Scott's GLADIATOR is a great film.
it great history?
here to learn the real story behind the events and characters portrayed
in the movie.
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can be nobody so petty or so apathetic in his outlook that he has no desire
to discover by what means and under what system of government the Romans
succeeded in...bringing under their rule almost the whole of the inhabited
world. Polybius Histories 1.1.5
2nd Millennium BCE || Archeological Remains
reveals human remains, elk bones, bronze artifacts (rings, axes, etc.)
The relationship, if any, of these people to the Romans is unclear.
1st Millennium BCE ||
sedentary people who inhabited the Italian Peninsula prior to the Romans.
They are often described as a mysterious people, as our sources for them
are scarce. Many questions remain to be answered regarding the Etruscan
culture, its origins, and its relation to the beginnings of Rome.
| Etruscan Home | Stone and Sod | Etruria | c. 1000 BCE |
BCE || Legendary Founding of Rome
The Life of Romulus: by Plutarch
[Coin of Antoninus Pius Augustus 138-161] Reverse: TR POT COS III Wolf standing right, suckling Remus and Romulus; cave ceiling above.
most would have it that Rome was named for Romulus who outwitted his brother
Remus for control of the new settlement, Plutarch is clear that:
whom, and for what reason, the city of Rome, a name so great in glory,
and famous in the mouths of all men, was so first called, authors do not
fact is that the origin for the name of the new settlement of Rome is
as likely a woman as it is a man. Plutarch explains:
the taking of Troy, some few that escaped and met with shipping, put to
sea, and driven by winds, were carried upon the coasts of Tuscany, and
came to anchor off the mouth of the river Tiber, where their women, out
of heart and weary with the sea, on its being proposed by one of the highest
birth and best understanding amongst them, whose name was Roma, burnt
the ships. With which act the men at first were angry..."
[Coin of Titus Augustus 79-81] Reverse: ROMA SC Helmeted Roma standing left, holding Nike Goddess of Victory in right hand; spear in left.
in a short while succeeded far better than they could hope, in that they
found the country very good, and the people courteous, they not only did
the lady Roma other honours, but added also this, of calling after her
name the city which she had been the occasion of their founding...."
early history of Rome is mythical and legendary, and our sources come
centuries after the facts.
7th Cen. BCE ||
The Vestal Virgins
the time of our earliest records, women were highly involved in a direct
and important way with systems
of worship. During Pagan times, before the rise of a male dominated Christian
theological infrastructure, women played a leading role in spiritual activities.
[Coin of Nero Augustus 54-68 CE] Reverse: VESTA Temple of Vesta, with six columns, Vesta within, holding patera and scepter.
permeated the daily life of the ancient Roman. They believed, for instance,
that present events could be observed and interpreted to reveal future
events. This is called augury. Women were often involved with divination
practices at temples.
is important to note the systematic, sacred, and ritualized form of the
interpretive process. While now understood as fallacy, the disciplined
observation of data nevertheless laid roots for future arts and sciences.
Augury was a form of scholarship.
[Coin of Empress Julia Domna b. ca.170 - d.217] Reverse: VESTA Vesta standing left, holding palladium and scepter.
sacred role held by women was that of the Vestal Virgin. One of the Vestal's
sacred duties was to keep alive the vesta "fire of Rome", for
if it were to be extinguished, it was believed that great evil would befall Rome and its
tells us that:
first they say that Gegania and Verenia were made priestesses by Numa,
and next Canuleia and Tarpeia. Later Servius added two more... The king
set the term of service for the holy virgins at thirty years; in the first
decade they learn their duties, in the middle decade they do what they
have learned, and in the third they teach others. .. After that a virgin
is free to marry if she wishes to or to adopt another style of life..."
gave them significant honours, one of which is the right to make a will during their father's lifetime and to conduct their other business
affairs without a guardian, like the mothers of three children...
if they accidentally happen to meet a criminal being led to execution,
his life is spared. The virgin must swear that the meeting was
involuntary and accidental and not planned. Anyone who goesunderneath
a Vestal's litter when she is being carried is put
[Coin of Caligula Augustus 37-41 CE] Reverse: VESTA SC Vesta seated left, holding patera and scepter.
Virgins' minor offences are punished by beating, which is administered
by the Pontifex, with the offender naked, and in a dark place with
a curtain set up between them. A Virgin who is seduced is buried
alive near what is known as the Colline gate. ..."On
more than one occasion, Vestals were found to be sexually active, and
priests are known to have been responsible. These Vestals were buried
BCE || The Republican Revolution: The Etruscan monarchy is overthrown
and the Republic is established
historical record of the early kings of Rome is hostile, the early monarchy
was overthrown and banished. The history of this period is a mixture of
myth and fact, passed on as oral tradition until recorded centuries later
by historians such as Livy and Diodorus. Apparently, Rome was ruled by
seven kings from 753 BCE until 509 BCE, when Tarquinius Superbus was defeated
in a popular rebellion. The idea of the Republic became an icon, the honour
of which all future leaders would have to publicly ascribe.
Republican Revolution established principles of self government which
Romans would nostalgically emulate even in the Augustan age. That the
primary sources recording this important event are largely historical
myth is frustrating to the modern scholar, they are more valuable for
what they reveal towards the Roman idea of virtue, morality, and the Roman
perception of the ideal woman, than actual events.
cause of the revolution is said to be the rape of Lucretia.
BCE || The Violation of Lucretia
to numerous historians, as well as Roman notables such as Cicero, the
spark which ignited the Republican Revolution was the indignation incited
when Sextus Tarquin, the son of the reigning Etruscan monarch Tarquinius
Superbus, raped the virtuous Lucretia, who Romans idolized as the perfect
wife and ideal woman.
explains how Roman men came to prove Lucretia as the ideal woman:
royal princes sometimes spent their leisure hours in feasting and entertainments,
and at a wine party given by Sextus Tarquinius at which Collatinus, the
son of Egerius, was present, the conversation happened to turn upon their
wives, and each began to speak of his own in terms of extraordinarily
high praise. As the dispute became warm Collatinu said that there was
no need of words, it could in a few hours be ascertained how far his Lucretia
was superior to all the rest. "Why do we not," he exclaimed,
"if we have any youthful vigour about us mount our horses and pay
your wives a visit and find out their characters on the spot?"
other wives were found in various states of lewdness, Lucretia was:
differently employed from the king's daughters-in-law, whom they had seen
passing their time in feasting and luxury with their acquaintances. She
was sitting at her wool work in the hall, late at night, with her, maids
busy round her. The palm in this competition of wifely virtue was awarded
virtue only served to make her the target of Sextus Tarquin. Livy goes
on to say that:
Tarquin, inflamed by the beauty and exemplary purity of Lucretia, formed
the vile project of effecting her dishonour."
Tarquin "went in the frenzy of his passion with a naked sword
to the sleeping Lucretia, and placing his left hand on her breast, said, "Silence, Lucretia! I am Sextus Tarquin, and I have a sword
in my hand; if you utter a word, you shall die." When the
woman, terrified out of her sleep, saw that no help was near, and instant
death threatening her, Tarquin began to confess his passion, pleaded,
used threats as well as entreaties, and employed every argument likely
to influence a female heart...he threatened to disgrace her, declaring
that he would lay the naked corpse of the slave by her dead body, so that
it might be said that she had been slain in foul adultery. By this awful
threat, his lust triumphed over her inflexible chastity, and Tarquin went
off exulting in having successfully attacked her honour. Lucretia, overwhelmed
with grief at such a frightful outrage, sent a messenger to her father
at Rome and to her husband at Ardea, asking them to come to her..."
husband and father at her side, they attempted to console her, philosophically
explaining that: "it is the mind that sins not the body, and
where there has been no consent there is no guilt."
Lucretia could not bear to live with her honour forsaken. "She
had a knife concealed in her dress which she plunged into her, heart,
and fell dying on the floor. Her father and husband raised the death-cry."
Later "They carried the body of Lucretia from her home down to the
Forum, where, owing to the unheard-of atrocity of the crime, they at once
collected a crowd. Each had his own complaint to make of the wickedness
and violence of the royal house..."
by the sight of the dead Lucretia, and spurned on by speeches advocating
revolution, the crowd successfully overthrew Tarquinius Superbus, and
established a republican government headed by two consuls.
said that: "Lucretia having been ravished by force by the
king's son, having invoked the citizens to revenge her, slew herself.
And this indignation of hers was the cause of liberty to the state."
recorded that Lucretia "who renounced life of her own will
in order that later generations might emulate her deed we should judge
to be fittingly worthy of immortal praise, in order that women who choose
to maintain the purity of their persons altogether free from censure may
compare themselves with an authentic example."
BCE || The protest of the plebeians and the establishment of the plebeian
what the Roman annalists cited as the first of three organized class protests
by the plebeians, their demands of establishing a political council, called
the plebeian tribunate, led by two plebeian tribunes, was realized.
class divisions were clearly identifiable and institutionalized, yet attempting
to fit them to a modern parallel only provides unsatisfactory anachronisms.
The plebeians, as a class, were, in the beginning at least, the less wealthy,
and fought for political rights, many of which they gained over time.
The patricians were the aristocratic class whose leading families supplied
Rome with it's political and military leaders. Those families whose wealth
allowed them to support and provide a horse in a military campaign, came
to be called the equestrians, or equites. Beginning in 443 BCE these distinctions
were recorded by two censors, upon the taking of the census. One's status
was an important factor in voting rights, as votes were not counted on
an individual basis, but derived from from groups, usually called tribes.
The censor determined the group to which one would belong.
foundation of both the Republic and Empire was not based solely upon the
forces of conquest, but also upon the forces of labour. Rome's slaves
played an enormous role in daily activities, and ultimately Rome's success.
Slaves themselves occupied a wide spectrum spanning class divisions from
the Greek tutor who would initiate Patrician youth in the sophistications
of Hellenism, to the gladiator whose life was at the mercy of the mob.
BCE || Lex Publilia Voleronis Recognizes Concilium of the Plebeians and
ancient law granted further political rights to the plebeians. In this
year the number of Plebeian tribunes was raised from two to five.