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Everything posted by Brucecarson

  1. Gladiator offers a perfect example of what I mean. At the start of the battle, before the fight, the General says "Strength and Honor." I'm betting that particular motto is just an invention of the film-makers. But do we know if the Roman Army had a motto? Like how the Marine Corps have semper fi. They must have had something like that.
  2. Judaism has existed for a very long time, as we know, as well as ''phobia'' about Jews. I'm aware that Christians were persecuted off and on in the Roman Empire, so, there is some overlap there between Jews and Christians, and therefore the prosecution of such. Especially in the early days of Christianity. Various Emperors had programs to halt the spread of Christianity after it caused problems and unrest. Trajan and some of the other emperors from that period are noted by historians as implimenting these programs. For example Pliney's letters to Trajan. My question is, since Emperors took action against Christians in response to the unrest and instability that they were causing, did they do the same against Jews? In the middle ages, some of the anger towards Jews stemmed from their (Jews) disregard for laws which banned money lending. However, to my knowledge, money lending was entirely legal within the Roman Empire. I do understand from some sources that money changing was looked down upon at that time, a profession Jews were historically involved in. Beyond that, there is the age old problem that Jews primarily feel loyalty to the state of "Israel," whether it exists at the time or not. They either look to Israel for guidance, or want to create the state of Israel (the movement of Zionism). Did any Roman emperors or officials recognize these problems and undertake programs to destroy copies of the Talmud and Torah or expel Jews, similar to what the Russians, French and Spanish did in medieval times? As a side note... Personally, I am an atheist. I don't buy into any religious stuff. The intersection of Religion and politics, such as Israel today or George Bush's presidency, deplores me.
  3. Brucecarson

    The Flynn effect

  4. Brucecarson

    Decent contributions from notorious tyrants?

    Caligula built one of the longest (the longest?) pontoon bridge in history, across the bay of Baiae. I think the point of it was to impress a foreign prince, which seems a bit silly, but still a quite a feat.
  5. Brucecarson

    The Flynn effect

    I think it has more to do with the recent (last few hundred years) improvements in diet, better nutrition and so forth. The thing is, it doesn't scale down without end. Poor nutrition will hold one back mentally, but it's not linear. Having half the nutrition doesn't make one half as intelligent, perhaps a quarter less intelligent. So yes, Romans on average were probably less intelligent, especially the lower classes with a poorer and less varied diet. The wealthy would probably be roughly equal to modern people. Notably the improvement has recently stopped or slowed down... which backs up the nutritional theory. The point about "types" of intelligence has value as well... but I disagree with the conclusion they're reaching that we need some other sorts of tests to be "fair" to people. IQ tests are designed to test the types of intelligence needed in todays world. All this cultural relativist BS about different ways of thinking being perfectly valid is quite simply wrong. They're not all equal, some of them are pretty useless in a modern context. The point of testing is not to make people feel good, but to place people where they best fit. Also, there's probably some evolutionary improvement since ancient times. Not much though, if evolution were that quick one would expect more variance between genetically disparate groups of humans. But the IQ of equally well fed Africans is only about ~5 points lower than Caucasians (if that), differences between all the other groups fall in a similar range. (By the way I'm about 1/4 black so I'm not making some kind of racist argument here, just looking at the evidence).
  6. Brucecarson


    There must be some modern beast fights between either lions or tigers. I searched video search on Yahoo but I couldn't find any though. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to read up on dog fighting Do they starve them, or perhaps just beat them to get them sufficiently enraged and aggressive? Some people in my former Highschool (east St.Louis district 189) did dog fights, and to my understanding starvation and beating were the methods to train them. Not sure though as I tried to avoid those people.
  7. Brucecarson

    Support for LSU

    I can understand the decline in the teaching of Latin, but if you want to have a serious classics department you need to have a Latin department as well. There will always be some call for it. Personally, I think as a society we would be better off if people spent more time studying the classics (in translation in most cases) and less on post modern literature. In high school I was made to read "a small place," "catcher in the rye" and the like. What do those works teach us? The thoughts of the last generation of societal rebels and non-conformist thinkers. I basically learned how self important my teachers believed their baby-boom generation to be. They firmly believe the thoughts they came up with outweighed in significance all previous human thinking from the last three thousand years. On the upside, I did grow quite disgusted with post modernist, feminist and politically liberal literature (nothing against feminism and liberalism but I got the point after the first teacher drilled it into me). So today I'd much sooner read one of the classics than any of the supposed cutting edge literature of today. Cutting edge literature is boring when you're forced to read it. Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it. Maybe the above phrase is the unconscious reason for teaching us literature written by the last generation of rebels. The baby-boomers claim they're teaching us about their rebellions so that we don't slide into the societal patterns of the past. I think they do it to keep us from following their example, they don't want a rebellious young generation. They want to entrench their power structures and way of thinking... a bit of a conspiracy theory on my part. Wow... this is the first time I've ever really enunciated my feelings about literature as it's taught in schools today. I've been thinking this for years but never put my thoughts together like this.
  8. Brucecarson

    Stagnation of Technology?

    Is there any evidence for development of technology and increases in labor productivity over different periods? On the military front, the technological gap between various tribes and the Romans shrank. My layman's understanding is that after the period of around 0-100 the introduction of new devices and technologies vastly reduced. If anything, the quantity of slave labor available seems to have reduced the drive for innovation. What about mathematical and other scientific studies after 0 AD?
  9. Brucecarson

    Quintus Fabius Pictor?

    I see Quintus Pictor referenced here and there, a early roman historian. I haven't found any English translated versions, so maybe someone who knows Latin could suggest where to find an untranslated version. My Latin isn't very good but I'd be curious to at least make a quick read through. Also it would help out A LOT with my final report for AP Ancient History. If anyone has a PDF (or any other file format), I could PM you with my email and you could send me a copy? (I have a sinking feeling that this will otherwise only be available in some $$ academic journals which my HS library doesn't have access too).
  10. Brucecarson

    Quintus Fabius Pictor?

    As I understand it there is very little if any surviving text. It exists as reference material for later writer Polybius, Livy, Plutarch, etc. Modern historians still debate his style of writing and functional historical role. Such an argument can only take place as conjecture and in the absence of direct evidence. If his work survived the debate takes a different form (ie the impact of his work, the historicity, etc.) Damn. Strange that Quintus was writing just around 180 years before Caesar yet very little(?) of his work survives but we have all of Caesar's conquest of Gaul. You can even buy it on Amazon. If anyone has info on where to get what portions are available I'd still very much like to know. It's got to be somewhere... in some old book somewhere in Europe.
  11. Brucecarson

    Stagnation of Technology?

    That is interesting. Higher ups in an organization often stand in the way of large technological improvements. Fascinating to see a specific case of that transmitted all the way from Roman times. So perhaps the move from small farmers and entrepreneurs towards large Latifundia and state run enterprises removed the individuals drive to innovate? To clarify, I don't mean state run enterprises in the sense of the Soviet Union, rather I mean state run as in the large construction projects. Construction of the Flavian amphitheater was directed from the top down and not contracted out (if Maty is right). And armorers, after the Marian reforms individuals no longer directly purchased their armor from a small smithy. I'd suppose the state efficiently produced large amounts of armor in more centralized facilities.
  12. Brucecarson

    Who Will Win?

    Well said. Motive and interest play such a large role. You see this again and again in the middle east. Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war had quite a good force. But they were cowed by Saddam's internal purges and erratic behavior.
  13. Interesting. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caltrop#History According to Wikipedia, the Romans used Caltrops to take on chariots. Do you think they spread them on the field before hand? I think you're right about siege weapons. Firing Ballistae at horse archers wouldn't probably work now that I think about it. Guy, your totally right about disease of course. Questions like this really only apply for those rare times both the Parthians and Romans were organized enough to face each other on the battlefield.
  14. Solid analysis. I've been wondering for awhile what the best counter for horse archers are. I had come to the same conclusion. You need missile troops to counter. The use of Ballistae had however not occurred to me. Is there any other counter to missile cavalry besides other missile troops? Some sort of trebuchet with a flaming projectile filled with pitch perhaps? I'm guessing that wouldn't really be effective as it wouldn't ignite a large enough area. The other thing I thought of was putting a whole bunch of Caltrops in a loosely bundled cloth sack, so they separate out in flight. Then you cover a good section of the field with them, hopefully they wouldn't even be aware of the Caltrops presence. If they run onto them, the Caltrops would destroy the horses hooves and buck the rider.
  15. Brucecarson

    Stagnation of Technology?

    Very clear answer, thanks. I suppose that's a real difference between the scientific revolution and one of the reasons it didn't happen in ancient rome. In renessiance Europe, science was a prestidgious pursuit for nobility. Not so in ancient rome.
  16. Brucecarson

    Why do we have history and archaeology?

    To be fair that would not be a difference between History and Archaeology, or any other research discipline for that matter. Irrespectively of how we may define "academia" here, all research must be based on empyrical (practical) evidence and elementary logic (the uncommon common sense). Otherwise we would get invalid evaluations even in History, for example the famous mirror weapon of Archimedes. Agreed on that point. Personally, I'm against any unification of the disciplines. Archeology should be a purely practical, scientific pursuit. Archaeologists shouldn't be biased in what they are looking for by their dual career or interest as a Historian. They shouldn't go out into a dig site with an eye to the confirmation of their already existing theory. A bias like that only gets us even further away from the accurate, positivist understanding of History.
  17. Brucecarson

    Any Study Goals for 2010?

    No surprise there! IMHO, One wonders what exactly the point of Greek philosophy is. Sit around questioning the nature of existence, questioning the meaning of life, questioning things of no practical meaning. It gets you no where and benefits no one. If these Greek philosophers had so much doubt, why not just be done with it and throw yourself in a Volcano (well, actually, one of them did! Sadly, the rest did not follow suite). It's better to focus on the practical aspects. Too much Greek philosophy undermines good moral fiber and destroys the work ethic.