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barca

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barca last won the day on March 18 2018

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About barca

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  1. “Christian leaders such as Jerome and Augustine were truly learned in what we call the Classics. They "could not resist to show off their classical culture when writing to members of the elite, whether pagan or Christian". “ Well yes, of course it is well known the St Augustine was steeped in Classical Learning. One doesn’t have to go very far reading his Confessions to see his contempt for the Classical World. For example, he resents having to read Virgil as part of his education. He also expresses his dislike and condemnation of theater.
  2. I did read Tim O’Neill’s vitriolic review. He almost convinced me that her book was not worth reading. He was on a mission to totally discredit her. As much as he accuses her of biases, he cannot help but show his own biases with a very unbalanced review. having read the book anyway, I found it a compelling read even though there are some imperfections and exaggerations, Nixey should perhaps write a revised version where she addresses all the complaints of her critics.
  3. barca

    Praetorian Guard

    And here is what someone else said on a FB post in defense of Gibbon “Before calling Gibbon "outdated" as history, one must first consider what exactly history is. It is not a science first of all. Yes, historians are nowadays informed by science--or supposed to be anyway--saying this based on all the shade such modern classicist luminaries like Mary Beard throw on archaeology for example (Fires of Vesuvius). Regardless, on many points archaeology has very usefully expanded the knowledgebase, but more on the order of confirmation of original sources plus offering some highly qualified insights into such physical subjects as art, artifice and logistical issues of daily life within the Empire, rather than on substantially expanding what is already known of the evolution of human affairs via the original sources. I mention this as a common critique of Gibbon is that he wrote "pre-archaeology", as it were, but this is not as relevant to the topics he addresses as one would, at first, assume. And that is the point: the vast majority of the original sources, the foundation that underlies all histories of this era--to date--, are (essentially) exactly the same in Gibbon's time as they are today. What has primarily changed are the relative perspectives of the historians who access and, most important of all, interpret these sources. And that is called the academic fashion of the times. A fashion which is crafted, in large part, upon the life experience of those writing it, which in turn, crafts their perspectives, judgments and interpretations of the self-same ancient sources they all work with and within. Subjectivity informs all. It is in this latter realm that I feel that Gibbon has an advantage--or at the least a relevant perspective or "fashion" even--especially-- today. His understanding of the Roman era--his ability to relate to it-- came from a life conducted during a time when horses were still the standard of transportation on land, sail vessels upon the sea and warfare was still very much a personal affair. He also lived in a time when the christian church exercised vastly more power than it has ever since, politically and culturally. When he judged the christianization of the Romans as having a significant role in that Empires downfall in the West and transformation in the East, he judged from a perspective informed by his own time, a time where the power of the church was still extremely relevant. This was very much unlike today, where religion, generally, has been utterly marginalized as a significant power in academics in the modern West, and as a result, an appreciation of its actual power, then, seems to be consistently underrated today. I think Gibbon knew better, as he had experienced that power himself (The Decline and Fall was pilloried by the church of his time and its many adherents, much the same reception Darwin's book received 100 years later at their hands actually...). Gibbon also was informed by military experience as a Captain of Grenadiers; an experience, the relevance of which he relates here (from his autobiography): "A new field of knowledge and amusement opened itself to me; that of military affairs, which, both in my studies and travels, will give me eyes for a new world of things, which before would have passed unheeded. What I value most is the knowledge it has given me of mankind in general, and of my own country in particular. The general system of our government, the methods of our several offices, the departments and powers of their respective officers, our provincial and municipal administration, the views of our several parties, the characters, connexions, and influence of our principal people, have been impressed on my mind, not by vain theory, but by the indelible lessors of action and experience." (Italics mine) And this experience came during the era when the European powers began constituting great professional armies for the first time since Rome, yet still utilizing horse cavalry, pikemen, and musketmen (which were effectively upgraded slingers) and still pillaging the countryside of operations for sustenance, lacking as they did modern logistical resources. Indeed, a Roman general like Caesar, transported in time, would not have to spend much time coming up to speed with the tactics and capabilities of warfare in the 17th and 18th centuries--where in the 19th and 20th centuries such would hardly be the case. The point being, the Roman world was much more relateable to Gibbon, on the level of life experience, than it is to historians today--who tend to harp on how "alien" Romans were. And, imo, the lack of such experiential knowledge shows in their writing and the many subjective judgments necessarily made therein. In reading many modern histories, I have had many more smh moments than in reading Gibbon, frankly. To sum up, no one today would consider Gibbon to serve as a stand-alone source for the history of this time period. But his work remains extremely relevant reading, providing an essential context within which to digest and consider the subjective arguments made in later histories, particularly those of the present day. In that light, plowing through the thousands of pages of the unabridged edition isn't essential (though the effort is rewarding); the more manageable abridged edition will serve the purpose just fine.”
  4. barca

    Praetorian Guard

    Gibbon gets a lot of bad press these days. Here is what one college professor said about him: “Gibbon is a great old chestnut, but I don't know of any professional historian who would cite him as a source nowadays. Its a wonderful read, unlike a lot of contemporary historians he really know how to turn a phrase, but I don't know of any professional historian nowadays who regards him as "realistic". He's writing Enlightenment propaganda...” Whatever his faults, Gibbon is very thorough, and he is entitled to his opinions. Modern historians are actually just as opinionated if not more so.
  5. barca

    Praetorian Guard

    Here are some comments from Gibbon The Praetorian guards The Praetorian bands, whose licentious fury was the first symptom and cause of the decline of the Roman empire, scarcely amounted to the last-mentioned number. (1) They Their institution derived their institution from Augustus. That crafty tyrant, sensible that laws might colour, but that arms alone could maintains his usurped dominion, had gradually formed this powerful body of guards in constant readiness to protect his person, to awe the senate, and either to prevent or to crush the first motions of rebellion. He distinguished these favoured troops by a double pay, and superior privileges; but, as their formidable aspect would at once have alarmed and irritated the Roman people, three cohorts only were Their camp stationed in the capital; whilst the remainder was dispersed in the adjacent towns of Italy.(2) But after fifty years of peace and servitude, Tiberius ventured on a decisive measure, which forever riveted the fetters of his country. Under the fair pretences of relieving Italy from the heavy burthen of military quarters, and of introducing a stricter discipline among the guards, he assembled them at Rome, in a permanent camp,(3) which was fortified with skilful care,(4) and placed on a commanding situation.(5) Their strength and confidence Such formidable servants are always necessary, but often fatal to the throne of despotism. By thus introducing the Praetorian guards, as it were, into the palace and the senate, the emperors taught them to perceive their own strength, and the weakness of the civil government; to view the vices of their masters with familiar contempt, and to lay aside that reverential awe, which distance only, and mystery, can preserve towards an imaginary power. In the luxurious idleness of an opulent city, their pride was nourished by the sense of their irresistible weight; nor was it possible to conceal from them, that the person of the sovereign, the authority of the senate, the public treasure, and the seat of empire, were all in their hands. To divert the Praetorian bands from these dangerous reflections, the firmest and best established princes were obliged to mix blandishments with commands, rewards with punishments, to flatter their pride, indulge their pleasures, connive at their irregularities, and to purchase their precarious faith by a liberal donative; which, since the elevation of Claudius, was exacted as a legal claim, on the accession of every new emperor.(6) Their specious claims The advocates of the guards endeavoured to justify by arguments, the power which they asserted by arms; and to maintain that, according to the purest principles of the constitution, their consent was essentially necessary in the appointment of an emperor. The election of consuls, of generals, and of magistrates, however it had been recently usurped by the senate, was the ancient and undoubted right of the Roman people.(7) But where was the Roman people to be found? Not surely amongst the mixed multitude of slaves and strangers that filled the streets of Rome; a servile populace, as devoid of spirit as destitute of property. The defenders of the state, selected from the flower of the Italian youth,(8) and trained in the exercise of arms and virtue, were the genuine representatives of the people, and the best entitled to elect the military chief of the republic. These assertions, however defective in reason, became unanswerable, when the fierce Praetorians increased their weight, by throwing, like the barbarian conqueror of Rome, their swords into the scale.(9) They offer the empire to sale The Praetorians had violated the sanctity of the throne, by the atrocious murder of Pertinax; they dishonoured the majesty of it, by their subsequent conduct. The camp was without a leader, for even the Praefect Laetus, who had excited the tempest, prudently declined the public indignation. Amidst the wild disorder Sulpicianus, the emperor's father-in-law, and governor of the city, who had been sent to the camp on the first alarm of mutiny, was endeavouring to calm the fury of the multitude, when he was silenced by the clamorous return of the murderers, bearing on a lance the head of Pertinax. Though history has accustomed us to observe every principle and every passion yielding to the imperious dictates of ambition, it is scarcely credible that, in these moments of horror, Sulpicianus should have aspired to ascend a throne polluted with the recent blood of so near a relation, and so excellent a prince. He had already begun to use the only effectual argument, and to treat for the Imperial dignity; but the more prudent of the Praetorians, apprehensive that, in this private contract, they should not obtain a just price for so valuable a commodity, ran out upon the ramparts; and, with a loud voice, proclaimed that the Roman world was to be disposed of to the best bidder by public auction.(10)
  6. barca

    Praetorian Guard

    More often than not they executed emperors that they didn’t like. Some of them deserved it: Caligula, Nero, etc, but they also executed good emperors that didn’t cow tow to the praetorians: Pertinax, Alexander Severus, and numerous others.
  7. Catherine Nixey’s The Darkening Age sounds like an interesting and controversial work https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073XBS8S5/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1 It has received a number of negative reviews. For example “If correct, Nixey’s arguments merit a reevaluation of the relationship between Christianity and Western civilization. Her arguments, however, are not sound. She bases her conclusions on faulty premises which illustrate a lack of awareness in three areas: Christianity, history, and logic.” https://acton.org/publications/transatlantic/2017/12/22/book-review-darkening-age-catherine-nixey I’m interested in hearing From all of you. Is it worth reading?
  8. barca

    Jennifer Quinn dismisses the Classics

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/book-review-mastering-the-west-by-dexter-hoyos-hannibal-by-eve-macdonald-1429305216
  9. barca

    Jennifer Quinn dismisses the Classics

    I agree that the Greeks and Romans are not the only people we should recognize, but we are fortunate that we still have so much of their original writings. Other people like the Carthaginians may have had equal cultural significance, but unfortunately we have virtually none of their literature.
  10. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/mar/16/tragedy-classical-languages-privileged-few-state-schools?CMP=share_btn_tw I disagree completely with the following statement where she denigrates the cultural value of the classics "Not, I think, for one of the reasons given by Camden School for Girls on its sixth form website, that “the achievements of the Greeks and Romans have had an enormous influence on nearly every aspect of our own culture”. It is a common argument for the study of classics that the Greeks and Romans are our cultural ancestors, that we carry their legacy, and that understanding our classical roots will somehow help us to understand ourselves. But even if we take “our culture” as narrowly as the traditional cultures of the British Isles, this is a dubious claim. Our languages are Germanic and Celtic, our major religions originate in the Middle East, and our political institutions owe little to those of the city-states of Greece and Rome beyond the empty name of democracy." English may be Germanic in origin, but it is much different now than the languages in the Germanic lowlands. It is much less inflected and has many Norman French words, as well as words from the original Latin Her comment about our religion ignores the fact that Christianity was not only of Hebrew origin, but also integrated many Greco-roman philosophies. For example our conception of the soul came from Socrates She goes on to say that their only value is the language itself as an exercise in critical thinking. Well, I personally don't read Latin or Greek but. I enjoy reading many of the Classics in translation. We can thank Ben Franklin who encouraged translations
  11. Who was responsible for the loss at Yarmuk?
  12. Why wouldn't you want to go to NO?
  13. barca

    Mark Anthony's Invasion of Atropatene

    Atropatene as part of his Parthian Campaign? It seems to me that Anthony would have been better off letting Ventidius handle the entire expedition. Here's a nice summary. http://www.historynet.com/mark-antonys-persian-campaign.htm
  14. Is anyone familiar with this organization? They're having an annual meeting in January 2015. http://apaclassics.org/annual-meeting/146/146th-annual-meeting
  15. We also need to consider different styles of archery. A comparison was made of horse arhers in the 6th century. The Sassanid Persians were know to let loose of flurry of arrows in rapid succession, whereas the Huns used a more powerful asymetric bow which took much more force to draw. Their shots were therefore less frequent but more deadly. The Byzantine horse archers tried to emulate the Huns, although they didn't use the asymetric bow which took a long time to master. The details can be seen in Ian Hughe's book on Belisarius
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