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About curiosissimus

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  1. curiosissimus

    Stagnation of Technology?

    Mentality is even today the most challenging aspect of top-down efforts to spur innovation, efforts that usually fail. True, changing mentality is and has always been a formidable challenge. Yet I cannot say if top-down efforts made in that direction "usually fail": a major counterexample is given by the French Revolution, initially quite an elitist process spurred by an intellectual
  2. curiosissimus


    Thank you, Cosmo! I guess that the issue of the respective habitats of lions and tigers in Roman times might only be solved (like many others) by an expert, but in my opinion lions (living even in parts of Europe and North Africa which came under earlier Roman rule) had long been more easily available than tigers for Romans to capture, even if of course the latter beasts were far from unknown to them. If I remember correctly, the now banned Sylla had posted a contribution regarding the (apparently) only explicit reference to an actual fight between a lion and a tiger (reportedly won by the latter) which may be found in a Roman literary source. The passage quoted by Sylla also contained some interesting allusions to the ...nefast influence exerted on that victorious tiger by its captivity in Roman hands (implying that even wild beasts became more ferocious because of their acquired familiarity with corrupted humans, who were in fact far more ruthless and dangerous than them), which leads me to think that that passage must have been written by one of the many authors (Romans liked to pose as moralists) dealing with the corruption and decadence of Roman Empire compared to the mythologized, supposedly virtuous age of Roman Republic... Furthermore, I can remember than Sylla correctly pointed out to the fact that occurrences of genetically maneless (male) lions were not so rare, bringing the example of the famous Tsavo lions (but here reference was made to modern and easily available sources, starting from John H. Patterson's account of those two maneaters which made this leonine variety sadly famous). It would be interesting to retrieve that passage regarding the tiger "corrupted" by its long captivity and thus made more ferocious than its newly captured opponent... Does anyone have a clue where I could find it?
  3. curiosissimus


    Hello Sylla, I guess that, when you last edited your post, you must have replaced by mistake its original text with a quotation taken from the Augustan History. Could you please let me know where I can retrieve your previous post? It was a very interesting reply! Vale atque vale
  4. curiosissimus

    Stagnation of Technology?

    Quite an interesting thread indeed! So maybe it is worth revamping it I cannot but wonder if you are focusing too much on slave labor? Slave labor was present virtually everwhere throughout Ancient era, Middle Age (not only in that lesser form called serfdom) and Modern times, and partly even in the contemporary epoch, yet the levels of technological advance of each polity were greatly different. Slavery might well have played a role (even a major one, as far as labor-saving devices are concerned; the example drawn from the Life of Vespasian is quite intriguing in this respect, showing an actual conflict between economic and political considerations: could you please specify the source of that quotation?), and it would be definitely worth carrying out an in-depth comparative study on the (both diacronic and syncronic) relationship between availability of slave labor and tecnological advancement; still, even if such an inverse proportionality were to be conclusively demonstrated, I do not think this might be claimed to be a decisive point in a discussion basically comparing the tecnological advances of Hellenistic or pre-Roman Empire era and the Roman Imperial one. Most likely the truth lies (unintended pun) elsewhere... As to the mentality argument, the most often invoked one (and often the most difficult to define and thus advocate/challenge), I hold that this is the key factor explaining the relative backwardness and above all stagnation (from a technology standpoint) of Roman Empire society and economy. If a conservative mentality (and thus social order) does not constitute in itself a deterrent to creating technological innovation, it is definitely a powerful deterrent to the spread and uptake of it. Another interesting aspect - oddly neglected in this otherwise exceedingly rich thread - is the role of military-driven tecnology innovation (just think of how many military spinoffs have lately become standard features or even staple fixtures of everyday life such as the Internet, computers, radar, GPS or even microwave oven; coming back to Romans, their military and tecnology were strictly intertwined: just think of their engineer-soldiers able to build and repair palisades, castra and war machines as well as to trace and pave roads). Of course tecnology alone is - and was - not enough without organization, discipline, tactics and strategical vision (and Hellenism was no exception to that: just think of Archimede's "burning mirrors" and shiplifting machines that did not prevent his sieged Syracuse to be seized), but Romans, being practical and pragmatic, had plenty of them. My point is that, at or around the apex of their expansion and power, Romans had basically no major incentive or need (read: external enemies) demanding or justifying large investments in military tecnology (China, the only potential antagonist envisageable, was too distant for that time's geopolitical horizon - the core of the Roman world was always to remain the Mediterranean basin - and no relationship between those two empires has ever been documented or otherwise demonstrated to date)... Therefore it would be interesting to know more about the innovations in weaponry (if any) used by Romans against their most formidable enemies like, e.g., Parthians (whose empire, though, was in fact shrinking in the period at issue, having attained its climax around 60 BC)...
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  6. curiosissimus


    Ave, on several websites self-styled experts claim that, according to Roman sources, fights between lions and tigers in Roman amphitheaters most frequently - or even invariably - ended up with the victory of the latter. However, none of these "experts" gives any reference to literary sources attesting such supremacy. Could you help me to find some reliable Roman sources containing detailed accounts, or even records, of the outcomes of these bloody fights between beasts? Pro auxilio gratias ago vobis! Valete