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Everything posted by Trethiwr

  1. Here's hoping this is the right place for this and I don't think it's been asked before. The legions famously built some incredible structures in their campaigns. I hadn't really grasped how incredible some of this stuff was until reading and writing about it. The "Masters of Rome" series, makes some of it more visceral, while non-fiction sources reaffirm how astonishing these engineering feats were. In particular, I am struggling to come to terms with the fortifications which were apparently built by Crassus to contain Spartacus. If I have understood correctly, they built some sort of ditch and rampart across the toe of Italy (Calabria). I looked on Google maps and the distance looks to be around 50 miles. My back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest over half a million metric tonnes of soil would have needed shifting to make a ditch 12 feet deep and 6 feet wide and a corresponding rampart built from the spoils. Crassus had six or seven legions (I believe?) so up to 35,000 men? They would need to shift around 20 tonnes of earth each. And cut and bring timber to shore it up. Estimates based on answers on quora etc indicate this would have taken two weeks of solid back breaking graft. I think I know the answer to this, but, would they REALLY have done that? Or did I get some sums wrong? Or did the wall not actually cut across the entire toe of Calabria but only encompass them in a town such as Rhegium? What am I missing?
  2. It certainly is incredible the amount they achieved. I haven't investigated yet, the building of a wall around Alesia, (it doesn't happen for several books in the series) but I imagine that too will have involved a staggering amount of material moved in a ridiculously short time. It's quite eye watering when you work out the numbers. Puts it into more perspective than just saying "they built a big wall"
  3. On a related topic, I don't want to use the term "tonnes" in referring to the amount of earth to shift. I could refer to a number of talents, or is there a larger weight measure used by the Romans?
  4. Trethiwr

    I've been writing

    Update. My book "Children of the Wise Oak" which is a fantasy set in the real historical context of Celtic Britain, Gaul, and Republican Rome (86-84BC) is now finished and the launch is 1st July for all digital formats. Once again, I give credit to unrv.com forum for help with historical details While it is not intended to be a scholarly work I have tried really hard to avoid being the sort of writer about whom historians sigh at the mere mention of their name. If anyone wants to check it out, the Kindle edition is myBook.to/CotWO $3.99 / £3.00 It is on Smashwords too which distributes it to everywhere else. You can read it for FREE on Kindle unlimited, also you should be able to read the first few chapters on all formats, and if anyone is willing to promise a review on Goodreads or Amazon in exchange for a free digital copy I am willing to send it to your email, in your preferred format.
  5. Trethiwr

    I've been writing

    I've not been on here for ages but I have two books self published on Amazon for which I owe UNRV forum a great debt of gratitude. They are just aimed at kids although lots of adults have said they are a fun short read for any age. Caroline Lawrence has reviewed the first on Amazon and gave it four stars; which will do me, coming from such a renowned author. Time Tunnel to Londinium and Londinium Revisisted could not have been realised without help from this forum and from the Latin discussion forum that I used. I'm not a bestselling author or anything, but I did manage to get into double figures one day this month. The books are on Kindle for 99p (99c) Kindle downloads can also be read on laptops/PCs and most smartphones and tablets. I also have another book which is finished, save for proofreading and editing. This is a rather older age group full novel. Fair bit of violence and, probably the sequel will also contain much allusion to sex. Children of the Wise Oak is a fantasy laid over a real historical setting. Set in 80s BC Europe, Celtic British adolescents travel through Gaul and eventually to Rome Armed with magical powers but forced to avoid using those powers openly, they get a taste of the real might of Rome and of what may be to come. Should anyone be curious enough to read it, they can do so here Children of the Wise Oak on Inkshares Hope this isn't all just too self self self.
  6. Trethiwr

    Amphitheater games maybe not so cruel to animals

    Surely they should only be judged by the standards of the times anyway? In my book I deliberately compare the (largely unknown) Celtic view of violence and death with that of the (much better documented) Romans. (Obviously I have had to create Celtic attitudes from scratch, but I based it on as much evidence as I could gather) Towards the end of the story, some of the Celts are horrified by the barbarism, and also weakness, of the Romans. I did that because I believe every culture sees the bad in others but not in themselves.
  7. Trethiwr

    Amphitheater games maybe not so cruel to animals

    We can't reasonably equate an absence of physical evidence as evidence that written evidence is falsified. Granted that written accounts have many potential flaws, exaggeration and propaganda for example. However, if there are numerous written accounts stating that thousands of beasts were slaughtered, then slaughtered they most certainly were. The failure to find their bones merely fails to corroborate that, not disprove it. Romans were not (I suspect) especially cruel by the standards of the times. They just did everything on an almost industrial scale, and wrote more about it.
  8. Trethiwr

    Spying on Caesar

    OK, this is a rather broad query with a few corollaries I can envisage and one or two perhaps that I can't. In my first novel I had three Celtic brothers visit Rome with a female guide and mentor. Her name is Gwenn, she's tall, strong, and beautiful. Also she has magic powers but she is not supposed to be seen using them. In the set up for the sequel, I had her agree to go and keep tabs on Julius Caesar because a prophesy suggests that he may one day be a threat to the Gauls and the Britons. (that's not a spoiler right?) I've been reading Andrew Goldsworthy's biography and trying to envisage how this woman who, at least in theory stands out like a granny in the grenadiers might get close to Caesar. The sequel begins after 84 BC and the timeline of the whole book would include Sulla's proscriptions, the alleged King of Bythnia thing, kidnapping by pirates, and possibly, Spartacus' servile war. I've assumed for starters that a well dressed traveler with enough money to spend can at least enter Rome and move about without being immediately marked out as "hostis"; although, if she is recognised from their previous visit she's in trouble. There's no absolute bar (from my point of view) to her having a man with her, perhaps from a client state north of the Po? or from any part of the empire who might legitimately have business in Rome. Another possibility is that she might get caught out, or kidnapped and sold into slavery, either before she gets there or while trying to spy on Caesar. If so, could she realistically end up bought by Caesar, who I understand had a propensity for buying beautiful slave girls for far too much money. I had another idea of her dressing like a statue of Venus and simply standing perfectly still while Caesar walked past. Is that utterly ridiculous? I think it probably is, but it has a nice imagery about it. Coming back to the slave idea, he's only going to be after one thing from her. She's not going to enjoy it, but I think she could endure it for the sake of being able to find more out about him. Escaping would be no problem, but she'd need to be in a very tight spot to justify using magic, and I won't allow her to use any magic where a reliable witness could see it. (because history cannot be denied even in fiction) Sorry, massive topic and all a bit nebulous. I don't seek for anyone to write my book for me, but only to avoid writing an impossibly implausible story. (notwithstanding the whole magic thing) Just in case anyone does want to see the first book it is online here (well 23 chapters of 25)
  9. Trethiwr

    Spying on Caesar

    Yep, to be honest, she's probably not trying to attract his attention really. I'm just concerned that it won't be easy for her to move freely in Rome. The period we are talking about is early in his life before he even began his political career. Only just married to Cornelia, and his first real challenge is the return of Sulla. Nobody knows for sure what he got up to sexually at that time, but I'm going by Goldsworthy saying that he had a reputation for paying over the odds for the prettiest slave girls. One can only make assumptions and they may well be false ones.
  10. Hello me-dears, I feel a re-introduction is in order before I start picking your brains for more info. I haven't been on for a very long time. Regular contributors will know me as a pain asking lots of stupid questions about Roman life while I try to write books which touch on the subject. Should anyone feel the need to know what use their brilliant answers have been put to they will find my two children's books on Amazon Kindle Time Tunnel To Londinium, and Londinium Revisited are 99c/99p or free to anyone with Kindle Unlimited. If this is too much but you would still like to read them I will send the .doc to those who ask. UNRV is thanked in the credits The Time Tunnel books have now moved on and users of Anglo-Saxon history forums may now fear my rapacious need for tiny details, so you are safe there. However, I also wrote a much longer book now titled "Children of the Wise Oak" which features Celtic boys who venture to Rome and get into a spot of bother. The sequel to that book will focus on a rather striking woman attempting to keep an eye on Julius Caesar; which I have realised is going to be a literary tightrope if I am to maintain a shred of historical credibility. Why I didn't just write a straight fantasy is a mystery to me. Anyone who wants a link to "Children of the Wise Oak" is welcome to it.
  11. I'm wondering if there is anything from the present day that is not considered especially valuable to us but might impress the average ancient Roman. I'm not thinking about stuff like radio's or MP3 players which wouldn't work anyway but more simple stuff. I had an idea that something as simple as a marble with a little coloured swirl inside might seem pretty amazing but then I was looking at some actual Roman glass and they had all the bases covered there really. I'm really thinking of the sort of things that kids (usually boys) have in their pockets or in a tin under the bed. And specifically would be more valuable in real terms 2000 years ago compared to now. Polished semi precious stones Drill bits modern money Pogs 3D picture cards magnets etc etc.
  12. Trethiwr


    Being freed must have been quite an experience but even a positive change can be scary. Like quitting work and starting your own business. hen someone was freed they would often remain in the household right? At the very least they would be clients of their former master? If they were freed as a result of the death of their master would they have automatically become clients/household members of the new paterfamilias? What work was there for a freed slave since the work they would be good at would have been the work that other slaves could just as easily do? Was it really much of a freedom?
  13. Trethiwr

    Bath House Questions

    All baths were not exactly the same. According to this site http://www.falcophiles.co.uk/facts/romanbathing.html some smaller baths (such as those at Wellwyn shown) did not have specific changing rooms. There is also a plan of the baths of Caracalla with separate changing rooms and much more. It seems to me that there really is a need for the sort of archaeological reconstruction that has been applied to Celtic roundhouses to be done for Roman baths. Completely rebuilding a bath complex and using it to see what works best. While I'm here, however I need some more info. Wikipedia lists a number of Roman bath ruins starting with the Baths of Agrippa built in 19BC and various others all built later. Does anybody know of baths complexes built any earlier? What baths were around in the early part of the first century BC?
  14. Trethiwr

    Caesar the bisexual

    Just been reading about that in Adrian Goldsworthy's biography. It gives the impression that sexual orientation was actualy very important and the accusation of homosexuality especially the implication of his being the passive role, were flung at him a number of times in debates. he says "It was a scandal that would dog Caesar throughout his life. The Roman aristocracy admired most aspects of Greek culture, but it never openly accepted the celebration of homosexuality that had been espoused by the nobility of some Greek cities." "The dislike of homosexuality appears to have been fairly widespread in most social classes..." He goes on to say that it was a capital offence in the army and one soldier was rewarded for killing an officer who had made sexual advances to him. Caesar fervently denied the accusation. Although this does not seem to have convinced some. "Later in Caesar's career, as he acquired more and more political enemies, the affair with Nicomedes offered them plentiful ammunition to use against him. The story was widely repeated throughout his life..." Goldsworthy states that it is now impossible to say whether or not it is actually true. Certainly he seems to have gone a bit overboard with the heterosexual activity subsequently! Perhaps trying to banish the accusation by an overt display of manliness.
  15. Ah thanks Caldrail. I'd better do a bit of a rewrite there. Even when the story is "finished" it will have to be checked by experts in Celtic and Roman history as well as the normal proof reading. I'll probably spend another year rewriting it after that.
  16. I'm confused. If I understand correctly the Romans didn't like soldiers in the city because they could carry out a coup or whatever. But surely there were soldiers there to guard the gates or act as body guard to consuls etc. Again I am mainly focussed on the late republic and I understand that in the imperial era there was a different political situation. Since there were no vigiles either in the republic, who if not soldiers guarded the city from internal violence or unrest.
  17. Yep I had heard that before. About guards not being in armour, but the way you put it being like plain clothes bodyguards helps me understand it better. Its difficult when films portray certain images as standard when I am trying to keep rigidly to historical fact. It means I cannot just use shorthand and talk about guards without describing them wearing plain togas and keeping weapons out of sight. I have a bit of my story where the hero picks a fight with a group of soldiers. A contubernium relaxing in a tavern (off duty) and my character just gets on the wrong side of them and gets a good beating. I visualise them in the usual military clothing but not carrying weapons. Have I got that wrong, should they in fact be wearing togas and therefore not obviously legionaries at all?
  18. Trethiwr

    freed slaves names

    When a slave was freed didn't he take the name of his former master? But presumably not the entire name or the freedman would have the exact same name as his illustrious ex boss, and (if Hollywood had anything to do with it) he might accidentally become Consul! Also if a wealthy patrician freed a number of slaves they couldn't ALL have the same name, could they? So which bits did they keep and what got changed? Also slightly off topic does anyone know if Caius Julius Caesar (b.140 - d.85 BC had any slaves freed on his death.
  19. Trethiwr

    freed slaves names

    Aaaah, thank you. Of course. And well done for getting an answer about names before Nephele.
  20. OK so a visitor in the late 1st century BC entering Rome along the Appian way would not have been challenged or stopped? Or were there some sort of equivalent of customs to charge levies on goods for example? If the citizens themselves would defend Rome does this mean they (officially) bore arms? I was under the impression this was not the case. Or do you mean that they had access to arms at their homes if the need arose?
  21. Trethiwr

    Other Fora

    Sounds like you are interested in the same sort of thing as I am. My centre of interest is pre Roman Britain but overlapping with the late republic and Gaul. I'm not an expert but I know more than most of my friends would like to hear about.
  22. Trethiwr

    How did they clean themselves?

    I would consider it really cheap if I could actually sweat it out in the caldarium and take the plunge in the pool. Even so
  23. Trethiwr

    Please recommend Julius Caesar biography

    That's OK, he's never going to see any dragons directly. The idea will be that magic will be done but in such a way that the Romans don't know for sure that it is real. I mean the thing is if my character changes into a wolf and leaps across a chasm then changes back and throws a fireball at the legion then its going to get written down and become part of recorded history. I can't do that so any fireballs will be directed at secondary targets which will cause seemingly natural effects and any dragons will fly at night in out of the way places so they don't get seen properly by anyone likely to write it down. At least not any reliable witnesses.
  24. I think I need to read more about Julius Caesar. More that is than I can get from wikipedia and other internet sources. I am not an academic so nothing too weighty but at the same time not just a kids picture book. Can anyone recommend the book that gives me detailed info, and good "bang for buck" I just did a search on Amazon and there are loads!! I bet most of them duplicate the same stuff and some have less than I can get online. I need as much detail as possible from, at least, the death of his father in 85 onwards. So not just the Gallic Wars bit. More info follows in case it helps make a better recommendation. I have been writing a book now for over two years. (Actually I think I started it four years ago but I haven't been active all that time) It is a novel set in real history in which the life of my main character is relentlessly intertwined with the life of Caesar. I have to keep the historical facts correct. (I HATE fiction that tries to change recorded history) The trouble is I was planning to focus on the conquest of Gaul and the almost conquest of Britannia but I realise that the first part of the story must focus on earlier events and I didn't do any of that in my school history. I'm at the last few chapters of the first book and I have somehow to engineer a close encounter of the third kind with the High Priest of Jupiter in 84 BC even if it is only fleeting. One last thing is that whilst I am going to be very strict with recorded history I am going to play fast and loose with the laws of physics, and biology. There will be a certain amount of magic, and shape shifting, and one or two dragons involved.
  25. Trethiwr

    Allia River

    Hey easy now, we Kelts hardly ever sacrificed anybody, well at least FAR less than your Julius Caesar made out. And what about you feeding innocent people to lions and making them fight to the death. At least the people we sacrificed were willing, umm sometimes. Just because we never wrote anything down you can't go taking the word of some megalomaniac general. And stop with the illiterate thing as well. We COULD write, we just didn't WANT to OK?