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guy

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guy last won the day on November 12 2019

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    SouthWest USA (345 miles from Las Vegas)
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    Ancient Roman history, The Dutch Golden Age of Art (16th-17th century), Poker, blues guitar, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania (My birthplace), Reggio Emilia, Italy (My ancestral home), Las Vegas, Nevada (My Mecca), One wife, two kids, one dog, two cats

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  1. Great article from Libertarianism.org. about the influence of Cicero on John Locke and otehr Enlightenment thinkers. https://www.libertarianism.org/columns/cicero-was-lockes-greatest-inspiration guy also known as gaius
  2. During times of national stress (including economic, political, and pandemic fears), there seems to be the tendency to catastrophize events and predict the impending collapse of Western civilization. A recent thread reflected this tendency: Here's a thought-provoking article from the left-leaning Mother Jones that also predicts the fall of another empire: https://www.motherjones.com/media/2020/03/how-do-you-know-if-youre-living-through-the-death-of-an-empire/ The author, Patrick Wyman, PhD, brings up some interesting points, but I might quibble with a few of the conclusions His point about bureaucracies persisting (either out of necessity or out of habit) after the fall of the Roman Empire is insightful. (Some might cynically give the Catholic church and its bureaucratic framework as an example.) There are a couple points I might disagree with, however. I find this statement debatable: "Rome probably still had hundreds of thousands of inhabitant at the beginning of the sixth century ..." I am sure he would agree that this number is only speculation, at best. By 500 AD the city of Rome was only a pale shadow of its previous self. We can only guess but the city of Rome's population might have been under 100,000 by 500 AD. In 286 AD, Diocletian had already moved the capital of the Roman Empire from the city of Rome to Mediolanum (Milan). The death spiral for the (Western) Roman Empire and especially the city of Rome had begun long before 500 AD. After a series of civil wars, devastating plagues, and economic instability during the third century, the city of Rome was near collapse by 300 AD. The impact of regular malaria epidemics was to weaken an already debilitated city and empire. The loss of Northern Africa and control of the grain supplies to the city of Rome starting around 440 AD essentially assured the city's total downfall. I would, therefore, disagree with Dr. Wyman's conclusion, "What shrank Rome down to a mere few tens of thousands by the year 550 was the end of the annona, the intricate state-subsidized grain shipments..." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cura_Annonae I'm not sure we know for certain when the cura annonae ended or whether it could still have had any impact on alleviating hunger in the city that late in the Empire's history. The supply chain was probably too severely disrupted at this point of history. These societal breakdowns made the accumulation, storage, transportation, and distribution of food on a wide scale basis unreliable . More likely, the Goths' blocking the vital aqueducts supplying Rome in about 537 AD was the final death knell of a city already fatally weakened over the previous two centuries. I enjoyed this article, however. It made some interesting points and lends another perspective to history. guy also known as gaius (I want to thank Lapham's Quarterly for bringing this article to my attention.)
  3. I don't enjoy modern politics and I tend to be more optimistic about the future than maybe I should. British and American elites have long fretted that they, like the ancient Roman Republic before them, would soon face an inevitable collapse. British author Edward Gibbon, author of the six volume opus The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-1789), remarked to a friend in 1776, just before the American Revolution: Maybe a tad premature? One of my favorite anecdotes in history involves Scottish economist and philosopher Adam Smith, author of The Wealth of Nations: guy also known as gaius
  4. guy

    Stoicism Explained

    One of the best discussions on stoicism from the libertarian site "Libertarianism.org." https://www.libertarianism.org/encyclopedia/stoicism
  5. https://spectator.sme.sk/c/22202489/virus-probably-killed-prince-from-matejovce-1600-years-ago.html A tomb of a possible Romano-German prince from the 4th century was discovered in Matejovce, Poprad, 14 years ago. Recent skeletal analysis showed that he was hepatitis B positive. It is unclear how the study concluded that the hepatitis played any role in his demise, however. (In 2004, an estimated 350 million individuals have been infected with hepatitis B worldwide. National and regional prevalences range from over 10% in Asia to under 0.5% in the United States and Northern Europe. Source: Wikipedia.) See also this article: http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/56401 guy also known as gaius (I want to thank Lapham's Quarterly for bringing this article to my attention.)
  6. Just an interesting tangent on Salmonella enterica. (Thanks to Lapham's Quarterly for bring this article to my attention). This article shows how infections can be transmitted between species and evolve to become more lethal. This is important especially in light of the recent coronavirus outbreak. : https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/02/farming-gave-us-salmonella-ancient-dna-suggests guy also known as gaius
  7. https://www.courthousenews.com/rome-unveils-tomb-that-may-belong-to-wolf-suckled-king/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rome-unveils-tomb-that-may-belong-to-wolf-suckled-king https://news.yahoo.com/rome-unveil-tomb-may-belong-wolf-suckled-king-035218246.html
  8. I recently heard a delightful podcast interview with Daisey Dunn, a British classicist and author of the new book, The Shadow of Visuvius: The Life of Pliny. Although Pliny the Elder is a looming figure in the book, the book explores more thoroughly the life of his nephew, Pliny the Younger. (Of course, the book takes its title from the eruption of Visuvius of 79 AD that took the life of Pliny the Elder.) In the interview, Dunn mentions the expression "in a nutshell." She reminds us that the phrase (which means "in few words or to sum up briefly") seems to have originated with Pliny the Elder from his scientific encyclopedia The Natural History. Here's the interesting quote from Book VII, Chapter 21 "Instances of Acuteness of Sight": http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.02.0137%3Abook%3D7%3Achapter%3D21 Daisey Dunn's book sounds like an interesting read that I will hopefully enjoy soon. guy also known as gaius
  9. An interesting article about the unusual source (sea snails) for purple dye in the ancient world. (Note that this site of purple production predated the founding of the city of Tyre, for which this dye is named, by around a thousand years.): https://www.livescience.com/amp/gold-jewels-found-on-island-purple.html The purple dye (later known as Tyrian purple) was extracted from sea snails and was both very rare and expensive. It became associated with the wealthy and ruling elites in the ancient world. The dye was colour-fast (non-fading) and possibly became more intense as the purple-dyed clothe was exposed to weather and over time. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyrian_purple The imperial toga picta worn by the emperor was dyed a solid purple. The foul-smelling and disgusting source of purple: guy also known as gaius (I want to thank Lapham's Quarterly for bringing this article to my attention.)
  10. guy

    Mausoleum of Theodoric

    First, the vast majority of Italians would never have thought themselves as Ostrogoths. (Similarly, I don't think many in England (except the ruling elite, of course) would have thought of themselves as French after the Norman invasion.) Second, by 490 AD, the disruption of the Roman Empire was complete. I'm not so sure many in Italy still thought of themselves as Roman, either. The irreversible preeminence of the city state had already begun. Even Belasarius, the "Last of the Romans," could not reassemble the fractured empire by 539 AD. As an aside, even modern Italians have been resistant to the concept of a national state. With the formation of modern Italy in 1861, Prime Minister d'Azeglio wrote, "L'Italia è fatta. Restano da fare gli italiani." ("We have made Italy. Now we must make Italians.") Many in Italy even today doubt that d'Azeglio's dream of a unified Italy has been realized. guy also known as gaius
  11. I am probably the least knowledgeable here to comment on military matters. It would be wrong to describe "barbarian" tactics as monolithic. More precisely, a group of combatants (such as the Celts) would have been diverse in their tactics, differing among specific subgroups and evolving over time. Through military contact or assimilation over the years, the many disparate groups would coalesce, while developing Roman tactics and technologies. That said, a more loosely organized and less disciplined force such as the Celts would be better at improvisational fighting or fighting in small groups. The early Roman legions were well-organized and tightly disciplined killing machines. Possibly the best chance at defeating the Roman legion was by ambush in unfamiliar terrain. Examples of this would the complete defeat and annihilation of legions at the Battles of Teutoburg Forest or Abritus. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Teutoburg_Forest https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Abritus guy also known as gaius
  12. guy

    Big money and fall

    .Professor fears was a fine historian who could present history in an entertaining way. (He passed away in 2012.) That said, he could be more entertaining and superficial than accurate at times. I think his general views about the fall were correct, however. A nice introduction to the fall of the Roman Republic is Tom Holland's Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic. I read this book about 15 years ago, but I think it still holds up. By the way, the fall of the Venetian Republic (which lasted more than a thousand years) had less to do with internal politics than did the fall of the Roman Republic. The Venetian Republic, a maritime power, was better suited for trade and control of the Mediterranean. The Venetians could not compete with the emerging strength and naval technologies of the Atlantic powers. The Atlantic powers also benefited from changing trade routes. Also, Venice was guilty of imperial overreach, wasting limited resources by venturing onto the Italian mainland. Napoleon only administered the coup de grâce to an already fatally weakened state. guy also known as gaius
  13. I am not sure whether having a subscription to the digital format would give one access to older articles. (Don't confuse the well-written BBC magazine "History Revealed" with the detestable BCC magazine "History.") http://www.immediate.co.uk/brands/bbc-history-revealed/ The author of the article, Philip Matyszak, belongs on this forum and maybe he can help. Good luck, guy also known as gaius
  14. Here's a new thread to share the view outside your window. Growing up just outside the industrial northeastern city of Pittsburgh, I quickly became fascinated with the natural beauty of the American Southwest (and its spectacular sunrises) since my first visit in the early 80s. I am still in awe of the exotic beauty of the simple palm tree. guy also known as gaius
  15. I finally looked at the lyrics. Interesting stuff. "Whisper A Prayer For The Dying" I hear the sound of distant thunder echo all around I see the tragedy of young ones lying on the ground I see the fathers' sons and daughters, I hear the mothers crying Nothing left for me to do, whisper a prayer for the dying Oh, oh, a prayer for the dying The suffocating heat of jungles, burning desert sands Where everything reminds you, you're a stranger in a strange land The soothing words of politicians, those bodyguards of lies While guardian angels waste their time and every mother cries Oh, oh, a prayer for the dying, dying, dying Oh, oh Machine gun, battle cry You pray to God when the bullets fly The bombs fall like black rain And all your dreams take you home again Nothing but bad dreams You can't read, you can't write You're so scared, you can't sleep at night You try to carry the heavy load Walking down Armageddon road, oh, Armageddon road I hear the sound of distant thunder echo all around I see the tragedy of young ones lying on the ground I see the fathers' sons and daughters, I hear the mothers crying Nothing left for me to do but whisper a prayer for the dying Oh, a prayer for the dying, dying Oh, a prayer for the dying, baby, baby Oh, a prayer for the dying, dying Whisper a prayer for the dying, oh You can't run, you can't hide You can't show what you feel inside You're going crazy, going insane You know you'll never be the same again, no, no Whisper a prayer for the dying, dying, dying, dying, dying, no, no Armageddon road, Armageddon road, I'm walking down Armageddon road
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