Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Mosaics of Aquincum

Aquincumi Museum: "At the beginning of urbanization, the architectural style of habitations used general Roman forms adopted to local conditions both in the Civil Town and in the area of the canabae. Mosaic floors made from tiny colored pieces of stone were among the most expensive luxury items. Only representative buildings financed from the state budget could muster such artistic features. Aquincum was the administrative center of Pannonia Inferior and the seat of the Legatus Augusti.

The Governor's Palace was built on todays Hajogyar Island. Its location in the northeastern corner of the canabae, across from the Barbaricum on the other site of the Danube, was supposed to demonstrate the monumentality and power of the Roman Empire. Public buildings of the governor's administration and the houses of high-ranking officials occupied the nothern zone of the canabae on the Obuda bank of the Danube branch separated by the island. Floors in the five large reception halls in the eastern, representative wing of the palace ere covered by mosaics as early as the beginning of the AD 2nd century. It is likely that mosaic artists trained in the Italian tradition were commissioned to make these floors characteized by bichromic, geometric patterns. The surface decorated by the contrasting effects of white limestone and black basalt, the rythmic elegance of simple geometric forms certainly showed the cultural superiority of Rome to visiting delegations from the Barbaricum. Meanwhile they were subtle enough not to distract the visitors' attention from the artistic wall-paintings and luxurious furniture. Thus, pompous receptions held in these halls had a full scale visual effect. Local mosaic artists in Aquincum are known only from the beginning of the AD 3rd century, that is the 'Golden Age of Severus'. Following the modification of the frontier by Caracalla in AD 214 the military power as well as political weight of Pannonia Inferior increased. Consesequently, the demand for representative mosaic work increased and such orders could provide a living for artists working in a local mosaic manufacturing workshop. In this new situation, it was again state and central funds that could be mobilized first. During the course of renovation and modernization in the northern bath wing new mosaic floors were laid as well. The central water drainage hole in the most impressive, octogonal exedra hall was surrounded by the figural pictures of a marine scene. In the surviving section of this mosaic picture a swordfish (Xiphias gladius) is chasing a carp-like creature (Cyprinidae) in the seacoast among the reeds. A mallard swims in the direction of a tree trunk covered with water plants such as bulrush, and a mussel is attached to a rock below. A huge dolphin plunges into the waves while a timid goldfish is escaping into the depths of the water. The aforementioned black and white tone dominates in the background of this mosaic that shows elements of incipient polychromism. Yellow highlights also appear in the band that frames the scene as well as in the dolphin's shiny body. The dolphin's eye and that of the goldfish are red. Both the style and execution of the black and white fish-scale patterns monotonously repeated in the frame motifs show harmonic similarity with AD 2nd century geometrical mosaics."

Athanasius and his Influence at the Council of Nicea - by Matt Perry

In the year 313, the Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan which ended the persecution of Christianity. Now, it stood as a protected, even favored religion by the emperor. Once the crises of the persecutions from outside the church ended, crises arose from within the church about, among other issues, the nature and person of Jesus. These discussions had taken place around 150 years before the Edict was enacted with several groups coming to the fore in expressing their views.

Of considerable influence were the Monarchians ? who held to the unity or ?monarchy? (?one source?) of God. Some such as Sabellius, a third-century Roman teacher, who viewed God as one person revealing Himself in different modes throughout history as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (soon known as modalists). Other Monarchians known as adoptionists believed Jesus was adopted by the Father and endowed with complete divine presence. Neither of these views were embraced widely by the church because, as Mark Noll states, ?they either undercut the conviction that Jesus was a distinct person or shortchanged the fullness of his deity.?[10]

The word ?Trinity? was coined by Tertullian, a distinguished lawyer from Carthage. Origen (c. 185- c. 254) sought to preserve the unity of this concept, while at the same time to preserve the distinction between the Father and Son. Mark Noll states again that, ?some who followed Origen?s train of thought, however, did not share his concern for balance.?[11] This brings us to a presbyter from Alexandria named Arius (c. 250-c.336).

In 318, Arius told Bishop Alexander of his views of the Father and Son. The Father was eternal in character, but the Son was in a lower strata that the Father. Arius began making his teachings about the nature and person of Jesus Christ, the ?logos? of God, known throughout the area. He taught that ?God begat him, and before he was begotten, he did not exist.?[12] The Arians state:

If the Son were, according to your interpretation, eternally existent with God, He would not have been ignorant of the Day [of His return ? see Mark 13:4, 32], but have known it as Word; nor would he have been forsaken if he was co-existent ? nor have prayed at all. . . . [B]eing the Word, he would have needed nothing.[13]

In spite of what the Arians state, Christopher Stead argues that Arius was ?teaching a relatively high view of the Logos.? He continues:

He is determined to safeguard the Father?s preeminence; but ... he has no pressing concern to reduce the honours traditionally accorded to the Logos; he describes him as ?mighty God?, as Monogenes, as God?s first-born Son, as the Wisdom who assisted the Father at creation. Athanasius himself, while criticizing Arius? presentation of this last point, cannot deny that it was made. ... That Arius described the Logos as merely one of the creatures, or alternatively as a mere man, does not rest on good documentary evidence but on polemical sallies which have been wrongly treated as quotations.[14]

Regardless of Dr. Stead?s contentions, Arius? view even on the points of agreement concerning what he did say were still divisive and destructive to the unity of the church and the Gospel.

This teaching, condemned by the bishops of Egypt, forced Arius flee to Nicodemia. He gathered a following and influence and a place where he could state his position. Soon, a Christianity that battled the state in their persecutions now would be infighting concerning who the Son of God truly was and is.[15]

Justo Gonzalez puts it well when he says,

What Arius taught was that the one who had come to us in Jesus Christ was not truly God, but a lesser being, a creature. Such a notion was unacceptable to Athanasius ? as it was also to the monks who had withdrawn to the desert for love of God Incarnate. . . . For Athanasius, for the monks, and for many of the faithful, the Arian controversy was not a matter of theological subtleties with little or no relevance. In it, the very core of the Christian message was at stake.[16]

As mentioned previously, his book On the Incarnation of the Word dealt with this very issue and how it is central to the Scriptures. Athanasius compares it to a king who enters a large city and stays in one of the houses. His staying there guarantees protection not just for that house but for the whole city.

Even so is it with the King of all; He has come into our country and dwelt in one body amidst the many, and inconsequence the designs of the enemy against mankind have been foiled, and the corruption of death, which formerly held them in its power, has simply ceased to be. For the huna race would have perished utterly had not the Lord and Savior of all, the Son of God, come among us to put an end to death.[17]

Athanasius debated that the implications of Arius? views were far-reaching, even to the point of affecting the efficacy of Christ?s ability to save us. If Christ does not share an eternal Godhood with the Father, then our salvation would be impossible for creature cannot redeem creature. Also, as Alistair McGrath points out, ?the Christian church was guilty of idolatry, as Christians regularly worshipped and prayed to Christ. As ?idolatry? can be defined as ?worship of a human construction or creation,? it followed that this worship was idolatrous.?[18] So it is clear that the lines were drawn. The clergy in Alexandria sided with the Godhood of the Logos, while those following Arius in Nicodemia (and soon in all parts of the Empire) believed that the Logos was a created being of God. This issue in particular led to the Council of Nicaea.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Bioarchaeology in the Roman World

by Kristina Killgrove
submitted as a Masters thesis at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Until recently, death in the Roman world was only known through literary sources
such as poems and histories. Even Jocelyn Toynbee?s (1971) compendium Death and Burial in the Roman World draws much evidence from funerary art and the epigrams
on funeral markers, two realms beleaguered by the same problems as textual evidence:
the identity of the author and the idealization of the deceased. Although Latin literary
scholars have begun to deal with issues such as authorial intent and intended audience by
appealing to literary theory, for the most part, there has been little in the way of an analogous
movement in Roman archaeology to deconstruct textual truisms using the wealth
of biocultural material from excavated sites. In particular, human skeletal remains, which
can elucidate various past behaviors through careful scientific analysis, have largely been
ignored as a credible source of information about the ancient Roman world of both the
living and the dead.

Osteology, or the study of bones, has been a part of Roman archaeology since at
least the nineteenth century. Cursory analysis of skeletons with the objective of culling
demographic histories, however, was always subsumed by publication of grave goods in
large site reports, sending biological material to languish in appendices. With sex of
a skeleton determined based on associated artifacts as often as estimated by biological
markers, osteological analysis in much of the Old World stagnated, especially when compared
with the advances made in physical anthropology in the United States in the late
19th and 20th centuries thanks in part to the creation of four-field anthropology programs
at universities around the country.

Yet human remains, not prone to the same biases in interpretation as literary evidence,
can help answer questions about diet, disease, war, gender, social status, occupation,
culture contact, and social organization. Through the practice of bioarchaeology, or
the investigation of human skeletal materials from archaeological sites, skilled anthropologists can directly engage with biocultural data to answer pressing questions about past
societies. Roman archaeology in particular can benefit greatly from a bioarchaeological
approach because of the potential to integrate textual, artistic, and other material evidence
with biological remains to create a more holistic picture of all levels of life and
culture in the Roman world.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

History into fiction: the metamorphoses of the Mithras myths

By ROGER BECK, Toronto

This article is neither about a particular ancient novel nor about the genre of
the ancient novel in general. But it is about story-telling in the ancient world,
and about the metamorphosis which stories undergo when they pass through
the crucible of religious invention. Its subject, then, is narrative fiction ?
narrative fiction as the construction of sacred myth and of myth?s dramatic
counterpart, ritual performance.

The fictions I shall explore are the myths and rituals of the Mithras cult.
Some of these fictions, I shall argue, are elaborations of events and fantasies
of the Neronian age: on the one hand, events in both Italy and the orient centred
on the visit of Tiridates of Armenia to Rome in 66; on the other hand,
the heliomania of the times, a solar enthusiasm focused on, and in some
measure orchestrated by, the emperor himself.

What I am not offering is an explanation of Mithraism and its origins. In
the first place, our subject is story and the metamorphosis of story, not religion.
In the second place, I would not presume to ?explain? Mithraism, or any
other religion for that matter, by Euhemeristic reduction to a set of historical
or pseudo-historical antecedents. In speaking of the ?invention? of Mithraism
and of its ?fictions?, moreover, I intend no disrespect. I would use the same
terms for Christianity (in which I happen to believe). By ?invention? I mean,
in the literal sense, the discovery by its founders of the religion?s fundamental
truths; and by ?fictions? I mean the stories and the ritual performances in
which those truths were expressed. I do not imply that the Mithraists willfully
or naively misconstrued recent history. Stories from the recent past, I shall
suggest, furnished Mithraism not with the substance of its mysteries, but
with some of the themes, incident and coloration of its myths and rites.

Fiction migrates through religion along a two-way road. The flow of
narrative traffic in the other direction, from the fictions of religion to the
fictions of secular literature, has been plotted, most recently and most brilliantly,
by Glen Bowersock. In Fiction as History (1994), Bowersock describes
a burst of inventiveness, starting in Nero?s reign, which engendered
new forms of literature, principally the prose romance. These works are full
of marvels, one of which is the Scheintod, the tale of the ?apparent death? of
one of the characters, usually the heroine. ?The question we must now ask?,
says Bowersock (1994: 119), ?is whether from a historical point of view we
would be justified in explaining the extraordinary growth in fictional writing,
and its characteristic and concomitant fascination with resurrection, as some
kind of reflection of the remarkable stories that were coming out of Palestine
precisely in the middle of the first century A.D.? Another daring suggestion
is that we read not only Achilles Tatius? story of the origin of wine (2,2?3)
but also the last extant episode of Petronius? Satyrica (141), the story of Eumolpus?
cannibalistic will, as plays upon the Christian rite of the eucharist
and the myth of its institution (Bowersock 1994: 125?138). With the Satyrica
we are back in the Neronian age itself.

The Labor Market of the Early Roman Empire

by Peter Temin

Journal of Interdisciplinary History 34:4: "Free urban workers in the early Roman empire were paid for their work and were able to change their economic activities. Hereditary barriers were nonexistent, and Roman guilds do not appear to have been restrictive. Workers in large enterprises, like mines and galleys, were paid wages, as in more modern labor markets. Workers engaged in more skilled and complex tasks received more elaborate compensation, probably for longer units of time than those doing wage labor, again as in more modern labor markets, even though explicit long-term contracts were not yet established. The force of competition under those circumstances probably brought wages and labor productivity into the same ballpark.8

Some of the work in the early Roman empire was done for wages and some under the duress of slavery. The early Roman empire even had salaried long-term free workers in Egypt. Craftsmen sold their wares in cities and also supplied them to rural and urban patrons in return for long-term economic and social support. Similarly, people who worked for, or supplied, senators and equestrians often worked for long-term rewards and advancement. The episodic nature of monumental building in Rome, accomplished largely by free laborers, gives evidence of a mobile labor force that could be diverted from one activity to another. Free workers, freedmen, and slaves worked in all kinds of activities; contemporaries saw the ranges of jobs and of freedom as separate [End Page 518] ?even orthogonal. In particular, rural slaves hardly comprised an undifferentiated gang of laborers; certain lists of rural slave jobs are as varied as the known range of urban or household 'slave' jobs. Some rural laborers received piece rates and others, daily wages. Cicero, anticipating Marx, conflated legal and economic relations by equating wages with servitude.9

A labor market in the early Roman empire would have tended to equalize real wages in different parts of the empire. Suggestively, Cuvigny found equal wages of miners in Egypt and Dacia in Eastern Europe. Nominal wages of unskilled workers were unequal in Rome and Egypt, but the price of wheat and other goods differed as well. Real wages?the buying power of wages in wheat?were close, however; the hypothesis of equality cannot be rejected. These scraps of data provide evidence of a well-functioning labor market. Only the ability and willingness of workers to change jobs in response to wage differentials would produce such uniformity.10

Moreover, in a functioning labor market, wages increase as the number of laborers decreases because of the competition to hire them; workers are more productive when fewer of them are available to work. It is hard to know of small changes in Roman labor supplies, but plagues led to rapid, large falls in the pool of available labor. Egyptian wages doubled after the major Antonine plague of 165-175 C.E. This clearly is the standard labor-market response to a sharp decrease in the supply of labor. It demonstrates that wages in the early Roman empire moved to clear markets, in this case to allocate newly scarce labor.11

Employment contracts also give evidence of labor-market activity in which workers could choose their jobs. The modern division between wages and salaries finds its analog in Roman Egypt: "As a general rule permanent employees of the Appianus and related [End Page 519] estates can be distinguished by their receipt of opsonion (salary), a fixed monthly allowance of cash and wheat and sometimes vegetable oil, whereas occasional employees received misthos, that is 'wages.'" some of these "free" workers were tied to the estate for life, like those subject to the more modern worker contracts studied by Steinfeld, but others were free to leave when their jobs were done.12

Miners and apprentices had employment contracts. One dating from 164 C.E. shows that workers were paid only for work done and that they had more right to quit than the nineteenth-century workers described by Steinfeld:

In the consulship of Macrinus and Celsus, May 20. I, Flavius Secundinus, at the request of Memmius, son of Asceplius, have here recorded the fact that he declared that he had let, and he did in fact let, his labor in the gold mine to Aurelius Adjutor from this day to November 13 next for seventy denarii and board. He shall be entitled to receive his wages in installments. He shall be required to render healthy and vigorous labor to the above-mentioned employer. If he wants to quit or stop working against the employer's wishes, he shall have to pay five sesterces for each day, deducted from his total wages. If a flood hinders operations, he shall be required to prorate accordingly. If the employer delays payment of the wage when the time is up, he shall be subject to the same penalty after three days of grace.13

Most free workers were farmers, many of them tenant farmers, although employment categories in the countryside were fluid. Roman tenancy contracts allocated risks between landowners and tenants in much the same way as analogous contracts did in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain. Major risks were borne by the landowners as events beyond the tenants' control, whereas minor risks were borne by tenants in return for the opportunity to earn more and keep their earnings: "Force majeure ought not cause loss to the tenant, if the crops have been damaged beyond what is sustainable. But the tenant ought to bear loss which is moderate with equanimity, just as he does not have to give up profits which are immoderate. It will be obvious that we [End Page 520] are speaking here of the tenant who pays rent in money; for a share-cropper (partiarus colonus) shares loss and profit with the landlord, as it were by law of partnership."14

We know a lot more about wages in England before industrialization than in the Roman empire. Wages for comparable work were similar throughout England, but they were not uniform. Agriculture was more prosperous in the South than in the North, and wages were higher in the eighteenth century. (This pattern was reversed in the nineteenth century when the North industrialized.) Substantial variation was evident within regions, due to the immobility of the population. A recent summary of the English data shows daily winter wages in the North to be only half of what they were in the South in 1700. They approached each other gradually during the next century and a half.15

England is much smaller than the Roman empire was. If we use Roman data from Egypt and Dacia, a more suitable comparison is pre-industrial Europe. Clearly, labor had even less mobility between countries than within England, and wages varied more, though they did remain at the same general level. Allen demonstrated that wages within Europe began to diverge in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. By 1700, the real wages of masons inLondon and Antwerp were more than double those in other European cities.16

Based on this more modern evidence, we do not expect to find wages that are equal in distant places except by coincidence, but we expect wages to be similar. If the early Roman empire had a labor market that functioned about as well as the labor market in pre-industrial Europe, then wages in the early Roman empire would have been approximately equal. Real wages for similar tasks might have varied by a factor of two or three, as real wages did in eighteenth-century Europe, but they were not different orders of [End Page 521] magnitude. As just described, this presumption is consistent with the fragmentary evidence about wages in the Principate.

The army must be distinguished from the private sphere, as in modern economies. Peacetime armies are often voluntary, recruited via the standard organizational lures?favorable wages and working conditions. Wartime armies, by contrast, often rely on conscription, which is a non-market process. Actions within armies are directed by commands, not by market transactions. Armies therefore represent at best a partial approximation to a free labor market and typically an exception to it. Since armies, unhappily, are present in almost all societies, we place this exception to the general rule to one side.

The wages of the Roman army, which was staffed by a mixture of attraction and conscription, stayed constant for many decades at a time. When the army was not fighting, which was most of the time, soldiers had to be set tasks to keep them fit and out of trouble, like building roads and public monuments. This construction work did not interfere with the labor market in Rome or elsewhere in the center of the empire since the army was stationed at the frontiers.17

Slaves appear to be like soldiers in that they are subject tocommand, but such was not necessarily the case in the early Roman empire, especially in cities. Unlike American slaves, Roman slaves were able to participate in the labor market in almost the same way as free laborers. Although they often started at an extremely low point, particularly those who were uneducated, many were able to advance by merit. Freedmen started from a better position, and their ability to progress was almost limitless, despite some prominent restrictions. These conditions created powerful positive work incentives for slaves in the early Roman empire."

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Asbestos use in the ancient world

Asbestos: "The asbestos industry ushers in thoughts of lung ailments such as asbestosis and incurable mesothelioma cancer. But long before modern medicine showed the dangers of this mineral, ancient people knew of its fire mastering properties and the problems it presented.

Asbestos is a Greek word meaning 'inextinguishable' or 'indestructible'. It is a naturally occurring silicate mineral consisting of magnesium, calcium and iron. It is composed of strong fibres, which are either silky in texture with curly fibres or straight with needle like fibres. When it is processed into manufactured products, very small fibres are created. These invisible fibres are the source of danger when inhaled.

The Romans mined or quarried asbestos from all over Europe and the Mediterranean. It was used in literally hundreds of products because it is strong, insulates well, and resists fire and corrosion. The ancient Greeks used asbestos in their cloth and the Romans used it in their building materials. They wove asbestos fibres into fabrics to make towels, napkins, nets and head coverings for women. It was also used in cremation robes and candlewicks and may have been used in the everlasting flame that was kept alight by the Vestal Virgins."

A Time of Giving: The Three Graces of ancient Greece and Rome

The ancient Greeks and Romans imagined the process of gift exchange in philosophy and art as three women with linked hands known as The Three Graces.

"The Graces were said to be the daughters of Zeus and Eurynome (one of the daughters of Oceanus), although other versions of their parentage mentioned Hera, Eunomia, Lethe and Aphrodite, and Uranus or Dionysus. There was also some ambiguity as to their number and their names, which varied from place to place. In the most distant past, their number was either one or two, and they were known as the wives of major gods or as divinities who rendered services to Aphrodite.

Homer first mentions a Grace who was the wife of Hephaestus. He also tells the story of one of the Graces who was married to Hypnos (=Sleep): Hera had promised her to this god, in exchange for his service in putting Zeus to sleep so that the gods could involve themselves in the Trojan War. At a later period, the Graces were generally considered to be three inseparable sisters, daughters of Zeus and Eurynome, named Aglaia (Brightness), Euphrosyne (Joyfulness) and Thalia (Bloom). They inhabited the summit of Mount Olympus, from where they arranged all things, ceaselessly singing hymns of praise to their father, the king of the gods. They spent much of their life feasting, as their presence was essential at the banquets of the gods: without the Graces, there could be neither pleasure nor dancing. They usually sat next to Apollo, praising Zeus and adorning the assemblies with their presence and their melodious voices."

Friday, November 18, 2005

Tree of Paradise: Jewish Mosaics from the Roman Empire

Brooklyn Museum: "This exhibition will examine the role of twenty-one extraordinary Roman-period mosaics, which were acquired by the Museum in 1905, in the development of synagogue decoration in the late Roman Empire. Approximately thirty-eight related artifacts, such as contemporaneous textiles, marble statues, gold jewelry, and bronze ritual objects, will be included. The presentation will also investigate the origins of synagogues, the development of Jewish art in the Roman period, female patronage in the ancient synagogue, the differences between early Christian and Jewish symbolism in art, and the relationship between ancient and modern synagogues.

Twelve of the mosaic panels that will be on display were part of the sanctuary floor of the synagogue in Hammam Lif, Tunisia (the ancient Punic city of Naro, later the Roman Aquae Persianae), the primary subjects of which are Creation and Paradise. The Latin inscription on the floor panels indicates that Julia of Naro gave the floor to the community. Two menorahs flank the inscription. Included are depictions of a tree in Paradise, sea animals and birds in a scene portraying Creation, and symbolic birds and baskets that relate to the themes of Creation and the coming of the Messiah. Decorative motifs include birds and fruits. The remaining nine panels come from other rooms in the building and other nearby buildings. They depict animals, a male figure, and a female figure."

Friday, November 04, 2005

Genius Cucullatus Exhibition

by Carlie Sigel, curator

"Throughout the past two centuries, excavations in Romano-Celtic settlements on both Britain and the European Continent have turned up a number of representations of a hooded deity interpreted to be cult objects of the genius cucullatus. Providing a case for the origin and identity for the cult has been a challenge for archaeologists because, as with many topics in the study of Celtic culture, the only information available is encoded in the relief carvings and votive objects depicting the deities. Often, these objects have been long disassociated with their original context and have suffered heavy weathering. This essay intends to give an overview of the topics that have concerned scholars of the genius cucullatus including the general attributes of the deity, its origin, the regional variation in the representations, and a list of genii cucullati found thus far.

Hoods, eggs, and parchment scrolls
The genius cucullatus takes on a general form that is modified and embellished according to localized interpretations of the deity's power. To draw up a list of features each figure displays would be short; they wear thick hooded cloaks and are found in pontentially sacred contexts. The cloaks vary in length, number of folds, extent of body coverage, and hood shape. Although no pattern has been determined among the different cloak styles, other differences between the figures are partly linked to the regions in which they were found. Most scholars agree that the genii cucullati of Britain predominantly appear in triads, are small of stature, and often carry eggs, or other fertility attributes (Heichelheim 192-3). In contrast, the cucullati of the European continent appear singularly, as giants and dwarves, and occasionally imply phallus worship(193). In both regions the deities are often found clutching parchments or scrolls, which may signify wisdom (Jenkins 88) or the secrets of healing lore (Toynbee, 1957 158)."

Hungarian museum houses the only surviving Roman water organ in the world

Fire Extinguishing Museum: "

South of the Aquincum Museum In Obuda while the bases of the transformer of the Electric Co. were being dug up the workers found an antique Roman cellar with caved in ceilings. They found broken bronze pipes and the components of an organ under the ruins. They also found bronze tablets which had data saying that the instrument was given as a present to Aquincum's fire-department, which was lead by Gaius Iulius Viatorinus, in 228 AD.

The organ must have fallen into the cellar in 250 AD, when the building, which eventually burned down, was under siege. Since the cellar was not cleaned out after the fire, the pieces of the organ were left there covered with debris."

In 20 AD, Vetruvius described the operation of a Roman water organ:

Compressed air (shown in green) is forced by the pump (A) into the air vessel (B). The piston (grey) is shown at the top of its stroke. The air vessel is nearly empty of water (blue) and the surrounding water chest (C) is nearly full. On the downstroke of the piston, water within the water chest flows into the air vessel from beneath, and continues to maintain air pressure within the vessel.

Water can flow into and out of the air vessel because there are spaces between the blocks upon which it sits. On the upstroke of the piston, water is forced back up into the water chest, compressing the air at the top of the water chest (yellow), as well as in the air vessel. (These reservoirs of compressed air may exist for some little time, subject to leaks and to any key being played.) When the piston reaches the top of the cylinder, the pumping cycle is repeated. Valves on the cylinder prevent the escape of air.

The pressure within the air vessel forces air into the wind chest (D), where other valves (shown in red) may be opened or closed by depressing the organ keys. - The Hydraulicus

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Byzantium 1200 offers new computer reconstructions of Byzantine monuments

"Byzantium 1200 is a non-funded and non-profit project aimed at creating computer reconstructions of the Byzantine Monuments located in Istanbul, TURKEY as of year 1200 AD.

New models added this month include the Hagia Sophia Atrium and an aerial view of Zeuxippos. The Seawalls model has also been updated.

If you have never visited this site before, I urge you to set aside a few hours and indulge yourself!"

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Comparing Strategies of the 2d Punic War: Rome?s Strategic Victory Over the Tactical/Operational Genius, Hannibal Barca

By LTC James Parker, U.S. Army War College

A close examination of the 2d Punic War reveals many lessons at the strategic level of war that endure to this day. Hannibal and Carthage failed when their inherent strategic weakness was confronted by the more robust and resilient Rome. Roman strategy effectively combined all elements of national power into a coherent, war winning strategy. A national strategy should be directed at the enemy?s strategic center of gravity.

In both opponents the strategic center of gravity was the political will of the respective governments, the Roman Senate and the Carthaginian oligarchy. Rome successfully attacked the Carthaginian center of gravity while the Carthaginians pursued a more peripheral strategy aimed at the allies of Rome. Carthaginian strategy focused almost solely on its military strategy, committed to war with Rome by a general unable to muster the strategic resources to win. Carthage never effectively employed its naval forces in concert with its land forces.

Hannibal?s successes point out the importance of training and experience in senior leaders. The strategic assumptions of a campaign plan must be valid for that plan to succeed. Hannibal?s campaign was based on the invalid assumption that Rome?s allies would defect following defeat of Roman armies in the field. Finally successful campaigns consist of operations linked in space and time. Rome succeeded in linking their widely separated operations in Italy, Sicily, Greece, Iberia, and eventually North Africa. This paper looks at the 2d Punic War at the strategic level and attempts to answer question of why one of the ?great captains? of military history failed so completely.

Image Note: Miniature produced by Jim Dero.

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Attack On Vetera

The Attack On Vetera: "The besieged were torn between heroism and degradation by the conflicting claims of loyalty and hunger. While they hesitated, all normal and emergency rations gave out. They had by now consumed the mules, horses and other animals which a desperate plight compels men to use as food, however unclean and revolting. Finally they were reduced to tearing up shrubs, roots and the blades of grass growing between the stones - a striking lesson in the meaning of privation and endurance.
But at long last they spoiled their splendid record by a dishonorable conclusion, sending envoys to Civilis to plead for life - not that the request was entertained until they had taken an oath of allegiance to the Gallic empire. Then Civilis, after stipulating that he should dispose of the camp as plunder, appointed overseers to see that the money, sutlers and baggage were left behind, and to marshal the departing garrison as it marched out, destitute. About 8 kilometers from Vetera, the Germans ambushed the unsuspecting column of men. The toughest fighters fell in their tracks, and many others in scattered flight, while the rest made good their retreat to the camp.
It is true that Civilis protested, and loudly blamed the Germans for what he described as a criminal breach of faith. But our sources do not make it clear whether this was mere hypocrisy or whether Civilis was really incapable of restraining his ferocious allies. After plundering the camp, they tossed firebrands into it, and all those who had survived the battle perished in the flames."

Friday, October 07, 2005

Cypriots in the Roman Army

When Cyprus was incorporated into the Imperium Romanum in 30 BC, the island became a potential recruiting-ground for the Roman army, and military service a potential career for male Cypriots. Two classes of fighting men made up the Roman army. The legions were composed of citizen soldiers and recruited among holders of the Roman franchise, while the auxilia were recruited from non-citizens but received Roman citizenship when they were discharged after twenty-five years' service. To date, no legionaries of Cypriot background have been found in the literary or epigraphical record, but an auxiliary cohort of Cypriots saw service in Romania and the Black Sea region.

After the battle of Actium and the military reforms of Augustus, auxilia came to play a significant role in the Roman army, especially in the north-west border provinces. Previously, auxiliary units had been of varying size; now they were divided into cavalry alae and infantry cohortes of c. 500 men, each cohort subdivided into 6 eighty-man centuriae. Under Augustus, auxiliaries generally served in the area where they had been recruited,[1] often as ethnic units under their own commanders. This policy was gradually abandoned[2] and completely reversed after a series of mutinies and separatist uprisings that shook the Rhine frontier in AD 68-69: cohorts were henceforth stationed outside their area of origin and vacancies filled by local recruitment. By the second century, the auxiliary units had lost much of their ethnic character, but retained their traditional appellations.[3]

Until the mid-first century AD, Roman policy in the Black Sea was based on indirect control of the shores through client-kings. In 61, Scythian forces were besieging Chersonesos (Sevastopol) in the western Crimea, but Kotys, ruler of the Bosporan Kingdom in the eastern Crimea, was unable or unwilling to come to the aid of Chersonesos, and his Roman masters had to intervene directly. An expeditionary force under the command of Ti. Plautius Silvanus, legate of Moesia, forced the Scythians to abandon the siege.[4] Subsequently, Roman control of the Bosporan Kingdom was tightened, and the kingdom of Pontos was made a Roman province. When the expeditionary force returned to its bases in Moesia, a sizeable contingent?according to Josephus, 3,000 men and 40 ships[5]?stayed behind to safeguard Roman interests. Guard duty on the frontier was a typical task for auxiliary units, and it may well be in this context that a unit of Cypriot auxiliaries was raised: Greek-speaking and familiar with the sea, Cypriots were well suited for garrison duty in the northern Black Sea ports.

A generation later, around AD 85, Moesia itself was attacked by Decebalus. Rome was forced to divert forces from the Black Sea coast to the central Balkans.[6] The participation of a Cyprian cohort in the Dacian wars has long been known from a military diploma dated February 110,[7] recording the granting of Roman citizenship and other privileges to veterans of the Dacian wars.[8] A similar diploma, dated to October 109 and found at Ranovac in north-eastern Serbia, was published in 1987.[9] Both diplomas list a number of units, veterans of which benefit from the emperor's decree, and in each list, the cohors IIII Cypria c(ivium) R(omanorum) appears

Wednesday, October 05, 2005 to offer indepth information about the production of sets, costumes and props for popular "Rome" miniseries

I'm really enjoying HBO's miniseries "Rome" that portrays inhabitants of a realistically gritty, thriving city of the ancient world. I was excited to see this announcement that an indepth look at the production of costumes, set pieces and props was going to be provided on their accompanying website

"Coming soon to, a look at the elaborate costumes, set pieces and props authentically recreated for Rome, including lushly painted murals, sumptuous gowns, beautiful crests and detailed daggers, entire streets of blown glass, even ornately displayed Roman meals of snails and feathered birds. Go behind-the-scenes for a close-up look at the rich tapestry that made up the backdrop of Rome. "

Monday, October 03, 2005

Complications of Marriage in the Roman Empire

I've just finished reading "Course of Honour" by Lindsey Davis. For some reason I was under the impression that a Roman male citizen could marry a freedwoman and that manumitting a female slave was commonly done for this purpose. However, in Davis' book, Antonia Caenis could not marry Vespasian, even after she was freed, because he was a senator. I wondered about this but found this reference describing the points of Justinian's law to support her research:

A Senator cannot marry a freedwoman except with imperial permission. The daughter, grand-daughter, great-granddaughter of a Senator cannot marry a freedman or an actor. Justinian relaxed this rule briefly but then changed his mind and reinstated it. (Since Justinian reinstated this law, it must have already been in existence at the time of his reign)

A patron cannot marry a freedwoman against her will, unless he manumitted her for the purpose of marriage.

I was also interested to note that this reference points out that:

If a wife absents herself for three days every year she will remain in the power of her father (or other male kinsman) rather than fall under the authority of her husband. Normally a father or brother could be counted on to be more benevolent and were certainly more remote. This marriage ?without manus? was the norm throughout the time of the Empire.

A daughter married "with manus" passed into the power of her husband. Such a marriage was quite rare, however, and daughters usually remained in the power of their birth family. (Note: this meant that any property the wife owned outside of her dowry and prenuptial donation remained in her family. Her husband administered the dowry and prenuptial donation and was certainly the "head of the house" on a day to day basis.

Things apparently really got complicated if you were a Roman in Alexandria:

Marriage and inheritance. Alexandria, 2nd cent. A.D. (Berlin papyrus 1210. Tr. J.G. Winter. G)
The idiologus, the chief financial officer of Roman Egypt, administered the imperial account, which consisted of funds acquired form means of than taxation (fines and confiscations, for example). The papyrus from which these extracts are taken contains a summary of the rules by which the idiologus carried out his duties. This document reveals fiscal oppressions not only of women but of an entire province.

6. An Alexandrian, having no children by his wife, may not bequeath to her more than one quarter of his estate; if he does have children by her, her share may not exceed those of each son.
23. It is not permitted to Romans to marry their sisters or their aunts; it is permitted in the case of the daughter of brothers. [The idiologus] Pardalas, however, confiscated the property when brothers and sisters married.

24. After death, the fiscus [40] takes the dowry given by a Roman woman over 50 to a Roman man under 60.

26. And when a Latina [41] over 50 gives something to one over 60 it is likewise confiscated.

27. What is inherited by a Roman of 60 years, who was neither child nor wife, is confiscated. If he have a wife but no children and register himself, the half is conceded to him.

28. If a woman is 50 years old, she does not inherit; if she is younger and has three children, she inherits;[42] but if she is a freedwoman, she inherits if she has four children.

29. A free-born Roman woman who has an estate of 20,000 sesterces, so long as she is unmarried, pays a hundredth part annually; and a freedwoman who has an estate of 20,000 sesterces pays the same until she marries.

30. The inheritances left to Roman women possessing 50,000 sesterces, who are unmarried and childless, are confiscated.

31. It is permitted a Roman woman to leave her husband a tenth of her property; if she leaves more, it is confiscated.

32. Romans who have more than 100,000 sesterces, and are unmarried and childless, do not inherit; those who have less, do.

33. It is not permitted to a Roman woman to dispose of her property by will without a stipulated clause of the so-called coemptio fiduciaria. [43] A legacy by a Roman woman to a Roman woman who is a minor is confiscated.

38. The children of a woman who is a citizen of Alexandria and an Egyptian man remains Egyptians, but inherit from both parents.

39. When a Roman man or a Roman woman marries a citizen of Alexandria or an Egyptian, without knowledge (of the true status), the children follow the lower class.

46. To Roman men and citizens of Alexandria who married Egyptian women without knowledge (of their true status) it was granted, in addition to freedom from responsibility, also that the children follow the father's station.

52. It is permitted Roman men to marry Egyptian women.

53. Egyptian women married to ex-soldiers come under the clause of misrepresentation if they characterise themselves in business transactions as Roman women.

54. Ursus [44] did not allow an ex-soldier's daughter who had become a Roman citizen to inherit from her mother if the latter was an Egyptian.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Wandering the Streets of 3-D Rome

Forget the dusty guidebooks and crumbling ruins - an exhibition that has opened in the midst of Rome's Forum invites visitors to don their 3-D glasses and watch the alluring dance of a slave who has been dead for two millennia, or stroll through the streets of ancient Rome with the click of a mouse.

Imagine Ancient Rome presents about 50 multimedia projects developed around the world that show the greatest monuments of the city as they used to be, reconstructing anything from the features of long-dead slaves and gladiators to entire cities of the Roman Empire.

"These monuments were meant to be visited but now they are just a bunch of random ruins," says Bernard Frischer, from the University of Virginia, who worked on two of the projects exhibited.

"What you want to do is put it all back together" he says.

The show runs through to November 20 and is set up among the ancient "tabernae", the shops and offices that lined the section of the forum built by the emperor Trajan.

Space was at a premium in ancient Rome and the cramped rooms of what was once the city's centre for public life can only accommodate a few visitors at a time.

But the wait may be worth it to wander through the computer-generated streets of the distant town of Complutum - east of what is now Madrid, Spain - or gaze into the eyes of the "slave of Murecine", a dancing reconstruction of a young female slave based on a skeleton found near Pompeii, one of thousands of victims of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that buried the city in AD79.

Mr Frischer, who heads the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at Virginia and worked with UCLA to build models of the Colosseum and the Roman forum, says such reconstructions also are of great use to researchers.

"In making a model, we don't put in only what we know, we also discover what we don't know," he says, explaining that experts often make new discoveries when they are forced to make educated guesses to fill in the gaps to reconstruct a building from its ruins.

Once a model is complete, it can also be used as a virtual lab in which to run experiments, he says, as a screen shows two animated gladiators being cheered by the crowd in the reconstructed Colosseum.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Girls Trained in Beautiful Writing?: Female Scribes in Roman Antiquity and Early Christianity

I have been reading the novel "Course of Honor" by Lindsey Davis about the relationship between Vespasian and a female scribe named Caenis. I was curious about this woman so I did some research and found this interesting article about the existence of female scribes (both slave and freewomen) and Caenis in particular:

"That female scribes appear in urban contexts in the service of
upper-class women is supported by two?and, so far as I have been able
to determine, the only two?literary references to female scribes. First,
according to Suetonius? account of Vespasian, when Vespasian?s wife
(Flavia Domitilla) died, ?he resumed his relations with Caenis, freedwoman
and amanuensis of Antonia [Antoniae libertam et a manu], and
formerly his mistress.?30

This anecdotal description of Caenis fits well
with the information from our Latin inscriptions: a freedwoman who
was employed as an amanuensis by another woman.

The second literary reference requires more careful analysis. In his
well-known Book Six of the Satires, Juvenal catalogues with characteristic
ruthless mockery the ways of wives. In the following passage he
satirizes the well-to-do lady who idles away her days unjustly punishing
her slaves if her husband rejects her sexual advances:
If the husband has turned his back upon his wife at night, the libraria is
done for. The slaves who dress their mistresses will be stripped of their
tunics; the Liburnian will be accused of coming late, and will have to pay
for another man?s [i.e., the husband?s] drowsiness; one will have a rod
broken over his back, another will be bleeding from a strap, a third from
the cat; some women engage their executioners by the year. While the
flogging goes on, the lady will be daubing her face, or listening to her
lady-friends, or inspecting the widths of a gold-embroidered robe. While
thus flogging and flogging, she reads the lengthy Gazette, written right
across the page, till at last, the floggers being exhausted, and the inquisition
ended, she thunders out a gruff ?Be off with you!?31

30. Vesp. 3.
31. Satires 6.475?85.

Crucial for my purposes is the very beginning of the passage where
Juvenal indicates that the lady?s libraria will suffer her mistress? temper.
Scholars have been loath to translate this term as ?clerk,? or ?scribe,? or,
even less, ?copyist,? and have rather argued that here the term libraria is
essentially the same as lanipendia, the slave who was responsible for
weighing and doling out the wool to the slave wool workers. The
scholarly reluctance appears to derive from the ancient Scholia gloss in
which the term libraria is replaced with lanipendia.32 Furthermore,
scholars have argued that the context supports this interpretation. And
finally, some have pointed to etymological reasons for the gloss: it is
possible that libraria derives not from the root liber, meaning book, but
from libra, a unit of weight, and hence leads to the interpretation of ?one
who weighs out the wool? (i.e., the lanipendia).33

Each of these arguments, however, is problematic: ancient scholia
must be assessed on an individual basis, since it is just as possible that an
ancient scribe or copyist has mistakenly?intentionally or unintentionally?
glossed a word, as that he (or she) has preserved a good reading.
Furthermore, there is nothing in the context that inherently suggests one
interpretation over against another: we know that libraria were among
the personal servants of wealthy women, and this passage appears
essentially to produce a list of various slaves. And finally, most problematic
in my opinion, is that if libraria means lanipendia in this passage, it
would represent the sole instance in all of Latin literature where this
interchange is made.34 Essentially there are no controls on such a

32. The LCL translates libraria here as wool maid. According to E. Courtney?s
commentary on the Satires, S?which represents the ancient Scholia preserved in P
(the main manuscript used for the LCL text)?understood the use of libraria as the
equivalent of lanipendia (?who weighs out the pensum to the female slaves?):
E.Ê Courtney, A Commentary on the Satires of Juvenal (London: Athlone Press, 1980),
324. John Ferguson likewise adopts the lanipendia interpretation, but admits the this
interchange occurs nowhere else: ?libraria . . . the servant who weighs out the wool
for the workers, only here in literature, elsewhere called lanipendia? (John Ferguson,
Juvenal: The Satires [New York: St. Martin?s Press, 1979], 206). The OLD does not
suggest such an interchange of terms.

33. R. F. Rossi offers a useful discussion of the Juvenal passage, but he is
overconfident in his explanation of libraria as meaning lanipendia (?Librarius,?
Dizionario epigrafico di antichita romane, 4 [Rome, 1958]: 956). Part of his
argument depends on a lack of evidence for female copyists, a point that I am
contesting in this essay: ?Bisogna anche aggiungere che sembra meno sicuramente
demonstrata l?esistenze di donne copiste o scrivane designate col termine libraria?

34. John Ferguson admits this point: Juvenal, 206.
replacement, and therefore I would argue that Juvenal also attests to
female slaves who were trained as clerks, secretaries, or copyists, and
were in the service of female masters.
To the inscriptions and literary references we can add one final piece of
Roman-period evidence for female scribes: an early-second-century
marble relief from Rome that preserves an illustration of a female record
keeper or clerk. The woman is seated on a high-backed chair and
appears to be writing on some kind of a tablet; she faces the butcher who
is chopping meat at a table.35 It strikes me as particularly interesting that
among the few Roman-period visual illustrations of scribes or clerks, one
depicts a woman.36 Furthermore, it suggests that the employment of
female scribes was not exclusively restricted to female employers, for
here we have a vivid portrait of a female scribe working for a male
butcher. It may well be, as some have suggested, that librariae could do
?freelance? work beyond the household in which they were primarily

That some women, or girls, of slave and lower-class status were
trained as clerks, secretaries, and shorthand writers seems clear from the
evidence I have just discussed. These women must have had a certain
degree of literacy and training, which they probably received by
apprenticeship and/or training with a tutor in the household in which
they worked." - KIM HAINES-EITZEN

Monday, August 22, 2005

Caligula's Floating Palaces

The History Channel"Lurking beneath the blue waters of Lake Nemi lay the titans of Roman naval engineering--the Nemi Ships. These titanic luxury liners of the ancient world held inventions lost for thousands of years. But why were they built? Were they Caligula's notorious floating pleasure palaces--rife with excess and debauchery? Flagships of a giant sea force? It took the obsession of Mussolini with all things Roman to finally prise the two huge wrecks from the depths of Lake Nemi near Rome. Using an ancient Roman waterway, he drained the lake and rescued the ships, an accomplishment captured on film that we access to illustrate this astounding story. Sophisticated ancient technology was discovered in the boats that transformed the understanding of Roman engineering overnight--the Nemi ships were a breathtaking find. Yet by 1944, the adventure had turned sour and the retreating German Army torched the boats. We reveal the mysteries of the Nemi Ships and the ancient technology that made them possible."

I watched this program last night and found it fascinating. I was particularly impressed with the water management systems aboard these huge vessels. The program discussed a massive chain-drive bilge pump system and an intricate piston-driven pumping system that used gravity to distribute running water throughout the vessels. I also found it interesting that archaeologists found that the Romans used ball bearings, originally thought to be "invented" in the 14th century. Of course, as a lover of ancient sculpture, I found the bronze figures used for mooring ropes breathtaking as well.

I also was interested in the discussion of Caligula's probable conversion to the Isis cult. The narrator mentioned that the cult would have appealed to Caligula because of the brother/sister relationship between Osirus and Isis. The narrator said that cult worhsippers engaged in ritual sex and human sacrifice, both activities that would appeal to Caligula and make him rationalize some of his actions as religious practices. I found this comment a little surprising since I was unaware of human sacrifice being a part of Isis worship, especially considering the Roman aversion to ritual human sacrifice except in the most dire of circumstances - to the point of official prohibition of it by senatorial decree in 97 BCE under the consulship of P. Licinius Crassus.

See also:;;

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Rome: Engineering an Empire to premiere Sept 5 on The History Channel

NIAF & The History Channel(R) Offer Grand-Prize Trips to Rome: "Rome: Engineering an Empire chronicles the rich history of the Roman Empire, from the reign of Caesar in 44 B.C. to its eventual fall around 537 AD, detailing the remarkable works of architecture and technology that helped create Rome's indelible mark on the world. Highlights include digital re-creations of some of Rome's greatest engineering feats, from Caesar's bridge across the Rhine River to the creation of the Roman Highway, or Via Appia, the world's first modern highway and the passageway that laid the foundation for Roman expansion.

The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is partnering with The History Channel (THC) to offer grand-prize trips to Rome for the sweepstakes promotion of Rome: Engineering An Empire, premiering Monday evening, September 5th at 9:00 p.m./8c."

I see this new program is timed to coincide with the new HBO miniseries "Rome" that will premiere August 28.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Teaching Company Offers Great Battles of the Ancient World Course

Great Battles of the Ancient World: "'Battles, for all their madness, are worthy of study if for no other reason than that they are the crucibles of history,' says Professor Fagan, who notes that a few hours of hard fighting can determine the fates of entire empires.

This course focuses on warfare in the ancient Mediterranean world, encompassing the region from Mesopotamia to Western Europe, including Egypt and North Africa.

The first eight lectures chart the development of warfare from prehistoric times down to the glory days of the great states of the ancient Near East and Egypt. After examining theories about how to define war, you survey different models for the origins of warfare in the Upper Paleolithic (c. 37,000?12,000 years ago) and Neolithic (c. 10,000?5,000 years ago), testing them against the archaeological evidence, which provides our only clues to organized violence among prehistoric peoples.

Then you move into the historical era, starting with the first battles for which we have written accounts. These took place between the city-states of early Sumer (c. 3000?2350 B.C.), with armies of infantry using rudimentary chariots clashing over honor, irrigation rights, and boundaries. Next you travel to Egypt and survey the changing nature of warfare in the Old to New Kingdoms (c. 2700?1070 B.C.), including the first fully recorded battle in history: the Battle of Megiddo between Pharaoh Thutmose III and a coalition of Syrian lords, fought outside the walls of a town in Palestine. You examine the fearsome Assyrian war machine as it developed ca. 900?612 B.C., and the sophisticated army that allowed the Assyrians to forge the largest empire yet seen in the region. You also address disputed matters of the Trojan War and Homeric warfare.

In the next eight lectures you cover warfare among the Greeks and their distinctive form of combat using hoplites, a type of armored infantryman who fought in a close formation called the phalanx. You study the Persian invasions of Greece (490?479 B.C.), examining the battles of Marathon, Thermopylae, Salamis, and Plataea that decided this titanic clash. The disastrous Athenian expedition against Sicily (415?413 B.C.) during the Peloponnesian War is next, followed by the military revolution in the 4th century B.C., which saw the creation of a new and formidable fighting unit spearheaded by the cavalry and a reformed phalanx. This integrated and flexible army reached its pinnacle of efficiency under Alexander the Great, and you survey the battles at the Granicus River, Issus, and Gaugamela that made Alexander king of Persia.

In the third part of the course you study the legions of Rome, which evolved brutally effective tactics that gave them dominion over the entire Mediterranean basin. It is unclear how Roman legionary armies actually fought, and you explore various theories before following the legions into combat in their colossal struggle with Hannibal in the Second Punic War (218?202 B.C.). Then you compare the Roman legion and Macedonian phalanx?the two most efficient killing machines of the day?in duels fought in Italy in the 3rd century B.C. and in the Balkans and Asia Minor in the 2nd century. Next you consider Roman skill in siege warfare as exemplified by Julius Caesar's siege of Alesia (52 B.C.) and the siege of Masada in Judea in 72?73 A.D. The final two battles covered are Roman defeats and introduce the German tribal warrior. These are the battles of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 A.D., considered one of the most important battles in European history, and Adrianople in 378 A.D., which heralded the decline of Roman imperial power.

In the final lecture, Professor Fagan considers the recent proposal by scholar Victor Davis Hanson that there is a distinctively "Western way of war," traceable from the Greeks to the modern age. This intriguing view represents hoplite warfare as a unique development of Greek conditions that casts its shadow down to the present. Despite the theory's attractive simplicity, it has problems that Dr. Fagan details in a fascinating glimpse of scholarly debate in action."

Monday, August 08, 2005

The Roles of Patrician and Plebeian Women in Their Religion in the Republic of Rome

by Lesa A. Young
East Tennessee State University

This paper investigates the roles of Roman women in their religion. It includes both
patrician and plebeian women, as well as public and private roles and focuses on the
period of the Republic (509-30 BCE). Some of the questions to be looked at are: To what
extent were mothers responsible for private rituals at home? What type of activities did
they participate in as private citizens in the public festivals? How extensive were public
religious positions held by women? What role did the Vestal Virgins play in Rome?

The paper is divided into five chapters: The Period of the Republic, Private Rituals,
Life Rituals, Public Rituals, and Public Roles. The Period of the Republic gives
background information about the history, politics, and the role of women in these areas
throughout the Republic. During the Republic wars, droughts, famines, and other crises
made an impact upon the laws pertaining to women and the roles they played. As many
men were killed or away from Rome, women had to take a more active leading role in
affairs. This impacted attitudes, as well as events, and knowing this helps to understand
the women in the Republic. Also included in the first chapter are the mythological stories
from Rome?s pre and early Republican days. The Rape of the Sabine women, the Rape
of Lucretia, and the story of the mother of Coriolanus all represent the traditions of ?good
Roman women?. Then looking at the passage of the lex Oppia and eventual repealing, it
becomes evident that women moved from the secondary position of coercing the men to
achieve their goals, to having the courage and ability to speak out somewhat directly for
their own desires. It never evolves into women having full male rights, but steps are made
toward women being responsible for their own interests and welfare.

The chapter on Private Rituals investigates the rituals, roles, and practices of a Roman
matron in her own home. As the mater, she is responsible for carrying out the requests of
the paterfamialias and for educating her children in the religious rituals, especially her
daughters. Particularly the religious tasks that are typically related to women?s work fall
to the mothers and daughters, such as weaving wreaths, preparing the salt-cakes, reciting
prayers for specific tasks, etc. Numina, Lararium, Lares, Penates, Vesta, Parilia,
Lemuria, and Ambarvalia are discussed in this chapter. Explanations of the rituals and the
tasks of women are given for each.

The chapter on Life Rituals explores the rituals and beliefs of the Roman women
concerning her major life occurrences. These include birth, marriage, and death. Also
included are brief descriptions of divination and dream interpretations. As women, they
were not allowed to read the auspices or interpret dreams. But as superstitious people,
the outcome of these practices definitely impacted women as Romans. The
interpretations would define how/what she could do.

The Public Rituals includes the women?s roles in public festivals. How they could
participate is explored, as well as a number of the festivals. By the end of the Republic,
there were so many festivals and holidays that it was a daily occurrence. The men
brought foreign beliefs and practices back from wars and included them in the religious
calendar so as to not offend any gods. Those investigated in this chapter are the
participation in sacrificial rituals, temple/shrine worship, feasts/festivals, circuses, and

The chapter on Public Roles looks at the role of the Vestal Virgins and also at the few
other minor public positions, such as the wife of the flamen of Jupiter. These leading
religious positions were few in number but played a powerful role as far as women were
concerned. The Vestals had more independence than any other women, although they
still answered to the Pontifex Maximus. He played the role of the paterfamialias for
them. And they walked the line between the genders, being women, having some typical
female tasks to do for Rome?s hearth, but also having some of the legal rights normally
reserved for the males.

The Role of Government in Ancient Rome and Legionary Capitalism

By Karl Moore
Winnipeg, Manitoba Faculty of Management
McGill University

David Lewis
Citrus College

We argue that the government of the Roman Republic and Empire played a
centre role in the development of business of that era. The form of economy
of Rome was what we label Legionary Capitalism, where considerable
business activity arose in order to fulfil needs of the Roman Legions.

The role of government in the economy is a controversial one in today?s world. At one
end of the spectrum we have the lassie fare capitalism of Hong Kong with little government
involvement and on the other, the intertwining of government, business and other societal
institutions found in Japan and France. We believe that a historical perspective is a useful one to
consider the question of whether governments matter? In this paper we take the long view and
focus on the history of Roman and examine the role of the government during first the Roman
Republic and later the Roman Empire. We will show how the role of government evolved over
time and how government was central to the way Roman business operated, organized, expanded and interacted with the rest of society. By considering an exemplar of a society which lasted many centuries and controlled and/or highly influenced the majority of the known world we believe that the current debate is enriched and given greater perspective.


In 509 BCE a patrician revolution created a constitutional republic in Rome. Prior to the
revolution key foundations of the Roman world: the Roman legion, the aristocratic Senate and an
assembly of freemen, with very limited powers, had been laid. During the 600 and 700?s the
monarchy presided over Rome's transformation into a city-state, in which streets were paved and a number of public buildings constructed. However, enough chaffed under the rule of the King to desire a republic (Tacitus, 1971).

The Roman Republic was based upon checks and balances designed to prevent the
installation of another king. The Republic would be administered by two elected Consuls who
could veto one another's actions. Real power lay with the patrician landowners of the Senate. It
was in the context of the new Roman constitution and government which provided a stable social
framework that permitted Roman business to develop in a way it had not been allowed under the monarchs (Freeman, 1996).

As important as the stability of the Roman constitution it was the increase of the role
Roman legions which was more critical to our story. Despite its excellent locational advantages
along the Tiber and the roads of Italy, Rome was still largely an economic backwater selling grain to nearby hill tribes. The same hill tribes such as the Aequi and Volsci Rome sold grain to wanted her farmlands and Rome had to defend them. This led Rome's citizens to war, and it is from war that Roman capitalism received its greatest impetus (Moore and Lewis, 1999, 2000).

Friday, August 05, 2005

Caesar, Pompey, and the Collapse of the First Triumvirate

Caesar, Pompey, and the Collapse of the First Triumvirate
Honors Thesis
by Kristopher Stenson

The creation of the the ?First Triumvirate? of Gaius Julius Caesar, Gnaius Pompeius Magnus, and Marcus Licinius Crassus certainly stands as one of the most pivotal events in Roman Republican history. Ironically, its inception, and the resulting power swing that it created, was the beginning of the end for that very republic. Where as the men had weaknesses while
separate, together they were nearly untouchable by the optimates that sought to reduce the ?Triumvirs?? influence. What, then caused the breakup of these men? The alliance seemed, at least at the beginning, to be the perfect combination for controlling Roman politics, but ultimately the personalities of the three led them in different directions. While the destruction of the Triumvirate is frequently blamed upon the deaths of Crassus and Julia,2 this is an overly simplistic explanation.

To understand the reasons for the rift one must first understand the men who comprised the amicitia. It brought together three powerful men who all wanted to be in ultimate control. Pompey was the hero of the past, Caesar the hero of the future, but both wanted to be the hero of the present. Crassus was the man whose own significant achievements were overshadowed by
both. His drive to show up Pompey was his undoing, as he met an ignoble death in a catastrophic defeat. The alliance among them was thus doomed from the beginning, with three men clambering for the same place; to be First Man in Rome. Caesar proved to be the most cunning, as Pompey was far too prone to believe the flattery constantly heaped upon him by those who
would sway him to their interests, namely the optimates who so vehemently hated Caesar. To Caesar, the Triumvirate was a tool to be utilized, and he was a master at using that tool as best he could, even when the situation was adverse. The civil war that followed the men?s split was unfortunate, but was merely the final step in Caesar?s rise to the top of the Republic.
The success of the Triumvirate, at least in the beginning, was based upon a mutual need for support among the three.

For one, the money of Crassus and Pompey, by the 60?s BC the two richest men in Rome, allowed for plenty of ?greasing the gears of state?. There were few things or people that these two men could not buy, and their money was used extensively in the securing of friendly Tribunes and other magistrates throughout their alliance. The money was also lavishly spent to secure the Consular elections of Caesar and Pompey. While Caesar did not contribute a great deal of money to the cause, what he did bring was a noble family name combined with a formidable political presence that gained the support of the populus with ease.

Especially in its early incarnation, the alliance among these men was seen by contemporaries as being dominated by Pompey, not Caesar, as would become the dominant belief among later historians. Certainly Pompey and Caesar were the leading figures of the three, with the aging Crassus definitely the ?third wheel?. Given that the purpose of this study is primarily to
examine the relationship between Caesar and Pompey, Crassus will not be scrutinized in great detail.

Though my aim is not to give a biography for these three men, a small amount of background on each is nonetheless necessary, so that one can better understand their dynamic together. I will focus primarily on their lives as they neared their pact.

Gnaius Pompeius Magnus was a living legend in his own time, and even more so in his own mind. During his rise to the top of Roman politics he made his mark as both a capable general and a brilliant administrator. As a young man he took it upon himself to levy troops in support of Sulla during the civil wars, meeting the latter as he entered Italy in 83. He was merely 23 at the time, but this movement on his part catapulted him to the forefront of Roman politics. He served for several more years under Sulla, and accounted for himself quite well in actions in Africa and Spain against the Marians. His success garnered him high praise from Sulla, who showed the young man respect that he scarcely ever showed to older, more experienced commanders.

Following his successes in Africa Pompey, who had yet to even enter the Senate, was granted
proconsular imperium and was given the task of taking on Sertorius in Spain. I do not wish to labor through every single engagement or command that Pompey was involved with, but these early posts were pivotal in creating the man that Pompey would become in later years.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Interactive Nolli Map Project

I was so excited to read the local paper that described a research project right here at my own University where a group of Architecture professors collaborated with cartographers and computer graphics specialist to product an online, interactive map of Rome based on the Nolli map of 1748.

"The 1748 Nolli map of Rome, regarded by scholars and cartographers as one of the most important historical documents of the city, serves to geo-reference a vast body of information to better understand the Eternal City and its key role in shaping Western Civilization. The Nolli Map Web Site introduces students to Rome and the structure of its urban form; it illustrates the evolution of the city over time; and it reveals diverse factors that determined its development. Above all the Nolli Web Site is intended to provide a vehicle for students and teachers around the world to explore and facilitate creative thought.

Giambattista Nolli (1701-1756) was an architect and surveyor who lived in Rome and devoted his life to documenting the architectural and urban foundations of the city. The fruit of his labor, La Pianta Grande di Roma ("the great plan of Rome") is one of the most revealing and artistically designed urban plans of all time. The Nolli map is an ichnographic plan map of the city, as opposed to a bird?s eye perspective, which was the dominant cartographic representation style prevalent before his work. He was not only one of the first people to construct an ichnographic map of Rome, but his perspective has been copied ever since.
The map depicts the city in astonishing detail. Nolli accomplished this by using scientific surveying techniques, careful base drawings, and minutely prepared engravings. The map?s graphic representations include not only a precise architectural scale, but also a prominent compass rose, with both magnetic north and astronomical north carefully noted. The Nolli map is the first accurate map of Rome since antiquity and captures the city at the height of its cultural and artistic achievements. The historic center of Rome has changed little over the last 250 years; therefore, the Nolli map remains one of the best sources for understanding the contemporary city.

In the last half of the 20th century a renewed interest in the map by architects and urban designers has flourished and led to new urban theories that present a model for the study of all cities and their urban patterns. The intention of this website is to both reveal the historical significance of the map and the principles of urban form that may influence city design in the future.

Features of the Nolli Map

The Nolli map consists of twelve exquisitely engraved copper plates that measure approximately six feet high and seven feet wide when combined (176 cm by 208 cm). The map includes almost eight square miles of the densely built city as well as the surrounding terrain. It also identifies nearly two thousand sites of cultural significance. Nolli?s map is an extraordinary technical achievement that represents a milestone in the art and science of cartography. Modern surveys and sophisticated satellite images have confirmed the accuracy of Nolli?s map within the very smallest margin of error. The map not only records the streets, squares and public urban spaces of Rome, but Nolli carefully renders hundreds of building interiors by way of detailed plans. The detail of the map representation ensures the map's continuing value as a unique historical document, and it gives the viewer a glimpse into the ancient metropolitan center during one of its most illustrious periods.

Key Features of the Web Site

The website features a digitally mastered, high resolution interactive Nolli map, designed for broadband connections. The Map Engine may be accessed from any page of the website, allowing you to navigate through the city at a variety of scales. Using the Map Engine, the user can pan in any direction and zoom in or out from the macro-scale of the city to the micro-scale of the building. Layers have been created to focus on particular topics, for example " gardens.? The layers in this first edition will be updated and expanded to include many more topics. The topics that will be added include topographic and hydrographic information, specific building types, and census data by Rioni. Layers may be turned on and off, and blended with map below to provide for the best viewing conditions."

Check it out!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Magic in Roman Law

by James B. Rives

As Book 4 of The Aeneid draws to its climax, Dido begins to make plans for her
self-immolation and enlists her sister?s help with the preparations. In order to hide
from Anna the true significance of her requests, she explains that she has found
a way either to get Aeneas back or to loosen the hold of love: a female sacerdos of
the Massylii can by means of carmina free her mind from cares. But before giving
Anna her instructions, Dido makes a short but emotional apology: ?Dear sister,
I call the gods to witness, and you and your sweet life, that unwillingly do I resort
to magical arts? (Aen. 4.492?93). An innocent reader might wonder why she
feels the need to apologize in this way.

The ancient commentator Servius, writingprobably in the early fifth century ??, provides a plausible answer: ?because, although the Romans adopted many rites (sacra), they always condemned those of magic (semper magica damnarunt); for that reason she excuses herself? (ad
Aen. 4.493). Since Servius was writing as an ancient grammaticus, concerned above all with the linguistic exposition of his text for young students, it is not surprising that his comment is somewhat lacking in nuance. It is not, however, inapposite: if we understand that both the author and his readers condemned magical rites, a character who was meant to appear sympathetic would naturally express shame at recourse to them.

Nor did Servius? observation lack historical basis. By using the verb damnare,
with its strong legal connotations, Servius almost certainly meant to suggest that
sacra magica were not merely improper but actually illegal. At the time that he
was writing, this was indeed the case.1 Moreover, Servius had good reason to
believe that it had in fact ?always? been the case, for he knew of a law from
the XII Tables, the ancient compilation of Roman laws written some eight and
a half centuries before, that concerned a specific magical rite. Commenting on the
second half of Vergil?s eighth Eclogue, a poem in which a young girl attempts
by ritual means to bring her lover back from town, he elucidates her claim that
certain herbae and venena can be used to transfer crops from one field to another
(Ecl. 8.99) by remarking that ?this came about by means of certain magical arts;
hence in the XII Tables there is the clause ?nor entice the crop of others.??2 It
was therefore with some justification that he could assert that the Romans had
?always? condemned magical rites.

The Two Republicae of the Roman Stoics: Can a Cosmopolite be a Patriot?

By Lisa Hill

"Marcus Aurelius argued in the Meditations that ?since we are all rational
beings so the law which governs us must be universal ? we are all fellow
citizens and share a common citizenship ? the world is a single city? (Marcus
Aurelius, 1964). Epictetus recalls the famous story of Socrates who, when asked
to which country he belonged, refused to say ?I am an Athenian? or ?I am a
Corinthian? but replied: ?I am a citizen of the universe? (Epictetus, (1989). Our
species is by nature social and ?fellowship? is the end for which all ?rational?
creatures exist (Stanton, 1968, pp. 187?188). It is our duty, Cicero tells us, ?to
respect, defend, and maintain the common bonds of union and fellowship
subsisting between all members of the human race? (Cicero, 1990)."