super advanced course lesson 14. Mary Wollstonecraft. Intellectual

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MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT. LESSON 14 super advanced course

Wollstonecraft became part of a circles of radical intellectuals. Among them were a Swiss painter named Henry Fuseli. She was also welcomed cordially by Joseph Priestly. Priestly is best known for his discovery of oxygen. Mary was not fascinated by Science. What appealed to her about Joseph Priestly was his political radicalism and his Dissenting form of Christianity. She also met William Blake the artist, poet and radical. Most significantly she met William Godwin who was a radical writer and coffee house owner. This coterie of those of advanced opinions met at Joseph Johnson’s bookshop or Godwin’s coffeehouse. Even for the most broadminded people what she was doing was at the very least surprising. Mary herself wrote that she was, ”the first of a new genus” – a woman who earned her keep through her pen. In this sense she was a trailblazer for authoresses ever since.

Radicals of the time were coruscating about the artificiality of the establishment. The establishment’s support for systemic disparities in wealth and political sway as well as their taste for extravagant fashion all seemed deeply wrong to radicals. Radicali tended to favour reason. But there was a fissure in the radical movement. Should they reform society on rational lines or should they leave things to nature? Some radicals said that people are born good and it is human falsity that turns people bad. The best analogy is that or a garden. Some radicals preferred trees planted in straight lines with bushes carefully pruned and flowerbeds in neat rows. Others said a garden should be a wilderness. The very disorderliness of a garden was part of its untamed appeal. Mary Wollstonecraft favoured the rational and orderly garden over uncontrolled nature.

Mary became infatuated with an artist named Henry Fusseli. Fuseli found her captivating company but he did not like her clothes and coiffeur. He called her ‘a philosophical sloven’. She did not spend time on her hair or waste money on fashionable clothes. She was disinclined to fuss over looks anyway but this attitude was reinforced by what she had seen with Lady Kingsborough caring for little else besides appearance. She fell for Fusseli because of his cleverness and creativity. The trouble was the Fusseli was already married. She suggested living platonically with Fusseli and his wife. As you might guess Mrs Fusseli was aghast at the idea and demanded her husband stop seeing Mary. Mr Fusseli ended his dalliance with Mary. Miss Wollstonecraft was emotionally wounded. She moved to France to forget this heart breaking episode.

It was 1790 and Paris was by far the most exciting city in the world. The French Revolution had broken out the year before. It was a time of heady optimism and also of severe suffering. Mary published her Vindication of the Rights of Man. ‘Man’ was used to mean humankind in those days and not only to indicate to mean male adults as it is now. This was a riposte to Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France. Burke was an MP and anti-revolutionary. He had scorned the French Revolution as being destructive and foolishly predicated on abstract theorems. In her Vindication of the Rights of Man Mary offered an elucidation of why the revolution was desirable and indeed vital. Her invective against Edmund Burke’s opinions, to whom the book was addressed, caused a sensation in the UK. The MP for Bristol and one of the most prominent thinkers of the day was being given what for by a woman. Mary excoriated l’ancien regime as ”  profligates of rank emasculated by hereditary effeminacy. ” She noted the irony that those who like Burke demanded that the two sexes stay in their allotted gender roles championed such an effeminate system in France. She was making a name for herself as an outstanding polemicist.

Wollstonecraft was coruscating about Burke’s exaggerated compassion for the Queen of France, Marie Antoinette, in contrast to his cold heartedness towards millions of poverty stricken Frenchwomen, ” Misery to reach your heart, I perceive, must have its cap and bells; your tears are reserved, very naturally considering your character, for the declamation of the theatre, or for the downfall of queens, whose rank alters the nature of folly, and throws a graceful veil over vices that degrade humanity; whilst the distress of many industrious mothers, whose helpmates have been torn from them and the hungry cry of helpless babes, were vulgar sorrows that could not move your commiseration though they might extort alms.”

It was just typical of an 18th century conservative to feel compassion for the mightiest and most affluent yet to be merciless about the penniless. Burke wrote with pathos about inconveniences for the Shepherdess of Versailles (Marie-Antoniette) but could not find it in him to want to better the lot of malnourished children.

Thomas Paine moved to Paris at the same time as Mary Wollstonecraft. He had been involved in the American Revolution too and as he said with trademark understatement, ”I have lived to some purpose.” He too had been a schoolteacher and he was scathing about the Church of England. Mary agreed with his belief that radicals were duty-bound to assist revolutions in other countries because as Paine said, ”My country is the world and my religion is to do good.”

The next year her friend Tom Paine published the more pithily titled Rights of Man. It is often forgotten that Paine’s book was to a large extent a further articulation of arguments first developed in Wollstonecraft’s book.

In 1792 Mary published her epoch-making A Vindication of the Rights of Women. It took  moral courage on the part of Joseph Johnson to print something so tendentious. In 80 000 words she takes aim at male dominance, the undereducation of woman and the sophistry of using the Bible to support injustice. She was unsparing of members of her own sex, ”I have throughout supposed myself talking to ignorant women  – for ignorant ye are in the most emphatic sense of the word.” The very title of her book was in itself contentious. The notion that women had rights was doubted by traditionalists. Sir William Blackstone, the exalted British jurist, had said that when a woman married her rights were handed to her husband. She was to do with as he wished short of killing her. Wollstonecraft dismissed this as unjust and called it ”the divine right of hubands” which was as unreasonable and invidious as the divine right of kings.

Mary was unimpressed by French womanhood. In A Vindication of the Rights of Women she castigated Frenchwomen, ”  Personal reserve, sacred respect for cleanliness and delicacy in domestic life Frenchwomen almost despise.     ”

Mary was an enthusiast of the French Revolution. Indeed she dedicated a second edition of Vindication to Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord. Talleyrand was to rise to be Foreign Minister of France. She endeavoured to persuade this former Catholic bishop to make sex equality part of the Revolution’s programme. She achieved only temporary success in this regard.

Wollstonecraft was highly excited when France granted women the right to vote. Unfortunately for her this right was soon taken away. New Jersey in the United States also briefly experimented with women’s suffrage. She was optimistic that the world could move towards gender equality rapidly.

 

A Vindication of the Rights of Women is the seminal text of feminism. This book is what made Wollstonecraft’s name. The word feminism was not invented at the time. This book is not the originary text of feminism as many think. A Serious Proposal to the Ladies for the Advancement of their True and Greatest Interest (1694) by Mary Astell had foreshadowed the gravamen of Vindication.  Vindication nevertheless is an enthralling and trenchant critique of gender relations in the 18th century. Its orotund and polysyllabic style is typical of its day. Many sentences are over 50 words long and have several subordinate clauses. It is a text that demands full attention.

In A Vindication of the Rights of Women Wollstonecraft wrote at length about what education should and should not be given to women. She lamented the situation current to the 1790s, ” A girl condemned [is] to sit for hours together listening to idle chat of weak nurses, or to attend at her mother’s toilet, will endeavour to join the conversation, is, indeed, very natural; and that she will imitate her mother or aunts, and amuse herself by adorning her lifeless doll, as they do in dressing the poor innocent babe is undoubtedly a most natural consequence.     ” Back then ‘toilet’ meant a session of hair and makeup.

Mary castigated what passed for female education in her own day, ”A steady diet of novel reading interrupted by music and poetry, the whole undertaken in the cloying company of women much like herself of no education. All their thoughts turn on things calculated to excite the emotions, when they should reason and their conduct is unstable.” Wollstonecraft was not opposed to reading some fiction and poetry. What she disliked was creative subjects and works of imagination forming almost the entirety the female curriculum.  She called for women to learn more factual subjects including Mathematics and the Sciences. Incidentally she was not keen on these subjects herself but realised that they were vital. She acknowledged that women could not be blamed for being overly sentimental and flighty. They had been conditioned into that mode. She remarked than men too behave as they are taught to. She wrote that men who wrote on the education of women, ”from Rousseau to Dr Gregory have contributed to render women more artificial…to degrade one half of the human species and render women pleasing at the expense of all virtue.”

Women were not always taught the facts of life. Wollstonecraft held that they needed to be, ”No sensible mother will restrain the natural frankness of youth by instilling such indecent cautions.”

Wollstonecraft wrote that men ‘‘in the middle rank of life are prepared for the professions…whilst women on the contrary have no scheme to sharpen their faculties.” 

Wollstonecraft excoriated the way that women were trained to be vapid, ”   Men condescendingly use pretty feminine phrases to soften our slavish dependence and [make us have] weak elegancy of mind, exquisite sensibility and sweet docility of manners supposed to be the sexual characteristics of the weaker vessel. ” She said that women should be active and that girls should take exercise as part of their education. She described the male chauvinist view of women as being, ”Surely these weak creatures are fit only for the seraglio.” This allusion to a Turkish harem would have rammed home her point. Many Westerners viewed the Turks as licentious and decadent.

It was not enough to simply pour scorn on the extant miseducation of women. Wollstonecraft set out her stall on what sort of education she wished to institute, ”The most perfect education… is such an exercise of the understanding as is best calculated to strengthen the body and form the heart… to enable the individual to obtain habits of virtue as will render it independent.”

Wollstonecraft argued for faithful relationships. She slammed male philandering. She said women who gave birth unmarried should not be degraded. She also pleaded for compassion towards prostitutes. These luckless women were driven to that occupation by abject poverty. This in turn was caused by women being denied education and the chance of a decently paid job.

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman ranges far beyond education in its scope. She expresses a radical view on almost every issue. She voiced disapproval of monarchy. She predicted the monarchical backlash aided by the clerical authorities, ”       …an outcry – the Church or the State is in danger, if faith in the wisdom of antiquity is not implicit; and they who roused by the sight of human calamity dare to attack human authority are called despisers of God, and enemies of man. These are bitter calumnies.      ” She also criticised the irrationality of hereditary titles, ”After attacking the sacred majesty of kings, I shall scarcely excite surprise by adding my firm persuasion that every profession, in which great subordination of rank constitutes its power, is highly injurious to morality.”

La Nouvelle Heloise by Jean-Jacques Rousseau was one of the most popular novels of the day. Rousseaus’ retelling of the mediaeval romance of Eloise and Abelard was thought to be irresistibly romantic. Mary disliked his ‘back to nature’ radicalism. She felt he was foolish and irrational. He also called for women to be subordinated to the male sex. Wollstonecraft summed it up, ”Rosseau celebrates barbarism.”

Mary said men should not judge themselves by how men view them. This craving of male approbation made women obsess over their looks and neglect worthier subjects.

Mary was not necessarily against traditional family life, ”I do not mean to insinuate that women should be torn out of their families.”

Mary went so far as to suggest women should be allowed to become doctors. ”How many woman waste away who instead might have practised as physicians?” Within 65 years of her death a woman, Elizabeth Garret Anderson, was admitted to a medical school in the United Kingdom.

 

 

A Vindication of the Rights of Women enraged the political mainstream. For a woman to publish a book at all was not the done thing. Yet in this tome a middle class woman had launched an all out attack on the Settled Order of Things. The writer Horace Walpole savaged her as ”a hyena in petticoats.” Walpole, being the son of Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole, was a typical member of the Tory commentariat. Other unprintable epithets were applied to her. The Church of England denounced her as doubting the Bible. They cited verses in the Good Book that prescribed male mastery over the female. In Genesis Adam says ”This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.’‘ St Paul writes, ”  Wives submit to your husbands”

 

Mary went on a journey around Scandinavia. She took her baby and a nursemaid with her. A woman embarking on a journey of several months like this was bold in itself. She wrote a series of letters which were later published. They are entitled Letters from Sweden, Denmark and Norway. This epistolary evidence shows that she was still developing her feminist and political philosophy.  This was no idle holiday. She asked pertinent questions and closely observed the social system in each country. She looked for a better political model for her own country. She commented of Norway: ”        You will be surprised to hear me talk of liberty; yet the Norwegians appear to me to be the most free community I have ever observed”

Mary saw the consequences of shaming women for giving birth outside of matrimony. This was a subject close to her heart since she had two children whilst unmarried.  She wrote of a single mother being condemned to death for infanticide and then being spared by the King of Denmark. ”         At this town he pardoned a girl condemned to die for murdering an illegitimate child, a crime seldom committed in this country. She is since married, and become the careful mother of a family. This might be given as an instance, that a desperate act is not always a proof of an incorrigible depravity of character, the only plausible excuse that has been brought forward to justify the infliction of capital punishments   ”

Mary inquired into the Danish system of education and found it wanting: ”      All the children learn to read, write, and cast accounts, for the purposes of common life. They have no university; and nothing that deserves the name of science is taught; nor do individuals, by pursuing any branch of knowledge, excite a degree of curiosity which is the forerunner of improvement. Knowledge is not absolutely necessary to enable a considerable portion of the community to live; and, till it is, I fear it never becomes general. ” She was fair-minded enough to be critical too. She slammed Denmark for dominating Norway. Norway was then a vassal state of Denmark.

Whilst in Paris Mary began a romantic relationship with an American resident of Paris named Gilbert Imlay. He did not wish to marry. She was uninterested in marriage because she saw it was a system for enfeoffing women. She gave birth to Imlay’s daughter.

Imlay later left her and the baby. Mary was emotionally wiped out. She tried to take her own life using laudanam. When that failed she went to Putney Bridge in London in the dead of night. She wanted to make sure no one would see her and try to rescue her. Having left careful written instructions for the upbringing of her child she then leapt into the River Thames. She was seen and saved by a passerby. She then lifted out of her severe depression. She rekindled her friendship with William Godwin. Politically they were of one mind. Their friendship blossomed into an intimate relationship. She became pregnant by Godwin and they chose to marry. Some of Godwin’s friends deprecated him for this because he had previously spoken out against matrimony and an outdated and oppressive institution. In August 1797 Mary gave birth to her second daughter who was named Mary Godwin. Unfortunately Mary Wollstonecraft caught puerperal fever. This was a perinatal illness. She died ten days later. She is interred in St Pancras Old Cemetery, London. Her grave was neglected for over a century. In recent times it has been restored and is a place of pilgrimage by her countless admirers.

 

Mary Wollstonecraft was an outstanding teacher and a brilliant governess. It is a pity that she did not stay in these professions for longer. What made her such a superb educator? She was ardent in her quest for truth and justice. Her pupils held her in awe. She was personable, energetic and brave. These are qualities that stand any governor, governess or tutor in good stead today.

After her death Mary Wollstonecraft was largely forgotten for a century. Those who campaigned for greater rights for women tended not to mention her even if they were conscious of the tremendous contribution she had made to the furtherance of female rights. People felt that citing Wollstonecraft would not assist the advancement of women. She was regarded as too controversial even for a radical movement. Her scepticism about religion was seen as being counterproductive to feminism. Feminism had plenty of enemies and did not need any more. The fact that she had cohabited with a man and had a child with him was regarded as scandalous in puritanical society.

Her daughter went on to run away with Shelley despite Shelley being married to Harriet at the time. Like mother, like daughter! After Harriet committed suicide over this abandonment Mary Godwin married the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Therefore Wollstonecraft’s daughter is remembered as Mary Shelley. Mary Shelley published Frankenstein.

Mary Wollstonecraft . advanced course lesson 13

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Mary Wollstonecraft. super advanced course lesson 13.

In A Vindication of the Rights of Women Wollstonecraft wrote about an unnamed woman of high birth. It was almost certainly Lady Kingsborough, ”       I once knew a weak woman of fashion who was more than commonly proud of her delicacy and sensibility. She thought a distinguishing taste and puny appetite the height of all human perfection, and acted accordingly.   I have seen this weak, sophisticated being neglect all duties yet recline with complacency on a sofa and boast of her want of appetite as a proof of delicacy that extended to or perhaps arose from her sensibility. ” This vaunted virtue of ”Sensibility” is what we would call sensitivity or an asthetic sense.

Mary travelled with the family as they  went to their country seat – a castle in Mitchelstown, Co Cork. There she and Margaret visited the needy to distribute food. The severity of poverty there awakened her social conscience anew. William Godwin wrote of this: ”   The then distressing condition of the labouring population in Ireland made the luxuries and silly affectations of the rich doubly noticeable. In Ireland Mary saw for herself the poverty of the peasantry. Margaret was allowed to visit the poor, and she accompanied her on her charitable rounds. The almost bestial squalor in which these people lived was another cruel contrast to the pampered existence led by the dogs at the Castle. ”

Mary Wollstonecraft was a woman who hungered for knowledge and was very receptive to new notions. It is incongruous then that she demonstrated so little curiosity about Ireland. All around her in Mitchelstown were people who practised a different form of Christianity, Catholicism and who spoke another language, Irish. The indigenous people of Ireland had folk music, traditional dances and lore that was distinct from Wollstonecraft’s homeland. Pitiably, she did not learn from this. She had been brought up a fervent Protestant and may have associated Catholicism with absolute monarchy. Here her xenophilia failed her. This perhaps explains her incuriosity towards the Catholic majority.

Long after she left Ireland she remained in touch with her pupils by letter. Mary letter wrote how elated she was to receive a letter from her former pupil Mary: ”I had, the other clay, the satisfaction of again receiving a letter from my poor dear Margaret. With all the mother’s fondness, I could transcribe a part of it. She says, every day her affection to me, and dependence on heaven, increase, &c. I miss her innocent caresses, and sometimes indulge a pleasing hope that she may be allowed to cheer my childless age, if I am to live to be old. At any rate, I may hear of the virtues I may not contemplate.  ”

She continued to be an agony aunt for her pupils years after she had left them. This sort of ‘after sales service’ is what the finest tutors offer. The fact that she did all this gratis proves that she acted as a governess out of devotion to her pupils and not for any monetary reward.

Mary Wollstonecraft also explained the values which she strove to inculcate into her wards: ”       I aim at perspicuity and simplicity of style; and try to avoid those unmeaning compliments, which slip from the tongue, but have not the least connexion with the affections that should warm the heart, and animate the conduct.  By this false politeness, sincerity is sacrificed, and truth violated; and thus artificial manners are necessarily taught. For true politeness is a polish, not a varnish; and should rather be acquired by observation than admonition.  And we may remark, by way of illustration, that men do not attempt to polish precious stones, till age and air have given them that degree of solidity, which will enable them to bear the necessary friction, without destroying the main substance.        ” These are sound precepts to be replicated by any modern tutor.

Original Stories from Real Life is a captivating collection of tales. The twenty-five stories are all brief but the vocabulary would not be considered challenging especially  for a child. Here is an example of some of a sentence with some rare and long words that Wollstonecraft used: ”   You would blush if I were to discover that you told a lie; yet wantonly forfeit the favour of Him, from whom you have received life and all its blessings, to screen yourselves from correction or reproof, or, what is still worse, to purchase some trifling gratification, the pleasure of which would last but a moment.    ”

They are exquisitely composed with much atmospheric development. Here is a case in point: ”          The sun had scarcely dispelled the dew that hung on every blade of grass, and filled the half-shut flowers; every prospect smiled, and the freshness of the air conveyed the most pleasing sensations to Mrs. Mason’s mind; but the children were regardless of the surrounding beauties, and ran eagerly after some insects to destroy them.     ” This is the sort of lengthy sentence that was at the height of fashion in 18th century literature.

The weakness of these stories, from a 21st century viewpoint, is that there is too much reported speech. It is not quite clear what is reported speech and what is direct quotation since she did not used speech marks. There is little dialogue to vivify the narrative. In spite of the difficult lexis these stories are worth persevering with. These tales feature well got children. Characters called Mrs Mason and her two daughters Mary and Caroline are in most of them. There are also some talking animals: ”real life” indeed!

The fact that she penned such tales demonstrates what an outstanding and dedicated governess she was. A good tutor should be creative and craft teaching materials specifically for his or her pupils. This is what makes the differences from the child being taught by a teacher in a school who had 20 other pupils in the class and 100 other pupils in other classes. Mary Wollstonecraft was also furnishing her pupils with a most laudable example of endeavour and invention.

Whilst residing in Ireland she wrote  Thoughts on the Education of daughters.  It was printed by Joseph Johnson in London. Johnson was a man of reforming opinions and was well-known in forward thinking circles. In this book Mary Wollstonecraft took aim at the books of two Protestant clergymen Dr Fordyce and Dr Gregory. The learned doctors had both published books on female education. Wollstonecraft agreed with them that self-regard and superficiality were to be shunned by women. However, the traditional Christian view of the role of women was also rejected by Mary. She argued that it was foolish and unfair to confine women to the domestic sphere since womankind had an immense contribution to make to the wider world.

Mary Wollstonecraft made ten guineas profit from her Thoughts on the Education of daughters. With characteristic munificence she gave that money to Fanny Blood’s family in spite of that fact that Mary owed money to others. She was trying to assist the Blood family in transmigrating to Ireland.

Lady Kingsborough was not a perceptive woman but even she noticed that Mary was having a hard time hiding her contempt. Mary Wollstonecraft left the employ of Lady Kingsborough. She had spent a little over a year in Hibernia when she decided to resign from her job as a governess. The year was 1787. She devoted herself to a literary career. This was an audacious decision for a man. But for a woman it was brave if not foolhardy. As she had observed in Thoughts on the Education of daughters an educated woman had to be autodidactic since all institutions of higher learning were closed to females. She did not and could not belong to a profession. If her career as a writer was not financially viable then she had nothing to fall back on. Some publishers would refuse to print her work no matter how superb simply because of her sex. As she aged people would be less and less minded to take her on as a governess or companion. Furthermore, the only other option was to marry. As she reached the age of 30 she was considered far too old to marry.

Mary published Mary: A Fiction. The fact that she chose her own name as the title of this ‘fiction’ suggests that it is scarcely fiction at all. This bildungsroman does not quite follow the particulars of her life but the emotional journey is the same. A bourgeois British woman who has feminist beliefs, intellectual gifts and plenty of self-assurance takes on the world. She leaves her miserable marriage and devotes herself to helping the penurious.

Mary taught herself French and German. This was a splendid feat considering she never ventured to either France or Germany. She worked as a translator. She translated Of the importance of Religious Opinions by Jacques Necker. Necker was a man whose name was on everyone’s lips. Necker had lately be Comptroller-General of France (Finance Minister). His financial mismanagement had led France to revolution. Necker’s daughter was the patroness of the arts Germaine de Staelle who later to lived in London. It was a coup for Mary to be commissioned to translate a book by such an eminent personage. This seemed to be invective against marriage. It also demonstrates Wollstonecraft’s growing social conscience. She had not previously been so exercised by the fate of the poorest.

Mary started to make waves in literary London. She dined with Thomas Paine. This British-American revolutionary had opinions that struck a chord with her. His lucid and plain speaking pamphlet Common Sense had been the pamphlet that did as much to win the American Revolution than the Continental Army.  She also met William Godwin who was a radical philosopher and bookseller.

super advanced course. lesson 12. Mary Wollstonecraft early life

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MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT lesson 12. super advanced course

Mary Wollstonecraft is best known as the mother of feminism. However, she also spent some years working as a private tutor.

Wollstonecraft was born in the United Kingdom in 1759. She grew up in Epping Forest which was then considered to be just outside London. (Epping Forest is now part of London). She was raised in a middle class family and had two sisters and three brothers. They briefly moved to Yorkshire where her father managed a farm. Mary found the country air and open space a welcome change form the fetid streets of London. Her father was unsuccessful at running the farm whereupon they returned to the capital.  Her family had ample money at the beginning. However, her father frittered it away on unwise investments. The family then lived in much reduced circumstances. They had few luxuries but plenty of books. A book in itself was a luxury for most people. Bear in mind that in the 18th century a little over half of the population was literate. Some of them were literate only to the very lowest level. Working class children attended what were called ‘ragged schools’ if they attended school at all. Ragged schools were free of charge and were provided by churches and other charities. In a ragged school a woman would teach perhaps 50 children in a large room with no facilities or visual aids. She would write on a blackboard and they would copy with chalk on slates. They had no copy books. They did more reading than writing. Some children came out of them able to read but unable to write. Mary Wollstonecraft was fortunate enough to attend a decent fee paying school.

Mary’s father was a heavy drinker. His dypsomania and financial mismanagement led him to beat his wife. Domestic violence was widely accepted at the time. The authorities would never intervene in such a case. It was regarded as a family affair. An English judge had even ruled that a man was entitled to hit his wife with a stick provided that the stick was not thicker than that man’s thumb. Hence the phrase ‘a rule of thumb’. Mary intervened to try to protect her mother from her father’s drunken rages. She began to see the horror that gender inequality inflicted on women.

Mary’s sister Eliza married a man who turned out to be abusive. Eliza seemed to suffer postpartum depression. On the other hand it may have been ordinary depression and an episode happened to occur not long after the gave birth. It is possible that there was a depressive gene in the family. Mary helped her sister in eloping and living independently. Eliza lived in relative penury but she was at least free from the savage beatings that had been meted out to her by her tyrannical husband.

Mary had a dear friend named Jane Arden. Mary started to spent a great deal of time with the Arden family. She was introduced to an intellectual atmosphere. She studied Philosophy enthusiastically. Mary’s correspondence with Arden demonstrated her growing intellectual curiosity and self-confidence. They also show her as emotionally volatile. She was up and down like a yoyo. Like many highly creative people she may have been a manic depressive.

A bluestocking was an expression for a bookish woman. It was not necessarily a compliment. By her teens Mary had marked herself out as a bluestocking. It was an expression that lasted into the 20th century.

Mary accepted a job as a lady’s companion. She was aged 19 and her new employer Mrs Sarah Dawson was much older. This was a job where she would spend time with an affluent woman and provide her with intelligent conversation. It was a step above being a servant. It was a job offered to a well read and mannerly unwed young woman from a family without much money. Mary moved to Bath to work for Mrs Dawson whose husband had died not long before.

Mary found Mrs Dawson to be moody and unreasonable. She strove to maintain relations with her employer but it proved impossible. After two years she left. She returned to London. Her mother was terminally ill. Mary nursed her mother in her final months.

Mary tried to found all female community. She and her friend would buy a house and rent out rooms. Her scheme was a financial failure.

Later she and her friend Miss Frances Blood founded a school in a Dissenting community called Newington Green. Newington Green (now called Stoke Newington) was a town a few miles north of London. Dissenters were Protestants who were not members of the Church of England. They were called Dissenters because they dissented from the church as by law established (the Church of England). Dissenters were Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists etc…

Mary had high hopes for her school and believed that she and her friend could subside on a small income, ”  With economy we can live on a guinea a week and that we can earn with ease. ”  A guinea was a pound and a shilling.  James Burgh was a Dissenting minister of religion who ran another school nearby. His campaign for parliamentary reform piqued Mary’s interest. The foremost figure in Newington Green was Dr Richard Price. Dr Price was renowned or notorious, depending on one’s view, for his outspoken support for the American and French Revolutions. Dr Price became a sort of father figure for Mary Wollstonecraft. Her own father had been a violent sot. Wollstonecraft had initially been animated by a desire to improve education but in Newington Green she became fascinated by the notion of a general reformation of society.

Frances Blood was known as Fanny Blood at the time. The word ‘fanny’ had no vulgar meaning in English at that time. Frances Blood then married Mr Skeys. They couple moved to Portugal. She became pregnant and suffered ill health during her pregnancy. Wollstonecraft left her school and went to Portugal to care for her friend. Frances Blood died and the school failed. The death of her bosom companion hit Mary Wollstonecraft very hard.

Miss Wollstonecraft then decided to write a novel. She published Mary: A Fiction. She was commended for her penmanship. This was despite many people being prejudiced against female writers at the time. This story was inspired by the death of her friend Frances Blood.

In 1786 Mary Wollstonecraft then spent some time living with Mr Prior who was a teacher at Eton College. During her few weeks at Eton Mary came to know a good deal about the school. She was astonished that the most celebrated school in the British Empire provided an indifferent education. Class sizes were huge. Attendance at most lessons was optional. Boys learned classical texts off by heart. Those who were brainy, motivated could do well from this sort of teaching. Others who learned best by different methods were neglected. The slower boys and the less hard working ones achieved precious little. There was a lot of showing off and games seemed to be more honoured than scholarship. Bullying was widespread and unchecked. The older boys were allowed ‘fags’ which meant making unpaid servants of the younger ones. The idea was that this would regulate and reduce bullying. There was a laudable aim in all this. Most pupils came from moneyed or even landed families. By acting as a fag these boys would come to know what it was to be a servant. They would have to polish someone else’s shoes, cook for him, act as a courier and run other errands. In this way a high born child would develop some fellow feeling for the lower orders. This might induce him to be kinder to those born less fortunate.

Mr Prior  found a post for her as a governess to Viscount Kingsborough’s children in Ireland. Mary thought carefully about accepting the job. In Mary Wollstonecraft William Godwin wrote: ”  The salary would be forty pounds a year, out of which she calculated she could pay her debts and then assist Mrs. Bishop. But she would lose her independence, and would expose herself to the indifference or contempt then the portion of governesses”

 

Lord Kingsborough was the son of the Earl of  Kingston who was one of the most consequential aristocrats in Ireland. Wollstonecraft sailed to Dublin. The Kingsboroughs were part of the English speaking Protestant ruling elite. Mary found Lady Kingsborough’s family difficult to work for. Despite this Mary got along famously with the daughters of the family. Her method of teaching was by winning the hearts of her little pupils. One of her pupils went on to marry one of the leading noblemen in Ireland; the Earl of Mount-Cashel.

The Kingdom of Ireland was then internally independent. The King of Ireland was George III, the same man who was King of Great Britain. No portion of Ireland was not at that time part of the United Kingdom. The Catholic majority preponderated in the countryside and many of them spoke Irish and not English. The Protestant minority (perhaps 25% of the population) mostly dwelt in the cities and in the north-east corner of the country. Despite the example of the American Revolution a few years before Ireland was tranquil. The Irish Volunteers, an exclusively Protestant organisation, had campaigned for legislative independence for their kingdom and achieved it. Catholic separatism was had not yer emerged as a force. Dublin was very similar to England. Dublin was the second city of the British Empire and it central streets and main squares were handsome and orderly.  Despite this there was squalor in the poorer areas of the city. It was the countryside that was more distinctively Irish. The tenants led a freer and healthier life than the denizens of the cities. The country folk showed a remarkable attachment to education despite their limited means.

It was not an easy start for her as a governess. William Godwin, her first biographer, takes up the narrative: ”      Towards the end of the month arrived at the castle of Lord Kingsborough in Mitchelstown. Her first impressions were gloomy. But, indeed, her depression and weakness were so great, that she looked at all things, as if through a glass, darkly. Her sorrows were still too fresh to be forgotten in idle curiosity about the inhabitants and customs of her new home. Even if she had been in the best of spirits, her arrival at the castle would have been a trying moment. It is never easy for one woman to face alone several of her sex, who, she knows, are waiting to criticise her. There were then staying with Lady Kingsborough her step-mother and her three un-married step-sisters and several guests. Governesses in this household had fared much as companions in Mrs. Dawson’s. They had come and gone in rapid succession. Therefore Mary was examined by these ladies much as a new horse is inspected by a racer, or a new dog by a sportsman. She passed through the ordeal successfully… ”

Mary was a super raconteur. She spun many tales for the children in her charge. She later put these stories of her own invention into a collection. She published them as Original Stories from Real Life in 1788.  The full title is more revealing”Original Stories from Real Life with conversations calculated to regulate affections and form the mind to truth and goodness.” It was typical of the 18th century to have such a long winded title. In the preface Mary outlined something of her own educational theory: ”      The Conversations are intended to assist the teacher as well as the pupil; and this will obviate an objection which some may start, that the sentiments are not quite on a level with the capacity of a child.  Every child requires a different mode of treatment; but a writer can only choose one, and that must be modified by those who are actually engaged with young people in their studies. ”

Mary’s initial impression of the children was not good either. She wrote to her sister: ”The children are, literally speaking, wild Irish, unformed and not very pleasing ; but you shall have a full and true account, my dear girl, in a few days”

She was at least  pleased with their erudition. She wrote of the daughters of the house: ”    …but these girls understand several languages, and have read cartloads of history…  ”

Wollstonecraft came to be very close with the children. They were neglected by Viscountess Kingsborough who cared more for her hounds than her offspring. William  Godwin wrote of Mary’s time in Dublin: ”Three were given into her charge. At first she thought them not very pleasing, but after a better acquaintance she grew fond of them. The eldest, Margaret, afterwards Lady Mountcashel was then fourteen years of age. She was very talented, and a ”sweet girl” as Mary called her in a letter to Mrs. Bishop. She became deeply attached to her new governess, not with the passing fancy of a child, but with a lasting devotion. The other children also learned to love her, but being younger there was less friendship in their affection. They were afraid of their mother, who lavished her caresses upon her dogs, until she had none left for them. Therefore, when Mary treated them affectionately and sympathised with their interests and pleasures, they naturally turned to her and gave her the love which no one else seemed to want. That this was the case was entirely Lady Kingsborough’s fault, but she resented it bitterly, and it was later a cause of serious complaint against the too competent governess. The affection of her pupils, which was her principal pleasure during her residence in Ireland.”

This was Mary Wollstonecraft’s first encounter with the nobility. She was not impressed. Lady Kingsborough had never done a day’s work in her life. She had never had to exercise her body or mind. She frittered away her time on trivialities and was full of ‘woe is me.’ She was overindulged and had never been stood up to or required to accomplish anything. Aristocratic drones earned Mary’s deepest scorn. The leisured classes idled away their time on ostentation and excess. Lady Kingsborough’s lassitude led to mental atrophy. Her opulent lifestyle gave her only dissatisfaction.

Mary wrote to her siblings, ” You cannot conceive what dissapated lives the women of quality lead. Five hours do many, I assure you, spend in dressing without making preparations for bed, washing with milk of Roses etc…”

Lady Kingsborough’s self-obsession and her fixation with her appearance disturbed Mary. It seemed to sum up all that was wrong with society. This aristocrat spoke only about ”matrimony and dress” according to Mary. It was such a bland lifestyle. At the same time this noblewoman was indifferent to the privation of children outside her castle gate. Wollstonecraft was disgusted at the vulgarity, self-pity and willful ignorance of the undeserving rich.

Super advanced course lesson 5. Alexander the Great

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Super advanced course lesson 5

ALEXANDER THE GREAT.

Alexander the Great was born in Macedonia in 356 BC. His father was King Philip II of Macedonia. In Ancient Greek Alexander means ”defender of men”. Alexander the Great is sometimes called Alexander of Macedon. Macedon is an old name for Macedonia.

Macedonia was a kingdom at the northern edge of Greece.  Greece was divided into many countries at the time but they all spoke Greek and they all worshipped the same gods. Macedonia was considered hardly Greek by those Greeks who lived in southern Greece. Southern Greeks sometimes looked down on the Macedonians as being semi-barbarian.

Alexander was tutored by Aristotle. Aristotle was the most celebrated philosopher of the era. He taught Alexander that a king should be a philosopher. He also persuaded his pupil that force could create an empire but only trade could keep it together.

Philip II was a great warrior king. He was assassinated when Alexander the Great was 18.  Alexander executed some of his relatives who could stake a claim to the throne. Alexander proceeded to conquer Greece and unite it under him. Alexander rode on this campaign on a horse he named Bucephalas – meaning ”ox faced”. His faithful steed was his mount for the next dozen years.

The Persian Empire was then at its zenith. Persia (Iran) was the heart of this empire. The Persian Empire included what we now call Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. It was very mighty.

Alexander the Great resolved to conquer Persia. He set out from Greece and landed in Asia Minor (Turkey). They crosed at the Hellespont which is Istanbul. Alexander then confronted the Persian Army. He fought the Battle of Granicus. The Greeks were heavily outnumbered but Alexander used superior tactics. He used phalanxes. This meant tight formations of men with very long pikes. These pikes were typically 6 m long – longer than any other spears of the enemy. He had them in a jagged formation. He also used cavalry with very audacious tactics. He led many charges. The fact that Alexander of Macedon led from the front inspired confidence in his men. It was also a great gamble. If he was killed his army would be rendered leaderless. The pikes his phalanxes carried were heavy. They had disadvantages since they were no good for fighting in confined spaces such as narrow streets or forests. They made advancing slow and manuevring tricky. Alexander required his men to drill a lot so as to perfect various moves.

Alexander marched through Asia Minor and took more territory. When cities surrendered to him without a fight he did not sack them. He allowed them self-rule within his empire. People came to see that he would not harm them so they were therefore unwilling to rebel. He besieged Halicarnassus (now called Bodrum). He eventually took the city. He fought several minor battles in the hills of Asia Minor. In one of these his life was saved by his shield bearer. In Asia Minor he came to the city of Gordian. There was a rope there that was tied in a knot that was so tight and complex that it seemed impossible unknot it. It was said that whoever could untie the Gordian Knot would be the rule of all Asia. Alexander at once drew his sword and chopped through the knot. No one had thought that was fair before. His lateral thinking showed his decisive and impetuous nature. He would attack problems.

In 333 BC Alexander was considered such a grave threat to the Persian Empire that the Emperor Darius himself decided that he better lead his army against the Greeks. This would be a morale booster to his men. But is was also a great risk. If he failed he could not blame a subordinate. Moreover, if he was killed or captured it would spell catastrophe much more so than an ordinary defeat. They fought the Battle of Issos. Alexander emerged victorious. Darius escaped by chariot.

Alexander then laid siege to the city of Tyre in Syria. The city eventually capitulated. The men were put to the sword. The women were sold into servitude. He passed through Palestine and is mentioned in the Bible.

Alexander invaded Egypt. He did not just spend time in the Nile Valley. He travelled to the oasis of Siwa. The oracle there said he was the son of Amun – the main god. Alexander decided that Amun – the chief Egyptian god was the same as Zeus. Zeus was King of the gods in Greek mythology. In the Ancient Greek religion gods married women and goddesses married men. This meant that demigods were descended from them. Many Greek royal families staked a claim to a divine ancestress or ancestor. Greek influence was to last centuries in Egypt.

In 331 BC Alexander left Egypt and marched back into the Persian Empire. Darius decided to make a last stand against the Greeks. It was his final chance to preserve his empire. They fought the Battle of Gaugumela. Again the Greeks carried the day. Darius fled. He ran away from his empire. Alexander captured some of Darius’s female relatives. Darius’ kinswomen were treated honourably.

The Greeks took the city of Persepolis. This was the ceremonial capital of Persia. Alexander allowed his troops to loot the treasury. They had been campaigning for years. Many had been killed. Those who survived had mostly been wounded at least once. They deserved a reward for their courage and suffering. They stayed there for five months. The palace of Xerxes was burnt down. It is suspected the Greeks did this as a pay back to the Persians who had burnt the Athenian temple of the Acropolis when they had conquered Greece two centuries before.

After five months rest it was time to set out. He was hellbent on fresh conquests. He marched his army into Tajikistan and Afghanistan. He marched his hardy warriors over snowcapped peaks. They went through modern Pakistan and into India. Alexander’s constant companion was Haphaestion.

Darius was stabbed to death by the potentate giving him refuge. Alexander recovered the body of Darius. Alexander showed his mercy by allowing the body of his late enemy to be interred with honour beside the tombs of Darius’ kinsfolk. Alexander respected Persian culture and adopted Persian clothes. Some Greeks disapproved of this. As a means of achieving reconciliation he wed a Persian princess – Roxana. He also married one of Darius’s daughter. He had a few concubines. He had some children but none lived to adulthood.

Alexander even defeated the Scythians. They were nomad horsemen. They lost the Battle of Jaxartes to Alexander’s phalanxes. The Scythians lived in what we now call Tajikistan.

In India Alexander fought a magnate called Porus.  He defeated Porus at the Battle of Hydaspes in 326 BC. This was despite King Porus having elephants in his army. The pikes of the phalanxes could kill the mahouts. The elephants would not run onto the pikes. The men in the phalanxes held their nerve and did not break and run. That was what Porus had been banking on.

At this point Alexander’s men had had enough. Alexander talked of carrying on into China – the limit of the known world. Alexander broke down and wept because soon there would be no land left to conquer. However, the soldiers were thoroughly fed up. For years and years they had been marching east. They had endured endless hardships and achieved numerous victories. WOuld it ever come to an end? They just wanted to go home and see their families. They threatened a mutiny. Alexander gave in and consented to return home.

Alexander left a general named Antipater in charge of Greece in his absence. Antipater sent messages to Alexander. Alexander was so far away that these took months for horsemen to deliver. It was hard to locate him because he was campaigning so much. Olympias, Alexander’s mother, was still alive. She and Antipater were not in sympathy and often sparred. Alexander sent back booty that he had sequestered from lands that he had subjugated.

On his return journey to Greece he found out that some satraps – governors – he had appointed had behaved appallingly. Some had been cruel and others had robbed their subjects. He had some punished with death.

He fell ill in Babylon and died at the Palace of Nebuchadnezzar. He was put into a sarcophagus. His body was to be transported back to Greece for interment in a suitably magnificent mausoluem. However, Ptolemey seized the body. Ptolemey was Alexander’s general who had been appointed governor of Egypt. Ptolemey took the sarcophagus to Egypt and had his king buried in a marvellous tomb at Alexandria. His tomb was later vandalised and it is not known where his remains ended up. A son also named Alexander was born just after Alexander the Great died. However, the child died in infancy.

Alexandria is named in honour of Alexander the Great – so it Iskanderun, Alexandretta, Sikanderabad, Secunderabad and many other cities. His name is known in many languages. It is Sikander in Pakistan. Fair-skinned people in the mountains of Pakistan claim descent from him. Many legends grew up around him. He is seen as having been wise and triumphant. Mediaeval tales had him going to the bottom of the ocean in a diving bell.

Julius Caesar saw a bust of Alexander in Gades (Cadiz) when Julius was 33. He is said to have cried because Alexander had conquered the known world already by an age younger than Caesar was then.

After Alexander’s death his empire split up. Various generals carved out fiefdoms for themselves. The Ptolemey dynasty was started in Egypt by his general and continued to reign for three centuries.

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1. In which year was Alexander the Great born?

2. In which part of Greece was he born?

3. Who was his father?

4. Who was his mother?

5. What did Greeks have in common before unification?

6. What happened to Philip II?

7. How was Alexander the Great ruthless?

8. What does Alexander mean?

9. What was his first victory over the Persians?

10. Which modern countries comprised Persia?

11. Who was the emperor of Persia?

12. What did Alexander say about AMun?

13. Which philosopher was his tutor?

14. What was Darius’ last battle?

15. What is a phalanx?

16. Which country did Alexander invade that later formed part of the USSR?

17. Which Indian king did Alexander defeat?

18. Which Asian country was his ultimate goal?

19. Why did Alexander turn around?

20. WHat is your opinion of him? (6)

super advanced course lesson 4. Rome. the army and emperors

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Super advanced course lesson 4. Rome – the army and emperors.

THE ARMY

Once a year all Roman men had to gather atop a hill. Those who were able bodied were selected for military service.

The Romans at first had an army with cavalry from the eques. Older men were triarii – that mean pike men. They were slower moving and were at the rear of the battle array. There were some men who were skirmishers known as vanatorii (”hunters”). They fought spaced out in front. They had a short sword and a bow and arrow. They had to be very fast moving. Most men were princeps and hastaii. They had a long shield, a short sword and two javelins.

The Roman Army was divided into legions. A soldier was called a legionary. It is related to the word ‘liga’ meaning bond. They were bound together. This word liga gives us words like league, ligament and religion.

Later military reforms got rid of the skirmishers and the pike men. All infantry became men with a long shield, a short sword and two javelins. One javelin was light and one was heavy. The metal on the javelin was partly tempered and partly not. If a javelin hit an enemy shield it would bend. It could not be taken out of the shield. The shield became an unwieldy encumbrance and the enemy soldier usually dropped it.

Roman armour was excellent. It covered the important parts of the body without being too heavy. Roman legionaries had a way of fitting their shields together to form a tortoise. That meant they could not be stabbed from the front, the back, the sides or the top.

About 100 soldiers were led by a centurion. His rank is related to ‘centus’ meaning a hundred. Six centuries made up a cohort. The cohorts made up a legion of 6 000 infantry. There were also a few hundred cavalry in a legion. In reality legions were almost always under strength. The legion had a standard that was carried into battle. The legions wanted to protect it. It represented the honour of the legion. If the enemy captured the standard the legion would try very hard to get it back. The Romans did not have flags. A standard would be a symbol like an eagle.

The standard like so many Roman objects had the letters SPQR on it meaning ‘the Senate and People of Rome.’

There were auxiliary units of non-Roman citizens. These were from friendly peoples and tribes. They often used different weapons and tactics from the Romans.

The Romans numbered their legions I, II, III, IIII, V and so on. Note that the Romans usually wrote four as IIII and not IV.

One campaign the Roman Army built a fort for every night. That was even with a small trench and a wooden palisade. Sentries were posted all night. A sentry who fell asleep on duty was severely beaten by his comrades since he had endangered their lives.

If a unit ran away and they were later captured then they were decimated. That means one man in ten was executed at random.

The Romans were superb at siege warfare. They could undermine walls. They had a battering ram on wheels with a roof of animal hides to protect the soldiers operating the battering ram. The Romans also built siege towers on wheels. These would be taller than the walls of the city of fortress to be stormed.

Catapults were built. These were very powerful.

There was also a Roman Navy. The sailors sailed the ships and did not fight. The marines fought and did not sail it. The marines fired arrows and catapults. The catapults sometimes fired burning objects. They also had a bridge with a spike that could be lowered onto a nearby enemy ship allowing the marines to walk across and fight with swords and shields. Roman ships were galleys. They had sails but they also had banks of oars underneath. A trireme had three banks (levels) of oars. A quinqureme had five banks of oars. The more oars the faster it went. BUT bigger ships were expensive and less manueverable.

The oarsmen were galley slaves. It was a horrific life. They were whipped if they did not row fast enough. They were chained to the ship to prevent escape. If they ship sank so did they.

The navy was as suspicious as the rest of society. One fleet carried some supposedly sacred chickens. If the chickens ate when food was offered this signaled good luck for the Roman Navy. Before a battle these chickens once refused to eat. The admiral grew irate and threw the chickens into the sea saying ‘if they will not eat let them drink.’ He lost the battle. The admiral was demoted not for losing but for impiety.

The prows of captured warships were displayed in the Forum Romanum. This was a place for public speeches. It was called ‘rostrum’ meaning ‘prows’. To this day a platform for making a public speech is called a rostrum.

The Romans gradually conquered Italy. Nearby peoples learnt Latin. The Romans allowed people in the rest of Italy to become Roman citizens. In time in areas beyond Italy some people became Roman citizens.

 

ARCHITECTURE

The Romans were very advanced at architecture and engineering. They built multistorey buildings including blocks of flats. They did not have lifts.

Some palaces and the colosseum were enormous. They needed to supply water to these buildings and to Rome in general. They built aqueducts to bring water from the nearby hills. Water only flows downhill. Therefore the aqueducts had to slope very slightly down for miles. They water flowed from pipes 24/7. Much of it went down the drain. This water was wasted because the Romans did not have taps. It did not occur to them to turn off the flow of water. Why? That is because rivers cannot be turned off. No one had thought of inventing a way to stop the flow and store the water.

Some Roman buildings still stand today well over 2 000 years after they were built. Le Pont de Gars in France is an aqueduct that is now used as a bridge.

The Romans even had underfloor heating. This was not needed in Rome itself because it is not very cold even in winter. It was needed in northern reaches of the empire.

The Romans built public lavatories. There were separate ones for men and women. Men sat down as well as women. There was no pissoir. There were no cubicles. Therefore people were right beside to each other and could chat.

There were public baths. This was more like a swimming pool. There would be a hot room and a cold room. People went for massages and had the oil scraped off. People bathed in the nude so there were separate sections for men and women. The baths were free. This was the only way many people could wash.

The Romans had theatres for dramatic performances. They watched tragedies and comedies. They had clowns.

Some edifices were jerry built. These were liable to collapse. The poor often lived in such houses.

A Roman town by the Bay of Naples is called Pompeii. A volcanic eruption covered it in deadly ash. They people of the town died. The town was buried under ash. It was perfectly preserved for centuries until excavated in the 19th century.

The Roman soldiers built roads. They hated doing it. It was laborious and dull. Therefore roads were as short as possible. They would build over a hill even if that meant walking this route was slower than if the road had been built to avoid the hill. The roads were dead straight to minimise the road’s length. The roads were so well built that some still exist over 2 000 years later.

The roads made travel on foot or by horse much faster. It was said that all roads led to Rome.

Slaves were sent to deliver letters. There was no postal service.

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EMPIRE

 

The Roman Empire spread beyond Italy. In the 3rd century AD it stretched into Gaul (France) and Spain. They invented the word Spain (Hispania). The Romans divided the empire into provinces.  They conquered the Adriatic Coast.

The Romans fought the Carthaginians. The Carthaginians were descended from the Phoenecians. The wars against them were called the Punic Wars. Punic is related to Phoeniecian. In the end the Romans won.

Carthage was taken by the Romans. It was demolished. Its soil was sown with salt so nothing would grow.

After the Punic Wars the Romans had a Social War. Two factions fought each other. They were the Optimates and the Populares. Sulla led the former and Marius led the latter. Sulla won.

Marius had reformed the army. He had got rid of mules to carry things for the soldiers. The soldiers disliked this because they had to carry more heavy objects. Soldiers joked that they were Marius’ mules.

A soldier’s equipment was called paraphernalia.

A soldier (legionary) was paid in salt. That is why we have the word ‘soldier’ and ‘salary’ – all related to the Latin word for salt. We also have the expression ‘he is worth his salt.’ Salt was important for preserving food.

Roman has a currency with units like a denarius and sestersi. The Italian word for money ‘denaro’ is related to denarius.

The Romans came to rule everything from Scotland to Iraq. They never invaded Ireland because we Irish are too tough for them.

 

WOMEN

Women had few rights in Rome. Not many girls went to school. We have almost nothing written by women. The could not have any job other than a housewife or being a menial labourer.

Women married as young as 12. They were expected to have as many babies as possible. Only half the children survived to adulthood.

Romans believed that a vein from the ring finger went straight to the heart. When a woman wed she said to her husband ‘where you are Gaius and I am Gaia”.

Gaius was a common Roman name. In English it is the name ‘Guy’. Gaia is the feminine of Gaius.

Divorce was rare at first. It became common in the time of Julius Caesar. But Augustus tried to discourage it. He felt it was immoral.

There was a female cult within the Roman religion. It was the worship of a goddess called Bona Dea. Only women could participate in the ceremonies and they did not write down what this involved.

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CAESAR

Julius Caesar was a Roman patrician. When Julius was a baby his father died. Caesar was born in 100 BC.

The Caesar family may have had that name because an ancestor was born by caesarean section: i.e. he was taken out of his mother’s womb by an incision. The word ‘caesura’ is a cutting. There is also incision meaning cutting in. There is another etymological theory that his name related to curly hair. He was said to be descended from Venus the goddess of love many generations earlier. However, Romans accepted that in his lifetime Caesar was a human.

Julius Caesar’s family had been on the losing side on the Social War. Nonetheless he rose fast. He studied at University on the Island of Rhodes in Greece. Like many upper class Romans he spoke Greek as well as Latin.

In Spain he saw a statute of Alexander the Great at Gades (Cadiz). He thought that Alexander had achieved much more at that age.

Julius held many offices like Priest of Jupiter.  He was also an army officer. Caesar fought pirates in the Mediterranean. Once he was captured. As he was from a rich family the pirates asked for a ransom for him. Caesar suggested they increase it. They did. It was paid and he was set free.

Later Caesar defeated pirates. He asked a captured pirate chief ‘How dare you steal ten ships!’ The pirate leader said, ‘I steal ten ships so you call me a pirate. You steal a thousand ships so you call yourself an emperor. Which one of is more guilty?’ The pirate was crucified for his impertinence.

Julius fought in what is now Turkey. He described one campaign pithily ‘vendi vidi vici’ meaning ‘I came I saw I conquered.’

 

He fought in Gaul and wrote the Gallic Wars about it. In this he referred to himself in the third person. He launched two expeditions into Britannia (Britain) on successive summers.

As Caesar got out of a ship at Pevensey he fell onto to the shingle and cut his face. The Romans were deeply superstitious and thought it an ill omen. Julius instantly turned this portent of doom into an auspicious portent by saying ‘look I have seized this land with both hands!’ Exactly the same story was told about William the Conqueror who landed at the same beach 1 100 years later!

 

Caesar marched north and crossed the Thames. He fought at Brentford. He decided that Britain was too difficult to conquer. He took a few Britons as slaves and retreated. It was also a punitive expedition. The Britons were Celts like most Western Europeans. They were aiding their fellow Celts in Gaul against the Romans.

Julius built a bridge across the River. He fought tribes called the Allemanii and the Germanii. The Germanii give us the word German. In other languages Germany is Allemania because of the Allemania. A later Roman Emperor defeated them and took the title Germanicus.

A Roman Emperor who beat the Britons called himself Britannicus. Just as Scipio defeated the Carthaginians and called himself Africanus.

In Gaul Julius founded Forum Iulii (today’s Frejus). That was where Agricola was born who later ruled Britannia.

Julius Caesar formed a triumvirate with Pompey and Crassus. A triumvirate is an alliance between three. It comes form the words ‘tri’ (three) and vir (man).

Pompey was a politician and military commander like Caesar. Crassus was famously wealthy. That is why we say someone is ‘as rich as Crassus.’

Pompey and Caesar later fell out. Pompey fled to the coast of Egypt. He sent a slave ashore to ask Egyptian permission to land. The Egyptians agreed and sent a boat to bring Pompey from his ship onto the beach. Pompey boarded the Egyptian boat. The Egyptians stabbed him to death. They believed that Caesar would win and wished to be get in his good books.

Julius Caesar had not heard of the fate of Pompey but he knew that Pompey had gone to Egypt. Julius landed at Alexandria and demanded that Pompey be handed over. The Queen of Egypt gave him Pompey’s severed head. The queen was named Cleopatra. Julius and Cleopatra formed a romantic relationship.

Caesar was not allowed to lead his troops out of his province. The River Rubicon separated Gaul from Italy. He decided to seize power in Rome. He brought his men to the Rubicon. He hesitated about crossing the river. Then an omen from the gods signalled him to do it. He said ‘alea iacta est’ – ‘the die is cast’. He crossed the Rubicon. This means making a major decision.

Caesar had a relationship with the Queen of Egypt. She was called Cleopatra. She gave birth to his son Caesarion.

 

Julius seized power. He was popular among the plebes. He made himself sole consul and dictator for life. He had coins struck with his face on them. Only coins with a god’s face had been minted before.

Other patricians were envious and suspicious. They feared that Caesar wanted to be king.

Caesar had a triumph through Rome. This was a victory parade. He wore victor’s laurels as he travelled in a chariot to be hailed by the crowd with the word ‘ave’. A slave whispered in his ear ‘remember you are only a man.’ A man who was so effusively praised by an adoring multitude might believe that he was a god.

A rumour got about that Julius wanted to shift the capital to Egypt. This was false.

Mark Anthony was Julius Caesar’s bosom companion. Mark Anthony was an excellent army officer. Crassus was an extremely wealthy man who was also Caesar’s ally. They has formed a triumvirate – an alliance of three men ruling together. In the end Caesar ruled on his own.

Some senators formed a clandestine group called the liberatores. They believed that to preserve Roman liberty Caesar must die.

Brutus had been very close to Caesar. He was 17 years younger that Caesar. Some speculated that he was secretly Caesar’s son. But Brutus was alarmed at Caesar’s dictatorial ways. He joined the liberatores.

Caesar went to a soothsayer. The woman could foretell the future. She warned him ‘beware the Ides of March’. The Ides of any month was the 15th day. But she did not know the nature of the peril that he faced.

Julius went to the Senate. The senators approached him. They drew daggers. He was poinarded and shouted ‘this is violence.’ Then Brutus approached knife in hand. Caesar said ‘kai su teknon?’ (‘and you my son’ in Greek). Brutus then stabbed Julius who fell dead. Julius could not believe it that he beloved Brutus would stab him too. In Shakespeare the last words of Caesar are ‘and you my son.’

Caesar was stabbed 44 times. Most senators stabbed him. The idea is if they all did it then it would mean they could not be punished. There were too many assassins. It was 44 BC when Caesar died.

Mark Anthony gave the funeral oration before Caesar’s funeral. His stirring speech and the fact that Caesar’s will give money to every free man in Rome turned public opinion towards him. Julius also gave his garden to the public.

 

Mark Anthony fell out with the liberatores. The Liberatores fled Rome. Octavian was Caesar’s great nephew. He and Mark Anthony were allies. They formed a triumvirate with Lepidus who was a cavalry commander.

The 17 year old Octavian chased the liberatores to northern Italy. He defeated them in two battles near Forum Gallorum.

Mark Anthony gathered the army and pursued the enemy to Greece. The liberatores had soldiers on their side.

At the Battle of Pharsallus the liberatores were heavily defeated. Those assassins who had not been killed committed suicide.

Mark Anthony then married Cleopatra. She had been Caesar’s girlfriend.

In Rome Caesar’s great nephew rose to power. His name was Octavian. He was the grandson of Caesar’s sister. Julius Caesar had only one surviving child Caesarion who was his son with Cleopatra. Caesarion was not considered his heir since he was born out of wedlock.

Octavian became sole consul for life. It was the same position Caesar had held.

Octavian agreed to divide the empire with Mark Anthony. Octavian would have the western two-thirds. Mark Anthony would have the eastern third.

The agreement quickly broke down. Octavian went to war against Mark Anthony. A huge sea battle was fought off the coast of Greece. It was the Battle of Actium. Octavian;s forces prevailed.

Mark Anthony ran away to Egypt. He was pursued by Octavian’s men. The Roman Army closed in on the palace where Anthony and Cleopatra were hiding. Mark Anthony fell on his sword: i.e. committed suicide. Cleopatra asked for a snake called an asp to be brought. She committed suicide by having the poisonous snake bite her.

Caesarion was captured. He was Caesar’s son. Octavian ordered that Caesarion be killed. He was a potential rival. It was a strange way to show reverence to Julius Caesar!

Octavian was the undisputed ruler of the Roman Empire. He had himself made imperator literally ‘commander’ or emperor.

Octavian changed his name to Augustus. This means ‘respected’.

Augustus tried to revive religion. He felt it had been disrespected and people were decadent. He said it was ‘parens patriae’ meaning ‘parent of the fatherland.’

The Senate continued to function. However, it was subservient to the emperor.

Augustus changed the calendar. There used to be 10 months of 36 days each. September was the seventh month, October was the eight, November the ninth and December meant the tenth. He introduced the month of July after Julius Caesar. Then there were Augustus named in honour of Augustus himself.

The Romans had a festival at 22 December called saturnalia. It was a raucous one. Christmas is held at that time because of this.

They had a festival where slaves and masters swapped places for a day.

super advanced course lesson 3. Rome. social classes

Standard

Rome

 

Rome is a city in Italy. It is one of the most ancient cities in Europe.

The River Tiber bisects Rome. To the west is the Tyrhennian Sea which is part of the Mediterranean Sea. To the east is the Appenine Mountains. Rome is half way up the Italian Peninsula and to the west of centre.

There are the Seven Hills of Rome. These are the Vimmian Hill, the Esquiline Hill, the Aquiline Hill, the Aventine Hill, the Capitoline Hill, the Quirinial Hill and the Caelian Hill. All lie on the east bank of the Tiber.

The Ancient Roman legend states that Rome was founded in 752 BC. Archaeologists say that is about right. There are some artefacts from the 13th century BC but nothing like the remnants of a city till around 800 BC.

Legend has it that Romulus and Remus were born identical twins. Their mother was the goddess Rhea. They were descended from Mars – the god of war. They were not descended from the Planet Mars! Romulus and Remus were also supposed to be descended from Aeneas who fled Troy when the Trojans were defeated by the Greeks. The Trojans said to Carthage in what is today Tunisia. They fell out with the Carthaginians and the Trojans moved to Italy.

When they were infants Romulus and Remus were suckled by a she-wolf. This story is possibly a misunderstanding of the word ‘lupina’ which can mean ‘she-wolf’ in Latin but has another signification too.

Romulus built some walls atop a hill. His brother Remus mocked his walls by jumping over them. In a rage Romulus killed his twin. Romulus gave his name to the city of Rome.

Romulus became the first King of Rome. When he was old the gathered the who city in front of him. Everyone saw him vanish into thin air. He was declared to have become the god Quirinius. The Quirinial Hill is named after him.

There were seven kings of Rome one after another. Seven: just like the number of hills. The last king was Tarquinius Superbus. Superbus means ‘the proud’. He certainly thought he was superb! He did not drive a super bus!

Tarquinius became friends with Lars Porsena who was the King of the Etruscans. The Etruscans were an enemy people living to the west. The Romans disliked their king for becoming friends with the foe.

The Romans overthrew Tarquinius and he fled. The Roman Republic was declared. In Latin it is ‘res publica’ meaning ‘public thing.’ The people would be in charge of their own governance. A king would not govern over them. They were the first republic outside Greece.

There is another Roman story about Horatius (or Horatio) who fought the Etruscans as they tried to attack over a bridge. Horatius fought the enemy. The bridge was so narrow only one man could cross at a time. He killed many soldiers until he fell into the river. One version of the story says he drowned another says he survived.

The Romans spoke the Latin language. They invented the Latin Alphabet which we use today. The alphabet was not entirely original. It borrowed from the Greek Alphabet and the Phoenician Alphabet. The Phoenicians lived in what we now call Palestine, Israel, Malta and Tunisia. The Maltese are the last people to speak a version of the Phoenician language.

There was a town near Rome called ‘Latina’. Latina also means ‘tin’ as in the type of metal. The Romans made many things from tin. By tin they did not mean a tin of beans. They did not have airtight containers like that for food.

The area around Rome was called Latium which is clearly related to ‘Latin’. In Italian it is now called ‘Lazzio.’ There is a city in Lazzio called Latina.

The Romans learnt a huge amount from the Greeks. They Greeks had 12 gods and 12 goddesses: one for each month. The Romans copied that but renamed them.

Jupiter was the King of the gods. He has a wife who was a goddess. Mars was the god of war. Priapus was the god of the countryside and he had an unusual feature! Neptune had hair of seaweed and a long beard. He held a trident and was the god of the sea.

A statute of a god was housed in a temple. The statue was washed and dressed each day. People performed animal sacrifices on the steps of the temple. The blood of the animals flowed away. Pigs, cows and doves were sacrificed. By propitiating the pantheon the Romans thought they got good luck. Fortuna controlled their fate.

The Romans were very superstitious. They believed a man call a haruspex could foretell the future by slaughtering an animal and inspecting the liver. Augurs were men who could tell the future by observing the flight of birds. The Romans believed in horoscopes. They could tell a person’s destiny by knowing the exact hour of a person’s birth.

The Romans had women who were vestal virgins. They lived in a centre temple and too vows of chastity. If they broke these they were killed.

The Romans believed in an afterlife. Good people went to the Elysian Fields. Bad people went to the underworld.

Romans buried their dead in tombs by the roadside. They visited graves regularly. They held a party on the birthday of the deceased. The Romans believed the dead could hear them and enjoyed the party. The poured wine on the grave as a substitute for the person’s blood.

The wealthy had spectacular mausoluea.

===========================

SOCIAL CLASSES

Romans wore white gowns called togas. They looked down on people who wore trousers.

The Romans were divided into social classes. At the top were the senatorial class. These people were from very wealthy landowning families. They elected senators from among themselves. The word senator is related to ‘senior’ which means ‘older’ in Latin. The senators met in the Senate. The Senate functioned as a parliament. A member of the senatorial class had the right to a broad purple band on his toga. This class was a tiny minority. Not everyone in the senatorial class was a senator! They merely had the right to vote for senators and the right to seek election to the Senate. There were 50 senators at a time. People sometimes call people in the senatorial class ‘patricians.’ It is related to the word ‘patron’. The names Patrick and Patricia are derived from patrician.

The Eques class were below that. Eques are often translated ‘knights’. Their name is close to the word for horse ‘equus’. An eques had to own at least one horse. They functioned as the cavalry in the army. They had a thin purple stripe on their togas. The toga were like the middle class. They were a minority of the citizens.

Below that was the plebeian class. The plebes were the lowest class of citizens. They were the majority. Some were reasonably well off. Most were poor. They had an assembly. Two tribunes of the people were appointed to look after their interests. Only members of the senatorial class were allowed to be elected tribunes. Plebes were not allowed to wear purple at all!

Purple dye was only available from sea snails. These were rare. Therefore, purple dye was extremely expensive. This is why we associate purple with power and status. Kings and religious leaders later wore purple robes. We have the expression ‘purple prose’ and ‘purple patches’ because of this.

Women had no political rights in Rome. However, they were invited to dinner parties unlike in Greece.

There were many slaves in Rome. They were captured people from other lands. Sometimes slaves were bought from slave traders. There was no racial rationale to slavery. People of any colour or race could be a slave or a free person. Slavery was uncontroversial in Rome. Unsurprisingly those held in slavery did not think that slavery was good!

Slaves had only one right. They could not be killed without good reason. Public entertainment was a sufficient reason.

If a slave killed his master then all the slaves in the house were executed even if people were certain that some of the slaves were innocent. This was the strongest possible deterrent against killing the master. Any slave who got wind of a plot was likely to inform the master because the slave feared for his own life.

A few slaves were high status. A slave could be a teacher or an accountant. However, most slaves toiled in menial jobs and were treated abominably.

A slave could be set free. He was then a freedman not a free man. A man born the son of a freedman was a free man. They could rise to any position in society.

A slave who was set free was said to be manumitted. That means ‘sent out from the hand.’

Censors regulated the social classes. If the wealth of a patrician family fell below a certain level they were demoted. It was possible to move up a social class but very rare and expensive.

Politicians tried to be popular with the lower classes. They gave away bread for free. They paid for gladiatorial fights and chariot races at the Circus Maximus. The expression was ‘panem et circenses’ meaning ‘bread and circus’.

=======================================

 

BREAD AND CIRCUS

The circus in Rome was totally different from our idea of a circus. The circus was only for chariot races. A chariot in a race was a quadriga – it had four horses. They completed a set number of circuits of the track. The chariot was light so it could go fast. But that made it unstable and fragile. It could break apart under the strain of the race or flip over. Charioteers were badly injured or even killed by falls or being trampled by horses.

A chariot race was watched by tens of thousands of people. A charioteer dressed in a prearranged colour: black, blue, red, or whatever. People supported a colour. The groups of fans were called factiones. They were very passionate about their colour and sometimes fought each other as they shouted their support for their chosen charioteer. Not much has changed in spectator sports!

In the Colosseum people watched gladiatorial combat. The word gladiator is related to the Latin word gladius (sword).  The gladiators were of different kinds and had different equipment. A rhetor had a helmet, a net and a long trident. He was like a fisherman. He might be against a man with a shield, a sword and a breastplate but no helmet. That made it more interesting to watch – seeing men with different equipment fight.

100 000 people packed into the Colosseum to spectate.

If one gladiator overpowered and wounded another he would stop with his weapon poised over the other man’s chest. The winning gladiator would look to whoever was in charge of the games. He was usually a rich politician. The gladiator looked to see if it was thumbs up or thumbs down.

The man in charge of the games listened to the crowd. They would shout and show what they thought with their thumbs. The patron of the games usually went along with the majority opinion and signaled to the gladiator with his thumb.

For us thumbs up is good news. But in Rome it meant: stab him to death. Thumbs down meant: put your sword away and let him live.

Gladiators were adulated. They were seen as very desirable by women and they were rich. But their lives were short! Every fight could be your last.

If you were wounded you might be disabled for life. If you were wounded and allowed to live then you might die of an infection in the wound days later.

Gladiators were usually slaves. They were trained in gladiatorial schools.

Astonishingly some free men chose to become gladiators.

The Romans knew the Greek myth of Daedalus and Icarus who made wings and flew. Sometimes they attached wings to a slave and pushed him off a tall building to see if he could fly.

The Romans fed unpopular religious minorities to wild beasts. This included Christians. The lions and leopards were not fed for days beforehand. They had to be ravenous to make sure that they ate people.

When the big cats were brought out they were sometimes so frightened by the roaring crowd that they just sat down and cowered. If this happened the beast master who brought them were publicly executed.

The Romans loved a good public execution. They were a very blood thirsty lot.

The Romans were highly civilised but also savage. They were very advanced in science and technology for their era but they were also crueler than less sophisticated people. The Romans watched people whom they knew to be totally innocent being eaten alive. That was considered fun!

The Romans also practised crucifixion. This was a sadistic form or execution. The person was nailed to a cross. He died from asphyxiation hours or days later as his diaphragm collapsed.

Latin has the word spectator. It means exactly the same as in English.

The rich had dinner parties. They would get a slave blind drunk beforehand. As the guests arrived they would see the poor slave shambling around. This was to remind the dinner guests that when someone is drunk he is not smart or impressive but looks like a fool. People drank wine but were careful not to overdo it.

People say on a chaise longue to eat. When they were full they went to a vomitorium to make themselves vomit so they could eat more.

Lucullus was a Roman who served legendarily lavish dinners. That is why we have the expression ‘a lucullan feast’.

 

FORUM

Rome was centred around the forum. The forum was a marketplace and there were temples and law courts around the edges. Later Roman rulers built new fora. Therefore, there are several fora now: one beside the next. Some people say forums as the plural.

Patricians liked to stroll around there. They would have clients to follow them and listen to their speeches. A client was a member of one of the lower two classes.

Unlike our idea in Rome a client was paid by a patron. A client would received a sportula which is an amount of money.

Patricians would try to move up cursus honorum (the way of honours). Cursus honorum was series of political offices they could be elected to. Among these were priesthoods.

Upper class Romans (patricians) often worked as lawyers. Oratory was very valued. Cicero and Cinncinatus were among the renowned lawyers and politicians. Quintillian wrote The Education of an Orator about how to train a public speaker.

Children learnt to write on slates on wax tablets with a stylus which was a wooden implement like a pen. Paper was made form papyrus and was very expensive. They had scrolls. They did not have books as we do. At first they had no punctuation marks or even spaces between the letters. The Romans only had capital letters. Back then they had no letters J, Y and K.

Roman Republic was co-ruled by two consuls at a time. A consul could serve for one year only and never be re-elected. The idea as the separation of powers. They could not risk one man becoming too mighty. He might become a tyrant. The Romans did not want a king back. They were convinced that kings were wicked. They were proud to have a republic. Later the rules were relaxed and a consul could serve more than one term but consecutive terms were not allowed.

super advanced course lesson 3. Rome. social classes

Standard

Rome

 

Rome is a city in Italy. It is one of the most ancient cities in Europe.

The River Tiber bisects Rome. To the west is the Tyrhennian Sea which is part of the Mediterranean Sea. To the east is the Appenine Mountains. Rome is half way up the Italian Peninsula and to the west of centre.

There are the Seven Hills of Rome. These are the Vimmian Hill, the Esquiline Hill, the Aquiline Hill, the Aventine Hill, the Capitoline Hill, the Quirinial Hill and the Caelian Hill. All lie on the east bank of the Tiber.

The Ancient Roman legend states that Rome was founded in 752 BC. Archaeologists say that is about right. There are some artefacts from the 13th century BC but nothing like the remnants of a city till around 800 BC.

Legend has it that Romulus and Remus were born identical twins. Their mother was the goddess Rhea. They were descended from Mars – the god of war. They were not descended from the Planet Mars! Romulus and Remus were also supposed to be descended from Aeneas who fled Troy when the Trojans were defeated by the Greeks. The Trojans said to Carthage in what is today Tunisia. They fell out with the Carthaginians and the Trojans moved to Italy.

When they were infants Romulus and Remus were suckled by a she-wolf. This story is possibly a misunderstanding of the word ‘lupina’ which can mean ‘she-wolf’ in Latin but has another signification too.

Romulus built some walls atop a hill. His brother Remus mocked his walls by jumping over them. In a rage Romulus killed his twin. Romulus gave his name to the city of Rome.

Romulus became the first King of Rome. When he was old the gathered the who city in front of him. Everyone saw him vanish into thin air. He was declared to have become the god Quirinius. The Quirinial Hill is named after him.

There were seven kings of Rome one after another. Seven: just like the number of hills. The last king was Tarquinius Superbus. Superbus means ‘the proud’. He certainly thought he was superb! He did not drive a super bus!

Tarquinius became friends with Lars Porsena who was the King of the Etruscans. The Etruscans were an enemy people living to the west. The Romans disliked their king for becoming friends with the foe.

The Romans overthrew Tarquinius and he fled. The Roman Republic was declared. In Latin it is ‘res publica’ meaning ‘public thing.’ The people would be in charge of their own governance. A king would not govern over them. They were the first republic outside Greece.

There is another Roman story about Horatius (or Horatio) who fought the Etruscans as they tried to attack over a bridge. Horatius fought the enemy. The bridge was so narrow only one man could cross at a time. He killed many soldiers until he fell into the river. One version of the story says he drowned another says he survived.

The Romans spoke the Latin language. They invented the Latin Alphabet which we use today. The alphabet was not entirely original. It borrowed from the Greek Alphabet and the Phoenician Alphabet. The Phoenicians lived in what we now call Palestine, Israel, Malta and Tunisia. The Maltese are the last people to speak a version of the Phoenician language.

There was a town near Rome called ‘Latina’. Latina also means ‘tin’ as in the type of metal. The Romans made many things from tin. By tin they did not mean a tin of beans. They did not have airtight containers like that for food.

The area around Rome was called Latium which is clearly related to ‘Latin’. In Italian it is now called ‘Lazzio.’ There is a city in Lazzio called Latina.

The Romans learnt a huge amount from the Greeks. They Greeks had 12 gods and 12 goddesses: one for each month. The Romans copied that but renamed them.

Jupiter was the King of the gods. He has a wife who was a goddess. Mars was the god of war. Priapus was the god of the countryside and he had an unusual feature! Neptune had hair of seaweed and a long beard. He held a trident and was the god of the sea.

A statute of a god was housed in a temple. The statue was washed and dressed each day. People performed animal sacrifices on the steps of the temple. The blood of the animals flowed away. Pigs, cows and doves were sacrificed. By propitiating the pantheon the Romans thought they got good luck. Fortuna controlled their fate.

The Romans were very superstitious. They believed a man call a haruspex could foretell the future by slaughtering an animal and inspecting the liver. Augurs were men who could tell the future by observing the flight of birds. The Romans believed in horoscopes. They could tell a person’s destiny by knowing the exact hour of a person’s birth.

The Romans had women who were vestal virgins. They lived in a centre temple and too vows of chastity. If they broke these they were killed.

The Romans believed in an afterlife. Good people went to the Elysian Fields. Bad people went to the underworld.

Romans buried their dead in tombs by the roadside. They visited graves regularly. They held a party on the birthday of the deceased. The Romans believed the dead could hear them and enjoyed the party. The poured wine on the grave as a substitute for the person’s blood.

The wealthy had spectacular mausoluea.

===========================

SOCIAL CLASSES

Romans wore white gowns called togas. They looked down on people who wore trousers.

The Romans were divided into social classes. At the top were the senatorial class. These people were from very wealthy landowning families. They elected senators from among themselves. The word senator is related to ‘senior’ which means ‘older’ in Latin. The senators met in the Senate. The Senate functioned as a parliament. A member of the senatorial class had the right to a broad purple band on his toga. This class was a tiny minority. Not everyone in the senatorial class was a senator! They merely had the right to vote for senators and the right to seek election to the Senate. There were 50 senators at a time. People sometimes call people in the senatorial class ‘patricians.’ It is related to the word ‘patron’. The names Patrick and Patricia are derived from patrician.

The Eques class were below that. Eques are often translated ‘knights’. Their name is close to the word for horse ‘equus’. An eques had to own at least one horse. They functioned as the cavalry in the army. They had a thin purple stripe on their togas. The toga were like the middle class. They were a minority of the citizens.

Below that was the plebeian class. The plebes were the lowest class of citizens. They were the majority. Some were reasonably well off. Most were poor. They had an assembly. Two tribunes of the people were appointed to look after their interests. Only members of the senatorial class were allowed to be elected tribunes. Plebes were not allowed to wear purple at all!

Purple dye was only available from sea snails. These were rare. Therefore, purple dye was extremely expensive. This is why we associate purple with power and status. Kings and religious leaders later wore purple robes. We have the expression ‘purple prose’ and ‘purple patches’ because of this.

Women had no political rights in Rome. However, they were invited to dinner parties unlike in Greece.

There were many slaves in Rome. They were captured people from other lands. Sometimes slaves were bought from slave traders. There was no racial rationale to slavery. People of any colour or race could be a slave or a free person. Slavery was uncontroversial in Rome. Unsurprisingly those held in slavery did not think that slavery was good!

Slaves had only one right. They could not be killed without good reason. Public entertainment was a sufficient reason.

If a slave killed his master then all the slaves in the house were executed even if people were certain that some of the slaves were innocent. This was the strongest possible deterrent against killing the master. Any slave who got wind of a plot was likely to inform the master because the slave feared for his own life.

A few slaves were high status. A slave could be a teacher or an accountant. However, most slaves toiled in menial jobs and were treated abominably.

A slave could be set free. He was then a freedman not a free man. A man born the son of a freedman was a free man. They could rise to any position in society.

A slave who was set free was said to be manumitted. That means ‘sent out from the hand.’

Censors regulated the social classes. If the wealth of a patrician family fell below a certain level they were demoted. It was possible to move up a social class but very rare and expensive.

Politicians tried to be popular with the lower classes. They gave away bread for free. They paid for gladiatorial fights and chariot races at the Circus Maximus. The expression was ‘panem et circenses’ meaning ‘bread and circus’.

=======================================

 

BREAD AND CIRCUS

The circus in Rome was totally different from our idea of a circus. The circus was only for chariot races. A chariot in a race was a quadriga – it had four horses. They completed a set number of circuits of the track. The chariot was light so it could go fast. But that made it unstable and fragile. It could break apart under the strain of the race or flip over. Charioteers were badly injured or even killed by falls or being trampled by horses.

A chariot race was watched by tens of thousands of people. A charioteer dressed in a prearranged colour: black, blue, red, or whatever. People supported a colour. The groups of fans were called factiones. They were very passionate about their colour and sometimes fought each other as they shouted their support for their chosen charioteer. Not much has changed in spectator sports!

In the Colosseum people watched gladiatorial combat. The word gladiator is related to the Latin word gladius (sword).  The gladiators were of different kinds and had different equipment. A rhetor had a helmet, a net and a long trident. He was like a fisherman. He might be against a man with a shield, a sword and a breastplate but no helmet. That made it more interesting to watch – seeing men with different equipment fight.

100 000 people packed into the Colosseum to spectate.

If one gladiator overpowered and wounded another he would stop with his weapon poised over the other man’s chest. The winning gladiator would look to whoever was in charge of the games. He was usually a rich politician. The gladiator looked to see if it was thumbs up or thumbs down.

The man in charge of the games listened to the crowd. They would shout and show what they thought with their thumbs. The patron of the games usually went along with the majority opinion and signaled to the gladiator with his thumb.

For us thumbs up is good news. But in Rome it meant: stab him to death. Thumbs down meant: put your sword away and let him live.

Gladiators were adulated. They were seen as very desirable by women and they were rich. But their lives were short! Every fight could be your last.

If you were wounded you might be disabled for life. If you were wounded and allowed to live then you might die of an infection in the wound days later.

Gladiators were usually slaves. They were trained in gladiatorial schools.

Astonishingly some free men chose to become gladiators.

The Romans knew the Greek myth of Daedalus and Icarus who made wings and flew. Sometimes they attached wings to a slave and pushed him off a tall building to see if he could fly.

The Romans fed unpopular religious minorities to wild beasts. This included Christians. The lions and leopards were not fed for days beforehand. They had to be ravenous to make sure that they ate people.

When the big cats were brought out they were sometimes so frightened by the roaring crowd that they just sat down and cowered. If this happened the beast master who brought them were publicly executed.

The Romans loved a good public execution. They were a very blood thirsty lot.

The Romans were highly civilised but also savage. They were very advanced in science and technology for their era but they were also crueler than less sophisticated people. The Romans watched people whom they knew to be totally innocent being eaten alive. That was considered fun!

The Romans also practised crucifixion. This was a sadistic form or execution. The person was nailed to a cross. He died from asphyxiation hours or days later as his diaphragm collapsed.

Latin has the word spectator. It means exactly the same as in English.

The rich had dinner parties. They would get a slave blind drunk beforehand. As the guests arrived they would see the poor slave shambling around. This was to remind the dinner guests that when someone is drunk he is not smart or impressive but looks like a fool. People drank wine but were careful not to overdo it.

People say on a chaise longue to eat. When they were full they went to a vomitorium to make themselves vomit so they could eat more.

Lucullus was a Roman who served legendarily lavish dinners. That is why we have the expression ‘a lucullan feast’.

 

FORUM

Rome was centred around the forum. The forum was a marketplace and there were temples and law courts around the edges. Later Roman rulers built new fora. Therefore, there are several fora now: one beside the next. Some people say forums as the plural.

Patricians liked to stroll around there. They would have clients to follow them and listen to their speeches. A client was a member of one of the lower two classes.

Unlike our idea in Rome a client was paid by a patron. A client would received a sportula which is an amount of money.

Patricians would try to move up cursus honorum (the way of honours). Cursus honorum was series of political offices they could be elected to. Among these were priesthoods.

Upper class Romans (patricians) often worked as lawyers. Oratory was very valued. Cicero and Cinncinatus were among the renowned lawyers and politicians. Quintillian wrote The Education of an Orator about how to train a public speaker.

Children learnt to write on slates on wax tablets with a stylus which was a wooden implement like a pen. Paper was made form papyrus and was very expensive. They had scrolls. They did not have books as we do. At first they had no punctuation marks or even spaces between the letters. The Romans only had capital letters. Back then they had no letters J, Y and K.

Roman Republic was co-ruled by two consuls at a time. A consul could serve for one year only and never be re-elected. The idea as the separation of powers. They could not risk one man becoming too mighty. He might become a tyrant. The Romans did not want a king back. They were convinced that kings were wicked. They were proud to have a republic. Later the rules were relaxed and a consul could serve more than one term but consecutive terms were not allowed.

Duke of York (the duke of puke) and Ghislaine Maxwell =============

Standard

arrested

FBI prejudice. slithered. victims. privilege. class bias? evidence of guilt. they got paid.

jump suit handcuffs

should have gone to france.

duke of york. grand old duke only had 10 000 men

party prince. I have never really partied.

tell truth in every jot and tittle.

if they seduced him that does not reduce cuplability by one whit.

corybantic. bacchanalian. teetotal. cannot claim mind was befogged.

chetif answers

questions. his laywers said USA broke deal and spoke to media

cannot avoid. best lawyers. say nowt.

extradition

no one above the law.

================================

Trumps character

Standard

fraudster, teller of hard lock stories, self pitying, mawkish, sponger, cheat, mountebank, guttersnipe, coward, bully, ignoramus, cognitively subnormal, egomaniac, back stabber,

demagogue, inveterate parasite, sexual deviant, delinquent, chronic liar, fantasist,

virtues. bravura polemics

gregarious. tireless self-advertiser

lively. witty. performer. showman.

callous. disloyal. traitor. takes since of N Kore and Russia against his own people

not for moral reasons. conciliatory towards them. crawl to tyrants. kow towing

tugging the forelock.

never quiescent.

race baiter. hate monger.

amplify white supremacist talking points

nativist, xenophobe, ignoramus

incurious

cognitively subnormal

wheedles his way into sympathy

cajoles people into loans

temper tantrums. immiserating people

business acumen

”a con man” – marco rubio.am