later roman empire


Theatre of Hierapolis

Hierapolis, Phrygia, Turkey

206 CE

12,000 seats

The theatre at Hierapolis was built in the second century AD under the Roman Emperor Hadrian during a period of extensive rebuilding following a devastating earthquake in 60 AD. It was later renovated under Septimus Severus (193-211 AD). At this time, the scaenae frons was modified and decorated with elaborate limestone and marble carvings. Although the exterior is relatively unassuming as viewed from the front, the interior contains one of Anatolia’s most complete and best-preserved collection of Greco-Roman theatre decorations. In 343 AD the scaenae was renovated and the orchestra was altered so that it could hold aquatic displays. In the later years of the Roman Empire the orchestra was converted into a cellar. Renovation work since 1977 has restored many of the arches and a portion of the stage floor. Prior to this date, the stage as well as its arched support system lay in ruins. Recent archaeological evidence shows that the theatre was in use through the 5th and into the 6th century AD. In 532 AD the scaenae, which had been weakened by seismic activity, was repaired.


You can’t even deny this.

This is legit evidence right here.


Roman Bronze Statuette of Sol Invictus, 2nd-3rd Century AD

Found circa 1830 on the outskirts of Montdidier, Somme, France. In ancient times this was the Roman province of Gallia Belgica.

Sol Invictus (“Unconquered Sun”) was the official sun god of the later Roman Empire and a patron of soldiers. In 274 AD the Roman emperor Aurelian made it an official cult alongside the traditional Roman cults. Scholars disagree about whether the new deity was a refoundation of the ancient Latin cult of Sol, a revival of the cult of Elagabalus or completely new. The god was favored by emperors after Aurelian and appeared on their coins until Constantine I. The last inscription referring to Sol Invictus dates to AD 387, and there were enough devotees in the 5th century that Augustine found it necessary to preach against them.


Gan Ying, a Chinese explorer in Ancient Rome

As some of this blog’s most loyal followers may know, one topic which Peashooter is especially obsessed with is Ancient Roman contacts with Han dynasty China, or Chinese contacts with Ancient Rome.  One piece of history that piques his interest Is the story of Gan Ying, an ancient Chinese explorer that almost made it to the Roman Empire. In the year 97 AD Gan Ying was sent west by the Chinese General Ban Chao to explore rumors of a mysterious empire to the west whose power was said to rival that of China.  At the time, both China and Rome had vague notions of each other’s existence, as both powers shared trade goods across the Silk Road.  In years previous, there were rumors of Sino-Roman contact, including tales of Chinese ambassadors visiting the court of Emperor Augustus.  However, the journey of Gan Ying is the first well documented and proven attempt at Chinese-Roman contact.

Gan Ying journeyed the well traveled merchant routes of the Silk Road.  According to records of his journey, he made it as far as the “Western Sea”.  Most historians believe the Western Sea to be the Persian Gulf.  However, other historians cite that the Western Sea was described as a vast ocean that took weeks, perhaps months to cross.  Given that the Persian Gulf is no vast sea, some historians speculate that Gan Ying was referring to the Mediterranean.  Peashooter is one of the few who agrees.  Deterred by tales of a vast ocean, Gan Ying decided to return home rather than continue on to Rome itself.  However, before leaving for his return journey, Gan Ying interviewed various peoples to learn more about Rome.  He describes the Roman Empire as thus,

“Roman territory extends for several thousands of li (Chinese miles). It has more than four hundred walled cities. There are several tens of smaller dependent kingdoms. The walls of the towns are made of stone. They have established postal relays at intervals, which are all plastered and whitewashed. There are pines andcypresses, as well as trees and plants of all kinds”

Gan Ying further describes the Roman government and economy,

Their kings are not permanent. They select and appoint the most worthy man. If there are unexpected calamities in the kingdom, such as frequent extraordinary winds or rains, he is unceremoniously rejected and replaced. The one who has been dismissed quietly accepts his demotion, and is not angry. The people of this country are all tall and honest. They resemble the people of the Middle Kingdom and that is why this kingdom is called Da Qin [or ‘Great China’]. This country produces plenty of gold [and] silver, [and of] rare and precious [things] they have luminous jade, 'bright moon pearls,’ Haiji rhinoceroses, coral, yellow amber, opaque glass, whitish chalcedony, red cinnabar, green gemstones, goldthread embroideries, rugs woven with gold thread, delicate polychrome silks painted with gold, and asbestos cloth. They also have a fine cloth which some people say is made from the down of 'water sheep,’ but which is made, in fact, from the cocoons of wild silkworms. They blend all sorts of fragrances, and by boiling the juice, make a compound perfume. [They have] all the precious and rare things that come from the various foreign kingdoms. They make gold and silver coins. Ten silver coins are worth one gold coin. They trade with Anxi [Parthia] and Tianzhu [Northwest India] by sea. The profit margin is ten to one. … The king of this country always wanted to send envoys to Han, but Anxi [Parthia], wishing to control the trade in multi-coloured Chinese silks, blocked the route to prevent [the Romans] getting through [to China].“

All of the above is accurate, with the various goods described being produced somewhere in the Roman Empire or imported from foreign lands.  Gan Ying’s description of Roman government at the time, however, is a bit off as Roman Emperors tended to either live a very long prosperous reign, or a short reign ending in extreme violence.  Most historians believe that Gan Ying was ascribing Roman Government with traditional Chinese government, which relied upon elected ministers who shared power with the Han Emperor.  Peashooter speculates that Gan Ying may have confused the government of the Roman Empire with that of the fallen Roman Republic, whose consuls were limited to serving only 1 year terms.

After Gan Ying’s journeys to Rome, the Chinese would continue to refer to the Romans as the “Da Qin”.  While Gan Ying may or may not have reached the Roman Empire it was the first fully record attempt to do so. The first official contact between Rome and China occurred in 166 AD when Chinese records show that envoys from the DaQin sent by King Andun (Emperor Marcus Aurelius) visited the court of the Han Emperor.  Since then several other envoys were sent by the Roman Empire, and later the Eastern (Byzantine) Roman Empire.  Further proof of the Roman-Chinese contact can be found with the many Roman trade goods discovered in China such as coins, asbestos fireproof textiles, and glassware, as well as the many surviving Chinese trade goods found in Europe, such as silk and jewelry.

A comprehensive listing of Roman coins denominations from the middle of the republic up to the reforms of the emperor Augustus.

To put this into historical perspective for you, this was the money used by Scipio Africanus, by both Catos, by Aemilius Paullus, by Cicero and Caesar and Pompey, by Mark Antony and Augustus. These coins were in their pockets, were the ones they found in the street, and what they gave to their butchers, bakers, soldiers, and, yes, even as tips to their slaves.

It’s interesting to note how long it took the Romans to adopt the use of gold coinage. The city was founded, according to legend, in 753 BCE and from that time until the 1st cent BCE, the Romans had first only bronze coinage, and then eventually silver and bronze. This pattern of coinage was similar to the Greek model, which only used gold in cases of emergency. The Romans using gold as an “everyday” coinage was strange and innovative, but was not really adopted elsewhere until later under the empire.

Roman Sol Invictus Mount, 3rd-4th Century AD

Sol Invictus (Unconquered Sun) was the official sun god of the later Roman Empire and a patron of soldiers. In 274 AD the Roman emperor Aurelian made it an official cult alongside the traditional Roman cults. The god was favored by emperors after Aurelian’s reign and his image appeared on their coinage until Constantine I. The last known inscription referring to Sol Invictus dates to 387 AD, and there were enough devotees left in the 5th century that Augustine found it necessary to preach against them.

Greek Gold Wreath, 2nd century BC

This wreath was purportedly recovered in modern day China, in a region which saw tremendous cross-cultural contact exchange due to the trade routes of the famed Silk Road.

Wreaths worn as a crown are among the more recognizable symbols of ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. Awarded for various accomplishments, or simply as symbols of status and rank, wreaths might be made from the leaves of such plants as olive, ivy, oak, myrtle or laurel. The laurel wreath, awarded to victorious athletes and for academic achievement, is perhaps the best known of the wreath crowns. The example seen here, however, depicts artistic variations on a mix of species including the trumpet vine.

Wreaths of mixed foliage, particularly fashioned in precious metal, are believed to have been made as funerary objects or as offerings at temples. The conquests of Alexander the Great, and the later expansion of the Roman Empire resulted in the appearance of such items far beyond the boundaries of modern Greece and Italy.

Stiles and Greek mythology a meta

Stiles when taken into consideration always seems to come back to the Greeks and the myths surrounding their gods

There are some truly amazing parallels; we have a few with Herakles-

Extraordinary strength, courage, ingenuity, and sexual prowess with both males and females were among the characteristics commonly attributed to him. Heracles used his wits on several occasions when his strength did not suffice.His iconographic attributes are the lion skin and the club. These qualities did not prevent him from being regarded as a playful figure who used games to relax from his labors and played a great deal with children.By conquering dangerous archaic forces he is said to have “made the world safe for mankind” and to be its benefactor. Heracles was an extremely passionate and emotional individual, capable of doing both great deeds for his friends (such as wrestling with Thanatos ) and being a terrible enemy who would wreak horrible vengeance on those who crossed him.

Then we have the interesting connection to avians, in particular Owls, who belong to the Goddess Athene darachmoon did a meta on the third eye which explores the connection here.

Athena’s epithets include Άτρυτώνη, Atrytone (= the unwearying), Παρθένος, Parthénos (= virgin), and Πρόμαχος, Promachos (the First Fighter, i.e. she who fights in front).

In poetry from Homer, an oral tradition of the eighth or seventh century BC, onward, Athena’s most common epithet is Glaukopis (γλαυκῶπις), which usually is translated as, bright-eyed or with gleaming eyes.[29] The word is a combination of glaukos (γλαυκός, meaning gleaming, silvery, and later, bluish-green or gray)[30] and ops (ὤψ, eye, or sometimes, face).[31] It is interesting to note that glaux (γλαύξ,[32] “little owl”)[33] is from the same root, presumably according to some, because of the bird’s own distinctive eyes. The bird which sees well in the night is closely associated with the goddess of wisdom: in archaic images, Athena is frequently depicted with an owl (or “owl of Athena” and later under the Roman Empire, “owl of Minerva”) perched on her hand.

Well there are some very interesting things here! Promachos – one who fights in front, we’ve actually seen Stiles Step up and fight in front once (not exactly his most glorious moment) and he does have a tendency to want to be involved at the “front” so to speak.

The bit I found most interesting is the gleaming eyes, I know Stiles hasn’t had any gleaming eyes yet, But we have had a bit of a focus on eyes, in particular Stiles eyes. I wonder if he will have gleaming silvery eyes at some point?

The most interesting Parallel to the Greek myths is actually another God entirely.

A god who is described as a deified trickster – Hermes.

Hermes is a god of transitions and boundaries. He is quick and cunning, and moved freely between the worlds of the mortal and divine, as emissary and messenger of the gods,[1] intercessor between mortals and the divine, and conductor of souls into the afterlife. He is protector and patron of travelers, herdsmen, thieves,[2] orators and wit, literature and poets, athletics and sports, invention and trade.[3] In some myths he is a trickster, and outwits other gods for his own satisfaction or the sake of humankind.

Stiles is the character most clearly associated with boundaries and transition, shown often with doors. Doors being symbols of boundaries and transitions.

“Hermes” may be related to Greek ἑρμηνεύς hermeneus (“interpreter”), reflecting Hermes’s function as divine messenger.[11][12][13] The word “hermeneutics”, the study and theory of interpretation, is derived from hermeneus.

Our sweet Stiles who interprets the world for us and for Scott, he’s the one who gives us the narrative to a large extend, he helps Scott he is also the one who is a divine messenger, often telling the truth before it is known to be the truth. (though he is disregarded, perhaps this is in part his own fault for not embracing everything he is?)

Homer and Hesiod portrayed Hermes as the author of skilled or deceptive acts, and also as a benefactor of mortals. In the Iliad he was called “the bringer of good luck,” “guide and guardian” and “excellent in all the tricks.”

and deception (Euripides)[57] and (possibly evil) tricks and trickeries,[58][59][60][61] crafty (from lit. god of craft[62]), the cheat,[63] god of stealth[64] and of cunning

So Stiles - he who borrows and misappropriates things? Yes, god of thievery and tricks that is Hermes.

A few other epithets -

  • epimelios, guardian of flocks[33]
  • proopylaios, “before the gate” (Edwardson 2011), (guardian of the gate),[80]Pylaios “doorkeeper”[81]
  • strophaios, “standing at the door post”[59][82]
  • Stropheus, “the socket in which the pivot of the door moves” (Kerényi in Edwardson) or “door-hinge”. Protector of the door (that is the boundary), to the temple

Stiles who takes care of the group, specifically liam this season, reassuring him and giving comfort, guardian of flocks.

And the three others talk about being a guardian of the door or the gate, Stiles who could be a key and a lock? Maybe he contains or at least stands as guardian before the gate.

Furthermore we have this about Hermes -

A cult was established in Greece in remote regions, likely making him a god of nature, farmers, and shepherds. It is also possible that since the beginning he has been a deity with shamanic attributes linked to divination, reconciliation, magic, sacrifices, and initiation and contact with other planes of existence, a role of mediator between the worlds of the visible and invisible.

Clearly Stiles has something of this in him, he’s clearly been in contact with other planes of existence, Bardo, I also did a meta before that touched on the Sacrifices and how it may have given all three of them the gift of foresight.

And oh what is this last thing I spy about Hermes?

One of the oldest places of worship for Hermes was Mount Cyllene in Arcadia, where the myth says that he was born. Tradition says that his first temple was built by Lycaon.

Yes we’ve just neatly tied into the Myth which Gerard retells as the origin of Werewovles!

Stiles with his clear ties to any and all things Hale is clearly linked here to Hermes again. While the Hales then become Lycaons get, which unsurprising, but just about every hale we’ve seen has had some kind of respect for Stiles (and Lycaon built the first temple to Hermes in Arcadia)