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Old December 15th, 2013, 12:53 PM   #21

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The Romans, throughout their history were focused on warfare and conquest, ever expanding their empire. Their technology focused pragmatically on the needs of their empire: aquaducts, roads, siege equipment etc.

One Roman writer remarked that while other civilizations might excel in arts, architecture and literature, Rome excels in governance. (I think it was Virgil but I failed to find the exact quote.)
Roman Self-Image
“Others will cast their breathing figures more tenderly in bronze,
and bring more lifelike portraits out of marble…
“Roman, remember by your strength to rule earth’s peoples –
for your arts are to be these: to pacify, to impose the rule of law,
to spare the conquered, battle down the proud.”

Vergil, Aeneid, 6.1145-47, 1151-1154

The Latin poet Vergil (70-19 BCE) used the earlier Greek source of Homer's Illiad. The Greek hero Achilles was substituted with the Roman hero Aeneas. The Romans were good at imitation, and these changes were being effected by the rise of the Roman military machine and the dominance of a new Roman world order.

The shield of Aeneas and the shield of Achilles
"...we see a striking difference between the Homeric shield of Achilles and the Vergilian shield of Aeneas. Homer's shield is a generic image of Greek life, the life to which Achilles will never return. On the other hand, the shield of Aeneas portrays the history of Rome, complete with the Battle of Actium in its center. This kind of specificity is a particularly Roman habit..."
Roman Myth Author(s): Judith De Luce Source: The Classical World, Vol. 98, No. 2 (Winter, 2005), pp. 202-205 JSTOR: An Error Occurred Setting Your User Cookie

Another article, READING AENEAS’ SHIELD by John L. Penwill (available at classics-archaeology.unimelb.edu.auCAVirisvolume18penwill.p df) at page 38 sets out a comparitive tabulation between Achilles’ shield (Iliad 18.483-608) and Aeneas’ shield (Aeneid 8.626-728) before making the following summary points:
The question of why Virgil has reversed Homer’s ordering of the three central elements I shall leave aside for the moment. First let us look briefly at how Virgil has modified Homer’s content. To begin with the obvious: where Homer is synchronic, Virgil is diachronic; where Homer is generic, Virgil is specific; where Homer describes the shield as Hephaistos makes it, Virgil describes it as the recipient reads it; Homer’s description evokes the present, Virgil’s the future; Homer’s is of the world that Achilles has abandoned, Virgil’s of one that Aeneas will embrace (however uncomprehendingly), the end towards which his mission is directed. Both describe a world as perceived and given form by a divine craftsman. Homer gives us a universal picture beginning with the elements earth, air, water, and fire (earth, sky, sea, sun/moon/stars), rimmed at the end by the river Okeanos, and focuses on the whole range of human activity that takes place within this cosmic framework. For Virgil, the generic city has become Rome, the generic war the Battle of Actium, the generic peace the pax Augusta, the generic scenes scenes from Roman history. The radical change to Homer’s description under- scores the reality of Rome’s world-domination and the new world order: the only significant events are those of Roman history, the culmination of that history is Actium and the estab- lishment of the Augustan regime, nothing confines or defines this world other than Rome it- self. Thus it is that in place of Homer’s fixed rim of Okeanos we have the (ever-expanding) boundaries of empire, no longer described as running round the edge of the shield but as part of the world that Augustus contemplates from his seat in the temple of Apollo, a world in which there is nothing that is not Roman.


The strength of the Romans was acquisition and imitation (largely of Greek sources) and their creative contributions AFAIK remained in the practical fields of engineering and construction.

Last edited by Kookaburra Jack; December 15th, 2013 at 12:57 PM.
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Old December 15th, 2013, 01:03 PM   #22

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But Rome's contributions to science and philosophy is not as great as the Greeks, and there is merit to the assertion that they destroyed more philosophical traditions than they created, though i believe their tradition of secularism and respect for religion is a great one, and not previously seen in the Western World
This may explain why Caesar bribed his way into the position of Pontifex Maximus.

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Old December 15th, 2013, 10:30 PM   #23
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This may explain why Caesar bribed his way into the position of Pontifex Maximus.

What i meant was that while the Romans did have a state religion, they did not force that religion onto anyone. People living in rome were free to follow their own religion, worship their deities, etc as long as their religion was not disruptive in nature. The Jews, the worshipers of Isis, etc are all proof that Rome had quite a secular tradition, and perhaps the first in the Western World...
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Old December 16th, 2013, 03:52 AM   #24

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I want to comment on a peculiar Roman practice regarding religion called evocatio whereby the Romans would actually 'take' the god/goddess of a particular place they were conquering and 'give' it a place to stay in Rome. The procedure was complete with a prayer that the god/goddess abandon the previous town and nearly curse the people still living there while at the same time happily making Rome the god's/goddess' new abode and protecting the people of Rome.

Rome not only took your town, they made your God abandon and curse you.

Rome was pretty open to religion probably beginning with the adoption of local (surrounding areas) deities and then Greek deities such as when they made a special trip to Epidavros to bring back Asclepius during a plague, I believe.

To say a particular trait was common to Rome is difficult/nearly impossible/irresponsible in my opinion. Rome wasn't stagnant and it seems the culture changed a lot, though the history before 300 b.c. is probably incredible.
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Old December 16th, 2013, 05:07 AM   #25
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Except for Christanity under the empire.
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Old December 16th, 2013, 05:30 AM   #26

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Pliny the elder, Lucilius Junior, Galen, and Ptolemy. That's 4 for you.
Pliny compiled an encylopedia of Natural history, hardly a scientist. Galen was a Greek from Pergamum, and Ptolemy was a Greek from Alexandria. They may well have been citizens of the Roman Empire, but they weren't Roman by birth. Native Romans didn't "do science" themselves, they adopted, adapted and in some cases improved, other people's ideas and technologies
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Old December 16th, 2013, 08:15 AM   #27
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What is a "native Roman?'' over 90 percent of the Roman population have no lineage to the city of 753 bc. Trajan was not an 'Ethic roman' by blood, he was Italian socii blood.

Galen wasn't some Greek nationality that go conquered by the Romans like Polybius, he was born in the empire.
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Old December 16th, 2013, 09:13 AM   #28
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What is a "native Roman?'' over 90 percent of the Roman population have no lineage to the city of 753 bc. Trajan was not an 'Ethic roman' by blood, he was Italian socii blood.

Galen wasn't some Greek nationality that go conquered by the Romans like Polybius, he was born in the empire.
Well in the heyday of the Empire? Born in Italy and brought up in Roman Traditions, as opposed to Original Greek or other native traditions. In the Republic, a resident of Latium i suppose. The term Native doesn't directly equate with ethnic or genetic.
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Old December 16th, 2013, 09:31 AM   #29
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Wasn't Galen's father a Patrician? It is rather unknown if Phtolemy was born Roman or gained citizenship through ancestry. Both Greek and Roman traditions lingered through the empire whether in Italy, Gaul or Greece(Galen was a doctor for treating Gladiators)
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Old December 16th, 2013, 05:37 PM   #30

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Clement of Alexandria, Augustine of Hippo and other early Christians encouraged the use of science to better understand the world and to deduce the workings of God.

Aristotle is the father of Science, but his ideas never really flourished until after the fall of the Romans and the rise of Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates.
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