Rome in a Gif

Some fun Rome chat! I've been really interested in Rome since I saw the show Spartacus. Lame, I know, but it's an awesome show and I think it gave a good feel for Rome of the day - sensationalized for X rated TV, of course. I've studied Roman history in the past in general classes (I studied Greece in far more detail, cuz of the philosophy, art, and cool science. But the conquering and wars were sweet too.), but never really got a feel for it, and recently I've learned I was sorely mistaken in a great many important details.  And so let's get to Rome chat!

Every would be warlord, strongman, king, dictator, Pope, you name it, since Rome has used Rome as an example, as a template. Here was an Empire that spanned the known world (sorry China - we knew about you and even traded with you but you play no big part in this myth). Look at Washington, D.C. for some evidence.

Fun fact 1! The words "Czar" and "Kaiser" are both derivations of Caesar, and who can argue with Caesar? Veni, Vidi, Vici brahs. In truth, the so called "Barbarian Germans" were not all so bad, and the ones who did finally cause Rome "to Fall" were Roman looking and acting, and in fact desired to rule the Empire, not smash it. The so called "Fall" of Rome is not so much a fall as a fading away, and even then, only in part. Read on!

The Romans themselves worshiped at a different template, of course, and that template was based on Alexander the Great. He was like the Michael Jordan/George Washington/Beatles of ancient days - cool as all hell. If you were a Roman male of good breeding, Alexander was the model and everyone tried to emulate, and top if possible. And thus, the map above - Rome kinda stumbled into their Empire. They didn't start out looking to rule the world - that desire was born well on the way. But once you've got a few big wars under your tunic and the plunder is flowing, hard to stop. Conquerin's a hell of a drug.

Fun fact 2! The so called "Fall" of Rome only refers to the Western Empire. As you can see in the map above, the Empire divided and was ruled by two Emperors. This is generally taught in American schools, but what really is not is the truth about the "Byzantine Empire". Hark, folks! Whenever you see that phrase, replace it with "Roman Empire". The so called Byzantines were Rome. This was the Eastern part of the Empire. They thought of themselves as Romans and have a direct cultural/legal/societal connection with the Rome of long, long ago. I can't make this point more emphatically, and so dig it when I say a truer date for the "Fall" of Rome is 1453, when Constantinople fell to the Ottomans and the Roman Empire was finally felled by the Turks. Not so long ago, relatively, right? It changes everything for me when I now think about "Rome" - the concept. But wait!

Fun Fact 3! The Catholic AND the Orthodox Church can be considered direct continuations of the Roman Empire. Each was a part of the government of the Empire by the latter days, and their split occurred in the early 1000's, so here's another piece of Rome proper (though of latter vintage - Christianity of course not becoming the state religion of Rome until Constantine [Hey! The guy who founds a new capital of the Empire in what is now Istanbul] in the early 300's AD.) that not only did not "Fall", but is still with us. And so we have Julius Caesar (in part) to thank for the Catholic Church of today, pedophile protection racket that they are. What a history!

Fun Fact 4! It is the Roman act of making Christianity the state religion which cements its legacy and directly leads to Western Civ being generally Christian. Especially New Rome - America! But it's also the comeback story, right? Christians fed to lions, hell, Jesus himself killed by Romans on the Cross, and yet 300 years later, bam! State religion!

But let me tell you, folks: The Romans crucified all kinds of people, for all kinds of reasons, and there was nothing special about Jesus's death in the least. They killed all kinds of people like that - watch Spartacus for some realistic examples! Slaves were crucified routinely. Rome was crueler than you can likely imagine. Their government and laws more Mafioso honor codes and gentleman's agreements - we're taught, however, of rarefied Senate debates and sober deliberation on weighty matters. And the Coliseum, which everyone knows is awesome. The myths might be noble, but the Romans seldom were.

Fun fact 5! The Romans were fabulously non-prudish about their bodies. For instance, public bathrooms. Open shitters, where you'd chat with people - literally, shooting the shit. Witness:
Romans washed their ass with a rag on a stick. Not to go all Freud on ya, but I wonder how many neurosis are directly attributable to our culture's abhorrence of defectation/urination?


SatanicPanic said...

The Pontius Pilate story was what made me question the Bible- it was highly implausible to me that Pilate was hand-wringing over killing one guy. Seemed out of character for a Roman.

I went to an old Roman bathroom site in Greece- water was still running under the toilets. And they were way more communal than we'd be cool with. No stalls there!

Redshirt said...

That one dude was the hair that broke your camel's back?

Mine was as soon as they got into the "Begats".

SatanicPanic said...

I was raised with it. Never really thought about it until I was in high school.

Redshirt said...

I'm glad you escaped the crazy!

l.e.s.ter said...

Wow. I just saw Ben-Hur for the first time and it had me thinking a lot about Rome. We were debating which group has a more lasting legacy/current vitality -- the Romans or the Jews.

Redshirt said...

What was your consensus? Cuz I've got to say Rome, easily. There are many examples, here's one: The Romance Languages.

l.e.s.ter said...

Consensus was Jews. But that's what happens when you get three Jews together for a Biblical epic. If you look at the list of Jewish Noble Prize winners, you have to give us the nod in the meme competition.

Redshirt said...

Judea, please.