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kurtedwr

Late Roman History in Popular Culture

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This topic discusses late Roman history that is referenced in today's pop-culture:

 

St. Valentine's Day - Celebrating a Roman martyr (d. ca. 269)

Santa Claus - Based on St. Nicholas (270 - 6 December 346)

"When in Rome, do as the Romans do." - Saying from St. Ambrose (c. between 337 and 340

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Old King Cole - A reference to Coel Hen, a British warlord associated with the command of the eastern part of Hadrian's Wall in the 4th century

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Old King Cole - A reference to Coel Hen, a British warlord associated with the command of the eastern part of Hadrian's Wall in the 4th century

 

DANG!! Forgot about 'im!

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St. Patty's Day - Celebrating the Roman missionary St. Patrick (c. 387

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Not correct. Patrick wasn't sent by Rome, he was captured in Britain by Irish raiders and enslaved, later freed and formed his own christian movement which colonised Britain and influenced Europe. The Roman Catholic mission of Augustine was sent to put Britain back on track which caused some confrontation because his Saxon converts had different ideas about worship than the celtic-christians. It wasn't the first time Rome had sought to restore conventional christianity, Bishop Germanus of Auxerre had arrived in 429 to do the same thing against Pelagianism (and succeeded, his reported return visit in 440 remaining suspect)

 

I didn't say he was sent by Rome. I called him a Roman missionary, 'cause he was a Roman citizen who was also a missionary.

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Nope. Patrick was a Romano-Brit born in Banna Venta Berniae (location not known but presumably on the west coast region) but not technically a roman citizen, both because he had been enslaved and also because Britain had seceded from the empire by the time he escaped his master and sailed home in his early twenties.

 

He'd been taken to Ireland as a slave by Irish raiders at the age of 16 and began his own christian cult, converting tribal leaders by personal effort. I don't know much about the specific details of their worship although I gather self-flagellation was a part of it. His teachings caught on in the post Roman world of Britain. If you notice, the celtic cross symbolises this period - the druidic circle superimposed by the christian cross. A missionary as such he wasn't, because he didn't represent the established church which had fallen out of favour in Britain by that time.

 

Beware because some stories attributed to Patrick should belong to Palladius, who was a missionary, the first Roman bishop to Ireland in 431.

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Patrick was a Romano-Brit born in Banna Venta Berniae (location not known but presumably on the west coast region)

 

Could this be the same place as GLANNOVENTA, the fort and settlement at Ravenglass, west Cumbria? I think, within the context of this light-hearted discussion, we are safe to consider the St.Patrick story a late Roman one :clapping:

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Nope. Patrick was a Romano-Brit born in Banna Venta Berniae (location not known but presumably on the west coast region) but not technically a roman citizen, both because he had been enslaved and also because Britain had seceded from the empire by the time he escaped his master and sailed home in his early twenties.

 

I'm not sure that enslavement through capture by enemies automatically negated Roman citizenship, Caldrail.

 

Additionally, Roman citizens who were landholders in Britain (Patrick's father owned a villa) may have chosen to continue living in Britain after the emperor had given up on the country and, again, I'm not certain that this, too, would have automatically negated their birthright to Roman citizenship.

 

In any case, for anyone here who is interested, the words of Patrick himself can be read at Ancient Texts: The Confession of St. Patrick (believed to have been written around 450 C.E.): I, Patrick, a sinner, a most simple countryman, the least of all the faithful and most contemptible to many, had for father the deacon Calpurnius, son of the late Potitus, a priest, of the settlement [vicus] of Bannavem Taburniae; he had a small villa nearby where I was taken captive. I was at that time about sixteen years of age...

 

I think, within the context of this light-hearted discussion, we are safe to consider the St.Patrick story a late Roman one ;)

 

I think so, too, Neil. And, getting back to the light-heartedness of the topic, one cannot think of pop culture and ancient-to-late Rome without at least bringing up the toga party (made famous in the 1978 movie Animal House). :clapping:

 

-- Nephele

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I'm not sure that enslavement through capture by enemies automatically negated Roman citizenship, Caldrail.

Yes, it did. Slavery was a condition of disenfrachisement from self-determination and reduced one to the status of an animal, regardless of who enslaved you. At least in theory. I suspect since barbarians were not highly regarded by Rome, it was possible that a blind eye was turned in some covenient cases.

 

Additionally, Roman citizens who were landholders in Britain (Patrick's father owned a villa) may have chosen to continue living in Britain after the emperor had given up on the country and, again, I'm not certain that this, too, would have automatically negated their birthright to Roman citizenship.

Neither did the opposite automatically enable it. This is a grey area for practical purposes

 

According to versions A,B,C of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle...

 

430 - In this year Bishop Palladius was sent by Pope Celestine to the Scots, that he might strengthen their faith

But in version E of the same document...

 

430 - In this year Patrick was sent by Pope Celestine to preach to the Scots

In both cases it must be understood that the word 'Scot' refers to the Scotti, who were the Irish ancestors of non-pictish Scotland. The authority of versions A B and C isn't questioned, and it's not difficult to see why Patricks name was put in place because his was the most succesful version of Christianity in the early dark ages. He was, in other words, undergoing the same process as the mythical Arthur - being given credit for achievement done by others, but that said, Patrick was a pretty incredible guy.

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Yes, it did. Slavery was a condition of disenfrachisement from self-determination and reduced one to the status of an animal, regardless of who enslaved you. At least in theory. I suspect since barbarians were not highly regarded by Rome, it was possible that a blind eye was turned in some covenient cases.

 

You're right about slavery being a condition of disenfranchisement, but Roman law addressed the status of a captive citizen in two different ways.

 

Quoting from the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Roman Law (by Adolf Berger, compiled under the auspices of the American Philosophical Society, 1952):

 

Captivus. Captivity. When a Roman citizen was captured as a prisoner by an enemy (hostis) with whom the Romans were at war, he became a slave of the enemy. The same rule was observed by the Romans with regard to foreigners whom they made prisoners in a war. After his return the Roman war prisoner (captivus) regained his legal status by virtue of a specific Roman legal institution (see POSTLIMINIUM). A Roman captured (kidnapped) by a bandit (latro) did not become his slave; his legal status remained unchanged.

 

As you surmised, the barbarians that captured Patrick probably "were not highly regarded by Rome," and more than likely viewed as being troublesome bandits. In which case, Patrick would not have suffered deminutio capitis (the loss of civil status of a Roman citizen) as a result of his enslavement.

 

Apologies to kurtedwr for taking this off topic -- although I think it might make an interesting topic to discuss Roman citizens' captivity and resulting status, and if others here are interested then I'll split off this discussion. You brought up some good points, Caldrail.

 

-- Nephele

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The use of the name Attila the Hun as a byword for barbarism seems to feature a lot in pop culture. it might also be worth mentioning the Monty Python sketch 'The Attila the Hun Show'.

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The use of the name Attila the Hun as a byword for barbarism seems to feature a lot in pop culture. it might also be worth mentioning the Monty Python sketch 'The Attila the Hun Show'.

I suppose similarly the use of the word 'Vandal' has slipped into our language meaning one who commits criminal damage.

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There was a program on tv a few weeks ago that discussed modern orgies, largely instigated by wealthy, unattached women and the anonymity of the internet. One talking head said that these somewhat select groups weren't orgies in Rome, more like group sex in Romford.

 

I'm firmly of the opinion there isn't any difference. For all the reputation of Roman orgies that has survived into modern culture (partially inspiring the recent trends in sexual behaviour and coincidentially bearing parallel demographic components), most of that has come from the excesses of a handful of individuals. For most Romans, it really wasn't any different from modern Romford - just a bunch of people getting off on sex and making a big deal of who they invited to their parties.

 

That said though, the image of Roman decadence survives in popular culture and what depiction of ancient Rome could do without it?

Edited by caldrail

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