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About Belisarius

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  1. No, I think thats an unfair characterisation. The argument is not that they weren't 21st century enough in their ambitions and innovation. That would be historicism. I wouldn't expect them to think like us or have our culture. The point is that the roman empire was perhaps much more technologically and culturally sterile than we have given it credit for. It was a force for technological stagnancy rather than invention, and if it hadn't fallen we'd have been stuck at much the same level. They had nearly 1000 years and didn't really change a great deal. The political system did not create conditions for technological growth, except in very limited areas. Where were the great roman writers and thinkers even? Had they been more innovative they might have found solutions for the Hunnic invasions and the Teutonic tribes that they had to face. I see it as a great big military and administrative machine. But not one that seemed to grow and adapt a great deal during its history. I agree by and large. I'd say the fatal flaw of Rome was its relative lack of social mobility. Progress comes from people trying to make things better. Technology is developed by someone wanting to make money and fix a problem. That didn't happen much in Rome, as there were two kinds of peopls... rich patricians who had no motivation for doing so, and poor plebes who had no ability to be rewarded for it, and lacked education to do it anyway. Not to mention the fact that the conquests and wars of Rome produced a massive quantity of cheap slaves, to the point where even the relatively modest man could own one or more, really did not put labor saving devices at a premium, as they weren't doing the labor anyway. You can make the argument that much of the techonolgical innovation in the West arose from the bulbonic plague. There weren't enough people left to work the fields, so better methods had to be devided. Necessity being the mother of invention and all.
  2. Belisarius

    Did Julian reach out to the Senate in Rome?

    I think at some point, Julian saw himself as the new Alexander. It would have been interesting to see what he accomplished had he not died. I suspect he would have been assasinated, as he likely was during the Persian campaign.
  3. I've recently read Julian, by Gore Vidal, which is great by the way, and I thought it raised a couple of intruiging questions. If Julian had, instead of marching of to his death at the hands of the Persians (or more accurately, his own generals), stayed in Constantinople and continued his efforts to re-establish the Hellenic Gods.... 1. Could he have been successful? Not so much in eradicating Christianity, but in safely re-establishing the Hellenic religion? 2. If he had been successful, what would the West look like today? Would the two still exist side by side? Would the Church have eventually triumphed anyway? Would the West have fallen to Islam? Personally, I think he was fighting a losing fight, and probably would have been assasinated anyway. What do you think?
  4. Belisarius

    Roman Attitudes

    I'd say you can make the argument that Roman women (of the patrician class anyway) were the high water mark of freedom for women until the 20th century. Women could own property. They could, by and large, refuse marriage to a particular man. They could take some role in the religion. Contrast women of rome to women of the middle ages and the renaissance, and I'd say the sisters of rome had it comparatively good.
  5. Belisarius

    Caesar: Hero Or Villain

    I struggle with Caesar. On the one hand, he was a sublimely gifted man. On the other hand, he embodies the arrogance of Rome. He conquered Gaul and invaded Britain not because they were a threat (they weren't) or that they had done anything (they hadn't) but simply for his own political glory. I know that was typical of the time, and most of history for that matter. But I have to wonder how a guy could stand over a corpse strewn battlefield, watch a city being sacked and hear the screams of the raped and the dying, and not question his motives. We tend to glorify Rome, but the fact is, the Pax Romana, to the extent that it even existed, was bloodily imposed over many peoples who would have preferred otherwise, and was basically a system of theft on the grandest scale.
  6. Belisarius

    The Justinaian Wars

    I would love to take a look at it and give you comments. Robert Graves' Count Belisarius is my favorite HF novel.
  7. Hi. I'm a longtime history buff that for years avoided ancient history. I just thought it was too dense. But I've now dove in head first and love reading about the Roman Empire, particularly the late Imperial period and Byzantine periods. Love the forum, nice to "meet" you all!
  8. I tend to subscribe to the Justinian theory. For a history that bears this out, read The Ruin of the Roman Empire by James ODonnell For a great fictional look at the wars of Justinian, read Count Belisarius, by Robert Graves. Sadly, it is out of print, but well worth the read if you can get your hands on one.
  9. Belisarius

    Rome at Its Very Best

    For a snapshot, I'd have to go with the overthrow of the Tarquin kings, and the founding of the Republic, the twelve tables, etc.