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ROMAN EMPIRE -THE HISTORY... > 2. HF - THE FIRST MAN IN ROME - THE FIRST YEAR (95 - 185) (09/13/10 - 09/19/10) ~ No spoilers, please

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Sep 11, 2010 08:32PM) (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Hello Everyone,

Welcome to the historical fiction discussion of THE FIRST MAN IN ROME
by Colleen McCullough.

This is the reading assignment for week two - (Sept 13th, 2010 to Sept 19th, 2010)

Week 2 - Sept 13 - 19: p 95 – 185 The First Year

This is the third historical fiction group selected book.

We will open up a thread 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 if you are catching up.

This book was kicked off on September 6th; but we are now entering the second week of discussion

This discussion is being led by assisting moderator - Alisa. She has done an amazing job with the Supreme Court and civil rights threads and this is her first venture in moderating an historical fiction book and she is very excited to be doing this. Please support her in this effort.

We always enjoy the participation of all group members. 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, but this is not available on Kindle or audible.

This thread opens up Monday, September 13th for discussion. Although, Alisa may open this thread up earlier due to her different time zone. This is a non spoiler thread.

Welcome,

~Bentley


TO ALWAYS SEE ALL WEEKS' THREADS SELECT VIEW ALL

The First Man in Rome (Masters of Rome, #1) by Colleen McCullough by Colleen McCullough Colleen McCullough

Alisa is using the current version available to her as follows:

The First Man in Rome (Masters of Rome, #1) by Colleen McCullough

Please feel free to research the complete Table of Contents and Syllabus on this thread:

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/3...


message 2: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) This next section is devoted to the last half of the first chapter. A quick housekeeping note: for those of you who have read this book before, this is a fine section to leave your comments about anything in this chapter. Remember this is a non-spoiler thread so no jumping ahead to the rest of the book (some of us are still reading and we want to be surprised), but in this section anything that occurs in chapter one is fair game for discussion.

The second half of the chapter begins with Marius returning home to break the news to his wife, Grania, that he is divorcing her to marry Julia. An awkward turn of events for both of them, but the necessary deed is done. She goes through stages of shock, relief, grief, resignation, and resolves it all by going shopping. He dispenses with the entire matter almost clinically and expedites things to set up household with his soon-to-be new wife, Julia.

Meanwhile, the new consul, partially directed by Metellus, is about to begin a military campaign to Numidia to remove Jugurtha and put his rival on the throne. Jugurtha did himself no favors in his earlier attempt to be recognized by Rome, and has his dectrators. Knowing this and being trapped in Rome, Jugurtha decides to assassinate Massiva, who is also in Rome. He gives his half brother and Baron, Bomilcar, the task of finding an assassin. In the slums of the Roman Subura, Bomilcar finds Lucius Decumius, head of the college of the crossroads, to do the deed. During the triumph of Marcus Lucius Drusus, Decumius kills Massiva with a dagger in the crowded streets of Rome. Agelastus, a member of Jugurtha group, informs on the plot to the Senate and Bomilcar is arrested. While in jail, Decumius visits Bomilcar and Bomilcar asks Decumius to assassinate Agelastus, which he does. Lacking their key witness, the Senate releases Bomilcar who immediately flees home to Numidia with Jugurtha. Jugurtha then begins raising an army to deal with the impending Roman threat.

We also learn a bit more about Sulla's early life and how he is befriended by a teacher who provides him an education in his formative years. As a young man Sulla shows some signs of shrewd thinking and manages to pay his benefactor. In the present day Sulla is having troubles in his stepmother's household. His stepmother's only relative, her nephew Stichus, is set to inherit Sulla's stepmother's fortune. Stichus is a vile man and Sulla constantly quarrels with him, which puts strain on his relationship with his stepmother. Sulla, tired of the fighting, leaves Rome for a month. While he is gone, Stichus moves in with his aunt. When he returns, Stichus slowly dies of a stomach ailment, which was caused by a poison that Sulla put in his drink. Growing tired of his stepmother and his mistress, Sulla begins to talk with Julilla, who falls in love with Sulla despite his attempts to insult her and to turn her away.


The chapter ends with Marius, now happily married to Julia and moving up the social ladder, advocating to his friend Rufus the expansion of citizenship to all Italians. He is also considering whether to accept the offer from Metellus to join the military expedition against Jugurtha. In the final pages of the chapter, both Rufus and Marius accept the invitation to join the expedition. We see Marius forging his relationship with Rufus and their discussions of military and political gamesmanship.


message 3: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Ancient Roman History (new)

Vicki Cline | 3833 comments Mod
Thanks for the summary. I'm reading the hardcover edition and the page numbering is different from the one you're reading, so I didn't know where to split the first chapter, and read a little beyond where you left off. Hopefully if this happens again, I won't reveal any spoilers in the discussions.


message 4: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Thanks Vicki. Not everyone reads the same version so there is bound to be a little bleed between the sections. I have used chapter beginnings and endings though most of the remaining weeks sections so hopefully it will get a little easier to follow.


message 5: by Alisa (last edited Sep 13, 2010 08:00AM) (new)

Alisa (mstaz) What did you think of the exchange between Marius and Grania? After 25 years of marraige do you really ask someone to be out of the house in 24 hours? He didn't exactly leave her on the street by offering to buy her a villa, and maybe it is the warrior in him - make a clean swift break. At some level she seemed to understand how it was a political move on his part. Did he handle this the right way? The only way he could?


message 6: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Jugurtha seems to make one bad move after another. In the beginning of the chapter he has a horrible time figuring out the Romans and almost seems to rail against them while trying to become formally recognized. It's not working and now he faces resistance from Mettelus, who is prepared to put Massiva in his way. Jugurtha seems almost incapable of reacting with strategy and a little too quick to pick up the sword, he is almost too emotional for his own good. What are his options with the new political regime, and does he evaluate them at all? What do you think of how this character is developing, and what is McCullough telling us about the varying styles of military leadership in place at the time?


message 7: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Alisa wrote: "What did you think of the exchange between Marius and Grania? After 25 years of marraige do you really ask someone to be out of the house in 24 hours? He didn't exactly leave her on the street by..."

Obviously not...but this is a book of fiction. To tell you the truth I was surprised at his wife's reaction. I think after she thought about it a bit; she was happy to move on and get all of her perks. The cook seemed more upset (smile).


message 8: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Alisa wrote: "Jugurtha seems to make one bad move after another. In the beginning of the chapter he has a horrible time figuring out the Romans and almost seems to rail against them while trying to become forma..."

It seems that his options are not good no matter what decision he makes...in fact the options that he has left are all bad. He could appeal to his friends but right now they do not have the clout to help him.


message 9: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Bentley wrote: "Alisa wrote: "What did you think of the exchange between Marius and Grania? After 25 years of marraige do you really ask someone to be out of the house in 24 hours? He didn't exactly leave her on..."

I was surprsed she was surprised. She was essentially living life alone and knew he felt nothing for her. Very isolating.


message 10: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Sep 13, 2010 10:12AM) (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
That was more sad for her and that revelation was one which I think she felt and knew. She was already living alone and knew it at some level. Moving on freed her from the shackles of being in an unloved environment.


message 11: by Shannon (new)

Shannon | 75 comments . . .maybe it is the warrior in him - make a clean swift break. At some level she seemed to understand how it was a political move on his part. Did he handle this the right way? The only way he could?

I just re-read the scene. I think that it does appear really cold by today's standards. He does kind of soften it by realizing that she doesn't want to live with her pater familias, and providing her with a villa.

But part of the time constraint he places on her comes from the time line of the coming wedding. It reminds me a little of the rules regulating how long after a death regency girls could get married and the strictures involved (If it was her dad, or her husband a year, other family members less.) He needs to get Grania out of the house so that he can get Julia in, necessary changes made and so forth. All in just 8 weeks. He even ends that statement: "I can't bring her here to inspect the places until you've gone, it wouldn't be proper."


message 12: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) True Shannon, perhaps this really was not outside the boundaries of what was considered proper at the time. As cold as it seems, he is on the path to become a statesman so can't act like a complete cad about the whole thing. They were an instant source of gossip so something outside the norm of the day (however distasteful it may seem now) would make matters even worse. He also wouldn't want to anger his new in-laws as he needs them too much.


message 13: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Ancient Roman History (new)

Vicki Cline | 3833 comments Mod
I did feel bad for Grania. But shopping heals all wounds! I thought the cook's reaction was funny.


message 14: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Loved the shopping. :~D
Some things are eternal.


message 15: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Massiva is being escorted about town being introduced to Romans of note in anticipation of him taking over Numidia. "His chief advantage lay not in the undeniable legitimacy of his claim, but rather in the Roman delight of a divided camp; there was no thrill in a united Senate, no spice in a series of unanimous votes, no reputation to be made in amicable co-operation." (p. 104) What does this say about the political system of the Roman Republic? Is contention part of the goal of their complex system of ruling class and lines of authority? Can there be resolution through agreement, or is that just plain boring?


message 16: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Sep 14, 2010 08:05AM) (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Actually it sounds very much like Washington DC and our Senate and Congress. Very scary. Also quite partisan, spiteful, manipulative and cunning. Sounds like the Republicans and Democrats to me.

I think that behaving like adults and being/becoming responsible, accountable leaders would have been the way to go; what is in the best interests of Rome, their people and their government? It doesn't seem that they thought that deeply except for their fun and sport.


message 17: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Bentley wrote: "Actually it sounds very much like Washington DC and our Senate and Congress. Very scary. Also quite partisan, spiteful, manipulative and cunning. Sounds like the Republicans and Democrats to me. ..."

So if it was all for fun and sport then why was it solely the province of the patrician class? Was it to keep power in the hands of the privileged only? That seems more like a dictatorship and less like a Republic.


message 18: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Sep 14, 2010 08:21AM) (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
I think but of course I do not know what their motivating charactistics were. But it appears that in some ways they were juvenile and small in their demeanor and a bit coarse.

I think that in places where family is so important (like Italy)...it was important who your ancestors were/are and your lineage. Even in Italy today - familia is the #1 driving force - even over the Vatican.

Even in the states like the state of Maine...I know that you are not a true Maine person unless you were born there, went to school there and your parents and grandparents were linked in some way. You could live there for 30 years and still be considered an outsider or the person from X (whatever state or place you came from).

So this is not just the Rome of old. I am not saying that it was just fun and sport; there was something sinister beneath it all as well. I am not so sure that these people were very nice people who were ruling Rome in those times. They respected lineage and the patrician class much as other countries in other ages have respected monarchies and royalty. Their royalty seems to me to be the patrician classes. They had what everybody in Rome wanted: class distinction and a distinguished heritage and ancestry.

For sure some of the emperors ran dictatorships and there were many elements of military type coup d'etats. But at the point in time - 110BC, it was ostensibly a republic.


message 19: by Bryan (last edited Sep 14, 2010 08:25AM) (new)

Bryan Craig It is like reality TV: conflict is so much fun to watch. The lower classes seem to enjoy it as well as they see conflict being fought out between gladiators.

So I think Bentley and Alisa bring up some interesting points: do you love conflict for its own sake or use it for a purpose?

I suspect it is both. Now, I would think that the consuls would love cooperation (as long as it is for their side).


message 20: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Ancient Roman History (new)

Vicki Cline | 3833 comments Mod
I imagine some of the senators were hoping for a bidding war between the two contenders. Bribery seems to have been accepted, although you could also be prosecuted for it.


message 21: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Yes Bentley I do think that lineage played an important role with the BC-era Romans and agree that family loyalty runs long and deep in Italian culture today, no question. And now that I think about it further, of course the wealthy i.e. the patrician class will fiercely defend their position in life through whatever means necessary which invariably includes keeping the poor or non-citizens i.e. the plebs in this case, at arms length through limited powers and other forms of control. In that sense, there will always be conflict inherent in any government form that includes a ruling and oppressed class. Compromise seems only useful for personal gain, as Vicki suggests. Maybe part of the strategy is to keep other factions in conflict with each other to thwart attention from whatever plot one might be hatching that is better kept out of the public eye.


message 22: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Vicki wrote: "I imagine some of the senators were hoping for a bidding war between the two contenders. Bribery seems to have been accepted, although you could also be prosecuted for it."

Another example of how Washington runs today! Lobbying and campaign contributions are accepted and expected. But outright paying a member of the Senate to push a piece of legislation is unethical!


message 23: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Bryan wrote: "It is like reality TV: conflict is so much fun to watch. The lower classes seem to enjoy it as well as they see conflict being fought out between gladiators.

So I think Bentley and Alisa bring ..."


Reality TV, funny. I will say that Italians do love their drama and I don't think it is stereotyping to suggest that. If you look at it, even in the context of this book, almost everything has an element of show - the processionals, the design of the togas - and the theater of their system of justice. The description of the young advocate seemed less about his defense of his client as much as it was his art of presentation. People regularly showed up to watch this stuff, it must have been the Republic's form of entertainment.


message 24: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Alisa wrote: "Vicki wrote: "I imagine some of the senators were hoping for a bidding war between the two contenders. Bribery seems to have been accepted, although you could also be prosecuted for it."

Anothe..."


It is pretty much the same thing when they give hundreds of thousands of dollars to their campaigns.


message 25: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Alisa wrote: "Bryan wrote: "It is like reality TV: conflict is so much fun to watch. The lower classes seem to enjoy it as well as they see conflict being fought out between gladiators.

So I think Bentley ..."


Italians have pageantry down to a science and for that matter so do the British.


message 26: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Readily admit my bias...I think Italians elevated it to an art form. I think the British are very ceremonial, but more clinical in their approach.


message 27: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Ancient Roman History (last edited Sep 15, 2010 01:35PM) (new)

Vicki Cline | 3833 comments Mod
So far we haven't discussed Sulla. What an attractive monster he is! Plutarch Plutarch says in Plutarch's Lives that he inherited from Nicopolis and from his step-mother, but doesn't say that they all lived together, nor is there mention of the nephew. McCullough weaves the little we know about Sulla's early years into a story that is definitely plausible, given what is know about his later life.


message 28: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Sep 15, 2010 01:26PM) (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Yes Vicki and you raise some important distinctions between historical non fiction and historical fiction.

Thank you for bringing up those points to keep everybody on track with what is real and what is novel based. And of course both can be enjoyed equally.


message 29: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) We are certainly learning more about Sulla in this chapter. He's a bit of a cad but I am starting to feel sorry for him. Started life born into a good name but dirt poor and an alcoholic father. The discussion of his educational benefactor was interesting and I find it curious that young Sulla insisted on paying him, even though it was through ill-gotten gains. It points to an awareness at a young age of the power of money and knowledge. Sulla takes his education and the need for it seriously.

What did you think of his reaction when his mentor died and the books were destroyed?


message 30: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Ancient Roman History (new)

Vicki Cline | 3833 comments Mod
His early life does seem pretty horrible, except for the teacher. His refusal to accept charity shows his excessive pride (he's a Cornelius!). He must have been devastated to lose both the teacher and the books.


message 31: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) But not so much pride that he won't steal and sell himself? I found that odd, in a way, it's not exactly reputation building. It does explain some of his later adult behaviour and perhaps implies his relationship with Nicopolis and Metrobius, and perhaps women in general for that matter. Then again, he behaves differently around the young Julilla. And in some ways they seem cut from the same cloth.


message 32: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) IMHO, I think I see a tendency in the posts to judge both Marius and Sulla by our own standards.

We learn much more about Sulla in the next book in the series, The Grass Crown, but there is little doubt he was a totally amoral libertine. I find little in him to feel sorry for. Nevertheless by the standards of that time he wasn't all that different than many of his peers. Roman society wasn't any less hypocritical than later societies, including our own.

Marius, on the other hand, is a reasonably admirable figure. His path is the only one he can take to achieve what he wants and is well within the bounds of Roman patrician society.


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

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Ed, don't forget to cite books with their book cover, author's photo and author's link like so:

The Grass Crown (Masters of Rome, #2) by Colleen McCullough Colleen McCullough Colleen McCullough

Thanks, I do agree that Marius for those times is fairly ethical and moral...as Romans go.


message 34: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Bentley, thanks for assisting Ed with the book cite.
Ed, are you suggesting Sulla reflected the Roman standard of the time? That's one low standard and while there are plenty of chinks in the ethics of the players it seems like a stretch to suggest that Sulla's behavior was the norm.

My nod of sympathy for him is for the misfortune in his early life. As an adult, he owns those choices, and I don't have sympathy on that score.

Marius is not nearly as reprehensible as the others. Yet.


message 35: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) Alisa wrote: "Bentley, thanks for assisting Ed with the book cite.
Ed, are you suggesting Sulla reflected the Roman standard of the time? That's one low standard and while there are plenty of chinks in the et..."


I'm not suggesting that at all. I said he behaved in ways similar to many of his peers. I also said that Patrician Roman society was hypocritical and that few patricians actually lived according to so-called acceptable standards of behavior.

None of this is meant to excuse his behavior but rather to put it in a historical context. "Judge not.... etc."


message 36: by Shannon (new)

Shannon | 75 comments I think that there are two standards of behavior for the Romans. There are the family oriented players like the Caesars, whose morals most closely associate with ours. Then, there are the party oriented people like Sulla and Clitumna. The Caesars with their children don't particularly like living next door to Clitumna's raucus parties, and questionable living standards, and Clitumna thinks that they are boring.

This is just like today in our neighborhoods. Where one household might like living quietly private lives, but a neighboring household might prefer to take all their private battle out into the street as a form of public entertainment.

I think what bothers me most about Sulla is that his morals seem to be based on what is expedient for Sulla. If Sulla stomps a few sandaled feet getting what Sulla wants, that's good morals because Sulla got what Sulla wanted. These self-oriented people bother me in any time period.


message 37: by Alisa (last edited Sep 16, 2010 07:54AM) (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Most of the characters we have seen so far seem driven by situational ethics. Is it acceptable for Jugurtha to order the assassination of his rival, Massiva? Sulla poisons Sticky for getting in his way of a perceived inheritance opportunity and to make his life a little easier? Marius unceremoniously dumps his wife of 25 years so he can marry someone else for the sole purpose of political expediency and self-interests? Hard pressed to say that any of these men are adopting the winning ways of a moral compass. We tend to look kindly on Marius for 'doing the right thing' by the practices of the times.


message 38: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Alisa wrote: "Most of the characters we have seen so far seem driven by situational ethics. Is it acceptable for Jugurtha to order the assassination of his rival, Massiva? Sulla poisons Sticky for getting in h..."

Interesting, Alisa, not only ethical relativism is at play, but I think there is more of an ethical egoism going on, where you do what is in your self-interest.

Where is the social ethic of what is best for Rome?
I had to smile when Sulla's teacher lamented about the lost works of Aristotle. For Aristotle moral virtue is the highest expression of life, and at this point, Aristotle is lost.


message 39: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Bryan, so true. The discussion that Marius gets into with his pal Rutilius Rufus is their examination of what is best for Rome. Ironically, that includes a dose of what is best for them as well!


message 40: by Ed (last edited Sep 16, 2010 07:17PM) (new)

Ed (ejhahn) Alisa wrote: "Bryan, so true. The discussion that Marius gets into with his pal Rutilius Rufus is their examination of what is best for Rome. Ironically, that includes a dose of what is best for them as well!"

Not necessarily mutually exclusive. Especially if one's ego is as great as Marius' was.

I often think that's what drives people like Richard Nixon. It's not that they are out to only serve themselves but also the country. I doubt if anyone could seriously run for President or First Consul, for that matter, without a strong ego.

I have friends, in the business world, who act like that. I also ran into such people in the non-profit world. I'll bet most people have friends who fit that profile. Something like, "Doing well by doing good."


message 41: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Running for office takes a big ego, among other things, Roman Republic or modern day. Its if the ego gets in the way of other motivating factors that trouble ensues. Sure these guys want the attention and the power of office, it's very heady to be adored and in that lofty position in society. Our man Marius here craves power, he has an affinity for military leadership, he is ambitious, we know from all that he is on his way to pursuing a career. Sulla on the other hand is ruled by his emotions and let's say more purient desires, he has family lineage going for him but his ego and emotion get in the way of his ability to use his intellect. At the moment he's his own worst enemy.


message 42: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) What do you think of the discussion betweeen Marius and Ritilius Rufus military strategy and the evolution of citizenship rights in Italy? Latin rights v. Roman citizenship..."the law provides R0me with new citizens of exactly the right type - men of property and great local importance - men who can be trusted to vote the right way in Rome" (p. 164), and they do onto debate if Rome and Italy belong in an equal union. Marius seems to show his military strategic mind and how he thinks about these issues. What have others observed in this exchange?


message 43: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig A very interesting conversation. Marius does seem to have a better pulse of what is going on compared to Rufus who seems entrenched.

While I was reading this, my mind drifted to the fact that Italy did not fully unify until 1870, and Rome was the last hold-out. This probably had more to do with the pope than Roman hubris, but I couldn't help think it took a long time to sort things out.

I also wondered about political rights of people under the British empire or even the U.S. Puerto Rico has a member in Congress, but no vote, and African Americans before the 1960s.


message 44: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Bryan, I had not thought of unification until you mentioned it but that certainly puts into perspective the length of time it took for them to get there. Throught the lens of this book we could easily be led to believe that the Roman attitude contributed significantly! Then again, Rome isn't unified as far as the Pope is concerned but that has to do with the church and not politics. (wink)

Disenfranchisement has long been a way for people to be controlled in political systems around the world. ANywhere there has been a ruling class there are those excluded from having a voice, and the US has been no different for many years excluding women and the post-civil war African-American population. It's a power mechanism, and that mechanism is threatend when masses are involved rather than leaving it in the hands of the elite. That seems to be the case in 109 B.C. Rome.


message 45: by Karol (new)

Karol Alisa wrote: "Disenfranchisement has long been a way for people to be controlled in political systems around the world. ANywhere there has been a ruling class there are those excluded from having a voice, and the US has been no different for many years excluding women and the post-civil war African-American population. It's a power mechanism, and that mechanism is threatend when masses are involved rather than leaving it in the hands of the elite. That seems to be the case in 109 B.C. Rome."

Alisa, we can see this disenfranchisement even more recently in the U.S. with the internment of Japanese Americans in WWII. And today, there are groups who would LIKE to exclude Spanish-speaking Americans and/or Muslims of Arab descent.

Once again, I'm a little behind the group in doing the reading, but I think what surprised me most as I read is that really, things today are not all that different than in ancient Rome. From political expediency and rationalizing immoral actions on that basis, to retail therapy and lap dogs for company!

I suppose those similarities can help us understand the history - yet, there were certainly differences in culture and mindset too. I agree with Ed that we tend to judge the characters by today's standards - what other yardstick do we honestly have? Sometimes I wonder if it is ever possible to truly understand history . . .

Ah, but I'm having a heck of a fun time trying!


message 46: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) We can't help but to be influenced in our thinking based on our own experience. I think I expect that because we are talking about an era so far rremoved from today that naturally there would be considerable change. It is intriguing and eye-opening to see where there are similarities in standards and practices of today as there were 2100 years ago.

The lap dog - hehe - funny you mentioned that. I know there are many dog lovers in our group who probably know the history of the domesticated dog and the various roles they had in society, whether for guarding temples or companionship for the aristocracy. One of my cousins has an italian greyhound and it is the perfect little lapdog with an air of nobility about him. I wonder if that is what Grania got!


message 47: by Karol (new)

Karol Alisa, I've never heard of that breed - I'll have to go Google that!


message 48: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) I'll post a pic in the glossary. They were quite popular among italian nobility at one time, but I don't know if they were at the time of the Roman Republic. Possible.


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