Daily Life in Ancient Rome - Jerome Carcopino

Jones

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I'm presently reading "Daily Life in Ancient Rome" by Jerome Carcopino. Quite an amazing book and really opens one's eyes about what is going on today and how it is just a dynamic repeat of what the Roman Empire was going through before it collapses. The "Dionysian Spirit" indeed!

I did a search for this book and what seems to be the original unedited edition is available on archive.org if anyone is interested.

 

Tuatha de Danaan

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Half way through the book and my goodness what an eye opener. His description of education and it's very quick degeneration.
The threadbare literature of Grammarians & Rhetoricians which produced a morbid passion for the unusual & extraordinary made common sense seem a defect.

What does this remind us of.? All the defects of our modern day education system.!!!


Really enjoying this book so far. The author is very easy to read and his turn of phrase very amusing at times When he talks of the regular distribution of state produce to the poor of Rome which was called the ANNONA AUGUSTA, he refers to it as THE DIVINITY OF IMPERIAL SUPPLIES.

In typing this I have ended up with 3 different type sets. I've tried to correct but not knowing what I've done wrong just makes it worse. Apologies.
 

Laura

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Yes, it was quite an eye-opener. I followed it up with Jerry Toner's "Infamy: The Crimes of Ancient Rome" which is a sort of study of crime in Rome and Roman Law, etc. Not as dramatic as Carcopino, but pretty good except for a few intrusions of his leftist thinking and a couple of bloopers where he appears to actually think that the book of Acts was history. There were some excellent points he extracted from this study that are worth bearing in mind when we judge the ancients by our own standards. The way our modern world views crime and law is actually a fairly recent development that we should bear in mind.
 

thorbiorn

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Half way through the book and my goodness what an eye opener. His description of education and it's very quick degeneration.
The threadbare literature of Grammarians & Rhetoricians which produced a morbid passion for the unusual & extraordinary made common sense seem a defect.

What does this remind us of.? All the defects of our modern day education system.!!!


Really enjoying this book so far. The author is very easy to read and his turn of phrase very amusing at times When he talks of the regular distribution of state produce to the poor of Rome which was called the ANNONA AUGUSTA, he refers to it as THE DIVINITY OF IMPERIAL SUPPLIES.

In typing this I have ended up with 3 different type sets. I've tried to correct but not knowing what I've done wrong just makes it worse. Apologies.
If issue was with "italics", it might have occured, when you wanted to "B" (Bold) but missed and pressed the "I" (italics)?

To remove unwanted italics, you do similar to as to when you remove bold, only select text and press "I". If for some reason the selection of text is not accurate, it may remain in italics, in which case you try again. But if you really wanted the italics and the problems was with font size or type, to unify select text, go to "T" and select type size, go to "A" and select font type.
Below is your text without the italics, and with the same font type and font size.

Half way through the book and my goodness what an eye opener. His description of education and it's very quick degeneration.
The threadbare literature of Grammarians & Rhetoricians which produced a morbid passion for the unusual & extraordinary made common sense seem a defect.

What does this remind us of.? All the defects of our modern day education system.!!!


Really enjoying this book so far. The author is very easy to read and his turn of phrase very amusing at times When he talks of the regular distribution of state produce to the poor of Rome which was called the ANNONA AUGUSTA, he refers to it as THE DIVINITY OF IMPERIAL SUPPLIES.

In typing this I have ended up with 3 different type sets. I've tried to correct but not knowing what I've done wrong just makes it worse. Apologies.
 

Tuatha de Danaan

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Below is your text without the italics, and with the same font type and font size.

thorbiorn. Thank you very much for your explanation. Until I'm shown I'm really a numpty on the computer. Firing on all cylinders I would have deleted everything and started again. Not using it as a excuse, but I was under the influence of my Melatonin and ready for bed. Thanks again.
 

genero81

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Laura mentioned this book in another thread I can't remember. I picked it up and have been reading it off and on. Well written, it's definitely not boring and it shows how history repeats.

The numerical inferiority of the Haves to the horde of the Have-Nots, sufficiently distressing 1n itself, becomes positively terrifying when we realise the inequality of fortune within the ranks of the minority; the majority of what we should nowadays call the middle classes vegetated in semistarvation within sight of the almost incredible opulence of a few thousand multimillionaires. A yearly income of 20,000 sesterces ($800) was the “vital minimum” for a Roman citizen to exist on. This is the income which a ruined reprobate whom Juvenal draws in one of his satirical scenes craves for his own old age.51 In another passage the poet, speaking on his own behalf, limits a wise man’s desire to a fortune of 400,000 sesterces ($16,000): “If you turn up your nose at this sum,” he says to his imaginary interlocutor, “take the fortune of two equites (or even three); if that doesn’t satisfy your heart, neither will the riches of Croesus, nor all the treasures of the Persian kings!”52 It is clear that in Juvenal’s eyes a wise man ought to be happy with modest ease and comfort; clear also that modest ease presupposes a capital of 400,000 sesterces, the property qualification for a “knight.” These two pieces of evidence corroborate and complement each other, since we know beyond possibility of doubt, thanks to the researches of Billeter, that in the poet’s day the normal interest on money was 5 per cent.53 It follows that in the Rome of Trajan the “middle classes” began with the Equestrian Order, and unless a person was in a position to spend at least the 20,000 sesterces which this capital yielded annually, he could not maintain even the most modest standard of bourgeois life. Below this were the pauperised masses, to which the “lower middle classes” approximated much more closely than to the wealthy capitalists with whom a legal fiction classed them. What weight could their modest little fortune of 400,000 sesterces carry, compared with the millions and tens of millions that were at the disposal of the real magnates of the city? Senators from the provinces, whose estates and enterprises were so extensive as to procure them a place among the “most illustrious” (clarissimi) and a seat in the Senate House, came to Rome not only to fulfil their civic functions or supervise the properties which they had been obliged to acquire in Italy, but first and foremost to render their name and the country of their origin illustrious by the magnificence of their Roman mansion and the distinction of the rank they had attained in the Urbs. Now how could the capitalist with 400,000 compete with them?’—or with the equites who had reached the highest posts open to them and grown fat as they mounted the successive rungs of the administrative ladder, handling matters of finance and of supply? Or how even compete with these liberti who, in nursing the wealth of the emperor and his nobles, had amassed great fortunes for themselves? Rome, mistress of the world, drained all its riches. Making due allowance for the difference of time and manners, I cannot believe that the concentrations of capital in Rome from the principate of Trajan onwards can have been much less than they are in our twentieth century among the financiers of “The City” or the bankers of Wall Street. Some Roman capitalists owned many houses in different quarters of the metropolis. Martial directed this epigram against a certain Maximus: You have a house on the Esquiline and another on the Hill of Diana; the Vicus Patricius boasts a roof of yours. From one you survey the shrine of widowed Cybele; from another the Temple of Vesta; from here the new, from there the ancient Temple of Jove. Tell me where I can call upon you or in what quarter I may look for you. The man, O Maximus, who is everywhere at home is a man without a home at all.54 Like the modern financier, the Roman fruitfully employed his capital in large and innumerable loans. Another epigram, for instance, shows us Afer enjoying himself by totting up the number of his borrowers and the total of their indebtedness: “Coranus owes me 100,000 sesterces and Mancinus 200,000; Titius 300,000; Albinus twice as much; Sabinus a million and Serranus another million. …”55 It may be that this Afer, like Maximus, was only an imaginary personage; they are all the more typical of the plutocracy which flourished in the Rome of Martial’s time. In their narrow circle, gleaming with the gold of all the earth, we may be very sure that mortgagers were not lacking, like the fortune-hunter Africanus with his 100,000,000 sesterces to whom Martial alludes.56 No one could reckon himself rich under 20,000,000. Pliny the Younger, the ex-consul and perhaps the greatest advocate of his day, whose will disclosed a sum closely approaching this, contended nevertheless that he was not rich, and makes the statement with evident sincerity. He writes in perfect good faith to Calvina, whose father owed him 100,000 sesterces, a debt which Pliny generously cancelled, that his means were very limited (modicae facultates) and that, owing to the way his minor estates were being worked, his income was both small and fluctuating, so that he had to lead a frugal existence.57 It is true that a freedman like Trimalchio, whose estate Petronius estimated at 30,000,000, was better off than Pliny; 58 and the unknown Afer whom Martial caricatures, whose income from real estate alone amounted to 3,000,000, was three times as wealthy. Nevertheless Pliny’s fortune—fifty times that of an eques—was in the same bracket as theirs, and there was really no common measure between it and the incomes of the “middle classes.” The petit bourgeois was literally crushed by the great, and his sole consolation was to see even these enormous fortunes of the wealthy overborne in their turn by the incalculable riches of the emperor. The emperor’s wealth did not consist alone in the accumulated riches of his family or predecessors, or in the immense latifundia he inherited here and there in Africa or Asia, or in the fact that he everywhere annexed the bulk of all partial or total confiscations decreed by the judges. Over and above all this, nothing prevented his replenishing his private purse from the resources of the imperial Exchequer, into which poured the taxes levied for the maintenance of his soldiers, and none dared to suggest an audit of his accounts. He could dispose at will—with no need to render account to any man—of the revenues of Egypt, which was a personal possession of the Crown, and he could plunge open hands into the booty of war. To cite one instance: Trajan in 106 pounced on the entire treasure of Decebalus and made speed to reorganise for his personal benefit every source of profit in the recent conquests.59 He became an authentic millionaire, whose authority was buttressed less on the loyalty of his legions than on the power of unlimited action conferred by an unrivalled private fortune, inexhaustible and uncontrolled. Almost as great a gulf separated him from the plutocrats of Rome as yawned between them and the “middle classes,” and the same disparity prevailed between his staff of slaves and theirs.

Carcopino, Jerome. Daily Life in Ancient Rome - The People and the City at the Height of the Empire (pp. 65-69). Read Books Ltd.. Kindle Edition.
 

itellsya

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Laura mentioned this book in another thread I can't remember. I picked it up and have been reading it off and on. Well written, it's definitely not boring and it shows how history repeats.

The thread is here: Daily Life in Ancient Rome - Jerome Carcopino Maybe a mod can merge?

I read it recently and i'd highly recommend it too! I haven't read much about the period but the way he writes makes it very easy to follow, it's great that he throws in lots of quotes from writers of the time too.

Off the top of my head, the correlations with our own time fascinating, such as falling birth rates amongst the elite; promiscuity; rote learning, as well as withholding and censoring by law a proper education for the masses; how the elites went from educating their own children to palming them off on others to do the job; their eventual obsession with performance over substance; how the elites lived pretty much side by side with the general population (as is the case in many parts of London today) except at their seaside villas; how the poor lived in many storied buildings (this i'd heard about on a SOTT radio show but the illustration in the book really brought home just how tall these buildings were); the sheer number of people in the city - about 1.5 million? - as well as the huge amount of people in attendance at the many events.

Also, as per the book's title, there's some interesting parts about the daily life of people, such as how they slept, their morning routine, and so on.

I've not seen any movies nor read any books about the gladiatorial events but it's clear that they were barbaric and the audience must have been pretty bloodthirsty; the total number of people and animals slaughtered for this 'entertainment' makes for grim reading.

What also caught my eye is the number of good deeds/laws that he seems to attribute to Caesar - although i may be confusing a few of them with 'the Caesars' which i think may be other rulers that followed.
 
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Anthony

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I kept thinking of Lobaczewski's hysteroidal cycle while reading this book. The author shows, among other things; schools undermining education, reversal of family values, devaluation of morality and decent behavior, valuing of spectacles and other decadent exhibitions. Our times aren't much different, it's the same pattern repeating itself, and there are valuable lessons that can be gleaned from this book.
 

TheTodd

Jedi Master
Hadn't seen this on the forum before so hope it's not a dupe - shared by Laura on FB today;




Breath taking.
This is actually from a video game - Assassins Creed Origins. I played it so I recognized it right away and the video description confirms it. I know Ubisoft (the publisher house) strived for authenticity but it's not an archeological-scientific representation.
 

gnosisxsophia

Jedi Council Member
Our times aren't much different, it's the same pattern repeating itself...

Stumbled across this extraordinary artist some time ago;


And although often uncharitably referenced as simply reflecting 'Victorians in Togas', personally I find much of his work enthralling (particularly the 'Roman') - interestingly, Ridley Scott's production team for the film 'Gladiator' apparently also utilised his work for authenticity!

Anyway, while far from my favorite thought I'd share a better known piece indicative of his extraordinary mastery of detail ;

The sheer decadence of this work, beautiful as it is, is revealed by the imminence of death, and the cold undertone of the emperor’s imperial indifference. Like him, we seem to to watch events on loop, and see people being entombed slowly, over and over again. The painting is a confusing mix of visual delight and dis-ease.

1610678600609.png

lma-Tadema depicts Elagabalus smothering his unsuspecting guests with rose petals released from a false ceiling. The original reference is this:

Oppressit in tricliniis versatilibus parasitos suos violis et floribus, sic ut animam aliqui efflaverint, cum erepere ad summum non possent.

'In a banqueting-room with a reversible ceiling he once buried his guests in violets and other flowers, so that some were actually smothered to death, being unable to crawl out to the top'.

In his notes to the Augustan History, Thayer notes that "Nero did this also (Suetonius, Nero, xxxi)

1610679127527.png

There's a nice review and a couple of favourites here also.

 
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