Hui216 Italian Civilization Andrea Fedi

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Italian Civilization

Andrea Fedi

4.1 More on the foundational myths of the Romans: common themes

  1. Violence and justice

  2. War and politics, diplomacy

  3. Superiority

  4. Assimilation

  5. The process of military expansion is connected to development of a social/cultural identity

4.2 Characteristics of the ancient Romans

  1. Their inclination to borrow from other cultures (eclecticism). It facilitated the assimilation of their subjects through an exchange of customs and ideas, and through the establishment of a unified economy, where trades were supervised by Rome's central administration, and supported by creating and maintaining a network of roads, ports and shipyards, storage facilities, military strongholds, defense lines

  2. Their inclination to tolerate other cultures, provided that they were not radically different in structural areas of life and society (which is one of the reasons why they feared and persecuted Jews and Christians, who both abhorred polytheism and could not in turn easily accept some of the social customs and religious rituals of the Romans)

4.3 The relevance of Roman civilization

  1. What remains of that civilization (physical evidence)

  2. Entire cities (Pompeii, Herculaneum)

  3. Covered by volcanic ashes during the 79 CE eruption of mount Vesuvius, excavated in modern times

  4. Roman buildings or their ruins

  5. Archeological sites

  6. City plans, streets and roads

  7. Sometimes entire neighborhoods in Italy are still organized around the subdivision of the areas and the system of streets and open spaces originally planned by the Romans

  8. Museum collections and private collections

4.4 Pompei

  1. Pompeii or Pompei?

  2. The name of the city in the original Latin language was Pompeii, the name of the city in Italian is Pompei

  3. NYT December 27, 2001: "Pompeii's Erotic Frescoes Awake" By Melinda Henneberger

  4. Fifteen years ago Luciana Jacobelli, a young Italian archaeologist tunneling just outside the old city walls here, discovered an astonishing series of erotic frescoes in an ancient thermal bath

  5. More stunning than the explicit pictures themselves, she said, was the condition of the more than 2,000-year-old structure, still adorned with elaborate mosaics, a remarkably intact stucco ceiling and even an indoor waterfall

  6. The eight surviving frescoes, painted in vivid gold, green and a red the color of dried blood, show graphic scenes of various sex acts

4.4 "Pompeii's Erotic Frescoes Awake" By Melinda Henneberger (NYT, 2001)

  1. Prof. Pietro Giovanni Guzzo, who oversees the archaeological ruins of Pompeii, says that the frescoes were advertisements for sexual services available on the upper floor of the baths. Dr. Jacobelli vehemently disagrees, maintaining that they were meant to be amusing rather than arousing

  2. Though the first excavations here began in the 1950's, "when we started in 1985, all you could see was the top floor," the floor above the baths. "Everything else was totally covered with dirt." She pointed out the spot where she first crawled into the baths through the roof, "like a mouse," after digging through layers of volcanic rock and ash.

  3. The excavations of Pompeii, which was destroyed when Mount Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79, predate the American Revolution and are continuing

  4. ... in the years since Dr. Jacobelli first saw the bathhouse, much has already been lost, like frescoes of gladiators that have completely faded away.

4.4 "Pompeii's Erotic Frescoes Awake" By Melinda Henneberger (NYT, 2001)

  1. Beyond the changing room was the frigidarium, or cold-water pool, where at one end, bathers could swim under a waterfall covered with a deep blue mosaic of Mars, the god of war.

  2. The walls there are covered with frescoes of whimsical scenes set on the Nile, full of strange sea creatures and crocodiles, and these images were reflected in the pool in a way meant to give bathers the illusion of swimming among the fantastic fish.

  3. Beyond that are the hot rooms, each a little warmer than the last: the tepidarium, the laconium and the calidarium, where three huge windows would at that time have offered a view of the Bay of Naples a mile away before layers of volcanic rock got in the way.

  4. In the back is a surprisingly modern-looking outdoor swimming pool surrounded by cypress trees. It had been heated by fires from a furnace, then newfangled, under the pool, tended by slaves who were known as fornacatores. (The word derives from "fornax," Latin for "furnace" and also the root for "fornix," which is Latin for "brothel.")

4.5 What remains of Roman civilization (cultural evidence)

  1. Neoclassic architecture

  2. American examples of neoclassic architecture

  3. Documents and texts

  4. Roman and Greek documents and texts were carefully preserved and painstakingly copied by hand by Christian monks during the Middle Ages

  5. The language

  6. Neo-Latin languages: Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, and others

  7. Latin is still used in official documents of the Catholic Church, and for long time was the language of the law and of diplomacy in Europe; Italian Universities, especially in fields such as philosophy and medicine, used Latin for classes and exams well into the 19th century

4.6 The Calendar

  1. January derives from the Roman god Janus, whose name is connected to the stem of the word janua (=door, cf. "janitor")

  2. Janus was the god that Romans offered sacrifices to whenever they began something important (for example war, peace), in their public or private life

  3. March derives from the Roman god Mars, the god of war

  4. July derives from the name of the famous Julius Caesar

  5. August derives from Augustus, the title used to honor the first emperor and many of the emperors after him

4.6 The Calendar

  1. September derives from the Roman numeral septem [=7]

  2. October from octo [=8]

  3. November from novem [=9]

  4. December from decem [=10]

  5. The Romans moved from an original 10 month system to 12 lunar months

  6. In Venice, Florence and many others Italian cities, in the past, the year started in March

  7. March happened to be also the month of the conception of Jesus, after it was decided that his birth be celebrated close to the winter solstice and to the period when the Romans celebrated their Saturnalia

4.7 Roman law (notes from a lecture given in 2002 by Professor Marcello Saija, University of Messina)

  1. All archaic societies produced rules of behavior that regulated various aspects of social life.

  2. Often, though, these rules were not separated from religious imperatives.

  3. The ancient Greeks and the Romans, for the first time in human history, established a system of laws in which social rules were separated from religious imperatives.

  4. The Romans were well aware of the relevance of this separation, and expressed this concept with the saying:

  5. [1] Ubi societas, ibi ius. [2] Ubi ius, ibi societas.

  6. [=Where society exists, there is law. Where laws exist, there is society.]

  7. Every time social relationships are established in the form of a community, no matter how small, men feel the need to create rules that support the organization and the development of that society.

4.7 Roman Law: a secular state (Saija)

  1. This doesn't mean that Roman society was not religious. But Romans believed in the separation of state and religion. In other words, the Roman state was one of the first expressions of the idea of a secular state. In order to reinforce this concept, the Romans had another statement that was often used to define the nature of law:

  2. Ex facto oritur ius.

  3. [=Laws originate from the facts.]

  4. It means that laws are not imposed by religion or by morality. Laws emerge from human experience; they accompany and support the development of human interactions.

4.7 Roman Law: written laws, precedents, the discretion of judges (Saija)

  1. Initially Roman judges did not have written laws. In order to administer justice, they had to make reference to the ideals of justice and equity that were reflected in social practices and customs. They took into consideration norms and practices of their community as they were related by the elders.

  2. Naturally there were times when judges could not find an appropriate reference for their judgment. In those instances the praetors resorted to their own personal interpretation of justice. Romans in those cases used the expression aequitas bursalis [= justice from the pocket], to signify that judges had to exercise discretion in their decision.

  3. Later, during the so-called second age of judicial activities, traditions, social practices and oral culture were supplemented and replaced by a more specific judicial culture, dictated by the practice of professional judges.

4.7 Roman Law: judges and jurists (Saija)

  1. During the next age the administration of justice became the responsibility not only of judges but also of jurists.

  2. Jurists were scholars who studied the rulings and the decisions of the judges and tried to find consistency and clear principles in the law. Jurists solved contradictions that existed in past rulings and, most importantly, they worked on the creation of a juridical science, where clearly enunciated general principles could be applied to many similar cases.

  3. From time to time, jurists organized and collected various rules that referred to a specific area of the law. Examples of those collections are the Lex Cornelia de Iniuriis (81 BCE) or the Lex Iulia de maritandis ordinibus, produced under the emperor Augustus, which regulated marriages. Jurists also produced commentaries to explain the details and to indicate the correct interpretation of those rules.

4.7 Roman Law: law and society (Saija)

  1. Throughout the centuries the power of the scholars of law kept growing, while the relevance of social practices and human experience diminished.

  2. Judges came to rely primarily on the theories, the interpretations and the recommendations of jurists.

  3. This situation introduced an element of conflict between social life and the theoretical discussions on justice.

  4. This conflict will become a constant within the history of Europe. The idea of justice, which, at first, had been the expression of a whole society, of its changing cultures and customs, became the domain of an elite of scholars and high-ranking public officers.

4.7 Roman Law: public and private law (Saija)

  1. The most important contribution made by Roman jurists

  2. They introduced the most significant theoretical distinction within the system of laws, the distinction between public and private law.

  3. Ulpianus, a famous Roman jurist, supported the separation of the rules pertaining individuals and their private activities or relations, and the rules regarding public affairs, the administration of the state and the use of power and authority by the state.

  4. This distinction, further refined and expanded, constituted the foundation of constitutional law, which also started during the Roman era.

4.7 Roman Law: Justinian (Saija)

  1. What happened to the laws and procedures put in place by the Romans when the Western Roman empire came to an end?

  2. In Italy Roman laws where replaced by more primitive rules, imposed by barbarian governments.

  3. In the Eastern part of the Roman Empire, an emperor of the 6th century, Justinian, ordered the best jurists of his time to collect Roman laws, rulings and commentaries from the past to the present, and assigned them the tasks of reducing the number of laws and reorganizing the entire collection into a more coherent and manageable system.

  4. It is because of this reorganization that Roman Law survived the fall of the Roman Empire and was known, studied and used again during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

4.8 The American Founding Fathers and Rome (based on notes provided by Monica Williams)

  1. John Adams graduated from Harvard, while Thomas Jefferson attended William and Mary, and James Madison graduated from Princeton

  2. At that time most of the textbooks were written in Latin and that language was used on many academic occasions

  3. They read Polybius' History of Rome

  4. The importance of the classics to the thinking of these men is well summed up by Adams

  5. "I should as soon think of closing all my window shutters , to enable me to see, as of banishing the Classics"

  6. Two areas reflect the influence of the classics in the thinking of the Founding Fathers

  7. the structure of their new nation's government

  8. the choice of architecture style in its public buildings

4.8 The US as the new Rome (Monica Williams)

  1. They saw their nation as "the new Rome"

  2. Basic concepts such as three part system of government, veto power, and the advisory capacity of the Senate find their roots in the Roman rule



  5. Many of the new nation's public buildings were designed following Roman models

  6. Thomas Jefferson, who was an architect, played a key role

  7. At the end of colonial time the neoclassical style was very popular in Europe

  8. The eighteenth century work at Pompeii and Herculaneum spurred the new interest in Roman architecture

4.8 The Founding Fathers and Rome: Palladio, Jefferson in France (Monica Williams)

  1. This interest, combined with British enthusiasm for the Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio (
    created a new classicism characterized by refinement, symmetry and proportion

  2. Thomas Jefferson was ambassador to France in the 1780s and made a journey to Nimes, where he saw the Maison Carrée, a classic Roman temple of 16 BCE that reflected the Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum

  3. This building inspired his design, done in collaboration with French architect Charles Louis Clerriseau, for the capitol of Virginia (1785-1789)

4.8 The Founding Fathers and Rome: the US Capitol (Monica Williams)

  1. Neoclassical design is seen in Washington DC and in other areas of the United States

  2. The US Capitol presents an excellent example of neoclassical influence

  3. Its name "capitol" reflects the Roman Capitoline hill

  4. Among plans for the building, the one submitted by Jefferson was modeled on the Pantheon in Rome

  5. Jefferson gave instruction to Pierre Charles L'Enfant, the designer of the capital city, "whenever it is possible to prepare plans for the Capitol I should prefer the adoption of some model of antiquity"

  6. The winning design by William Thorton (1792) reflects those instructions

4.8 The Founding Fathers and Rome: the US Capitol, George Washington (Monica Williams)

  1. Within the capitol building, Benjamin Latrobe, Surveyor of Public Buildings, adopted classical columns for the new republic

  2. In the Senate wing the columns' capitels are adorned with the new nation's agricultural products -- tobacco and corn

  3. George Washington was the incarnation of the new nation. In neo-classical sculpture, Houdon (1788) compares Washington to Cincinnatus, the Roman farmer who gave up the dictatorship to return to his fields


4.8 Neoclassical architecture in the US (Monica Williams)

  1. Outside of Washington DC excellent examples of neo-classical architecture exist at the University of Virginia (1816-1826), whose library, designed by Thomas Jefferson, is modeled on the Pantheon


  3. The Roman Catholic cathedral of Baltimore (1804-1821), designed by Latrobe (who worked on the Capitol), presents an entrance that is reminiscent of a Roman temple portico

4.8 Neoclassical architecture in the US (Monica Williams)

  1. In the late 19th century, the architecture firm of McKim, Mead, and White stressed classical designs

  2. They used classical style in large American cities as if they were "the Rome of the Caesars" (Craven, 293)

  3. Their Washington Square Arch (1895), in NYC, recalls the Arch of Constantine

  4. Their huge design for New York's Pennsylvania Station (1910) was modeled on the Baths of Caracalla




4.8 Modern examples of neoclassical architecture in Washington DC

  1. The Supreme Court Building is an example of academic classicism. It was designed by Cass Gilbert (1935)

  2. National Portrait Gallery, designed by Elliot, Mills, Clark et al. (1836-1867)


  4. The Federal Trade Commission, designed by Bennett, Parsons, and Frost (1937)

  5. The National Gallery (1937-41), designed by John Russell Pope

  6. Union Station

4.8 Neoclassical architecture in Washington DC

4.8 Neoclassical architecture in NYC

  1. Federal Hall (1834-42)


  3. The High bridge over the Harlem River (completed in 1848), multi-arched bridge modeled after a Roman aqueduct

  4. It carried water to the city from the Croton Reservoir in Westchester county


4.9 Bibliography

  1. Craven, Wayne. American Art, History, and Culture. Boston: McGraw Hill, 1994.

  2. Glancey, Jonathan. The Story of Architecture. New York: Dorling Kindersly, 2003.

  3. Gummere, Richard. The American Colonial Mind and the Classical Tradition. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1963.

  4. Kennon, Donald. A Republic for the Ages. The United States Capitol and the Political Culture of the Early Republic. Charlottesville: University Press, 1999.

  5. Miles, Edwin A. "The Young American Nation and the Classical World." Journal of the History of Ideas Vol. 35, Issue 2 (April-June 1974), 259-74.

4.10 The New York Times, Feb. 16, 1997, "There's Nothing Conservative About the Classics' Revival" By GARRY WILLS

  1. The canon -- that body of Western thought and art that is supposed to be at the core of all our education -- is succumbing to attack or neglect, is opposed as repressive or dismissed as irrelevant. If so, then the ancient Greek and Roman cultures, ''the classics'' par excellence, the core of the old canon for so much of Western history, should be the least retrievable part of the ''authorized'' past.

  2. Which prompts a question. If the classics are a sinking ship, why are so many people beating their way (often against stiff opposition) to clamber on board?

  3. -- Black studies have taken up the thesis of Martin Bernal's ''Black Athena,'' which claims African origins for ancient Greek civilization. The debate over this claim is less interesting than the fact that the way to establish historic credentials is still by association with the canon…

4.10 "There's Nothing Conservative About the Classics' Revival“: women studies

  1. -- Women's studies, one might think, could not get much from the male-oriented world of Greek and Roman wars, politics and athletics. But the strong women of Attic drama (Helen, Antigone, Medea, Clytemnestra, Electra) and of Roman history (Antonia Augusta, Agrippina, Justina) reveal tensions and a lack of confidence in the patriarchal structure, tensions explored by feminist scholars who are in the vanguard of classical studies (Nicole Loraux, Helene Foley, Froma Zeitlin, Deborah Lyons and others).

  2. …These are not just incremental developments in ongoing scholarship, but radical, even wrenching, departures from what went before. In fact they are bitterly resented and resisted by some people. Mary Lefkowitz has organized a demolition squad to pulverize the many errors in Bernal's ''Black Athena.''…

4.10 "There's Nothing Conservative About the Classics' Revival": multiculturalizing the canon

  1. Quieter voices in the profession have deplored the ''multiculturalizing'' of the canon. For these guardians of an older tradition, making the classics ''relevant'' destroys their whole purpose, which is to resist the winds of change and offer a timeless ideal all later ages can aspire toward.

  2. This concept of a serene core of cultural values at the center of Western civilization is entirely false. After the large-scale disappearance or dilution of classical literature in the Middle Ages, the classics returned, in several stages, as a challenge to the canon of the time.

  3. …Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas made the newly-translated Aristotle texts ''relevant'' to Christian thinking, despite rejection of them as uncanonical in centers of orthodoxy like the University of Paris.

4.10 "There's Nothing Conservative About the Classics' Revival": subversive classics

  1. The classics returned again as an exotic challenge in the 15th century, when a flood of Greek manuscripts from Byzantium intensified the Italian Renaissance.

  2. The classics were subversive, not only of scholastic orthodoxy this time, but of a whole canon of cultural biases and tastes (Gothic art and poetry and Biblical allegory).

  3. It was the contemporarily useful things that were revered -- rhetoric (Cicero) by Petrarch, textual authenticity by Erasmus, republicanism (Livy) by Machiavelli, historical skepticism (Tacitus) by Aretino, satire (Lucian) by Rabelais. For these men the classics were tools, even weapons, to use against the medieval order and the church, against the authorized creeds of the time.

4.10 "There's Nothing Conservative About the Classics' Revival": selective classicism

  1. In the 18th-century Enlightenment, the classics were at last substituted for an entire older order. They would now arbitrate taste, regulate education, set standards of thought and action. But even this universal ideal was based on a partial reading of the classics. Rome was preferred, Greece comparatively neglected, and Athens entirely reprobated (as the model of ''mobocratic'' unruliness).

  2. A century later, in the Romantic period, Athens rose up as an intruder into the Roman canon. Even the Greek texts that had been taught in Enlightenment schools acquired a new and ''adversary'' meaning. Homer, for instance, was now seen as a primitive bard…

4.10 "There's Nothing Conservative About the Classics' Revival": "everything old is new again"

  1. These periods of classical revival are the times when (to quote the song) ''everything old is new again.'‘

  2. But our current idealizers of the canon would consider them all ''takeovers'' -- not suitably humble and submissive toward the classics, but recasting them to suit new needs and tastes.

  3. All forms of classicism are raids upon what is usable from a vast body of work; the ''classics'' aren't a single unified thing. We are talking of a corpus in many dialects of Greek stretching from the prehistoric elements in Homer to the fall of Byzantium.

4.10 "There's Nothing Conservative...": omissions in the notion of a "classical age"

  1. Classical Latin literature is not so long-lived as Greek; but it, too, is rich with centuries of varied use, from Plautus in the third century B.C. to Ausonius in the fourth century A.D.

  2. The older classicism omitted much of this complex history, or it jumbled eras together in a non-existent ''classical age,'' one lacking major genres (e.g., the Greek novel) and many large aspects of both Greek and Roman life, slavery and homosexuality among them. The last two subjects took up great space in classical thought and literature, but they were played down, omitted, even denied by classical educators in the last century. Werner Jaeger's three-volume work on Greek culture, ''Paideia,'' did not even mention slavery.

4.10 "There's Nothing Conservative...": multiculturalism in the Aeneid

  1. One of the elements leading to the current renewal of the classics was work done on slavery by Marxist historians of the classics like G. E. M. de Ste. Croix and Moses Finley. They brought back the realities of ancient life in a new way.

  2. Another element is precisely an emphasis on multiculturalism. Robert Kaster, the current president of the American Philological Association, points out that Vergil's ''Aeneid'' very consciously weaves different cultures into the foundation of Rome: The Greeks who brought their culture to Latium, the Latins and Sabines already there, the Etruscans -- all are presented as formative elements in the future Rome.

  3. In fact, one reason for the stability of the Roman Empire, embracing so many different cultures, was its openness to other peoples -- an openness that is made the secret of the Romans' own origins in Vergil's epic.

4.10 "There's Nothing Conservative About the Classics' Revival": Vergil; Black Athena

  1. This aspect of Vergil's work was neglected because of the narrowness of the 19th-century classical canon. Vergil was endlessly compared with Homer, whose epics were formed eight centuries before the ''Aeneid''…

  2. …The one unquestionably good result of Bernal's claims about a black Athena is that he revealed the prejudices of the old canonists who wanted to make Greece an entirely European phenomenon. Those answering Bernal have to admit that Egypt had a profound influence on early Greece (but question how far Egyptians can be considered blacks). More important, they acknowledge the effect of Near Eastern semitic cultures, which gave Greece its alphabet and many of its foundational myths. The downplaying of this influence was the real scandal of 19th-century classicism. Scholars… were anti-Semitic in their Eurocentric rejection of the Orient.

4.10 "There's Nothing Conservative...": Eurocentrism, multiculturalism; "our classics"

  1. Eurocentrism, when it was embedded in the study of the classics, created a false picture of the classics themselves.

  2. Multiculturalism is now breaking open that deception. We learn that ''the West'' is an admittedly brilliant derivative of the East. Semites created the stories the Greeks revered in Homer -- just as Jewish scholars brought Aristotle back to the West from Islam in the Middle Ages.

  3. Multiculturalism, far from being a challenge to the classics, is precisely what is reviving them. If there is a resurgence of interest in the classics, it is because we are making them our classics -- as the Renaissances of the 12th and 15th centuries did, as the Enlightenment and the romantic period did.

4.10 "There's Nothing Conservative About the Classics' Revival": classics that look like us

  1. But do we want the classics to be like Clinton's first cabinet and ''look like America?'' Whether we want to or not, that is the only way the classics have ever been revived. The classics are not some magic wand that touches us and transmutes us. We revive them only when we rethink them as a way of rethinking ourselves.

  2. This need for relevance has led to partiality and exaggeration in all classical revivals. The Enlightenment Homer looked a lot like Alexander Pope, as the romantic period's looked like Ossian. In the Renaissance, Erasmus attacked the excesses in the cult of Cicero. But each era found genuine treasures in its raid on the jumble of good things bequeathed us by ancient Greece and Rome.

4.10 "There's Nothing Conservative About the Classics' Revival": the study of Latin

  1. Old style canonists may still wonder how we can talk about a revival of the classics when Latin has not been reinstalled in the schools as the basis for our education. People who take that position forget three things:

  2. First, Latin was widely studied in our schools at the very time when the classics went into decline. Children correcting their gerunds are not going to revive the classics, or even profit from a revival, just because they have had a year or two of Latin. The defenders of the canon who denounced relevance and mere utility were forced to make spurious claims of utility for the old methods of teaching Latin. They said it was a good way to learn English grammar. This is like saying that bicycle repair helps you understand computers.

4.10 "There's Nothing Conservative About the Classics' Revival": classics in translation

  1. Second, when revivals have occurred in the past, the mass of people were not educated in the original languages….

  2. Third, all classical revivals have relied heavily on translation. The Greek and Arabic sources were translated into medieval Latin for the 12th-century Renaissance. Classical Greek was translated into Latin during the 15th-century Renaissance -- and then into the vernaculars.

  3. …The only way we get close enough to understand this is by rethinking the classics and ourselves, as multiculturalists have been forcing us to do. The ancient texts have become eerily modern in what they have to say about power relationships between men and women, gay men and war, superiors and subordinates. They have made Sappho our contemporary. They are rewriting the history of the novel. They raise again the issues of empire, democracy, alliances.

4.11 The classics in the Italian curriculum

  1. In the case of Italian students, traditionally there has been an abundance of opportunities to learn about Roman history and culture in their curricula

  2. broad reforms of the Italian school system have been approved in 2002 and 2005

  3. Following a reform that was realized during fascism under the direction of philosopher Giovanni Gentile, Italians studied Roman history, literature and Latin language at different stages of their curriculum

  4. in primary schools (Roman history and, generically, the culture of the Romans)

  5. middle schools (Greek and Roman history, and, until a few years ago, basic Latin)

  6. high schools (Roman history, and depending on the kind of high school, also Latin, or Latin and Greek)

4.11 The classics in the Italian curriculum

  1. Then, of course, if one chooses a humanities major, Latin will be studied at the university level too, the number of classes of Latin depending on whether that person would be required to teach it or not, and at what level

  2. Knowing about the exploitation of Roman culture by the fascist propaganda, it seems understandable that the fascist government would support such a reform

  3. not that the contents of the reform were in and of themselves fascist: in fact the reform survived virtually intact after the collapse of fascism and the political and institutional changes of postwar Italy

  4. the intellectual and politician who had promoted and written much of that reform, Giovanni Gentile, a real erudite and a great philosopher, ended up murdered by partisans at the end of the war, but it was mostly because of his visibility as a public figure, and because he was an easy target, traveling with no escort, not because he had been one of the strongest supporters of the regime

4.12 Classical architecture in Italy: barbarians and Barberinis

  1. I think it is important to remember that classic architecture was not always admired and respected in the past. For example, not only were large sections of the Coliseum taken down and the material reused in the construction of other buildings in Rome: many other Roman monuments suffered a similar fate.

  2. This practice became so common that one saying was created to define it, and it has survived to this day. It is in Latin and it says: "Quod non fecerunt barbari fecerunt Barberini" (=what the barbarians were not able to do, the Barberinis accomplished).

  3. The sarcastic proverb makes reference to a 16th-century Pope, who took the name of Urbano VIII and whose family name was Barberini. According to rumors dating back to that time, it was the Pope's own doctor, Giulio Mancini, who came up with that stinging remark, and the action that caused such a reprise was the removal of the bronze plating from the portico of the Pantheon.

4.12 Classical art in Italy: the vanishing of bronze statues

  1. Writer and politician Cassiodorus, who lived during the sixth century of the common era, maintains that during his time there were still roughly 4000 statues inside the city of Rome, many of them (the majority) in bronze.

  2. After the collapse of the Roman Empire it became more difficult and more expensive to produce metal alloys, and therefore one after the other most of those statues were melted and their bronze reused.

  3. Bronze statues and the bronze platings of temples and other buildings were melted and reused not to create other works of art but often for more mundane purposes; for example during the Renaissance Roman bronze was recast with other metals to make cannons (given the primitive technology applied in the fabrication of weapons at that time, the barrels and the chambers of cannons were very thick, to compensate for the lack of scientific calculations, to prevent the explosion of the cannon when it fired: therefore a lot of metal, even more than necessary, was employed). Because of the military crisis that faced the Italian states in the early 1500s, the respect for Roman civilization and for its vestiges was put aside and the needs of defense became an indisputable priority. As a result, many people today often have the erroneous impression that all or most statues of antiquity were made of marble or stone, like those that they see in museums or in the piazzas.

4.12 Classical art in Italy: Marcus Aurelius

  1. The most famous surviving bronze statue in the city of Rome is the statue of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, on Rome's Campidoglio, the original Capitoline hill

  2. you can see pictures at this address,

  3. But recent studies conducted to prepare the last restoration of that statue have ascertained that even the Emperor's statue had its share of rough times through the centuries

  4. it probably fell (or was pushed down) during the Roman era, and later on, probably during the sack of Rome of 1527 (conducted by the troops of German Emperor Charles V), it was shot at, and the holes of the bullets, in the heads of the Emperor and of the horse, were covered with patches

4.13 Classical art in Italy: Master Gregory

  1. A few years ago Italian scholar Chiara Frugoni wrote an interesting article in Italian on foreign pilgrims visiting Rome during the 12th and the 13th century.

  2. In the surviving manuscripts of that period one can find references to the city of Rome as "a total ruin" which nonetheless can still manifest its pristine greatness.

  3. In a "guide" written by an English pilgrim by the name of Gregory, the most interesting thing from the cultural standpoint is that the attention of that travel writer is taken almost exclusively by the Roman ruins and monuments, rather than by Christian sites.

  4. In fact Master Gregory complains vehemently about the neglect in which many important Roman monuments are left, and he also complains about the practice of taking marble, stone and metals from the antique Roman buildings.

4.13 Classical art in Italy: Master Gregory visits Rome

  1. Only three churches are mentioned in his travelogue (3!), and few remarks are devoted to medieval Rome, to its towers and castle-like palaces. What really moves Gregory is the spectacle of Imperial Rome: the triumphal arches, the obelisks, the pyramids, the sculpted columns (like Trajan's column:

  2. And he also comment on the few splendid bronze statues that still survived amidst the ruins, together with the marble statues that have lived to our time.

  3. Among the marble statues, Gregory is intrigued by a statue of Venus, naked, and still showing traces of the original colors (almost all statues were painted during antiquity), for example painted red on her cheeks.

4.13 Classical art in Italy: Master Gregory and Venus

  1. He finds that Venus has been represented with powerful realism, and he admits to walking more than a mile from his inn, for three times, to see it, such was his fascination with it.

  2. This particular statue of Venus is probably the one that you can admire today inside the Musei Capitolini in Rome

  3. Many pages are devoted to describing the bronze statue of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Many of his contemporaries, Gregory writes, believed that it was the statue of the Emperor Constantine, who had converted to Christian religion (a belief that may have helped protect that statue from destruction).

  4. A recent English edition of the manuscript is the following: Gregorius, Magister. [Mirabilia Romae] The marvels of Rome. Translated with an introduction and commentary by John Osborne. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1987.

4.14 Ancient Rome: the monarchy

  1. 753 BCE -- 509 BCE

  2. Most Roman sources agreed that there were seven kings, a number modern historians cannot confirm

  3. Romulus (753-717), Numa (717-673), Tullus Hostilius (672-641), Ancus Marcius (639-616), Tarquinius Priscus (616-579), Servius Tullius (579-534), Tarquinius Superbus (534-510)

  4. We do know that some of the kings that we find listed in the original sources are probably mythical, e.g. Romulus and Numa

  5. Other names, interestingly, are Etruscan, confirming the prominence (presence?) of Etruscans in the early Roman society

4.14 Gary Forsythe on the seven kings of Rome

  1. Rome's seven kings are to a very large degree stereotypical figures to whom ancient writers ascribed archaic institutions and practices on the basis of simplistic reasoning.

  2. Accordingly, Numa, whose name appears to be akin to numen, was characterized as having done nothing during his reign except to establish virtually all aspects of the state religion.

  3. Tullus Hostilius' nomen suggested belligerence to the ancients, who therefore regarded him as a very warlike monarch;

  4. and the nomen of the Tarquins was interpreted to mean that Tarquinius Priscus had immigrated to Rome from the Etruscan city of Tarquinii.

  5. Thus, we should not be surprised by the ancient stories of Servius Tullius' supposed servile origin, or by the belief that he was responsible for establishing the rights and duties of freed slaves in Roman law.

4.14 Livy's History of Rome: Book 1, Preface

  1. The traditions of what happened prior to the foundation of the City or whilst it was being built, are more fitted to adorn the creations of the poet than the authentic records of the historian, and I have no intention of establishing either their truth or their falsehood.

  2. This much licence is conceded to the ancients, that by intermingling human actions with divine they may confer a more august dignity on the origins of states.

4.14 Livy's History of Rome: Book 1, Preface

  1. Now, if any nation ought to be allowed to claim a sacred origin and point back to a divine paternity that nation is Rome.

  2. For such is her renown in war that when she chooses to represent Mars as her own and her founder's father, the nations of the world accept the statement with the same equanimity with which they accept her dominion.

4.15 Ancient Rome: the Republic (509 BCE -- 27 BCE)

  1. 2 consuls, the Senate, magistrates, popular assemblies

  2. Consuls were in charge of the government of Rome, with a limited mandate, for a year or more; their powers under normal circumstances were kept in check by the Senate

  3. Even though Roman historians want us to believe that Rome became a republic practically from one day to the next, there are clues in documents and reports indicating that the consuls initially had almost the same power and functions as the kings that they replaced; only gradually those powers came to be restricted by the Senate and by other institutions

  4. The Senate too evolved gradually from the monarchic institution of the Council of the King, whose members represented the wealthiest and oldest families in the community whom the King consulted for all important decisions

  5. The word Senate comes from the Latin senes, which means "elders"

4.15 Livy's History of Rome (Bk. 1, Preface): national character, military expansion

  1. The subjects to which I would ask each of my readers to devote his earnest attention are these -- the life and morals of the community; the men and the qualities by which through domestic policy and foreign war dominion was won and extended. Then as the standard of morality gradually lowers, let him follow the decay of the national character, observing how at first it slowly sinks, then slips downward more and more rapidly, and finally begins to plunge into headlong ruin, until he reaches these days, in which we can bear neither our diseases nor their remedies.

4.16 Social classes in Roman society

  1. Within the first Roman society there was a very strong connection between power and wealth, as you can expect to find in any society that relies on a simpler organization of social and economic activities

  2. The pace of growth and the territorial expansion were determining factors in the evolution of Roman society

  3. Romans were organized by classes

  4. The word classic comes from the Latin classis, which means class, the class par excellence being the first, to which the wealthiest of the Romans belonged: they incarnated the ideals of style and elegance traditionally associated with classical culture

4.16 Patricians and Plebeians

  1. Patricians belonged to the wealthy and powerful elite that made up most of the Senate

  2. For a while it was possible to become a member of this class by means of military heroism or entrepreneurial skills: in time it became more difficult

  3. Some of the Patricians outlasted the Roman Empire, and, thanks to their position, wealth, and skills, turned into the noblemen of the early Middle Ages

  4. Plebeians belonged to the lower classes

  5. They were assigned less votes when it came to deciding on key issues: votes were based on income, and each class had a set number of votes

  6. They created their own democratic institutions, a sort of shadow government: they had their own public meetings, a Council, elected leaders (the Tribunes), a treasury, even laws called plebiscites (referendums)

4.16 Patricians and Plebeians

  1. Marriage between Patricians and Plebeians was forbidden in ancient times

  2. Romans were generally well aware of these deep social divisions

  3. constant tension and agitations (Machiavelli)

  4. reforms often followed popular protests: some were recorded (doctored reports?) and others went unreported

  5. Patricians held important positions within organized religion, and wrote annals and other forms of official historical accounts

  6. distribution of food lead to political deals during famines

  7. distribution of money alleviated political pressure

  8. personal debts > slavery / patronage (plebeians > clients, patricians > patrons)

  9. distribution of public land and colonization did the same with the relocation of Roman citizens

  10. military service became another political instrument

4.16 Was the Roman Republic a split society?

  1. There was "a state within the state" (Livy)

  2. Arnaldo Momigliano has encouraged scholars to revise the traditional representation of the two social groups as entirely antithetic

  3. interaction, political dialogue vs. the struggle of the orders

  4. "The plebeian movement was a remarkable phenomenon, as far as we know without parallel in the history of the ancient city-state." (T.J. Cornell, 1995)

  5. "The... fact that according to the modern orthodox interpretation the struggle of the orders was otherwise unparalleled in the ancient world should immediately set off alarm bells and arouse grave doubts as to its historical validity." (Forsythe)

4.17 Foreigners and slaves in ancient Rome

  1. Many foreigners came to live in Rome, had a business there, but they had almost no political/legal rights

  2. Since they were not Roman citizens, justice was administered differently if foreigners or slaves were brought to court (for example, punishments were harsher)

  3. Slaves were usually prisoners of war (not just soldiers of a defeated army, but also civilians captured and deported)

  4. people could lose their freedom because of unpaid debts

  5. slave breeding was common

  6. "exposure of infants, trade, and kidnapping or piracy were all significant sources of slaves"

  7. Depending on when they were enslaved and how they were brought up, slaves could be professionals: doctors, teachers, administrators, managers, and also poets, musicians, actors, artists, etc.

4.17 Slaves in Roman society: familia urbana

  1. Slaves were usually treated better in urban settings, where sometimes they could earn enough money to buy freedom or to facilitate the process of emancipation

  2. Manumission is "the act of freeing a slave"

  3. it could be done by adoption, by will, by the enrollment of a slave on the quinquennial census list of Roman citizens, by direct unopposed claim

  4. Manumitted and freed slaves would become liberti, freedmen

  5. social and legal implications of the change of status

  6. Since a fee had to be paid when slaves became freedmen, one can look at surviving documents that list the money coming into the budget of the Roman state each year and estimate the number of slaves who became citizens (this number often was in the thousands)

4.17 The emancipation of Roman slaves (from Bonnie Palmer, "The Cultural Significance of Roman Manumission", 1996)

  1. Manumission of slaves was a common practice among ancient societies, but the Roman tradition of creating legal citizens of their liberated slaves was in striking contrast to the manumission customs employed by their neighbors

  2. In a letter written in the 3rd century B.C., Philip V of Macedonia expressed admiration for this atypical incorporation of outsiders into the city-state:

  3. "the Romans, ... receiving into their citizen-body even their slaves when they free them, giving them even a share in the offices, have by such means not only strengthened their country but also sent out colonies almost to seventy places"

4.17 Palmer, "The Cultural Significance of Roman Manumission"

  1. Emancipation was not only the end of captivity for the Roman slave, it was also the culmination of a process of social integration, a process whereby the slave who had already been partially incorporated into Roman society through the social institutions of household, family, and patron-client friendships became politically assimilated into the Roman state

  2. Most slave-holding societies in both ancient and modern times have used some form of manumission as a means of including outsiders or outcasts into their communities to at least a limited degree, but the Roman practice of attaching full-citizen status to formal liberation was truly historically unique

4.17 Slaves in the fields: familia rustica

  1. Hundreds of thousands of slaves (possibly millions by the time of the empire) were used to cultivate large farms in Sicily, where most of the wheat came from, as well as in other areas of Italy, and in North Africa

  2. Roman writer Varro, in a book on agriculture written towards the end of the Republic, "divides the instruments of agriculture into three classes -- the articulate, the inarticulate and the mute, 'the articulate comprising the slaves, the inarticulate comprising the cattle, and the mute comprising the vehicles.'" (William Barclay)

  3. However the fact that a number of slaves were emancipated and integrated into Roman society is atypical in the context of ancient civilizations

  4. during the age of the Roman Empire, in a period of wild capitalism, there is anecdotal evidence that more than a few liberti became very wealthy, sometimes millionaires

4.17 William Fitzgerald, Slavery and the Roman Literary Imagination (Cambridge UP, 2000), review by Christopher Francese

  1. "The master/slave relationship, as imagined in Roman literature, is not one of simple dominance and submission"

  2. Attitudes of the free toward the domestic slave were complex

  3. There is little evidence of a racist ideology justifying slavery in ancient Rome

  4. Slaves were not considered inferior because of their ethnicity, human nature or morality

  5. The idea that individuals are born equal and free is a modern concept, typical of the Enlightenment

  6. Even Spartacus and his followers did not plan to eliminate the institution of slavery

4.17 William Fitzgerald, Slavery and the Roman Literary Imagination (Cambridge UP, 2000), review by Christopher Francese

  1. In the ancient world slavery is often seen as a "social bond involving exchange of services and loyalty" (R. Zelnick-Abramovitz 2005), an acceptable relation between parties of unequal status

  2. In Greece and in Rome the slave is seen, at the same time, as a property and a person

  3. Famed jurist Ulpianus debates the economic value of injured slaves

  4. Quintus Cicero rejoices at the news of the emancipation of his famous brother's slave and secretary, Tiro

  5. Stoics and Christians (see Joseph Vogt, Ancient Slavery and the Ideal of Man [1974]) changed the frame of mind of slave owners

  6. Homicide and abuse by owners were rarely punished

  7. Some slaves had different statuses and privileges (which might explain the lack of a sense of common identity)

4.17 William Fitzgerald, Slavery and the Roman Literary Imagination (Cambridge UP, 2000), Reviewed by Christopher Francese

  1. Literature provided a wide variety of metaphors and themes

  2. the slave as an individual living in symbiosis with the master

  3. cooperation, mutual benefit, matching intellects

  4. the slave as pet boy (puer delicatus)

  5. the slave as parent/tutor (paedagogus)

  6. the slave as a go-between and buffer between the free

  7. the slave does things denied by decorum to the free, and, paradoxically, appears to be “privileged”

  8. the clever slave as mastermind, matchmaker, con artist

  9. Other relationships between the free persons were understood through the metaphor of slavery

  10. the tyrant as slave master

  11. the son and wife as slaves of the head of the family or paterfamilias

  12. the religious convert as voluntary slave to a deity

  13. See also Keith Bradley, Slavery and Society at Rome (Cambridge UP, 1994)

4.18 The 3 meals of the Romans (from C.A.E. Luschnig, "Potes esurire mecum"): breakfast

  1. Breakfast: cheese, olives, bread

  2. epityra (olive spread): pitted olives chopped and marinated in oil, vinegar, coriander, cumin, fennel and mint

  3. in the Miles Gloriosus, a comedy by Plautus (3rd-2nd century BCE), a servant explains that he puts up with his master, the "braggart captain" of the title, only for the incredible olive dip available at his house

4.18 The 3 meals of the Romans (from C. A. E. Luschnig, "Potes esurire mecum"): lunch, dinner

  1. prandium (It. pranzo), at noon:

  2. a bowl of barley or another cereal, a slice of cold meat

  3. in Plautus's play Menaechmi a lunch for 3 consists of bacon, ham, half a head of pig

  4. pork was probably the favorite meat of the Romans

  5. cena (It. cena), started after 3:00 pm, could last until 1:00 am (cf. Suetonius on Nero)

4.18 Wine, conviviality

  1. Romans produced a sweeter, stronger and thicker wine

  2. it was made from grapes which were left to dry for a while after they were picked up

  3. it was usually mixed with water, honey (mulsum)

  4. it could be chilled with snow or ice, as Pliny did

  5. Cicero remarks that the Greeks called a party either "an eating-together" or a "drinking together" [symposium] as if food and drink were more important that "sharing lives" [convivium]

4.18 The Roman dining room: triclinium

  1. Three couches were arranged around the three sides of a table, with the fourth side left open for service by the slaves

  2. Three or more people would recline on each couch with their heads toward the table

  3. The women dined with the men, but often used chairs

4.18 Floor mosaic (copy, Vatican) -- Triclinium (Pompei)

4.18 The table napkins of the clients

  1. Romans ate with their hands

  2. Hand washings (with water and/or perfume) and wipings were frequent

  3. "Greeks ate with their hands too, but wiped them on pieces of bread" which were thrown to the floor (for the dogs)

  4. Romans sometimes brought their own napkins to dinner

  5. Martial complains of guests who brought large napkins (mappae) and filled them up with food

4.18 Sauces made with fish or wine

  1. garum and liquamen

  2. made from fish entrails, salted and aged (fermented)

  3. added to nearly all dishes (fish and meat)

  4. Recipe for garum: make a mixture of anchovies or mackerel, cover with salt. Leave it out for one night, then put it into a vessel which you place open in the sun for 2-3 months, stirring with a stick at intervals.

  5. defrutum: wine reduced to about one third of its original volume

  6. passum: a sweet wine additive, used as a honey substitute

4.18 Apicius's recipe book (1st? 5th? century CE)

  1. It includes the following exotic ingredients and recipes

  2. Flamingo or parrot with dates and other fruit

  3. Dormice, fed with walnuts and chestnuts or stuffed with pork, pinenuts, and liquamen

  4. The Italian word for "liver," fegato, is connected to "figs" because the Romans used to feed animals with figs, believing that this diet would make their livers larger and tastier

  5. Moray (raised and farmed in vivaria)

  6. Petronius's famous description of the dinner offered by rich Roman freedman Trimalchio, in the novel Satyricon, contains references to similar exotic dishes

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