Monday, June 23, 2003

The Use of the Tribunate for Reforms

By Ling Ouyang

Between the years 133 and 70 B.C., the tribunate was used by a number of men for reforms. The men who used the tribunate as the platform for reforms included the Gracchi brothers, Fulvius Flaccus, the younger Livius Drusus, Saturninus and Sulpicius Rufus. While the problems each addressed varied, they were invariably threats to the future and welfare of Rome, be it the poverty in the city, the abuse of senatorial power or the Italian problem. The solutions, though often enacted with infringements of senatorial authority or deviation from traditions, would have ameliorated the problems Rome faced, if embraced.

Friday, June 20, 2003

Famous Men of the Middle Ages: Clovis

By By John H. Haaren, LL.D. and A. B. Poland, Ph.D.

I have been listening to John Gormans "The King of the Romans" and was quite intrigued with one of the last of the true Roman generals, Syagrius who was eventually defeated by Clovis I. Gormans Syagrius is quite noble and courageous but I could not find out much about him in my research. His enemy, Clovis I, however, pops up all over the net. (They always say history favors the victors). I found this particular article about Clovis interesting, primarily because there appears to be distinct differences with information presented in Gormans text. In "The King of the Romans", Clovis is supported by Christian bishops who want to topple Syagris and his Romans because they are Arrian heretics. This article, in contrast, claims Clovis was an outright pagan and did not convert to Christianity until after calling upon his wifes Christian god during a battle with the Alemani tribe and delivered from defeat. (This sounds suspiciously like the Constantine tale).

"Soon after his marriage Clovis had a war with a tribe called the Alemanni. This tribe had crossed the Rhine from Germany and taken possession of some of the eastern provinces of Gaul. Clovis speedily got his warriors together and marched against them. A battle was fought at a place called Tolbiac, not far from the present city of Cologne. In this battle the Franks were nearly beaten, for the Alemanni were fierce and brave men and skillful fighters. When Clovis saw his soldiers driven back several times he began to lose hope, but at that moment he thought of his pious wife and of the powerful God of whom she had so often spoken. Then he raised his hands to heaven and earnestly prayed to that God.

"O God of Clotilde," he cried, "help me in this my hour of need. If thou wilt give me victory now I will believe in thee."

Almost immediately the course of the battle began to change in favor of the Franks. Clovis led his warriors forward once more, and this time the Alemanni fled before them in terror. The Franks gained a great victory, and they believed it was in answer to the prayer of their king.

When Clovis returned home he did not forget his promise. He told Clotilde how he had prayed to her God for help and how his prayer had been heard, and he said he was now ready to become a Christian. Clotilde was very happy on hearing this, and she arranged that her husband should be baptized in the church of Rheims on the following Christmas day.

Meanwhile Clovis issued a proclamation to his people declaring that he was a believer in Christ, and giving orders that all the images and temples of the heathen gods should be destroyed. This was immediately done, and many of the people followed his example and became Christians.

Sunday, June 08, 2003

Book by Victorian antiquarian explores classical sexuality

"The ancient Roman and Greek cultures had a very different attitude about sexuality than successive European cultures, more akin to that of the Kama Sutra. This, of course, was unimaginable to latter day Europeans, who rigidly compartmentalized body, mind and spirit, and to whom any sexuality was sinful and morbid," explains J.B. Hare in his introduction to the online presentation of Musee royal de Naples; peintures, bronzes et statues erotiques du cabinet secret, avec leur explication by Cesar Famin. "Excavators (at Pompeii) were horrified to discover erotic frescos, mosaics, statuary and phallic votive objects. The moveable erotic artifacts were taken to Naples and kept in seclusion in the Royal Museum."

But in 1836, Cesar Famin published a book containing 60 lithographs of this "forbidden" material.

"Famins text to accompany the images is deeply conflicted," Hare observes. "He is obviously drawn to the subject matter and has a deep understanding of the significance of the artifacts. He also takes every opportunity to condemn Classical sexual practices and cultural values. Whether this is a figleaf or a sincere reaction is impossible to determine. However, in spite of the shocked, shocked attitude in Famins text, it contains quite a bit of valid and well-researched information, including quotes from classical authors and details of mythology, artistic methods, spiritual practices, architecture, and literature."

This online text is accompanied by drawings of the subject images. Parental discretion is advised.

Sunday, June 01, 2003

The Campaign of Cestius Gallus and the Defeat of the Twelfth Legion

By G. J. Goldberg

In July of 66 CE, after violent clashes between the Judean people and the troops of Judean procurator Florus, Roman governor of Syria Cestius Gallus received a complaint from the leaders of Jerusalem and a simultaneous counter-complaint by Florus against the Judaeans. Although Cestius advisers recommended he lead an army to Jerusalem to settle the dispute one way or the other, Cestius himself decided to gather more information by sending an emissary--thus showing the personality traits of reasonableness and slowness to take action that would prove disastrous in his subsequent campaign.

Cestius emissary, Neapolitanus, was treated with great respect by the Jerusalem leaders and given a full account of the recent actions, including a tour of the significant sites. While waiting for Neapolitanus to make his report to Cestius and for the Governor to respond, however, King Agrippa made a disastrous attempt to persuade the people to abstain from complaining to the Emperor and to continue to submit to Florus, which resulted in the outbreak of open revolt.

The Murder of Appuleius Saturninus

By M. Horatius Piscinus

"This essay-cycle concerns the murder of Appuleius Saturninus, and the trial of Rabirius for the crime some 47 years later. It is an interesting tale, its characters well known. Marius, the prosecuting tribune Titus Labienus, the praetor Julius Caesar sitting as judge, Consul Cicero speaking for the defense, Q. Caelius Metellus Celer as the opposing praetor, his wife Clodia, her lover Catullus, her brother P. Clodius Pulcher, all in the few short months leading up to the Catalina episode."

"Every tale should have a clear beginning and a definite end. But this is a tale of a feud. A feud not between two rival political factions, as it is often portrayed, but a family feud lasting over generations."

In 103 BCE the tribunus plebis Appuleius Saturninus passed a series of measures: drastically reducing the price of the monthly corn ration, establishment of new permanent courts to hear cases of maiestas which broadened the definition of what constituted treason (the Lex Appulia will come into play later), and the distribution of land in North Africa to the veterans of Marius Numidia campaign. His colleague, tribunus plebis G. Servilius Glaucia introduced a separate law restoring the Equites to a position where they constituted the permanent tribunals.

In 102 Numidius was censor and tried to have both Saturninus and Glaucia removed from the Senate. The Senatorial Party was opposed to Saturninus' agrarian law that gave land to Marius veterans. Marius had of course first upset them by recruiting the urban poor into his army. The fact that Marius had won the war with this rabble of sewer scum, where Numidius had failed with an army of Roman gentry, was just too much of an insult to Numidius dignity.

In 100 BCE Saturninus was again elected as Tribunus Plebis, with Glaucia now as Praetor, and Marius was in his sixth consulship. Saturninus proposed a new agrarian bill, giving land to Marius veterans of the Cimbri campaign in Cisalpine Gaul, establishing Latin colonies in Sicily, Macedonia and Achaea, and granting citizenship to those Italians who had sent troops to fight in the German campaigns. By this time the majority of troops in Roman legions were Italians, but not citizens, and Saturninus proposed to correct that.

Saturninus won reelection as tribunus plebis for 99. Glaucia had attempted to run as consul, but the Senate disallowed his candidacy. Disorder broke out. Saturninus arranged for the assassination of G. Memmius who was the Senates candidate for consul. So no elections were being held for the consulship. The Senate made some moves against Saturninus, and Saturninus and Glaucia seized the Capitoline.

The senate passed a senatusconsultum ultima calling on the consuls to restore order. One of the consuls, however, was Gaius Marius. Marius brought his troops into Rome. Ostensibly they were there to quell the riots and seize Saturninus, but also as a reminder to the Senate that it was his veterans who had been promised land, and that his present legionaries expected no less. There is some conflicting reports about Marius role in this affair. The general interpretation is that after being allied with Saturninus so long, Marius withdrew his support because of what appeared to be the excesses of Saturninus that were leading to what Cicero would later call rule by the tribunes. Assured of Marius protection, Saturninus and Glaucia entered the Senate to negotiate a resolution of the situation that would allow an election of the consuls to take place. The Senate locked its doors behind them, and then murdered Saturninus and Glaucia.