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Octy
Apr 1, 2010



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Wait, what? I must not be as educated as I thought I was about Rome, I thought the position of emperor just passed down from father to son?

Hold on a second, you're making it sound like Rome had actually returned to the monarchy! If only it were so easy. The problem was that everyone, senate and emperor, lived and worked under the pretence that both were equal and the emperor position was just a temporary thing. porn free live chat Primus inter pares - first among equals was the idea. Like Hitler, Augustus drew state powers to himself through a 'democratic' vote of the senate when he first started out, with the idea that you needed someone in charge to fix all the problems of the state right after the Civil Wars. These powers could be renewed through another vote of the senate, which they did multiple times, through fear of Augustus who had the backing of the army. So as you can see it was all done good and proper during the life of Augustus.

Augustus' problem was that he had no biological son, which was how he wanted to solve the problem of succession. He'd already been married and produced a daughter but then he married Livia and she brought her own son from a previous marriage with her: Tiberius. Augustus had also adopted Agrippa's kids but two mysteriously died in AD4 and the third in AD14. When Augustus died, it seemed set for Tiberius to become emperor, as he was also married to Augustus' daughter Julia. The traditional way of doing that is to go the senate and go through a charade of declining and eventually accepting the senate's vote of the same powers. So Tiberius went through this charade, perhaps to a greater length than most, and thus he had the senate on side. Tiberius was also an experienced military general so he could count on the support of the army.

Tiberius had a son Drusus (?) and an adoptive son Germanicus. Germanicus was the poster-boy for the empire but he died in the east in AD19 while Drusus followed him in AD23. Tiberius is quite alive at this point, but he has no sons. So he chooses Gaius (Caligula) as his heir, alongside Tiberius Gemellus who doesn't matter because he ends up dead. Caligula is Agrippina the Elder's and Germanicus' son.

The difficulty with Caligula and subsequent emperors was that they had no black lesbian girls fucking auctoritas, which translates as 'authority.' You could accrue it through military and/or political success. It was a very symbolic demonstration of prestige and it was what you used to convince people that you were the one for the job. Caligula was 24 when he became emperor and being so young he basically didn't have it. This is why Caligula, Claudius and Nero both worked to gain watch celebs sex tapes auctoritas through military campaigns and expansion of the empire, particularly Claudius.

After the Year of the Four Emperors, Vespasian decided to get around this problem of video of live sex auctoritas and the hereditary succession by voting positions and powers on his sons. His firstborn, Titus, was made joint-consul with Vespasian pretty much until he became emperor. He was also given a few triumphs. The idea was that the position wouldn't be 'hereditary' in principle, but in practice, by giving your sons all these positions and powers, it would be clear to everyone that they were in the best position to lead the state.

After the Flavians, there was no form of hereditary succession at least up until Diocletian, I believe. Emperors adopted and named their successors for a while, although in effect it formed a dynasty of sorts, e.g. Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius.

I've tried to make it as simple as possible, so it's only a basic answer to your question.

EDIT - Seems like I've been beaten several times.

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Amused to Death
Aug 10, 2009

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I always wondered what would've happened had Germanicus not died. He would've been next in line instead of Caligula right? There's be no 4 years of weirdness from Caligula and no succession problem since Germanicus was from everything I ever read basically the rock star of the Roman world. If bras were around in 15AD, they would be being thrown at Germanicus.

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Grand Fromage
Jan 30, 2006

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Wait, what? I must not be as educated as I thought I was about Rome, I thought the position of emperor just passed down from father to son?

I think you've been well answered. When emperors had a son they'd try to pass power down to him, but there were surprisingly few emperors with biological sons available. Vespasian and Marcus Aurelius are the only ones in the first two centuries of having emperors.

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I've read that women's status in Roman society was the most advanced in world history until the 20th century. I knew Roman women had relatively more rights, but is this an exaggeration?

Disregard whatever you read this in.

I mentioned before that there was a legal situation where women would have power. Other than that, women were quite literally property. Roman society had stratification, the top were patricians, then equites, then plebeians, then freedmen, and the bottom were slaves, foreigners, and women.

Women didn't even get their own names, they got the feminine form of their father's name. Women were owned by their fathers until marriage, when the ownership transferred to the husband. Women enjoyed no rights.

In practice, women could exercise a certain amount of power if they had the motivation/attitude for it, but legally? They didn't have poo poo. Romans were huge misogynists.

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I thought they conquered Parthia?

Nope, Parthia was the rock Rome could never get out of its shoe. Rome did occasionally invade Parthia and a couple times they burned all their major cities and hosed the place up good and proper, but then they'd leave and Parthia would revive. Rome was never able to keep them down.

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Slaves were just anyone who weren't citizens who by capture or birth happened to wind up as slaves.

This is a lot of it, but it also goes back to this question.

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Speaking of slavery, what's the long and short of the slave uprisings and the introduction of chattel slavery from Carthage?

There were several slave uprisings, notably in the first century BCE, which was Spartacus' era. The Romans were understandably terrified of slave uprising considering how goddamn many slaves there were, and when there started being multiple uprisings in quick succession slaves began to gain more rights. They had never actually been chattel slaves like we think of it, I'm not sure what you're asking there. When we think slaves we think the American south usually, and that was brutal compared to anything the Romans did.

Romans were very practical people and it extended to slaves. If the slaves are revolting, improve the conditions for the slaves so they'll shut up. Many laws were passed dictating what you could do with them, Amused to Death posted a few. By the middle of the 100s CE you had to pay your slaves, you couldn't kill them, you couldn't even just haul off and beat them unless you had a defensible reason. You couldn't break up families, you had to feed and house them properly. As slavery went, it wasn't too bad.

Educated slaves were often better off than plebeians.

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Legionaries threw pila before engaging so they weren't 100% melee.

True, but throwing a couple javelins wasn't really fighting at range so it didn't make you a pussy. Practical people.

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Why was the Varangian Guard not as abused as the Praetorian Guard was?

This is something I don't know much more than the basics about.

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What happened to the German bodyguard of the Roman Emperor's? I remember there were multiple different guards, all from outside of Italy - except the Praetorian Guard, and my next question is why were non-Italian Romans so trusted?

I just can't wrap my head around this idea that Germans would be better bodyguards than the plebeian Romans because they had no where to go in society (social mobility).

I think a lot of it was that they were outside of Roman society, so they wouldn't be affected by Roman problems as much. They were loyal to their employer because he was all they had. If they hosed it up they'd have to go back to freeze their balls off in bumfuck instead of chillin' in Rome.

Also Germans/Gauls were seen as much more frightening so their mere presence could dissuade people from starting poo poo.

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In your opinion, does Nero get way more poo poo than he deserves?

All of the writing about Nero comes from people who loving hated him.

Nero was not a sasha grey porno movies great guy, first. He was full of his own poo poo and exploited his position. But a lot of his actions are open to interpretation, and notably there's a pattern of taking power from the senatorial class and putting it into the emperor's office. Remember this is still early on, so the senators are fighting tooth and nail to retain as much of their power as possible. Nero also liked hanging out with artists and actors, who were the lowest of the low in society, so it was scandalous.

I believe Nero was trying to increase the authority of his office at the expense of the upper classes, and as a result they demonized him. There are a precious few times when the attitude of the general public is mentioned, and they always seemed to like him. After he was gone, plebeians risked being executed in order to put Nero statues back up.

The other writing that exists is from Christians, who also hated him because he did indeed execute a bunch of them as scapegoats. The Book of Revelation is most likely a disguised anti-Nero propaganda piece. Again, not a balanced view.

And poo poo like Nero fiddling while Rome burned never happened, but that's the image we have of him now.

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Octy
Apr 1, 2010



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I always wondered what would've happened had Germanicus not died. He would've been next in line instead of Caligula right? There's be no 4 years of weirdness from Caligula and no succession problem since Germanicus was from everything I ever read basically the rock star of the Roman world. If bras were around in 15AD, they would be being thrown at Germanicus.

Yeah, assuming Drusus still died. But even if Germanicus became emperor and died naturally, Caligula would still become emperor. Germanicus had two other sons but they both came to a bad end before Tiberius died. The only hope is that under Germanicus' tutelage, Caligula might've turned out fairly normal and sane. And the thing is, Caligula tiffani thiessen sex scene was normal and sane for the first six months or so until he came down with some illness.

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Nero was not a peter pan cartoon porn great guy, first. He was full of his own poo poo and exploited his position. But a lot of his actions are open to interpretation, and notably there's a pattern of taking power from the senatorial class and putting it into the emperor's office. Remember this is still early on, so the senators are fighting tooth and nail to retain as much of their power as possible. Nero also liked hanging out with artists and actors, who were the lowest of the low in society, so it was scandalous.

There was also a story that Nero used to disguise himself in order to go out to taverns with his friends and start fights.

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Foyes36
Oct 23, 2005

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There are a precious few times when the attitude of the general public is mentioned, and they always seemed to like him. After he was gone, plebeians risked being executed in order to put Nero statues back up.

One of the most interesting things to come out of this was the rise of the Pseudo-Neros. At least three of them seem to have attracted strong enough followings to be recorded in history. Only the first one ever amounted to much, but fake-Nero pirate is sort of a badass resume - young tight latina pussy

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Farecoal
Oct 15, 2011

???


In your opinion, who was the "best" Roman emperor? What about "worst"?

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teagone
Jun 10, 2003

Valyrian, motherfucker! Do you speak it?!

Were there ever any specific units/legions of the Roman military that performed tasks/missions equivalent to modern-day special forces, e.g., SEAL teams, British SAS, Delta Force, etcetera?

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Mr. Mambold
Feb 13, 2011

Aha. Nice post.


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Makes sense. Dicks are also used in Buddhist culture a lot as talismans for prosperity and virility. The crossroads thing is very Feng Shui. I wonder if different cultures adopted this superstition against crossroads because it was a place of uncertainty and banditry. I suppose a lot of people may have mysteriously disappeared at junctures back in ancient times.

The dick you see is not the true dick. The virility and power symbolized by the erect monolith phallus represents the original universal creative urge in the ancient religions, iirc. The temple and roadside lingams of ancient and modern Hinduism, as well as all the ancient cultures, was not associated with the physical penis, that was regarded as pedestrian.
If you saw it as a big old stone dick, it wasn't going to do you any good against the Unknown.
Rather the male and female organs were seen as metaphoric, although obviously actual organs symbolizing the Big Bang, if you will, the male lingam being positive.
And any symbol that gets archetypal reinforcement accrues power.

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Octy
Apr 1, 2010



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One of the most interesting things to come out of this was the rise of the Pseudo-Neros. At least three of them seem to have attracted strong enough followings to be recorded in history. Only the first one ever amounted to much, but fake-Nero pirate is sort of a badass resume - free celebrities nude photos

You'd think the third guy might have taken a cue from the first two impostors and think maybe it's not such a good idea to proclaim yourself as Nero.

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Feb 24, 2005

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Were there ever any specific units/legions of the Roman military that performed tasks/missions equivalent to modern-day special forces, e.g., SEAL teams, British SAS, Delta Force, etcetera?

The closest thing I can think of if Justinian's James Bond mission to steal silkworm eggs from China. in the 6th century, Justinian, possibly the greatest Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Emperor, managed to steal silkworm eggs from across the continent in China, and then set up a super profitable silk industry in the west.

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Grand Fromage
Jan 30, 2006

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Were there ever any specific units/legions of the Roman military that performed tasks/missions equivalent to modern-day special forces, e.g., SEAL teams, British SAS, Delta Force, etcetera?

Probably, but there aren't any records of it I'm aware of. I suspect there was no formal organization, but the best troops in a legion would be dispatched to do special ops if something were needed. Sort of like the troops Alexander used to assault the Sogdian Rock. There were also the speculatores, which were a scout/intelligence organization. Wouldn't surprise me if they did a bit of this.

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Oct 23, 2005

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Were there ever any specific units/legions of the Roman military that performed tasks/missions equivalent to modern-day special forces, e.g., SEAL teams, British SAS, Delta Force, etcetera?

Maybe not quite what you're looking for, but there was a spy service during part of the Empire. There's not much known about the Frumentarii, but they were sort of an internal security branch that seemed to mostly spy on fellow Romans. They were originally in charge of collecting wheat in a given province; such a position naturally lead to a lot of contacts and knowledge of the area, perfect for recruitment into a spy service. Hadrian more-or-less turned them into a formal branch of the Imperial bureaucracy, but they were hated by Roman society and eventually disbanded by Diocletian.

For other special forces, occasionally the Praetorians could be used (though they were as capable as any legion, their performance in battle occasionally suffered due to lack of experience, though this reputation for parade-ground-over-real-battle is exaggerated). Speculatores would be used by military forces for covert spying and action against enemies in the field and among the legions - they wore plain clothes and could be used to liquidate undesirable people.

Edit: There was a later service too, called the agentes in rebus. That literally translates as 'People Active in Things' (what a fuckin' badass name for a spy service), and while their formal role was to act as couriers, they were outside the control of provincial governors and were effectively a secret police loyal to the Emperor. Wikipedia says they lasted till the 8th century, but who knows?

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Jan 30, 2006

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I do have a memory of reading about Roman frogmen but I can't find it, so it could have been speculation or some sort of fever dream. Anyone else read this before?

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Octy
Apr 1, 2010



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Edit: There was a later service too, called the agentes in rebus. That literally translates as 'People Active in Things' (what a fuckin' badass name for a spy service), and while their formal role was to act as couriers, they were outside the control of provincial governors and were effectively a secret police loyal to the Emperor. Wikipedia says they lasted till the 8th century, but who knows?

Some say they're still with us, lurking in the shadows...

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DarkCrawler
Apr 6, 2009


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In your opinion, who was the "best" Roman emperor? What about "worst"?

Can't really imagine there is any other answer for "best" then Augustus. Maybe Trajan or Hadrian?

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Feb 24, 2005

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Can't really imagine there is any other answer for "best" then Augustus. Maybe Trajan or Hadrian?

The blessing for a new Emperor went thusly. "May you be luckier then Augustus. And better then Trajan."

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Jan 30, 2006

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When Marius was pitching and implementing his military reforms, how did the different classes of Roman society view his ideas?

The lower classes were big fans. By this time, land was being consolidated into large estates and Rome was filling with plebeians who had no jobs and no hope. Prior to Marius, the Roman army was essentially the same as all the other ancient ones. People brought their own equipment when the army was mustered, so only people with property and wealth could be soldiers. Now, all these unemployed plebs had been handed a possible career. And it came with a whole lot of benefits to make it attractive.

In the upper classes, at first I'm sure it depended on if you were on Marius' side or Sulla's side during the civil war. Ultimately they liked it as well because the professional army was more effective, and there was a lot more glory to be had in all the wars that followed.

I've never read any criticism of the reforms from the time, only later when people recognized the problem with having generals run around with their own personal armies. Unintended consequences. The Roman army after Marius was the most powerful military force the world had ever seen, the first true professional army, which (overall) was almost unstoppable. What's not to like for people who love conquest?

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Oct 23, 2005

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In your opinion, who was the "best" Roman emperor? What about "worst"?

That's a pretty subjective question, akin to asking modern historians who the best and worst US Presidents were. Nevertheless, you do usually get a cluster at the top and bottom. If you just go by how 'good' the empire was doing while they reigned, you can't really beat Antoninus Pius, even if he didn't have to do that much. For more active emperors whose conquests and policies benefited the empire by providing new sources of revenue and stability you gotta go with Trajan, Hadrian, Augustus, and Marcus Aurelius (though Marcus hosed up bit by going with his son Commodus over a more qualified candidate).

I'm gonna on ahead and throw Claudius in the ring too - he had awful luck with his wives and personal life thanks to his disabilities, but he was really smart and worked extremely hard for the Empire. You could also make a case for Diocletian for decisively ending the crisis of the third century (though Aurelian did a lot of the heavy lifting) and being man enough to retire when he felt he had done enough (invoking Cincinnatus, though Cincinnatus didn't retire to a giant seaside palace in Croatia that STILL stands today), but quite a few of his reforms failed and the whole system he carefully set up collapsed in ten years.

For the worst emperors, it's almost an even harder question. Nero*, Caligula, blah blah blah, but the Empire functioned fine for the most part under both (yeah, 69 AD wasn't so great, but it was quickly resolved in a year and led to a very stable Flavian dynasty). Elagabalus gets a lot of flack, but it's important to keep in mind that he was just a kid raised in a weird Eastern mystery cult who was just doing what he'd been taught to do his whole life. The historiography behind him is pretty confused too, and its hard to trust sources. For the worst, most inept, I'd go with the following: Caracalla, Commodus, Vitellius, Macrinus (just a dumbass really), Maximinus Thrax (gently caress Maximinus Thrax), Pupienus and Balbinus (lol), Trebonianus Gallus, Honorius (really had no idea what was going on, probably better off running a fruit stand), Joannes (just ridiculous), and Valentinian III. Some of these guys made decisions that really hurt the empire (like Valentinian III and Commodus), while others were just comically stupid (like Honorius) and let the empire fall all around them. So whatever you consider 'worse,' take your pick.

Oh yeah, and Didius Julianus. Poor Didius Julianus. That guy just had no clue.

*It's important too to keep in mind that the majority of people hosed by Nero were extremely wealthy aristocrats. The common people, by most accounts, really liked him and enjoyed his performances and eccentricities. Nero was a bad guy personally, even with revised historical opinion looking beyond the bias of Tacitus and others, but he was a substantially better Emperor than most think. He'd be a goddamn hero to many today given his targets.

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TheChimney
Jan 31, 2005


Can any of you recommend some good books about Roman History? I'm looking for something that is entertaining, but accurate. It doesn't have to be military history; I'm open to just about anything.

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Jan 30, 2006

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Can any of you recommend some good books about Roman History? I'm looking for something that is entertaining, but accurate. It doesn't have to be military history; I'm open to just about anything.

Tom Holland's book Rubicon is my go-to suggestion for an excellent, very readable history. Caesar's era as the title suggests. Start there and I'll see if I can remember some others later.

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Oct 21, 2010

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Can any of you recommend some good books about Roman History? I'm looking for something that is entertaining, but accurate. It doesn't have to be military history; I'm open to just about anything.

I think everyone should read Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. It's a beautiful story and as much about the British Empire as it was about the Roman.

Which reminds me--Gibbon, I believe, tells a story of one of the Four Emperors camped out across the river with his army from the army of another of the Four. Gibbon wrote that a dozen or so men crossed the river and routed the opposing army of 60-100,000 men. It's been over a decade since I read Gibbon, so I'm probably screwing this story up in all sorts of ways, but does any of this have any basis in fact?

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Iseeyouseemeseeyou
Jan 3, 2011


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I think everyone should read Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. It's a beautiful story and as much about the British Empire as it was about the Roman.

Which reminds me--Gibbon, I believe, tells a story of one of the Four Emperors camped out across the river with his army from the army of another of the Four. Gibbon wrote that a dozen or so men crossed the river and routed the opposing army of 60-100,000 men. It's been over a decade since I read Gibbon, so I'm probably screwing this story up in all sorts of ways, but does any of this have any basis in fact?

Wait what? Need more info please on how a dozen guys routed an army.

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Alhazred
Feb 16, 2011





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Honorius (really had no idea what was going on, probably better off running a fruit stand)

Wasn't he the guy who was more interested in feeding his pigeons than defending Rome?

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DTurtle
Apr 10, 2011


What did Roman agriculture look like? What did they plant, raise, and eat? How good were their crops, agricultural technologies, organization, etc?

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Wasn't he the guy who was more interested in feeding his pigeons than defending Rome?

Not sure about that, but I think he was the emperor who got defeated and captured by the Parthians and ended up spending the rest of his life being the Parthian king's footstool whenever he wanted to get on his horse.

Either way, not a great success.

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Aug 10, 2009

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^
Honorius died in Italy. You're thinking Valerian.

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Wasn't he the guy who was more interested in feeding his pigeons than defending Rome?

Yes, if the story is true anyways. Rome hadn't been the capital for some time so Honorius wasn't even there, he was up in Ravenna and refused to make a deal with Alaric over Alaric wanting some high title and position as a general in the Roman army.(Further on the fact that many of the 'barbarians' at the time were in fact eager to adopt the ways of Rome). But when he heard Rome was destroyed he thought it was his hen Roma who had he just seen, and was then relieved to find out differently. I believe the story originates from Procopius though who would've been writing quite some time after the fact, so it could very well just be an exaggeration to show Honorius as being totally inept.

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Not sure about that, but I think he was the emperor who got defeated and captured by the Parthians and ended up spending the rest of his life being the Parthian king's footstool whenever he wanted to get on his horse.

Either way, not a great success.

This is more then likely not true. It's only based on some Christian propaganda. Valentinian III getting his army destroyed and his head turned into a drinking cup is true.

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Oct 23, 2005

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Not sure about that, but I think he was the emperor who got defeated and captured by the Parthians and ended up spending the rest of his life being the Parthian king's footstool whenever he wanted to get on his horse.

Either way, not a great success.

Beaten, but you're thinking of poor Valerian. He was a distinguished enough chap, made Consul a few times in the Senate. Became Emperor much like anyone became Emperor during the crisis, but he wasn't totally incompetent like a lot of them were. He had a fair bit of military success in the East against Persia until 260, when he was tricked by Shapur (a Persian, not a Parthian, the Parthians had withered before that and were replaced by a militant neo-Persian faction that aspired to recreate the glories of the Achaemenid Empire) and captured during peace negotiations after getting smashed in battle. From there he disappears from the historical record. I wouldn't call him a 'bad' emperor, just a very unlucky one.

Some say he became a footstool for the Persian king, others say he had molten gold poured down his throat, only to then be skinned and stuffed with straw. Certainly a conversation piece for any palace. Not everyone has a taxidermied Roman Emperor in their collection. Some modern historians suspect that he was actually treated rather well and sent to an obscure Persian city to live out his days. BORING. Either way, without new discoveries or archeological findings, we'll never know. I prefer the footstool story.



Hey, at least he got to keep the crown right?

Thus begins the (looooooong) reign of his son Gallienus, during which the Empire nearly fell apart and the barbarians began really knocking on the door. One of my favorite parts of this time period are the so-called Thirty Tyrants. Supposedly 30 different men tried to claim the purple while Gallienus was emperor - of course, several of them are completely fictional and others never aspired for the crown (the Thirty Tyrants of Rome were fashioned to copy the well-known Thirty Tyrants of Athens). The Historia Augusta is almost a fan fiction of Roman history during this period, but it's often the only source for a lot of stuff - anyways, even authoring a 30 person roulette of would-be Roman Emperors (even if some of them are fake) really illustrates how sex scenes diane lane bad poo poo got during this time.

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Some French dude spent time illustrating them all with portraits a thousand years later, coming up with some of the freakiest and ugliest images of Roman Emperors out there:



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This is more then likely not true. It's only based on some Christian propaganda. Valentinian III getting his army destroyed and his head turned into a drinking cup is true.

Valentinian III was assassinated due to political intrigue, he didn't die in battle. But Nikephoros I probably did have what you describe happen to him:

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By a dude named Krum too. I don't think there's a more stereotypical Conan-the-barbarian-name out there - if I told you a Roman Emperor had his skull turned into a cup by someone, you could almost guess by pure chance that his name was Krum. Here he is dining with his new tableware:



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I was going to do more background information here but why step on questions? I'll just answer whatever. There are a fair number of Rome people around here, to avoid making the thread a clusterfuck I would request you don't answer any questions. However feel free to expand on my answers if you think I left something important out. If I don't know something, I'll say so and you can jump in if you know. And if I'm wrong, correct me. I'm not going to get all MAD ABOUT POSTS, I just think it'll work better.

Aw poo poo, sorry, I'll stop posting.

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GamerL
Oct 23, 2008





Forgive me if the answer to this is the seemingly obvious one (i.e. a desert), but why didn't Rome ever (or did they?) try to take more of Africa? All the maps (including in the op copied above) one ever sees of Rome has it only occupying the mediterranean north stretch of Africa, never further south. And unlike the north, one never hears about unsuccesful wars/attempts by Rome to take other parts of Africa. Given rome's seafaring prowess/trade/etc, one would think they might have sailed around and down the western side of africa. Or set out down the east side from their holdings in lower Egypt.

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Apr 6, 2009


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Forgive me if the answer to this is the seemingly obvious one (i.e. a desert), but why didn't Rome ever (or did they?) try to take more of Africa? All the maps (including in the op copied above) one ever sees of Rome has it only occupying the mediterranean north stretch of Africa, never further south. And unlike the north, one never hears about unsuccesful wars/attempts by Rome to take other parts of Africa. Given rome's seafaring prowess/trade/etc, one would think they might have sailed around and down the western side of africa. Or set out down the east side from their holdings in lower Egypt.

Why would they? It's useless desert all the way down, until you hit useless jungle and Rome was a land power with reliance on roads. Their seafaring prowess and trade was almost entirely based on the fact that once they had conquered everything around Mediterranean there was nobody to challenge them and it was an inland sea of the Roman Empire. The coasts and the Nile had all the riches and all the cities. Despite what it looks like in the map Rome was pretty good at not biting more then they could handle. Better to trade with the tribes who are crazy enough to live in those hellholes then to try to conquer them (never an easy thing to do with nomads) and eke out whatever little you can get out of there.

The Great Desert was a way more formidable reason to not go South then the Germans ever were for not going North. Even now the vast majority of populations in countries covering that part of Africa live on the coasts and around Nile.

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OctaviusBeaver
Apr 30, 2009

Say what now?

How did the Romans produce the armor, swords, shields, uniforms and whatever other equipment they needed for their armies? Did they have factories of some kind? Or military contractors?

Also, how standardized was their equipment really? In the movies it looks like the Romans have nearly identical (badass looking) uniforms like what you would see in a modern army. Did they really have standard uniforms?

I'm also interested in how defeated generals were treated. I remember in high school learning about the general who lost against Hannibal (I think it was at Cannae) and the Senate was really impressed that he had the guts to show his face back in Rome after losing a whole army.

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Oct 21, 2010

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Better to trade with the tribes who are crazy enough to live in those hellholes then to try to conquer them (never an easy thing to do with nomads) and eke out whatever little you can get out of there.

Bit of a stretch to think of Ethiopia and Mali as tribes eking out their existence.

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Iseeyouseemeseeyou
Jan 3, 2011


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Bit of a stretch to think of Ethiopia and Mali as tribes eking out their existence.

Not to derail, but what were Ethiopia & Mali like during Roman times? Did the Romans trade with them?

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Oct 21, 2010

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Not to derail, but what were Ethiopia & Mali like during Roman times? Did the Romans trade with them?

I thought Mali would have a longer history, given how their great wealth and influence during the Islamic period, but a quick Wikipedia search reveals that Mali wasn't cohesive until 700CE. Ethiopia, on the other hand, was minting coins and considered a real state in 2C CE, known as Axum.

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Grand Fromage
Jan 30, 2006

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In your opinion, who was the "best" Roman emperor? What about "worst"?

Trajan is my favorite. Everyone agrees he was an excellent leader, he did everything right and Rome prospered immensely from his actions. A thousand years later he was still being held up as the essence of the ideal ruler. It's hard to find a powerful man in Roman history that isn't criticized, but I cannot remember ever seeing a bad word about Trajan.

Augustus and Justinian would be very close second and third.

There's a lot of competition for worst. For being a complete piece of poo poo it's hard to beat Caracalla, though his actual policy wasn't too bad. He was a total sociopath though.

Maximinus Thrax is the emperor where the crisis of the third century begins, but I have a soft spot for him because I love that the descriptions of him are basically of Gregor Clegane. Eight foot six and crushing rocks in his bare hands.

The worst emperor question is a lot harder to answer, you have so many.

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Which reminds me--Gibbon, I believe, tells a story of one of the Four Emperors camped out across the river with his army from the army of another of the Four. Gibbon wrote that a dozen or so men crossed the river and routed the opposing army of 60-100,000 men. It's been over a decade since I read Gibbon, so I'm probably screwing this story up in all sorts of ways, but does any of this have any basis in fact?

I don't know the story, but all numbers like this from ancient sources are unreliable--with the notable exception of Cannae, which appears to have been reported accurately. When you read an ancient source and it says the Roman force of 10,000 legionaries went up against a barbarian army of 300,000, that just means the Romans were significantly outnumbered. The historian is not trying to be accurate. 10,000 is a reasonable figure for a legionary force, but the enemy's probably more like 30,000, not 300,000.

There are stories of ridiculously lopsided victories. To speculate completely on that one, the guys could've started a fire in the camp or they could've started a bunch of campfires to convince the enemy army there was another force arriving, and trick them into retreating. That kind of thing happened.

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Aw poo poo, sorry, I'll stop posting.

Don't worry about it, I don't know as much about the era you're posting on so do continue.

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Grand Fromage
Jan 30, 2006

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What did Roman agriculture look like? What did they plant, raise, and eat? How good were their crops, agricultural technologies, organization, etc?

Roman agriculture was never much above subsistence level. In the early and mid republic, it was largely the domain of family farmers on small plots, worked by the family and their slaves. More and more slaves entered the empire over time, the prices went down, so everyone used them. Slaves were so cheap that we have numerous records of slaves who owned slaves of their own.

Gradually what began to happen was the wealthy landowners bought up more and more plots, consolidating the agricultural land into giant plantation estates worked by armies of slaves. Small farmers were pushed further and further into the provinces, or had to go into the cities to live. It becomes a massive problem and land reform/redistribution is a huge political issue. The Gracchi brothers begin addressing it in 133 BCE and get assassinated for their efforts, and this traditionally kicks off a lot of the civil strife that fills the next century, specifically the struggle between the populists and the elites.

Romans didn't benefit from many of the technologies that make modern crop yields so good. They had irrigation and mechanical grain mills. They also had some sort of mechanical grain reaper, we've never found one and the technology disappears but there are pictures of it.

Grapes were by far the most popular fruit to grow, both for eating and for making wine. Olives were the standard cash crop, olive oil is a big seller everywhere on Rome's trade network. The grains were a bit more varied than what we usually eat today. They grew wheat, millet, barley, emmer (very popular at the time but not much now), rice. Asparagus was highly prized, it would be dried for use throughout the year or stored in the snow in the Alps. Cabbage, turnips, and leeks were common. Beans and chickpeas, lentils were considered especially good. Kale, broccoli, cucumbers, artichoke, mushrooms. Any spices they could get their hands on were prized.

A lot of it is similar to the Mediterranean diet of today, since that's what grows in the region.

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Iseeyouseemeseeyou
Jan 3, 2011


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Roman agriculture was never much above subsistence level. In the early and mid republic, it was largely the domain of family farmers on small plots, worked by the family and their slaves. More and more slaves entered the empire over time, the prices went down, so everyone used them. Slaves were so cheap that we have numerous records of slaves who owned slaves of their own.

Gradually what began to happen was the wealthy landowners bought up more and more plots, consolidating the agricultural land into giant plantation estates worked by armies of slaves. Small farmers were pushed further and further into the provinces, or had to go into the cities to live. It becomes a massive problem and land reform/redistribution is a huge political issue. The Gracchi brothers begin addressing it in 133 BCE and get assassinated for their efforts, and this traditionally kicks off a lot of the civil strife that fills the next century, specifically the struggle between the populists and the elites.

Romans didn't benefit from many of the technologies that make modern crop yields so good. They had irrigation and mechanical grain mills. They also had some sort of mechanical grain reaper, we've never found one and the technology disappears but there are pictures of it.

Grapes were by far the most popular fruit to grow, both for eating and for making wine. Olives were the standard cash crop, olive oil is a big seller everywhere on Rome's trade network. The grains were a bit more varied than what we usually eat today. They grew wheat, millet, barley, emmer (very popular at the time but not much now), rice. Asparagus was highly prized, it would be dried for use throughout the year or stored in the snow in the Alps. Cabbage, turnips, and leeks were common. Beans and chickpeas, lentils were considered especially good. Kale, broccoli, cucumbers, artichoke, mushrooms. Any spices they could get their hands on were prized.

A lot of it is similar to the Mediterranean diet of today, since that's what grows in the region.

Most of the food (Wheat, Grains, etc.) was farmed in Egypt right?

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Grand Fromage
Jan 30, 2006

L-l-look at you bar-bartender, a-a pa-pathetic creature of meat and bone, un-underestimating my l-l-liver's ability to metab-meTABolize t-toxins. How can you p-poison a perfect, immortal alcohOLIC?


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Not to derail, but what were Ethiopia & Mali like during Roman times? Did the Romans trade with them?

Mali wasn't around yet. Ethiopia was a mysterious distant land of legend, there was contact and some trade but it was the edge of the world for them. Eventually the empire of Aksum arose in the 100s CE, which was one of the various forms Ethiopia has taken over the ages, and they had a lot more contact. The Roman sea trade route to India started in Egypt, went through Aksum territory, then around Arabia to India. Aksum was considered a pretty big deal. It was the first major state to convert to Christianity, and the writer Mani considered it one of the four great empires of the world, along with Persia, Rome, and China.

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Why would they? It's useless desert all the way down

Basically this. You have to go a long way to get to any land worth inhabiting, so they never bothered.

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Most of the food (Wheat, Grains, etc.) was farmed in Egypt right?

Egypt was one region that produced a huge surplus, and Rome proper got much of its grain shipped from there. But empire-wide no, most production was more local. Italy got a lot of food shipments because the population was larger than the Italian farmlands could support, at least unless they got rid of a lot of the cash crops. Sicily also produced a lot of excess grain for Italy to consume.

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How did the Romans produce the armor, swords, shields, uniforms and whatever other equipment they needed for their armies? Did they have factories of some kind? Or military contractors?

Yes to both. Romans had mass production and factories of a sort where all kinds of things were made, including military equipment. I don't know off-hand of any military contractors but I am absolutely certain they existed. The legions also had an array of craftsmen to repair/replace equipment wherever they happened to be. Permanent military forts would have smithies and whatnot.

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Also, how standardized was their equipment really? In the movies it looks like the Romans have nearly identical (badass looking) uniforms like what you would see in a modern army. Did they really have standard uniforms?

All evidence suggests yes, the equipment was standardized. It was all technologically honed to be as effective as possible, and the tactics required soldiers to be equipped and able to fight the same way. Standardization also simplifies production, and imagine the world of ad-hoc armies and levies. Seeing this massive block of men all in identical high quality equipment would be incredibly intimidating.

We don't have as much military equipment as you might think considering how much of it was produced, a lot would've been recycled. But what we do find is all pretty similar and can be put into categories. Things change over time but it appears that if you're in a particular timeframe, it's all the same stuff.

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MothraAttack
Apr 28, 2008


What's the most widely supported hypothesis as to the intended usage of those strange metal spheres the Romans produced periodically?

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Iseeyouseemeseeyou
Jan 3, 2011


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What's the most widely supported hypothesis as to the intended usage of those strange metal spheres the Romans produced periodically?

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