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caesar novus

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Everything posted by caesar novus

  1. caesar novus

    question on Sallust

    A surname just tracks one side of the family, or maybe not even that very accurately. With the advent of easy self-service DNA testing that can be related to geographical regions, I wondered what the typical DNA profile was for a modern descendant of Roman Republicans. I am talking about services like decodeme.com and I refer to the Republic because the Empire probably brought in a wide mix of genes. They do this seperately for male and female ancestory by looking at only some weird genes that are cloned to the same sex children, and not mixed by the parents. Amazingly they can ID the last unique mutation, guess it's date, and relate it to approximate geographical location. I believe if you are lucky you have a recent mutation (don't worry, just in junk genes that doesn't cause a problem but serves as a flag) that relates to a time and place only about twice as old as Roman era. In my case there was a false alarm about Sardinian maternal ancestory. But that mitochondrial flag was so extremely old that that it it had spread all around since women emerged from caves. The male y group flag was recent and exactly agreed with the 6+ centuries of marriage records I have, which (sigh) pretty much work against Roman regional heritage on either side. I may be explaining this poorly, but it is facinating about what can be done in some cases, maybe for Italy or maybe not. BTW females lack their fathers Y-chromosome flags, so may want to get a mouth swab of a brother or father. I believe National Geographic will do the male and female test seperately at half price each. Males needn't do this because they do inherit the female mitochondrials. P.S. an example of some Italian gene flags is in the middle of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y-DNA_haplogr...y_ethnic_groups ...or lost somewhere in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genealogical_...tDNA.29_testing
  2. caesar novus

    Pessimism or optimisim for 2009?

    I resonate to the response of Rome to Hannibal's crushing and almost total victory.... implacable denial of defeat by the forces against you! Not mindless bravado, but a quiet steely determinism to take every step to better your situation, however modest. I am in awe of how Rome could do this, apparently not just from the top down, but as a society.
  3. caesar novus

    Merry Christmas

    Maybe the Constantine era Romans were wise to have a more inclusive idea of Christmas that reached out to pagan sun worshippers, war mongers, and the like. They set it to the winter solstice in the 10th ("dec") month of Romulas, which would now be December 22 if the changeover to gregorian calendar hadn't knocked it askew. ... because that is when the sun turns toward strength. I realize the materialistic side of Christmas has spread to secular, buddhist, confucian etc. worlds, but what about the spiritual side? When that gregorian calendar change delinked Christmas from the solstice we saw the rise of secular renaissance and enlightenment movements that put a squeeze on mankind's natural religious nature, which then came out in fringe ways such as from hippie sun worship to kwanzaa. Why not take a lesson from Halloween, which thrives in a synthesis of the pagan and Christian ("all hallows eve"). Reset Christmas to Dec 22 and encourage bonfire parties at stonehenge-like sundial structures around sunset. Pay tribute to Constantine's war god by throwing straw filled replicas of your enemies into the fire. The Christian intellegensia can continue to put the focus on the "true" spirit of Christmas, but meanwhile there is a socially binding ideology for the rest
  4. Nightmare in Split, Croatia? What is the latest status of this proposal? I think this is one of the most underappreciated Roman sites around, due to it's veneer of post Roman modifications and trinket shops. But if you have a few ounces of imagination, it's stunning essence as the worlds largest private residence speaks volumes. Especially the rightmost quadrant of the palace and also the basement is in good Roman shape. Maybe I was blown away because I happened to arrive at a quiet, evocative dawn, and with low expectations. It must be one of the most derided disappointments in the tourist forums, because they expect Versailles but get busy shops and occupied apartments. Maybe construction could be done tastfully replacing only the most recent rennovations inside, but please don't nuke older stuff! Even the understatement of the building is amazing... such audacity to build something so vast just for one persons retirement.
  5. caesar novus

    Finally, Cleopatra Unveiled!!!

    I think I will have to ban alcohol from that university when I revive the empire there. If you come up with Somalian/Ethiopian appearance for a Greek/Macedonian, wouldn't a sober mind suspect a bit of stylization by the ancient painters? She and all her ancestors were supposed to speak Greek, and she was said the first one to be able to mumble a bit in Egyptian. She may have a trace of local blood in her family tree, but this wikipedia diagram makes it look about as tight/inbred/incestuous as it gets. She is shown at the bottom as CleoVII, apparently the product of several brother-sister pairings:
  6. caesar novus

    Roman documentaries on Hulu.com

    Such videos are sponsored by embedded commercials (I guess this is just starting in youtube). Even when the sponsor is intnl (such as in hulu case), it is apparently handled by a national branch who balks at paying for expensive bandwidth not directed to their potential customers. Anyway, I concur with the critique of the original post. Such portentious melodrama... sort of like the way a Hitler or Napoleon documentary would have been done years ago - a cartoon morality tale. I just saw documentaries on the latter 2 done in an adult matter-of-fact way, and just wish they could do the Roman Era in a similar way. The real story is so amazing and dramatic if you can just hear it instead of being prodded with overwrought music and graphics. One alternative is to find a free podcast of a university course on Rome. I found one terrible one from UC Berkeley (which simply lambasted Rome as politically incorrect), but there must be more. I know of some good ones that are redistributed at high cost (TTC, TMS). And some free ones by questionable amateur historians.
  7. There's been news of various new archeological discoveries, but I assume there will be lag time before the objects or sites are open for public viewing. So what is newly opened in the greater Rome area, or what has been recently renovated, and is there any practical advice on visiting? For example I gather Nero's palace basement is being renovated, but you can visit by appointment?
  8. caesar novus

    Roman influence on Christian doctrine?

    Hmmmph, I heard an interesting talk by author of "Triumph: The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church" touching on how Roman it is in spirit and function. And how Protestant types of Christianity, although they may appear to be going "back to basics" of Roman era Christianity, actually tend toward a quite modern mold of Utopianism that Roman citizens might find alien. So I guess any Roman or Constantine influence may be largely found Catholic or Orthodox branches of Christianity. Just brainstorming about macro issues, like relations of religion to government or to individual. Author Crocker seemed to say the way the Catholic church does an ambiguous dance between itself and sinning people or governments (accepting yet prodding... the inquisition never being the norm) ia actually an effective way of dealing with problems evolved from long Roman experience (of worse ways of handling). "Sin" may be furiously condemned, but clear cut cases with victims are already dealt with in secular gov't, and as you go out in the spectrum of semi-victimless "sin" the softer approach maybe being wise. Contrast this with the last few hundred years, where Protestestants or Marxists or even recent environmental extremists sought to get full government enforcement of not only the obvious crimes with victims, but a whole spectum of "sin" that is probably bad, or possibly bad, or maybe only speculatively bad. This even backfired, as close legal binding of Protestant church with state led to loss of legitimacy in the eyes of the public... same with Marxist states. So maybe the old Romans peering down from heaven or where-ever are shaking their heads thinking the world has gone off track from the gift of their civilization. Just as we have modified their row toilets to dysfunctional follow-ons like the low flow toilet, we have also gone from their modulated handling of sin to over/under correction. I'm sure they would admit their heritage could be improved upon, but we may still have not completely returned from the dark ages digressions. Let's face every problem by first thinking how the Romans would handle it, and only improve on it when and if it really makes sense (grin)!
  9. caesar novus

    Do floor mosaics have meaning?

    I wonder whether Roman floor mosaics had symbolic meaning or was essentially decorative. I mean besides the banal "celebration of X" when you see picture of X, but something more philosophical or political such as you might find in renaissance art. For some reason the braided border lines jump out to me as more intricate than needed for decorative whimsey. Of course I know their swastikas don't relate to 20th century meanings. Some of the mosaics seem almost ugly but still riveting somehow. Maybe some are a carryover or a contrast to other traditions like the Greek.
  10. caesar novus

    Roman influence on Christian doctrine?

    Yeah, I'm starting to suspect that "doctrine" isn't the key issue, and it may be Christian-centric to see religions as modular belief systems... and to worry so much about the differences of doctrine and whether they were influenced more or less legitimately. Maybe the more important thing was Christianity was primarily about beliefs as opposed to practices or community stratification, and the ageing Roman empire needed that kind of ideological energy to hold together, whatever the doctrine. In a very naive attempt of anthropology of religion, I gather that Roman approach was more related to practices/rituals and they didn't care or expect this to go together with belief. Sort of like the way a gangster might have a neighboorhood in fear, and everyone wanting you to show respect toward regardless of your thoughts, so as to not mess up a fragile community peace. Another approach might not need you to believe or practice anything (although prefer that you do), but the essential thing is to accept your defined place in its ideology (hinduism?). And I hear Jewish approach was less defined by beliefs than practises and community self definition (so even though monotheistic, was not the threat to Rome as evangelical belief-obsessed Christianity). I probably mangled this badly, but probably Christianity provided an opportunity/threat that Rome had to either join or fight. Maybe the choice of doctrine wasn't too important to them. If it was greco-centric, maybe that even led to a downfall because of the Italian crusaders later attacking and fatally wounding Contantinople. I gather that emperors after Constantine (esp western?) were not always supportive of Christian doctrine. Also there is an interesting question of Emperors mothers/wives having influence in pushing Christian ideology onto skeptical emperors.
  11. I thought Caesar was famous for gratuitous overkill even by Roman standards, and that was the claimed point of contention with the senate. I am thinking of things like pre-Alesia massacres of civilians after a battle was settled. There was a famous case where he spared killing a bride about to be wed... blah blah blah, unfortunately I don't have sources, but they suggested there was no military or political justification other than some point scoring. If this is wrong, I would be happy to be able to admire Caesar again as one of the greatest military minds rather than a brute. The Alesia battle sounds so brilliant; who else could fend off a titanic army on the outside while having to be stretched thin around a siege ring facing inwards?
  12. caesar novus

    The Roman Empire and America

    Question has an odor of wanting help for a school assignment rather than genuine curiosity, so I won't take the time to organize mishmash of thoughts toooooo much... I think there are huge similarities, not in terms of superficial appearance or the whacky narrative history, but in terms of some of their aspirational ideals and goal-directed tendancies. It's hard to articulate, but it hits me at a gut level when looking at Roman ruins or statues or history. The scale of buildings, and confident expressions on statues, and a kind of businesslike focus on practicalities rather than posturing... seems unlike even the age of Athens or medieval or renaissance periods. How about the way Romans often co-opted their conquered peoples by giving them an unprecedented stake in their new Roman world... comparable to how diverse immigrants to the US tend to eventually blend into a melting pot (more than many countries anyway). Actually the American revolution dialogue was heavily influenced by the Roman republic in terms of ideals of democracy and civic duties. George Washington was nicknamed Cincinnatus, and the I think the founding documents are full of references to things which had been recently popularized by plays on the Roman Republic. Putting aside the bizarre and brutal aspects of Roman history (written and possibly overdramatized by critics of newly dead emperors), the Roman repub-pire was such an amazing way to organize both economic and political life compared to the chaos before and afterward. At the time of American revolution, that was also a unique political experiment that amazed Europeans by its democratic audacity, and later by it's economic impact followng WW2. Both Rome and USA are full of innovative ways to organize life that at least have the potential of betterment. I couldn't believe it when I downloaded the free audio of a recent course on Rome at Berkeley university which seemed to solely focus on treatment of women and slaves as if that was the only distinguishing element of Roman civilization. But that was the norm for almost any group at that time, and carried the seeds of civilization which could eventually bring more into the good life.
  13. Your nickname reminds me of a hushed side comment made by Professor Harl in his audio course about the Vikings (from "teaching company"). He suggested Ceasars epic overkill in Gaul likely caused a domino effect by depopulating Germany of tribes who had been drawn into helping out the Gauls. This vacuum was filled by southern Danish proto-vikings moving south to become present day Germans. He joked about this being a secret because no one dares to say Germany was essentially founded by an Italian, so I guess you won't find any citations. I also heard this was why Augustus had so much trouble fighting the Germans... they had a north-woods almost guerilla tradition that didn't involved centralized towns and forts that the Romans could focus on and besiege. Oh, somewhere else I heard Julius practiced such brutal overkill in order to impress his own side and that it wasn't militarily necessary. Or maybe it was in the euphoria after continually winning when outnumbered 2 to 1? Well, this isn't much help, just some half remembered background...
  14. caesar novus

    Greatest Roman Generals?

    I think that gave a foundation that both protected them from worst consequences of leadership errors, and promoted even better results from any wise leadership. From the perspective of cutting losses, I think it was unusual how well Romans seemed to have learned from setbacks. Instead of impetuous flipflops (say in strategy or technology), they seemed to keep the framework but evolve refinements along the way. From the winning perspective, it may be symbiosis where good organization lets good leadership rise to the next level in effectiveness by focusing on higher level issues. I remember working with technology proposals from both world class and lesser mortal researchers. What surprised me was the almost childlike simplicity of most of the analysis by the top notch folks; it was only in the final leap into the heart of the matter where there would be a creative and mentally challenging twist. The lower achievers by contrast analyzed everything afresh and got so bogged down in complex reinvention of even the banal aspects that no overall leap seemed likely.
  15. caesar novus

    Roman influence on Christian doctrine?

    Professors in http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sh...timization.html argue that Constantine allied himself with one of the sects of Christianity that was most compatible with centralized government, and that he persecuted alternate Christian sects (eg. gnostics?), which I gather had a lasting influence.
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