Apr. 4th, 2011

lesbiassparrow: (Default)
Rome is an oddly conservative society; they do not like to get rid of practices even though they're clearly not appropriate for a world empire. One of these has to do with declaring war. The traditional way to declare war is for a fetialis, a member of a priesthood, to announce four times that your war is justified. The first time is at the borders of your enemy's territory, the second to the first person you meet, the third at the gates of the enemy city and the fourth in their forum. (A bit of a bollocks to do if they didn't have a forum, of course. I suspect you just found two houses huddled together and went with that if nothing else served.) 33 days later the person sent out to do this would declare that before the gods that the Roman demands had not been met and return to Rome. Next you get yourself one of the fetiales to take a fire-hardened spear and hurl it into enemy territory: this must be witnissed by four adults. (There are a few variants on this, but it all comes down to essentially the same things. The main source is Livy, who has the classic account.)

Why? Because a war must be just. You have to either seek compensation for an injury and be turned down or properly declere war. Otherwise it isn't fair and the gods don't like people who aren't fair and will crush them like a bug. (We will leave aside the issue of the giant Roman army and how fair that waa.)

Of course, this became unworkable as the Roman empire got bigger and bigger. Just marching out to the limits and returning home would take FOREVER. Or the enemy might be nomadic or have migrated from their territory so you had no idea where to hurl that damn spear. Additionally, there were only about 20 (max) fetiales and as they were also aristocrats and probably spending much of their time already fighting wars you couldn't send them out all the time.

The Romans could have given up killing people and warring but that would have been to get rid of most of what the Romans liked doing, which was, well, killing people and fighting. So they continued to send out messengers to declare wars (but these were no longer fetiales). And they decided that you could force someone from the territory you were fighting with to buy land in Rome (probably near the temple of Bellona) and toss your spear into it. Honour satisfied. Gods on your side. Victory assured.

A little note on auspices in war: generals on campaign marked out a special part of their camp for taking the auspices; this was your templum. Any ritual you did outside this would be void (another get out of jail free card for generals - if you cast lots to take a route and the route turns out to be a disaster you can suddenly decide that it was taken outside this templum.) Now, I think you brought a pot of sacred earth with you on campaign (from within the pomerium) but I'm having a hard time remembering how I know this.

Now I shall watch the mini-series Augustus. WHICH IS GOING TO BE AWESOME. It has a very surprised Peter O'Toole on the cover.

ETA: Ask a Roman a question is still open for business.

Augustus

Apr. 4th, 2011 06:52 pm
lesbiassparrow: (Default)
It's funny that I don't really care about history in these things - you can trample all over it and as long as it's entertaining I don't care. BUT AUGUSTUS WOULD NOT HAVE GONE THROUGH THE FORUM ADDRESSING THE PEOPLE IN A ROUGH CLOAK AND TUNIC. I know he had a fetish for wearing homespun stuff tht he said his wife and daughter had made, but even he would not have dragged that out on public business.

ETA; Agrippa is dead! And Peter O'Toole did a wailing thing that he should be ashamed of. Also, I am guessing Julia's voice is dubbed. It has that horrible dubbed quality to it.

ETA 2: Now we are in flashback mode and Augustus (well, Octavian) who apparently lives in a peasant cottage with only 1 slave HAS BEEN SUMMONED. They (according to voiceover) were all just country boys! Called by Caesar! The idea of Octavian as a country boy fills me with hilarity. He also looks 30, which is a little problematic for thinking of him as a ocuntry boy.

ETA 3: OCTAVIAN GIVES TO THE POOR. HE'S ONLY GOING TO TAKE OVER ROME FOR ITS OWN GOOD YOU KNOW.

ETA 4: HE ALSO SAVES ARISTOCRATIC LADIES FROM BEING RAPED. LIKE LIVIA. Who, for some unaccountable reason, is wandering Rome alone at night.

ETA 5: God lord, this thing is like a fascist's fantasy. CAESAR IS ONLY FIGHTING FOR FREEDOM AND THE COMMON PEOPLE. THEY FORCED HIM TO BECOME A DICTATOR.

ETA 6: You all know the crap I watch on a regular basis. This might actually defeat me.

ETA 7: HOLY FUCK THEY HAVE A GUY POP OUT OF THE TEMPLE OF VESTA. AND JULIA IS WANDERING AROUND THE FORUM ON HER OWN.

ETA 8: THAT JULIUS CAESAR WAS KILLED BECAUSE HE WAS FAR TOO NICE A GUY. NEVER HAD AN AMIBTIOUS THOUGHT IN HIS LIFE. IT WAS ALL FORCED UPON HIM. ALL OF IT. HE SAVES FARMERS FROM EVIL ORATORS LIKE CICERO WHO TRY AND THEIR LAND.

ETA 9: There is only so much fascist propaganda dressed up as the story of Caesar and Augustus I can watch. THEY ONLY TOOK OVER THE REPUBLIC TO SAVE THE LITTLE MAN. ALL ROME NEEDED WAS A STRONG LEADER WHO CARED FOR THE WORKING FOLK. So now I shall watch Empire and hope it is hilariously cheesy in the way that I need.
lesbiassparrow: (Default)
This looks good. The corrupted Senate created gladiatorial shows to distract the people from how awesome Caesar was. I have been promised that somehow this brought down the Republic.

IT IS THE AGE OF THE GLADIATOR. And Octavian is french-kissing some girl. That seems more like him in his youth. BTW, did you know they had refs in gladiatorial shows? They did. It would have stopped the shenanigans in this one where someone attacked before the other was ready. And then somehow mysteriously waited for him to draw his swords. CAESAR IS UPSET ABOUT SUCH THINGS. AND PEOPLE GANGING UP ON GLADIATORS.

ETA: Gladiator who triumphed was not celebrated until he had twirled his swords in some awesome show of something or other. Then they cheered. (I think people often have the wrong idea aobut such shows. People wanted skill not just butchery - they got that at other parts of the games. Where they were just going for blood and guts were the executions of condemned prisoners (which were on in the afternoon break.) Famous gladiators were bloody expensive and you didn't just want them butchered.

ETA 1: Tyrannus the Gladiator has just come upon the (nearly) dead Caesar who has told him to look after Octavian. WHO WILL SAVE ROME. He must teach him how to fight! And rule!

ETA 2: Just so you know that the senate is EVIL they have hired someone named RAPAX. RAPAX. I am not sure that Caesar hiring a Tyrannus is any better, but apparently it is. Now the Senate is going off to kill Caesar's family. INCLUDING THE WIMMIN. NOT THE WIMMIN! I EXPECT TO SEE CICERO KICKING SMALL CHILDREN IN THE FACE SOON.

ETA 3: No! Cicero is the voice of reason for a second! Also although Tyrannus is a slave he a) lives in his own home and b) has a wife and kiddie (also slaves) whom he can send off to Cyprus. Pretty flexible master he has.

ETA 4: Voiceover announces that the trials of Octavian have begun. And he rides off to the music from Born Free. And now the EVIL SENATORS are meeting in...the Senate Crypt. And being evil and stuff. Really evil.

ETA 5: Booorn Freeee. Freee as the wind. And so forth. The senate BECAUSE IT IS EVIL is killing Caesarians. And burning down towns. DO YOU KNOW THEY ARE EVIL? We also get to see the total breakdown of law and order with people OVERTURNING CARTS. NOT CARTS, YOU SAY. YES. A ROMAN CAN'T EVEN PROTECT HIS CARTS.

ETA 6: They have tossed Caesar's sister into a cage. A CAGE. It's a total breakdown of all the values that make Rome great. They'll be breaking into the Temple of Vesta soon. AND OCTAVIAN HAS BEEN BETRAYED BY THE GIRL HE LOVES. AND IS ABOUT TO GET LUCKY. OR UNLUCKY, IF YOU COUNT HER SENDING FOR SOLDIERS TO KILL HIM.

ETA 7: OCTAVIAN IS WEARING TROUSERS! See how evil the Senate is? They forced him to wear trousers as he fled! No Roman should have to endure such things.

ETA 8. Sorry. BUT THIS GOOD STUFF. Cicero is a Caesarian. And smuggling his will into the temple of Vesta. And I think Cassius is about to do something else evil. BECAUSE HE'S AN EVIL SENATOR.
lesbiassparrow: (Default)
Did you know Caesar was magic? Even dead he doesn't decompose! Or get smelly! Or have flies buzzing around. Also he sacrificed his ENTIRE LIFE for Rome. Poor man: forced into being a sole ruler when all he probably wanted to do was grow cabbages and write on them like Cato the Elder. (Cato had a perfect fetish for cabbages and wrote at lenght about their marvellous curative properties. You'd probably have a leg cut off and he'd be trying to wrap it up in cabbage leaves.)

ETA: Cicero as action man! He's come to the rescue of Octavian! Oooh, Cassius is threatening Cicero. But Cicero is giving as good as he gets. Even when he is threatened with death. Cassius tells him he is a mouth that flaps. Better men than you have said that and regretted it.

ETA 2: I am amused that Tyrannus and Octavian fled for days only to...end up in Rome. I know all roads led there, but this is ridiculous.

ETA 3: Well, the guy who plays Antony does good crazy eyes. Really good ones. The mob has gone crazy! They're about to burn Caesar in the Forum. At least it's better than using the senate house, which served for Clodius Pulcher's pyre. It is a pretty sad pyre though. Mainly twigs and one cart and about 2 foot high.

ETA 3: Hey! Cicero is in the temple of Vesta. THE GODS WILL BE FURIOUS. The last man in there - who was in there to rescue sacred objects when it went on fire - went blind as a result. THERE ARE NOW COMBAT DUNGEONS. WHERE THEY TRAIN GLADIATORS. Apparently only 1 in a 100 survive. That's worse odds of survival than for eunuchs. Which, by the way, were the most expensive slaves you could get because the survival rate was so low.

ETa 4: RAPAX LIVES UP TO HIS NAME. HE HAS SMASHED HIS WAY INTO THE HOUSE OF THE VESTALS. THERE IS SHRIEKING.

ETA 5: So T+O are off to General Magonius. And in about 2 seconds they have been taken prisoner as slaves. HOW HE WILL SUFFER. Rapax is back causing trouble at the temple of Vesta because...well he is EVIL. Like the Senate. The key is in the name.

ETA 6: I can imagine them plotting this out. Scene 57. The combat dungeons. The sweet-smelling Octavian is thought to be a male whore. He must learn how to be a slave and stop smelling so nice. Etc. Etc.
lesbiassparrow: (Default)
Servillia is now evil and snogging Cassius. In front of Brutus. Who tried to send her off for olives to forestall this. Now Brutus is magically the Pontifex Maximus and looks about as delighted at this as he was at Cassius and his mum snogging.

ETA 1: IN THE DUNGEONS THEY CALL OCTAVIAN PLEASURE BOY. AND TO STOP HIM BEING KILLED TYRANNUS MUST CLAIM HIM AS HIS PROPERTY. A billion fanficcers heads just exploded. And Octavian is tending him with care after he suffered so Octavian would not be killed. It's like every slash fantasy right on the screen.

ETA 2: Octavian may have to betray Tyrannus. Nooooo! Don't do it!

Seriously, people, THIS IS THE MOST AWESOME THING EVER. IT HAS TOTALLY CHANGED MY VIEW OF ROME.

ETA 3: It saddens me to report that no one wears togas properly in any of these things. ONLY A BARBARIAN WOULD USE A PIN TO KEEP A TOGA TOGETHER. NEXT THING YOU KNOW THEY'LL BE WEARING THOSE NEW SILK, SEE-THROUGH TOGAS. LIKE PLEASURE BOYS.

ETA 4: Well General Magonius didn't last long. Now he is dead like a dead thing and Octavian (sweet-smelling boy that he is) is sad. Though a hideous guard has taken to calling him little flower. So...that's nice, right? Everyone likes flowers? (Except for Octavian who just bashed his head in with a rock.)

ETA 5. RIGHT IN THE DUNGEONS OF COMBAT TYRANNUS JUST DID HIS SIGNATURE SWORD SWISHING MOVEMENT. AND NOW THERE IS A SLAVE RIOT. Can someone standing up and saying "I'm Spartacus" be far behind? WORDS ALONE CANNOT EXPRSS WHAT A BEAUTIFUL SHOW THIS IS. I loves it, I do. It is my precious.

ETA 6. Because Cassius is evil he has hired master assassins from overseas to kill Octavian (they come with a lot of animal skins and giant teeth hanging around their necks). What an underhanded wanker. Also the omens are bad according to the voiceover. You think?

ETA 7. In my fantasy casting Fiona Shaw is Fulvia. YES, YOU HEARD ME. FIONA SHAW IS FULVIA. Oh, and so you don't lose track of Octavian's fragrant life, he's now having a bath with Antony.

ETA 8: Well I had hopes that this party would turn into an orgy, but I was lied to. They tossed some women dressed in fruit at me and then backed down. OMG FULVIA HAS JUST SAID "I ALWAYS LEAVE BEFORE THE ORGY." Words to live by.

ETA 9: Because I believe these posts should be educational, I shall share with you this titbit of knowledge: the later (very briefly) emperor Otho shared his wife and his secret of perfuming his feet with Nero. No word on which Nero enjoyed more. THE MORE YOU KNOW. And a request to the icon makers on my flist: can someone make me an icon of an angry chicken with the words "never mess with the sacred chickens" on it? I feel having such an icon would make my life better. And possibly the universe. Because sacred chickens are awesome. Just awesome. THEY MAY BE CHICKENS BUT THEY HAVE A DIRECT LINE TO THE GODS. YOU MESS WITH THEM AT YOUR PERIL.

ETA 10: Finally we have achieved an orgy. And Antony is looking shifty. YOu shouldn't have signed away stuff to him in the event of your death, Octavian. And sent off Tyrannus. You've really only got yourself to blame.

ETA 11. SEE? THERE'S BEEN A MASSACRE BY MEANS OF SNAKES. 40 ROMANS DEAD. ALL THE CAESARIANS. Antony is pretty happy, though. You know what the worst of it is, though? OCTAVIAN WAS WEARING LONG JOHNS. WHAT RESPECTABLE ROMAN WEARS LONG JOHNS?
lesbiassparrow: (Default)
1. Octavian is not dead.
2. However, Tyrannus' wife is.
3. Antony is evil. Even more evil than Cassius and that is pretty evil. He also has crazy eyes.
4. Er. Nothing else to say. Unless Octavian is still fragrant. I do hope he is. And a little flower. Oh, and he now is best buds with Agrippa.

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