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Tiberius Sylvestius

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About Tiberius Sylvestius

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  • Birthday 07/27/1984

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    Roman and Medieval coinage<br />Roman Religion<br />Medieval English History<br />Bourbon France<br />All things Titanic<br />
  1. Tiberius Sylvestius

    Careers In History

    Sounds like my worst nightmare being stuck in a library everyday reading books... trust me at the moment i work in one. Yeah i like books and yeah i like reading, but i couldn't do it as a job it'd take the fun out of it... imagine having to stay focused on one topic for weeks on en... I'm afraid focus was never my strong point, i like to go off at a tangent wherever possib... History is definately more fun as a hobby. The only way to get into being a professional historian (i.e writing historical books for a living), is generally through working in an academic institution (i.e a university), most historians are affiliated with educational institues. Other 'historians' writing books are usually people out of television, Tony Robinson for instance (out of Blackadder), who went on to present the archaeology show 'Time Team', and now seems to make a living from doing tons of historical documentaries and writing books to go with them, like 'Worst Jobs in History'. Obviously these are not the dry academic texts of authors such as John Guy (the definate expert on Tudor England), who writes the most driest (aka boring) books going. Whilst more 'popularist' histories tend to be less academically acceptable or academically useful, take that humorous book "1066 and all that", a total historical farce (it was meant to be!) amusing indeed but not much good at using for citations. Of course if you want to make it as an historian you have to question an historical interpretation or too, if you want to be really famous you have to question the whole accepted stance on any issue. Having been immersed in the academic world for sevaral years now i realise that historical writing is much less about trying to explain the past and understand it as much as playing with the facts to make it look like something that's never been said before, something revolutionary. You can come up with the most off the wall argument in the world, but if you can back yourself up by being liberal with the 'facts' then well, that's what sells books!
  2. Tiberius Sylvestius

    Romes Superstitions

    Too convenient! A god has chosen you my friend!
  3. Tiberius Sylvestius

    Greco-Roman faiths past and present

    I can't argue with that Zeke, i think much the same way as you do on that one. The religio should be modernised to make it compatible with todays values. I want to just go off on a tiny philosophical tangent here that is plausibly related to what happened to the old gods. Have you ever heard of the English fantasy writer Terry Pratchett and his Discworld novels? I heartily recommend you read his book 'Small Gods', it's a somewhat cynical take on religion, but he addresses the issue of what happens to the gods of religions that are pushed out of the main stream? In a basic summary he argues that; The more followers a deity has the more powerful they are and the less they either depend upon each individual follower or the less they are willing to do for each individual follower (as they don't need to please everyone, they can afford to lose a few thousand and not even notice). Pratchett argues that humanity invents gods and their belief in them shapes the god's physical form and their role. I would argue that it's more a case that the god exists already but has made humanity aware of their presence and their form and role in society. Pratchett argues that whenever the name of a god is lost to memory and not written down anywhere then they slowly fade away and become but whispers in the wind, think of the neolithic age deities that we only know about from cave paintings... don't know their names or their exact purpose, no idea how they were worshipped, or why. It may be the case that they can remanifest themselves as a different deity later on to a new generation. So following Prachettian logic on this, the Roman gods once displaced from the mainstream and relegated to either a very covert religion, or merely remembered in a secular way from myths, legends and historical accounts. Well they lost power and began to diminish, still existed but lost alot of power. Therefore they are eager to win back supporters so they can gain strength. Thus as the 21st century progresses and the old religions are gaining more and more ground they ultimately will gain more and more power and be able to do the things they once did. That's if you think there is any credibility in that argument of course. It's an interesting school of thought though to show that religions are not set in stone. As for reconstructionism as much as i like the idea in theory it has problems. Firstly we are not in ancient Rome, secondly the majority of the population would think it weird (if not devil worship... sacrifice generally leads people to think this). Thirdly it's impractical. Christianity in Europe is on a downward slope, as European countries are becoming increasingly more secularised you have to ask why! One answer i hear time and time again is that going to church on sundays is something that grandparents do, it's old fashioned and not keeping up with the times. Religions that try and fix themselves on a set of beliefs and impose them upon society generally end up losing the battle sooner or later. In a time where technology is advancing faster and faster and outdating itself day in day out, a religion that tries to fix itself upon a time in the past and refuses to alter will eventually either have a schism (like the Reformation, and like the continual breaks in Protestant groups), or people will simply consign it to history. The problem is when you're trying to bring back a religion that 99% of the population thinks is already history and has been for a thousand years... well you either have to be flexible and the gods have to adapt, or people simply won't follow it and they'll be left with no followers. Gods like humans might not like change, but sometimes you have no choice. So whilst the gods would maybe love to see an animal sacrafice dedicated to them, they know that things sometimes do change. Look at early Greece, no actual temples to deities but merely sacred areas for them, which eventually got altars and eventually ended up with massive temple complexes, religion changed then, it will continue to do so now.
  4. Tiberius Sylvestius

    Greco-Roman faiths past and present

    But i'm not a reconstructionist (heck i even use English rather than Latin), so it's not a point i have to sit and dwell upon and consider. I've had pleasing results without having to resort to sacrifice, maybe if i sacrificed it would be better but it's a road i'm not going to go down myself. Too squeemish, don't like blood. I hate killing house flies let alone a cow. As for the Reconstructionist stance on this (i know some recons that don't do animal sacrifice), but i leave it to them to figure a way out of that one! As for Greek/Roman views on the afterlife there are i believe a few accounts of where you go, some to the Elysian Fields, others to Hades, some as lost spirits never to find their final rest. Since the Romans adopted so many religious cults though; Mithras, Egyptian, Celtic etc. what happens to you when you die is more flexible. I heavily favour the idea of reincarnation myself (as much as i hope this is not the one as i don't want to be around when the world ends!)
  5. Tiberius Sylvestius

    Greco-Roman faiths past and present

    I'd agree with you there Pantagathus. Another question of despair that monotheism raises is the classic; "Why does God let bad things happen in the world?" (Is it; Divine ineffablity, God is not Omnipotent, or God has a funny sense of humour?)* *I jest of course. But it has lead to centuries and centuries of debate that will never end. With Polytheism it's just "well yeah you know god Y is not all he's cracked up to be, you should try goddess X instead next time). Polytheism leads to eternal hope, there's countless deities out there to try if you draw blank with one of them. However, conversely monotheism has the advantage of comfort with regards to death. The afterlife is quite clear, be good, go to Heaven, be bad then don't. If someone dies you have reassurance that you'll meet them again one day in the next world. Polytheism comes from so many schools of thought and so many religions, some of which are very obscure about what happen when you die that if someone dies they might go one place, whilst when you die you might go somewhere else or get reincarnated as someone else. If reincarnation is the way then they might be reincarnated as someone in India and you might come back as a tree in Alaska, for all anyone knows. Not a great deal of comfort in that.
  6. Tiberius Sylvestius

    Tacitus The Annals

    I get lost too, it's when Tacitus starts reeling off the names of all and sundry, sure he explains who they are in relation to a whole ton of other 'famous' names you've never heard of. Although i figure when i'm wading through it that at the time when Tacitus was writing this people just knew who all these people were. If you read a book now on the Second World war, they mention Eisenhower, Churchill, Goebels you generally just know who they are (or at least what side they were on), it's common knowledge. Tacitus and his Rome though is much more remote in time and thus sometimes it's very easy to get lost. That aside i can cope with pretty much everything else Tacitus throws in there, my one slight grip is that i wish there was more in there on Tiberius himself (and i wish Caligula wasn't missing!). It's mostly about wars and conquests and the like which i'm less interested in, i like reading about the guys right at the top, the senators vying for power against an Emperor they don't like, he employing Sejanus who takes it out on the senators... yep i like the politics and the scandals. I kinda like Tiberius, he's the quiet silent type, the kind that you don't want to cross, the backstabber, i like how he mysteriously kills people off and then denies all knowledge or blames someone else. He's not one of those in your face Emperors like Nero, "Yep it was me, and you're going to do what about it?"
  7. Tiberius Sylvestius

    Hbo Rome and... BBC too

    I'm actually really enjoying Rome i feel it really captures something of Rome as i have always understood it or imagined it. As it stands at the moment i have never done any reading on the Roman Republic or how it ended (i've been mostly fascinated with the lifes of the Emperors than anything else), so i'll take it as a nice introductory to the end of the Republic. (Although like all historical adaptations, pinch of salt required for liberties taken with real characters to further the plot.) I must confess it is one instance where i am glad i have little to no knowledge of the period (as yet), because it will allow me to enjoy the series without nitpicking out the inaccuracies, like i did with Gladiator... "hang about, Commodus didn't die like that, what a liberty!"
  8. Tiberius Sylvestius

    Greco-Roman faiths past and present

    Yep that just about sums it up for me! (I just went the long way around... as usual). The bit about them working together, which i have interpreted to mean as different aspects of religion [i.e deities] working together to form a greater 'whole'. [Tell me if i've interpreted this wrongly]. Well i haven't made my mind up about that. Depends if you're a soft polytheist or a hard polytheist. Soft polytheists (and this includes some minor obscure Christian sects), believe that gods are all facets of the same diamond. So in a Christian sense the father, the son and the Holy Spirit are separate entities in their own right. Like a hand is different from a foot, but they are part of a bigger whole, like a foot and a leg are part of a body. Thus they are different and can work with or against each other but are inseparable from each other... unless someone gets out a big knife. I think i'm right when i say Hindu beliefs are along this line, most New Age religions too, every deity is part of the force of nature. The Romans generally took this line of argument, i.e Greek Hermes was interchangable with Roman Mercury. Hard Polytheists believe that every god is totally independent of all the other gods and they are free to do as they will, there is no greater 'being' produced when they all come together, it's just a bunch of gods in a room together. This is generally what the Greeks believed, Hermes was Hermes, Mercury was a whole different god. Sure they might have similarities but they are fundamentally not the same. I fall somewhere between the two. I generally am a hard polytheist believing it is not necessary for the gods to work together (it may be benefitial to them), but it serves no great purpose. However, i believe that several gods may be actually the same god that has manifested itself differently in different places. So Hermes is the same as Mercury, it's one god that meant different things to the people of Greece than he did to the people of Rome. Kind of like the Christian divide, Catholic/Protestant, you wouldn't argue they were different gods but they are not worshipped quite the same and are thought of differently.
  9. Tiberius Sylvestius

    Greco-Roman faiths past and present

    That's pretty much my musings on the topic entirely. I generally stick to libations, incense and a few candles, sometimes i add food anything from fruit to chocolate. I too think the gods are genuinely glad of the recognition and in return will help you, it's mutually beneficial. Blood sacrafices are not necessary as i would see it but i'm not a reconstructionist. Generally i think most reconstructionists stick to the non blood rites, although there may be followers out there that do sacrafice things occasionally, who knows. But i'd argue it's not essential. I'm presuming i'm right in thinking Jews don't sacrafice sheep these days and then smear the blood on the four corners of an acacia wood altar? There's a whole section in the Old Testament about religious rituals that must be observed to honour the Lord. But as i stated in my previous post religions progress and change with the times. Although i agree almost completely with Zeke i would have to ponder upon whether gods are truely all powerful or not? The god Odin (of the Norse), was forever in a quest for knowledge and gave his left eye to learn more, suggesting that he was not omnipotent. In the Iliad, Zeus has to be kept uptodate with what is going on in the battle below by way of messengers. Likewise the gods hide secrets from one another, suggesting they might not be all knowing. Still powerful though.
  10. Tiberius Sylvestius

    Most Terrible Thing You Have Had For Dinner

    Yes haggis, i really like haggis! (which is not what you'd expect an Englishman to say). As for all the other foods; like dog, cat, horse, frog, crocodile, emu or whatever, yeah i'd try any of them once. I doubt very much that i'd like horse though as it's a red meat and i generally don't like red meats (except pork, bacon and anything else from a pig). The one thing i would definately not try would be snail. Can't abide molluscs at the best of times, i just physically couldn't eat it. I'm not a fan of sea food either... squid, lobster... you can keep the lot.
  11. Tiberius Sylvestius

    Was Caligula Mad?

    Oww yes i'd forgotten about those! My history teacher once joked that there are now counter-post revisionist historians! Who disagree with post revisionists but don't exactly agree with revisionist either, they are fencesitting between the two.
  12. Tiberius Sylvestius

    Britain After The Romans

    No trouble, economics can get very complex indeed, i gave the most basic outline there as far as i understand it.
  13. Tiberius Sylvestius

    Britain After The Romans

    Not entirely true for the period. Whilst these days money is merely just that. From Imperial Rome through to the Early Modern period money was more than just money. Money was legitimacy, it was power, it was about showing the population who was boss. Defacing coinage was considered a personal insult to the monarch/ruler depicted, moneyers debasing coinage was even more serious. Firstly they were making a profit at the government's expense by pinching the silver they hadn't put in the coinage and secondly back in those days coinage was accepted on weight. The density of silver and copper differs, thus if the coin was underweight (i.e copper substituting for silver), then the coin was not acceptable. If all the coinage is being produced like this then it leads to serious problems. Diminishing faith in the quality of the coinage led to hoarding the good quality stuff (Gresham's Law in action), and thus severe economic knock on effects that can disrupt trade because people selling things to you nation will not want the lower quality coinage, or they'll want more of it to make up for the decrease in silver content. So often you get trading switching to other nations that have a better currency circulating. Debasement also leads to inflation and consequently price rises. Throw in a bad harvest and you've got a major crisis. Which is exactly what Henry VIII's monetary policy of debasement led to in the 1540s. He made a nice profit by lowering the silver content of the money and using the spare silver to further his war campaigns, the poor people then starved to death. Things have changed alot these days as we don't have intrinsically valuable currency any more.
  14. Tiberius Sylvestius

    Romes Superstitions

    Not exactly, there are still a few of us who actively practise the religio romana. I know of some individuals who are avid reconstructionists (i term them as neo-classical reconstructionists) they try to practice the Roman religion in the old ways, using the old techniques. Most of their knowledge of how to do this comes from written sources from the time. However us polytheists are not a particularly one minded group, polytheism tends to lead to much differing opinion and a real open ended way of approaching things. Therefore some of use are fairly liberal in our approach to the old religions, and the reconstructionst usually take are rather dim view of us liberals as we are corrupting the faith. I like many other pagans will just go with whatever seems to work. I came across a follower of the Norse religion that told me a story about one of his friends. His friend practiced the Roman religion and was very keen on making it as true to historical facts as possible, thus he followed the ancient recipie of making cakes to leave on his home altar for offerings (i forget to which deity), and he said he later had a dream where it was quite clear that the goddess involved was actually much more interested in the box of chocolates at the other side of the room. So you know... time moves on and religions adapt. Look at how the Greek religion shifted over the centuries, minor gods only worshipped in very localised areas ended up moving into the Olympian twelve and other gods got pushed out. Thus i say whatever works, go for it. As for the eternal flame of Vesta i wouldn't call it a superstition, afterall look at what happened when they did extinguish it! There are even more marked cases of things along these lines happening. I'm sure i read something about a bad omen in the temple of Apollo which was swiftly followed by an earthquake which destroyed the city involved. Where did i read that??? Suetonius, Tacitus, or that book on Greek Religion?? Hmm don't you just hate it when you can't remember where you read something?
  15. Tiberius Sylvestius

    Britain After The Romans

    Firstly apologies to admin for the direct linking there! I didn't realise, it shall not be done again. Yes Tobias many things degraded in Britain after the Romans left, technology most of all; The building quality was inferior, the coinage disappeared for several centuries, roads... ha what roads? Things generally went down hill. With regards to the coinage in particular as this is one very clear example of decline in technology. The preparation of dies was an art in itself, the greater the artistry the more complex the design and the higher the relief. After the Romans left the knowledge and tools of how to do this were 'lost' ad they had to start from scratch again. Thus you'll note why they are simplistic designs in use by the reign of the Anglo-Saxon kings in the 9th and 10th centuries CE. Portrait coins do exist but they are two expensive for my pocket thus i had to go for the Two Line Type non portrait varieties. As for the latter coin, well the Stephen Penny was a better design in theory but the workmanship was sloppy, due to the moneyers not being that mindful about their jobs. Why this should be so i do not know. Afterall in 1120 the previous King Henry I had invited the moneyers to Winchester and several were castrated and mutilated for debasing the coinage and producing coins of inferior workmanship. So why the appaling workmanship returned within the next few years after that rather memorable episode is bizarre. By Stephen's reign though there was a civil war on and thus such shoddy workmanship can be expected.