Being Barefooted in Ancient Rome Was Good?

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The majority of politicians, in Ancient Rome, have been immortalized through the skilled craft of creating sculptures. One thing most have in common is that they are all barefooted. You can look at examples of the great military commander Julius Caesar, or even the crazy ruler Nero. It is safe to assume that Ancient Romans wore shoes, but the reason behind their shoes not being sculpted was because Emperors/rulers were thought to be equal to all men while also similar to God. By constructing temples for one, or various, gods, an Emperor showed his spiritualness, and by being immortalized as barefoot, he was forever remembered as being equal to all men. Why does this factoid matter, you ask? Art showcases and preserves feelings and beliefs of a certain group of people, so later in the future, when people look back, they can literally see what was happening and infer what was going on in peoples’ minds.

Homosexuality in Ancient Rome v. Modern America

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During the last school year, in my freshman Latin 2 Greek 1 honors class, I read a lot of poems written by Catullus. This included his erotic poems to his male friends, or what we called his homosexual poems. Over the course of the spring term, we read several Catullus poems, but one that we did not read was poem 16. This poem is somewhat a homosexual one but more harsh than anything. The first line, which reads “Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo” takes the reader by surprise and is shocking as well.

This led me to wondering how homosexuality was treated in Ancient Rome. Thanks to a quick conversation with my teacher, Mr. Ciraolo (buy his book here), I found out that not many people cared if a man acted on his homosexual impulses as long as he had children to success him. Although this is a very weird way of looking at a sexual orientation, I found that it was somewhat logical as well as tolerant.

According to Stanford University, there was nothing that differentiated homosexual and heterosexual behavior in both Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece.  However, it was illegal for a man to be passive during sex. I found this odd yet interesting, particularly because many people in the West, America in particular, discriminate against same-sex couples merely because they are of the same sex and have sex. One example is the baker who absolutely refused to bake a cake for a gay couple. Then, in the summer of 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the baker. Insane. It’s astonishing to think that Ancient Rome was arguably more tolerant of same-sex couples than we are today.

Is India The New Ancient Rome?

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Today, my grandparents showed me a video of Indian Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s daughter-in-law’s wedding dress; it is allegedly worth 5-6 million US Dollars. Now, when most people think of India, they think of the following things: Gandhi, snake charmers, call centers, Tandoori Chicken, poor people living in huts and slums, as well as other things. It’s no secret that many Indians work in the growing field of Information Technology, while others can barely afford to eat two square meals a day. However, not many people know about the wealth disparity; those less fortunate struggle for most, if not all, of their lives, while fortunate ones sit in their air conditioned homes and have multiple servants, as well as drivers.

When I visit India, my family’s servants do whatever I ask and a driver can take me anywhere I’d like. Thanks to my upbringing, I know to refuse and do it myself as I cannot tolerate someone else cleaning my dirty dishes. My food, my chores. That is the mindset I live with, but not many wealthy Indians believe that. Just like how having a luxury car is a sign of an affluent family, so is the number of servants one’s family has.

This extreme wealth disparity reminds me of Ancient Rome’s Plebeians and Patricians. Patricians in Ancient Rome belong to the Upper Class and were almost always involved in politics, whereas Plebeians, roughly 90% of the population, were bribed by free bread and entertainment to not rebel against the injustices they tolerated.

Going back to politics, if it was not for men like Mukesh Ambani, who funded Modi’s campaign and lent his private helicopter to Narendra Modi, Modi would not be the Prime Minister of India today.

Although bread held the Plebeians back from rebelling and possibly becoming better, the lack of a quality education in is what holds most Indians back. Not only do most government schools provide a inadequate education, it is a societal norm to hire a private tutor outside of school. The actual school is not taken seriously, but the tutor is. What happens to the people who can’t afford a private school or a tutor? They’re left behind.

This wealth disparity is arguably the biggest one as not many people have done something to improve the situation. Until one of us takes action, even if it’s to educate more people on the problem itself, the wealth disparity will stay as it is. So, tell me, is India the new Ancient Rome?

Diss Tracks in Ancient Rome

YouTube is known for its variety of content: music videos, tutorials, Do-It-Yourself videos (DIYs), and diss tracks. Diss tracks are “music videos” which either poke fun at the person creating it or someone else. All diss tracks have cringeworthy lyrics and a repetitive beat. Unfortunately, the most popular diss tracks on YouTube are the ones made by Logan Paul and Jake Paul. In fact, both of them were extremely popular last year for dissing each other (I recommend not clicking the link). Today, if you want to ruin someone’s reputation, the best thing to do would be to create a diss track. It’s a modern, memorable, and catchy way.

In Ancient Rome, the Romans didn’t have YouTube, so what did they do to publicly defame people ? Well, just like how the Paul brothers are famous for their diss tracks, Catullus was famous for his hate-filled poems in Ancient Rome. In fact, in one of his other poems, Catullus threatens Asinius Marrucinus and says that he will write “300 hendecasyllabic verses…[if Marrucinus does not] send back the napkin” (Poem 12). This threat is merely the Ancient Roman way of saying ‘I’m going to publicly embarrass you by creating something’.

So, while the Romans lived in the Ancient World, and we live in a more modern one, human instincts have not changed. If you want to defame someone, it’s quite probably that you would create something, whether it’s a rumor, poem, or diss track. Human instinct has not changed much, and we still do the same things, but in a more complicated way (making a poem is easier than making a music video).

“Dulce et Decorum est” by Wilfred Owen

“Dulce et Decorum est” is a well-known anti-war poem by Wilfred Owen, In this poem, Owen describes the shock of a gas attack and the effects they had on soldiers who were lucky enough to survive them. From a glance at the poem, you can see that the poem is broken into 4 verses and structured around three disturbing images. The poem itself is written in two parts (14 lines each); the first part is written in present tense, as if he’s one of the soldiers, and the second part is written as if he’s watching what’s happening from a distance. Owen’s effort to convey the horrors of war was successful because the imagery he used throughout the poem was solid.

Here is the poem:

In the first stanza, a group of soldiers are in no man’s land, trying to go back into the trenches. During the first few lines, the reader can easily picture the horrible conditions of the trenches; the soldiers were compared to beggars because of their physical and mental conditions. The second image, in the second stanza, is more disturbing; Owen writes about a soldier who fails to put his gas mask on, in a timely manner, during a gas attack. And last but not least, the third image Owen depicts is in the fourth stanza. In it, Owen illustrates how that dying soldier, and other dead soldiers, was/were treated by writing, “Behind the wagon that we flung him in,” (18). This shows that they were all tossed into a wagon and buried together, without a proper burial.

In the last two lines of the poem (28 and 29), Owen writes, “the old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori”. The last two lines are important because the title of the poem comes from it, and he rejects Horace’s beliefs. Horace was an Ancient Roman poet who wrote, in the Odes, “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” (III.2.13). “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” can be translated as “It is sweet and proper to die for the fatherland”. Wilfred calls Horace’s glorification an old lie and tries to prove how choking, and dying, from a gas attack is neither sweet nor proper. He ends the poem with that, for a deeper effect, which worked.

The Wall Street Journal & Acta Diurna

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The first newspaper in Ancient Rome was called the Acta Diruna. The Acta Diruna was a daily newspaper that was carved in stone and posted in public places, like the Forum. The Ancient Roman Forum was a marketplace for business owners, as well as customers. This made it the perfect place to have message boards. The original content on the Acta Diruna, also known as Acta, was news about the outcomes of trials and things happening in the legal world. However, it slowly started expanding by adding news about marriages, deaths, and births in influential families.

We have the same exact thing today. The Wall Street Journal, a well-known newspaper, started off as a newspaper that covered news on finance, economics, and business. However, it also occasionally covered topics on World War II and other current events. In the aftermath of the attacks on September 11, 2001, the Journal wrote several pieces on what was going on and later ended up winning several Pulitzer Prizes for it. Today, they cover a variety of topics, instead of being limited to the world of finance.

Does this make The Wall Street Journal the modern-day Acta Diruna?

 

References :

http://www.historyofinformation.com/expanded.php?id=1636

https://www.britannica.com/topic/The-Wall-Street-Journal

 

 

Las Vegas Shooting

On October 1, 2017, one of the worst mass shootings occurred in the United States of America. The shooter, Stephen Paddock, killed himself after injuring, and killing, over 550 people during the finale of a concert in Las Vegas. In the aftermath, many people had things to say about the gunman. Mayor Carolyn Goodman described the gunman as “a crazed lunatic full of hate” (CNN.com). News stations reported that Paddock acted alone and was not a terrorist. In the following days, social medias exploded, saying that he was a terrorist. Below is a screenshot from Snoopdogg’s Instagram page as one example.fullsizeoutput_31e

However, this leads to me asking myself what a terrorist truly is. A terrorist is someone who uses violence and targets civilians, according to a few dictionaries. So, doesn’t that make Stephen Paddock a terrorist? In my opinion, it does. How does this reference back to Latin? The word terrorist comes from the French word terroriste. The word terroriste was used for people in the French Revolution who used violence to strive towards gaining independence from the monarch and setting up a democracy. And where does terroriste come from? It comes from the Latin word terrorem. The definition for terrorem means cause of fear or object of fear, which comes from the Latin verb terrere. Terrere means to frighten. And boom, that’s a connection from our Modern world to the Ancient.

References:

Oxford Dictionary

Las Vegas Shooting Timeline

CNN

Online Etymology Dictionary