger reading public, makes a certain percentage of them reach for a Roman history book, Julian's writings or even a Livy or Polybius. All in all a good thing I think. --------------------- This thread has developed into an interesting pot-pourri of posts. I think I'll add another piece I wrote on Gore Vidal and his writings in another post on this thread.-Ron
  4. Where did this democratic tradition in the USA truly begin? The ideas and practices that led to the development of the American democratic republic owe a debt to the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome, the Protestant Reformation, and Gutenberg's printing press. But the Enlightenment of 17th-century Europe had the most immediate impact on the framers of the United States Constitution. I have included this prose-poem below in this thread since the American Declaration of Independence of 1775 owed much to the civilization of Rome. Gore Vidal explores early American history in his novel Burr. The following piece of writing will keep this thread on topic, if only tangentially connected to the initial post.-Ron Price, Australia ------------------------------------------- NOVELS Scratching the surface of history I
  5. One of the things that Julian didn't realize is that even in the height of Classical Rome, many elites and many philosophers didn't really believe in the pagan gods, but they didn't openly express their disbelief. The advances in Greco-Roman philosophy made the gods appear very non-spiritual and archaic. The God of Judaeism ws more spiritual in nature and was more compatible with the God of nature. Whatever concerns he had about Christianity for its inferior intellectual appeal, didn't necessitate going back to paganism, which waas already dying out. He was attempting to ressurect a dead religion. ------------------------- Thanks, barca(Tribunus Angusticlavius), for your apt response. The position of many philosophers in Rome, to say nothing of ancient Greece, is, as you say, utter skepticism regarding the pagan and polytheistic traditional religions. In addition, Julian was a man of unusually complex character. He was "the military commander, the theosophist, the social reformer, and the man of letters".(1) He was the last non-Christian ruler of the Roman Empire and it was his desire to bring the Empire back to its ancient Roman values in order to save it from dissolution according to Polymnia Athanassiadi, Pagan Monotheism in Late Antiquity.
  6. What follows is a prose-poetic-personal reflection on Gore Vidal's novel Julian. Does anyone have any views on this novel and on Vidal's lifelong critique of the Abrahamic religions and their monotheism among other features of their theology in addition to their long, complex and chequered history?-Ron Price, Tasmania -------------------------------- Note: I thank Dudley Fitts(1903-1968), an American teacher, critic, poet, and translator, for his review of Julian in The New York Times written several years before he died. Fitts published translations of Alcestis of Euripides (1936), Antigone of Sophocles (1939), Oedipus Rex (1949), and The Oedipus Cycle (1949). These translations were praised for their clarity and poetic quality. I have quoted liberally from Fitts' review and have taken the liberty of not including quotation marks as well as often paraphrasing his words. I don't always do this. It is a liberty I often advised my students not to take when I was teaching history from 1967 to 2005. ---------------------------------------------------- Gore Vidal(1925- ) was arguably the finest essayist in the English-speaking world in the last half of the 20th century. He was always on the periphery of my emerging literary and intellectual life while I lived in Canada(1943-1971) in my youth and young adulthood. When I moved to Australia(1971-2012) he was even further out on that periphery occupied as I was for years with teaching and lecturing, raising a family and various forms of community work with its many social responsibilities. During the years 1999 to 2005, I gradually retired from the world of FT, PT and volunteer jobs with their 70 hours a week of nose-to-the-grindstone life-narrative demands. It was then, in the years 2006 to 2012, that I began to make-up for this hole, this lacuna, in my reading life. There was a host of missing parts in the general cultural attainments of my mind, of my literary life and I was free to read at my leisure on the many subjects and writers whose work I just did not have the time to take on during my young adulthood(20-40) and middle age(40-60). In May 1964 Vidal
  7. RonPrice

    Ask The Expert - Adrienne Mayor

    ----------------------- Do I ask my question in this space?-Ron Price, Tasmania
  8. During 2005 to 2007, the first two years of my full retirement from FT, PT and casual-volunteer work, the British-American
  9. During 2005 to 2007, the first two years of my full retirement from FT, PT and casual-volunteer work, the British-American
  10. I've been married for 45 years, Sylvia.-Ron

  11. A JIG-SAW PUZZLE The television series Empire was aired on the ABC for the second time in May-June 2010. I took a special interest in this six part miniseries, this historical drama set in the year 44 B.C., the year of the assassination of Julius Caesar, and the following years of civil war with their struggle of a young Octavius to become the first emperor of Rome. After teaching Roman history in the early 1990s to matriculation students in Perth Western Australia, more than fifteen years ago, I had some knowledge of this complex period in ancient classical civilization. This teaching experience increased my appreciation of this historical doco-drama and I felt moved to write this short prose-poem. The foundation of the Roman empire, as some students and scholars of that first century B.C. will emphasize
  12. GROWING ALONG THE EDGES I first came across Roman history in the winter of 1960/61, if I recall correctly after the passing of nearly fifty years. I was then in grade 11. The subject continued to cross my path in 1963/64 in the first year of a B.A. program in a history course, half of which was devoted to ancient history from 14 A.D. to 476 A.D. It was not until twenty-five years later, in 1989, that I came to focus on Rome again, this time as a lecturer at a technical college in Australia, but this time not on the Empire but on the Republic from 133 B.C. to 14 A.D. I taught this course three times to students hoping to get into university in Western Australia. During the three decades 1964 to 1994 I had reason to read about Roman history in the context of social science courses I taught to other groups of students already at what in Australia were then called colleges of advanced education, now universities. I also read about ancient Rome as part of my more general and personal, leisure and pleasure reading in authors like: Arnold Toynbee, Edward Gibbon and Robert Nisbet among a host of others. In the years 1999 to 2005, I retired from FT, PT and volunteer teaching and during this time I began to organize the notes I had accumulated on this subject. Now in 2008 I take a broad and non-specialist interest in this part of history, ancient Roman history, among other aspects of history and among others subjects in the social sciences and humanities. As I am about to enter the middle years(65-75) of late adulthood(60-80) and old age(80++), if I last that long, ancient Roman history has come to occupy a solid place in my study, in my small library here in George Town Tasmania, Australia
  13. RonPrice

    The Genuine Article

    An interesting concept, but a state does not need to have consistent juridicial form in order to have legitimate law. While the institution of the courts went through many changes in both Republican and Imperial Rome law was still upheld with general consistency. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the various laws of any particular era or whether or not certain individuals or organizations circumvented and manipulated that law, one cannot deny that the law existed. The offices of Consul, Praetor, Quaestor, Praefectus, Procurator, even Princeps etc. are not authentic? There is truth in this statement regarding Roman conservatism and reverence for traditional law and custom, but yet, the law was reformed and it did vary so the statement is flawed. I'm rather confused by the whole bit. Care to expound on what Jose Ortega y Gasset may have been trying to say? ---------------------------------------- After more than two years, I feel I must first apologize for not getting back here sooner. Sadly, in the early evening of my life there is still much to do. I will offer the following comment, somewhat tangential to the theme of the legitimacy of the authority structures of the Empire. I hope readers here find my post useful to the discussion.-Ron Price, Australia ------------------------- I want to draw on Francis Fukuyama's article "The End of History?" in The National Interest, Summer 1989. Fukuyama writes that "the notion that ideology is a superstructure imposed on a substratum of permanent great power interest is a highly questionable proposition. For the way in which any state defines its national interest is not universal but rests on some kind of prior ideological basis. Economic behavior is often determined by a prior state of consciousness. In our modern age states have adopted highly articulated doctrines with explicit foreign policy agendas legitimizing expansionism, like Marxism-Leninism or National Socialism for example. "The expansionist and competitive behavior of nineteenth century Europeans states rested on no less ideal a basis; it just so happened that the ideology driving it was less explicit than the doctrines of the twentieth century. For one thing, most "liberal" European societies were illiberal insofar as they believed in the legitimacy of imperialism, that is, the right of one nation to rule over other nations without regard for the wishes of the ruled. The justifications for imperialism varied from nation to nation, from a crude belief in the legitimacy of force, particularly when applied to non-Europeans, to the White Man's Burden and Europe's Christianizing mission, to the desire to give people of color access to the culture of Rabelais and Moliere. But whatever the particular ideological basis, every "developed" country believed in the acceptability of higher civilizations ruling lower ones -- including, incidentally, the United States with regard to the Philippines. This led to a drive for pure territorial aggrandizement in the latter half of the century and played no small role in causing the Great War. Let me add a few more remarks that throw light by the power of analogical thought on the question of legitimacy in the Roman Empire. As monarchical, aristocratic and corporate powers democratized in our modern , the new states aspired to the ceremonial majesty and legitimacy claims of the previous monarchical order, but now it was democratic majesty that was proclaimed. Thus the great public buildings of Washington, D.C., with Congress apart from the White House, beautifully, simply and powerfully gave visible form to the notion of separation of powers. And elections are a dramatic ceremonial reminder of democratic legitimation. The emerging structures of transnational decision-making, however, do not have such features, and much of their activity is even hidden. The inner processes of the World Bank and IMF, to take two conspicuously significant examples, are hardly publicized and positions taken by many national representatives to those organizations are not even made publicly available. Rather than legitimacy, it is invisibility that is sought. How such power might be democratized is the challenge of the twenty-first century. ------------ Enouugh on this long and complex question.-Ron Price
  14. RonPrice

    Flame Warriors!

    ----------------- I feel honoured to even being considered for the above nomination in this thread. Sadly I don't(can't) get to this site as often as I'd like. In the four years I've been part of the discussions here, my contribution has been very occasional at worst and tangentially poetic at best. I wish all contributors well in diagnosing the mystique of Roman history.-Ron Price, Tasmania PS. Here is a piece I wrote just last night; hopefully some of this mystique may be iluminated by the following prose-poem. -------------- A SET-UP After watching the two part series