Friday, November 19, 2004

New exhibit displays Greek and Roman statues ablaze with color

News: "An exhibition that opened this week at the Vatican Museums shows the fruit of years of research by the Vatican and two other top European museums, proving that the ancient Greeks and Romans lived not in a world of cold white marble gods and goddesses but amid a blazing riot of colours.

The statues as they have been seen for centuries are displayed alongside their replicas painted as the scholars now believe they were originally presented. The famous statue of Emperor Augustus, for example, discovered in Rome's Villa di Livia, now wears a scarlet toga, a variegated red and blue tunic, and armour decorated with multi-coloured images of gods; eyes, hair and lips are also painted.

Paolo Liverani of the Vatican Museums told Il Messaggero newspaper, 'Thanks to the most modern technologies, including ultraviolet photography, microscopic examination and clinical analysis, it has been possible to recover, in the originals of these sculptures, abundant traces of colour.'"

Thursday, November 18, 2004


Masters Thesis by J Joseph Poirot III, Louisianna State University

According to many modern scholars and several of the classical authors, Romans feared the looming threat of the Parthian state. Although such panic was unfounded, this fear
supposedly then prompted the Empire?s prolonged obsession with the territory of
Armenia, which both the scholarly and primary sources look upon as a military buffer
state. Yet in reality, Roman action in the East was not the result of a collective decision of all Roman citizens, but rather brought about by the individual wants and desires of Rome?s leaders. These leaders regarded Armenia not as a buffer state, but as a staging ground for their various campaigns against Parthia. It was their personal
ambitions, rather than Rome?s collective fear, that drew Armenia under the veil of
Roman hegemony. This project intends to examine Armenia?s role in the Romano-
Parthian conflict and hopes to prove that Roman imperialism was not defensive, as
some scholars assert, but rather the end product of the ambitions of individual Roman

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Rome and the Barbarians

I am listening to a lecture series on Rome and the Barbarians and Professor Harl has spent three lectures discussing the Roman conquest of Spain. I was not familiar with these activities and found it fascinating. Professor Harl said the Celt-Iberians were skilled warriors that were recruited by both the Romans and Carthaginians to fight in the Punic War. He pointed out, however, that after Carthage was defeated, the Celt-Iberians were not kept in the regular Roman Army for service elsewhere so they continued to raid the former Punic towns as a way of supporting themselves. He mentioned that they also suffered pressure from overpopulation in an area that could not readily support large numbers. The end result was that the Romans had to turn around and fight these former allies to protect the towns that were now under their control.

Professor Harl said these wars in the mid-2nd century B.C.E. were particularly brutal, with casualties in the 40% range, because the Celt-Iberians were not only skilled but had been trained in sophisticated Roman and Carthaginian tactics. He said eventually Rome committed over 100,000 men to the control of Spain, primarily because of its mineral wealth. He also mentioned that Spain became the target of many ambitious Roman commanders for "triumph hunting". He cited cases where subsequent governors would intentionally start wars by breaking existing treaties just to try to wangle a triumph out of the senate.

I also thought it was interesting that during the Republican period, Sertorius used mythology to help control these Spanish peoples by having a pet fawn appear at propitious times engendering the belief that he was favored by the goddess Diana.