Book 4; Thought 26

Occupy thyself with few things, says the philosopher, if thou wouldst be tranquil. But consider if it would not be better to say, Do what is necessary, and whatever the reason of the animal which is naturally social requires, and as it requires. For this brings not only the tranquility which comes from doing well, but also that which comes from doing few things.

For the greatest part of what we say and do being unnecessary, if a man takes this away, he will have more leisure and less uneasiness. Accordingly on every occasion a man should ask himself, Is this one of the unnecessary things? Now a man should take away not only unnecessary acts, but also, unnecessary thoughts, for thus superfluous acts will not follow after.

Caesar in Gaul: Makin’ Waves (56 BC)

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

If you are new to RAE, then welcome to the show. If you’ve been around before, then you probably have realized our fascination with the one and only Gaius Julius Caesar.

When we came across a way to share more about the man who was without a doubt so impactful on the Res Publica Romana (Roman Republic), and what would become the Imperium Rōmānum (Roman Empire) after his assassination, there was no way to pass it up.

So, without further ado, we bring to you Caesar’s Gallic Wars!

Vercingetorix Throws Down His Arms at the Feet of Julius Caesar, by Lionel Noel Royer (1899).

 

In case you missed our previous posts from Caesar’s invasions of Britain, you can check out Part I and Part II.

The Gallic Wars were a series of military campaigns waged by the Roman Proconsul Julius Caesar against several Gallic tribes. Rome’s war against the Gallic tribes lasted from 58 BC to 50 BC and culminated in the decisive Battle of Alesia in 52 BC, in which a complete Roman victory resulted in the expansion of the Roman Republic over the whole of Gaul (mainly present-day France and Belgium).

Although Caesar portrayed this invasion as being a preemptive and defensive action, most historians agree that the wars were fought primarily to boost Caesar’s political career and to pay off his massive debts. The Gallic Wars are described by Julius Caesar in his book Commentarii de Bello Gallico, which remains the most important historical source regarding the conflict.

We hope you enjoyed all the video presentations about Caesar. Be sure to check back with us soon for we never know who, or where, we’ll journey.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Mare Nostrum: Known to by all non-Romans as the Mediterranean Sea

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

If you’ve ever heard of a thing called the Imperium Rōmānum (Roman Empire), then you’re probably at least familiar with the Exercitus Romanus (Roman Army). However, we recently gave the Classis Romanus (Roman Navy) some love in the following articles: The Roman Navy: Unsung Champion of the Ancient Seas, The Roman Navy: From Rivers to Oceans, and Warfare of Classical Antiquity: Republican Fleet Tactics (Roman Navy).

As the Masters & Commanders of the Ancient World, the Romans were not shy about their dominance over the Mediterranean Sea. Today we explore the Roman way as we see why it was Mare Nostrum!

The Roman Empire at its farthest extent in AD 117. Note, however, that the Sea is called Mare Internum “Inner Sea” here.

Mare Nostrum was a Roman name for the Mediterranean Sea. In Latin, it literally translates to Our Sea.

The term Mare Nostrum originally was used by Romans to refer to the Tyrrhenian Sea, following their conquest of SicilySardinia and Corsica during the Punic Wars with Carthage. By 30 BC, Roman domination extended from the Iberian Peninsula to Egypt, and Mare Nostrum began to be used in the context of the whole Mediterranean Sea.

The Roman Navy at war

Other names were also employed, including Mare Internum (The Internal Sea). However, the Romans did not include Mediterraneum Mare (Mediterranean Sea), which was a Late Latin creation only attested to well after the Fall of Rome.

An Italian Empire view of the Mare Nostrum (by Hendrick Van Minderhout L’embarquement).

In the years following the unification of Italy in 1861 Italian nationalists, who saw Italy as the successor state to the Roman Empire, attempted to revive the term. The rise of Italian nationalism during the “Scramble for Africa” of the 1880s led to calls for the establishment of an Impero Italiano (Italian Empire).

The Italian poet Gabriele d’Annunzio was the first to revive the phrase. Italian writer Emilio Lupi said the following about the Mare Nostrum:

Even if the coast of Tripoli were a desert, even if it would not support one peasant or one Italian business firm, we still need to take it to avoid being suffocated in mare nostrum.

Starboard / Bow view of the Italian Battleship Roma in 1940.

The term was again taken up by Benito Mussolini for use in fascist propaganda, in a similar manner to Adolf Hitler‘s lebensraum. Mussolini wanted to re-establish the greatness of the Roman Empire and believed that Italy was the most powerful of the Mediterranean countries after World War I.

Axis Italy’s Invasion of Spain

Mussolini declared that “the twentieth century will be a century of

Italian power”. He then created one of the most powerful navies of the world in order to again control the Mediterranean Sea.

When World War II started Italy was already a major Mediterranean power that controlled the north and south shores of the central basin. After the fall of France removed the main threat from the west, the British Mediterranean Fleet (with UK-controlled bases in GibraltarMaltaCyprusEgypt, and Mandatory Palestine) remained the only threat to Italian naval power in the Mediterranean.

Patrol of the Axis navy

The invasions of AlbaniaGreece and Egypt, and the Siege of Malta sought to extend Axis control over the Sea. This policy was so great, it threatened neutral nations like Turkey, a threat that İsmet İnönü, the president of Turkey at the time of war, countered by only promising to enter the war if the Soviet Union joined the Allies.

Mussolini dreamed of creating an Imperial Italy in his Mare Nostrum and promoted the fascist project of an enlarged Italian Empire, stretching from the Mediterranean shores of Egypt to the Indian Ocean shores of Somalia and eastern Kenya. This was obviously to be realized in a future peace conference after the anticipated Axis victory

He referred to making the Mediterranean Sea “an Italian lake”. This aim, however, was challenged throughout the campaign by the Allied land & naval forces.

RN Vittorio Veneto in the Battle of Cape Spartivento.

For example, Greece had easily been incorporated into the Roman Empire, but the new Greek state proved to be too powerful for Italian conquest, and Greece remained independent until German forces arrived to assist the Italian invasion. Despite periods of Axis ascendancy during the Battle of the Mediterranean it was never realized, and ended altogether with the final Italian defeat of September 1943.

The term Mare Nostrum was chosen as the theme for the Inaugural Conference of the Society for Mediterranean Law and Culture, being held in June 2012 at the University of Cagliari Faculty of Law, Sardinia, Italy (La Conferenza Inaugurale della Società di Diritto e Cultura del Mediterraneo). In this contemporary usage, the term is intended to embrace the full diversity of Mediterranean cultures, with a particular focus on exchanges and cooperation among Mediterranean nations.

From November 2013 Fenice (F 557), a corvette of Minerva class, took part in the Operation Mare Nostrum rescuing the boats of illegal immigrants coming from North Africa.

Operation Mare Nostrum was a year-long naval and air operation commenced by the Italian government on 18 October 2013 to tackle the increased immigration to Europe during the latter half of 2013 and migratory ship wreckages off Lampedusa. During the operation at least 150,000 migrants, mainly from Africa and the Middle East, arrived safely to Europe. The operation ended on 31 October 2014 and was superseded by Frontex‘s Operation Triton.

In a completely different way, Mare Nostrum is an empire-building game in which 3-5 players [or 2-6 with the ‘Atlas’ expansion] lead their individual ancient empires to dominion of Mare Nostrum. Players grow their fame and glory of their empire by expanding influence into new Provinces, then extending their Trade Caravans, building Markets, and founding new Cities and Temples.

Mare Nostrum: Empires, a modern game set in ancient times.

You can recruit Heroes and create Wonders to help your cause. But beware of your “friends” because they may look upon your gains with envy and greed.

Mare Nostrum is a re-introduction by Academy Games and Asyncron of the original 2003 release with updated rules, counters, and map board. This edition includes many new components and multiple new ways to win.

In more detail, you choose an empire to lead, which begins with three Provinces. You can lead with Caesar of Rome and its powerful Legions, or with Pericles, the prominent Greek statesman and orator, with the great Babylonian lawgiver and healer King Hammurabi, or with Queen Cleopatra of Egypt, whose engineers led in the development of grain storage and irrigation, or with Hannibal, leader of the Carthaginians, whose merchants thrived on trade and commerce. Now you decide how you will grow your empire.

We hope you enjoyed our brief excursion to explore Mare Nostrum, and maybe you’ll even go out for your own voyage someday. Thanks again for stopping by and we look forward to having you back soon.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

 

References:

Fleming, Thomas. The New Dealers’ War. Perseus Books,2001.

Lowe, C.J. Italian Foreign Policy 1870–1940. Routledge, 2002. ISBN 0-415-27372-2.

Rhodes, Anthony. Propaganda: The Art of Persuasion: World War II. Chelsea House Publishers, 1976.

Talbert, R.; Downs, M. E.; McDaniel, M. Joann; Lund, B. Z.; Elliott, T.; Gillies, S. “Places: 1043 (Internum Mare)”. Pleiades.

Tellegen-Couperus, Olga. Short History of Roman Law. Routledge, 1993. ISBN 0-415-07251-4.

“Mare Nostrum Operation”Ministry of Defence of Italy.

“IOM Applauds Italy’s Life-Saving Mare Nostrum Operation: “Not a Migrant Pull Factor””International Organization for Migration. 31 October 2014.

“Mare Nostrum: Empires”. BoardGameGeek.com

Book 4; Thought 22

If souls continue to exist, how does the air contain them from eternity?- But how does the earth contain the bodies of those who have been buried from time so remote? For as here the mutation of these bodies after a certain continuance, whatever it may be, and their dissolution make room for other dead bodies; so the souls which are removed into the air after subsisting for some time are transmuted and diffused, and assume a fiery nature by being received into the seminal intelligence of the universe, and in this way make room for the fresh souls which come to dwell there.

And this is the answer which a man might give on the hypothesis of souls continuing to exist. But we must not only think of the number of bodies which are thus buried, but also of the number of animals which are daily eaten by us and the other animals. For what a number is consumed, and thus in a manner buried in the bodies of those who feed on them! And nevertheless this earth receives them by reason of the changes of these bodies into blood, and the transformations into the aerial or the fiery element.

Cloaca Maxima: Attempting to Keep Rome Clean

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

If you’re here then, just like us, you have a passion for Ancient Rome. We’re glad you do for there is so much to share.

As one of the largest ancient cities, Rome probably felt like the center of the universe at the height of its power. With so much happening militarily, culturally, religiously, and constructurally above the ground we often overlook what was going on underneath it.

Well that ends today as we uncover a truly great feat (at least in its own right) as we explore the Cloaca Maxima!

Domitian-era section of the Cloaca under the Forum.

The Cloaca Maxima is one of the world’s earliest sewage systems. Constructed in Ancient Rome in order to drain local marshes and remove the waste of one of the world’s most populous cities, it carried effluent to the River Tiber, which ran beside the city.

The name literally means Greatest Sewer. According to tradition it may have been initially constructed around 600 BC under the orders of the Rex Romae (King of Rome)Tarquinius Priscus.

Capitoline Hill and Cloaca Maxima (c. 1890).

The Cloaca Maxima was originally built by the Etruscans as an open-air canal. Over time, the Romans covered over the canal and turned it into a sewer system for the city.

The system of Roman sewers was much imitated throughout the Imperium Rōmānum (Roman Empire), especially when combined with abundant supplies of water from Roman aqueducts. The sewer system in Eboracum (modern-day York) was especially impressive, and part of it still survives today.

Contained within the Cloaca Maxima there were many branches off of the main sewer, all of which seem to be official SPQR drains that would have served public toilets, thermae (bath-houses) and other public buildings. Private residences in Rome, even of the rich, would have relied on some sort of cess-pit arrangement for sewage.

Map of central Rome during the time of the Roman Empire, showing the Cloaca Maxima (in red).

The Cloaca Maxima was well maintained throughout the life of the Roman Empire and even today drains rainwater and debris from the center of town, below the ancient Forum Rōmānum (Roman Forum), Velabrum and Foro Boario (Forum Boarium). In 33 BC it was known to have received an inspection and overhaul from Agrippa, and was thought to be presided over by the goddess Cloacina.

Modern archaeology has revealed several building styles and material from various ages, suggesting that the systems received regular attention. In more recent times, the remaining passages have been connected to the modern-day sewage system, mainly to cope with problems of backwash from the river.

The Romans are recorded to have dragged the bodies of a number of people to the sewers rather than give them proper burial, the reliability of the accounts though depends upon the case.

Italian St Sebastian Thrown into the Cloaca Maxima by Lodovico Carracci.

Among those discarded in the Cloaca Maxima was the Emperor Elagabalus as well as Saint Sebastian. The latter scene was the subject of a well-known artwork by Lodovico Carracci.

The outfall of the Cloaca Maxima into the River Tiber is still visible today near the bridge Ponte Rotto (Broken Bridge), and near Ponte Palatino (English Bridge). There is a stairway going down to it visible next to the Basilica Julia at the Forum, or from the surface opposite the church of San Giorgio al Velabro.

The underground structure was much praised. Here are the words of Pliny the Elder:

Hills were tunneled into the course of the construction of the sewers, and Rome was a ‘city on stilts’ beneath which men sailed when Marcus Agrippa was Aedile. Seven rivers join together and rush headlong through Rome, and, like torrents, they necessarily sweep away everything in their path. With raging force, owing to the additional amount of rainwater, they shake the bottom and sides of the sewers. Sometimes water from the Tiber flows backwards and makes its way up the sewers. Then the powerful flood-waters clash head-on in the confined space, but the unyielding structure holds firm. Huge blocks of stone are dragged across the surface above the tunnels; buildings collapse of their own accord or come crashing down because of fire; earth tremors shake the ground – but still, for seven hundred years from the time of Tarquinius Priscus, the sewers have survived almost completely intact.

Outfall of the Cloaca Maxima as viewed today.

This public work was largely achieved through the use of Etruscan engineers and large amounts of semi-forced labor from the poorer classes of Roman Citizens. Underground work is said to have been carried out on the sewer by Tarquinius Superbus, Rome’s 7th and final King.

Although Livy describes it as being tunneled out beneath Rome, he was writing centuries after the event. From other writings and from the path that it takes, it seems more likely that it was originally an open drain, formed from streams from 3 of the neighboring hills, that were channeled through the main Forum and then on to the Tiber.

This open drain would then have been gradually built over, as building space within the city became more valuable. It is possible that both theories are correct, and certainly some of the main lower parts of the system suggest that they would have been below ground level even at the time of the supposed construction.

The Cloaca Maxima in the Roman Forum

The 11 aqueducts which supplied water to Rome by the 1st Century AD were finally channeled into the sewers after having supplied the many public baths such as the Baths of Diocletian and the Baths of Trajan, the public fountains, imperial palaces and private houses.

The continuous supply of running water helped to remove wastes and keep the sewers clear of obstructions. The best waters were reserved for potable drinking supplies, and the subsequent quality waters would be used by the baths, the outfalls of which connected to the sewer network under the streets of the city.

Door to the sewer (Basilicae Julia)

The aqueduct system was investigated by the General Frontinus at the end of the 1st Century AD. The General ended up publishing his report on its state directly to the Emperor Nerva.

We hope you found this journey at least somewhat enjoyable. We tried to keep it as clean as possible (considering the topic of discussion), and look forward to having you back again.

View of the Cloaca Maxima as it appeared in 1814 (Oil on canvas by Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg).

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

 

References:

Aldrete, Gregory S. Daily life in the Roman city: Rome, Pompeii and Ostia. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004. ISBN 978-0-313-33174-9.

Herodian. Roman History.

Hopkins, John N. N. “The Cloaca Maxima and the Monumental Manipulation of water in Archaic Rome”. Institute of the Advanced Technology in the Humanities. Web. 4/8/12

Lançon, Bertrand. Rome in late antiquity: everyday life and urban change, AD 312-609. Routledge, 2000. ISBN 978-0-415-92975-2.

Livy. Ab urbe condita.

Quilici, Lorenzo. “Land Transport, Part 1: Roads and Bridges”. The Oxford Handbook of Engineering and Technology in the Classical World. Oxford University Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-19-518731-1.

Woods, Michael. Ancient medicine: from sorcery to surgery. Twenty-First Century Books, 2000. ISBN 978-0-8225-2992-7.

Darvill, Timothy; Stamper, Paul; Timby, Jane. England: an Oxford archaeological guide to sites from earliest times to AD 1600. Oxford University Press, 2002. ISBN 978-0-19-284101-8.

Rinne, Katherine W. Aquae Urbis Romae: The Waters of the City of Rome. 1998.

Rome, Cloaca Maxima”. Livius.

Roma Condita: Celebrating Rome’s Founding

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

From the world of Ancient Rome there are many things in which to be celebrated or actually were celebrated. The month of Aprilis (April) celebrates the birth of Emperors Septimius Severus (11 April 145 AD) and Marcus Aurelius (26 April 121 AD) along with the festivals of Veneralia (1) and Fordicidia (15).

If you haven’t yet got on the Roman party-train you need to jump aboard, for there’s plenty of stops to celebrate and there’s plenty of tickets available for everyone. But without a single event, no of this would happen nor would this website exist.

Today we are going to witness the impactful event that was the Roma Condita (Founding of Rome)!

Aeneas flees burning Troy by Federico Barocci, 1598 (Galleria Borghese, Rome).

One thing the Romans were certain of was the day Rome was founded, and that day is today – 4 April. What they were not so certain of was the year in which their city was established as several dates had been proposed by ancient authorities.

This is a reason they preferred to date their years by the presiding Consuls rather than using the formula Ab Urbe Condita (AUC). Dionysius of Halicarnassus, a Greek historian and teacher of rhetoric who flourished during the reign of Caesar Augustus, stated the following:

the Greek historian Timaeus, the first to write a history of the Romans, stated that Rome was founded in the 38th year prior to the first Olympiad, or 814 BC; Quintus Fabius Pictor, the first Roman to write the history of his people, stated Rome was founded in the first year of the eighth Olympiad, or 748/7 BC; Cincius Alimentus claimed Rome was founded in the fourth year of the twelfth Olympiad, or 719/8 BC; and Cato the Elder calculated that Rome was founded 432 years after the Trojan War, which Dionysius stated was the first year of the seventh Olympiad, or 752/3 BC.

Dionysius himself provided calculations showing that Rome was founded in 751 BC, starting with the Battle of the Allia, which he dated to the 1st year of the 9th Olympiad (390 BC), then added 119 years to reach the date of the primary Consuls, Junius Brutus and Tarquinius Collatinus, and then he added the combined total of the reigns of the Kings of Rome (244 years) to arrive at his own date, 751 BC. Even the official Fasti Capitolini offers its own date, 752 BC.

Building what would become The Eternal City, as Romulus plows the boundary (inset).

The most familiar date given for the foundation of Rome, 753 BC, was derived by the Roman antiquarian Titus Pomponius Atticus, and adopted by Roman scholar Marcus Terentius Varro.

Varro created a timeline of Roman History by using a combination of a list of Roman Consuls, together with a little bit of historical license to allow for periods of dictatorial rule.

Therefore Varro’s timeline is known to be slightly inaccurate, but nobody has ever provided sufficiently trustworthy evidence to propose a different calendar. Therefore his system is accepted as the standard chronology.

Despite the inaccuracies of Varro’s work, the recent discoveries by Andrea Carandini on Rome’s Palatine Hill have also yielded evidence of a series of fortification walls on the North Slope that can be dated to the middle of the 8th Century BC. According to the legend, Romulus plowed a sulcus (furrow) around the hill in order to mark the boundary of his new city.

The she-wolf feeding the twins Romulus and Remus, the most famous image associated with the founding of Rome.

You may already be familiar with the myth of Romulus and Remus, the twin brothers who were suckled by a she-wolf. The story goes that, as adults, they decided to establish a new city but disagreed on the location.

After a quarrel about the walls, Remus was killed by his brother and so Romulus named the city after himself. The foundation myth became quite commonly accepted by ancient historians, although modern scholars disagree.

We appreciate you taking this journey with us to discover the Founding of Rome. We look forward to having you join us on future adventures, for we never know where we’ll be heading.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

 

References:

Carandini, Andrea. Rome: Day One. Princeton University Press, 2011. ISBN 978-0-691-13922-7.

Forsythe, Gary. A Critical History of Early Rome: From Prehistory to the First Punic War. University of California Press, 2005. ISBN 978-0-520-22651-7.

Livy. The Early History of Rome. Penguin Books Ltd, 26 May 2005. ISBN 978-0-14-196307-5.

 

Book 4; Thought 21

Everything which is in any way beautiful is beautiful in itself, and terminates in itself, not having praise as part of itself. Neither worse then nor better is a thing made by being praised. I affirm this also of the things which are called beautiful by the vulgar, for example, material things and works of art. That which is really beautiful has no need of anything; not more than law, not more than truth, not more than benevolence or modesty. Which of these things is beautiful because it is praised, or spoiled by being blamed? Is such a thing as an emerald made worse than it was, if it is not praised? Or gold, ivory, purple, a lyre, a little knife, a flower, a shrub?

Trajan’s Column: Building an Ancient, Mysterious Monument

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

Two years ago yesterday we explored the details of one of the many treasures in Rome from the Imperial Era. In it we took a closer look at Trajan’s Column: A Historical Comic Book.

Today we will take all of that and share it in stop-motion animation as we present National Geographic Magazine‘s take on Trajan’s Column!

Trajan’s Column conveniently located within Trajan’s Forum.

Roman Emperor Marcus Ulpius Traianus, more commonly known as Trajan,  had a triumphal column  built in his honor commemorating his, and ultimately Rome’s, victory in the Dacian Wars.

The structure is about 98 ft in height, or 115 ft including its large pedestal. The shaft is made from a series of 20 colossal Carrara marble drums, each weighing about 32 tons, with a diameter of over 12 ft.

The 620-foot frieze winds around the shaft 23 times. Inside the shaft, a spiral staircase of 185 steps provides access to a viewing platform at the top.

Trajan’s Column around 1896, looking very much the same as it does today.

Ancient coins indicate preliminary plans to top the column with a statue of a bird, probably an eagle. After construction, though, a statue of Trajan was put in place.

This statue of Trajan, however, disappeared in the Middle Ages. On 4 December 1587, the top was crowned by Pope Sixtus V with a bronze figure of St. Peter, which remains to this day.

We hope you enjoyed the video and look forward to having you back again. Don’t forget to check us out on Facebook and Twitter.

Until next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!