Conosci te stesso, Γνῶθι σεαυτόν, Nosce te ipsum. Pitagora, Apollo (e Hegel)

Flavia Diva Sanctissima

Flavia at the House of the Vestal Virgins. Photo by MoR. Given to the people

[hard to understand - also for he who is writing - and a notebook draft in both style and content]

Ψ

πρῶτον μὲν εὐχῇ τῇδε πρεσβεύω θεῶν τὴν πρωτόμαντιν Γαῖαν

Flavia è laureata in filosofia della scienza. Visione un po’ matriarcale la sua, un po’ patriarcale la mia, cozziamo spesso ma alla fine ne usciamo diversi.

Dice Flavia ieri:

“Ma tu che dici, ma che dici, ma che diici! Stai sempre a pensare a te stesso!”

Ψ

Dopo aver discusso insieme il post su Radhakrishan ripostato ieri (The most unique is the most universal) ne è venuto fuori questo:

 

“In fondo conoscere noi stessi – nel senso dell’oracolo di Delfi, in senso socratico, nel senso anche di Montaigne: noi stessi, dice il francese, siamo la cavia ‘umana’ che possiamo osservare più da vicino – ci porta ad aprirci anche agli altri”.

“Questo lo vediamo nei grandi classici, come dice Radhakrishan. Kalidasa, Radhakrishan osserva, esattamente come Sofocle, Shakespeare, Platone ecc., è legato alla realtà locale indiana ma più si è profondamente dentro noi stessi (come Montaigne, come Saffo), legati cioè al mondo culturale proprio, sia individuale-locale che collettivo-locale, PIU’ CIOE’ SIAMO NOI COME UNICUM essenzializzato (essenza umana della specie Homo, direbbe Olaf Stapledon; Geist o Mind, direbbe Hegel) E PIU’ SIAMO UNIVERSALI”

“Perché a questo punto il messaggio humanus risuona, son come corde pitagoriche sparse per il mondo che cominciano a vibrare, e vibrano vibrano vibrano vibrano e si crea come una sinfonia, e questo è il superuomo pitagorico collettivo, l’entità collettiva di Olaf Stapledon.

Anche il Leonardo da Vinci di massa di Antonio Gramsci; solo che con Stapledon (Odd John, Star Maker ecc.) e con Pitagora si traversano i cosmi grazie alle reincarnazioni”

Dunque, chiarendo meglio, i vari superuomini si connettono attraversando ere e universi e gli infiniti mondi (di Giordano Bruno anche? Check) … e allora abbiamo, in un caso più ristretto (o forse no?) Pitagora, Orfeo (il grande Musico), Apollo (riprendere quel bel brano di Shakespeare su Orfeo; rileggere Diogene Laerzio – Διογένης Λαέρτιος – dove parla delle reincarnazioni di Pitagora) che a livello di telepatia, di vibrazioni mistiche, si fondono come in un turbine.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Wikipedia. Click for credits and to enlarge

Del resto Hegel lo dice con sinteticità prolissa (Update. Con sinteticità. E’ prolissa la traduzione di William Wallace, Oxford 1894) :

[Philosophie des Geistes (Η φιλοσοφία του πνεύματος) or, Philosophy of Mind (Hegel's introduction, § 377)

 

The knowledge of mind is the highest and hardest,
right for its being the most “concrete” of sciences.

[Die Erkenntnis des Geistes ist die konkreteste, darum höchste und schwerste]

[Ndr. Infatti per i Vorsokratic Eleatici, per Platone, Hegel etc. conta solo l'essenza, l'essere, le idee-mente-Geist, a complex notion and onthology (link1, link2) that goes on and on - getting too wide-ranging, I know - up to Heidegger's Dasein (there-being,) to Quine and to William James]

The significance of that absolute commandment,
Know Thyself,
(whether we look at it in itself, or,
under the historical circumstances of its first utterance)
is not to promote mere self-knowledge in respect of the particular capacities,
character, propensities, and foibles of the single self.

[Erkenne dich selbst, dies absolute Gebot
hat weder an sich noch da, wo es geschichtlich als ausgesprochen vorkommt,
die Bedeutung nur einer Selbsterkenntnis nach den partikulären Fähigkeiten,
Charakter, Neigungen und Schwächen des Individuums
]

The knowledge it commands means that the man’s genuine reality
(of what is essentially and ultimately true and real)
is Mind as the true and essential being.

[from Ancient Roman mens, English Wiki; see wider entry mens in German Wiki; O.Stapledon's novels, incidentally, narrate the bringing into being of the Homo's Mind across the Universe(s): for such splendid narration Darwin is of course there to help him]

[sondern die Bedeutung der Erkenntnis des Wahrhaften des Menschen
wie des Wahrhaften an und für sich, - des Wesens selbst als Geistes
]

Equally little is it the purport of mental philosophy
to teach what is called knowledge of men,
the knowledge whose aim is to detect the peculiarities,
passions, and foibles of other men,
And lay bare what are called the recesses of the human heart.

Information of this kind is, for one thing, meaningless,
Unless on the assumption the we know the universal:
man as man, and, that always must be, as mind.

And for another, being only engaged with casual,
insignificant and untrue aspects of mental life,
It fails to reach the underling essence of them all:
THE MIND ITSELF.

[corsivi e maiuscoli non di Hegel]

 

A conversation with Carla Shodde, from Australia, on Religions, Romanness & Interlingua (Modern Latin?) – Dialectics (4)

Even the German Women were terrific fighters

Even the German Women were terrific fighters

Are the Germans ‘Always’ There?
(Why not man)

[See btw the clip at the head of the previous post]

ψ

Carla Shodde from Australia has some German DNA among the rest. A ‘budding Classicist’, as she phrased it, she is probably more than that.

We had a good dialogue at her place (see below. Here the original, not pruned, one.)

ψ

Another conversation had occurred here with Sledpress (another German, from US Virginia, this time,) which will be published as Dialectics 5, the last cherry on the pie in some way.

Why cherry on the pie?

Because Sled is a valuable writer (I have a notebook with many of her sentences since I am an aspiring non mother tongue writer in English,) she has been very much present in almost ALL discussions here and elsewhere, she being a valuable polymath (with high-level musical knowledge also,) capable of talking about everything (as our blogosphere small slice attests) … but most of all:

She has a VERY BAD temper ;-)

Which of course (any passion being powerful) is a big part of her charm and her being very good: as a writer, dialectic commentator, friend, musician (and real soul.)

Why We Love The Germans

At this point, after Easter Monday (when the exchange with The Virginian and other stuff will be already here), given the present crisis of the Euro zone, we think it’ll be high time to say aloud (from us, from many other Italians):

“Why we love the Germans and will continue to love them!”

In the meanwhile: Carla Shodde.

Impiety Among Philosophers

Found In Antiquity Carla Shodde

Carla thus presents her work and studies:

“To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child.” – Cicero, Ad Brutum. Carla recently finished first-class Honours in Classics, writing a thesis on accusations of impiety among philosophers in Greece and Republican Rome. She loves ancient art, ancient history, theology and pretty much anything to do with the Romans.”

 

Uncial sample

Courtesy of Carla Shodde’s Web site soon in our blogroll. Click to enlarge and for source file

 

MoR:Great post. About to repost the other one, I might repost this one as well, though I’m not sure, I am overwhelmed by business, family (my strength,) and my mentor’s ‘an article a day in languages that are not your own’ rule.

You are a scholar, a beginning scholar, perhaps, but hats-off scholar nonetheless. Ciao

[PS: hai per caso qualche stilla di sangue italiano? Carla è un nome italiano]“

Carla Shodde: “Thanks so much for reblogging the other post! You can reblog whatever you like, when you want to. :) And thanks for the encouragement, I would love to cultivate scholarship in Classics.

And actually, I don’t have any Italian blood, but my parents named me after my German great-grandfather Carl. They thought I was going to be a boy but when I was born a girl, they named me Carla. Italian is a beautiful language though and I wish I knew more.”

MoR: “Sorry I’ll be the usual Italian chatter-box. My thoughts come in floods, am too tired to prune and I proceed from chaos to order – my cognitive style, aspiring towards dialectics.

This exchange in fact, should you say yes, I’d love to publish over at my blog as Dialectics 4.

I’ll prune my texts of course but not much, this being the MoR plus I’d love you to reply extensively (in case you can and want) – the exchange of ideas resulting hopefully more stimulating for readers.

This being fussily said o_O  …

 

Roman Bona Dea (Good Goddess)

Roman Bona Dea (Good Goddess)

I)

Carla: “I would love to cultivate scholarship in Classics”

The personal opinion of a dilettante is that ‘you can’ lol become what you want if you really want it. You have ‘la stoffa’ (what it takes.)

You are creative, have passion but most of all you have discipline. Talent without discipline is zero.

A scholar I have not become (just a quirky researcher) for lack of guidance since I was abandoned to grow by myself like a weed (and am still, in the good sense though I hope, 1. Christianity and religions plus 2. intellectual curiosity helping.)

A Master Shows

I found the latter (2) after an encounter at 24 – id est a Master and inspiring polymath to whom I owe a lot and whom I call Magister διδάσκαλος, here.

The former (1) came after some study of the Ancient Roman religions (I liked that post of yours where you criticize those who consider the Ancient Roman religion void of emotions, of mysticism, simply formulaic (a total moronity imo.)

Via some study of cults, gods, goddesses and the mysteries etc. I realised how Roman Christianity was, plus Christianity was one of the several mysteries too (you might not agree here.)

A powerful blend, the ancient Roman religion – no need to tell you – which together with Christianity can provide strength and consolation. I am more Christian than Pagan, incidentally; although we ALL here, and elsewhere – eg some areas of the Roman Empire’s ex provinces – are (one may like it or not) a bit pagan.)

Let me add it is so refreshing to see a young woman – the age of my two daughters – so very ‘well’ doing what she does, and a real polyglot too (mandarin, wow, and German; Latin and Greek being of course necessary.)

 

Interlingua at Austin, Texas

Jardin de Ninos Interlingua Spanish Immersion, Austin, TX. Click for credits and source

II)

Carla: “Actually, I don’t have any Italian blood, but my parents named me after my German great-grandfather Carl. They thought I was going to be a boy”

Italian is bastard Latin so I don’t think you’ll have difficulties though my advice, you being a polyglot, is considering Interlingua instead.

Interlingua (official web site) is not artificial like Esperanto. It is ‘biological’; and, most importantly, it was conceived by solid scholars as a modern form of Latin.

For which purpose? [one might ask] English is already the lingua franca of a vast portion of the world.

A Fascinating vacation.
No ‘Direct’ contact with natives?

Ok, but take a woman from New York for example (all English speaking people we Italians btw call ‘Anglo-Saxons’, even those not wearing furs anymore – the others having passed away many centuries ago (stole this from an English guy living in Milan).

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro. Click for credits and source file

Now it turns this woman and her husband are planning a long trip to, say, Brasil, Spain, Italy and have desire to get to know the natives in a non-mediated-via-English way, ie, a more direct, ‘cultural’, way.

[As a side note, English is not much spoken the more ancient the country is (apart from India, naturally) : Romans for ex. have this couldn’t-care-less attitude thinking they are so darn universal – and they are, accepting everybody with open heart but at the same time being scared by other cultures plus also feeling superior but behaving like provincials who think they are gas nobles, or gods.]

In any case the said couple has only one solution: even if the trip will occur in 3 years (yes, they plan years in advance, the Americans lol) they nonetheless must frantically TOIL eg learn Portuguese on the first year, Spanish on the second year, and Italian on the third.

It can be done, but it’s a hard path especially until the half of it, then Latin underlying the 3 languages will make things easier.

[Getting Big Deal Man, I know ^^'  ]

Interlingua: Many Languages
at the Same Time

There is another exciting solution: learning Interlingua. It’ll take 2-3-4 months in the worst cases (or just a few weeks,) after which the couple will be able to understand and talk directly (via Interlingua) to Brasilians, Spanish and Italians, who will 70%  understand them even if they never heard of Interlingua before.

 ψ

Carla Shodde: “That’s really interesting – I’ve never heard of a language called Interlingua before, but it is nice that it uses Latin-based words to connect various Romance languages together.

I’ve been fantasising about learning early Germanic languages like Anglo-Saxon, so that I could possibly connect English and German together at their Germanic roots. A friend of mine is learning Gothic and is really enjoying the language. I’d love to read an Anglo-Saxon gospel book some day.

MoR: “By studying several cults & gods goddesses and the mysteries etc. I realised how ‘Roman’ Christianity was”

I am Christian, and I find the study of pagan theology fascinating. I believe in one God, as did the fathers of the Church, and I do not worship other gods, as it would be a deep betrayal of the sanctity of God.

While I am not a pagan, I still find pagan Roman theology interesting, both as a counterpoint for early Christian apologetics and as a subject in its own right.

“Christianity was not
a mystery religion”

Regarding Mystery Cults: I follow the most recent and well researched wave of scholarship, which concludes that Christianity was not a “mystery religion” in the same vein as, say, the Mithras cult.

“The evidence we have been examining suggests that there was little contact between Christianity and mystery cults at any time. This contrasts with a long-established scholarly tradition that tried to find considerable influence of mystery cult on Christianity. Often the debate was as much to do with contemporary concerns as with the distant past. So, for example, it suited Protestant polemicists to argue that the ‘primitive Christianity’ of the early church was corrupted by the incorporation of rites and doctrines drawn from non-Christian mystery cults… And it suited critics of Christianity as a whole to claim that many elements of Christianity, including the sacramental rituals of baptism and holy communion, were taken over directly from Mithraism.” – Hugh Bowden, Mystery Cults of the Ancient World, Princeton University Press (2010) p.207

“Pagan Theology: Overlooked”

I like studying pagan theology. I think it has been so often overlooked in modern studies of Roman paganism. Instead of viewing religion as a religion (i.e. a proposed way for reasonable humans to interact with a divine being or beings) people want to see religion only as a coded way of expressing sexism, elitism or some other secular or political goal that reflects narrow-minded modern concerns. I find it very surprising that some prominent scholars who study Roman religion have openly said they are contemptuous of all religion. Little wonder that it so commonly said that Roman religion was invented for the sake of empty traditionalism alone, or that it was a tool to manipulate the unthinking masses. I think Roman religion, at least in philosophical texts and grave inscriptions, meant much more to the people than just empty rituals.”

Answer to a complex question:
Found in the Holy Week?

MoR: “Well, gosh, wow. This will keep my brain juices working for a while I’ll admit. Not for long though. And I always (90%) come back. I spot some German determination. Schodde —> Schotte? Good. I’m a Bach wrestler since I was 19 :?

MoR: “Dear Carla, I like dialectics, as you & others know too well, id est Diskurs als argumentativer Dialog so my lateinisch discursus feedback, LOL, will be:

The answer to your very-German reply is to be found, in my view, in the Holy Week (Ἁγία καὶ Μεγάλη Ἑβδομάς) where Christians celebrate the events related to the last days of Jesus – passion, death and resurrection, among the rest.

Last Sunday I was feeling tense, tired. Therefore for some weird reason I randomly chose a Church (every 5 meters we have one in Rome) and had the luck to find a real shepherd speaking from ‘a heart’ and from a sound-theological-knowledge (as far as I can tell) brain, as well.

I’ll say I was moved to tears twice but since I never believed in signs, in the past, it is unlikely I will believe in them, in the future.

Jesus carrying the cross. Click for credits

Jesus carrying the cross. Click for credits

Regards from Rome.

Giovanni

Mother Goose’s “Monday’s child is fair of face” (the Number 7)

The real Mother Goose?

Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace;
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go;
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for its living;
But the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

[Mother Goose rhymes]

ψ

Tomorrow Number Seven will not teach us that:

There are 7 colours in the rainbow
7 Kings (or Hills) in Rome,
7 sages of Greece (οἱ ἑπτὰ σοφοί, hoi hepta sophoi)
7 sages in India (Saptarishi)
7 wise Medieval Masters
[see a great list here.]

However it will be so inspiring as to make us understand that we can learn, via 7 steps, Ancient Greek (in 7 days.)

Antonio The Samnite
(from Οὐέναφρον)

Samnite soldiers, from a tomb frieze in Paestum, Lucania, 4th century BCE

Samnite soldiers, from a tomb frieze in Paestum, Lucania, 4th century BCE. Click to enlarge

“You must be kidding”
“I am not”

 ψ

Motivated people will acquire decorous-enough wings that will progressively and placidly take them way up high to Greek Old and New Testament, Aesop’s Fables, Strabo and so forth up to many Greek poems and Aristotle (Plato is hard, albeit the apex.)

Stay tuned.

Obsessive Engines. How Manias Help Us Shape Our Own Worldviews

Originally posted on Man of Roma:

Constantine's Roman Basilica in Trier, Germany

The huge Constantine’s Roman Basilica in Trier, Germany, used today as a Protestant church (courtesy of Dulcevisa). Click for source

Spontaneous philosophy

We have said in a previous post that all men are philosophers since everyone in the course of his/her life keeps building a constantly evolving grid of interrelated concepts that shape his/her unique conception of the world.

Therefore ‘philosophy’ is not such a weird thing that pertains only to a specialized category of professionals. It is on the contrary a natural feature of our species, exactly like talking or walking on two legs.

Inner motives help

There is another element I want to point out (since we mentioned it just briefly in the past.)

These concepts and their linking seem (at least to me) related to inner motives each of us keeps inside, unconsciously or not. Such motives, often of biographical origin, are like filters that…

View original 551 more words

The ‘Black Book’ Of Julius Caesar’s Gallic Campaign. Harsher Criticism on Caesar(ism) (4)

19th-century statue of Vercingétorix (by Aimé Millet)

19th-century statue of Vercingétorix (by Aimé Millet) near the village of Alise-Sainte-Reine, Burgundy, France. Wikipedia. Click for source and larger view

Caesar‘s contemporaries were not overly happy about his Gallic campaign – Luciano Canfora observes.

[Luciano Canfora, Giulio Cesare, Mondadori 2010, XV, p. 132; English translation]

“This must be taken into account – he argues – when assessing the long-term effects of the conquest of Gaul, whose ‘inevitability’ is often teleologically overestimated. There is doubtless a risk of adopting a colonialist view.”

“A campaign unprovoked, with no real menace lurking, led to the destruction of the previous civilisation gradually supplanted by Romanisation, a genocide of monstrous proportions according to the convergent testimonies of Pliny the Elder and of Plutarch.”

Sources of a genocide

Let us then have a look at Pliny’s and Plutarch’s words.

Pliny the Elder: [Naturalis Historia; English: 7, 25; Latin: 7,92]

“For, outside (praeter) his victories in the Civil Wars [therefore in his Gallic wars only, MoR] Caesar slew in battle 1,192,000 of his enemies; but this, for my own part, I hold no special glory of his (non equidem in gloria posuerim), considering the great injury so inflicted on Humankind (coactam humani generis iniuriam): and this crime, indeed, he hath himself confessed, by avoiding to set down (non prodendo) the slaughter that occurred during the Civil Wars.”

Pliny’s moral indignation is unambiguous. His accusation, that Caesar hid his figures, harsh (Canfora.)

From the frontispiece of Plutarch's Lives by John Langhorne and William Langhorne. Baltimore: W. & J. Neal, 1836

From the frontispiece of Plutarch’s Lives by John Langhorne and William Langhorne. Baltimore: W. & J. Neal, 1836

Plutarch, Parallel Lives:

“Although it was not full ten years that he waged war in Gaul, Caesar took by storm more than 800 cities, subdued 300 nations, and fought pitched battles at different times with 3 million men, of whom he slew 1 million in hand to hand fighting and took as many more prisoners. (Life of Caesar 15, 5; English; Greek)

In the Life of Cato the younger (51, 1; English; Greek) Plutarch reveals the number of Germani slaughtered by Caesar by treachery and Cato’s proposal ‘to surrender Caesar to those whom he had wronged’:

“When it was believed that Caesar had attacked the Germans even during a truce (σπονδή) and slain 300,000 of them, there was a general demand at Rome that the people should offer sacrifices of good tidings (εὐαγγέλια θύειν; supplicatio, in Latin), but Cato urged them to surrender Caesar to those whom he had wronged (ἐκδιδόναι τὸν Καίσαρα τοῖς παρανομηθεῖσι), and not to turn upon themselves, or allow to fall upon their city (εἰς τὴν πόλιν), the pollution of his crime (τὸ ἄγος).”

Pliny the Elder: an imaginative 19th-century portrait

Pliny the Elder: an imaginative 19th-century portrait. Wikipedia

Pessimism of Aristocrats
defeated by Caesarism

Pliny the Elder was a member of those senatorial aristocrats nostalgic for the Republic and set aside by the new ‘monarchy‘ favoured by Caesar’s course.

Edward Gibbon (Decline and Fall…, vol. I, Chap 3, part 2) seems sympathetic to their ideals:

“The education of Helvidius and Thrasea, of Tacitus and Pliny, was the same as that of Cato and Cicero. From Grecian philosophy, they had imbibed the justest and most liberal notions of the dignity of human nature, and the origin of civil society. The history of their own country had taught them to revere a free, a virtuous, and a victorious commonwealth; to abhor the successful crimes of Caesar and Augustus; and inwardly to despise those tyrants whom they adored with the most abject flattery.”

Which were these ideals?

Ettore Paratore (1907 - 2000) in his studyroom. One of the major scholars of Latin literature

Ettore Paratore (1907 – 2000) in his study-room. He was one of the major scholars of Latin literature after World War II. Courtesy of RAI

According to Ettore Paratore such ideals had been well expressed centuries earlier by the Scipionic circle (Cornelia, Caius Laelius Sapiens, Scipio Aemilianus, Polybius, Panaetius, Lucilius, Terence etc.): a group of eminent people [whose 'structured circle' some scholars now call into question, MoR] open to Greek philosophy and Roman humanitas where power was transfigured as a message of civilization and fraternity, whose spiritual reasons had been sung by Virgil.

[E. Paratore, Profilo della Letteratura Latina, Sansoni, 1964, p. 351.]

According to Tacitus (who “internalized the senatorial ethic as only a newcomer can”: livius.org) the first Roman emperors had not lived up to these ideals because of Tyranny and its gloomy trail of crimes, blood, empty feelings (Paratore.)

[From the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, from the American and French Revolutions to 19th-century romanticism –any 'yearning for liberty' will condemn Caesarism & the Roman Empire and will see in Tacitus - see image below - their historian; MoR]

Tacitus. A modern statue outside the Austrian Parliament Building. Wikipedia. Click for source

Tacitus. A modern statue outside the Austrian Parliament Building. Wikipedia. Click for source

Vercingetorix, national hero
of Gaul (and of France)

Mario: “You got carried away and forgot about Caesar’s conquest of Gaul”.
MoR: “Well, many French will also see in Vercingetorix their national hero, and in Camille Jullian (1859 – 1933) their bard.”

ψ

Camille Jullian is a great historian and a great writer. I very much enjoyed his Vercingétorix (1902), available in French as Gutenberg text.

A coin depicting an idealised Vercingetorix

A coin depicting an idealised Vercingetorix

Here is a patchwork from Jullian’s book (assembled and translated by MoR):

“The Celts had a sense of moral unity and this feeling survived their rivalries. Among them traditions had formed and legends, a spiritual heritage. There were poets, bards, who sang the deeds of the kings and the vast empire they once possessed. Their priests, the Druids, taught that all Gauls were descended from the same god.”

“The Arverni were the people designated to profit from these aspirations. Their land was the ‘navel’ of the Celtic world: the Puy de Dôme, where the powerful god Teutates lived, was at an equal distance from the main frontiers of Gaul. The Arverni were the bravest and the most numerous, they had the richest lands and they obeyed to the god who could speak from the highest peak.

Puy de Dôme, a volcanoe in the region of Massif Central in south-central France Auvergne)

Puy de Dôme, a volcano in the region of Massif Central in south-central France (Auvergne). It served for centuries as an assembly place for spiritual ceremonies. Click for source

We almost see these Arvernian kings thanks to Posidonius, a Greek philosopher who traveled about the country soon after their passing. He was dazzled by the spectacle offered by the person and by the procession of the most powerful king of the West, surprised to find in Gaul the pompous custom of the military monarchies of the East. Luern distributed down from his chariot gold and silver to the crowd. He held for many days banquets of stupendous luxury. The Arverni had a taste for the colossal, Puy de Dôme inspired them to greatness.”

“Even shinier was the vision of the Arvernian king at war, advancing in the halo of his necklace and golden bracelets, on a chariot plated in silver, followed by the bronze boars of the tribes. Not far, the formidable pack of his hunting dogs. Beside him, finally, the poet, a lyre in his hand, singing the glorious feats of arms of the king and his nation. And the men, their senses impregnated with the royal glory, the eyes affected by the gold, the ears by the clamour, the thinking by the verses, they imagined that perhaps they had just seen a god.”

“The Arvernian empire resembled no regular state, made as it was by a league of tribes. The Arverni of Bituit fairly correspond in the history of Gaul to the Romans of Servius Tullius and his Latin league in the history of Rome. But the advantage is all on the side of the Gauls: their gold, light and bright coins were infinitely more precious than this square bronze, dark and massive coin which is the Roman as of the early times, and I don’t think that at the court of Servius one was delighted by the long chansons de geste dear to our ancestors. Gaul debuted merrily into civilized life, and partly according to the Greek rite.”

Coins from Gaul

Coins from ancient Gaul. Coinage had started in Gaul a few centuries BC. Courtesy of ‘Le blog de Lutèce’ (www.e-stoire.net), a good site about the French celts (in French)

[The Arverni were defeated by the Romans in 121 BC and Roman Gallia Narbonensis was established. Called 'Provincia', it later evolved into Provence, MoR.]

A new Arvernian chieftain

“Nearly a century later, Caesar having appeared on the Rhone, it seemed natural that, after numerous bloody battles, a new Arvernian chieftain unified the scattered tribes into a single command. This man was Vercingetorix.”

“The Gallic fatherland, as Vercingetorix imagined it, I believe, was the practice of this community of blood, of this original identity that the Druids had taught.”

“Vercingetorix identified his life with that of the Gallic homeland and with the liberty of its people to the extent that, the day the gods condemned his dream, he thought only to disappear.”

“He had been defeated not only by a man but by the gods. Having begun the war with human sacrifices, he would end it much in the same way, resolved to offer himself as an expiatory victim.”

A Gallic human sacrifice

A Gallic human sacrifice. Courtesy of ‘Le blog de Lutèce’ (www.e-stoire.net)

Ceremony of surrender

“The Romans were admirable directors. They always staged the shows which struck the imagination of both the allied and the vanquished, which at times served as much as a victory to ensure their command. Julius Caesar, the day after his victory, presented to the gods of his country the same king and leader of those he had defeated.”

“Before the camp, within the lines of defense, the high platform of the proconsul had been erected, isolated and preceded by steps, like a sanctuary. On top, Caesar sat on the imperial seat, wearing his purple robe. Around him, the eagles of the legions and the cohorts’ emblems as symbols of the protective deities of the Roman army. In front of him, the mountain that crowned the ramparts of Alesia, its flanks covered with corpses. Spectators of the show, 40,000 legionaries, standing on the terraces and towers that surrounded Caesar as an armed crown. On the horizon, the immense frame of the hills.”

Vercingetorix surrenders to Caesar by Henri Paul Motte

Vercingetorix before Caesar (by Henri Paul Motte, 1886)

“Alone, on horseback, Vercingetorix was the first to exit the gates of the city, no herald preceding his coming. He came down the mountain trails and appeared suddenly before Caesar.”

“He wore his finest weapons, his gold phalerae gleaming on his chest. Straightening his tall figure he got near the platform with the attitude of the proud winner going to triumph. Fierce expression, superb stature, his body sparkling with gold and silver, he must have looked bigger than a human being, and as august as a hero.”

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[The above patchwork in French]

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Previous installments:

Julius Caesar’s Conquest Of Gaul. When North-West Europe & The Mediterranean ‘Embraced’ (1)
Conquest Of Gaul. Debate On Julius Caesar’s Conduct, Motives, Achievements (2)
“Caesar was like the wind. Can we condemn the wind? And yet what scourge can it bring forth!” (3)

See also:

France, Italy and the Legacy of Rome
Stress and Joy. Conquest and Sorrow
Caesar, Great Man and Don Juan

“Caesar was like the wind. Can we condemn the wind? And yet what scourge can it bring forth!” (3)

The death of Julius Caesar (Vincenzo Camuccini 1771-1844)

The death of Julius Caesar (by Vincenzo Camuccini 1771-1844). Detail. Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Roma. Click for a complete view

From positive evaluations on Caesar’s actions we now turn to perplexed criticism expressed by some ancient Romans. In the upcoming and last chapter we will deal with some harsher criticism on Caesar.

Livy cited by Seneca

Livy, in a lost book (106?) of his History of Rome, calls into question the entire action of Caesar.

We know since Livy’s judgment is cited by the philosopher Seneca years later (2 generations from Livy’s time and 4 from Cesar’s, roughly.)

So-called Seneca. Ancient Roman bronze now at the National Archaeological Museum of Naples, Italy. Photo by Massimo Finizio. Click for source

So-called Seneca. Ancient Roman bronze now at the National Archaeological Museum of Naples, Italy. Photo by Massimo Finizio. Click for source

Seneca – we like to imagine – is narrating to his pupil Lucilius (Naturales quaestiones, V, 18, 4) the science of his time, Nero‘s time.

After having explained the nature of meteors, rainbows, earthquakes and so forth, Seneca addresses ‘wind’.

Wind is useful – he argues – since it allows “communication among all the different nations … A great service is this that nature here renders, did not man’s madness turn it to his own injury!”

[Seneca here refers to winds that push ships, stir things etc.]

Blessing or curse?

Here comes the quote:

“The remark which was commonly made regarding Gaius Julius Caesar as recorded by Livy – that it was doubtful whether his birth was a blessing or a curse to the state – may be applied to the winds.”

Busto di Cesare. Museo nazionale di Napoli

Caesar’s Bust. Naples National Museum

So, through a poetic metaphor, Seneca lets us know both Livy’s perplexity and his own regarding Caesar’s deeds. We will try to better understand.

First of all, is it a hostile judgement? A very perplexed one, rather (Luciano Canfora’s comment). “Since – Canfora observes – nobody would ‘condemn’ winds without appeal and yet everybody knows what scourge they can produce”.

[Luciano Canfora, Giulio Cesare, Mondadori 2010, XLII, p. 380]

A windstorm. Brittonic pearls

Seneca’s further explanation of the winds sheds some light on his own view on Caesar [italic text is mine; Canfora will then help us to read between the lines]:

“[Winds] do not cease to be inherently good, even though, through fault of those who degrade their use, they are turned to instruments of harm. Surely Providence and God, the great Disposer of the world, had a beneficent aim in establishing the winds … that the atmosphere might be kept in motion by them, that no part of the world should become unsightly through inactivity. His object was not that we might man our fleet with armed soldiers to seize every quarter of the main, and that we might go in search of foes either in or beyond the sea.”

“In its profundity – Luciano Canfora observes – the comparison is sort of paralyzing: Seneca stops on the brink of a judgement he can not make. Through the metaphor of the wind he alludes to Julius Caesar, represented as a windstorm.”

Jean-Léon Gérôme, Cleopatra and Caesar

Was Cleopatra wearing Brittonic pearls? According to Pliny the Elder (Natural History : IX.116) Caesar dedicated a thorax decorated with British pearls to Venus Genetrix. Jean-Léon Gérome (1824-1904) painted how Cleopatra and Caesar first met according to Plutarch (Caes. 49). Click for source

Canfora then adds [paraphrased]:

The metaphor well fits Caesar’s warlike hyperactivity, when Seneca mentions a degraded use of winds pushing ships over the sea, not for exploration or communication, but for wars in the sea or beyond the sea. ‘Beyond’ the sea – Canfora argues – cannot but allude to the erratic expedition in Britannia, judged unreasonable by many: a useless carnage carried out – to some – for greed of Brittonic pearls (Suetonius, Caesar 47; Pliny, Natural History, IX.116, 169; Gibbon believed it, Ch I; read a great article by Bill Thayers.)

Roots of perplexity

So this whole post is about the perplexity a few ancient Romans felt before Caesar’s warlike restlessness.

[Only a few? Seneca had talked of a 'commonly made' remark: quod vulgo dictatum est]

This perplexity, it should be noted, hit even those who – like Livy, Seneca and others – had benefited from the new course introduced by Caesar (new conquests, the Empire with its better organization etc.)

Why then such perplexity, Canfora asks himself?
[Giulio Cesare, XLII p . 383]

For humanitarian reasons, basically: the horrible human cost of eight years of war in Gaul and 5 years of civil war.

Capitoline She-Wolf. Rome, Musei Capitolini. Public domain

Other installments:

Julius Caesar’s Conquest Of Gaul. When North-West Europe & The Mediterranean ‘Embraced’ (1)
Conquest Of Gaul. Debate On Julius Caesar’s Conduct, Motives, Achievements (2)
The ‘Black Book’ Of Julius Caesar’s Gallic Campaign. Harsher Criticism on Caesar(ism) (4)

See also:

France, Italy and the Legacy of Rome

Stress and Joy. Conquest and Sorrow
Caesar, Great Man and Don Juan

Conquest Of Gaul. Debate On Julius Caesar’s Conduct, Motives, Achievements (2)

Vercingetorix surrenders to Caesar by Henri Paul Motte

Vercingetorix before Caesar (by Henri Paul Motte, 1886)

As regards Julius Caesars conquest of Gaul (and other actions of his) we will here just scratch the surface of a debate (among admirers mostly) on Caesar’s conduct, motives and achievements.

The debate among Caesar’s detractors will be the subject of the two upcoming posts (a list of all installments is at the foot of the page.)

Imperialism by ‘historical necessity’

We are dealing here with imperialism, it is clear, justified by some as ‘historical necessity’ (not the time now to get into philosophy of history.)

Luciano Canfora‘s judgement on Caesar is in truth multifaceted (Giulio Cesare, il dittatore democratico, Mondadori 2010, XV, pp. 137-8; English translation):

“Gaul was thus inserted by violence and genocide into the circuit of the Roman ‘civilization’ … Naturally, the romanization of Gaul is a phenomenon of such a historical amplitude as to impose the question of whether the accounting of the dead proposed with extreme clarity by Pliny the Elder (together with the harsh accusation that Caesar hid his figures) should not however give way, on the plane of historical assessment, to what can be considered the crucial event in the formation of medieval and later modern Europe.”

Gaul at the time of Caesar

Gaul at the time of Caesar. Click for attribution

Mere ambition
or conquest with a big vision?

As for “whether Caesar’s conquest was motivated by mere ambition” rather than by the design of opening a ‘new frontier’, Canfora observes:

“As if the two things could really be distinguished in the work of a great statesman.”

Theodor Mommsen too had argued (History of Rome, V,7. The Subjugation of the West):

“It is more than an error, it is an outrage upon the sacred spirit dominant in history, to regard Gaul solely as the parade ground on which Caesar exercised himself and his legions for the impending civil war.”

“Though the subjugation of the West was for Caesar so far a means to an end that he laid the foundations of his later height of power in the Transalpine wars, it is the especial privilege of a statesman of genius that his means themselves are ends in their turn. Caesar needed no doubt for his party aims a military power, but he did not conquer Gaul as a partisan.”

“There was a direct political necessity for Rome to meet the perpetually threatened invasion of the Germans thus early beyond the Alps, and to construct a rampart there which should secure the peace of the Roman world.”

Hermann Heights Monument erected in New Ulm, Minnesota

Hermann Monument erected in New Ulm (Minnesota), a town founded by German immigrants in 1854. Wikimedia

Were German migrations
Rome’s big problem?

According to 19th century Mommsen, one of Caesar’s main merits was that of understanding who the big enemy of Rome actually was:

“Inasmuch as [Caesar] with sure glance perceived in the German tribes the rival antagonists of the Romano-Greek world;
inasmuch as with firm hand he established the new system of aggressive defense down even to its details, and taught men to protect the frontiers of the empire by rivers or artificial ramparts, to colonize the nearest barbarian tribes along the frontier with the view of warding off the more remote, and to recruit the Roman army by enlistment from the enemy’s country;
he gained for the Hellenico-Italian culture the interval necessary to civilize the West …”

Hermann, Armin or Arminius, chieftain of the Germanic Cherusci

Hermann chieftain of the Germanic Cherusci. His victory over a Roman army in the Teutoburg forest (9 AD) made him a symbol of German patriotism

Today’s views by historians are more complex. A number of factors (not only German mass migrations, seen mostly as gradual integration) are seen as causes of Rome’s fall (see a list of theories about why Rome fell).

Furthermore, Germania at the time of Caesar (1rst cent. BC; or of Augustus and Hermann, 1rst cent. AD) was backward compared to Germania in the 4th-5th centuries AD.

As Peter Heather put it (The Fall of the Roman Empire. A new History. I,2. Pan Books 2005):

“It could hardily be clearer that 19th-century visions of an ancient German nation were way off target … the inhabitants of first century Germania [Germans, Celts and another unidentified group, according to Heather] had no capacity to formulate and put into practice a sustained and unifying political agenda (p.55.)”

It was therefore not German military prowess – Heather continues, p.58 – to scare the Romans off Germania, but its poverty [different was the case of richer Gaul, MoR.]

The issue of Parthia

The Parthian (Persian) empire soon after Caesar time

The Parthian (Persian) empire a few years after Caesar’s time. According to many historians Persia was Rome’s main antagonist. Wikipedia

Getting back to Caesar’s motives for conquering Gaul, he was surely aware of the German danger (L. Canfora). That he wrote this in the Commentarii as justification for his wars doesn’t though prove much.

Caesar’s literary work was political. Caesar’s bloody conquest had outraged many of his adversaries. The roman general needed to indicate his conquest as preemptive.

The Cimbri‘s and Teutones‘ dreadful raids in Gaul and Italy – occurred 50 years earlier – could have nonetheless brought serious problems to Rome had Gaius Marius, Caesar’s uncle, not stopped them.

Caesar was therefore aware of the danger even before facing Ariovistus. That Germani were considered by him Rome’s big problem is doubtful though. It is more likely that the Romans, in the various phases of their empire, feared more the much stronger and civilized power of the Parthians in the East [Heather, p.48 et. al.; see also Roman-Parthian wars.]

Parthian horseman. Palazzo Madama, Torino, Italy.

Parthian horseman. Palazzo Madama, Torino, Italy. Wikipedia

Some evidence shows this may have also been Caesar’s view.

Crassus, Caesar’s amicus, had been defeated in 55 BC at Carrhae by the Parthians of his time (Crassus had been killed and 7 legions annihilated). All this had happened during Caesar’s Gallic wars.

So Caesar, as Mommsen wrote, “taught men to protect the frontiers of the empire” toward Germania but did not plan any conquest of Germania beyond the Rhine. In the last period of his life he was instead preparing a military expedition against the Parthians which he could not carry out because he was murdered in 44 BC.

[the two paragraphs above reflect MoR's opinion]

“Reorganization of the State,
more than Gaul, was crucial”

The weakness of the declining Roman aristocracy, according to Mommsen, meant danger to Rome.

“It hardly admits of a doubt – he argued – that if the rule of the senate had prolonged its semblance of life … the Italian civilization would not have become naturalized either in Gaul, or on the Danube, or in Africa and Spain.”

Irish Ciarán Hinds as Julius Caesar in 'Rome',  an HBO BBC TV series

Irish Ciarán Hinds as Julius Caesar in ‘Rome’, a British-American-Italian historical drama TV series

The British historian Arnold Joseph Toynbee (1889 – 1975; Julius Caesar current Britannica’s entry) downplays the importance of the conquest of Gaul by Caesar. To him the reorganization of the state and the removal of an oligarchy no longer à la hauteur was more crucial. 

“Great though this achievement was, its relative importance in Caesar’s career and in Roman history has been overestimated … In Caesar’s mind his conquest of Gaul was probably carried out only as a means to his ultimate end. He was acquiring the military manpower, the plunder, and the prestige that he needed to secure a free hand for the prosecution of the task of reorganizing the Roman state and the rest of the Greco-Roman world. This final achievement of Caesar’s looms much larger than his conquest of Gaul, when it is viewed in the wider setting of world history.”

Caesar vs Shih Huang Ti

A.J. Toynbee here sings praises to Caesar’s overall achievements.

Caesar“This cool-headed man of genius with an erratic vein of sexual exuberance undoubtedly changed the course of history at the Western end of the Old World.”

“By liquidating the scandalous and bankrupt rule of the Roman nobility, he gave the Roman state —and with it the Greco-Roman civilization— a reprieve that lasted for more than 600 years in the East and for more than 400 years in the relatively backward West. [...] The prolongation of the life of the Greco-Roman civilization had important historical effects.”

Qinshihuang“Caesar’s political achievement was limited. Its effects were confined to the Western end of the Old World and were comparatively short-lived by Chinese or ancient Egyptian standards. The Chinese state founded by Shih Huang Ti in the 3rd century BC still stands, and its future may be still greater than its past.

Yet, even if Caesar were to prove to have been of lesser stature than this Chinese colossus, he would still remain a giant by comparison with the common run of human beings.”

ψ

Other installments:

Julius Caesar’s Conquest Of Gaul. When North-West Europe & The Mediterranean ‘Embraced’ (1)
“Caesar was like the wind. Can we condemn the wind? And yet what scourge can it bring forth!” (3)
The ‘Black Book’ Of Julius Caesar’s Gallic Campaign (4)

See also:

France, Italy and the Legacy of Rome
Stress and Joy. Conquest and Sorrow

I Saturnali a Roma: frenesia, banchetti, schiavi e regali. Somiglianze con Natale e Capodanno (2)

Tempio di Saturno a Roma, alle pendici del Campidoglio. Click for attribution

English original

I Saturnali al tempo di Nerone

Roma, 17 dicembre, 62 dopo Cristo. Nerone è a capo dell’impero romano. Il filosofo Seneca scrive una lettera (n. 18) all’amico Lucilio:

December est mensis
(E’ il mese di dicembre)
cum maxime civitas sudat.
(quando la vita è più intensa che mai in città.)
Ius luxuriae publice datum est;
(Il diritto all’eccesso è stato ufficialmente proclamato;)
ingenti apparatu sonant omnia [...]
(ogni angolo risuona dei chiassosi preparativi  [...])

L’inizio della festa più amata a Roma e nel resto dell’impero, i Saturnalia, è stato ufficialmente proclamato. L’eccitazione cresce ovunque.

Il filosofo, tranquillamente seduto nel suo elegante tablinum, riflette su ciò che lui e il suo amico dovrebbero fare, se cioè partecipare o meno alla gioia dei banchetti.

Si te hic haberetur,
(Se ti avessi qui)
libenter tecum conferrem quid estimare esse faciendum [...]
(sarei felice di consultarti su ciò che sia opportuno fare [...])
utrum nihil ex cotidiana consuetudine movendum,
(se lasciare immutate le nostre quotidiane abitudini,)
an, ne dissidere videremur cum publicis moribus,
(o, per non sembrare fuori sintonia con i costumi della gente,)
et hilarius cenandum et exuendam togam
(se anche noi dobbiamo banchettare allegramente e toglierci la toga)

Banchetto in un affresco a Pompei

Modalità del rito

Il sacrificio ufficiale – che si celebra nel tempio di Saturno, sul lato occidentale del foro – è probabilmente terminato. Sarà seguito a breve da un banchetto nello stesso tempio durante il quale i partecipanti grideranno il saluto augurale: Io Saturnalia! (che ricorda i nostri brindisi di Capodanno) e dove la celebrazione presto si trasformerà in una festa accesa e caotica.

Una (vaga) idea della cerimonia può esserci fornita da un testo rituale scritto da un neo-pagano ricostruzionista, Apollonius Sophistes [vedi il sito Biblioteca Arcana].

L’obiettivo di Apollonius è quello di far rivivere il rito nella vita reale.

ψ

Mario: “Celebrare il rito oggi?? Ma è fuori di testa questa gente?”

Extropian: “Forse, anche se cercare di rivivere forme di paganesimo con un minimo di accuratezza storica è sempre meglio dei pastrocchi alla Wicca. Il che, in un caso o nell’altro, non fa per me”.

Dettaglio dalle ‘Rose di Eliogabalo’ del vittoriano Lawrence Alma Tadema (1836-1912). Click to zoom in and enter Tadema’s vision of Roman Antiquity

Banchetti nelle case e doni

L’euforia pervade la città. I banchetti nelle abitazioni private saranno sregolati, come succede ogni anno. Ci si appresta agli ultimi ritocchi a piatti elaborati, biscotti, doni, alla disposizione di candele (cerei) che simboleggiano la rinascita del sole; si preparano pupazzi di pasta (sigillaria) e si finisce di organizzare spettacoli, danze e musiche, tra cui una scelta di canti non di rado scurrili ed altri di tono più elevato, spirituale.

Brevi testi, proprio come i bigliettini dei nostri regali, accompagnano i doni. Il poeta Marziale, che ne ha composti diversi nei suoi epigrammi, ci dà informazioni sul tipo di regali scambiati:

“Tavolette per scrivere, dadi, aliossi [un gioco con ossicini ormai in disuso, ndr], salvadanai, pettini, stuzzicadenti, cappelli, coltelli da caccia, scuri, lampade di vario genere, biglie, profumi, pipe, maiali, salsicce, pappagalli, tavoli, tazze, cucchiai, capi di abbigliamento, statue, maschere, libri, animali domestici”.
[elenco tratto dalla Wiki inglese]

Licenza degli schiavi,
vesti e formulazione di desideri

Agli schiavi sarà permesso ogni tipo di licenza (o quasi). Un maestro della festa o ‘re del disordine’ impersonerà il gioviale Saturno con la barba che, scelto a sorte nelle case, orchestrerà il divertimento (personaggio simile al nostro Babbo Natale).

[Un Lord of Misrule è figura comune del Natale britannico nel medioevo, con ruolo quasi identico, così come il Pape des Sots o des Fous in Francia]

Scrive lo storico americano Gordon J. Laing (Survivals of Roman Religion):

Gli schiavi dei Saturnali romani erano “autorizzati a trattare i loro padroni come fossero loro pari. Spesso infatti padroni e schiavi si scambiavano i ruoli e questi ultimi venivano serviti dai primi [...] Un ‘re’ scelto a sorte ordinava a un ‘suddito’ di ballare, a un altro di cantare, a un altro ancora di portare sulle spalle una flautista e così via. Con tale gioco i romani ridicolizzavano la regalità”.

L’assiro Luciano di Samosata scrive nei suoi Saturnalia (un dialogo satirico del II secolo d.C. che si svolge tra Kronos-Saturno e il suo sacerdote)

“Durante la mia settimana [è Crono che parla, ndr] la serietà è bandita; ogni commercio e attività sono proibite. Il bere, il chiasso, i giochi e i dadi, la scelta dei re e la gioia degli schiavi che cantano nudi, il battito frenetico delle mani e i visi con la bocca tappata che vengono tuffati nell’acqua gelida: sono queste le funzioni a cui presiedo [...] questo il periodo di festa, quando è lecito ubriacarsi e gli schiavi hanno licenza di insultare i loro padroni”.

Come alla vigilia del moderno Capodanno, è il momento di esprimere i desideri per l’anno a venire. Dice Crono al suo sacerdote:

Crono: “Volgi il pensiero a ciò che mi vuoi chiedere [...] farò del mio meglio per non deluderti”.

Sacerdote:
“Nessuna originalità in proposito. Le solite cose, per favore: ricchezza, abbondanza d’oro, proprietà di terre, folle di servi, gaie e morbide vesti, argento, avorio, in realtà tutto ciò che è di un qualche valore. O migliore dei Croni, dammi un po’ di queste cose!”.

I Sansculottes della rivoluzione francese con i ‘berretti della libertà’, tipici degli ex schiavi o liberti. Essi erano copricapo comune nei Saturnali come simbolo d’uguaglianza

Come si vestiva la gente? In modi che suggerivano l’uguaglianza sociale. Seneca aveva infatti accennato al fatto di togliersi la toga, indumento solenne e d’alto ceto. Le gente ai banchetti indossava infatti la synthesis, un semplice vestito da cena, e il pileus, il berretto conico dei liberti, un cappello di feltro aderente simile al cappello frigio che non a caso in epoche successive diverrà l’icona della libertà nelle rivoluzioni francese e americana [il bonnet rouge dei sanculotti: vedi l’immagine sopra].

[per ulteriori informazioni (in inglese) sui Saturnalia: Lacus Curtius; un bell'articolo di Mary Beard e la ricca voce Saturnalia della Wikipedia inglese]

Intellettuali in conflitto

Di fronte a tanta frenesia lo stoico Seneca propende per la via intermedia (notate l’accenno alla folla ‘pilleata’, che indossa cioè i ‘pilei’):

Si te bene novi,
(Se ben ti conosco)
nec per omnia nos similes esse pilleatae turbae voluisses
(avresti desiderato che non fossimo né simili alla folla imberrettata)
nec per omnia dissimiles;
(né del tutto dissimili;)
licet enim sine luxuria agere festum diem
(è opportuno infatti partecipare alla festa senza eccessi.)

E’ comprensibile. L’intellettuale tende a comportarsi diversamente dall’uomo della strada, ed è spesso (ma non sempre) infastidito e un po’ blasé di fronte al trambusto della gente comune.

Durante le feste di dicembre che si svolgono a casa sua “Plinio il giovane – scrive Mary Beard nell’articolo citato – si rifugia altezzosamente nell’attico per continuare a lavorare (non vuole rovinare il divertimento dei servi – ma, forse ancor più, non vuole esporsi ai loro giochi ruvidi)”.

Catullo in visita da Lesbia. Laurence Alma Tadema (1836-1912)

Il poeta Catullo invece adora i Saturnali (“il periodo più bello”) così come il poeta Stazio, che alla fine del I secolo d.C. esclama:

“Quanti anni ancora durerà questa festa! Mai il tempo cancellerà un così santo giorno! Finché esisteranno le colline del Lazio e il padre Tevere, finché la tua Roma rimarrà in piedi, e il Campidoglio, che hai restituito al mondo, i Saturnalia vivranno”.

[Silvae, I.6.98 e sgg.]

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E infatti i Saturnali per molti aspetti sopravviveranno, come abbiamo visto e forse ancora vedremo.

ψ

Prima parte sui Saturnalia:

Sopravvivenza dei Saturnalia dell’antica Roma nel Natale, Capodanno e Carnevale (1)

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