WoVCon ]I[ Date

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February 14th, 2013 at 1:56:33 PM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 345
Posts: 12536
Bump time:

See: http://wizardofvegas.com/forum/off-topic/off-topic/12778-wovcon-i-date/#post213891 for more information.


Rome fact of the day:

Early Christians were often persecuted in the Empire. While this was an awful and unfair thing to do (after all, the other religions of the time were no more sane), the minute Christians grabbed a shred of imperial power they used it to persecute other religions. Perhaps not as draconially, but also no more fairly. More tellingly, this persecution included other Christians who deviated from the prevalent orthodoxy.

These persecutions never truly ended, until perhaps a few decades ago (we'll see). While most of Europe converted to Christianity and most Christians kept their beilefs mroe or elss in line, persecution of Jews, Muslims, Gypsies and heretics, among others, continued in fits and starts for centuries. I would include events like the Crusades, the Inquisition, the conquest of the Americas and even the Holocaust as Christian persecutions of others.

Maybe they have finally reached an end. Maybe. A wave of persecution agaisnt Chrisitans stopped with the death of Nero, too, but these, too, came in fits and starts, culminating in Diocletian's and Gallerius' Great Persecutions.
Donald Trump is a fucking liar
February 17th, 2013 at 9:51:13 PM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 345
Posts: 12536
Bump time:

See: http://wizardofvegas.com/forum/off-topic/off-topic/12778-wovcon-i-date/#post213891 for more information.


I just might be able to keep this up until May. I estimate I'll finish the History of Rome series of podcasts this week, which ends in the last quarter of the 5th Century with the fall of the Western Roman Empire. But I found a new(er) series of podcasts, from a different author, telling the history of the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) from the 5th Century onwards.

So, Roman fact of the day:

Among the many deities in the Roman pantheon, a curious one is a minor god of boundaries called Terminus. It was believed he could not be moved, not even by Jupiter (!)

One of the first things Hadrian did after succeeding Trajan to the throne was to abandon most of Trajan's conquests. He had good reasons for this, namely that they would be hellishly hard and expensive to defend. Now, the people of the Empire did not believe Imperial territory would, or should, expand forever. But they did believe that having set a boundary, the god Terminus could not be moved. To have Hadrian do so was shocking.

Yes, the Romans were a superstitious bunch. It's natural they were eventually sold on Christianity...
Donald Trump is a fucking liar
February 21st, 2013 at 3:11:16 PM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 345
Posts: 12536
Bump time:

See: http://wizardofvegas.com/forum/off-topic/off-topic/12778-wovcon-i-date/#post213891 for more information.


I reached the end of "The History of Rome" yesterday. Traffic helped. All told, I estimate I drove for about 8 hours from Thursday to Wednesday (argh!) The last half century of the Empire is painful and depressing. It certainly depressed me. I now more fully understand the fascination of some AH writers in doing a novel, story or series where the Western Roman Empire never fell.

On a tangent, I heartily recommend L. Spargue De Camp's "Lest Darkness Fall." This takes palce after the fall, but before the Dark Ages. The prevention of which is the hero's purpose. And there's something really odd about a 1930s time traveler. In this setting, Goths rule Italy and a small empire to go with it. But the real power now is the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire. Our hero, Martin Padway, makes a fortune by introducing some innovations (starting with brandy), then buys political influence and military power with it. Luckily for him he knows a lot of that period's history...

There are two scenes that crack me up. One is near the beginning, where Maritn exchanges modern (1930s) Italian coins for Roman money. Ana ccidental time traveler today would be stuck for cash. Today's coins carry not a particle of precious metals. The other is when he's rebuffed, indirectly, by Constantinople's diplomats, in a letter that calls him Martinus of Padua.

I should re-read it. It's been a long time...
Donald Trump is a fucking liar
February 25th, 2013 at 8:09:26 AM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 345
Posts: 12536
Bump.

For a change of pace, and mroe or less topically, here's a joke I once read:

The Pope is visiting a Catholic hospital run by nuns. The place has one of those big names, but it's referred to by the staff as "the Holy Spirit." When the mother superior meets the pointiff, in her nervousness she introduces herself thus: "Your Holiness, I'm the superior of the Holy Spirit."

The Pope smiles and replies: "How fortunate! I am merely the Vicar of Christ."
Donald Trump is a fucking liar
February 28th, 2013 at 8:20:03 AM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 345
Posts: 12536
Quick bump.

I've begun listening to Gibbon's "Decline and Fall" yesterday. The whole work, all three volumes, come to around 120 hours. I estimate it will take months. All the more so since I'll interrupt it to catch up with some podcasts now and then. Based on what I've heard so far I've got two things to say:

1) Gibbon was a very elegant and clear writer

2) He does assume some familiarity with Roman history, giving only brief explanations about some events prior to the last of the Antonines. So his monumental book is not a good palce for beginners to learn about Rome.
Donald Trump is a fucking liar
March 1st, 2013 at 6:49:26 AM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 345
Posts: 12536
Bump

There's something really interesting about listening to a book written in the latter part of the 18th Century. Or several things, rather. For one thing the author takes monarchies for granted. It's also amazing how different the political divisions of Europe were at the time. When Gibbon gives a brief roundup of the Roman provinces, he matches them to entities long gone. Not to mention the comparisons wiht "modern Europe" he draws :)

On that, too, I've been asked whether I shouldn't seek more modern sources. Well, history does not advance the way most other sciences do. Sure, there have been some archeological finds here and there that shed some more light on Rome, and careful analysis of contemporanous sources might bring new insights. But all Roman histories draw most heavily on those contemporaneous sources: Livvy, Procopious, Josephus, Cassius Dio, etc.

I did dread a dry, scholarly work. But Gibbon is witty as well as clear. In one part discussing the variety of religions and rites under Roman rule, he says something like "These beliefs were seen as equally true by the people, as equally false by the philosophers, and as equally useful by the magistrates."

I am glad I took what amounted to an introductory course on Roman history, though, as the references Gibbon casually throws around are familiar, now.
Donald Trump is a fucking liar
March 2nd, 2013 at 7:06:06 PM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 345
Posts: 12536
Bump time.

So Gibbon's reached Comodus in Chapter 4, finally. That's the period where he dates the start of the decline to.

Gibbon does cover, in introductory fashion, the change from Republic to Empire, and explains the downsides of that move. He really dislikes both Caesar and Augustus, as the instigators of the change. There is some grudging admiration for both men, too, spun in the light of their ambition.

He's more forgiving of later emperors, judging them more by their actions than ambitions. I can understand that. Caesar and Augustus both aimed to change a system which, on the whole, had proved beneficial for the larger population of Rome, Italy and the Provinces. Latter emperors merely operated within the existing Imperial system. He goes so far as to designate the period of the Five Good Emperors as the best in the history of humanity. When reading this judgment, remember Gibbon wrote in the last third of the XVIII Century.
Donald Trump is a fucking liar
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