Jump to content
UNRV Ancient Roman Empire Forums


  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Virgil61

  1. The Battle that Stopped Rome by Peter S. Wells In the "Battle that Stopped Rome" Professor Peter Wells brings to light discoveries in the recent find of one of the most famous and influential battles of the ancient world known as the Battle of Teutoburg Forest. This should be a welcome work, the battlefield is the most complete one of its kind ever found, located in a semi-rural area of Germany and undisturbed for two thousand years. Unfortunately rather than stating the discoveries and giving a view to all possible theories, which would have made this a seminal work, Wells misses this opportunity by embarking on an opinionated interpretation of the event. Judicious and balanced this work is not. Perhaps this is possibly explained by his area of concentration in anthropology; his writings are almost exclusively dedicated to the northern barbarians of antiquity. In spite of their victory, Wells seems somewhat defensive of the German tribes in his portrayal of the battle.... ...read the full review of The Battle that stopped Rome by Peter S. Wells
  2. Not too shabby. I really liked the opening battle sequence with the century in combat against the Gauls. The actor playing Cato captures what I think of him pretty well, maybe not as stubborn but close. Pompey is sufficiently weak-willed and living on past glory; great realistic quote he has on stomping his feet and making legions appear. The actor playing Caesar also comes across well, maybe a bit more reflective and less energetic but it's still early in the show. The surrender of Vercingetorix was great, although I thought he sat at Caesar's feet [which wasn't shown]. The sub-story line between the centurion and drunken legionairre, although not based on anything real, looks promising enough. I think it gives you the feel for the average soldiers pov. I also think they capture the political intrigue of Rome well enough. The legion's look like someone did their homework. On the pre-show they pointed out that 65 actors playing legionairres lived together and trained for two weeks on battle drills, marching, etc. And they were mostly played by my 'peeps' the Italians [the show was filmed in Italy]. The streets of the city are very colorful, much more reflective of what Rome looked like than the plain stone remnants today. Lots of graffiti, paintings etc. Nudity and sex? Oh yes.
  3. Virgil61

    Problems posting. Anyone else?

    Just a note. Above the B for bold [B I U] in the reply box is a 'switch' that changes it into html mode [or vice versa]. Click that and you can insert or copy/paste. It was driving me crazy as well for a couple of days. Click "More Reply Options" if you can't see it.
  4. Virgil61

    Latin for Dummies

    A good summation guy. I've learned Italian & Russian with a combination of formal training and immersion. There's just no substitute for immersion unfortunately no Romans around though I'll bet somewhere in Vatican City you might find some few conversations in Latin. Like I said before the issue of case is much more common in other Indo-European European languages as it was in Old English. Ironically I think it makes English grammar more difficult for those coming from other languages, or so I've been told by countless Russians. Living in St Petersburg, Russia I found they taught two kinds of English - American and British. I was told several times by people schooled in British English that they had difficulty understanding me. As a side note I've noticed that the better one has a grasp of English grammar going into Russian the easier their grammar is to pick up, on the other hand your English grammar will get better if it wasn't all that great before.
  5. Yeah that Forbes article is by a Heartland Institute idiot. It's been refuted several times & he's been ridiculed so much he had to get Forbes to give him more space to try and refute it. I just give up, shake my head and laugh.
  6. Virgil61

    What's the last book you read?

    Recently finished Herodotus "Histories" and went on to Thucydides "The Peloponnesian War". They're the first two Greek histories we have in complete form and as different from each other as night & day. Herodotus 'The Histories" reads in part like a travelogue, anthropological study of folk legends which operate as the background culminating in the history of the Persian-Greek war. Herodotus throws in fact and fallacy--I can't count the number of times he says "I don't necessarily believe this but they say...". He's an enjoyable read, he wants to entertain as well as teach. The Barnes & Noble, Oxford and Penguin translations are all pretty good. I have them and read several chapters on each [got a degree in history, it's what history geeks do]. The Oxford is the most 'modern' (done five or so years ago), and the others are old translations 'modernized' by a couple of scholars. The Landmark Herodotus is a must have if you're at all serious about it. The translation is modern & solid but got mildly criticized (I thought it was very clearly written) but the maps and notes just set the bar for anything else. The problem as I wrote in an earlier post is that it's huge; a frickin' brick. Thucydides is another story. He really doesn't care if you enjoy his work he's got a mission; to tell you how the war between the Greeks (post-Persian invasion conflict led by Sparta on one side & Athens on the other) was carried politically and militarily. He's a good guide, he was an Athenian general who screwed up his assignment, got exiled (which was common when you failed) & spent his exile working on The Peloponnesian Wars. He's often held up as an historical standard or the first history written in a 'facts only' dispassionate manner. Thucydides is a lot more difficult to translate, even Greeks just a century later commented on this. He's wording is pretty complex and intricate for lack of a better way of putting it. Mary Beard claims he is untranslatable in terms of accuracy. The Landmark Thucydides is pretty much the standard when it comes to maps and assistance in orienting yourself in his history. Trust me, a copy comes in handy no matter what other translation you use. The Barnes & Noble version is pretty good as well if not just for the footnotes at the bottom (thankfully). The editor is really good at adding to the narrative with small facts one normally wouldn't be aware of (and that Thucydides thinks you already know). Both use an updated translation by Crawley--each a slightly different. For easier going definitely grab the Oxford Classics translation. It's modern and easy to read. The old Penguin by Rex Warner is the same though from the 50s, still pretty readable (Warner was a novelist as well). If you really want to get real buy the Hackett Publishing Steven Lattimore edition--his father is Richard Lattimore who did famous Homer translations. Lattimore's is supposed to be the closest in style to Thucydides.
  7. Yeah the mouth-breathers on the FoxNews, Breitbart, Glenn Beck pander-to-idiots political circus pages are all over it. The Donald is on their side as well. In another time articles would read "Astronomers Trying To Prove Earth Is Round Get Stuck Climbing Up Mountain!" and the peasants laughing about how it only takes common sense to know the Earth is flat. Meanwhile most scientists involved in the climatology field understand that local Antarctic weather on a 500 mile strip of coast wouldn't be a world-wide trend [long-term trends are quantifiable in showing different trends towards cooling]. Record heat waves in Argentina and Australia--thousands of square miles of territory more than the glacier area the ship is stuck in & two continents apart--are ignored. Most important of all is that the ship got trapped between ice chunks that had been part of an extremely large glacier that broke off a couple of years ago [after thousands of years of being connected to it]. But again, no one's gotten poor by underestimating the ignorance of large parts of the population]. Yeah, kind of an important piece to be left out. Big news, Antarctica has ice year round.
  8. Virgil61

    Translation Help if possible

    The first post after the initial one seems to have a decent enough if not perfect translation but a more fluent linguist could confirm that. Reading his post I've noticed something about English speakers who go to learn another Indo-European language. They complain about that language because of the declension & cases involved without realizing that most European languages from the Indo-European group have them and modern English is the odd man out [not old English though].
  9. The Daily Mail anti-AGW? Shocking. Nice find Einstein. What's next physics using a FoxNews article? Evolutionary theory by USA Today? It's not my job to pick up where your high school teachers failed. Being that you're almost pathologically threatened or made insecure by any sort of education I doubt you'd come along anyway. Let's meet at the reading room at Dumbarton Oaks, you know the one you were going to fly to in Washington state. Yeah, right. Arctic Sea Ice expansion. Seasonal weather events aren't long-term trends. There are different sorts of ice--thin, thick, seasonal, multi-year each having different causes: http://www.skepticalscience.com/Has-Arctic-sea-ice-recovered.htm Why are there cold spells? Let some more scientists explain it to you. Careful they have advanced degrees & you know, might actually know more than you. http://www.skepticalscience.com/December-2009-record-cold-spells.htm There is abundant evidence of climate change driven by humanity; About 40% of human CO2 emissions are being absorbed, mostly by vegetation and the oceans. The rest remains in the atmosphere. As a consequence, atmospheric CO2 is at its highest level in 15 to 20 million years (Tripati 2009). A natural change of 100ppm normally takes 5,000 to 20.000 years. The recent increase of 100ppm has taken just 120 years. Additional confirmation that rising CO2 levels are due to human activity comes from examining the ratio of carbon isotopes (eg ? carbon atoms with differing numbers of neutrons) found in the atmosphere. Carbon 12 has 6 neutrons, carbon 13 has 7 neutrons. Plants have a lower C13/C12 ratio than in the atmosphere. If rising atmospheric CO2 comes from fossil fuels, the C13/C12 should be falling. Indeed this is what is occurring (Ghosh 2003). The C13/C12 ratio correlates with the trend in global emissions.
  10. Science is hard. Harder for some than others.
  11. Virgil61

    Corn vs Grain Dole vs American Indians

    I believe in England corn was a general word for grain crops, there meaning mostly wheat, in the U.S. maize. As American English has spread in influence it's becoming more and more the word for maize only I think. Most of the old translations of Caesar's Gallic Wars for instance use 'corn' meaning wheat since most of those were written by writers living in England. At least that's how I understand it.
  12. The only other place I've been able to find one of these is at the university library in Univ of Washington & I really didn't want to spend $200-$400+ for a hard copy. It's looks like it's now available in Feb at under $40 in a revised edition. It's a Dumbarton Oaks study. Dumbarton Oaks is a research library dedicated to Byzantine studies located in D.C. near the embassy row/Naval observatory part of town [one of a thousand reasons I wish I lived in D.C. again]. It's put out quite a few studies on Byzantine military affairs [among other things] a lot in small batch academic printings which are ridiculously expensive. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/088402394X/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER
  13. Virgil61

    Revised edition of Leo VI Taktica coming out Feb '14

    I worked on K Street in D.C. for years, Dumbarton Oaks wouldn't make more than a single-A ball club in the world of DC snobs. Leo's work is supposed to be a heavily revised version of Maurice's Strategikon with an interesting number of changes and inclusions. George Dennis translated my copy [probably the upenn press copy of Strategikon everyone uses] in '84. I think he translated this revised Leo in 2010 [apparently he died that year].
  14. I'll go further in that I think climate change deniers are becoming akin to the those whose who deny evolution. Like evolution it's almost developing into a litmus test of whether a person is anti-intellectual & anti-science to be blunt about it. To paraphrase JS Mill; 'I'd never say people who deny climate change are generally stupid, but almost every stupid person tends to deny climate change'. I agree that mass media isn't where one should get one's science from--in the US we have media like FoxNews that loudly trumpets the other side of the issue--but I think any thoughtful person who digs into the issue can't help but come out understanding there is a big deal going on in terms of the Earth's climate & human beings play a part in it. The scientific consensus on the subject is telling. A major paper by NOAA came out showing evidence of warming in the last 50 years - LINK. The evidence goes on and on to the point where counter-arguments are pretty much swamped by the data and reality. Yet people still argue against it like they do evolution. At some point one realizes that it's just what people want to believe. I think it sucks, I'm more than happy to have a planet where we can use the hell out of oil and other natural resources w/no damage. Economies would grow faster, regulations would diminish etc., but as John Adams once said; 'Facts are stubborn things'.
  15. Virgil61

    What's the last book you read?

    Thanks for the warning but my background in economics is solid, besides graduate work in macro and micro, I've worked in the real world around economists & the international trade scene in D.C. for years. I'm quite well-read on the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis. The whole 'bankers were forced or threatened' is pretty much BS as a cause of the subprime meltdown--a position backed up by the Fed inquiry committee, countless studies including by individual Fed banks. It's no mistake it's relegated to opinion pages more than economic studies of the crisis (there are a few, but not many). The truth is that government-backed CRA mortgages failed at a rate far less than the national average. The proof is in the pudding, Countrywide's horrendous mortgages weren't sold on political pressure. They sold them because once that was done they packed them in groups of mortgage backed securities & collateralized debt obligations then sold off ending up on Wall St as part of Lehman Brothers or bought up by foreign entities. They made money on the sale and were not liable for the mortagages [EDIT: I should've say were not harmed if the mortgages weren't paid], the next guy they sold the MBS' & CDOs to was--understanding this is key to understanding the crisis. No. Lehman Brothers & Bear Stearns [and JP Morgan, and almost all the major players] had nothing to do with selling the original mortgages to homeowners. They took the mortgages packaged, repacked them when needed then resold them. Lehman leveraged themselves 16 to 1 to borrow to buy more. Sixteen to One (that needs repeating). They were insured for losses by whom? AIG. Morgan was responsible for reselling billions & billions of dollars of repacked mortgaged security packages that were toxic and were as responsible for representing them as AAA. AAA securities they sold and that failed. They weren't wet-behind-the-ears guys from Missoula playing the stocks they were at the top of the financial profession. If they weren't responsible no one was. They made tens of billions in profits from these sales & came out smelling like a rose by bailing out some bad stuff w/gov't backing [they would have been in danger of going under as well with the financial ****storm that would have followed]. I can go deeper into the mechanics of what happened but would probably put everyone to sleep, if they aren't already. Yes and I remember last month GM--owned in part by the Autoworkers union--came out ahead of Toyota for the first time in perceived quality--specifically GMC & Chevrolet. Not even close to what happened. GM Corporation folded in a federal bankruptcy & is now Motor Liquidation Company. Period. A separate entity was the beneficiary of the bailout funds. As part of the dissolution it sold it's name and factories to another entity which was backed by money from the Ontario gov't, the UAW's pension fund and US gov't backed funds. The 'new' company is 'GM Company' and has no legal relationship with the old GM. It wasn't populism by any measure it was sound economic policy. Letting GM and Chrysler go under would have driven steel, tire and other sub-contracting suppliers out of business. That possibility scared Ford so much that in spite of not accepting gov't money it's CEO went in front of Congress with GM and Chrysler's to ask for the bailout. I have to laugh at the 'hundreds of years of bankruptcy law' thing going around. I'm not sure what law you're speaking of. I graduated from law school and what I remember is creditors always come ahead of shareholders. Shareholders are almost always wiped out in bankruptcy and have the last claim to assets. The US Gov't lost $12 billion in bailout loans to GM. in 2011 alone the auto industry paid over $130 billion in state and federal taxes. The Austrians got their lunch handed to them on this and their theories certainly haven't risen in stature among economists in general though not on the far to fringe right.
  16. Virgil61

    What's the last book you read?

    .My impressions of Russian waste of their own lives was based on anecdotes from early and late periods, such as Zhukov racing peers towards Berlin and spending double the lives if it saves him a day. If he was more careful of lives in the middle periods, that's fine. But if the attrition ratio is comparable to Hitler in retreat, that is no point in Zhukov's favor. Hitler had that crazy scheme of no-retreat fortresses, and liked to starve experienced units of supplies in favor of inexperienced ones to give the opportunity of Darwinian survival of the fittest (punish the experienced troops who may have wasted too much ammo). Also Goebbels arranged to have great numbers of retreating soldiers hung, EVEN when this demonstratedly included innocent and vital couriers. As for Bernanke, I rejoiced when he was appointed... even with no knowledge of what challenges he would face and with what policy bias he would apply. He not only studied the depression in depth (anyone can do that), but moved the state of understanding of it with rare insight. I don't rejoice for the elderly Berkeley professor-ess that will replace him with the same current policy - she seems stuck on that for the wrong reasons and may give us another repeat of the Carter admin inflation. I didn't mean Bernanke had anything to do with populism... he is mostly independant of that, but has to set policy on the basis of counteracting stupid populist elected gov't measures that have strangled growth in the name of employee entitlement or bank bashing etc. It's like being on a boat where the mob has a big rudder pointed in a self destructive direction. Bernanke has only a little steering oar to dip in and counteract it a bit. His policies may look backwards in the abstract, but in the context of what he is dealing with and his small leverage, his most every move has turned out amazing in hindsight. Re Zhukov/Stalin/Hitler, well it was war of course & not a tea party. The other extreme is the US & UK aversion to casualties. I'm convinced we never could have taken the brutal beating the Soviets did. We certainly don't agree on economic approaches. I'm not sure what 'populist' gov't measures you use but in the U.S. the least unionized, less-regulated & taxed states have the lowest per capita income & least educated populations. Or to put it bluntly, Red states are poorer and dumber than Blue states and Blue state taxes tend to subsidize Red states with the federal largess. Considering that the bottom 50% of the population owns less than 5% of the U.S. wealth the mob ain't been doing much a good job at controlling anything. They certainly couldn't prevent the bail-out to the banking sector which should have been far more punishing and come with a lot more requirements. JP Morgan and Jamie Diamond certainly came away big winners, not what a mob would push for I think. I've read several studies of the financial crisis--I'd recommend starting with the Fin Crisis Inquiry Committee report if you haven't--and bank behavior was atrocious. Their leveraging of derivatives & horrid risk-assessment was almost criminal, certainly reckless and showed the weakness of unregulated capitalism. To top it off many of the financial media tried to push the [now-discredited-by-most-economists] blame on Clinton's CRA. In hindsight a laughable attempt if it weren't so repulsive in its manipulation of ignorance. Some of the financial crisis books I've read are Sorkin's Too Big To Fail, Henry Paulson's On the Brink, Michael Lewis' The Big Short (very entertaining), A Colossul Failure of Common Sense (by a Lehman insider) and Crash of the Titans.
  17. Virgil61

    What's the last book you read?

    I've read the reviews of Holland. I'd be interested in reading it someday but I can't imagine it making any other translations obsolete. The Landmark & Oxford classics translations are less than a decade old. Holland himself said in one interview I remember that he slanted towards readability rather than exactness [although he's said in the article to be closer than the current Penguin classics edition]. But whatever translation they all read fairly similar to each other --Herodotus is apparently much, much easier to translate than Thucydies--Histories is probably the most interestingly written and I'd even say fun to read ancient history you'll come across. I think the whole Zhukov/Stalin massacred their people via tactics is a bit of a relic of cold-war historians [edit: I should add this is the theme I 'grew up' with as well]. I think the current crop of military historians of the eastern front--Glanz & Overton to name two I've read--would be less inclined to say that. Whatever else you can say about Stalin--psychopath, murderer, etc.--he learned after the first few months to not shoot combat commanders who failed and he let his generals do the grunt-work on planning the attacks unlike Hitler who took command of Army, corps, division and even brigades away from his field commanders. Not to say they weren't brutal but they punched back as well. To use Wikipedia #s the Soviets lost 8.7-13.8 million soldiers while the Germans lost 4.3 - 5.5 million soldiers [the overwhelming majority of those on the eastern front]. When you figure overall population rates of 168m to 69m respectively both sides took a beating. If I remember correctly a large chunk of the Soviet deaths [2-3m] came in the first few months of the war while IIRC Ian Kershaw says that 1/2 of all German combat deaths came on the eastern front in '44-45. Bernake ignored the more conservatives because he's a student of Keynes, he wrote an influential paper on the Great Depression. Avoidance of populist backlash was maybe the very least of the reasons he acted in the manner he did, of course in doing what he did he incurred the wrath of the Austrian school & Tea Party types. The Japanese manual looks somewhat like their version of an FM-3.0 and FM-90 manual.
  18. Virgil61

    What's the last book you read?

    Finished reading Herodotus Histories again. This time I read through using three different translations alternating chapters--the Landmark, Oxford Classics and Penguin versions. I'd recommend any of them, the Landmark's maps and notes being outstanding but the book itself the size of a brick. Rereading Thucydides using the Landmark, Oxford and Barnes & Noble versions. All three are very good. Since T is a far more complex thinker & writer the translations matter a lot more I think. The Oxford is the most modern English while the Landmark & B&N use the same Crawley translation each 'updated' by their respective editors. In the last week I've bought hard copies of: Stalin's General- The Life of G Zhukov; Sertorius and the Struggle for Spain [by UNRV poster Maty]; Death of the Wehrmacht: The German Campaigns of 1942; Shock Doctrine--The Rise of Disaster Capitalism; In Fed We Trust; Bernake's War on the Great Panic & The Origins of the Peloponnesian War. I have no idea when I'm going to get to any of these...
  19. I gave up after reading the review above then reading the whole 'sample' intro/preface & first chapters & finding no issue with it. Found it to be a solid work, enough so I ordered a hard copy from Amazon.
  20. Interesting take. I think you're right, if you look at 19th and early 20th century military historians they're a lot more liberal in the use of modern military terminology like squad, company, etc. As someone who's got more experience than most here in the military I have a different take; "squad" doesn't irritate me much. If I only had one stint after being an 11B (infantry) in the 82nd maybe it would but having experienced that a "squad" ended up being anything from a section of sergeants at a school, administrative clerks in a finance detachment, etc., it's strict definition as a tactical maneuver unit erodes away.
  21. Virgil61

    Why Latin died out

    Somewhere on the 'net is a comparison of the Lord's Prayer in Latin [church/Vulgate version?] with the Sardanian Italian dialect, the similarities were pretty dramatic I thought. Assuming the comparisons were in valid forms.
  22. Virgil61

    Why Latin died out

    I don't see how Latin is difficult at all [ OK, except for the memorization aspect which is just a boring marathon of rote exercises]. FYI, I grew up in Italy for the first few years of my life, took a couple of years of Latin in parochial high school & studied Russian in both the Army and in Russia. They're Indo-European languages so they (and English) have a similar skeletal structure in terms of grammar it seems to me although English lost much of it's declensions from Old English. I saw that the better one was at English grammar the better you caught on to Russian declensions or in return your knowledge of English grammar improved substantially. Docoflove1974 knows more about this then all of us put together I imagine. If she ever comes back around it'd be interesting to get more of her insight.
  23. That certainly became a fact later from the mid-3d century on but a lot of people would have welcomed it in 212--no need to be 'adopted' by a Roman veteran [as it is suspected was done often in the legions in Egypt circa the 1st/2nd century AD]. As you get into the late 3d century w/the meat grinder of civil wars 'crisis recruiting' [to use one historian's phrase] became common.