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  • feedwordpress 08:01:42 on 2019/05/21 Permalink
    Tags: , , Diocletianic Persecution, Diolcletian, Galerius, , Roman Empire, Seleucid, , ,   

    “‘For a while’ is a phrase whose length can’t be measured”*… 


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    Roman-calendar

    A reproduction of the fragmentary Fasti Antiates Maiores (c. 60 BC) [source]

     

    What year is it? It’s 2019, obviously. An easy question. Last year was 2018. Next year will be 2020. We are confident that a century ago it was 1919, and in 1,000 years it will be 3019, if there is anyone left to name it. All of us are fluent with these years; we, and most of the world, use them without thinking. They are ubiquitous. As a child I used to line up my pennies by year of minting, and now I carefully note dates of publication in my scholarly articles.

    Now, imagine inhabiting a world without such a numbered timeline for ordering current events, memories and future hopes. For from earliest recorded history right up to the years after Alexander the Great’s conquests in the late 4th century BCE, historical time – the public and annual marking of the passage of years – could be measured only in three ways: by unique events, by annual offices, or by royal lifecycles…

    Once local and irregular, time-keeping became universal and linear in 311 BCE. History would never be the same again: “A Revolution in Time.”

    See also: “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there”*…

    * Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun

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    As we mark time, we might recall that it was on this date in 293 that Roman Emperors Diocletian and Maximian appoint Galerius as Caesar to Diocletian, beginning the period of four rulers known as the Tetrarchy.  Although he was a staunch opponent of Christianity, Galerius ended the Diocletianic Persecution when he issued an Edict of Toleration in Serdica in 311.

    220px-Romuliana_Galerius_head

    Porphyry bust of Galerius [source]

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:41 on 2018/04/18 Permalink
    Tags: Bronze Age, , , , , Midnight Ride, Paul Revere, Roman Empire, ,   

    “We can endure neither our vices nor the remedies needed to cure them”*… 


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    Pundits who blame 21st-century-style moral rot for the decline of Rome miss the big picture, a new book by Kyle Harper argues. Against plague and drought, the empire never stood a chance…

    At the empire’s peak, the human actors — the political, cultural, economic, and military leaders who set up its institutions — were more than equal to the task. Under Marcus Aurelius, emperor from A.D. 161 to 180, about a quarter of humanity lived under Roman rules and influence. The Roman population swelled, wages rose, cities flowered (at its peak, the city of Rome had perhaps a million inhabitants), and vast trade networks threaded across Africa and into Asia.

    But at the time, it was easy for Rome to make successful moves: Nature dealt it an especially good hand. During much of the Roman Climate Optimum (about 250 B.C. to A.D. 150), the empire was blessed with stable weather, abundant rain, and warm temperatures. Romans grew and shipped prodigious quantities of grain, especially in North Africa, and their leaders sometimes went to great lengths to hold wheat prices down, offer subsidies, and make sure citizens could feed themselves.

    Then, from the middle of the second century onward, nature began dealing out some rotten hands — in the form of natural disasters and vicious germs — and the empire couldn’t hold its winning streak.

    The germs were the most violent and obvious destabilizing forces. For all of the society’s technological sophistication, Roman doctors had no notion of germ theory, and Roman cities hosted a robust resident population of waterborne and airborne diseases —especially malaria, typhoid, and various intestinal ills.

    On top of this, the empire’s densely urbanized populations — connected by intricate trade routes — were excellent targets for major pandemics. Harper demonstrates that the Roman Empire was hit by at least three great plagues, each a powerful blow to both its population and civic institutions. During one wave of the second-century Antonine plague, which was likely a form of smallpox, as many as 2,000 people died every day. A century later, a disease that sounds, from accounts written during that era, a lot like hemorrhagic fever (the gruesome Ebola family of diseases) migrated from Ethiopia across the rest of the empire and took a similar toll.

    Meanwhile, the climate grew more and more erratic. “In winter there is not such an abundance of rains to nourish the seeds,” wrote Cyprian, an early Christian writer of Carthage. “The summer sun burns less bright over the fields of grain. The temperance of spring is no longer for rejoicing, and the ripening fruit does not hang from autumn trees.”

    Drought struck the empire’s breadbasket of North Africa. The combination sent the society reeling, but it was able to recover until the climate swung again. In the fourth century, when the Eurasian steppe also fell under drought, nomadic peoples like the Visigoths and Huns (whom Harper describes as “armed climate refugees on horseback”) began to antagonize and terrorize Roman territories in Europe. Famously, the Visigoth leader Alaric sacked Rome in 410, effectively sounding the death knell of the Western part of the Roman Empire, which eventually fragmented into small, feudal territories…

    More of this cautionary tale at “When Rome Fell, the Chief Culprits Were Climate and Disease. Sound Familiar?

    And further to Mark Twain’s remark that, while history never repeats itself, it often rhymes, see also  1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed,  the story of the fall of the Bronze Age and the civilizations that had defined it– similarly driven by climate change (and the migration that it spawned).

    * Livy, The Early History of Rome

    ###

    As we ruminate on all of the meanings of “recycle,” we might recall that it was on this date in 1775 that a seminal event in the formation of the leader of the world’s current “imperial” regime took place, the “Midnight Ride”: Paul Revere and William Dawes rode out of Boston about 10 p.m. to warn patriots at Lexington and Concord of the approaching British.

     source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 09:01:49 on 2017/02/04 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , Roman Empire, ,   

    “It’s a small world, but I wouldn’t want to have to paint it”*… 


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    xkcd

    * Steven Wright (again)

    ###

    As we rethink relationships, we might recall that it was on this date in 362 that the Roman Emperor Julian issued an edict to guaranteeing  freedom of religion– proclaiming that all the religions were equal in the Law.  An attempt to buffer the Roman Empire from growing pressure from Christians to become the state religion, his order was an attempt to restore Rome’s original religious eclecticism, according to which the State did not impose any religion on its provinces.  During his life he was known as “Julian the Philosopher”; subsequent Christian historians refer to him as Julian the Apostate.

    In 380 CE, Emperor Theodosius I made Christianity the Empire’s sole authorized religion. Still, there was schism, as the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodoxy, and the Catholic Church each claimed to be the authentic form of Christianity.

    Portrait of Emperor Julian on a bronze coin from Antioch minted 360–363

    source

     

     
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