roman society

The Dead Romans Society - Dads & daughters

  1. Tullia and Cicero: Tullia, or Tulliola, as Cicero affectionately used to call her, was Cicero’s beloved daughter. She is constantly mentioned in his letters to his family members and to Atticus, in which Cicero shows a deep heartfelt love for her and describes her as a sweet, good natured girl. When she died prematurely after a pregnancy in 45 BC he was devastated by the grief; in one of his letters to Atticus he wrote “I have lost the one thing that bound me to life”.
  2. Perilla and Ovid: One of the many elegiac epistles Ovid sends from his exile in Tomis is addressed to Perilla (Tristia 3.7), a girl Ovid had tutored since her childhood and a poetess. Ovid talks of her showing paternal affection (he uses, for example, expressions like “utque pater natae”, “(I’ve been to you) like a father to his daughter”), but it is unclear whether she was an actual adoptive daughter or just a particularly beloved pupil, most likely the daughter of a (woman) friend of his. What is clear is that Ovid deems her a very talented poet, and that to him she was as dear as a daugher, regardless of family bonds.
  3. Erotion and Martial: Some of the saddest epigrams by Martial (Ep. 5.34, 5.37 and 10.61) talk abouta little girl, most likely the child of some of the house servants, who died at the age of five. Although the poem is short, it sounds sincerely heartfelt.

college is just as ridiculous as everyone thinks it is

last term i was 35 minutes into the first day of a roman society class and there was this dude eating burritos in the third row, and the prof asked him a question and the dude just went “i would love to answer, but it just occured to me this is NOT honours environmental economics” and stood up and left

My tattoo says‎ مختلف (mukhtalif) meaning “Different”.

My mom always told me “it’s ok to be different and always be yourself, there’s nothing wrong with being YOU.”
People may hate you for being different and not living by society’s standards but within themselves they wish they had the courage to do the same. Just live your life how you wanna live it and don’t change for nobody.

Romans 12:2
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

So if my historical sources are telling me the truth…

…and I’m synthesizing the history properly…

…then, in fact, the entire edifice of Western civilization – all the cultural, social, and philosophical structures that define the world in which we live today – can be traced back to a stupid loophole in Roman inheritance law.

NOTE: Everything here is taken either from Francis Fukuyama’s The Origins of Political Order or from a Livejournal post by the Infamous Brad that I am currently unable to find.  I get credit for absolutely nothing, except noticing the connection between Section II and Section III. 

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A collection of Black Books of Hours

  1. Black Hours, ca. 1475 (Morgan Library, New York)
  2. Horae beatae marie secundum usum curie romane, ca. 1458 (Hispanic Society of America)
  3. Black Hours of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, ca. 1466-1476 (Austrian National Library)

Here’s a piece that I drew just to have fun: I’ve always loved Quintilian’s description of Ovid as nimium amator ingenii sui (that loves too much his own wit), because not only it is completely true (and I love him for that), but also because I’m 90% sure he would very self-consciously laugh at that and put it on a t-shirt to wear. So I did that. I added Catullus, partly to honor my thesis, because I also love that marvelous poem that Catullus writes to Cicero, Cat. 49, which goes: “Most eloquent of Romulus’ descendants, of those who are, were, and will be, oh Marcus Tullius, I, Catullus, thank you greatly; I, Catullus, the worst poet of all (pessimus omnium poeta): the worst poet of all as much as you are the best orator of all.”, and I think he would totally wear his own quote (possibly when Cicero is around to see).

  • my friends: What does Latin help you do in everyday life?
  • me: Aside from generic answers to this particular inquiry pertaining to high profile academic jobs that lead to capitalistic gain, Latin as a language helps me in a number of ways. Along with helping me develop a deeper understanding of Ancient Greco-Roman society, it also allows me to improve my English vocabulary, as well as convey my points in essays and discussions more eloquently.
  • my friends: Ok cool how do you say "fuck this pussy" in latin

The Dead Romans Society - Still exiled

Note: the last page is not just a gag, it’s a reference to one of the many medieval legends about Vergil (and Ovid, in this case): in this one Ovid, according to the anonymous author, was having an affair with Augustus’ wife Livia (note: this did never happen) and one time, wanting to reach her bedroom, used an invisible ladder to climb up to her room; Vergil, (who should have been dead at the time, but medievals don’t care) wanting to prevent that, sneakily steals some steps off the ladder so Ovid just…falls down and breaks his legs. Augustus finds it out and exiles Ovid. In short, a creative interpretation of Ovid’s error featuring a particularly nasty Vergil. (thanks @thoodleoo for letting us all know of this legend)

anonymous asked:

I think the whitewashing issue with Pompeii was that the main character was supposed to be a slave, but he was white?

Aaand this just proves that people know absolutely nothing about Roman society. Because back then, slavery had precisely nothing to do with skin color.

Romans would take slaves from whatever land they conquered. Whether it was anywhere in Africa or Asia or across Europe, it didn’t matter. You were captured in war, you were sold on as a slave. That’s it.  Being white as a lily would have changed nothing. Roman citizens who did not pay back their debts could become slaves.

In short, slavery didn’t work the way it did in the US everywhere in the world at all times, and people who know absolutely nothing about other countries’ history should STFU if they’re not going to make the effort to fact-check their dumb assumptions.

I’ve been reading Cicero’s letters, and

1. what I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall when Cicero and Atticus got together; even Cicero’s letters to him are so warm and gossipy and affectionate and teasing.  Atticus is in Asia at this point (the aftermath of the Bona Dea scandal; Clodius is currently trying to get himself designated plebeian in order to run for tribune) and everything Cicero writes betrays how much he misses his friend—it’s so sweet and yet it’s absolutely killing me. (also, do you ever think that maybe Cicero and Atticus, with their love of all things Greek, fooled around as teenagers? because I do somehow.)

2. has anyone ever hated conflict like Cicero hated conflict.  To an extent that was part of the Roman national character (the key to understanding them is: their love of liberty, their love of glory, their fear and hatred of tyranny and submission, and their overwhelming need to feel safe), but so many of these letters are about mollifying one person or another, about pleading for others to show sympathy and understanding.

3. what I’d like to read after this is Cicero’s On Friendship, because it’s so plain from reading these letters that the lifeblood of Roman society was amicitia.  Of course that applies to a certain class and gender, and has to be put alongside patron-client relationships; but in light of how dog-eat-dog Roman society could be, it’s nice to consider the ties of loyalty and support that bound everyone together. (though it only makes the Civil War even more heartbreaking. D:)

4. I really get the sense that for Cicero, words are his weapons.  Glory in the name of the Republic was what all Romans, the senatorial and equestrian classes especially, burnt to achieve; and if Cicero couldn’t do it through his military prowess, like most Romans, then he was going to do it verbally.  He might not have been the Achilles of the battlefield, but he was the Achilles of the law courts.  Which I think is part of why he harped so endlessly on the defeat of Catiline; and is what makes the Philippics, with their lines about arms yielding to the toga, even more tragic.

5. Cicero and Clodius bantering and trash-talking is giving me life.  There’s one point where Clodius is telling Cicero about his attempts to get good seats at gladiatorial shows for some Sicilians, and then complains that Clodia (the consul’s wife at this point) won’t allocate him more than a foot of space in the consular enclosure.  “Never mind if she’ll only give you one foot”, says Cicero, “I’m sure she’s always happy for you to pick up the other!” (implying that Clodius and Clodia are sleeping together.)  MARCUS TULLIUS CICERO YOU GET YOUR MIND OUT OF THE GUTTER.  “You’ll think it was language unbecoming a consular”, says Cicero to Atticus later. (yes, yes it was.)  “well!!  everyone knows what a trollop she is.”  STILL NOT APPROPRIATE CHICKPEA.


So. Ever since I saw the masked man, Krogan, in “Midnight Scrum,” I noticed something about him…

Whenever Krogan throws Hiccup’s leg at Ryker, he’s no longer wearing a cloak, and it shows that he’s wearing a red toga, as well as 1) tanned skin, 2) black hair, with beard. So, what I believe part of S5 of RTTE will be about, is…


Yes, true true, this could be a far fetched guess, but there are some things to back this crazy idea up:

1. Krogan attended the dragon auction in Season 3 of RTTE, and it showed that he had plenty of money with him. But why would he need a dragon if he had money? Well, in the HTTYD book series (which I highly recommend, by the way), the Romans were introduced there. And they kept dragons as slaves. So, Krogan could have been in search of some more dragons for work, as the Roman society required them to function.

2. When Krogan tried to fulfill Hiccup’s bounty, he obviously wanted gold. Who’s to say that he didn’t NEED it? For whatever reason, Krogan needed/wanted gold, which leads back to the first theory. If the Romans didn’t have dragons, then slowly their entire empire would fall apart, because dragons are the building blocks of their ways- and their ways of making money. So that could explain why Krogan needed the gold, because Rome was running out of dragons.


ANYWAYS, this is just my guess that I’m throwing out there. Lemme know what ya’ll think. (Yep, I know. I’m crazy for this idea :D)


On November 3rd, 361 AD, Flavius Claudius Iulianus Augustus, also known as Julian the Philosopher or Julian the Great, was crowned Sole Augustus of the Roman Empire. His rule was marked by reforms that touched on and improved administration, economics and even human rights, but also, rather remarkably, a restoration of Hellenism as state religion. This was, however, no simple restoration of classical Hellenism; but a full reformation of the faith that would allow the faith to more than likely to succeed the test of time had he survived the war against Persia and had a fuller life to reign that would allow him to appoint successors. This reform had centralized Hellenism with a formal priesthood with strict hierarchy under a single leader, universalized charity, and an adoption of Iamblichean Platonism as the driving philosophy behind the religion of Rome.


Although there were already priests in Roman society, strict hierarchical order or organisational coherence was minimal at best. Much of Julian’s priesthood were built on pre-existing well-established networks of provincial priesthoods that were inherited from Antiquity, but with the aim to create a much more unified hierarchy.

Being a member of the priesthood was often a mere part-time occupation, and even what may be considered the most important office, the “Pontifex Maximus”, would often perform his duties alongside his political responsibilities. Both Gaius Julius Caesar and Octavianus (Augustus) had held the title of Pontifex Maximus, but in the most part it was purely for purely political purposes. During Rome’s era of the Empire, the Pontifex Maximus merely became one of many titles for the Emperor. Julian, however, intended to change the title of Pontifex Maximus back to a proper religious office. At the very top of the centralized priesthood was the Supreme Pontiff, or Pontifex Maximus, who was in-charge of religious matters as head of the state-endorsed religious organization. The Pontifex Maximus would be the one to appoint provincial High Priests.

Among the measures taken by Julian during the reformation of Hellenism was the appointment of provincial High Priests, mirroring the reforms of Maximinus II to an extent, but deprived of political powers. These High Priests would be in charge of the religious matters of each province, having the ability to appoint and manage their own priests under their authority. For this position, Julian writes “The qualities that are appropriate for one in this high office are, in the first place, fairness, and next goodness and benevolence towards those who deserve to be treated like this. Any priest who behaves unjustly to his fellow men and impiously towards the Gods or is arrogant, must either be given a warning, or be rebuked with great severity.”

Under the High Priests were the municipal priests that they had appointed. Metaphorically, these priests were the frontline troops in the battle to win the souls of the Roman Empire, with duties to sacrifice and pray on behalf of all humanity. They were additionally expected to help the old, the poor and the sick, while also providing and managing charity.


As said prior, a large portion of Julian’s attempted reformation of Hellenism was to appoint High Priests for each province, whose primary concern was, first and foremost, furthering Hellenism. In general, the duties of priests were to help the old, the poor and the sick, while they also provided and managed charity.

Julian’s reformation of Hellenism introduced an emphasis on the personal piety of the priesthood. Hellenic priests were to shun places of ill-repute. They were expected to lead lives set apart; they and their families should be sedulous in honouring the Gods. Instead of indulging in the city-life, they were encouraged to withdraw into their temples. Priests were expected to organise works of philanthropy, but to be careful to keep their priestly vestments unspotted by the world. It was a blend of traditional ritual, myth and belief with the Platonist inner life that the divine philosopher Iamblichus had advocated decades prior. But the fact that Julian stressed inner devotion rather than, say, prominence in public life as the central qualification for priestly office, is what made this reformation truly differentiate from the priesthood of old; instead drawing similarities with something such as the Christian church. To Julian, one didn’t have to be an important individual to become a priest. Even the poor could be appointed, provided they were chaste and well-read. Instead, importance on inner devotion and holiness was stressed.

This importance on inner devotion and holiness was seen with on-duty priests. At the temples priests were to expected to preserve their purity through elaborate policy. They were to be careful not to wear the priestly garments in places where they might be sullied by ritual defilement; the clothes they wore in public were to be simple and non-flashy. They prohibited from entering the city’s more unsavoury quarters, such as the wine-shops and theatres. Divine favour was sustained by the practice of personal piety and inner holiness, with public value being given to personal virtue.

This went to the extent that one of the most striking features of Julian’s priesthood was that the priests were to be distant from politics; as Julian wanted the calling of a priest was to be thought of as holier than the calling of a civil officer. When the governor of Galatia arrived in a city, Julian told Arsacius, the High Priest of Galatia, that no priest was to go out to meet him or call on him in the ceremony of adventus (a ceremony held when a notable official would be formally welcomed by a city). In the case a governor or other state official were to visit the temples of the Gods, they would be expected to leave their armed guards outside the temple before they enter, as they had no jurisdiction within a temple. “You are the governor of that which is within” is what Julian wrote to a High Priest. Political officials were also expected to rise from their seats in the presence of a priest.


A large part of Julian’s reform was giving a hand to those less fortunate. Inspired by Christian charity, Hellenism was to adapt and take up the practice, Hellenes bring encouraged to practice philanthropy. Universal charity was introduced, where provisions were made available for the poor whether they were a Hellene or not. Hostels were to be furnished in every city as a means of forming a chain of confessional caravanserais, readily available for all to benefit from Hellenic benevolence. The job of the priests were extended to care for the ill fortunate, with priests holding the duties of helping the old, the poor and the sick while being the ones to manage and provide charity.


Julian’s reformed variant of Hellenism was, as one would expect, a polytheist religion, but also took on forms of panentheism and monism. Julian’s Hellenism was largely backed by the philosophy of Platonism, most particularly from Iamblichus, a Syrian philosopher who lived decades prior to Julian and had endorsed ritual imitation of the divine as a means of achieving henosis (unity with the divine). Many of Julian’s priesthood were expected to be educated in Iamblichean Platonism. A large aspect of Platonism was that it was a polytheist philosophy, with an insistence on the existence of all Gods, whether as guardian divinities of particular individuals and nations or lesser demiurges who aided the Celestial Demiurge, the Creator of All and King of the Gods, in the creation and maintenance of the universe. There was a need to honour & worship Gods at each level through theurgic ritual practise as a means of achieving henosis. It was on this basis that monotheists, who pushed a disbelief in other Gods or merely wrote them off as evil spirits unworthy of worship, were deemed to be atheists; for their subjective and solipsistic denial of divinity.

Platonism and other forms of approved philosophy was expected to be learned by priests. For this position, Julian writes “indeed on all accounts philosophy alone will be appropriate for us priests; and of philosophers only those who chose the gods as guides of their mental discipline, like Pythagoras and Plato and Aristotle, and the school of Chrysippus and Zeno. For we ought not to give heed to them all nor to the doctrines of all, but only to those philosophers and those of their doctrines that make men god-fearing, and teach concerning the gods, first that they exist, secondly that they concern themselves with the things of this world, and further that they do no injury at all either to mankind or to one another, out of jealousy or envy or enmity.”

Julian’s own personal view on Hellenism had a hierarchical pantheon of Gods, with a focus on the three suns. The first sun was Aion, who was Being-In-Itself; whom all took part in their essence. Following Aion was the second sun, Helios (who was seen as the same God as Zeus), the Celestial Demiurge and King of the Gods. Lastly there was the material sun, who was seen as the body of Helios. There were many levels of existence, each with their own Gods who ruled them.


“Again, the man who worships Zeus the God of Comrades, and who, though he sees his neighbours in need of money, does not give them even so much as a drachma, how, I say, can he think that he is worshipping Zeus aright? When I observe this I am wholly amazed, since I see that these titles of the gods are from the beginning of the world their express images, yet in our practice we pay no attention to anything of the sort. The gods are called by us “gods of kindred,” and Zeus the “God of Kindred,” but we treat our kinsmen as though they were strangers. I say “kinsmen” because every man, whether he will or no, is akin to every other man”

-Flavius Claudius Iulianus Augustus / Julian the Philosopher

“In every city establish frequent hostels in order that strangers may profit by our benevolence; I do not mean for our own people only, but for others also who are in need of money. I have but now made a plan by which you may be well provided for this; for I have given directions that 30,000 modii of corn shall be assigned every year for the whole of [the province of] Galatia, and 60,000 pints of wine. I order that one-fifth of this be used for the poor who serve the priests, and the remainder be distributed by us to strangers and beggars. For it is disgraceful that, when no Jew ever has to beg, and the impious Galilaeans support not only their own poor but ours as well, all men see that our people lack aid from us. Teach those of the Hellenic faith to contribute to public service of this sort, and the Hellenic villages to offer their first fruits to the gods; and accustom those who love the Hellenic religion to these good works by teaching them that this was our practice of old. At any rate Homer makes Eumaeus say: “Stranger, it is not lawful for me, not even though a baser man than you should come, to dishonour a stranger. For from Zeus come all strangers and beggars. And a gift, though small, is precious.” Then let us not, by allowing others to outdo us in good works, disgrace by such remissness, or rather, utterly abandon, the reverence due to the gods. If I hear that you are carrying out these orders I shall be filled with joy.”

-Flavius Claudius Iulianus Augustus / Julian the Philosopher

“First that they [the Gods] exist, secondly that they concern themselves with the things of this world, and further that they do no injury at all either to mankind or to one another, out of jealousy or envy or enmity.”

-Flavius Claudius Iulianus Augustus / Julian the Philosopher


Flavius Claudius Iulianus Augustus, and Wilmer Cave. Wright. The works of emperor Julian. London: Heinemann etc., 1962.

Murdoch, Adrian. The Last Pagan: Julian the Apostate and the death of the ancient world. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2008.

Oliver Nicholson (1994). The ‘Pagan Churches’ of Maximinus Daia and Julian the Apostate. The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 45, pp 1-10 doi:10.1017/S0022046900016407