MemberlistThe Library Index  FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   RegisterRegister   ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 
All Things Roman (History)
Reply to topic Goto page 1, 2, 3 ... 14, 15, 16  Next
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Ishmael


In: Toronto
View user's profile
Reply with quote

I wish to set up here a parallel thread focused on Roman History. I've been reading a set of novels about ancient Rome and have come away with certain conclusions and/or suspicions at odds with the writer of these novels (and at odds with conventional history in many, many cases).
Send private message
Ishmael


In: Toronto
View user's profile
Reply with quote

The First Rule of Roman History

At no time did anyone ever sleep with their mother, mother-in-law or sister, nor did anyone ever murder their mother, mother-in-law or sister.
Send private message
Ishmael


In: Toronto
View user's profile
Reply with quote

Commentary on the first rule

Anyone who reads Roman History cannot help but be struck by the ubiquitous frequency with which Roman rulers or politicians either commit incest or parricide. One must conclude that either Roman families were much more open about sex and less possessed of familial feeling than our contemporary understanding of Roman culture would suggest, or that these accusations, in most cases, are nothing more than slanders: the ancient equivalent of calling an adversary a "Mother Fucker."

Now...while it is possible that some of these accusations are accurate, as we've no way to sort the truth from lies and the vast majority of such accusations are undoubtably lies, we are always safest to assume that any particular such claim is a trumped up charge with no basis in truth.

Thus, Sulla did not sleep with his mother-in-law, nor did he murder his mother-in-law. Neither did Nero sleep with his own mother or murder his own mother. This must all be thrown out.

Of course, any history in which such claims are made must itself become suspect on the whole. I would suggest that any negative comment made concerning an historical personage covered by a history containing a violation of the First Rule must be expunged and assumed to be a lie. Only positive or neutral comments may be accepted from a historical document claiming that the persona in question either slept with or murdered their mother, mother-in-law or sister.

I suspect that Roman History will become much less titillating if this rule is applied. I also suspect that some historical figures, such as Caligula, may suddenly emerge as far less grotesque than we have, until now, thought them to be.

I also think we will gain a much more accurate picture of the Roman Empire.
Send private message
Ishmael


In: Toronto
View user's profile
Reply with quote

Roman Names

I have increasingly come to suspect that all Roman names are ceremonial. The Latin titles by which we know so many Roman characters are not birth names by any stretch of the imagination. Rather, they are "official" state designations for individuals -- perhaps much like Social Security Numbers. Every Roman Citizen (or at least those of some official rank) posessed an official Latin Name as well as an Italian birth name. The Latin name, however, could change to reflect alterations of status.

This tradition is preserved in the Catholic Church. Here, when a new Pope in "named," he puts away his birth name and takes on an offical Latin name (which is then translated into the world languages). This is why we know the former Pope as "John Paul II" rather than by the Polish name his parents gave to him.

It may well be, in fact, that some of Roman history is confused as a result. Some individuals clearly had two names. For example, Augustus Ceasar was once known as Octavian.

I suspect some individuals have been divided into two persons as a consequence of this official name change not having been recorded and the person in question being called by two different names in two different histories.
Send private message
Ishmael


In: Toronto
View user's profile
Reply with quote

Re: Commentary on the first rule

Now...the other interesting thing about Roman Historians is their inclusion of various "portents" and "signs in the heavens" that invariably predict the fates of their subjects. In this light, it becomes possible to re-interpret the meaning of these incest and parricide references. Consider the following:

As Suetonius notes, Caesar lost his father at 15; a teenager, he was forced to hide from Sulla's secret police, searching to destroy him. Captured by pirates, he "smilingly swore" he would hunt them down and crucify them when released - which he did. As a quaestor in Spain, he saw a statue of Alexander. He "...was overheard to sigh impatiently: vexed, it seems, that at an age when Alexander had already conquered the whole world, he himself had done nothing in the least epoch-making. Moreover, when on the following night, much to his dismay, he had a dream of raping his own mother, the soothsayers greatly encouraged him by the interpretation of it: namely, that he was destined to conquer the earth, our Universal Mother." http://heraklia.fws1.com/private_man/index.html

Is it possible that such tales told of rumours of parricide and incest among the nobility were thought to portend a tendency to dictatorship and ruthlessness? If so, then perhaps these historians felt justified in reading such events into the pasts of the those men who later rose to supreme power.
Send private message
Ishmael


In: Toronto
View user's profile
Reply with quote

Thoughts on The Fall of the Republic (1)

I have come to believe that the death of the Roman Republic did not stem from some mere conflict between two generals over some foreign command (Sulla and Gaius Marius), it can only be properly understood as the natural consequence of the Italian Civil War -- a civil war, the impact of which appears to be rather under-appreciated by Historians.

I just completed Colleen McCullough's The Grass Crown and found it to be a good but weaker sequel to the first book of the series The First Man in Rome. The novel's primary weakness stems from the author's inability to account for the radical transformation in the behavior/character of one of her principal heroes, Gaius Marius (and, to some extent, the continued portrayal of Sulla as a controlled sociopath, carried over from the first novel in the series).

McCullough wants the reader to understand Marius as an inherently good man and loyal Roman, but this leads to problems when it comes to the brief reign of terror Marius brings to Rome after reclaiming it from Sulla's faction. Her only recourse is to attribute this behavior to dementia, brought on by Marius' old age. She makes this weak appeal because she (like most historians I suspect) fails to appreciate the social-transforming impact of the Italian Civil War that immediately preceeds the conflict between Marius and Sulla.

The Classic Civil War Cycle

I think something fundamental was fatally weakened at this time in Roman History. The pattern of reform, rebellion, revolution and dictatorship that we see so often throughout history makes perfect sense of the period when applied to the dying days of the Republic.

If we examine the French Revolution or the British Civil War, we find what I call, the 'Classic' revolutionary pattern: internal conflict between conservatives and reformers erupts into open rebellion and revolution, tearing even families apart, producing a reign of terror against the enemies of the revolution until the rise of a dictator brings order back from chaos.

Internal Conflict

For roughly a century prior to the Civil War, Rome had been shaken by a political conflict between two factions. Essentially, we might describe the two as 'liberals' and 'conservatives' and I don't think the labels are as inaccurate as some historians insist. The liberals sought a more 'inclusive' Roman citizenship with wider political participation while the 'conservatives' sought to preserve the ancient traditions of class and privilege, handed down from the founding of the Republic. The liberal motivation was both practical and idealistic. It was practical because Italy and the Roman 'Head Count' (the lowest form of urban citizenship) were becoming increasingly difficult to control. The Roman ship of state was balanced precariously upon an ever-deepening sea of relatively powerless plebeians and Italians. Without reform, the Republic could any moment fall to internal discontent.

The conservatives saw the same dangers, but responded differently. Rather than making concessions to the lower classes and under-classes, they attempted to form alliances with the upper echelons of non-senatorial rank to defend as much of the system of privilege as they possibly could. The ideal, of course, was to preserve all power in the Senate but, over the years, this power had been slowly ebbing away. All that time, resentment grew among the conservatives.

The Civil War

The liberals failed to reform fast enough and this resulted in the Italian Civil War, which pitted the privileged Roman citizenship -- concentrated within Rome itself -- against the non-citizen allied Italian states.

The general understanding of this war among historians appears to be shaped by the 'city-state' paradigm: the city of Rome, at war with an alliance of rival cities, in defense of its relative power and privilege.

There is some truth to this, but I believe a greater and more significant dynamic has been missed.

Italians in Rome

By this time, a great many Italians had been awarded the Roman Citizenship. The Citizenship had been doled out in dribs and drabs over the years as a reward to loyal service and as an inducement to future loyalty to the Roman state. However, many of these Romanized Italians had become very powerful. Moreover, a very large number of them had settled within Rome and not a small few had themselves attained great power in the Knights' assemblies and in the Senate itself. In fact, one Italian, had been Consul of Rome (comparable to President of the United States) six times (that is six one-year terms). That Italian was Gaius Marius.

These Roman Citizen Italians were loyal to Rome. However, Gaius Marius's career is one in which he repeatedly allies himself with the liberal faction that sought to extend political power to the Plebian citizens and the citizenship itself to the Italians. In fact, one of Marius' allies, Saturninus, would become a plebian demagogue and foment open rebellion against the Senate. Only when the crisis came to a head did Marius ultimately rise to defend the Senate and system of laws against his former ally and help defeat the rioters.

The Social Reformer: Revolutionary in Genesis

The picture I see is of the classic social reformer. Marius believes in the system but is constantly seeking to improve it to correct some perceived, fundamental error in its structure.

War finally broke out with the Italian Allies after the assassination of their Senatorial advocate, Drusus (the leader of the 'liberal' faction at the time, to whom Marius himself was allied). The Italians had petitioned the Senate for the citizenship only to be rebuffed after Drusus' death. During the early stages of the war, Marius takes command of a Roman army and finally wins Rome its first victory.

After this success, however, Marius disappears from the War effort. McCullough attributes this to a stroke -- an event I doubt she has any real evidence for (but have not done enough research to contend). In any event, Marius returns to Rome. I think this return has a more obvious explanation: the transformation of a reformer into a revolutionary.

Marius' enlistment in the war effort was consistent with his life-long defence of Rome as an institution. One in which he believed, despite his Italian origin. But Marius was not immune to the anti-Italian feeling of the conservative faction and the urban Roman citizen class, which still guarded its privileges closely. He had no doubt long suffered the bigotry of the old-families who resented the success of this Italian 'New Man.'

The war with his fellow Italians marked the breaking point. It is easy to imagine the shock of a man forced to make war on his own people (I even wonder if the name 'Marius' means 'of the Marsi' -- the Marsi being the leading anti-Roman Italian tribe).

Rise of the Revolutionary

But for years following his resignation of command, Marius waited in Rome. Like so many political converts, his transformation took time. He was not yet sufficiently dedicated to the revolutionary cause to enlist himself in the political campaign immediately. Nor was the time right so long as Rome itself was threatened with extinction -- a looming fear that could unite the populus for the time being.

Marius remained Roman. He never became a rebel (allied with the Italians), seeking to destroy the Roman system. But he did become a revolutionary, allied to their cause. Once the danger of the rebels was removed, he formed a coalition with other disaffected Senators (some, no doubt, of Italian origin) to overthrow the existing oligarchy. This faction represented a true fifth-column attack upon the state -- an extension of the civil war of the countryside within the city of Rome itself.
Send private message
Ishmael


In: Toronto
View user's profile
Reply with quote

Thoughts on the Fall of the Republic (2)

Historians Miss the Point?

This is the missing element in conventional chronicles of the time. Because of the large numbers of Italians within Rome's urban domain and within its political classes, the civil war could not be contained to the countryside.

In the dying days of the rebellion, the revolutionaries within Rome, Marius among them, rose up to transform the state. They took power and forced through a system of laws that stripped the Senate of all its remaining power and extended the Roman citizenship to every Italian that had not taken up arms against Rome.

It was in response to this revolt within Rome -- by the highest elites (a former 'President', in effect, led the revolution) that Sulla entered the city with his legions.

Sulla: A Counter-Revolutionary Cromwell

The revolutionaries realized the threat Sulla posed to their program of radical change. Thus, they had sought to remove Sulla from command of his legions and appoint Gaius Marius to command instead.

Conventionally, Sulla's subsequent invasion of the city is understood as a conflict between these two rival commanders, but I think this misses the truth completely. Each commander was a representative of two conflicting political forces that would finally collide within Rome itself and only ultimate force could hope to resolve that larger conflict either way.

Sulla is thus the classic dictator type, on the model of Napoleon or Oliver Cromwell, who brings order to the chaos of civil war and revolution. However, Sulla initially behaved with the utmost respect to law and order. As an archconservative and defender of the old system, he used a relatively mild hand to crush the revolution (compared to the heavy-handed tactics of some of his allies that had murdered -- apparently -- more than a thousand revolutionary supporters in the days prior to the invasion). Sulla executed only one individual, sending the others into exile.

The irony of course, is that Sulla's last-ditch effort to save the Republic proved the final death blow to everything he stood for. By demonstrating the supremacy of the army over the Senate, it would prove impossible for the senate ever again to exercise ultimate power. But what choice did Sulla have? The revolutionaries would have ended the traditional polity of Rome just as surely -- if perhaps in a different (more 'liberal') direction.

The Paper Counter-Revolution

Sulla expelled the revolutionary leaders and, using (mostly) legal means, reversed the system of laws they had enacted. In fact, he restored the Senate (on paper) to complete supreme power and took away every essential privilege of all other classes. Rome was restored completely to its "original" Republican form.

On paper.

In reality, none of it could last because that system had already proven itself incapable of governing the plebians, Italians and Empire as a whole -- which is why the reforms had been necessary over the years. The system Sulla sought to defend was already outmoded.

The Reign of Terror

Unfortunately for Sulla, he was not even able to keep the revolutionaries down in the short term. Sulla was forced to leave Rome to defend the Empire and the revolutionaries retook power in his absence. It was in this context that Marius returned from exile and instituted what is clearly a 'classic' revolutionary 'reign of terror'.

Marius, the great defender of Rome as institution, had been transformed now to the ultimate revolutionary. He no longer sought to use the levers of state to institute political reform but sought instead to purge the state itself of counter-revolutionary forces. Like a Castro or Lenin, he realized that the only hope to preserve the revolution was by extinguishing the last elements of the old guard.

Even so, his purge was incomplete and he died only 13 days into his seventh and last (and imfamous) consulship.

The Roots of Violence

I believe much of the violence of the period also occurred as a consequence of the coarsening effects of the Civil War. In previous wars, Rome used its military to crush foreigners on foreign soil. With only isolated exceptions, the Republic had not ever gone to war with the Italians.

Unfortunately, the state would apply the same ruthless methods to this Civil War that it had earlier employed against foreigners. This established a context of violence against locals that made mass political violence within the city of Rome itself palatable (and I believe this illustrates some of the dangers inherent in externally-directed violence -- that it coarsens those involved, rendering them a danger to the society that seeks to master them).

Sulla and Marius were both men used to massacring (what we would call) 'civilians' in the name Rome. A defensible practice perhaps but one that had unforeseen effects. Sulla and Marius would both eventually bring that same problem-solving method back to Rome.

What made that all the easier however was the nature of the Civil War. Many cities that had formerly been friends of Rome and in which many Romans had settled or enjoyed familial or business connections with, were wiped off the face of the earth. This proved but a stepping-stone for violence to find its way to Rome itself. After all, what was the difference between a Roman and an Italian, but some arbitrary matter of 'law?'

The Italian Civil War: The End of the Republic

Nevertheless, my main point is that the key to understanding the fall of the Roman Republic lies in the Italian Civil War. The Imperial System that was eventually to follow is best understood on the Cromwellian or Napoleonic model -- or might better even be compared to the Russian Revolution, as Stalin's dictatorship would ultimately be followed by a succession of similar 'emperors'.

The Republic did not fall from some accident of History -- nor was the Italian War just another foreign war set closer to home. The Italian Civil War ripped Roman Society asunder and plunged it into the kind of chaos from which only a dictator would seem capable of rescuing it.
Send private message
Ishmael


In: Toronto
View user's profile
Reply with quote

The Name of Caesar

I have long suspected, and wanted to prove, that the name Caesar was not so much a name but a title. There are problems with this hypothesis, not the least is the fact that the name Caesar is used by contemporaries exactly as we would today employ a name. Yet...I persisted in my suspicion.

I have suspected this because I cannot imagine how the kings of Germany and Russia could possibly have named themselves after Caesar -- yet that is what the Historians claim they did, with their names "Tzar" and "Kaizer." I believe this indicates that the name Caesar is older than Caesar and always meant something connected with kingship.

Colleen McCullough, who wrote the books on Rome I have been reading, writes that scholars believe the word Caesar meant "a fine head of hair," but it seems to me that that very phrase might be alternatively rendered as "a fine crown" or " glorious crown." After all, the top of our heads, where is our hair, is called our "crown," even for those of us who do not normally wear one.

Furthermore, McCullough herself mentions the detail that the Julians (of which the Caesar family was one branch) were decended from former Kings. Might their name not contain a reference to their regal status? It would then be left to the coincidences of history that a man named "King," would become the Rome's first Emperor.

But then...it's not that hard to imagine when the longest-serving prime-minister of Canada happened to have been named Mackenzie King.

But what I have needed to establish that Kaiser and Tzar have no relationship to the person of Julius Caesar was an earlier appearance of the name in another culture, where it is specifically associated with Kingship or power. I was never able to find such a reference.

Until now.

I have one. I had it for a long time. We've all had it for a long time but did not recognize it.

The name is Beltashazzar, the last part of which is clearly "Caeser."

In the Old Testament, Daniel is given the new "name" Beltashazzar by the Baylonians. Likely, the name was a title of office that he assumed -- like "vice-president" or "prime-minister." The first part of the name was a kind of qualifier on the second, which was Caesar. Thus, Beltashazzar likely meant something like "assistant-Caesar."

But Daniel got his new name in the court of Nebuchadnezzar and the nezzar portion of this name is clearly a variation of Caesar as well. This variation has survived to the modern era as Nasser, a name that rose to prominence again in the person of the famed and some say greatest president of Egypt.

There seems, in fact, to have been a series of words that were related and all connected with high office. These words were, phonetically, Thazer, Kazer, Nazer and Vazer (perhaps many more, such as Bajer).

Thazer survives as Tzar and Belthezar. Kazer survives as Kaizer. Nazer became Nasser. And Vazer is present still in the word "advice" and "advisor."
Send private message
Mick Harper
Site Admin

In: London
View user's profile
Reply with quote

Some initial thoughts:

1. Anybody reading Roman History (either the Ancients or the Moderns) is soon aware that there is an Official Line. Using your own favoured chunk of history, for instance, Sulla is always the baddie and Marius is always the goodie. Presumably because the Marian Reforms led to ultimate success (the establishment of the monarchical Principate) whereas Sulla's policy failed (end of the oligarchical Senate).

2. This situation can only arise if History itself is being tampered with. In other words, contrary versions are being progressively destroyed. What this means in times of written manuscripts is hard to evaluate, but it is certainly perfectly manageable in our times of printed documentation when, for instance, Soviet History gets re-written every now and again to take into account changes of state policy/personnel.

3. Nothing appears to be sacred from this Official Excorcism. The Emperor Claudius wrote a History of the Etruscans but it has not come down to us. In fact virtually nothing of the Etruscans has come down to us! Wonder why. The Etruscans of course provided the early Romans with their Kings. Indeed, it would appear, were instrumental in founding Rome itself. The murk becomes overwhelming.

4. The name Caesar. You've left out Shah from your list. In other words, are the later Persian rulers using a form of Roman title (people they were at war with for a thousand years) or some more ancient and/or more local version of the name for a monarchical ruler?

5. There is of course the very intriguing Khazars who are regarded (by me and some others) as the European Jews, another lot who paid particular attention to composing history.

6. On your question of Caesar and assistant-rulers, don't forget that in the later post-Diocletian Empire this was official policy. The two Principle Rulers (East and West) were known as Augustus, while their two assistant-emperors were given the title Caesar. This system was of course overthrown by Constantine who inaugurated the Christian era (the Christians being the greatest history-tamperers of all time).

7. The name the Romans themselves actually used, Imperator, simply means "general" i.e. a deliberate attempt to down-play the significance of the title.

8. Also please check your spelling when actually using titles. Are you saying that "Vizier" as in "Grand Vizier" is part of the same syndrome? If so then this might lead into consideration of the highly mysterious office of "Mayor of the Palace", the Western version of the Eastern vizier system, in which real power and sacerdotal power is split. And of course a system used by Charlemagne's branch of the Franks to take over from the Merovingians (with the connivance of the Papacy).

9. On the question of name-confusion. While reading about the Punic War, I noticed the (modern) historian is constantly having to fend off other (modern AND ancient) historians' claims that such-and-such general is fighting one battle when up pops another general with a similar name and fights a similar battle a few years later. They (the historians that is) then proceed to quarrel about whether this is one man or two men.

Even such a famous character as Scipio Africanus fighting the Second Punic War gets muddled up with his nephew (grand-nephew? adopted son? same geezer?) as another Scipio who fights in the Third Punic War. It is either thoroughly confusing because of Roman nomenclature conventions or its a historical device to confuse posterity. Or something else entirely is going on.

10. I have always considered that the Gracci Brothers rebellion is the fulcrum of the Civil War but I've never been able to pin down quite why.
Send private message
Ishmael


In: Toronto
View user's profile
Reply with quote

Mick Harper wrote:
1. Anybody reading Roman History (either the Ancients or the Moderns) is soon aware that there is an Official Line. Using your own favoured chunk of history, for instance, Sulla is always the baddie and Marius is always the goodie.

It was my understanding that different sources portray each character as good or evil depending on their own political position. Are you saying that there is one political line that governs all sources?

Presumably because the Marian Reforms led to ultimate success (the establishment of the monarchical Principate) whereas Sulla's policy failed (end of the oligarchical Senate).

Again, I thought some sources portrayed Marius as a villain. Sulla seems to get a bum wrap from all sides. His faction failed and left no successors.

2. This situation can only arise if History itself is being tampered with. In other words, contrary versions are being progressively destroyed.

Yes. I agree. But are they being destroyed to fit a single political view or various, competing views? And was the destruction absolute? There do seem to be competing views that have survived.

3. ...virtually nothing of the Etruscans has come down to us! Wonder why. The Etruscans of course provided the early Romans with their Kings.

Interesting implications.

4. You've left out Shah from your list.

Good point. "Shah" would seem to be the ending root of all of the words I listed (Caeshah, Kaishah, etc.).

In other words, are the later Persian rulers using a form of Roman title (people they were at war with for a thousand years) or some more ancient and/or more local version of the name for a monarchical ruler?

It is for the latter that I argue!

There is of course the very intriguing Khazars who are regarded (by me and some others) as the European Jews, another lot who paid particular attention to composing history.

Whoah! I completely missed this. I was completely distracted by my own thesis that the Khazars are Cathars (a link I think utterly obvious). They are the two outer-ends of my "Ancient Islamic Empire" (one in the east, the other in the west). But now, one can see that Cathar/Kazar equals Caesar. What can it all mean???

6. On your question of Caesar and assistant-rulers, don't forget that in the later post-Diocletian Empire this was official policy. The two Principle Rulers (East and West) were known as Augustus, while their two assistant-emperors were given the title Caesar.

Interesting.

8. Also please check your spelling when actually using titles. Are you saying that "Vizier" as in "Grand Vizier" is part of the same syndrome?

Absolutely. There seem to have been a series of words, perhaps associated with a hierarchy of ranks. I intentionally spelled these words phonetically so that links might be better seen between variant forms of each name. Thus, Tzar is not a form of Ceasar but a form of a related word. The words I have identified are Kizar, Vizar, Nizar, Thizar and, possibly, Bizar.

If so then this might lead into consideration of the highly mysterious office of "Mayor of the Palace"...

I know nothing of this.

9. On the question of name-confusion. While reading about the Punic War, I noticed the (modern) historian is constantly having to fend off other (modern AND ancient) historians' claims that such-and-such general is fighting one battle when up pops another general with a similar name and fights a similar battle a few years later.

I would appreciate more information on this. Can you provide some examples to discuss?

10. I have always considered that the Gracci Brothers rebellion is the fulcrum of the Civil War but I've never been able to pin down quite why.

Please go into more detail. I see the Gracci as the opening salvo in the Civil War - forestalled by the German invasions.
Send private message
DPCrisp


In: Bedfordshire
View user's profile
Reply with quote

You must be right, Ish. I always thought the German and Russian bit was pretty far-fetched, too; but the protracted Persian-Roman hostilities seem to put the lid on it.

Balthazar: Means "BAAL protect the king" in Phoenician.

Conventionally, the "vis" root of advise/advice means to see... but there is a clear connection between seeing and wisdom, of the sort assistants, viziers, advisors, seers are supposed to come up with.

One of the key things about leaders -- as distinct from heroes (cf. Jason and Hercules) -- is their vision.

It doesn't take long to turn up a whole raft of ZAR or SAR words clustered around a few related meanings.

Saraid: Means "excellent" in Irish Gaelic and fits in all of the following categories. Furthermore, we have seen that R = L is an oft valid rule, which means ZAR = SAR = SAL and we go right back to where we came in.

Let's start with fire or star:

Izar, Izarra, Izzara: Means "star" in Basque.
Azar: Means "fire" in Persian.

and move quickly on to flowers:

Zara, Zahrah: Derived from Arabic zahra meaning "blooming flower".
Gulzar: Means "rose garden" in Persian.
(Rose is itself a variant of zar?)

Fire also links to yellow and gold words:

Zarathustra: derived from zara meaning "golden" and ushtra meaning "camel" or possibly "star".
Zareen: Means "golden" in Persian.
zarda: [Pers. & Urdu zardah, f. Pers. zard yellow.] A Persian and Indian sweet dish...
zari: [...f. Pers. zar gold.] Indian gold and silver brocade...
zarnich: [...f. zar gold.] A sulphide of arsenic; orpiment, realgar.

Kings and such are but a short step away (as with Tsar, Caesar and all those words and names where we started):

Sarai: Possibly means "contentious" in Hebrew. This was the name of Sarah in the Old Testament before God changed it (see Genesis 17:15). Sarah: Means "lady" or "princess" in Hebrew.
bizarre: Cf. Sp. & Port. bizarro handsome, brave.
Nazareth(!)


And their fortifications or enclosures:

alcazar: [Sp. alcazar f. Arab. al-kasr the castle.] A Spanish palace or fortress.
zareba,zariba: a fence, usu. made of thorn trees, for defence against enemies or wild animals.
zarf: [Arab. zarf vessel.] A cup-shaped holder for a hot coffee- cup

A strong theme, presumably related to the benificence of kings, is help:

Sarosh: Means "prayer" in Persian.
Azarel: Means "God has helped" in Hebrew. This was the name of several minor Old Testament characters.
Azariah: Means "Yahweh has helped" in Hebrew. This was the name of several Old Testament characters including of one of the three men the Babylonian king ordered cast into a fiery furnace.
Eleazar: Variant of Eliezer. In the Old Testament this is the name of one of the sons of Aaron.
Eliezer: Means "God is my helper" in Hebrew. In the Old Testament this is the name of both a servant of Abraham and one of the sons of Moses (see Exodus 18:4 for an explanation of the significance of the name).
Ezar, Ezra: Means "help" in Hebrew. Ezra was a prophet of the Old Testament and the author of the Book of Ezra.
Lazarus: Latin form of Eleazar found in the New Testament. Lazarus was a man from Bethany, the brother of Mary and Martha, who was restored to life by Jesus.
Send private message
Mick Harper
Site Admin

In: London
View user's profile
Reply with quote

10. I have always considered that the Gracci Brothers rebellion is the fulcrum of the Civil War but I've never been able to pin down quite why.

Please go into more detail. I see the Gracci as the opening salvo in the Civil War - forestalled by the German invasions.


My original interest in all this is somewhat different from yours. One of my constant themes is trying work out what Left and Right really mean and why some people go one way and some the other. (And why nobody ever adopts the Applied Epistemological view that any a priori position on anything is strictly for twats.)

Hence what you call The Civil Wars I regard as just an episode in the Roman Left/Right struggle that had been going on since the end of the Punic Wars. Why since then? Well, on the whole, when you're on your way up (and especially when you're engaged in a life-and-death struggle) you have no time for internecine quarrels, but as soon as you achieve the golden uplands of homeland security then...bong! let the fights begin.

Basically, in the Roman Republic, the right are the Old Guard in the Senate and the left is the tribunate, the tribes, the proles, the Italians without citizenship etc. Now of course this isn't a genuine struggle between rich and poor. As always, it's between two sets of powerful dudes -- one of whom adopts the 'poor' position as a way of attacking the other set of powerful dudes. Just straightforward 'ins' versus 'outs', 'court' versus 'country' and so forth. As I am always pointing out when discussing these matters with my left-wing friends (I don't know any right-wing people socially) it is impossible to judge whether the poor do better under a left-wing or a right-wing government.

Actually, the Gracci do seem to have been rather idealistically in favour of the poor (which is presumably why they got nowhere) but it was they who initiated the struggle that ended in the end of the Republic. You can follow a pretty clear line from the Gracci via Marius to Caesar to Augustus and the final victory of the left in the imposition of the monarchy.

Which raises another AE point. Anything can be left or right. Today we associate monarchy with the right wing (because one man rule is opposed to a democracy of the many) but historically monarchy (and often dictatorships) have been left wing (one man representing the many opposed to an oligarchy of the few). Just as capitalism has historically normally been a left-wing thing even though nowadays we firmly align it with the right. And so it goes, as that old leftie Vonnegut RIP said. He got stuck in leftism of course which is why he never got very far. So be warned!
Send private message
Mick Harper
Site Admin

In: London
View user's profile
Reply with quote

Again, I thought some sources portrayed Marius as a villain. Sulla seems to get a bum wrap from all sides. His faction failed and left no successors.

This too is a bit mysterious. After all Sulla's faction -- if defined as the "Senatorial" wing advocating oligarchy -- included some of the great Roman writers (Cicero, Cato) so you would have thought a more balanced view would be available. But as you say, whatever doubts people had about Marius, Sulla seems always to get it in the neck.

Yes. I agree. But are they being destroyed to fit a single political view or various, competing views? And was the destruction absolute? There do seem to be competing views that have survived.

I'm not sure this is entirely true (see above). Of course much the same thing happened during the early Christain era when accounts of ideological splits in the Pauline wing are allowed to survive but the greater split between the Pauline wing as a whole (faith is everything) and the Gnostic/Arian wing (thought is everything) is completely erased.

If so then this might lead into consideration of the highly mysterious office of "Mayor of the Palace"...

I know nothing of this.

The western tradition is to have the king as both head of state and head of government. The eastern tradition is to have the Caliph as head of state and the Vizier as head of government. (The USA and Britain are modern examples of each system respectively.) The former runs the risk of having an incompetent at the top, the latter runs the risk of divided command.

The later Franks show what can happen. The Merovingians seem to rule successfully for several hundred years, accepting the occasional incompetent as an occupational hazard, but then (so it seems, the histories were written by the winners) the Merovingians became really hopeless and the Carolingians (starting with the eponymous Charles Martel) were able to
a) make the hitherto dim post of Mayor of the Palace into a Vizier-type appointment
b) make the job inheritable within their family (Charles, Pepin, Charlemagne)
c) supplant the Merovingians as de jure as well as de facto monarchs
d) get the Pope to ratify the switch by "crowning" Charlemagne in 800 AD. The quotes being because there's still a bit of jiggery-pokery going on as to whether the Pope really signed up or not.

On the question of name-confusion. While reading about the Punic War, I noticed the (modern) historian is constantly having to fend off other (modern AND ancient) historians' claims that such-and-such general is fighting one battle when up pops another general with a similar name and fights a similar battle a few years later.

I would appreciate more information on this. Can you provide some examples to discuss?

Sorry, no can do. I've returned the book to the library. What was interesting, reading The Punic Wars, was that I only noticed all the references to "Was it Marcus Polonius Severus or was it Severus Polonius" after our own discussions about this sort of thing. (An interesting application of Applied Epistemological principles to my own reading.) But I do remember (from half-a-dozen or more examples) that not only Scipio was either one man or two but so was Fabian himself! Actually, now I come to remember it, there is occasionally some doubt about Hannibal being his own brother!

I mean, this is like trying to pin down whether references to Churchill in reliable accounts of the Second World War is the same personage as the man of the same name who was head of the Admiralty in the First World War. Or whether A. Hitler was in charge of German forces even though D. Fuehrer is also mentioned in many surviving official documents and eye-witness accounts as being in overall command. But of course "a hitler" may be just a title-of-rank given to German warband leaders in general.

Please go into more detail. I see the Gracci as the opening salvo in the Civil War - forstalled by the German invasions.

What German invasions? I assume that the great fault-line in the Roman Republic is between The Oligarchy and the Plebs. Both sides wanted imperial expansion but the former wanted jobs-for-the-boys (provincial governoships for the lads in the Senate), the latter to expand the citizenship. That's why Rome tended to expand overseas rather than in Italy itself while the Senate was in charge. The crisis came with the incorporation of northern Italy in about 120 BC and whether the citizenship should be expanded to them. The Gracci Bros, in my reading, were the first people to claim that radical proletarianism and expansionary imperialism were compatible.

But, as was found in the rise of The American Republic, it is difficult to operate a restlessly expansionist policy with the Senate in charge; much better to have one geezer at the top making rapid and consistent decisions. Whether this was true or not it allowed for the rise of the monarchical principle via Sulla-Marius-Pompey-Caesar and finally Octavian.

But as you can see, I have not thought all this through properly.
Send private message
Ishmael


In: Toronto
View user's profile
Reply with quote

I see the Gracci as the opening salvo in the Civil War - forstalled by the German invasions

What German invasions?

It was the invasion of Italy by "The Germans" that propelled Marius to fame. He was made Consul in absentia five times while fielding Rome's first 'professional army' in defence of Italy. Italy united against the common threat but, once it disappeared, the old problems emerged immediately again.
Send private message
Ishmael


In: Toronto
View user's profile
Reply with quote

Roman Democracy
Rome emerged as a limited Democracy, or "Republic," sometime between 300 and 400BC, if I recall correctly. Anyway...the whole thing is said to have happened because the aristocracy overthrew the kings and decided to rule themselves.

But there just seems to me to be something odd about this.

First of all, Rome and Greece, taken together, are assumed to afford the origin for Western forms of governments, including basic principles such as majority rule and institutions like The Senate and Commons. To put it another way, which I really do think we should, Greece and Rome are without precedent.

From the Mind of Zeus

Not only are they without precedent but, if we take Rome as our example (and I will because I know now something about it while knowning almost nothing of Athenian Democracy), the constitution of the government was created fully formed and remained fundamentally unmodified right up to the end of the Republic (in fact, it survived formally into the Imperial age).

Am I alone in thinking this sounds quite unbelievable?

Could a Man Named "Brutus" be a Genius?

Was the Republic founded by unfathomable geniuses who, without ever having seen a government constituted on the principle of debate, consensus, majority rule, the rule of law, and inherent rights of citizenship, able to dream these concepts up and turn them into law -- a constitutional system of checks and balances that would last 300 years or more?

Again, am I alone in thinking this sounds quite unbelievable?

Roman Exceptionalism

Then, consider the fact that in all of recorded history, no nation has ever succeeded in permanently overthrowing its monarchy. Every revolution led by aristocratic idealists intent on overthrowing the King and vesting all power in elected parliaments, has failed. In every case, within a few short years, the Kings returned to power.

Even in Rome itself, the one place where this kind of revolution actually succeeded -- uniquely -- when it came time for "The Liberators" to commit "tyrranicide" and rid themselves of the "Caesar Rex," they failed. The Republic, even though it was an established system of government with a long and ancient tradition, did not come back. Instead, the monarch rose again from the ashes and, just like every other time in history, within a few short years, the revolution was dead.

So even Rome could not pull off its success a second time. Yet, we are asked to believe that it succeeded in overthrowing its Kings the first time and keeping them away for almost four centuries.

Once again, am I alone in thinking this sounds quite unbelievable?

Is there a More Simple Solution?

So...having decided that the official history isn't necessarily right -- in fact, it is patently unlikely -- I challenged myself to think of where Roman democracy might have otherwise originated.

Assuming Rome (and Athens) as a Republican Government truly was unprecedented, I would have to exclude the possibility of Rome having inherited its constitution (and then made up all the stuff about overthrowing Kings etc.). I would have to look for some alternative source of democratic idealism.

Where in history, in archaic institutions, has democracy ever been tried and succeeded? Among what peoples do we find democratic ideals surviving as an ancient tradition? There would seem to be no possible alternative source! Democracy is so rare that it has almost never been practised among any group.

Except one.

Pirates.

Poseidon the Law-Giver

Pirates have long had the tradition of electing their captains. It's one of those odd things about pirates that, once you learn, sticks in your head because it seems altogether such a non-piratical thing to do. It's like learning that many pirates were pansies who dressed as girls (also true).

We also know that no one is more conservative than a sailor. Traditions of the sea go back hundreds and even thousands of years. That pirates elected their leaders right into the 19th century suggests they may have been electing their leaders in the 19th century BC.

Imperial Piracy

So what if Rome was founded, or conquered, by Pirates? Might the Roman aristocracy be in fact the descendants of Pirates who metaphorically burned their boats and adapted their trade of ocean mercantile conquest to land-based mercantile conquest? Why not? It makes some sense. Rome was essentially a warrior state -- the principal business of the government was making war and little else. Sounds like a pirate ethos.

But it's all just fanciful speculation right? Not quite. There's a little something to support my notion. Not much...but something.
Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Reply to topic Goto page 1, 2, 3 ... 14, 15, 16  Next

Jump to:  
Page 1 of 16

MemberlistThe Library Index  FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   RegisterRegister   ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group