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caesar novus

notes on "as the romans did"

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I thought i would post a few quotes and notes on "as the romans did" book by jo-ann shelton...

 

yet many of us envision these ... people as marble statues standing grimly silent in museum hallways

Thats why i love them! In a few moments of viewing their architecture and especially their statues of real people (vs mythic fluff) i get the gist of their sublime values listed below without needing years of scholarly study.

 

qualities necessary to a successful farmer became esteemed as virtues: diligence, determination, austerity, gravity, discipline, and self sufficiency.

...

a "national character" ... they percieved of the ideal roman as being stern, diligent, and self-sufficient <note 2 -the american self image is remarkably similar>

Wow, i think that last note is very dated and shows i am using the older 1988 version of this book.

 

But maybe i shouldnt over idealize the past like dionysius does starting on p 194. He calls the once noble freeing of slaves turned into a corrupt dysfunctional process. Slaves poisoning masters with slave-freeing wills, slaves turning to vice to earn cash for freedom, and even masters freeing slaves for selfish reasons. Ah, the good old days when fellow citizens were upright freed slaves rather than corrupt ones, he bemoans.

 

Law was romes most original and and most enduring achievement.

...

The roman mind - pragmatic, prudent, methodical, orderly, yet adaptable and able to compromise...

She points out this spread across the western world, and another author mentioned it spread further thru colonization of asia and africa. The other author mentioned it was altered thru uk common law somehow though... maybe napoleonic too?

 

What a contrast of these positive points from 1988 uc santa barbara to another branch of univ calif berkeley, whose current online course seems to condemn rome as simply evil.

Edited by caesar novus

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The explanation for this deep and very secluded peacefulness is as follows: a corridor lies between and seperates the wall of the bedroom and the wall of the garden, and this intervening empty space absorbs every sound.

Pliny the younger goes on and on about the the brilliant configuration of every room of his amazing seaside villa retreat. Every view and angle to the sun seems optimized beyond imagination... how could life be that well contrived so long ago? My home also happens to have an odd wraparound corridor, which on the surface seems to waste floor space and lengthen walk times, but does have the advantage he describes.

 

offered to give up your household to another women, to a fertile women

One of a number of depressing sounding tributes to ideal female behavior... so self sacrificing for family procreation. I realize reproduction needed an intense focus due to high mortality of kids, but the romans seemed in a better position than most of the ancients to allow a wider role of women.

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The Romans gave the woman a matriarchal position within the home, and were teated with some respect (by legend Romulus organised a heist of rival tribes ladies because the Romans did not have enough to go around. There is no suggestion of slavery or violence and therefore we can assume their was a good deal of respect involved. After all, if the woman wasn't impressed or happy with the abduction, then either imprisonment or escape would follow).

 

Also, given the bonus of free time and social largesse that wealth provided, upper class ladies enjoyed considerable advantages in later times. It was possible for women to inherit businesses. Some were influential in politics, quite openly, though I doubt they had the freedom of the Senate.

 

The reality for women of poor background was the same as it always was (and often still is). Hard work or prostitution.

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I woud like to wrap up with a quote about rome as a magnet, but i cant locate it again, even in the section of plus and minuses of city life. Anyway it went along the lines of even folks with comfy country villas wanted to be in near visiting distance to the exciting powerhouse of rome.

 

This was underscored and perhaps explained by a dazzling lecture i just saw by a harvard professor on his book (please excuse my pasted in syntax)

Triumph+of+the+City+How+Our+Greatest+Invention+Makes+Us+Richer+Smarter+Greener+Healthier+and+Happier who sees cities as learning machines, where your proximity to smart people measurably raises your knowledge and income just by being near. And the appearence of poverty is a measure of the pluses cities offer to the poor who flock in from rural areas.

 

I found an online lecture by him which is unfortunately US and nyc centric due to his audience, but think of the principles he espouses, and how they may apply to rome... maybe pioneers of benefits of urban life...

http://www.booktv.org/Watch/12286/Triumph+of+the+City+How+Our+Greatest+Invention+Makes+Us+Richer+Smarter+Greener+Healthier+and+Happier.aspx

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I just finished reading the section regarding 'Housing and City Life', about vacation villas of the Roman elite. While I don't remember a specific reference to Rome as a magnet, I did read that although the elite liked the luxury of a villa in the country "far from the noise and traffic of thbe city", one requirement for such a villa was the proximity to Rome "as they did not want to be too far from civilization". For example, Pliny the Younger's villa was only 17 miles from Rome and he boasted of being able to carry out a full day of business in the city yet still be at the villa by sunset.

In the same section, Martial and Juvenal both complained incessantly about the problems of living in Rome yet were reluctant to leave for any length of time.

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I woud like to wrap up with a quote about rome as a magnet, but i cant locate it again, even in the section of plus and minuses of city life. Anyway it went along the lines of even folks with comfy country villas wanted to be in near visiting distance to the exciting powerhouse of rome.

 

This was underscored and perhaps explained by a dazzling lecture i just saw by a harvard professor on his book (please excuse my pasted in syntax)

Triumph+of+the+City+How+Our+Greatest+Invention+Makes+Us+Richer+Smarter+Greener+Healthier+and+Happier who sees cities as learning machines, where your proximity to smart people measurably raises your knowledge and income just by being near. And the appearence of poverty is a measure of the pluses cities offer to the poor who flock in from rural areas.

 

I found an online lecture by him which is unfortunately US and nyc centric due to his audience, but think of the principles he espouses, and how they may apply to rome... maybe pioneers of benefits of urban life...

http://www.booktv.org/Watch/12286/Triumph+of+the+City+How+Our+Greatest+Invention+Makes+Us+Richer+Smarter+Greener+Healthier+and+Happier.aspx

 

But has the internet brought about a paradigm shift? After all, with the net one can be 'close' to smart people while still on another continent. Just this morning I was discussing parapegma in Ptolemy's Handy Tables with a very smart professor in Oxford while I was in the Monashee mountains, where things have to get a bit more cosmopolitan before they can be described as 'rural'.

 

Perhaps the start of your next paragraph shows why the Harvard prof might have been overtaken by events 'I found an online lecture...'

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But has the internet brought about a paradigm shift? After all, with the net one can be 'close' to smart people while still on another continent. Just this morning I was discussing parapegma in

Yeah, this morning i had a heartwarming forum exchange, solving each others problems in Azerbaijan and some other far flung place. But also i am standing back from other forum discussions i initiated that met vicious attacks and rage on with neanderthal debate. I sense this forum kind of holds back engagement at times to steer way clear of that.

 

The harvard professor made a point that live, nondigital contact is key due to you being able to read puzzlement in the face of your listener, and having to reset. I guess in this forum we could reply with puzzled emoticons. Really, there are demographic trends toward young highly educated types clustering up in trendy cities, although they avoid cold weather ones. We know the cases of retreating to idyllic empty spots, but that tends to be older folks who know what they want to focus on.

 

I think cities are of most value as a temporary developmental thing that broadens your perspectives and might shatter complacent assumptions, although may end up seeming banal once the lesson is learned. From a backwoods background, new york, paris, and hong kong were a huge revelation to me; now they annoy me. Nowdays you can retreat but keep certain compartmentalized sophistication alive with the internet.

 

And not only contact in the form of chit-chat; i have found sources of inexpensive favorite foreign food i can order by internet. I just guiltily quit ordering complete ready meals sourced from thailand... they weighed a ton since no water or prep was needed, and the free shipping must have cost them a fortune. I still order (actually subscribe to) certain special pasta sourced from italy with free shipping, after finding local versions hopeless.

 

There is another proposal of turning education upside down with internet tools by the famous originator of http://www.khanacademy.org which gives short cliff-notes videos on subjects (romans not well covered). He proposes kids watch lecture videos at home, then all classtime is doing homework with close teacher supervision:

http://www.booktv.org/Watch/13882/After+Words+Salman+Khan+The+One+World+Schoolhouse+Education+Reimagined+hosted+by+Nina+Rees+National+Alliance+of+Public+Charter+Schools.aspx

Edited by caesar novus

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