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ROMAN EMPIRE -THE HISTORY... > 3. THE HISTORY OF THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE ~ CHAPTER 3 (85 - 107) (05/24/10 - 05/30/10) ~ No spoilers, please

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments Hello Everyone,

This begins the third week's reading in our new Spotlighted group discussion.

The complete table of contents is as follows:

SYLLABUS:

Table of Contents

Introduction xi - cvi
A Note on the Text – cvii – cviii
Acknowledgements – cix
Selected Further Readings – cx – cxi
Chronology – cxii –cxiii
Preface – 1 – 4
Advertisement 5

TOC – First Volume

ONE: The Extent and Military Force of the Empire, in the Age of the Antonines p. 31

TWO: Of the Union and Internal Prosperity of the Roman Empire in the Age of the Antonines p. 56

THREE: Of the Constitution of the Roman Empire in the Age of the Antonines p. 85

FOUR: The Cruelty, Follies, and Murder of Commodus – Election of Pertinax – His Attempts to reform the State. – His Assassination by the Pretorian Guards. p. 108

FIVE: Public Sale of the Empire to Didius Julianus by the Praetorian Guards. – Clodius Albinus in Britain, Pescennius Niger in Syria, and Septimius Severus in Pannonia, declare against the Murderers of Pertinax. – Civil Wars and Victory of Severus over his three Rivals. – Relaxation of Discipline, - New Maxims of Government. p. 127

SIX: The Death of Severus. – Tyranny of Caracellaa. – Usurpation of Macrinus. – Follies of Elagabulus. – Virtues of Alexander Severus. – Licentiousness of the Army. – General State of the Roman Finances. – p. 149

SEVEN: The Elevation and Tyranny of Maximin. – Rebellion in Africa and Italy, under the Authority of the Senate. – Civil Wars and Seditions. – Violent Deaths of Maximin and his Son, of Maximus and Balbinus, and of the three Gordians. – surpation and secular Games of Philip. p. 187

EIGHT: Of the State of Persia after the Restoration of the Monarchy of Artaxerxes p. 213

NINE: The State of Germany till the Invasion of the Barbarians, in the Time of the Emperor Decius. p. 230

TEN: The Emperor Decius, Gallus, Aemilianus, Valerian, and Gallienus. – The general Irruption of the Barbarians, - The thirty Tyrants. p. 253

ELEVEN: Reign of Claudius. – Defeat of the Goths. – Victories, Triumph, and Death of Aurelian. p. 295

TWELVE: Conduct of the Army and Senate after the Death of Aurelian. – Reigns of Tacitus, Probus, Carus, and his Sons. P. 327

THIRTEEN: The Reign of Diocletian and his three Associates, Maximian, Galerius, and Constantius, - General Re-establishment of Order and Tranquility. – The Persian War, Victory and Triumph. – The New Form of Administration. – Abdication and Retirement of Diocletian and Maximian. p. 358

FOURTEEN: Troubles after the Abdication of Diocletian. – Death of Constantius. – Elevation of Constantine and Maxentius. – Six Emperors at the Same Time. – Death of Maximian and Galerius. – Victories of Constantine over Maxentius and Licinius. – Re-union of the Empire under the Authority of Constantine. p. 400

FIFTEEN: The Progress of the Christian Religion, and the Sentiments, Manners, Numbers, and Condition of the primitive Christians. p. 446

SIXTEEN: The Conduct of the Roman Government towards the Christians, from the Reign of Nero to that of Constantine. p. 514


Appendix I – 1084 - 1105

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire 1 by Edward GibbonEdward GibbonEdward Gibbon

Note: This is a group membership selected book.


The assignment for this third week includes the following segments/pages:

WEEK THREE: Of the Constitution of the Roman Empire in the Age of the Antonines p. 85 - 107


We look forward to your participation; but remember this is a non spoiler thread.

We will open up threads for each week's reading. Please make sure to post in the particular thread dedicated to those specific chapters and page numbers to avoid spoilers.

This book was kicked off on May 10th. This will be the third week's assignment for this book.

We look forward to your participation. Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other noted on line booksellers do have copies of the book and shipment can be expedited. The book can also be obtained easily at your local library.

A special welcome to those who will be newcomers to this discussion and thank you to those who have actively contributed on the previous Spotlighted book selection. We are glad to have you all.

Welcome,

~Bentley

TO ALWAYS SEE ALL WEEKS' THREADS SELECT VIEW ALL


Patricrk patrick | 475 comments The most basic definition Aristotle used to describe a constitution in general terms was "the arrangement of the offices in a state". I take it this is what Gibbon is referring to.


message 3: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited May 26, 2010 07:25PM) (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments Yes, I believe that to be true Patricrk.

All, here is a youtube series which is quite good (good summaries) on Gibbon. This first excerpt is not a spoiler so you can enjoy it now - Make sure to turn on the closed caption:

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 1 Part 1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=--dyho...


message 4: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited May 26, 2010 07:49PM) (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments This is a pretty good one and discusses Trajan, the Dacians (mainly Romanians, but also Bulgarians, Serbians, Hungarians and Ukrainians).


The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 1 Part 2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5cU8Q...

Here is some information on the Dacians:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5cU8Q...


message 5: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments According to Gibbon, citizens of Rome became accustomed to success and luxury. The easy life slowly extinguished the internal fire which produces genius.

What do folks who are reading Gibbon think of the above statement?


message 6: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments According to Gibbon the fall of Rome may be attributed to the triumph of religion and barbarism.


I find it so odd that Gibbon couples the word religion with the word barbarism.

Also, after just finishing moderating The First World War by Keegan...I found the statement by Gibbon describing the Romans to be reminiscent of what was occurring in Europe before World War I: Gibbon stated that the Romans preserved peace by a constant preparation for war.

The First World War by John Keegan John KeeganJohn Keegan

I wonder how far we have really come in terms of a civilized world.


message 7: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited May 27, 2010 06:35AM) (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments There are some good quotes in Chapter Three:

Regarding: Influence of the clergy seldom on the side of the people; balance of power needed to preserve a free constitution

"The influence of the clergy, in an age of superstition, might be usefully employed to assert the rights of mankind; but so intimate is the connection between the throne and the altar, that the banner of the church has very seldom been seen on the side of the people. A martial nobility and stubborn commons, possessed of arms, tenacious of property, and collected into constitutional assemblies, form the only balance capable of preserving a free constitution against enterprises of an aspiring prince." Chapter 3

Regarding: Role of the tribunes, to oppose abuse of state power


"The character of the tribunes was, in every respect, different from that of the consuls. The appearance of the former was modest and humble; but their persons were sacred and inviolable. Their force was suited rather for opposition than for action. They were instituted to defend the oppressed, to pardon offences, to arraign the enemies of the people, and, when they judged it necessary, to stop, by a single word, the whole machine of government." Chapter 3

Regarding: Imperial government, an absolute monarchy disguised as a commonwealth

"To resume, in a few words, the system of the Imperial government, as it was instituted by Augustus, and maintained by those princes who understood their own interest and that of the people, it may be defined an absolute monarchy disguised by the forms of a commonwealth. The masters of the Roman world surrounded their throne with darkness, concealed their irresistible strength, and humbly professed themselves the accountable ministers of the senate, whose supreme decrees they dictated and obeyed." Chapter 3

Regarding: Mankind governed by names, willing to submit to slavery if assured that it is freedom

"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom." Chapter 3

Regarding: Two Antonines; reigns the only period of history in which the happiness of a great people was the sole object of government

"The two Antonines (for it is of them that we are now speaking) governed the Roman world forty-two years, with the same invariable spirit of wisdom and virtue. ... Their united reigns are possibly the only period of history in which the happiness of a great people was the sole object of government." Chapter 3

Regarding: History, register of crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind

"Antoninus diffused order and tranquility over the greatest part of the earth. His reign is marked by the rare advantage of furnishing very few materials for history; which is, indeed, little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind." Chapter 3

Regarding: Virtue of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus; Stoicism, and indifference to things external

"The virtue of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus was of a severer and more laborious kind. It was the well-earned harvest of many a learned conference, of many a patient lecture, and many a midnight lucubration. At the age of twelve years, he embraced the rigid system of the Stoics, which taught him to submit his body to his mind, his passions to his reason; to consider virtue as the only good, vice as the only evil, all things external as things indifferent." Chapter 3

Regarding: Most happy and prosperous period in the history of the world

"If a man were called to fix the period in the history of the world, during which the condition of the human race was most happy and prosperous, he would, without hesitation, name that which elapsed from the death of Domitian to the accession of Commodus." Chapter 3



Patricrk patrick | 475 comments Bentley wrote: "According to Gibbon, citizens of Rome became accustomed to success and luxury. The easy life slowly extinguished the internal fire which produces genius.

What do folks who are reading Gibbon thin..."


I don't think luxury and success extinguish genius. I think leaders who don't want the boat rocked because they are afraid of losing their position will suppress genius because it tends to be destabilizing of the status quo.


Patricrk patrick | 475 comments Bentley wrote: "According to Gibbon the fall of Rome may be attributed to the triumph of religion and barbarism.


I find it so odd that Gibbon couples the word religion with the word barbarism.

Also, after just..."


One big difference between the age of Augustus and the decline was the spread of Christianity. From a cause and effect relationship it has to be considered but that doesn't prove that the change of religion was really a factor. Do we have enough other societies that have undergone a change to see if the data would support his theory?


Patricrk patrick | 475 comments Bentley wrote: "There are some good quotes in Chapter Three:

Regarding: Influence of the clergy seldom on the side of the people; balance of power needed to preserve a free constitution

"The influence of the cl..."


It sounds like the writers of the American Constitution had read Gibbon. For me, the best time for humanity has to be some time after the invention of the printing press and book binding.


message 11: by Patrick (last edited May 27, 2010 01:38PM) (new)

Patrick Sprunger Bentley commented in #5: "According to Gibbon, citizens of Rome became accustomed to success and luxury. The easy life slowly extinguished the internal fire which produces genius."

Patricrk answered (in message #8): I don't think luxury and success extinguish genius. I think leaders who don't want the boat rocked because they are afraid of losing their position will suppress genius because it tends to be destabilizing of the status quo.

I do not want to commit the same faux pas as I did in chapter 2, when I rhapsodized over the antebellum American South to discuss Roman slavery, but I can't help but read Gibbon's descriptions of Augustus as forewarnings against Stalinism. I promise not to linger in the 20th century as long as I did in the 19th last week.

Gibbon writes (emphasis mine):

"The reformation of the senate, was one of the first steps in which Augustus laid aside the tyrant, and professed himself the father of his country... (Augustus) examined the list of the senators, expelled a few members, whose vices or whose obstinacy required a public example, persuaded near two hundred to prevent the shame of an expuslson by a voluntary retreat..."p. 37

The words "caesar" and "tsar" both originate from the same root, meaning something like "father." The idea of a strong familial head of state is utilized by ambitious dictators wanting to create a cult of personality and reduce the power of their respective senates, parlaiments, dumas, politburos, congresses, etc. Though he renounced monarchy as bourgeois, Stalin nevertheless cultivated the dual images of himself as father and Russia as the motherland in order to consolidate power.* These forces are subtle, though. To counter the inevitable push back by one's senate, there's nothing like a good show trial to strike the fear of God (or gods, in the Romans' case) into 'em.

Gibbon proceeds: "It was dangerous to trust the sincerity of Augustus; to seem to distrust it, was still more dangerous. (p. 37)"

Like the previous passage, this suggests Augustus did some "purging" and "terror" of his own. The result was a limp congress and obsequious commissars. "When all the various powers of executive government were committed to the Imperial magistrate, the ordinary magistrates of the commonwealth languished in obscurity, without vigour, and almost without business. (p. 40).

I think the "extinguishing of the internal fire which produces genius" was the result of top-down management. Augustus can probably not be faulted for lack of vision or energy, but he almost certainly lacked the superpowers needed to plan and run an empire by himself. Weakening the engines of republicanism ("ordinary" magistrates, senators, patrician families) might have led to decline in the empire of Rome in the same way it led to depression and languour in the USSR.

* Stalinist Values  The Cultural Norms of Soviet Modernity, 1917-1941 by David L. HoffmannDavid L. Hoffmann


message 12: by Patrick (last edited May 27, 2010 10:51AM) (new)

Patrick Sprunger Patricrk:

"Influence of the clergy seldom on the side of the people; balance of power needed to preserve a free constitution..."

It sounds like the writers of the American Constitution had read Gibbon.


At least Thomases Paine* and Jefferson**...

* The Age of Reason by Thomas PaineThomas Paine
**Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom


message 13: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments Patricrk wrote: "Bentley wrote: "According to Gibbon, citizens of Rome became accustomed to success and luxury. The easy life slowly extinguished the internal fire which produces genius.

What do folks who are r..."


I tend to agree with Gibbon on this one. I think that a certain complacency sets in with too much money and too much luxury. I feel that folks get lethargic.


message 14: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments Patricrk wrote: "Bentley wrote: "According to Gibbon the fall of Rome may be attributed to the triumph of religion and barbarism.


I find it so odd that Gibbon couples the word religion with the word barbarism...."


I am not sure that that hypothesis is a valid one; how many Roman Empires do we have or had and how many major religions like Christianity do we have to compare with.

But I can see where you are coming from and everybody's opinion is right here (smile).


message 15: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited May 27, 2010 01:41PM) (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments Patricrk wrote: "Bentley wrote: "There are some good quotes in Chapter Three:

Regarding: Influence of the clergy seldom on the side of the people; balance of power needed to preserve a free constitution

"The..."


I agree; it appears that they might have. Interesting idea that possibly the founding fathers were influenced by Gibbon and others which I suspect they were. Have you found anything written or posted anywhere that confirms that this might be so? I would be very interested in seeing that.


message 16: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments Patrick wrote: "Bentley commented in #5: "According to Gibbon, citizens of Rome became accustomed to success and luxury. The easy life slowly extinguished the internal fire which produces genius."

Patrickr answ..."


You do make a point Patrick and you made me smile about the antebellum discussion.


message 17: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments Patrick wrote: "Bentley commented in #5: "According to Gibbon, citizens of Rome became accustomed to success and luxury. The easy life slowly extinguished the internal fire which produces genius."

Patrickr answ..."



Yes, you make an interesting connection between tsar and caesar which is true; Kaiser also was derived from the same source. Yes, everybody seems to want to be a father of their country - no? Interesting about Stalin. I tend to see the connection too.


message 18: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments Patrick wrote: "Patricrk:

"Influence of the clergy seldom on the side of the people; balance of power needed to preserve a free constitution..."

It sounds like the writers of the American Constitution had r..."


Possibly the case...I wish I could find some research that proves that. Do you know of any?


Patricrk patrick | 475 comments Bentley wrote: "Patricrk wrote: "Bentley wrote: "There are some good quotes in Chapter Three:

Regarding: Influence of the clergy seldom on the side of the people; balance of power needed to preserve a free con..."


I looked at the Wikipedia article on the constitutional convention and Gibbon is not listed as a source. But considering that lots of those people could read Latin, they probably had read some of the same material Gibbon used as his sources.


message 20: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Master of Rome Series (new)

Vicki Cline | 1430 comments Patrick said: The words "caesar" and "tsar" both originate from the same root, meaning something like "father."

I had always heard that the name Caesar meant "curly hair," which is ironic, since Julius Caesar was balding.


message 21: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments Very true Patricrk...I only know that Churchill loved and read Gibbon.

Interesting tidbit Vicki (smile).


message 22: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited May 27, 2010 11:34PM) (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments Chapter One Part Three (Video)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igdk55...


message 23: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited May 27, 2010 11:35PM) (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments Chapter One Part Four (Video)

Interesting that in this video they describe carrying the standard (the flag I imagine) into battle and losing that flag was a bigger disgrace than being killed. They discussed the aquilifer which was carried into battle by a Roman soldier who was paid a double wage for doing so.

In fact it was a golden eagle which was at the front of the standard and was received with fondest devotion. This sounds familiar (grin).

What was astonishing was how much a soldier received for performing with loyalty and they got 15 times their annual salary as a lump sum payment when they were done.

It is also interesting to note that at one time 21% of the entire world's population was under Roman rule.

600 Senators made up the elite of the elite.

The second tier was made up of the equestrians or knights and there were 30,000 men at this second tier.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoTCDk...


message 24: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited May 28, 2010 05:04AM) (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments Nine Centuries of War: 500 BC to 200 AD - This video really only had information specifically dedicated to the make up of the Roman army, etc.

Legions: (10 cohorts made up one legion)

Legions made up of cohorts. The First Cohort was in charge of the eagle and the standard and this cohort included 1105 men.

The other nine cohorts were made up of 555 soldiers each.

6,100 men in a legion.

Their armor consisted of the following:

Helmet - Open with a lofty crest (red)
Breast Plate - Or Coat of Mail
Greaves - Worn on their legs
Buckler/Shield - Held on their left arm
Pilum - Right hand - this was a ponderous javelin
Sword/Gladius

A legion was usually drawn up 8 deep and there were three feet apart between files and rank. The Greeks set up in battle was very different.

The cavalry was divided into ten troops or squadrons. There were 726 cavalry and perhaps another 5 - 6,000 auxiliaries bringing the total of men to about 12,500 per legion. The 726 cavalry in a legion was called a regiment.

At the time of Hadrian there were no less than 30 legions spread throughout the Roman Empire.

There were 375,000 to 500,000 Roman soldiers but none were stationed in Italy. In fact, a general crossing the river Po into Italy was considered an act of war.

The Praetorian Guards were created to protect the Emperor and Rome (although most of the assassinations seemed to include this group - hmmm) - There were 20,000 bodyguards. They were the only armed forces in Rome and seemed to take advantage of that fact. One of the disadvantages of a military dictatorship is that they can turn on the Emperor himself.

The horses for the cavalry were either bred in Spain or Cappadocia.

The auxiliaries were made up of soldiers from the provinces and these folks were not Roman citizens. Usually they had some specific other skill used in warfare: some were archers, some were lancers or light cavalry.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-tJsq...


'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) Hi Bentley, if I could I'd like to suggest one of the better books, of many, that cover the Roman Army, this is by Michael Grant; "The Army of the Caesars".

The Army of the Caesars by Michael Grant by Michael Grant

Another good author who covers many of the Roman Legions is Stephen Dando-Collins, although he has an annoying tendency to use modern ranks instead of the proper Roman designation.

Caesar's Legion  The Epic Saga of Julius Caesar's Elite Tenth Legion and the Armies of Rome by Stephen Dando-Collins by Stephen Dando-Collins
Review:
"A unique and splendidly researched story, following the trials and triumphs of Julius Caesar's Legio X-arguably the most famous legion of its day-from its activation to the slogging battle of Munda and from Thapsus, Caesar's tactical masterpiece, to the grim siege of the Jewish fortress of Masada. More than a mere unit account, it incorporates the history of Rome and the Roman army at the height of their power and gory glory. Many military historians consider Caesar's legions the world's most efficient infantry before the arrival of gunpowder. This book shows why. Written in readable, popular style, Caesar's Legion is a must for military buffs and anyone interested in Roman history at a critical point in European civilization." — T. R. Fehrenbach, (author of This Kind of War, Lone Star, and Comanches)


message 26: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments Thank you Aussie Rick.


message 27: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited May 29, 2010 09:29PM) (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments BBC Production: (Be advised that these segments are Constantine episodes)

(These look like excerpts but I imagine that the entire production was well done)

Ancient Rome The Rise and Fall of an Empire 1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCiEB7...

Part II

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqZe5n...

Part III

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XQn0I...


Part IV

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNlQCk...


Part V:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ojq-Xm...


Part VI:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Xn8IX...


Part VII

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArjAAq...

Part VIII

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBrEbQ...


André (AndrH) | 2305 comments WOw, Bentley, you are so amazing, with all the detail you constantly add to this discussion (and all the others of course!)

Still, as you know I'm not that much a fan of BBC series...so here I go nagging again...
I clicked on two of the links. I remember having watched them some time ago. Whereas I can see the effort the BBC took in producing a tv-series on Roman history, I always wonder why it just looks so amateurish.
Roman cavalry did not use stirrups at that time, the troops were mixed (meaning of different origin - this bunch looks like it was picked rather randomly straight from the UK countryside...) and I'm not talking about the auxiliaries here etc. etc.
I could understand a rider here and there with stirrups just to avoid accidents during a gallop scene, but with the sun reflecting on the polished metal and the riders in a walk - please!

A little more attention to detail would have helped a lot. After all a lot of the reenactment groups get things right, so why can't the BBC?


message 29: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments Well BBC does their best and I always think the acting is pretty good even though they may not look like Romans. If I come along segments which are interesting to the reading; I always add them. Of course, many of these are excerpts only but if interested folks can always get the entire DVD.

I know that you are not a fan of BBC and that is OK. Some folks are and some not so much. Thank you for pointing out about the stirrups. A good catch.

Probably a few of the riders maybe requested stirrups for safety reasons but who am I to know. I do think that if the scene was in a walk; why show them there is a good point especially if it is an inaccurate historical reference. I think the BBC is looking for a production that is also high on entertainment value so sadly maybe some of the details do not seem as important to them as to some of the reenactment groups. But I still enjoyed the story line and the acting. (smile)

Thank you though for always pointing out where we should not be so gullible. It helps to keep all of the historical details straight as they should be especially when studying a group of people like the Romans. I will be putting up other segments of interest and please always feel free to point out these details for us.

Bentley


André (AndrH) | 2305 comments Bentley, thanks for understanding. I know I'm very picky with anything visual, especially film. But so many people rely on these shows as historically correct.
Whereas we of course are still fighting with the huge gaps on what we know about the Romans, I try my best to point out the most obvious. Especially on Roman horseback riding, a few important details are known.
Apart from the fact that the "true" Romans weren't the best riders (they often used auxiliaries for that), they had smaller horses and great saddles. Historians are still going back and forth over it, but when you ask modern riders to try the Roman way they often tell you it's fantastic. Of course we should remind ourselves that they probably gave different commands with the knees and feet.


message 31: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments What was the Roman way of horseback riding?


message 32: by André (last edited May 31, 2010 09:33AM) (new)

André (AndrH) | 2305 comments As with so many other things we don't know.
What I meant is the way they sat in the saddle. Because of the wooden stumps it gave the rider a perfect hold, even in full gallop.
The commands might have been slightly different because with the Romans not being such good riders as f.e. the Parthians or Gallics, they could have used their knees or calves for additional support. Today's horses would understand that as a command to practically go for it.
Great riders can direct the horse with the tiniest of pushes and/or shifts of weight. Think of the Native Americans who were one with their horse when in battle.
For anybody interested in this matter, here is a nice introduction:
Roman Auxiliary Cavalryman  AD 14-193 (Warrior) by Nic FieldsRoman Auxiliary Cavalryman: AD 14-193 by Nic Fields


message 33: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments Thank you Andre for the add.


message 34: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Master of Rome Series (new)

Vicki Cline | 1430 comments I had to laugh at foonote 40, regarding Hadrian.

"The deification of Antinous, his medals, his statues, temples, city, oracles, and constellation, are well known, and still dishonor the memory of Hadrian. Yet we may remark, that of the first fifteen emperors, Claudius was the only one whose taste in love was
entirely correct."

I always thought Hadrian's love for Antinous was quite sweet and genuine. And how does Gibbon know that Claudius never had homosexual relations while all the other 14 did? I guess I should go read The Twelve Caesars by Gaius Suetonius TranquillusThe Twelve Caesars by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus.

This appears to be the first nice thing he's had to say about Claudius. I don't think he was as stupid as Gibbon says, but I am probably influenced by I, Claudius by Robert GravesI, Claudius by Robert GravesRobert Graves.


message 35: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments Some interesting points Vicki. Yes, that is an interesting footnote (40) and I completely missed that.

Thank you for pointing that out to us and also for all of the wonderful adds.


message 36: by André (last edited Jun 01, 2010 03:43AM) (new)

André (AndrH) | 2305 comments Vicki, you're so right. The most important thing with all these books is not to forget a bucket full of salt.
We only know a small amount of what people back in the days tried to make their lives look like for future generations (through writing, sculpture, painting).
A very blurred appearance....


message 37: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jun 01, 2010 08:47PM) (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments History Book Review Summary of Chapter III: (Part One - Augustus takes over)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AD2mK...


message 38: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 3 Part 4: Marcus Aurelius

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7eA5hG...


message 39: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 3 Part 3: Hadrian and Antoninus

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvQYoW...


message 40: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jun 01, 2010 09:01PM) (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments Some Objectionable Segments in terms of topical discussions - for adults only

Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 3 Part 2: Nerva and Trajan

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTI5GR...


message 41: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jun 01, 2010 10:07PM) (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments Ancient Dacia:

Part One:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGHMp5...

Part Two:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRkZNd...

The Dacians had trade relations with many peoples and had friendly treaties with Rome. They were an advanced and sophisticated people adept at trade and diplomacy. So just what happened to the Dacians? Terry Jones explores who the Dacians were, and an act of genocide that nearly wiped them off the face of the earth.


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