Monday, April 11, 2005

Humble Beginnings, Glorious Destiny: A Look at Roman Art

By Moya K. Mason

Humble Beginnings, Glorious Destiny: A Look at Roman Art: "'Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori'; 'it is a lovely and a splendid thing to die for one's country.'(1) As Rome began her glorious rise to world dominance, it never forgot Horace's now famous words. Rome's roots were in the fields of Latium and based on the ideology of 'mos maiorum', or respect for the old ways and ancient customs, and included all aspects of Roman culture. Even when the Empire was at its height, those ideals of patriotism, hard work, and frugality were still held in high regard, if not practiced. The Roman people had their origins in a philosophy in which the individual was subservient to the state and to the all-important state religion and when duty called, the peasants and rural aristocracy answered. It has long been suggested that Rome's greatness and strength was based on the fact that the majority of its military men came from the Roman agricultural class which was used to long hours and hardships.(2) From the ousting of Tarquinius Superbus, the last Etruscan king of Rome in 509 BC, through the terrible years of war with Hannibal, to the never-ending imperialistic battles on their borders, the Roman citizens were called to duty for the sake of their country. Cicero wrote, 'the strength of Rome is founded on her ancient customs as much as on the strength of her sons.'"

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

History class brings ancient warfare to life

Western Courier:

Western Illinois University professor Lee Brice gives students a taste of what ancient warfare was really like in his History 430 class:

"The students in the class were assigned to design makeshift Greek and Roman armor out of whatever they could find; no purchasing of materials was allowed. Participants made their armor out of everything from cardboard beer boxes and tin foil to license plates and loose change, and were given plastic pipes and long wooden rods in place of spears.

Brice then walked his two armies through a series of ancient military maneuvers pausing often to ask students questions such as 'who would win this battle and why?'

'(Brice) keeps it at a logical level and teaches people living in 200 B.C. were just as smart as we are today,' said David Egler, history professor.

The mock combatants were able to see firsthand the advantages to the Roman short sword used for stabbing rather than slashing and long shield, which provided optimal protection. They also observed the highly effective long spears the Macedonians used, and even re-enacted the famous battle of Marathon.

Under windy, cool conditions the Greek army was instructed to start at the University Union and run down in formation all the way past the library toward their barbarian adversaries who in return threw waded up paper at them in place of arrows. According to Brice, the purpose was to give the students some idea of what it was like for the Greeks to have fought that battle running at full speed in 70 pounds of armor."