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Everything posted by Skarr

  1. Skarr

    Woman of Stone by Debra Tash

    Woman of Stone In 148 BC, the praetor or Roman governor assigned to Macedonia, Quintus Caecilius Metellus, crushes the revolt in that province, putting to bed any dreams of Macedonian independence inspired by Andriscus, a pretender to the throne, who claimed to be the son of the famous Perseus. While Metellus was busy with his new army, later honored by the senate on his return to Italy in 146 BC with the cognomen Macedonicus, the Greeks sought to lead a semi-revolt against Rome, appointing Critolaus, one of their pro-independence leaders as a dictator in Corinth... ...read the full review of Woman of Stone by Debra Tash
  2. Skarr

    Caesar's Legion: The Epic Saga of Julius Caesar's Elite Tenth

    "A History of Private Life" by Philippe Aries and Georges Duby is an interesting book, with a number of illustrations. This book focuses on the daily lives of citizens and slaves, containing various snippets, quotes and a number of photographs as well. Some of the sections I particularly liked were the detailed architectural plans of several prominent houses and other designs as well. If you like maps and know a little French, Gilles Chaillet's book is a marvel - "Dans La Rome Des Cesars" with some excellent, detailed maps of the city of Rome. Some of them fold out and are huge in size, enabling you to see almost every building in the city !
  3. Skarr

    Caesar's Legion: The Epic Saga of Julius Caesar's Elite Tenth

    Just be aware that this is historical fiction. Dando-Collins is often berated for being inaccurate apparently because his work is written in such a way that it seems authoritative. From what I understand he mixes the histories of Legio X Fretensis and X Gemina as if both are Caesar's famed 10th legion (For instance, X Gemina was not at Masada but X Fretensis was), but both are entirely separate legions. For the record X Gemina was Caesar's 10th. To be fair though, I haven't read it myself, but this is the rather common complaint that I'm aware of. Editing myself... actually nobody seems to know if this is historical fiction or non-fiction. Therein lies part of the problem I suppose. I read this sometime last year and found it quite fascinating. The Australian author lists a number of sources at the back of the book, including Caesar's commentaries and Tacitus, some of his primary source material for the book. The writing style is more like historical fiction than a serious work of history, as he does inject a dramatic flavor to many of the incidents concerning the Xth legion and Caesar himself.
  4. Skarr

    Roman Calendar

    Not quite. Every eighth day was a market day. The Romans called these days nundinae (ninth days) because their system of counting was inclusive,(like the 'three days' Jesus was in the tomb: Friday, Saturday, Sunday) and they counted the eighth day as the ninth, if you follow. On those days farmers came in from out of town to sell their produce. After the time of Augustus, the Romans started adopting the way seven-day week of the east, like the Jewish week. But for quite a while both countings were used. The 'dies nefasti' were the days on which you couldn't do certain types of business, e.g. some even-numbered days and some days on which disasters had occurred. I either heard a podcast or read an article where Jonathan Stamp (historical consultant for HBO) said that although they'd never found such a thing, he thought it would be fun to create a monumental calendar. I've tried to find it and can't. Sorry! Actually, it was not quite that simple either. The 8 day week or the nundinae were usually numbered A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H. One letter was usually chosen as the Market Day with the nones (one nundinae before the ides - which could be the 13th or 15th with the nones on the 5th or 7th) and the kalends of Januarius being avoided. I think some of these conventions changed after Caesar but in the Republic, the most important days were the kalends (first of every month), the nones (one nundinae before the ides) and the ides (which fell during the middle of the month - either the 13th or 15th). Romans generally made their business appointments with respect to the market day. As for example, a Roman knight could tell his client - "I will meet you two days after or before" the respective Market day. I don't think they used a wall calendar per se as depicted in "Rome" but I'm sure everyone had their own little calendar in their homes or their place of business, where they would mark off the important days. One must not forget that in order to make up days to keep in line with the seasons, certain days were skipped and not marked, as if they never existed. In time, all of that was corrected, especially with Caesar devoting a lot of time personally to revising the calendar.
  5. Skarr

    HBO's Rome Wine Stopper

    I was away for a while and didn't see this in time. Picked up my box set on Ebay... Paid $ 3.00 more than Amazon (with Amazon free shipping) - not a bad deal as I get the wine stopper for $ 3.00 ! I think it will be a cool thing to use at my next party. I hope the DVD's extras are worth it.... Season 1 was overall much better than Season 2 as far as the episodes are concerned - the writing was better, as also the direction. Season 2 was very choppy.
  6. Skarr

    The Last Legion (movie)

    I saw it a few months back some my memory of it isn't really that fresh but from what I remember it was a descent show, reminding me more of a long tv series episode then a movie, but then again I've seen far worse movies. It's hardly comparable to Alexander, they're every unlike each other in everything from style, script, setting, shooting technique etc. I should add a general warning thou, my taste in movies is well known back home for how bad it is. I would say that if you have 2 hours left some day nothing better to then surfing the net randomly, you might just as well see this movie. Just returned from a long 3 week trip overseas (unfortunately, couldn't visit Rome) and saw this thread. In my area, the only show is at 10 pm and it looks as if the public is staying away from this film. There's hardly any publicity for it and I'm wondering if it's worth my while even if I have 2 hours to spare. Maybe it's best that I wait for the DVD to come out or better, wait for the free broadcast on satellite (if they decide to air it). Somehow, I wasn't impressed by this production from the very start and knew they'd botch it up big time, just reading through the production notes on this film from a year ago. I'm waiting for the Hannibal film to be made / released. I haven't heard anything in a while after some initial excitement a year or so ago based on Vin Diesel's interest in the project. If anyone has newer information on this, please post.
  7. Skarr

    Roman Hair and Shaving

    You assumed correctly, Pertinax. Nostril plucking 'snot the same as armpit plucking. -- Nephele Ah... I guess those were the days, especially if you were born right. If you were born a slave, you would be the one plucking nostrils for a living. I can just imagine a Roman knight's typical day, which must have included several hours of grooming, done at the bath house and performed by slaves who were ultra specialized in what they did - one for the nostrils, one for the feet, another for the hands, then the shave, the massage with perfumed oils, followed by some time in the steam room and then the hot and cold dips ..... This would have been followed by a leisurely stroll through the crowded Forum, maybe a quick stop by the office and then off to some party in the evening or maybe to the theater or even a lupanar or taverna where other friends would stop by. For the few, the privileged few, life offered luxuries beyond compare - at the expense of other poor souls, who were doomed to toil for the few to the end of their days.
  8. Skarr

    Roman Empire Wallmap

    I had mine professionally done at Michael's ... They use a pretty good technique to first mount it on an antique poster background of your choice and then frame it with a choice of antique wood. It's a little expensive but well worth it, especially for the glass they use. They have a special one where it's hard to tell if there's glass unless you actually touch it. I think they call it clearglass or something or like that, I'm not sure. The end result is just fantastic and you can use a magnifying glass with no problem to discern the finer features of the map. Moonlapse has done a fantastic job of capturing the detail and each time I read something, I'm invariably drawn to the map, which I consult as I read, thereby enhancing the overall reading experience !
  9. Skarr

    Did Nero start the Fire?

    Speaking about Crassus, not only did he put out fires with his own private fire brigade (slaves he owned acted as 'fire-fighters'), he probably started them as well, with the intention of buying prized properties at 1/10th of their market value. He even conducted negotiations on the sale of these buildings as they were burning !! I've always been under the impression that the law considering buildings heights was more or less only to prevent them to collapse to frequently. Lots of rich people tried to make money out of building high, cheap building, I reckon that this was the way Crassus got rich (richer). I don't think the fires was the main concern when introducing this law.
  10. Skarr

    Sun Worship and Sunday

    One of the most difficult things for the Christians was to get rid of the phallic shaped bread. This was a challenge as this type of bread was in existence for centuries and the bakers were not about to go and revise their traditional moulds and invest in new "conforming" shapes to please the prudish Christians. So, one solution they had was to go about marking these with a cross, as if that very act would make it more acceptable (I wouldn't go so far as saying "holy"). Even Easter, which was originally a spring fertility festival from antiquity was adopted by the Christians as they went about transforming various pagan rites and customs into Christian festivals and celebrations.
  11. Skarr

    The City of Rome

    Thanks for the tip.. I'm planning a visit definitely next year to Rome and I can't wait to plan out my trip in detail.... Unfortunately, the rest of my family is not as keen on examining Roman ruins as I, although my daughter did visit Pompeii and Herculaneum a few years ago and actually liked it !! (surprise, surprise - as she is a typical teenager with her ipod, her cellphone and usual circle of friends)
  12. I concur with all the other posters that you did a great job on this Ursus. However, I do take issue with the inherent confusion that lays in wait after this statement is presented. There is a big difference between Bronze Age 'Palace Centers' and a
  13. Skarr

    What's the last book you read?

    I'm reading the "October Horse" by Colleen McCullough - I've read all the others and this one is a little tiresome and lacks the excitement of the first few novels. I liked the first one, "The First Man in Rome" the best of all, followed by its sequel, "The Grass Crown". However, I've only finished a few chapters and perhaps I should wait until I've read the entire book before critiquing it.
  14. I would wholly agree with your assessment, caldrail. The Romans always relied on their infantry to achieve victory over their enemies and cavalry was an essential part no doubt of their overall military strategy / tactics but it was never used to charge head on with a solid body of infantry, as you have pointed out. It was mainly used to protect the flanks and counter attack any enemy cavalry movement. The Romans also used cavalry to enforce a general rout by pursuing and cutting down fleeing enemy warriors who had broken away from their formation or herding them to positions where their disciplined infantry could finish them off.
  15. Skarr

    Problems with books on Google Books

    My book is with Google and I know how exactly this works per the contract I signed. You have to send them the entire book but they make available only snippets to the public, on the expectation that based on the snippets, you will ultimately be spurred to buy the entire book. They offer links to Amazon, etc. and I guess they have an arrangement with those publishers to get a cut back for the publicity. You can never read an entire book but only parts (a few pages at the most) at a time.
  16. Skarr


    For those who like Satyricon, you must see Fellini's film, if you haven't already (Italian with sub titles). It is quite surreal, especially the banquet scene !!! The Rome in Fellini's version is quite unlike anything you might see in one of the more familiar Hollywood epics and a lot of people are turned off because it is not what they expected to see of "Rome". However, for people who inhabit this Forum, I'm sure they will view the film with a less "prejudiced" eye, as Fellini has a unique vision of the city and its inhabitants. There is an overall decadence which is subtle, yet pervasive as the viewer is drawn into a world that is totally different, yet understandable, as Fellini pulls no punches in portraying human behavior and presents this in a raw, shocking but at the same very realistic fashion. I would highly recommend that you see the film more than once to pick up on all the nuances.
  17. Skarr

    "The Roman Mysteries"

    Sounds interesting, Augusta... On your comment about sex, I think the ancients handled sex as an everyday natural function, like eating, drinking and so on... There was not much attention paid to it unlike today, where even the very word is taboo in many households for fear of "corrupting" the children. I fear that it is this very attitude that leads to trouble and shielding the facts of life often has disastrous and unintended consequences in the long run. There is of course, also the matter of age and Romans tended to marry off their children at a very young age, especially their daughters and overall, it may have made sense because life expectancy was so short, compared to modern standards. The other thing which I fail to understand about today's shows is that there is no limit on the violence that can be shown to audiences, which is far more injurious in my opinion.
  18. Skarr

    Forum Meeting In UK

    Looks like you all had more than your share of fun and I really wish I could have made it ! I particularly liked the Elagabalus story... I was aware of a few things about him but not in such detail and it was illuminating, to say the least. Excellent feedback and communication, guys... it was a pleasure reading all your reports and browsing through the various photos...
  19. Skarr

    The Tudors

    Hahahaha! Yes, the Duke was almost as hawt as Henry. (Although I know it was the Princess's charms that held your interest, Ursus.) I've been recording The Tudors, and I only just today got around to watching last week's episode. Will probably see tonight's episode later, as well. The Sopranos, on the other hand, get priority viewing tonight. -- Nephele Speaking of the Sopranos, it's good that this is the last season.... It's no longer that interesting now and the episodes move along at a snail's pace... I do like the Tudors though.. This was a very interesting period in English history and we can look forward to some exciting stuff in the coming weeks
  20. Skarr

    Everyday life in Pompeii revealed

    I can't also imagine pots and pans being stored permanently in the atrium, which seems an odd place to keep them. I must hunt through some of my archival material. If I recall, the atrium was a place where decorative objects like busts and statuary were on display, including fine frescoes, marble fountains and other works of art. In important homes, even the floors were spectacular (some of the tiles used had elaborate designs per samples excavated from uxurious Roman villas, albeit from post Republican sites).
  21. Caligula's extravagance, particularly in the matter of spending vast sums of the state's money on useless projects (huge pleasure ships, wild parties, etc. etc.) and his complete disregard for the senate, including very public disparaging remarks about the consul (he once said that his horse Incitatus would be fit enough to be consul, showing his irreverence for Rome's highest political position), brought about his downfall. I would tend to agree that maybe he wasn't really 'mad' in the sense of being mentally incapable. Rather, he may have been seen as 'mad' because of his childish whims, his immature way of dealing with the senate and other extravagant behavior (converting the imperial palace to a temporary brothel).
  22. Skarr

    March 07 Essay Entry

    Bryaxis - excellent sources, thank you very much for the information. Augusta - thanks for your comments. I would like to also congratulate you an excellent essay, which deserved to win and was head and shoulders above most others.
  23. Skarr

    Forum Meeting In UK

    A real pity I couldn't make it for this meet as my London trip plans got postponed. Hopefully, will make it next year, assuming that this meeting will be a grand success and there will be therefore a repeat of this. Have fun, everyone and I'm looking forward to seeing the photos... Pertinax - the itinerary sounds very interesting and I'm almost tempted to drop everything and catch the first flight out.. Alas, such impetuous behavior would land me in a lot of hot water, despite the best of intentions.
  24. Skarr

    Am I just slow?

    Rameses, My last post had nothing to do with the crackpot theories, it was highlighting the dangers of making rash comments by showing research insight in contrast to your generalize comments made here: Basically I was saying that using the right ships the ancients of the Atlantic seaboard did indeed ply the Atlantic so your generalization is rubbish. Forget the image of the war galley trying to make it across the Atlantic but think of a gaulos, i.e. 'tub', merchantman vessel... Although many here believe that the Carthaginians "could" have discovered America by crossing the Atlantic, as of this moment, it is still just a theory with some possibilities that it could be true. However, we need to have conclusive evidence, which is always hard to find. If there was a settlement of some kind, with actual remains that could be tested, including artifacts and other "hard" evidence found on an undisturbed site, that could definitely tip the scales. Until that kind of evidence is found, we could go back and forth on this endlessly, without ever reaching a conclusion. Albeit, this is an interesting discussion even though it is highly speculative at the moment. I've always admired Carthage for their sea faring abilities and although they were at one point the undisputed masters of the Mediterranean, it remains to be seen whether they were also world explorers. Certainly, they did have all the key elements required to make this journey and on paper, we could possibly argue conclusively that they could have made such a journey.
  25. Skarr

    Am I just slow?

    Ahh, yes. New claims seem to come out every other year. I remember reading about someone finding a "Roman" head in Mexico some years ago. If I recall, the archaeologists were a little skeptical as this was an isolated find. Although authenticated as Roman, the theory was that it might have washed ashore off some shipwreck and did not really present evidence that the Romans ever visited the Americas. Coming back to the Phoenicians, they were master ship builders and their two deck galleys (with 2 banks of oars) were the finest in ancient times and they were far advanced in ship building techniques than the Romans. They were also excellent navigators and there are accounts of voyages to a mysterious city called Ophir, from where they brought back gold, ivory and other "riches". Well, this land is suspected to be India, from a voyage which probably started in the Red Sea. There is another account of a voyage to the West of Africa and it may be conceivable that Phoenician ships could have been caught in storms off the West Coast and maybe blown off further west, towards South America. I remember also reading about some amphorae that was found by the coast of Brazil but I'm unsure if that was ever positively identified to belong to the ancient Carthaginians (or Phoenicians).