Thursday, August 19, 2004

Ancient India and Rome new exhibition in New Delhi

The Hindu : Treading the old Roman trade route: "The Italian Cultural Centre in New Delhi is celebrating an ancient connection with India by putting together an exhibition with some history behind it.

Bringing to light the intense trade relations between the Roman Empire and India, the exhibition titled 'Ancient India and Rome' hopes to give viewers a chance to catch a glimpse of the past. And for those who could see a `desi' link in the 'Gladiator'', this exhibition provides proof of the Indian connection.

The exhibition aims to throw light on the importance of such exchanges that developed in a particular way during the Roman era when the Pax Augusta enabled the broadening of the markets because of the ever insatiable appetite of the rich Roman middle-classes for spices and luxury products.

The exhibition highlights the "treasures" of the time -- "Amphorae", vases, commonly used bronze objects, Mediterranean terracotta statuettes and Roman coins found in abundance in India.

With their influence extending beyond just commerce, the Romans found a mention in Indian literary texts. While texts speak about the colonies of "Yavanas'' (Westerners) along the coast, archaeological discoveries and literary references substantiate the claims."

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Croatian memorial stone source of latest Arthur incarnation

"CROATIA is a strange place to discover a clue linking King Arthur with Cumbria. But John Matthews, who was a historical advisor on the newly released Hollywood film King Arthur, says the memorial stone of an Anglo-Roman commander found in a Croatian village adds weight to the theory that places the legend against the backdrop of Hadrian's Wall.

Mr Matthews, a leading expert on the legend, from Oxfordshire, says: The historical theory is that a Romano-British leader, Lucius Artorius Castus, was stationed at Hadrian's Wall, probably at Birdoswald.

We know he was the commander of a legion of Sarmatian warriors, who came from between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea in the second century AD towards the end of Roman rule in Britain. A Roman habit of including a potted biography on a memorial tells historians where Lucius Artorius Castus was stationed and that he was commanding some of the 5,500 Sarmatians, skilled cavalrymen, brought to Britain to fight.

Archeological finds show Sarmatians stayed in Britain long after the Romans left, remaining in a tight knit ethnic group and, like Arthur, their battle insignia was a dragon.

Also, as in the Excalibur myth, they worshipped an image of a sword stuck in the ground as the symbol of their god of war."

Actors take a hike for new play about Hadrian's Wall

: "Actors rehearsing a new play about Hadrian's Wall are learning their lines, blocking their moves, doing route marches and soaking their feet in surgical spirit in preparation for its world premiere in a Cumbrian village hall on Thursday.

The day after each show in communities along the wall, the six actors plus the playwright will don boots and waterproofs and give another kind of blistering performance, striding 10 miles to the next venue.

They will step out along 84 miles of the Hadrian's Wall path, a national trail opened last year."

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Leo III's Ecloga Revises legal penaties in the late Roman Empire

LATER ROMAN EMPIRE: "In a synod held at Constantinople in the reign of Justinian II. numerous rules were enacted, differing from the existing laws and based on ecclesiastical doctrine and Mosaic principles, and these were sanctioned as laws of the realm by the emperor. Thus Church influence and the decline of Roman tradition, in a state which had become predominantly Greek, determined the character of the ensuing legislative epoch under the auspices of Leo III., whose law book (A.D. 740), written in Greek, marks a new era and reflects the changed ideas of the community. Entitled a Brief Selection of Laws and generally known as the Ecloga, it may be described as a Christian law book. In regard to the patria potestas increased facilities are given for emancipation from paternal control when the son comes to years of discretion, and the paternal is to a certain extent replaced by a pareiital control over minors. The, law of guardianship is considerably modified. The laws of marriage are transformed under the influence of the Christian conception of matrimony; the institution of concubinatus is abolished. Impediments to marriage on account of consanguinity and of spiritual relationship are multiplied. While Justinian regarded marriage as a contract, and therefore, like any other contract, dissoluble at the pleasure of the parties, Leo III. accepted the Church view that it was an indissoluble bond. Ecclesiastical influence is written large in the criminal law, of which a prominent feature is the substitution of mutilation of various kinds for the capital penalty. Death is retained for some crimes, such as murder and high treason; other offences were punished by amputation (of hand, nose, &c.). This system (justified by the passage in the New Testament, If thine eye offend thee, &c.), though to modern notions barbaric, seemed a step in the direction of leniency; and it may be observed that the tendency to avoid capital punishment increased, and we are told that in the reign of John Comnenus it was never inflicted. (The same spirit, it may be noted, is apparent in the usual, though by no means invariable, practice of Byzantine emperors to render dethroned rivals or members of a deposed dynasty innocuous by depriving them of eyesight or forcing them to take monastic orders, instead of putting them to death.) The Church, which had its own system of penalties, exercised a great influence on the actual operation of criminal law, especially through the privilege of asylum (recognized by justinian, but with many reserves and restrictions), which was granted to Christian churches and is admitted without exceptions in the Ecloga."

I wonder what reservations and restrictions Justinian had legislated?

Romans and Taxes

Warsaw Business Journal Online - business in poland,warsaw,polish companies,companies database: "The first recorded evidence of tax dates back to 2350 B.C. Tomb paintings in Egypt depict relentless tax collectors selling delinquents into slavery for failure to pay tax on fish catches and garden produce. The Greeks fought a bloody war against Persia to resist a tribute tax, but then had to impose one to pay for the war.

Ancient Rome had an elaborate tax system which encompassed sales taxes, inheritance taxes and taxes on imports and exports. In the 4th century BC, the Romans built a tax-free shipping port at Delos, which some refer to as history's first tax haven. It was also the Romans who first invented inheritance tax, imposed upon all citizens at the rate of 10 percent, and who introduced imprisonment for tax evasion. "

The last statement surprised me because I was under the impression the Romans had no prison system, at least not in Rome itself.