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About georgious

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  1. georgious

    Ronald Syme's " The Roman Revolution"

    That is true about the writing of history in general since historians project the conjectures and dilemmas of their age to the past when they describe it. They are also writing for their contemporaries which means that their readership is experiencing the same world as they. The point is that future generations as we, in the case of Syme, have to come to terms with his world, which is remote from us, to understand his analysis of the late Roman Republic and Early Principate, an even more remote world for us and him alike. Which shows how tricky and difficult is to obtain valid and objective historical knowledge.
  2. georgious

    Ronald Syme's " The Roman Revolution"

    Thank you for informing me about Gruen and Millar. The exact phrase of Syme was: "In all ages, whatever the form and name of the government, be it monarchy, republic or democracy, an oligarchy lurks behind the facade;and Roman history, Republican or Imperial, is the history of the governing class" Stated like this I think that it is far too sweeping a statement to have universal validity. Confined to Roman history of the Republic and the Empire, it is much more credible.
  3. I have finally suceeded to read "The Roman Revolution" of Syme in a linear instead of a haphazard fashion and I have to point out that he makes a vast use of names and family connections of the Roman movers and shakers at the end of the Republic. I suspect that he must have attended a British public school in order to make statements such as "the history of Rome is the history of the governing class". Nevertheless his history of the fall of the Republic and the institution of the Principate is surely such a kind of history from the above. The book has literary qualities and is written in impressive English prose which keeps the interest of the reader if one excludes the very common and long recitation of the names and fortunes of consuls, sons of consuls and grandsons of consuls. One does not always need to be reminded how many consuls one noble family had in the span of five generations. I would not be surprized to learn that Syme was a Tory, because in his book his oligarchic convictions crop up incessantly. Perhaps he projects the ideology of the late British empire to the Roman Republic. He likes sweeping statements such as:"Whatever the name of the polity, always an oligarchy lurks behind the facade". I also found interesting his belief that he could divine the motives and the rationale behind the acts of the major actors of the political drama and his conviction that what Cicero or Augustus had in mind when he acted thus was such and such. He is a forcefull writer and his prose is strong but his premises are some works by ancient historians and Cicero's letters-how can one reach so solid conclusions about states of mind and motives of political actors? Well his wordview is bleak and relevant to that of Thycidides, Hobbes, Machiavelli and the 20nth century political thinker Panajiotis Kondylis-that is that the main motive behind political action is the pursuit of power and politics is essentially a struggle of power amongst competing groups. This underlying assumption is very clearly inferred from the whole tone and logic of his narrative, and even if he directy attributes this motive to Augustus, he does not imply that his opponents were any better but rather less adept than him in the pursuit of power. Surely his book resonates in the mind after one has read it and the way it is structured gives a dramatic flair to the clashes of those Republican Romans who reside to the mists of time. I would like to ask which is the present opinion about this book among those interested in Roman history and how are his assumptions and conclusions rated today....
  4. georgious

    Spectacle in the Roman World

    count me in.
  5. georgious

    All time favorite book

    Roman Empire(fiction) I Claudius & Claudius the God Robert Graves Roman Empire(history) The Roman Society Ceza Alfoldi
  6. There is a decision of the Dean to close the Department of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies of King's College London. Signatures are being mustered for a petition to overturn this decision. If you want to help in this effort go to the following address: www.PetitionOnline.com It is a Department worth preserving, source of notable hellenists and byzantinologists, such as Roderick Beaton, the late Philipp Sherard and Averil Cameron among others.
  7. georgious

    agora-the movie

    I agree with your overall view of the film. On the subject of Cyril's followers the movie may be more ambivalent than it seems at first sight. Intrigued by their strange-sounding name Parabolani, I resorted to Gibbon and I found that he too uses this term when describing the hold of Cyril on them as well as the nature of followers:"his commands were blindly obeyed by his numerous and fanatic parabolani, familiarised in their daily offce with scenes of death...." At first, having the film in mind, I thought that the parabolani were carrying executions of dissenters daily. Then when I looked in Wikipaedia I realized that they were a religious brotherhood devoted to the caring of the sick and the burial of the dead. My first superficial impression of the film was that all the dead people they carried in the carts to burn, were their own victims they wanted to dispose of. This is not true because even in the movie Cyril says before the Prefect when confronting the Jews that his Parabolani care for the sick and dead. It may be conceived as a stratagem but this was they were supposed to be doing and a scene in the beginning where Ammonious persuades Davus to offer bread to the (many) poor confirms that. Therefore the movie is more multilayered than a superficial observer may first consider.
  8. georgious

    agora-the movie

    ...which is what a lot of people think today, and what I thought when I read about the tragic lynching of Hypatia in Carl Sagan's Cosmos. I have yet to see the film, but one or two others on the forum have alluded to its 'anti Christian' attitude. My personal view is that it is difficult NOT to have a negative view towards the particular bunch of fanatics who carried out this murder, set as it is amongst a backdrop of Theodosius' dismantling of Classical culture in general. I think it is time I sprang into action and bought a copy of this film from Amazon. Well I did see the movie today and it absolutely presented that view. I am aware of the end of Hypatia and the movie on that matter is modest presenting a censored version of events. Otherwise the portrayal of Cyril, the leader of Alexandrian Christians is very negative and conforms with Bertrand Russell's opinion in his "History of Western Philosophy":"St Cyril, the advocate of unity, was a man of fanatical zeal. He used his position as patriarch to incite pogroms against the very large Jewish colony in Alexandria. His chief claim to fame is the lynching of Hypatia, a distinguished lady who, in an age of bigotry, adhered to the Neoplatonic philosophy and devoted her talents to mathematics." The large bunch of fanatics, whom Cyril manipulates for his purposes, are called "Parabalanoi" in the movie(I have not confirmed their existence during that age) and they are a form of a para-religious body of zealots, used to terrorize Jews and pagans, kill, pillage and destroy(and rape, as it is hinted) and are finally responsible for Hypatia's death. The pagans get a better press in general.
  9. Interesting news. I have read in an english paper-a serious one- about this effort at least a year ago and I remember that their findings have made the archaeologists believe that they were discovering the birthplace of an Emperor-and also hat would be Vespasian -although that last assertion I am not so sure I remember that they made. But it is a running story.
  10. georgious

    agora-the movie

    I would like those of you who have seen the film "Agora" about the life of the pagan philosopher and mathematician Hypatia, in late Roman Egypt illuminate me on the stance it adopts on issues concerning the role the Christians and religious rivalries during that age-because some people in Athens regarded it as a vindication of the free thinking ancient worldview against the emerging obscurantism of rising Christianity and the eventual halt to scientific pursuit it's final dominance heralded.
  11. georgious

    Politics In The Early Principiate

    It is true that there has been a personality cult among ancient historians who blamed everything bad on the person of the emperor as if he was all powerfull. That has to do with the class bias of roman historians who belonged to the governing class and considered it's head to be of outmost importance for the society they inhabited. Powerfull clans dominated the politics of the republic and the empire.It is true that roman political groupings were aggregates of people around a powerfull leader who expected benefits from his accession to power. The same structure applies to modern Greek and Italian politics among others.One must not moralize a lot against roman political morals-I do not think that modern meditterean politics are any better- patriarchal structures, clientelism, servility, gerontocracy, pre-eminence of the military and the priesthood.
  12. georgious

    How the Emperors quieted the mob

    Plebs and Princeps by Yavetz may be useful on that respect since it elaborates on the emperor's public image and the way it was projected to the masses to legitimize his authority. It is true that roman civilization and society remained oligarchic throughout their history despite the transformations of the name used republic,empire etc. But do not forget that the European Union is also oligarchic nowdays since the Commision is singularily opaque and the supposedly democratically elected parliament is the organ with the less power.So do not blame the roman lower classes for apathy the modern ones are the same-they only watch TV and football instead of gladiatorial shows-which can be considered a progressive step.
  13. georgious

    Question Of Best/Worst Emperors?

    Ihave to agree about your assesment of the Republic. My readings both ancient and modern have led me to the same conclusion.The Republic was an instrument of aristocratic clans and the Senate their council of clan rulers. Their purpose wasI to enrich themselves by the spoils of wars of conquest while keeping the lower classes happy with bribes of cheap corn and spectacles of ridiculus barbarity and vulgarity.Sources testify of their loans with extortionate interest and thier use of private armies to terrorise debtors. One must remember Crassus dictum that one could not be considered rich unless he could maintain an army by himself.This warlords were assisted by a priesthood which manipulated the masses through divination and explanation of signs and portents. Aristocrats and priests were the equivalent of military-industrial complex of modern USA.The bureaucracy of the principate was better than this system.I can not say really.