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DarkCrawler
Apr 6, 2009


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I dont know enough about Roman culture, or that anyone does, but how much of that survived to the present? Sorry, another really vague question, but how much is my culture as an American Roman?




(She's not a random woman but a Roman goddess)

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Basically your whole structure of government, several values and many of your most recognizable symbols and buildings. Countless, COUNTLESS words and concepts in your language. So much of your legal concepts (ever wondered why all of them have latin names?) Lots of arts, poetry, music and so on. Christianity.

U.S. is actually one of the most Roman-influenced countries in the word, crazy as it is considering that not a single Roman ever stepped foot on America.

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I dont know enough about Roman culture, or that anyone does, but how much of that survived to the present? Sorry, another really vague question, but how much is my culture as an American Roman?

Like, if we were comparing modern Korea to Qing China?

Lets say, for example the traditional "individualist vs collectivist" society distinction. Did the European individualism come from Rome?

You're not thinking far enough afield.

Islam grew up in Rome as much as it did in Persia. Think about it: Hispania, Syria, Egypt, Arabia, North Africa, and the Levant--these were all core regions in the early Islamic period and all Roman. Why do you think Islamic scholars were so keen on translating the ancient Greeks? Omar was said to have wept at the conquest of Persia, because its wealth would corrupt the early Islamic state, which eventually moved to Baghdad from Damascus in what was the Roman province of Syria.

Similarly, Augustine was from Hippo, and highlighted the fact that much of the early Scholastic tradition was created not in Ireland but in the modern Middle East.

You don't hear about it too much because Westerners want to orientalize Islam and most conservative Muslims seem to think any ties to Roman history are demeaning.

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The Romans also built bridges better than anyone.

Fun fact - the chief priest of Rome was known as the Pontifex Maximus, or "chief bridgebuilder." It's now a title held by the Pope, which supports what people have been saying about the Roman Catholic Church as a Roman survival.

On the darker side of Roman influence on the modern world, a lot of dictators have adopted Roman elements into their iconography and style. The most obvious was probably Napoleon, who after all made himself an Emperor, wore a crown of golden laurel leaves, called his son the King of Rome and tried to conquer most of Europe.

More recently, Mussolini was also very prone to speechifying about the glories of the Roman empire and also tried to expand Italian rule (with limited success until he tagged on to Hitler's coat-tails). His own title Il Duce is descended from the Roman dux, for a military leader, as is the English title of Duke.

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Aug 9, 2007



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Basically a poo poo ton of modern politics comes from ancient Rome.
I also read that that the whole EU project it's a legacy from the ancient Rome when most of Europe was united.

It's funny how Mussolini considered himself the successor to the Roman Empire when anyone actually from ancient Rome would have considered him an inept moron.

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euphronius
Feb 18, 2009



Pontifex may mean bridge builder, but it probably is a translated Etruscan word considering early Rome was a Etruscan city.

Too bad the Romans destroyed so much of Etruscan writing. We don't know all that much about them other than what we can see in their (glorious) murals. The legendary first five kings of Rome were probably Etruscan.

Claudius allegedly wrote a huge and authoritative history of the Etruscans but it is lost.

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Feb 16, 2011





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It's funny how Mussolini considered himself the successor to the Roman Empire when anyone actually from ancient Rome would have considered him an inept moron.

Even Hitler considered Mussolini an inept moron though. If he wasn't responsible for so much terrible things Mussolini would be a joke, he was pretty much the totalitarian rear end in a top hat version of emperor Norton.

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Trench_Rat
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was roman metallurgy advanced enough to have made a steam engine?

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was roman metallurgy advanced enough to have made a steam engine?

They actually built one (well, the Greek under Roman rule) called Aeolipile or Hero's engine, but it was mainly seen as a toy rather than something useful. Roman metallurgy was advanced enough to build even a bigger one I guess, but why build a huge, expensive and failure-prone machine when you have hundreds of cheap slaves? Plus, the workings of it weren't yet understood and the scientific method wouldn't be around until the enlightenment, it was mainly trial and error for engineering back then.

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They actually built one (well, the Greek under Roman rule) called Aeolipile or Hero's engine, but it was mainly seen as a toy rather than something useful. Roman metallurgy was advanced enough to build even a bigger one I guess, but why build a huge, expensive and failure-prone machine when you have hundreds of cheap slaves?

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The Aeneid is a good way to understand the Roman point of view. Imperium sine fine--empire without end, promised by Jupiter.

Isn't it more 'power/authority without boundaries/limits'? Imperium does not necessarily mean empire, per se (the word predates the Empire by quite a way in fact) and finis can be either geographical or temporal.

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I dont know enough about Roman culture, or that anyone does, but how much of that survived to the present? Sorry, another really vague question, but how much is my culture as an American Roman?

Ever wonder why your upper house is called the Senate, or why you have eagles all over your poo poo?

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Ever wonder why your upper house is called the Senate, or why you have eagles all over your poo poo?

Because

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I dont know enough about Roman culture, or that anyone does, but how much of that survived to the present? Sorry, another really vague question, but how much is my culture as an American Roman?

Like, if we were comparing modern Korea to Qing China?

Lets say, for example the traditional "individualist vs collectivist" society distinction. Did the European individualism come from Rome?


Well there is pretty widespread historical background of everyone wanting some claim on Roman tradition. How much of it is an actual connection to the actual happenings and history of the Roman empire is clearly up for debate.

Well if we are comparing a relatively late coming Manchu dynasty in China that never actually ruled Korea, probably not so much, the Qing were more Chinese than Manchu by the end, and today Manchu is basically a dead culture in that manchu and han chinese are basically indistinguishable from each other. If we look at the Han and Tang Dynasties we find a lot more things that were passed along like religion, an entire writing system, governmental structures, and even some foodstuff.

Nope, then again I find that "individualist vs collectivist" paradigm to be utterly flawed. You can argue that individualism and collectivism is potentially from romans/chinese but in reality its pretty hard to base a concept that is relatively modern 19th century concept in the deep past.

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Apr 6, 2009


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Claudius allegedly wrote a huge and authoritative history of the Etruscans but it is lost.

Isn't it true that a SHITLOAD of Roman writings were lost? Like a vast majority of the stuff written during their era?

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Isn't it true that a SHITLOAD of Roman writings were lost? Like a vast majority of the stuff written during their era?

Yep. Same with Greek literature. We have the Iliad and the Odyssey to tell us of the Trojan war, for example, but there were like half a dozen other stories from the same cycle that have been lost to us apart from the occasional quotation in later writers. It's depressing, because the Iliad mostly just covers a few days at the end of the Trojan war and the Odyssey its aftermath for one of the combatants; the whole rest of the story has been lost. I have dreams that someday someone'll dig up an intact ancient library in Alexandria or somewhere with a ton of the stuff we know that's out there from references in extant works but that is currently unknown to us. What tended to survive best is the things that spoke to Christians, who then preserved them through the middle ages. Un-Christian stuff tended to get intentionally obliterated (see the library at Alexandria, for example. by some accounts at least).

When I did my history degree, I remember my tutor telling me he considered the early modern period to be the ideal period to study; there's too much documentation of modern stuff for any historian to get through in its entirety, and too little survives from the mediaeval period or earlier to be satisfactorily sure of what was going on, whereas the renaissance was just about right.

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When did Greek become the dominant language of the Eastern-part of the Empire (Byzantium)? Pre or Post Collapse of the 'Empire'?

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When did Greek become the dominant language of the Eastern-part of the Empire (Byzantium)? Pre or Post Collapse of the 'Empire'?

Pre-collapse. The entire East was run in Greek for the Imperial period.

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I think it was in the mid 7th century where Greek was finally legislated as the official de jure language of the Eastern Empire. Justinian though the century beforehand had been the last emperor to actually speak Latin as his native tongue. Other fun Greek things, the Drachma, at least a continuation of it, was in fact a common currency of the eastern Empire even in Pax Romana days, going 1=1 with the Denarius, except in Egypt, their currency had a weirder exchange rate, I can't find the exact number in this sourcebook though.

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I think it was in the mid 7th century where Greek was finally legislated as the official de jure language of the Eastern Empire. Justinian though the century beforehand had been the last emperor to actually speak Latin as his native tongue. Other fun Greek things, the Drachma, at least a continuation of it, was in fact a common currency of the eastern Empire even in Pax Romana days, going 1=1 with the Denarius, except in Egypt, their currency had a weirder exchange rate, I can't find the exact number in this sourcebook though.

According to Bowersock in `Roman Arabia`, the entire eastern empire always operated in Greek, so much so that when the Nabataeans were Romanized, they switched from Nabataean to Greek.

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Basically a poo poo ton of modern politics comes from ancient Rome.

A good answer. Our intellectual traditions are more Greek than anything, but the political/legal systems of the western world are very much Roman. And their legacies are everywhere in places you wouldn't think to look. Any American coin would be instantly recognizable to a Roman, for example. Even the words are the same--liberty, libertas.

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was roman metallurgy advanced enough to have made a steam engine?

Probably would've blown up a few in the process but they could've figured it out.

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Isn't it more 'power/authority without boundaries/limits'? Imperium does not necessarily mean empire, per se (the word predates the Empire by quite a way in fact) and finis can be either geographical or temporal.

I don't know, I don't speak Latin beyond some you pick up naturally through studying Rome. I rely on the translations of others and "empire without end" is what I read for imperium sine fine in that context. You're right that imperium has a lot more meanings, specifically one of power.

I'm not sure that empire without end/power without limits would've been much of a distinction to a Roman.

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Isn't it true that a SHITLOAD of Roman writings were lost? Like a vast majority of the stuff written during their era?

What we have is only the tiniest, tiniest fraction. Romans wrote down everything and made a lot of copies, which is the only reason we have so much. If we have more than 0.1% of what the Romans wrote I'd be shocked.

There's definitely more out there to find. For example, at the Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum, the scrolls that have been excavated are all Latin. Villas of that type usually had two libraries, one Latin, the other Greek. So it's likely that one also had a Greek library, which remains undiscovered. The scrolls there should be preserved exactly the same way so with a little luck, we can read those. And with even more luck, they won't all be copies of poo poo we already have.

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When did Greek become the dominant language of the Eastern-part of the Empire (Byzantium)? Pre or Post Collapse of the 'Empire'?

It became the common language in the east after Alexander. Once the Greeks were integrated into the empire, Greek and Latin were essentially of equal status. All educated people would learn both. In day to day life, Latin was the primary language of the west and Greek the primary language of the east. Justinian is the last native Latin speaking emperor, so if you want to go all emperor-focused you can say the age of Latin ended with him.

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Have there ever been any significant amount of wax tablets found? Or more importantly found and translated? I'd love to read the random thoughts of some guy while taking a stroll through the forest near his villa or ect, the real stream of conscious of people at the time.

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Jan 30, 2006

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Have there ever been any significant amount of wax tablets found? Or more importantly found and translated? I'd love to read the random thoughts of some guy while taking a stroll through the forest near his villa or ect, the real stream of conscious of people at the time.

Sadly no. The hot teen amateur video are the best everyday life writing I know of.

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euphronius
Feb 18, 2009



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Isn't it true that a SHITLOAD of Roman writings were lost? Like a vast majority of the stuff written during their era?

Yeah as mentioned. Also everything Etruscan is gone, everything before the Gauls sacked Rome is gone. The library in Alexandria was burned at some point, maybe more than once.

It's kind of really sad.

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Have there ever been any significant amount of wax tablets found? Or more importantly found and translated? I'd love to read the random thoughts of some guy while taking a stroll through the forest near his villa or ect, the real stream of conscious of people at the time.

It's not quite what you're looking for, but Pliny's letters are interesting enough. They're not all about politics either. There's a letter in there where he writes to his mother-in-law and praises the quality of her slaves whenever he visits. Or there's the letter to Tacitus where Pliny talks about hunting boars.

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DarkCrawler
Apr 6, 2009


What is the most important piece of writing (etc. mentioned in other works) that we have lost in history? It's amazing that even with so little surviving to the modern era we still know this much about Rome.

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I'll be that guy and ask. How prevalent were orgies in Rome? TV and movies make it seem like a house party you had once a month and it had the moral implications of a handshake

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I'll be that guy and ask. How prevalent were orgies in Rome? TV and movies make it seem like a house party you had once a month and it had the moral implications of a handshake

Not particularly. Romans were prudes. All those stories existed because they were so scandalous that they made for effective attacks against people you didn't like. They certainly happened, but they happen today too--I don't think it was particularly different.

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What were the greatest stories of upward mobility? Someone lowborn holding high office that sort of thing

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What were the greatest stories of upward mobility? Someone lowborn holding high office that sort of thing

I suppose freedmen are good examples of upward mobility. Some of them grew to be enormously powerful. Emperors like Claudius relied on freedmen to administer government too. And they could also be very rich. During the early Principate, I believe a requirement to be a senator was to be worth one million sesterces - a veritable sum - while it is said one particular freedman during the reign of... Claudius (?) was worth 40 million sesterces.

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What were the greatest stories of upward mobility? Someone lowborn holding high office that sort of thing

Emperor Justinian was born a peasant who I think could barely read before his uncle (who served in the Imperial Guard) adopted him. Theodora was literally a prostitute before becoming Empress. Belisarius was a peasant as well. Meritocracy for the win!

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Did extremist groups exist in Roman politics?

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Did extremist groups exist in Roman politics?

Some emperors would have you believe the Stoics were an extremist group and certainly their beliefs went against the whole idea of the Principate. But I don't think they were ever a formal, organised group.

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What were the greatest stories of upward mobility? Someone lowborn holding high office that sort of thing

Diocletian was the first emperor born of low status. He rose through the social ranks via the military. He also reorganized the empire politically and militarily after the Crisis of the Third Century, ensuring its survival for a couple more centuries in the west and several more in the East.

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Some emperors would have you believe the Stoics were an extremist group and certainly their beliefs went against the whole idea of the Principate. But I don't think they were ever a formal, organised group.

Wasn't Marcus Aurelius a stoic philosopher? How would that have worked?

I don't know much, if anything, about stoicism. How was it against the idea of the principate?

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DarkCrawler
Apr 6, 2009


Giving Roman citizenship to anyone except real Romans of Rome (including the Italians and Latins just around Rome) used to be a real out there left-wing radical position. Marcus Livius Drusus got assassinated for trying to give Italian Allies of Rome the citizenship. The Social War changed that.

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Iseeyouseemeseeyou
Jan 3, 2011


How did the Byzantine Imperial Dynasties popup? I've read that most were families from small villages in Greece / Anatolia, which to me implies peasants.

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Isn't it true that a SHITLOAD of Roman writings were lost? Like a vast majority of the stuff written during their era?

The statistic I've heard is that no more than 10,000 words of primary source Roman material have ever been discovered (although I would assume this doesn't cover the Byzantine era).

Of course, with Roman literacy being what it was, this is still a huge sight better than most of their contemporaries. Of the Celts that they displaced, there are basically no primary sources at all. If they had a written language, nothing of it survives, and all you have to go on are patchwork ideas from the archaeology and the accounts of Romans who brought armies to kill them.

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The statistic I've heard is that no more than 10,000 words of primary source Roman material have ever been discovered (although I would assume this doesn't cover the Byzantine era).

That sounds waaaaaaaaaay low. I'd have thought Cicero alone for example would be more than that.

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The statistic I've heard is that no more than 10,000 words of primary source Roman material have ever been discovered (although I would assume this doesn't cover the Byzantine era).

Primary source (like, not copied things but literally an 'original' Roman source from the period of classical antiquity) is nearly impossible to find. Papyrus doesn't last forever unless you keep it dry and in the dark - hence why the Dead Sea scrolls are so fascinating to scholars. Also, why a lot of the oldest written things we have can either be found in Egypt (the Papyrus of Ani - free porn doctor exam) or are clay tablets/stone carvings. There pictures of naked sex are a few Roman things out there though from (later) antiquity:

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I dont know enough about Roman culture, or that anyone does, but how much of that survived to the present?

Aside from the technicalities, the Romans left a number of general sea changes in humanity in general. They usually aren't taught or appreciated in textbooks because roads and is easier, but they can be recognized. Some I've consider:

1) Transition from Hellenistic "poleis" city-state identity to early concepts of national identity (very arguable I know, but there),
2) Elimination of cannibalism (?), human sacrifice and ritual child molestation as a moral or morally ambivalent practice (and also, the social differentiation of human sacrifice from state execution),
3) Probably the best promoter of agrarianism over nomadism in Europe & the Near Middle East, this wasn't unique to Rome but they pretty much resolved the issue for all points west of Rhine/Syria and north of the Sahara,
4) All but eliminated tribalism in Western Europe (those charming Scots in their kilts and clans are most of what is left),
5) Introduction of proselytizing religion (not really an improvement but ok).

These are "deep" changes that go beyond mere mechanical advances, to the root of mass human conduct. Some of them may look odd to a modern person, but ~2000 years ago there was nothing abnormal about doing business with a human sacrificer in & around the Mediterranean. The same stubborness that won the Romans battles also gave them the ability to pick up the human psyche and scrub out some things they didn't like. It took centuries, but they were ok with that. Also people who say "you can't make war on a religion" should always be asked if they know where to find the nearest Carthaginian restaraunt.

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